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

Saturday, 19 January 2019

The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm

The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini (Penguin Random House) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9780241392379

Paolini began writing The Inheritance Cycle at fifteen, this book being the fifth in the series set in the world of Alagaesia. The hero, Eragon departed from the there a year ago in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. He must undertake a seemingly endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. A vision from the Eldunari, unexpected visitors and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective.

Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle series (Eragon, Eldest, Brisngr and Inheritance) has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 40 languages. No doubt this latest book will be eagerly awaited by his fans. If you haven’t read any of the books in the series, you will most likely find his latest difficult as the first chapter mentions numerous characters from the previous books.

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.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Matilda’s How to Be a Genius

Matilda’s How to Be a Genius by Roald Dahl illustrated by Quentin Blake (Penguin Random House) PP RRP $16.99 ISBN 9780241371183

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Ultra-popular children’s author, the late Englishman Roald Dahl lives on, thanks to the UK marketing department of his publisher. As well as the books on writing recently released, now comes this book which was inspired by Dahl’s novel, Matilda. It’s a colourful book with the sub-title ‘Brilliant tricks to bamboozle grown-ups’ and with lots of visual interest which ought to appeal to readers aged 8 to 12 years.

After the bright fly and title pages, there’s a double-page spread introducing, with drawings and descriptions, all the main characters in Matilda, including the ‘extra-ordinary child genius looking for revenge’ (Matilda herself), Mr and Mrs Wormwood, her ‘stupid and despicable parents’, Miss Honey, the kind teacher, Miss Trunchball (‘hulking and horrifying’) and Bruce Bogtrotter (read the book to find out about Bruce!)

In this book readers will discover mental marvels, amazing tricks, puzzles and games to train the brain. They will also learn how to stun others with the powers of mind-reading (guessing shoe size, for instance), how to add massive numbers sans calculator and how to write fiendish riddles, including secret messages using invisible ink. They will even learn how to poke skewers through balloons without popping them, and how to make exploding cakes.

No doubt this is a book which will entertain and occupy curious kids. It’s chock-a-block full of amazing material. No doubt Dahl would have approved!

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

A Lot of Stuff Happens

A Lot of Stuff Happens by Adrian Beck, Oliver Phommavanh, Will Kostakis and Andrew Daddo (Penguin Random House) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN9780143794752

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Here is a collection of four books in one from some of Australia’s best-known contemporary males writing for children. The book is divided into four sections titled, ‘Dale’, ‘Ned’, ‘Sean’ and ‘Ethan’. Dale, for example, is written by TV producer Adrian Beck and begins with the words, ‘Press-studs are evil’. When you read the sentence below which contains the words ‘I once had a pair of pants with an unreliable press-stud fly’, you know to prepare for something humorous to happen.
Each of the four boys attend Monvale Primary where everyday stuff happens, such as friendships, ghost stories, the school play, disappearing hamburgers, new teachers, singing monkeys and lions, the first day at school, flags made of underwear, living up to older brothers and sisters, warring dinosaurs. Stuff that happens all the time!
The stories are related in first-person and are written in easy-to-access, informal language that demonstrates lots of wit and good humour. There’s action a-plenty in this fast-paced book which is sure to be a hit with readers aged 8 to 11 years.

Monday, 7 January 2019


Misrule by Jodi McAlister (Penguin Books, 2019) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN9780143793465

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is the third book in McAlister’s Valentine series, the other two being Valentine and Ironheart. With the words ‘This is not a fairytale’ on the front cover, the book is nevertheless filled with magic and could best be described as paranormal.

Pearl Langford’s boyfriend Finn, who is a magical fairy prince, is kidnapped by his older brother and whisked away to fulfil his destiny in their fairy kingdom. Of course, Pearl is not impressed and decides on a boyfriend rescue mission, as would any girl in love. She has told Finn she would come to get him, and she will not allow anyone to stand in her way. This involves tearing a hole in the universe and possible deaths of others, and, the question is, does Finn want to be saved?

