Showing posts with label Dianne Bates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dianne Bates. Show all posts

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.

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!



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.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Elbow Grease


Elbow Grease by John Cena, illustrated by Howard McWilliam (Puffin Books) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9780143794400

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This picture book is ideal for machine-obsessed boys aged 4 to 8 years as its pages are filled with illustrations of highly modified cars and trucks that take part in a demolition derby. Smallest of these vehicles is Elbow Grease who is undeterred by his size and wants to take on his brothers Tank, Flash, Pinball and Crash who are tougher, faster, smarter and braver. What Elbow has in spades is gumption and pure determination. His aim in life is to have his picture displayed on a garage poster as champion in a monster truck grand prix.

The full-page illustrations seem to be computer-generated, making the vehicles and scenery seem life-like with gleaming duco, city lights, and a racing circuit which is quite spectacular as it shows a race in progress. Elbow Grease is taking part in the Grand Prix, but despite being ‘bashed and smashed and eve caught on fire a little bit’, he keeps on trucking. A storm arrives mid-race and poor Elbow is terrified of lightning; he’s cold and tired, too. At the end of the race (and the book), he says (in speech balloons), ‘What do you mean “The End”? … Never Give up! Never quit!... Never say “The End”.’

Lots of fun and action and bright, captivating illustrations, this book is sure to be carried everywhere by small boys wanting their parents to read it again and again.

Friday, 5 October 2018

The Puffin Book of Summer Stories


The Puffin Book of Summer Stories (Puffin Books) HB RRP $29.99 ISBN 9780143793540

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Featuring eight favourite picture book stories by well-loved Australian authors, this beautifully presented, heavy (and thick) collection makes an ideal gift, especially with Christmas coming up.

The classic books included are: Summer by June Factor and Alison Lester; Max by Marc Martin; Grandpa and Thomas by Pamela Allen; Castles by Allan Baillie and Caroline Magerl; My Hippopotamus is on our Caravan Roof Getting Sunburnt by Hazel Edwards and Deborah Niland; Seadog by Claire Saxby and Tom Jellett; There’s a Sea in My Bedroom by Margaret Wild and Jane Tanner, and Eve and Elly by Mike Dumbleton and Laura Wood.

All the stories feature the outdoors, mostly by the sea, and all are set out so that the reader can appreciate the wide variety of story-telling and illustrations. What a wonderful diversity of artwork there is, from Alison Lester’s detailed wash and pen pictures of an Australian family indoors and out on Christmas Day to Pamela Allen’s watercolour pictures with lots of white space with a grandfather and boy enjoying the seaside. After Allen’s pages come full-page very colourful pictures of a huge hippopotamus, so familiar to young readers, eating cake, this time while on family holiday. This contrasts with the more delicate colours with wash and line of Caroline Magerl’s rendering of a fanciful and imaginative story of a girl and boy creating a magical story on the beach and in the sea. Then there’s the realistic, beautifully realised beach illustrations by the equally talented Jane Tanner in Margaret Wild’s story where a boy imagines a sea in his bedroom.

There are so many excellent illustrations in this multi-story book which is sure to become a family favourite to be read and re-read by children aged 6 to 11 years, who will, no doubt, hand the book onto their children in the future.


Tuesday, 2 October 2018

We Are Together


We Are Together by Britta Teckentrup (Caterpillar Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781848576582

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

The first thing one notices about this picture book for children 4 to 6 years is that it has peek-through pages, including on the hard cover where there are ten children of different colours and nationalities: two of them appear in the cover cut-out. As one opens and reads each page, another child appears and then another until all ten children are together again.

This reinforces the book’s theme that ‘on our own, we’re special… But when we join up… together we’re a team.’ In each of the richly illustrated pages, children can be seen outdoors in changing weather – cloudy skies where they fly kites, golden sunset, autumn winds and so forth. On every double-paged spread is a quatrain in rhyme. For instance, one says, ‘We may travel alone/free as birds in the sky, /But flocking together,/we soar and we fly. When there’s a storm, the verses say, the children can splash through puddles ‘till the sun shines again.’ Another page has the lines, ‘If we all sing together, one voice becomes a choir’.

The whole book shows the power of being sociable and becoming part of ‘one big happy crowd!’ which is one supposes, the whole purpose of bringing children (people) together in our society so it will function happily.

There are dozens of children shown – colourful and happy – in the bright fly pages both ends of the book, and on the final page. This would make a marvellous book for pre-school teachers to present to their students, and for parents trying to make their children function happily in the world.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Waiting for Chicken Smith


Waiting for Chicken Smith by David Mackintosh (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN9781760501761

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This story is set on a beach where a child stays in the same cabin every year with his family. Every year, the child’s friend Chicken Smith stays on the beach, too, with his dad and his dog, Jelly. But this year Chicken hasn’t arrived, and this is a worry because there’s lots of usual things to do with him – ride bikes, share milkshakes, walk to the lighthouse with sandwiches and hunt for whales through Chicken’s binoculars.

There’s so much that the narrator and Chicken have shared in the past. But now Chicken’s cabin looks different – the windows are shut; the grass is long, and Chicken’s bike is missing. The boy’s sister urges him to go to the cliff-top with her while he’s waiting, and there, for the first time, the boy sees a whale. Without his holiday friend, the boy and his sister, Mary Ann (named on the last page) get to spend time together, possibly for the first time while on holidays.

