Showing posts with label Allison Paterson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Allison Paterson. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Australia Remembers

Australia Remembers by Allison Paterson (Big Sky Publishing) RRP: Paperback $14.95 Hardback $24.99   ISBN: Paperback 9781925675771 ISBN: Hardback 9781925675788

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

Australia Remembers begins with an introduction to our country, how we live and how people in other countries may live. It continues to explain, in plain language perfectly pitched for the target age group of 6 to 12, the topics such as conflict, commemoration, ANZAC and document events such as the World Wars and current events that take place in remembrance. Apparently, there are three different types of bugle calls. I didn’t know this even though I had a friend in the army who used to play at every dawn service!

After the initial explanation, the book flows chronologically beginning with World War I and ending with The War on Terror, as well as Peacekeeping efforts. It explains to children why we remember and how, detailing various Australian War Memorials within Australia and abroad. Symbolism is included, such as the wearing of poppies and other national rituals, such as the minute silence on Remembrance Day and the baking of Anzac biscuits.

The layout is spot on, with the right mixture of images and information. The text is not excessive and is presented in different ways such as in thought bubbles, posed as questions and in sections with different coloured backgrounds. The images used keep the reader interested.

Photos, both current and historical, are included, as are maps and little drawings such as lightbulbs and question marks to attract attention to various text. A glossary is included for younger readers and the activities in the last chapter including making cardboard poppies and a recipe for Anzac biscuits, will keep little hands busy and make this book a more interactive experience.

This is exactly the type of non-fiction book I would have loved at age 6 to 12. Informative and interesting with relatable content. I highly recommend it.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials

Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials by Allison Paterson (Big Sky Publishing) PB RRP $14.99 HB RRP $24.99 ISBN978 12925675771

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Primary schools all over Australia are sure to snap up this well-designed and comprehensive large format book. Filled with coloured pictures and photographs (some of them historical), the book takes the reader through the story of conflicts that Australia has been involved in. It shows how our country honours, thanks and remembers those who fought to protect others, or suffered in war and conflicts in the past.

It explains how, from a population of five million, over 416,000 Australians volunteered to serve their country in the AIF. And how more than 60,000 of the volunteers lost their lives. It examines the role of Anzac Day in our country’s history with numerous coloured break-out shapes that look at subjects such as the Western Front and the Middle East, mateship, the Diggers and the Anzac Spirit. It moves on to Anzac Day services, ceremonies and parades, with numerous quotes from serving soldiers and school children about subjects such as why the day is remembered. The reader is shown stories and photographs of the bugle call, dawn services, even the RSL.

A large section of the book is devoted to Remembrance Day (11 November) with details such as when the Armistice was signed, the silence of respect, even the ode of Remembrance and why poppies are important. More than one chapter is devoted to war memorials across Australia, with additional information about the Vietnam War (1962-73), Afghanistan 2001 (ongoing), and another war on terror, Iraq (1990-91) and (2003 – 2009).

At the back of the book there is more to inform the reader, including a map showing locations where Australians serve in conflicts and peace-keeping missions. There are numerous activities included, too, such as how to make a poppy, Anzac biscuits, a wreath and even how to create a war memorial. Like all good non-fiction books there is a glossary, index and bibliography with acknowledgements and a page about the hard-working author who has also written the 2016 ABIA and CBCA-longlisted title Anzac Sons: The Story of Five Brothers on the Western Front.

The book is highly recommended.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A Christmas Menagerie

A Christmas Menagerie edited by Beattie Alvarez (Christmas Press) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9780994528049

Reviewed by Allison Paterson

Christmas is a time of sharing, a time for families to gather and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the delight of a collection of short stories. A Christmas Menagerie contains twelve well-crafted animal tales, each with its own special touch of Christmas charm.

