Showing posts with label Anne Helen Donnelly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anne Helen Donnelly. Show all posts

Thursday, 17 January 2019

The Box Cars

The Box Cars by Robert Vescio, illustrated by Cara King (EK Books) PB
ISBN: 9781925335835 RRP: $24.99

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

Liam and Kai are best friends. They love playing in the park every day, with their cars made from cardboard boxes. Their imaginations run wild. Sometimes they are police officers, sometimes they are drivers for movie stars and sometimes they are taxi drivers.

One day Eve was watching them and enjoying their games. She cheered and waved and ran alongside. Liam and Kai offered Eve their box cars but there were only two cars for three people. How can they solve this problem so that all three of them can enjoy the freedom of box cars?

This is a fun tale with a simple-story line that will have broad appeal with themes of friendship, sharing and solving problems. The illustrations are soft and whimsical and a good compliment to the text. Recommended for boys and girls ages 4 – 8 years old.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Johnny’s Beard

Johnny’s Beard by Michelle Worthington, illustrated by Katrin Dreiling (Little Pink Dog Books) PB RRP: $24.95 ISBN: 9780648256304

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

Johnny’s beard was his pride and joy. It was glorious and splendiferous. But this didn’t happen by itself: Johnny spent hours washing it, drying it and combing it. He loved the feel of his beard, keeping him warm and feeling the breeze blowing through it.

One winter morning Johnny met a mouse, a twitchy mouse whose house was too cold for the winter. Johnny offered to share his warm home with the mouse, so the mouse climbed into Johnny’s beard for a ride. Then Johnny picked up a rabbit, a raven and a family of hedgehogs. His beard was getting to be a very busy place!

He took them all home where they huddled by the fire. But how was Johnny going to house all these little critters? Where could they sleep and what did he have to keep them all snug and warm all winter?

This is a fun story for children aged 4 – 8 years. The illustrations are colourful, lively and full of character. And who wouldn’t like a word such as “splendiferous!” My children liked this “funny story” so it comes recommended by experts!

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Grey-glasses-it is

Grey-glasses-it is by Lynn Jenkins, illustrated by Kirrili Longergan (EK Books(
ISBN: 9781925335958 RRP: $19.99

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

In a little garden in a little village on top of a big mountain, Loppy the Lac was painting, surrounded by colour. He admired the different colours and felt different feelings. Blue made him peaceful, red excited him and yellow made him cheerful.

Loppy’s friend Curly came by and gave Loppy a pair of purple lensed glasses to look through. Purple made Loppy feel creative and green lensed glasses made him feel relaxed. Then Loppy tried a pair of grey lensed glasses. These made Loppy feel sad and he didn’t want to paint any longer. He had no energy and felt “blah.”

Luckily, Curly knew just what was wrong and how to fix it; grey-glasses-itis!

One of EK’s ‘Books with heart on issues that matter’ book, and the fourth story in the Lessons of a LAC series; this book aims to give your child a way to think about and manage their moods and feelings. The message is that the way we look at things will affect the way we feel, a good life lesson. The cover and illustrations remind me of Dr Suess. The story and the illustrations are orchestrated well to tell the story. Recommended for children aged 4 to 8 years old.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Bigger than yesterday, smaller than tomorrow

Bigger than yesterday, smaller than tomorrow by Robert Vescio, illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dog Books) PB RRP: $24.95 ISBN: 9780994626950

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

It is the summer holidays and Hannah and Dad, and their dog Hugo, are going camping for the first time. This is an exciting adventure now that Hannah is getting older. Now that Hannah is bigger there are lots more things she could do; like protecting Hugo, helping Dad pitch the tent and climbing a tall tree.

As night approaches, Hannah doesn’t feel so big, though, and misses her Mum. Luckily, Dad is prepared with hot chocolate, bedtime books and everything that Hannah likes. But what really puts her at ease is her Mum’s scarf, wrapped snuggly around her neck, that feels just like a hug from Mum.

This is a story about a child who is discovering her independence, without straying too far from home and the security she is used to. Beautiful fun illustrations and simply told. This book will appeal to younger children ages 4 – 8 years.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Australia Illustrated

Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney (EK Books) PB RRP $32.99 ISBN: 9781925335880

By Anne Helen Donnelly

The book starts out with three adjectives to aptly describe our nation: big, beautiful and diverse. The messages in this book are primarily conveyed through bright and quirky illustrations. It lists all things uniquely Australian, and all the things we love about our home, from a child’s focus.

After the bold introductory statement, the book goes onto show native and endangered Australian animals, iconic and bush foods, precious rocks, sport we love and play, swim wear, slang (one of my favourite pages, as after 38 years in Australia, I’m proud to say I am familiar with all of them), various weather around our continent and famous Aussies.  

