Showing posts with label BW Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BW Review. Show all posts

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.



Friday, 16 November 2018

Little Spiral


Little Spiral by Pat Simmons, illustrated by Patrick Shirvington (Little Steps Publishing) PB RRP $16.95 ISBN 9780648267324

Reviewed by Brook Tayla

Little Spiral is a beautiful poetic journey that explores the life cycle of a snail.

The whole book has an air of mystery and intrigue.  Right from the first page you wonder which little pearl coloured circle could be the actual snail forming on the forest floor.

And then the journey begins that leads us through growth, life and a new generation – a circular narrative.

The text is written simply but meaningfully with words that evoke re-reading and pondering. The ink/watercolour illustrations are a perfect visual match and give depth of meaning to the story.  The edge-to-edge pictures pull readers right into the forest scenario, so that you feel you are actually there and feel an empathy with the snail, ‘Little Spiral’ – what a clever, delightful name!

This is a picture book that will be enjoyed by all ages and returned to often, not only to ponder life but also to check back in with this now familiar and cute little snail.

Brook Tayla writes a picture book review blog at [email protected] and would love you to drop by, read
some reviews, leave a comment, and subscribe.  Brook also offers editing services for beginning and emerging writers.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Diamond for a Ruby

Diamond for a Ruby by Stefan Nicholson (Amazon Print) PB RRP AU $5.00 (Kindle), AU$20.00 (Print) ISBN 9780648295334

Reviewed by Sam McNeil

This is a stand-alone spy-thriller book for the cross-over market that follows on from Nicholson’s first self-published book, Spy within a Ruby.

Set in England, the book begins with Ruby Peters, a M16 agent, in a pub paying tribute to her former boss, Roger Davis, when the barman slips her a note. It is from Davis who speaks from the grave with a coded message. Not knowing her drink is spiked, Peters returns home in a drunken state. From there she is arrested and taken to M16 where she is accused of murdering her friend Ilya Kasparov, a senior foreign agent, who is in fact a double agent. Thereafter Peters is in danger, fighting – with the help of her partner, Eric -- double-agents entrenched in MI6 who recruit mercenaries and a psychotic madman to kill her. Peter’s friends are injured and killed because of her involvement with Davis and she is betrayed by her own people.

There are numerous problems with this novel not the least of which is that it needs a good structural and copy edit. The narrative viewpoint shifts constantly and at random, and the story climax comes about two-thirds in with the remaining third about planning a wedding for someone Ruby hated at school. At times an unknown bad guy drops in an internal monologue. Notwithstanding this, there is a lot of exposition and telling the reader how the characters are feeling. Even the formatting of the book is problematic: there are no indented paragraphs, just blank lines between paragraphs.

One must admire an author who puts in so much effort and expense in writing and publishing his book, but this story could have been so much better if he had employed an editor and book designer.

Diamond for a Ruby is available from Amazon Print, Google-books and Kindle, and from the author PO Box 370, South Hobart TAS 7004. 

Saturday, 3 November 2018

The Centre of my Everything


The Centre of my Everything by Allayne Webster (Penguin Random House)
PB RRP $19.99   ISBN 9780143783336

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

The Centre of my Everything is a distinctly Australian, gritty YA novel set in the regional town of Mildura. Told in the alternating points of view of four main characters, Justin, Tara, Corey and Margo, it’s about the intertwining lives of the teens, plus their families, too.

Justin has just returned to town post-rehab and is trying to move on from his drug-addicted past. Corey is a school drop-out struggling with employment, Tara feels unloved by her mother and has a bad girl reputation, while Indigenous character Margo is intelligent and headstrong, with a plan to escape the stifling confines of her small town environment for uni in the city.

The novel opens with Corey extremely hungover, and piecing together the events of the night before – a destructive, drunken high school party, culminating in digging up bones at the local cemetery. This event drives the plot forward and links the characters in a way you never see coming, providing a gripping read.

Often confronting, the story deals with themes including binge drinking, violence and sexual assault, so it’s one for older teens and up. The writing is truly compelling, the plot tightly woven, and the voices of each character feel authentic, raw and real. 