The opening sentence is memorable: ‘One thing I never knew about grief is that it was exhausting.’ This is narrated by Pearl who has undergone the deaths of her mother, her grandmother and her friend Marie ‘killed and eaten by carnivorous water monsters’, the after-effects she has witnessed. 

Here are words from the book: ‘...she’s lying on the kitchen floor, covered in horrible rivers of blood, splatters and streams of red all over the cabinets like the most horrifying children’s painting ever, and a gash in her neck so deep I’m amazed her head is even still attached to her body.’ 

Yes, McAliser writes extremely well, but be prepared for vivid descriptions such as this one!

Described as ‘unputdownable’, Misrule is an adventure story, a mix of action, romance and wit, and is highly suitable for a YA readership.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Rise: The Sam Thaidy Story

Rise: The Sam Thaidy Story by Sam Thaidy and James Colley (Penguin Random House) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN9780143790149

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Born in Sydney but known as a Queenslander, Sam Thaidy is the son of a native Torres Strait islander. To a keen supporter, Sam has entertained Brisbane Broncos, Queensland State of Origin and Australian fans for sixteen years both on and off the field. This book for readers aged 8 to 12 years tells, with his trademark humour and honesty, of Sam’s roots as a Townsville boy and a die-hard Cowboys fan and of how his mum Julie taught him to pass and tackle.

In simple, easy-to-read language, the book also tells of the ups and downs of the game Sam loves including coping with injury and visiting places such as Darwin and Papua New Guinea. Sam says, ‘Papua New Guinea is the only nation on earth that has rugby league as its national sport.’ He tells of his feelings towards his trainers who ‘were picking on me’, but how, as an older more experienced player, he can see they were only trying to get him to better himself.

The book has a section of coloured photos of Sam and highlights of his career and of his family with wife and two small children. Young readers will find information in Sam’s book for setting and reaching goals, handling setbacks and finding things in life that really matter.

Rise: The Sam Thaidy Story is a must-read for any young league fan, regardless of who they barrack for.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Roald Dahl’s Creative Writing

Roald Dahl’s Creative Writing with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Puffin Books, 2019) PB RRP $9.99 9780241384565
Roald Dahl’s Creative Writing with the BFG (Puffin Books, 2019) PB RRP 9780241384572
Roald Dahl’s Creative Writing with Matilda (Puffin Books, 2019) PB RRP 9780241384589

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Capitalising on the popularity of the late Roahl Dahl, here are three 28-page books with coloured illustrations and plenty of exercises for the budding young writer. ‘How to write tremendous characters’ is the aim of Roald Dahl’s Creative Writing with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, while Roald Dahl’s Creative Writing with the BFG focuses on how to write splendid settings and how to write spellbinding
speech is the focus of Roald Dahl’s Creative Writing with Matilda.

In the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the exercises listed in the content’s page include backstory, heroes and villains, speech and dialogue, caring about characters and through each other’s eyes. Thus, the young person attempting the many exercises in this attractively presented book with fill-in boxed spaces, is told such this as how to give opinions and write news reports, how to create likable characters or what speech can reveal about a character.

In this book’s section on words and pictures, the reader is asked to look at illustrations and to use adjectives to create a picture. Some exercises relate to characters in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (matching adjectives with Charlie Bucket, Veruca
Salt, Augustus Gloop, etc), while there is also an exercise in creating a character (Choose a title, such as Dr or Lord), think of a first name and choose or invent a surname). The reader is then asked to make up full names for characters, such as a rich woman, a funny teacher and an elegant king. Then the reader is asked to make up names for Oompa-Loompas and to create dangerous beasts that might live in Loompaland. (An accompanying Ideas Box provides a vocabulary list such as ‘weasel’, ‘swoop’ and ‘pilfer’.

Thus, for each of the books, the young reader is asked to know the contents of Dahl’s book and to use this information creatively. And, too, there are exercises which rely on the reader’s imagination as Dahl certainly did.

These books are recommended to inspire and help budding young writer (teachers might also get some terrific ideas as well!)

Friday, 28 December 2018


Rodney written and illustrated by Kelly Canby (Fremantle Press) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925815320

Reviewed by Julie Dascoli.

“Come and play,” screeched the monkeys.