Written by both established and emerging authors, most of the stories are structured as fables with anthropomorphised animals and a moral to explore. Janeen Brian’s clever wombat discovers his perfect Christmas tree. Sophie Masson’s Barney Brown the bear has some trouble with the baking of his Christmas cake, that is, until he discovers the magical ingredients of sharing and friendship. From the environmental message of Victoria Nugent’s hatchling turtle, whose journey to the ocean is confused by Christmas lights, to the humour of A.P. Harper with Colin the sausage dog and his misadventures, children will enjoy the short stories that are perfect for an evening read in the lead up to Christmas.

I particularly enjoyed the originality of Michael Pryor’s dieting, slim, trim Santa in his lycra suit and his helper, an exhausted pig. Santa’s helper has been entrusted with the consumption of Santa’s snacks, but he just can’t eat any more cookies and milk! 

Included are entertaining stories from Gabrielle Wang, Sherryl Clark, Rachel Nightingale, J.A. Thorndyke, Michael Grey, Rebecca Fung and Michael McGoldrick.

Illustrated by Kathy Creamer, Fiona McDonald, Ingrid Kallick and Yvonne Low, the images add a touch of old-worldliness to the tales. The cover, which may not appeal to all young readers, does enhance the quaint nature of the collection and is reminiscent of times past. Lovely for sharing with children of early to mid-Primary years, A Christmas Menagerie offers the chance to dip in and enjoy each unique tale while adding to the seasonal cheer.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

When the Cat’s Away

When the Cat’s Away written by Donna Gibbs, ill. Lionel King (MoshPit Publishing) PB RRP $14.95 ISBN 9781925666434

Reviewed by Allison Paterson

Gussie and her well-to-do family have arrived at their new home, a charming and comfortable mouse house at Le CafĂ© des Chats in Paris. Both her twin brother Pierre and Gussie are eager to explore their new surroundings, but not before Papa Mouse reminds them of the dangers that could be about. Soon enough, Pierre falls victim to the broom of a waiter and is catapulted onto a delivery van distributing baguettes throughout the city. Gussie rescues her brother but they are now far from their new home and must find their way back. Gussie leads the way, but danger is ever-present. 

The narrow escapes of the mice as they trek the unfamiliar streets of Paris add a humorous touch to the tale, as does the final illustration. Just when Mama and Papa decide they will be quite safe living in their new home another danger is lurking just beyond the mouse hole.

With the delightful sites of Paris and its cuisine, combined with French words and phrases, When the Cat’s Away provides an opportunity to share both the culture and the experience of losing one’s way in Paris (yep, been there, done that …). The feeling of being lost could also be familiar to the reader and worthy of further discussion. The illustrations are varied in layout, capture the tone of the city and enhance the tale. An enjoyable read to share with children of the early childhood years.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Interview with children's author Allison Paterson

Can you tell readers about your latest book?                    Shearing Time is my latest children’s picture book released in March this year. It is a charming tale of a day in the life of a farm kid as the family work together to get the shearing done. From sunrise to sunset there are sheep with attitude, a shed of shearers, dogs with personality and a country kitchen to open the door on the life of a country kid.

What is the book’s history to  publication?                        Shearing Time is a companion tale to my 2016 publication Granny’s Place, featuring the same characters, including Granny who makes a cameo appearance baking the scones and telling the shearers to mind their manners. I submitted the manuscript after Granny’s Place was accepted

Why did you choose Big Sky Publishing as your publisher?                                                                      Big Sky Publishing saw the value in my adult non-fiction title Anzac Sons, so they have been the first publisher with which I have worked. They love Australian content and my stories are quintessentially Australian, so it progressed from Anzac Sons to the children’s version and then to the children’s picture books.

How long did it take from submission of your manuscript to receipt of advance copies?                                                                                                                               I submitted the manuscript in July, 2015 and we had our advance copies in January this year, 2017.

Which editor did you work with at BSP? How was the editing experience for you?         I worked with Sharon Evans at BSP. We were still changing words the day before the typeset version went to the printers. Once Shane created his outstanding illustrations we could take out chunks of text to allow the illustrations to tell the story and bring the tale to life. I look forward to the editing process; it is a chance to polish and I appreciate that BSP involve the author all the way to the end.