Webster has captured the essence of teen drinking culture in a lower social economic, regional Australian environment, yet manages to infuse heart and hope.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit


The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson illustrated by Eleanor Turner (Frederick Warne) HB RRP $16.99 ISBN 978-241352885

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is a small board book based on the original tales of Beatrix Potter and illustrated in the same style as the famous author/illustrator. Peter Rabbit is in trouble for knocking mincemeat onto his burrow floor so is sent to his Aunt’s to fetch a cup of suet. On the way he catches up with his cousin Benjamin Bunny who is also in trouble. While they are playing, along comes William the turkey. The two boys reveal to him that Mrs McGregor, the farmer’s wife, is planning to bake him for Christmas dinner.
What follows are (unsuccessful) ways in which the rabbit cousins try to hide William. When Mr McGregor comes into the yard waving a cleaver, he is unable to find his turkey so has a turkey-less Christmas dinner.

This is a simple story with a happy outcome which is sure to be enjoyed by young readers. It is most suitable to be read by an adult to children aged 3 to 5 years.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Sukie’s Suitcase

Sukie’s Suitcase by Jordie Albiston, illustrations Keira de Hoog (Little Barrow Press) PB RRP $15.00 ISBN 9780992584511

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Sub-titled ‘Three picture-poems’, this book for children 8 to 12 years is essentially a three-story verse novel. The title story begins with the words ‘Sukie was running away from her life’ -- even though her life was not ‘all that bad’. Having packed her suitcase she walks a long distance during which time she loses her bag. Happily, she discovered objects which she’s lost. Good news is that they lead back home where she lives happily ever after.

The first story in the book is narrated by Felipe, new to Australia from South America. He can’t seem to fit in and is homesick for Bogota as nothing in this new country compares. Sitting under a tree he is hit by what he describes as ‘a leather lemon’: in fact, it’s a red football. When he meets a girl called Nikki, it seems he’s going to be fine after all.

The final story is ‘Three Steve Bikos’, narrated by Steve Biko who lives in Kenya. Like the other stories, this is a rambling tale of life in a foreign place with lots of details about Steve’s life and lots of telling.

This is likely to be a difficult book for the intended readership. There are many foreign words ((‘ajiaco’, ‘guasca’, ‘arepa’, for example), and there’s also a problem with the font (Just Alice) which is written over illustrations at times, making it difficult to read.
The illustrations are interesting and unusual with de Hoog employing many photos overlaid with sketches.

The author Jordie Albiston is highly regarded, both in Australia and overseas, for her poetry. This is her first book for children.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Peppa Pig Digger World


Peppa Pig Digger World (Penguin Books) HB RRP $16.99 ISBN 9780241321133

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is a heavy-duty board book with thick cardboard wheels which rotate when turned. Peppa and George are visiting Digger World where they are welcomed by Mr Potato. Both Peppa and her brother George play on diggers in the sand pit filling buckets of sand. Then they go on the next ride to use soft building blocks to build a world which qualifies them as digger drivers. On the way home they help real digger drivers to build a wall. However, Peppa pushed the wrong button and the wall collapses. No worried. Dad says, ‘Building things up, then knocking them down – it’s all part of the fun with diggers!’

This simple, fun story is told in five double-page spreads which, like all Peppa books, are brightly coloured with simple illustrations. Sure to be a hit with readers aged 3 to 5 years.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Liberty


Liberty by Nikki McWatters (University of Queensland Press) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN: 9780702260292

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Born in different eras, three young women share a common bond – the ‘bloodline of the sisterhood’. Jeanne Laisné discovers her ‘blood of iron’ in 1472, when she overcomes her poverty-stricken background to emerge as the heroine of Beauvais during a fierce battle. In 1797, Betsy Gray becomes embroiled in a rebel alliance that is desperate to free Ireland from English rule, and she is determined to fight with every last breath in her body.

Fiona McKechnie’s rustic naivety is destroyed when she heads to university in Brisbane in 1968 and is faced with the realities of the Vietnam War and conscription. When she discovers the Systir Saga, a book containing the names of Jeanne and Betsy, as well as all the other ‘women who were the threads that were sewn together with stitches of time and blood to make up the garment’ that is her, Fiona draws strength from her sisterhood to stand up for what she believes in.