“We can see the ocean from our homes, come up and take a look,” sang the birds.

Poor Rodney dreams desperately to be high above the trees but he is a turtle. His efforts to climb the trees result in disappointment and has him feeling very, very small. It’s not until he wanders sadly off and leaves his friends behind that something happens. His surroundings begin to change. As this happens, his friends, his perception of himself and his place in the world changes, too.

This story made me smile. Straight away I fell in love with Rodney and felt empathy for his plight. I was so happy when he realised his happiness in a different environment and comes to understand that size is just a matter of perspective.

Kelly Canby has created a beautiful story in a simple, thoughtful way both with her words and pictures. The message is subtle but powerful, perfect for children aged 3 to 5.

The illustrations seem to be very different to Canby’s other works in that they are hand-painted and then cut out and made into collages. This gives this 32-page, read-aloud picture book a 3D effect. The green and brown of the grass and the trees with the animals entwined in the leaves and splashes of colour everywhere else is visually appealing. The satin finish hard cover also gives Rodney a luxurious feel. 

Kelly Canby, born in England, came to Australia as a small child, (That means we claim her as ours now.) She now has over a dozen published books to her credit including, The Hole Story which was a big hit, selling all over the world.

Canby is very busy in the children’s literature world: when she is not illustrating or writing, she is on the committee of the Children’s Book Council of Australia. WA branch and on the Shaun Tan Award for Young Artists’ judging panel. She is also The Regional Advisor for SCBWI, WA and is an active blogger, and Instagramer with over 3,500 followers.

Canby is available for primary school and book shop visits: you can contact her through her publisher, Freemantle Press.

“Rodney” will be a welcome addition to any kindergarten or community library
and indeed any home collection.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Cool Poems

Cool Poems by Kate O’Neil, illustrated by Christina Booth (Triple D Press) PB RRP $25 ISBN 780994349996

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Despite having written and published her poems for numerous years, this is Australian Kate O’Neil’s first solo collection. It is especially for students who enjoy words, who love rhythm and rhyme. The collection is divided into seven sections with subject headings ranging from ‘In Australia’ and ‘Speaking Your Mind’ to ‘Play’ and ‘Light and Dark’.

One of the first poems in the book under ‘Happy Living Things’ was a short free form  poem with a fine image that sticks in my mind. This is in ‘Slug’, where O’Neill writes, … ‘how is it that your/loathsome taper/makes this/exquisite/tracery of silver script...’. Beautiful! I urge you to get your hands on this book, so you can read poems like this with such memorable imagery. Another short poem in the same section is ‘To a Leech’, the first line of which reads, ‘You’re no prince in disguise’.

In the section, ‘In Australia’, there are poems about being barefooted, eating mangoes, climbing mountains, paragliding and cockatoos. Subject matter throughout the book is wide-ranging and includes school rules, blowflies, Cocky’s Joy, beating the blues and blind man’s bluff. Some poems, like ‘The Cynic Route’, ‘Gargoyle Guile’ and ‘Man and Moonshine’ are more suited to mature readers, but there are plenty of fun poems sure to be enjoyed by younger readers, such as the prima donna selection, ‘The Kid from Camdenville’, ‘Bare, Bare Black Sheep’ and ‘Classy Darcy’.

Happily, too, there’s a variety of poetic forms from rap to couplets, quatrains to free form. A few of the poems use the rhyming scheme of well-known poems. And, too, the poet uses speech within poems such as in ‘Bedtime Boogie’ and ‘Bedtime’.

Booth has done an excellent job of illustrating the collection with black and white line and wash pictures. Stand-outs are the gargoyle illustrating ‘Midnight Feast’ and the big-headed cat about to pounce on the unsuspecting bold mouse.

If you’re looking for a collection which will be rewarded by dipping into and reading fun, serious and thought-provoking poems for your reader aged 9 to 14, this book is highly recommended.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018


Scapegoat written by Ava Keyes illustrated by Aleksandra Szmidt (Little Steps Publishing) RRP $14.95 (PB) ISBN 9780648267461

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

This bright and cheerful looking picture book covers a subject not so happy – family bullying. This is Ava Keyes’s debut picture book, partner-published with Little Steps Publishing. In rhyming prose, the story unfolds of Scapegoat, who is blamed by his family for everything that goes wrong. Illustrations by Alexsandra Szmidt add character and humour to balance the more serious topic of the book.

