Showing posts with label Dannielle Viera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dannielle Viera. Show all posts

Sunday, 25 November 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’.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

The Crocodile Who Found His Smile


The Crocodile Who Found His Smile by Hancy Pancy, illustrated by Ann Snell (Austin Macauley Publishers) PB RRP $26.99 ISBN: 9781787107243

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Crosby the crocodile is ‘not a happy chap’. He longs to find a friend on the river, but nobody wants to play with him. Uncle Gnarly Nose ‘smacks his big, strong tail’ at Crosby, and then a bird ‘flaps her sleek black wings’ as she flies away from the lonely croc. Even Crosby’s mum is too busy to swim with him. Little does Crosby know that his mum and dad have planned a big surprise for him – a new brother and sister with whom he can have fun. Now he ‘has the biggest smile … [and] is a happy crocodile’.

Created by the Australian pair HancyPancy and Ann Snell, The Crocodile Who Found His Smile is a delightful picture book for kids aged three to seven years. As HancyPancy’s rhyming text follows Crosby’s search for a playmate, it gently introduces young readers to real-life details about crocodiles (including what happens during territorial disputes). For older children keen to know more about saltwater crocodiles, HancyPancy has added extra information in verse form at the end of the book, such as they’re ‘three times faster than the fastest man’.

Ann Snell’s vibrant illustrations bring the story to life. She channels the Impressionist artists of the nineteenth century, with her bold strokes of colour adding a unique dynamism to the scenes. Light dapples exquisitely across the river’s cerulean surface, and the subtle change in hues as day turns to evening is entrancing.

Children who adore animals – especially reptiles – will fall in love with Crosby the ‘curious croc’ and enjoy the clever blend of fact and fiction throughout the narrative. And, if they look carefully at the lively images, they might spot an elusive little frog on each page!

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’.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Twelve Angels Weeping


Twelve Angels Weeping by Dave Rudden, illustrated by Alexis Snell (Penguin Random House) HB RRP $29.99 ISBN: 9781405938273

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

‘Every light casts a shadow. And every story needs a villain.’ During the Doctor’s travels to the limits of time and space in the TARDIS – a time machine that is ‘bright and blue and shining in the grim darkness’ – the renegade Time Lord has encountered a slew of adversaries. From the reptilian Silurians and Ice Warriors to the rhino-like Judoon, each race proudly displays its unique brand of brutality like a badge of honour.

Teen fans of the long-running television show Doctor Who will enjoy sinking their teeth into this collection of twelve thrilling tales. In a refreshing twist, each story focuses on a classic villain (rather than the Doctor) and expertly augments the expanded universe of the franchise. While it is helpful to be aware of the characters and the various guises of the Doctor when reading the stories, it is not essential – sci-fi buffs with no prior knowledge of the show will quickly become engrossed in the futuristic action.

Dave Rudden immerses himself brilliantly into the vast world of Doctor Who, intriguing readers with a Cyberman who sees a ghost girl; the origin of Strax the Sontaran, who later works alongside the Doctor; and a Zygon plan to turn a glorious glass city into shards that will grind ‘into the meat of the universe’. Humour and horror drip from the pages in equal measure, surprisingly tempered with a lot of heart. With a dozen battles between light and dark to savour, this is one book that teenagers won’t want to ‘Exterminate!’

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Darkest Legacy


The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken (HarperCollins Publishers) PB RRP $17.99 ISBN: 9781460756362

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

For 17-year-old Suzume ‘Zu’ Kimura, it was as if ‘the past suddenly grew teeth’. The fragile acceptance of Psi kids like her that she had worked so hard to maintain had literally blown up in her face. Falsely accused of causing the deadly explosion – and on the run with two cagey Psi, who have their own agenda – Zu must wade through the mire of misery, mistrust and misinformation to discover the horrifying truth hidden in the shadows.

Aimed at teens 13 years and up, The Darkest Legacy follows on from Alexandra Bracken’s bestselling The Darkest Minds trilogy. Those who have read the original YA series will enjoy a deeper connection to the latest book, as they comprehend more completely the references to people, places and events from the series. However, the heart-pounding immediacy that Alexandra weaves throughout the action in The Darkest Legacy ensures that readers who are new to the world of the Psi – and their powerful mental abilities – will be carried along on the physical and emotional journey taken by Zu and her companions.

Evocative phrases pepper the text like bullets, drawing readers in to the ‘audible fire’ of the story. We feel every spine tingle and pulse thrum along with Zu, quickly becoming invested in the outcome of her odyssey. Meaningful memories successfully entwine with edge-of-your-seat exploits, and Alexandra uses clever dialogue to both define her characters and create dramatic tension. The ending is surprisingly satisfying, while also leaving the literary door ajar for the next instalment in this mesmerising series.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Waiting for the Night


Waiting for the Night by Julie Thorndyke, illustrated by Anna Seed (IP Kidz) HB RRP $26.00 ISBN: 9781925231519

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

‘Magic comes at night’ for Australia’s many nocturnal creatures. As dusk falls across the landscape, animals and birds await the cover of darkness before stirring from their slumber. The flying fox clings to the branch, ‘wrapped in soft wings’, while possums are curled up ‘well out of sight’. Torch in hand, a little boy sees the night come to life as eyes twinkle at him from every direction.

Waiting for the Night is a gentle rhyming story for children aged eight and under. With tranquil text that reflects the dreamy nature of the creatures before the sun goes down, this is an ideal book for bedtime reading. Julie Thorndyke beautifully blends real-life observations of Australian native animals and birds with captivating imagery, ensuring that her characters are authentic yet appealing.

Anna Seed’s full-spread colour illustrations support and augment the text admirably. From the olive green of bush foliage and the vibrant red of the Sturt’s desert pea to the stunning oranges streaking across the background at sunset, Anna has expertly captured the unique tones of various Australian environments. Her subtle change in sky colour from image to image as day becomes night is superb, while her renditions of fauna successfully tread the fine line between realism and idealism.

The pairing of simple, rhythmical text and calm illustrations makes this book the perfect choice for reading aloud to youngsters before they go to sleep. As they drift off, children are sure to enjoy pleasant dreams about the countless charming creatures that are ‘waiting for the night’.