Liberty is aimed at the YA market, and its underlying girl-power message will appeal particularly to teen girls aged 14 and above. Inspired by historical people and events, award-winning author Nikki McWatters takes three discrete story strands and skilfully braids them into a single compelling tale. While some of the dialogue is a little laboured, Nikki’s use of evocative similes and metaphors adds stunning dimension and colour to the narrative.

Passion, action and courage course through the book like the flood of feisty women whom Jeanne leads into battle. As the three protagonists proactively seek liberty in life and love, female readers especially will identify both with their empowerment and with their mantle as girls ‘who might just change the world’.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The Bogan Mondrian


The Bogan Mondrian by Steven Herrick, (UQP)  PB RRP $19.95  ISBN: 9780702259982

Reviewed by Pauline Hosking

Luke, a Year Eleven student from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’, becomes a catalyst for helping Charlotte, a girl from a wealthy family, address the domestic violence occurring in her home. Steven Herrick chose these backgrounds deliberately because, as he says, domestic violence ‘is an issue that affects people from all classes, races and religions.’

Luke’s father has recently died from cancer. Trying to come to terms with the loss, Luke sleepwalks through each day, wagging school and compulsively taking photos. When he discovers the truth about Charlotte’s home life, he realises that his own life could be worse. Much worse.

This is a powerful story, told by Luke in first-person prose, celebrating courage, compassion and friendship. It is set in Katoomba and the background and characters are clearly Australian.

The book raises questions about what it means to be a man and a father in today’s society.  On the surface Charlotte’s father is a charming, successful business man. His darker side is hinted at, not described in great detail. By contrast, Luke’s father was a gambler, a drinker and smoker -  a rough diamond who adored his family. Luke himself displays unexpected strength and kindness as does his friend, basketball-obsessed Blake.

Steven Herrick is better known for his verse-novels like The Simple Gift. The poet in Herrick is obvious as he doesn’t waste a word and uses some beautiful, evocative images. Although the subject is serious there are many moments of humour between Luke and his mother, and between Luke and a neighbour who’s teaching him to swear in Italian.

The resolution is believable and will have readers cheering. The Bogan Mondrian is highly recommended, especially for boys from Year 8 upwards.

The title might confuse some readers. Here’s the explanation: Charlotte has painted her bedroom walls in squares like a Mondrian painting, turning the room into her retreat from the world. At the end of the book Luke (the bogan) paints his room exactly the same. This time it’s not a retreat, it’s a celebration.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Max Booth Future Sleuth: Stamp Safari


Max Booth Future Sleuth: Stamp Safari by Cameron Macintosh, illustrated by Dave Atze (Big Sky Publishing) PB RRP $12.99 ISBN 9781925675368

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Max Booth and his trusty robo-dog Oscar are back for another sleuthing adventure. Stamp Safari is the third book in this futuristic series for young readers.

The year is 2424 and the world is a very different place. There are floating skyburbs as well as the usual ground level suburbs and zoom tubes with aircells that transport people back and forth. Zip coasters move people around the city by looping over buildings and underneath bridges. Max Booth lives on Skyburb 6. Since his escape from the Home for Unclaimed Urchins, he secretly lives in the storeroom of the Bluggsville Museum. Max helps his friend Jessie to identify ancient objects for display in the museum, to earn a little cash.

Max and Jessie become intrigued by a tiny rectangular piece of paper that has a pattern cut into its edges. It has a picture on one side and is sticky on the other.   Unfortunately, the Great Solar Flare of 2037 destroyed the old Internet and its contents, and this patch of paper is too old to easily identify. So, Max sets off with his resourceful beagle-bot Oscar in search of clues to find the origin of this rare and fragile piece of paper.

It isn’t long before Max and Oscar get themselves into trouble and hopes fade for identifying the piece of paper. Max gets captured by Captain Selby (the leader of the Unclaimed Urchins Recapture Squad) and is separated from his beloved Oscar. Max needs to try every trick in the book if he is to safely return to the museum with his dog and the patch of paper.