Can you tell readers about the book’s illustrator?                                                             Shane McGrath is a talented artist who lives in Melbourne. He worked with me on Granny’s Place, so the characters and style of Shearing Time are consistent. Although he grew up in the city, he also spent a lot of time on family farms just a short drive of an hour or so from the farms of my childhood. He was the perfect choice. Shane realistically captures the colours and landscapes of Australia and rural life with charm and accuracy, he adds humour and connections to his own life as well as mine. I love his work!

Would you recommend Big Sky Publishing to other authors?                                            The team at BSP are terrific. If you have a great Australian story to tell, submit it to BSP.

Have you had success with any of your books?                                                                  I was very honoured when Anzac Sons was long-listed in the ABIA awards and was also a notable in the CBCA awards in 2016.

What are you working on at the moment?                                                                          I am living dangerously, challenging myself and making a genre change to Young Adult historical fiction. This will be a tale that connects the past and the present and draws on both my knowledge of Australian involvement in WWI and, as a teacher, some of the issues that young adults experience today. Understanding your past can guide you to your future…!

Anything else you’d like to add?                                                                                        The manuscript I am working on is being completed with the assistance of the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust and a 2017 Creative Time Fellowship. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to write in Canberra for four weeks where the inspirational and invaluable Australian War Memorial was just up the track!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Shearing Time

Shearing Time by Allison Paterson and illustrated by Shane McGrath (Big Sky Publishing) HB RRP 24.99   PB RRP 14.99 
ISBN 9781925520095

Reviewed by Gill Griffin

Seen through the eyes of a child living in the country this tale perfectly captures the author’s happy childhood memories of working together with her family from sunrise to sunset on their annual task of sheep shearing.  Despite the hard work she describes shearing as the best time of the year, 

The wonderful descriptive prose and the colourful illustrations by Shane McGrath make each page resonate with the sound, and smell of shearing.  The sheds rumble and racket whilst machines whir, while a large recalcitrant sheep eyeballs a very determined dog.  The dogs hitch rides sitting on the back of sheep.  The shearers crowd round the kitchen table and enjoy the home cooked food. The book is so alive with written and visual description that the reader feels part of the whole experience.

Shearing Time reflects the experience of rural children and provides an opportunity for early childhood readers to appreciate the lives of Australian country children and to gain a glimpse and understanding of the Australian farming experience.  Inside the back cover the author describes many of the features of the shearing experience.  I had no idea that sheep first arrived in Australia on January 26 1988 with the convicts, and were mainly raised for meat. 

Allison Paterson grew up on a farm, surrounded by animals and the authenticity of her experience clearly shows.  She uses this experience in her other book Granny’s Place and again compiling old family letters  Anzac Sons: The Story of Five Brothers in the War to end all Wars  which was listed for the 2016 Australian Book Industry Awards.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Visions of Ichabod X

The Visions of Ichabod X by Gary Crew, illustrated by Paul O’Sullivan (Harbour Publishing House) HB RRP $24.99    ISBN 9781922134547

Reviewed by Allison Paterson

With all the intrigue that is synonymous with the writing of Gary Crew, The Visions of Ichabod X is a picture book which mixes the past with the future to convey a powerful and significant message of environmental sustainability. Narrated in the hypnotic voice of the ageing caretaker of Raven’s Eye Cemetery, the tale begins as he explains how one headstone has always puzzled him, that of Ichabod X.  This stone, which commemorates the short life of the gypsy child Ichabod, shows no signs of the wearing of the elements, despite the decay of others and that of the crumbling church that sits in the grounds. 

Years before, so the caretaker reveals, the mysterious boy had appeared to warn the man of the perilous future of the earth. The boy leaves behind him curious contraptions, his “aids to see the future”. As mysteriously as Ichabod appears, he never returns. From this point,  the reflections of the caretaker and his drawings, what he imagines Ichabod could see, continue wordlessly to an ending which challenges the reader to imagine and reflect.