Each state is then explored, starting with New South Wales. There are landmarks, popular attractions, famous eats and all things each state is best known for and their pride and joys. One of my favourite pages is the Great Barrier Reef page, with different schools of stunning fish intermingling – just like the real thing!

An engaging visual reference guide to all things Australian. Great for natives as well as those wanting to take a glimpse into our culture. Recommended for ages 4 – 8 year olds.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Invisible Jerry

Invisible Jerry by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Giusepe Poli (EK Books) PB RRP: $24.99 ISBN: 9781925335781

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

People didn’t notice Jerry. Nobody waved to him, said sorry if they bumped into him, laughed at his jokes and he was never picked for sport. It was as if he was invisible. Jerry didn’t want to stand out, but he did want someone to notice him.

One day, Molly came along. Molly was interested in Jerry. She was interested in what he thought, she would share things with him, she said sorry if she bumped into him and she laughed at his jokes. Molly made Jerry smile, for the first time in a long time.

As Jerry’s confidence grows, he becomes strong enough to be someone else’s Molly. To notice and care about others who feel invisible. First it was Paul but then there were others. And so, Molly’s acts of kindness and friendship continued to spread.

This is a quiet and gentle story, championing for the shy introverts who, even if not noticed, have a lot to give. It also shows how kindness can spread like a wonderful contagious disease. The soft illustrations suit the story and there is a good use of colour to portray the tone of the story’s undulations. Recommended for ages 4 – 8 years.

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.

Monday, 27 August 2018

At the End of Holyrood Lane

At the End of Holyrood Lane by Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston (EK Books) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781925335767

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

Flick is like any other little child. She likes dancing with butterflies, tumbling through leaves and basking in the sunshine. But, she never knows when it will storm at her house. These storms smother the sunshine and ransack the fun. And when these storms are very loud, they make her ears hurt and her head throb. They make her feel smaller than she really is.

So, Flick has learnt to hide away from the storms. She has found really great places to hide and she can hide for a long time. But one day a monstrous storm strikes. It is darker and louder than ever before. She tries to ignore it, but it leaves her sodden and shaken and brings her to finally act. She seeks help. And it works. The storm leaves and the sun comes out, and it never storms again.

This is a sensitive book with a message of hope, bringing to the fore a child’s perspective of domestic violence and how it makes the child feel. This book should strike a chord with any child who has experienced any domestic violence and will afford a glimpse of such a situation of anyone who hasn’t. The uplifting ending will give hope to readers that help is at hand and send the message that regardless of how young you are, you can change things.

At the End of Holyrood Lane is a children’s picture book for children ages 6 and up. It is beautifully illustrated with gentle pictures that convey the varied emotions of this story. It has been endorsed by organisations including Act for Kids, Paradise Kids and Think Equal.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Ori’s Clean-Up

Ori’s Clean-Up by Anne Helen Donnelly (self-published) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-0-646984131

Reviewed by Stacey Gladman

Ori’s Clean-Up gives young readers an introduction of the importance of recycling. Set under the sea, Ori the octopus asks his friends to help him clean up his home. Before long however the sea bed is a mess again, this time, Ori and his friends decide instead of just tidying the rubbish, they would find ways of recycling the items, including papers, bottles and containers.

The writing style uses repetition such as “The food scraps can feed the plants,” said Cathy Clownfish. "Pick, pick, pick up food scraps for the compost,” which will appeal tohe target audience of three to six year-olds. The story is easy to read, and imagery - also created by Anne Helen Donnelly -- is bright and colourful and stands out.

I like the message of finding new uses for rubbish which is very in-trend right now, and I think it’s a good message to send home to children to clean up and recycle to make “their home a healthier place, now and for later”.

This is an enjoyable read, with an important message and a good tool to use with young readers.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

See Monkey Review

See Monkey by Sophie Masson, Illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dogs) PB RRP: $24.95 ISBN: 9780994626981

Review by Anne Helen Donnelly

Toddler and Monkey are awake and immediately the fun begins. First Monkey jumps, then he dives but can’t stop in time. Monkey likes to go outside and hop, all over the flowers. Then he plays ball and dances, and more mischief ensues. Monkey’s quiet time results in a creative and colourful mess for Mum to clean up, but his energy is limitless! Monkey then sits, then reads. After bath time Monkey swings before bedtime.

What a day! Follow Toddler and his favourite toy through their busy day and all the fun adventures and mischief they get up to. Parents with toddlers will relate to some of these amusing situations of these energetic adventures and after-fun clean-ups.