This humorous book would appeal to children 7+ years old who are beginning their chapter book journey. Atze’s monochrome cartoon vignettes are scattered throughout the book to help young minds visualise the futuristic world that Macintosh has created. If you’re keen for more sleuthing fun after you’ve read this book, make sure you check out the other two books in this series: Tape Escape and Selfie Search.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

His Name was Walter


His Name was Walter by Emily Rodda (Angus and Robertson/Harper Collins) PB RRP $22.99 ISBN 978146071203

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

This middle grade fiction book is about a group of kids in a haunted house — what could be better? The reader is led from a story into another story, which at first seems like a fairy tale, but as it goes on, seems more and more real. Emily Rodda, writer of more than fifty books, expertly crafts a tale that moves between the past and the future, and fantasy and reality. His Name was Walter is an adventure, a mystery and a coming of age story, all in one.

The story is from the point of view of Colin, who is new at his school and on an excursion. The bus breaks down in bad weather and four students (and their teacher Mrs Fiori) take shelter in an old mansion nearby. There are creepy stories about the house, but there's nowhere else to go. Colin discovers a book called His Name was Walter and Mrs Fiori encourages the children to read it.
The story of Walter describes an orphan boy who grows up in a beehive and his journey to a town far away where he meets a girl called Sparrow. Colin and the quiet Tara, who is aware of unseen things, are completely drawn in. Grace, a pretty, impatient girl, feels scared for unexplained reasons in certain rooms in the house. Cynical Lucas seems oblivious to it all. But as Walter's tale goes on, the spirits in the house seem to be trying to prevent it from being told.

There are moments of genuine scariness in this story. The power goes off. There's a mysterious locked room. But the scariest is the idea of a 'story' being real. The children realise there was a real town, a real mansion, and that is where they are this night. They must draw on the courage and work together to get through the story, right to the end.

This book is structured so well. I was initially confused as to why Walter would be surrounded by animals who act like people, but this is explained. The characters of the school children are believable without stereotypes and all develop in their own way.

My Name is Walter is a fast-paced and entertaining read for upper primary children.







Saturday, 20 October 2018

Zenobia


Zenobia by Morten Dürr and Lars Horneman (UQP) ISBN 9780702260254 HB RRP $19.95

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

This graphic novel is about a young girl who is a refugee from Syria and her dangerous journey away from the war in her country. Through evocative pictures and minimal, well-chosen words, it is a gentle but tragic story that doesn’t shy away from reality. Created in Denmark, where it won a national illustration award, Zenobia deals with an important international issue. It will no doubt will be read by older children and adults around the world.

Beginning at the end, the reader is not lulled into a sense that this book has a happy conclusion. Rather, the story is about how Amina got there and who she was. There are three stories in one and they are depicted by different colours. Amina’s present at the start is full colour. When she remembers her mother back in Syria in the past, the illustrations are in shades of brown. And the story of Zenobia, a great warrior queen of Syria, is in purple and orange. The colour changes are very effective in indicating time, but also in changing the mood of the story.

The first words are after ten pages of pictures, which strengthens their impact. Then at the end of the story there is no need for words again – this is quite powerful.  The story of Zenobia, told by Amina's mother, helps to make the book a bit less bleak. Zenobia acts as a source of strength and comfort for Amina after the ship wreck, even when everything is going wrong. Also Amina's memories of playing hide and seek and cooking with her mother, are very touching.

For children learning about refugees Zenobia clearly depicts how people like Amina have no choice but to leave. And while it is a very hard topic, it is important for children to understand what is happening in the world. Still, some younger readers may find it upsetting.

This graphic novel is the ideal format to depict war and desperation in such a quiet but emotive manner. Zenobia is an important and haunting read for upper primary school upwards.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Just Flesh and Blood


Just Flesh and Blood by Jane Caro (UQP) PB RRP $19.95 ISBN 978 0702260018

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Australian Jane Caro has won many national and international awards for her creative endeavours and has written numerous books including the prequels to this, her latest YA title in the Elizabeth 1 trilogy (Just a Girl and Just a Queen), both UQP titles.
In Just Flesh and Blood, she continues the life of Elizabeth, who endured a perilous childhood to take the throne as Queen of England. 