Scapegoat is a young goat who keeps getting into trouble. His brother Marco is fun to play with, but when he is naughty, it’s Scapegoat who gets told off. In fact, even when the parents do something wrong, Scapegoat is blamed for that as well. It is at school that Scapegoat’s friends realise what’s going on at home and the impact this is having on Scapegoat. They talk to the teacher, who then approaches the parents about it.

It is an interesting topic as most books about bullying deal with what happens at school, so this is a kind of different side of things. The book could be used by teachers for kids when they suspect it might be happening at home. The resolution of the story is more about the child believing in themselves than the parents changing their behavior, which could be empowering for someone in this situation. While the rhythm of the rhyme is not always consistent, using animals to represent children lifts the story and makes it more fun.

Scapegoat could be read aloud by adults, who can then explain the concepts to children or read independently by kids who like the illustrations. Scapegoat is a niche book with a definite purpose for kindergarten and lower primary school children.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Learn with Ruby Red Shoes. Counting book and Alphabet Book

Learn with Ruby Red Shoes. Counting book and Alphabet Book by Kate Knapp. (Harper Collins publishers) RRP $13.08 PB 978-1-4607-5691-1

Reviewed by Julie Dascoli

Ruby Red Shoes is a white hare who loves to learn. Hop along with Ruby and her chickens as they learn how…

Kate Knapp’s Learning with Ruby red shoes counting book and Alphabet Book are a lovely addition to her vast body of works in the Ruby Red Shoes story collection.
This experienced and esteemed children’s author and artist from Brisbane, works from her design studio, Twiggseeds. As well as books, Kate produces stationary, cards and prints and more all by hand, using pencil, ink and watercolour.
Kate has created beautiful, hard cover books for two to seven-year olds. The gorgeous satin finish and small size is perfect for this age group to browse alone or as a read aloud, bed time story.

They are rhyming stories, with cheerful rhythm and rhyme. I can clearly imagine children asking for these stories again and again, and memorising the verses.
The examples for each, either letter or number is refreshingly different. Such as A is for angels rather than the usual apple and the numbers relating to the antics that Ruby and her pet chickens get up to is also refreshing. I also liked that the numbers go up to twelve instead of stopping at ten.

The illustrations are sweet, gentle, cartoon drawings in pastel shades, giving the books a very old-world appearance.

Ruby’s chickens, which feature a little more heavily in the Alphabet book, have cheeky, endearing expressions on their faces. (How is that even possible on a chicken?) This made me smile.

I think Learn with Ruby Red Shoes Alphabet Book and Learn with Ruby Red Shoes Counting Book would make a lovey addition to any library, at a kindergarten, home or community.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Bruno The Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush

Bruno The Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush by Robyn Osborne, illustrated by John Phillips (Big Sky Publishing) PB RRP 24.99 ISBN 9781925675504

Reviewed by Claire Stuckey

Bruno is a boisterous blue dog from the bush who shares a very distinct outback lifestyle with Bob. This is a very alliterative tale which celebrates mateship and relies on colloquial language of the Australian bush.

Reminiscent of Footrot Flats books and comics, the illustrations may entice adults to share the title and children to pick up the book. Once introduced in their bush setting, the story continues in the city after Bob wins " a few bucks " on the races and travels around Australia only to realise that "the bush no longer seemed bonzer." After some high living in the city complete with butler, Bruno begins demolishing the apartment so "Bob blew his block " but the pair reconcile after Bob's accidental fall from the balcony. The buddies return to the bush once more somewhere near Bandywallop.   

With so much alliteration I wonder how children will cope with the text, although parents may find the text dated, with teams like ‘bully beef’ and ‘Bonox’. The story requires some intonation to achieve the intended humour so that teachers and librarians may find the book useful to encourage reluctant readers.   