The illustrations are equally as intriguing as the text. Steeped in sepia tones to create a sense of vintage combined with steam punk images, Paul O’Sullivan enhances the tale and provides a deeper level of meaning for the engaged reader. Exploring the symbolism is absorbing and a catalyst for discussion. Biblical references are significant and are not confined to Ichabod (the Book of Samuel), the raven (perhaps the all-seeing God’s messenger) and the old man’s biblical quote of, “There is a time for everything…”. The oak tree and oak leaf represent endurance, wisdom, strength and significantly, new life. 

Throughout the tale, the clocks, and timepieces, both broken and intact suggest to the reader that time is running out. There are so many layers to peel, with the “unlocking” of colour being a symbolic transition to a series of wordless double-page spreads that delve deeply into the conflict between nature and the industrialised world.

I continue to return to The Visions of Ichabod X and each time I am delighted to make a new discovery. This is a text for the late primary years and up. It is a thought-provoking tale which will challenge the reader to explore their own perspective on the future of the earth. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Timing the Machine

Timing the Machine by Gary Crew, illustrated by Paul O’Sullivan (Harbour Publishing House) HB RRP 24.99    ISBN 9781922134530                                                                         
Reviewed by Allison Paterson

Where is H.G. Wells’ legendary Time Machine? Still travelling into the past, the future, or lost somewhere in the here and now?
Will Enoch find out?
Take the journey with him.

Based on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895), this is a picture book of intrigue from Gary Crew and Paul O’Sullivan, the creators of the thought-provoking The Visions of Ichabod X

Upon a class visit to the museum, Enoch ignores the final closing message and chooses to explore the chambers revealed by the towering, broken doors through which he alone has entered. A shadowy creature is lurking and Enoch, dazed from a fall, remains unaware of its presence as he follows the light to what he thinks will be safety. Ultimately, it leads him to an astounding discovery. Framing the mysterious and captivating narrative are quotes from The Time Machine which combine with an intriguing, somewhat menacing extra-terrestrial element.

Illustrated in steampunk style using pencil and digital colour, the images enhance the text and ask many questions of the perceptive reader. The layout features a range of techniques from sparse text to double-page spreads and filmstrip frames which are in keeping with the projector image on the title page. The fascinating use of light and shadow adds to the mysterious tone, including a moment when light falling on the boy’s face reveals cat-like pupils which later return to their human form. The clever endpapers feature Queensland’s Glasshouse Mountains and are not to be missed!

As we expect from Gary Crew, the reader arrives at an inclusive ending with questions begging to be answered. Timing the Machine is both a mesmerising and thought-provoking picture book for older readers.

Friday, 6 January 2017

A Frozen Heart

A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick (Parragon) PB RRP $14.99   ISBN 978 1 4748 4292 1

Reviewed by Allison Paterson

Fans of the Disney animated movie Frozen will be delighted with the arrival of Elizabeth Rudnick’s novel A Frozen Heart. For those who missed the 2013 movie, the tale tells the story of Princess Anna and her cold and distant sister, Queen Elsa.
Lonely Anna falls in love with the handsome and deceptive Prince Hans of the Southern Isles when they meet at Elsa’s coronation as Queen of Arendelle. Disaster strikes when Elsa loses control of her magical and hidden ice powers, unwittingly unleashing a bitter winter upon the kingdom and consequently forcing her to flee to the icy North Mountain.  

Anna sets out find Elsa and save the kingdom and is aided by some true friends she meets along her perilous journey. As Hans’s true motivations are eventually revealed, Anna discovers not only the truth about Elsa, but also the truth that love is much more than an instant attraction.

A Frozen Heart successfully fills the character gaps that the movie did not explore, providing the back story for the characters, delving into their motivations and thoughts and hence an expanded explanation for their actions.  Narrated by the alternating points of view of Anna and Hans, the novel uses the events and dialogue of the movie to propel the story and to expand the themes of friendship, love and family.