Now, four decades later, having withstood political upheavals, wars and plots against her life, she contemplates her successes and failures and ponders all she has relinquished – love, marriage and family – for power. As she is dying, Elizabeth recalls her first love, Robin Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester who was her playmate and became her master of horse on her accession. (Many consider he was her one true love.) There are many more memories which makes this a slow-moving book, not one bristling with action: after all, it is Elizabeth’s final chapter.

As with all books which are well-researched, the book contains a bibliography for those who want to read more about the great queen’s life and accomplishment. Also, very helpful at the end of the book, is its Cast of Characters, with, in order of appearance, the names and birth and death dates as well as a short potted history of those who appear in the book which begins with the death of Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry V11, who was executed by him for treason and adultery.


Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Tales of Mr Walker


The Tales of Mr Walker by Jess Black, illustrated by Sara Acton (Puffin Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9780143793076

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Sub-titled ‘a hotel dog with a nose for adventure’, this is a beautifully designed and presented book which would suit children aged 8 to 11 years who enjoy chapter books. There are four mini books between the covers: Mr Walker at the Park, Mr Walker and the Mystery Guest, Mr Walker and the Garden Surprise and Mr Walker Finds a Home.

At the start of the first story, Mr Walker, a golden Labrador dog, is being driven by Tracy to the Park Hyatt Hotel where he is to take up the position of Guide Dog ambassador of a park. The dog has no idea what an ambassador is, but he is welcomed to the hotel first by Thomas then by Henry Reeves whose family lives in a hotel apartment and who befriend him.

All four books are told from Mr Walker’s point of view as he gets to know guests – all wealthy and privileged, some famous -- and embarks upon adventures within the hotel whose employees include Chef Remy, housekeeper Meraj and Omid on the front desk. Always eager to help, Mr Walker always identifies people by their smells, including a mysterious man who is discriminated against but who turns out to be quite different from what he first appears.

This is a gently-told story with much charm and no real dramas which is likely to appeal to readers who prefer a ‘quiet’ story. Mr Walker is lovable even though he acts in typical dog fashion at times which gets him into scrapes.

The watercolour illustrations fit the mood of the story while the text is in large font which makes for easy reading. Royalties from sales of this book go to Guide Dogs Victoria.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Ho! Ho! Ho! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake


Ho! Ho! Ho! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake by Hazel Edwards, illustrated by Deborah Niland (Puffin Books) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN 978 0143790679
Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Australian author Hazel Edwards had a best-seller, There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake, in 2005 and since then she has produced various incantations of the book which is targeted at pre-schoolers. Now here’s the latest with the oversized pink hippo complete with a Santa hat getting ready for Christmas.

A curly blonde-haired boy is told by his father that there’s a man fixing roof tiles, but the boy knows the truth – there’s a hippopotamus up there getting ready – as is he – for Christmas. The hippo is making a cake and icing it, then he’s making a list for Santa (just like the boy). Before long the hippo is dancing a cake dance. 

At the same time that the boy and his family are decorating their Christmas tree, the hippo on the roof has a disaster – he accidentally sits on his Christmas tree ‘with his big wobbly bottom'! However, hippo is clever, and fixes it so it looks as good as new. Niland’s full-page, colourful illustration on this page shows a tree resplendent with goodies such as carrots, apples, cherries and cakes (donuts and lamingtons, of course!)

The rest of the book has the boy and the hippo on the roof preparing for the big day (gingerbread, card-making, wrapping gifts, stringing fairy lights) until finally the boy’s family all dress in Santa suits (as does the hippo). On Christmas eve there’s Carols by Candlelight, and of course stockings and food for Santa and his reindeer. When Christmas Day arrives, there is happiness and discovery for everyone.

This is a joyous, even scrumptious book with page after page of bright illustrations that reward the reader with multiple readings. It will especially appeal to any child who is super-excited as he or she anticipates all that Christmas Day will bring, and who is involved with family in preparing for the big day. The text is easy to read with large font and simple sentences. Certainly this is a great book for a small child’s Christmas stocking!