This book is difficult to recommend for a specific age range as it is a picture book with text and concepts suitable for an older reader perhaps 7-10 years.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Rainforest Feasts

Rainforest Feasts by Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzetti, illustrated by Heather Charlton (Wild Eyed Press) PB RRP $15.50 ISBN 9780648161127

Reviewed by Nikki M Heath

What do the critters of the rainforest get up to when they wake up at night? Feed their hungry bellies, of course! This colourful book of rhyming verse explores the eating habits of a variety of rainforest creatures.

The book comprises a series of vignettes rather than a narrative plot. The unusual selection of animals and insects Eldridge-Alfonzetti has featured, including crayfish, native rats and glow worms, distinguishes the book from comparable titles.

The watercolour illustrations are bright and colourful while still conveying a sense of the night-time forest setting. Each spread shows the featured rainforest creature and its prey, often in the act of capturing or eating the meal. Some critters are rendered with a greater sense of character and likeness than others, and not all are perfectly consistent throughout. Nevertheless, young children will enjoy the double-page spreads.

The final spreads will particularly enthrall young audiences, with a challenge to find all the featured creatures in both a daytime and night time setting. This book would form an engaging yet relaxing part of any young child’s bedtime routine and is particularly suited to 3 to 8 year olds. With its large, bold illustrations and many springboards for discussion, it would also fit well into a junior primary classroom.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Princess Hayley’s Comet

Princess Hayley’s Comet by Rebecca Fung; illustrations by Kathy Creamer.
(Christmas Press) RRP $13.99  ISBN 978 0994 528 070

Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke

Debut author Rebecca Fung has taken a fun idea, punning on the name of the famous Halley’s comet, and produced an enjoyable and original story for young readers.

Princess Hayley’s Comet is a slim little book with an engaging cover and the promise of an active storyline. The cover illustration by Kathy Creamer is attractive in bold primary colours and the dynamic swirling path of the golden comet looks appropriately regal. The expressions on the faces of the king and the princess give a hint of the plot.

The first page plunges straight in to the crux of the story: “Dearest Hayley,” asked the King. “What would you like for your birthday?”

A princess with everything she could ever wish for, the soon-to-be-ten-year-old Princess Hayley asks for a comet.

Although set in a traditional, generic fairy-tale castle, this story does introduce elements of science fiction as the narrative unfolds. Some basic information about real comets is embedded at the beginning of the story. The princess obtains information about comets from her book Simple Astronomy. She wonders about the personality of a comet:

Hayley was sure the comet was independent, exciting and adventurous, and the more she felt that, the more she adored it.”

The comet symbolises Princess Hayley’s own personality, and her desire for adventure and exploration.

The idea of capturing and riding a comet (without being burned to ashes) is unrealistic. However, Fung manages to pull this absurd situation off, the reader suspending disbelief and going along with the story. Afterall, the fairy-tale genre does not set up an expectation of realism.

In eleven chapters liberally sprinkled with black and white drawings, the book is accessible, dynamic and inviting to primary school children, and offers both visual and textual surprises on each page. The size of the book is appropriate for child hands and the text is well-spaced and not at all daunting.

Princesses are standard fare in children’s literature. How does Hayley compare with the stereotype? She has a benevolent father, the king, ready to grant her every wish. (The Queen is not mentioned.) Princess Hayley has a collection of exotic birthday presents including polar bears, golden treehouses and diamond tiaras. She has servants to assist her in everyday life at the palace. But unlike many princesses, she isn’t isolated or lonely.

With two “equal best” friends, Ned and Cara, Princess Hayley is a well socialised and resourceful character. When the King’s Advisors say that a birthday comet is impossible, she actively devises strategies to catch her own comet.

Kathy Creamer’s illustrations reveal a princess who wears plaits with her crown, and boots with her regal robes, that are a sensible calf-length for active movement.

If there is a moral to this enjoyable tale, it is that girls are capable, interested in science and don’t need the help of male authority figures to achieve their goals.
A great addition to every little princess’s book collection.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Ara the Star Engineer

Ara the Star Engineer by Komal Singh, illustrated by Ipek Konak (Page Two Books, distributed by Newsouth Books) HB RRP AU$24.99

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This book has two important features going for it: one is that is shows numerous females and people of colour in positive working roles and the other is that it is about computers and numbers. 