While elements of the humour and dramatic effect of the movie are a little lost in the retelling, the narrative remains well-constructed and satisfying and is ideal for the growing-up fans of Frozen who are now in the mid Primary to early Secondary years. The strong female character of Anna and the growth she shows provides a positive role model for our Princess followers. The focus on the meaning of love and the connection with sacrifice, family and true friendship provide a powerful and valuable message.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks

Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks by Gina Newton (NLA Publishing) PB RRP $29.99  ISBN 978 0 642 278883

Reviewed by Allison Paterson

From the author who brought us Blossom Possum comes an attractive addition for the shelves of books depicting our awesome Australian animals, this time an attractive and informative non-fiction book published by the National Library of Australia.

Marine biologist and zoologist, Dr Gina Newton, has drawn both on her own knowledge and the research and expertise of others, including the resources of the National Library, to create a visually appealing and well-designed book brimming with fascinating facts and fabulous photos.
The design is exceptional, being divided into seven habitats featuring 120 iconic animals from fifty selected national parks across Australia. 

Descriptions of the habitats commence each chapter and are supported by images of the included national parks within the habitat type. Next are details regarding the animals, including distribution, conversation status, interesting facts and striking images. The diversity of wildlife is clear as the animals have been chosen from the range of taxonomic groups.

Accessibility of information is well supported by a variety of colour-coded keys, diagrams, maps, break-out boxes and thorough indexing. The endpapers also provide a national park map which is useful for the reader. An error has been carefully camouflaged in the copy I have received by a sticky piece; it may prove tempting to the young reader to explore what lies beneath.

Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks is an excellent choice for young wildlife enthusiasts in the mid to upper Primary years and a useful addition to the school library with teacher notes also being available on the NLA website.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Granny's place

Granny's place by Allison Paterson, illustrated by Shane McGarth (Big Sky Publishing) HB RRP $24.99 PB RRP $14.99
ISBN: HB 978-1-925275-62-9
           PB 978-1-925275-63-6

Reviewed by Anita Howard

Through the voice of a little girl the reader experiences what can be missed and gained when big changes happen. The girl loves visiting her Granny and Pa. She describes what is special about where they live; the farm, the mud brick house that pa made, sleeping in high metal beds, the animals like ducks and games pa had kept from his childhood.

Then Pa died and Granny had to leave the farm. Her new home is very different. 'But there was one thing that was still the same -- Granny.’

The book provides a gentle reflection about dealing with change and loss. There are also smaller changes that reflect changes in history, technology and materials used; these are seen between the farm home and Granny’s new home, such as the large wooden kitchen table replaced with a smaller mental legged table.

Delightful illustrations create energy and mood, and inform us visually of what and how things have been changed from one place and time to the other.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Grover, Benji and Nanna Jean

Grover, Benji and Nanna Jean (Grover McBane Rescue Dog #3) by Claire Garth, illustrated by Johannes Leak, Piccolo Nero, 128pp,  PB RRP $ 12.99 ISBN 978 1 863958325 $12.99

Reviewed by Allison Paterson

Grover, Benji and Nanna Jean is the third delightful instalment in the Grover McBane Rescue Dog series. Based on the real-life experience of the author, the series delves into the life of rescue dog Grover and shares both his troubles and joys.

Previously, Grover has found a new and delightful home with rescue centre worker, Annie, who provides relief from Grover’s previous life with The Man With Big Boots. Grover is soon helping other dogs as they arrive at the centre. He loves his new job meeting new friends and helping them overcome their problems.  Lurking on his porch though, is the nasty neighbourhood cat, Mr Tibbles. When Grover needs to help the blind and deaf rescue dog Benji to adjust to his new life, Mr Tibbles sets Grover a big challenge!

Told in the voice of the animals and expressing their thoughts and feelings, this series is ideal for animal lovers. We delve into the conversations of the animal friends, allowing young readers to discover that they may also experience those same emotions in their own lives. We also gently come to understand the special relationship that exists between pets and their owners and significantly, that our animal friends need responsible care, understanding and respect.

The illustrations add a delightful dimension to the tale and further endear the pets and their stories to the reader. The language is accessible and formatted for those developing independence in their reading. The important role that animal shelters and vets have in our community is also highlighted and it is lovely to see that a percentage of sales goes to the Sydney Dogs’ and Cats’ Home.