See Monkey is a children’s picture book for children of ages 3 – 7 years. The themes are universal, and it is a good read for families with babies and young children. The lively and colourful illustrations will capture the minds of a young audience.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Trouble for Toby

Trouble for Toby by Janet Reid, illustrated by Amanda Francy (Wombat Books) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN: 9781925563351

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

Toby wants a pet more than anything. He isn’t fussy, almost anything will do, a dog, a rat or a hermit crab. His parent’s response to his request is always the same, “We’ll think about it. But only if you’re good at school.” And this is where Toby’s problem lies.

Toby finds it difficult to stay out of trouble. First, he leaves his friend Sam buried in the sandpit, then he knocks two girls off the playground equipment, there is the unfortunate accident at the flying fox and then the inquisitive spider at the tranquillity garden. It seems, no matter how hard Toby tries to stay out of trouble he ends up right in the centre of it, until one day, when his quick thinking and swift action saves Jenna from a snake bite.

Toby’s bravery is acknowledged and rewarded but best of all, his parents let him get a pet and he decides to choose a snake.

Trouble for Toby is a junior fiction chapter book for children of ages 6+ years. It is aimed at Australian audiences with Aussie references, and the story flows well from chapter to chapter. It is set primarily in the school and school yard with funny and entertaining adventures that children will be able to relate to and enjoy.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Reena’s Rainbow

Reena’s Rainbow by Dee White, illustrated by Tracie Grimwood (EK Books) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN: 9781925335491

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

Reena is deaf but highly observant. She finds Dog at the park and immediately likes his playful nature. They both play hide-and-seek in the playground with the other kids. But when Reena finds herself alone in the park after not hearing the other children leave and calling out to her, she is sad. Her mother explains to her that we are all different, just like each colour of the rainbow. But, just like in a rainbow, despite our differences, we all have a place. Reena is not convinced: she feels that she does not belong, like the brown dog that does not have a home.

Then one day, Reena, with her keen eye, notices a tree branch about to fall onto one of the boys in the park. She calls out, but no-one hears her. Luckily, Dog leaps in and saves the day. The children at the park are shaken and nobody notices that Dog’s paw has been hurt from his heroic efforts. Reena takes Dog home and the pair finds they are perfect for each other. Dog is joyful with his new home and best friend and Reena’s heart is happy again. She finds her place in life’s rainbow.

Reena’s Rainbow is a picture book ideal for children 5 to 7 years old, beautifully finished with soft illustrations and a hard cover to couple with this gentle story of diversity and acceptance. Children will identify with Reena’s need to belong and to find their place.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Ori’s Christmas

Ori’s Christmas by Anne Helen Donnelly (self-published) PB RRP $17.99
ISBN 9780646962207

Reviewed by Brook Tayla

Ori is preparing for Christmas and asks each of his friends what they would like to do on Christmas Day – but when the day comes the choices made by others are not liked by everyone.  The solution is compromise and everyone ends up having a great day.

This picture book is suitable for pre-school and kindergarten groups.  It contains two special features:

1.     There are actions to do as you follow along with the story that will delight small children.
2.     There are Christmas decorations to colour-in, cut out and hang on the Christmas tree.

Anne Helen Donnelly includes notes for Parents and Teachers to further engage participation with this book. She has published another book called Ori the Octopus in the same vein that includes Christmas decorations to colour and cut out.  You can also take a look at her website that includes extra activities to do with both books:

So if you are ready for some Christmas shopping, be sure to add this book to your list.

Brook Tayla writes a Children’s Literature blog called [email protected].  Drop by to subscribe and read some reviews.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Ori the Octopus

Ori the Octopus by Anne Helen Donnelly (Self Published) PB RRP $17.99
ISBN 9780646962207

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Ori the Octopus is fun picture book written for preschool aged children. The text is simple and the illustrations are bright and bold with cartoon-like characters. The first page invites children to join in the actions of Ori and his friends during the story, and sets the tone for a playful reading experience.

Ori is a friendly octopus who likes helping his sea creature friends. When it’s Sally Starfish’s birthday he decides to make a cake for her. ‘Mix, mix, mix the cake.’ What starts off as a simple act of kindness slowly becomes a difficult task as his friends drop in, one by one, to ask for Ori’s help or attention. He does his best but soon realises that, even with eight legs, unfortunately he can’t assist everyone. Eventually things go wrong, and the tasks get muddled up. Fortunately for Ori, none of his friends like to see him tangled so they all pitch in and work together to get everything done. Then, at last, they can celebrate Sally’s birthday!

At the end of the story there are notes for teachers and parents, offering discussion points for a young audience. Following this are three pages of Ori the Octopus puppets to cut out. These puppets are a great inclusion, as re-enacting the story is excellent for young children’s language development and to consolidate their understanding of the book. If children are still keen after their puppet show, there are many more activities to download from the author’s website ( including dot-to-dots, mazes, spot the difference, matching and counting activities.

This 40-page paperback offers themes of friendship, kindness and teamwork. This book is suitable for children aged 2 to 5 years.