The author is a woman in technology who was challenged to write this book when her four-year-old daughter proclaimed, ‘Engineers are boys.’ Singh, in an author’s note at the front of the book, says research shows that girls start doubting their STEM intelligence (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by the age of six. Hence this picture book hopes to redress this.

The story begins with Ara, and her robotic assistant Dee Dee who explore the STEM world. Ara starts with telling the reader that the word ‘googol’ (meaning a number with a hundred zeros in it), was name by a nine-year-old. To figure out how many googols of stars there are in the sky, Ara and Dee Dee, travel to Innovation Plex, where they meet Kripa in the Data Centre who shows them now to use a computer to solve problems. Another woman tech whizz the two meet is Parisa who uses algorithms to solve problems. And so, the story moves on – to Coding Pods, and X-Space – as more interesting information is revealed.

This is a an inspiring, inclusive, whimsical way to learn about computers and technology from real-life trailblazers. The women at the centre tinker-and-tailor, build-and-fail, launch-and-iterate, and in the end discover an amazing algorithm of success -- coding, courage, creativity, and collaboration. The women mentioned in the book, by the way, are real: their biographies appear at the end. And, too, there’s a notebook with activities and information about women trail-blazers (like programmers Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, and NASA’s space investigator Katherine Johnson).

If you would like to inspire your budding computer, maths or science child, this is certainly a book which should do the trick! The book is filled with colourful illustrations to pour over which show workers in coding pods and other interesting work spaces.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Stories for kids who dare to be different

Stories for kids who dare to be different by Ben Brooks, illustrated by Quinton Winter (Quercus) HB RRP $35.00 ISBN 9781787476523

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Sub-titled ‘True tales of boys and girls who stood up and stood out’, this is one of the most interesting, fascinating and absorbing non-fiction books for children I’ve read in years – and I’ve read many. The sub-title is misleading, though, as the accomplishments of many of the heroes featured occurred when they were adults, but the book, equally devoted to the exploits of males and females, tells of childhoods, often deprived and of people who overcame poverty, physical problems and more. However, the design of the book with typeface often on overly-dark pages, does it a disservice. But truly, the stories are wonderful and certainly inspiring, even for adults as well as children aged 9 to 13 for whom the book is marketed.

Bjork, Dr Seuss, Whoopi Goldberg, Andy Warhol, Gertrude Stein, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Lady Godiva, Yvonne Goolagong and Dr Seuss are people most adults are familiar with and whose stories they know. But this book of 100 (or more) people from countries all over the world include amazing achievements in all fields from astro-physics to medicine, ballet to civil disobedience.

It’s difficult to focus on only a few heroes when all here are remarkable… but the Edelweiss Pirates, teenagers who undermined Nazis (by acts such as posting anti-slogans and putting sugar in petrol tanks) during Hitler’s reign of terror, were certainly brave. So too was Witold Pilecki who defended Poland against the Russians and volunteered to be arrested and sent to Auschwitz death camp to expose the horrors there, transmitting messages to the resistance and to the British authorities, becoming the first person to alert the outside world of the Nazis’ atrocities.

Someone who was heroic in 2018 was Emma Gonzalez, a teenager who organised March for our Lives, a peaceful protest in America in support of new gun control laws following a mass killing in her school – she managed to mobilise almost 2 million people! Muslim Loujain Al-Hathloul drove a car and made videos in Saudi Arabia at a time when women weren’t allowed to drive (they couldn’t vote until 2015 and still aren’t allowed to open their own bank accounts). There are dozens more stories. I was inspired to follow the lives of some depicted here, such as the Inuit artist, Kenojuah Ashevak, 18 year old Hannah Herbst who has invented a small machine called BEACON which uses wave action to create electricity and black ballet dancer Eric Underwood who became the star of The Royal London Ballet and had a ballet shoe named after him.

Throughout the world, where there are injustices, strong men and women (and sometimes children) emerge to remedy wrongs. In our evermore hectic and overwhelming world, Stories for Kids Who Dare to be Different is refreshing proof that dreams do come true and that it is okay to be different.