Sunday, 14 October 2018

Billie


Billie by Nicole Godwin, illustrated by Demelsa Haughton (Tusk Books)
HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9780994531414

Reviewed by Brook Tayla

The author’s intent is very clear in this book – to show the beauty of the natural world in which all animals should live happily and peacefully, compared to the hardships that they actually face every day because of humans.

‘Billie’ presents readers with many scenarios that underwater sea creatures face.  The protagonist is Billie, a bottlenose dolphin, who just wants to spend her days playing joyfully in the surf, but instead, sets about helping animals affected by human intervention.  She does things like free animals from nets and releasing them from fishing lines. 

There is something new to discuss on each page, even after multiple readings – Demelsa Haughton’s illustrations are part of the reason for this.  Although the illustrations are bold and clear, they are layered with extra visual information.  The colour palette used is beautifully calming and maintains a sense of peace that everything is under control. (Even if as adults we know the truth is problematic)

Nicole Godwin is both an author and an animal activist. She is on a mission to save the animals suffering that we currently have on the planet and she is doing this by writing books that start the conversation with children.  Her books introduce children to facts and encourages them, as not only readers, but as people, to think differently about all creatures in the hope of a better more conscious future. Her mission statement reads:

                     ‘We create children’s books that give a voice to those who
                     yelp, roar, moo, oink and trumpet.’

There is a double-page spread at the back of the book that gives readers facts about dolphins and the hardships faced by creatures living in the ocean – a lot of food for thought.

Brook Tayla writes a picture book review blog at [email protected] and would love you to drop by, read some reviews, leave a comment and subscribe.  Brook also offers editing services for beginning and emerging writers.


Saturday, 13 October 2018

Just Flesh and Blood


Just Flesh and Blood by Jane Caro (UQP) PB RRP $19.95 ISBN 978 0702260018

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Australian Jane Caro has won many national and international awards for her creative endeavours and has written numerous books including the prequels to this, her latest YA title in the Elizabeth 1 trilogy (Just a Girl and Just a Queen), both UQP titles.

In Just Flesh and Blood, she continues the life of Elizabeth, who endured a perilous childhood to take the throne as Queen of England. Now, four decades later, having withstood political upheavals, wars and plots against her life, she contemplates her successes and failures and ponders all she has relinquished – love, marriage and family – for power. 
As she is dying, Elizabeth recalls her first love, Robin Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester who was her playmate and became her master of horse on her accession. (Many consider he was her one true love.) There are many more memories which makes this a slow-moving book, not one bristling with action: it is, after all, Elizabeth’s final chapter.

As with all books which are well-researched, the book contains a bibliography for those who want to read more about the great queen’s life and accomplishments. Also very helpful at the end of the book is its Cast of Characters, with, in order of appearance, the names and birth and death dates as well as a short potted history of those who appear in the book which begins with the death of Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry V11, who was executed by him for treason and adultery.

Friday, 12 October 2018

The Book of Answers


The Book of Answers by A.L. Tait (Hachette Australia) PB RRP $14.99     ISBN: 9780734417695

Reviewed by Jeffery E Doherty

The Book of Answers is the second book in the gripping Ateban Cipher by A.L. Tait. It follows on from the first book in the series, The Book of Secrets.

Gabe and his companions must journey across the country to a remote mountain citadel to learn the secrets of the mysterious book he has been tasked to protect. They also need to find a way to rescue Merry and Gwyn's father from the executioner and to help their new friend, Eddie - Crown Prince Edward - to help prove he is the true prince. However, the king is gravely ill and the traitors who have put a look-a-like in Eddie’s place are hot on their heels and hunting them every step of the way.  

The remote fortress of Hayden's Mont does bring answers to Gabe and his companions, but not to the questions they were seeking. The stakes for the main characters have risen dramatically from the events in the first book and the group must re-evaluate their priorities in their life or death race to foil the traitors.

The Book of Answers is an excellent second addition to the Ateban Cipher series and is sure to be a hit with both girls and boys who love a great adventure story. The mix of female and male lead characters makes the story more interesting. Gwyn's stubborn confidence and young Midge's mysterious connection with animals, compliment Gabe and Eddie's determination. The companions will all have to build their trust and work together if they are to succeed in their quest.  This book is full of adventure and intrigue and would ideally suit readers 8-12 years old.