This is an inspiring read for any young person, particularly those struggling to find their place in the world and who want to know about the lives of those heroes who have led the way, changing the world for the better as they go. 

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

A Miniature Christmas

A Miniature Christmas edited by Beattie Alvarez (Christmas Press) RRP $24.99 PB ISBN 9780648194514

Reviewed by Wendy Haynes

This is jam-packed with Christmas goodies. As the title suggests, the stories delve into many miniature worlds. Beattie Alvarez has done a wonderful job compiling twelve illustrated stories bringing with them Christmas, imagination and the wonder of magic.

Suitable for 7 – 10-year olds this book could be read to a younger audience. Each story brings a sense of the Christmas spirit, the magic of genies, goblins, Fuchsia fairies, the delight of miniature Christmas scenes, toy apps, trees brought to life, the charm of Christmas decorations, elves tugging on your ear, a take on Peter Pan at Christmas, and small creature pulling together to make Christmas great.
There is a story here for everyone.

Some of the authors include Dianne Bates with her story ‘George the Genie’, illustrated by Sally Heinrich.  George is summoned by an unsavoury character, and the wishes he is asked to grant go beyond his moral being. So George and the rest of his clan concoct a plan to teach Bernie Blister a lesson.

‘Christmas with the Fuchsia Fairies’ text and photographs by Kathy Creamer, brings your imagination to life. When Rosie Dimpleberry finds water sprite Tinkle crying, she along with the rest of her friends find a way make Tinkle’s Christmas special.

‘A Mouse Christmas’ by Natalie Jane Prior, illustrated by Amy Bogard, tells the story of Marigold the mouse who lives under floor board under the stove, with her mother and two siblings, Star and Silas. Being mice they sleep all day and venture out at night when the black and white dog, and the humans are sleeping. Marigold gets caught up in the wonder of the Christmas food and though the dog tries to sniff her out, at the stroke of midnight they share a special moment of what Christmas really means.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Tiggy and the Magic Paint Brush: A Musical Show

 Tiggy and the Magic Paint Brush: A Musical Show by Zanni Louise, illustrated by Gillian Flint (Hardie Grant Egmont) RRP $14.99 PB


Reviewed by Wendy Haynes

Tiggy and her friends Felix and Poh are back and this time Tiggy is about to perform in a musical show in which she is the star. But after practicing perfectly at home and now at the hall with her friends, this time, Tiggy’s voice sounds more like a frog than her own. What should she do? She is worried she will let everyone down and races to the bathroom.

Then she gets an idea. With the help of her magic paintbrush, she conjures up a nightingale: together they sing so beautifully, but no one can understand it. Maybe a whale can help, but they need water. Perhaps a Parrot can sing in her place but his voice is too harsh. What will Tiggy do? Then she has the best idea of the day.

This book is another delight for children aged 4 – 7 years old and the series helps children image new ideas and that anything is possible. As usual the illustrator Gillian Flint has added depth to the story with her vibrant pictures throughout the book, looking forward to the next one.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Tiggy and the Magic Paint Brush: A Birthday Party Trick

Tiggy and the Magic Paint Brush: A Birthday Party Trick by Zanni Louise, illustrated by Gillian Flint (Hardie Grant Egmont) RRP $12.99
ISBN 978176068683

Reviewed by Wendy Haynes

The third book in the Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush series, A Birthday Party Trick brings with it a birthday party Tiggy is so excited about. You see, the thing she is so excited about is that a REAL Magician is coming to her party. But when at the last minute the magician rings up sick, Tiggy has to spring into action and devise a way she and all her friends still get to enjoy a magical birthday.

With the help of her magic paintbrush Tiggy conjures up Paulo the Great but the problem with Paulo is that none of his tricks works -- that’s not until he disappears. Tiggy looks high and low for Paulo the Great, and eventually finds him, but now he is too small.

This fun instalment suitable for ages 4 -7-year olds is splashed with colour by the talented illustrator Gillian Flint. Join Tiggy on her birthday and discover as she does that a birthday can be just as magical without a magician.