The illustrations in this book by Australian author and illustrator, David Mackintosh, are dramatic and wonderful, from pencil drawings to silhouetted shapes (such as a bicycle frame and a lighthouse on a cliff with a red wash and golden moon). Every page rewards the reader with astonishing pictures that immerse one and make one want to be creative, too.

This is a stunning book which evokes so much of the temporary and often intense friendships children make in their lives. It is not usual to have a story about the end of such a holiday friendship, but the author/illustrator celebrates it and shows the reader that sometimes, though friendships end, there are always happy memories. And new experiences to be had. This book is highly recommended for readers 5 to 8 years.



Sunday, 30 September 2018

My Storee


My Storee by Paul Russell, illustrated by Aska (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925335774 

Reviewed by Dianne Bates
To get published, a manuscript must pass the ‘gatekeepers’, those adults who assess the story, often looking for what is ideologically unsound. Should a book with incorrect spelling all through it, pass the test? Apparently, the publisher, EK Books agreed with the words on the cover of this book, ‘Just because you can’t spell doesn’t mean you can’t write’. Some adults, like this reviewer, believe that the words in a book help a child learn how to spell.

This quibble aside, this is a book which most children aged 5 to 8 years are likely to enjoy because they, like the book’s protagonist, struggle with spelling as they attempt to write stories. The boy in this book is kept awake because he knows ‘a grand adventur (sic) is always (sic) waiting four (sic) me at the end ov (sic) my pencil’. He imagines stories about dragons, his teacher being eaten by a ‘gruesome ogre’, detectives, robot, aliens and more. However, at school, he says, there are too many ‘riting (sic) rulz (sic)’ and with all the rules his imagination suffers. Teachers, he says, cover his writing with red pen and change his meanings with the result that at school he doesn’t like to write.’

A new teacher with new teaching methods is the solution to the boy’s problem. The last sentence in the book reads, ‘So I picked up my pencil and wrote.’

The illustrations in My Storee are colourful and joyous, filled with cartoon characters such as live pencils, surfing mice and unicorn detectives, so they are sure to be enjoyed by child readers.


Saturday, 29 September 2018

All the Ways to Be Smart


All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribble) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925713435 

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

‘Every hour of every day, we’re smart in our own special way’ reads the penultimate page of this rhyming picture book for readers aged 4 to 7 years. The aim of the book is to show the reader ‘how smart you are the whole day through’ which is certainly good for young egos.

Presented in mostly greens, oranges, blues and browns, the book shows children interacting with a host of beings, some other children and some monsters and some people like pirates, witches and clowns.

Numerous children, such as a red-haired boy, a brown girl, a boy wearing glasses and numerous others are shown being smart in numerous ways. These include being talented in arts and crafts: ‘Smart at drawing things with claws/facts about the dinosaurs’, and in treating other people humanely: ‘Smart is kindness when there’s crying’.

Basically, the book is a list of ways in which children can be smart, presented in rhyming couplets. It would read well aloud and allow small children to feel that they are accomplished as they recognise the skills which they already possess.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

My Storee


My Storee by Paul Russell, illustrated by Aska (EK Books) HB RRP ISBN9781925335774

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

To get published, a manuscript must pass the ‘gatekeepers’, those adults who assess the story, often looking for what is ideologically unsound. Should a book with incorrect spelling all through it, pass the test? Apparently, the publisher, EK Books agreed with the words on the cover of this book, ‘Just because you can’t spell doesn’t mean you can’t write’. Some adults however, like this reviewer, believe that the words in a book help a child learn how to spell.

This quibble aside, this is a book which most children aged 5 to 8 years are likely to enjoy because they, like the book’s protagonist, struggle with spelling as they attempt to write stories. The boy in this book is kept awake because he knows ‘a grand adventur (sic) is always (sic) waiting four (sic) me at the end ov (sic) my pencil’. He imagines stories about dragons, his teacher being eaten by a ‘gruesome ogre’, detectives, robot, aliens and more. 

However, at school, he says, there are too many ‘riting (sic) rulz (sic)’ and with all the rules his imagination suffers. Teachers, he says, cover his writing with red pen and change his meanings with the result that at school he doesn’t like to write.’

A new teacher with new teaching methods is the solution to the boy’s problem. The last sentence in the book reads, ‘So I picked up my pencil and wrote.’

The illustrations in My Storee are colourful and joyous, filled with cartoon characters such as live pencils, surfing mice and unicorn detectives, so they are sure to be enjoyed by child readers.


Wednesday, 26 September 2018

There’s a Baddie Running Through this Book


There’s a Baddie Running Through this Book by Shelley Unwin, illustrated by Vivienne To (Allen & Unwin) HB RRP $$19.99 ISBN9781 760630614

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

With a title like this, the young reader can be sure there’s a lot of fun and action in this picture book. And it doesn’t disappoint. You can find the baddie, hidden among dozens of other animals such as hens, bears, tortoises and more in the fly pages before the story starts (spoiler alert, he’s wearing a mask and has a sack full of goodies over his shoulder). On the first page, the illustrator has cleverly shown the baddie running into a black space of a torn page, leaving behind a trail of lollies. As you turn the pages, the baddie is racing along, leaving a flurry of upset characters, such as the koala baby in a pram. Next, he catches the eye of a police officer.

In short rhyming lines, the author continues the baddie’s adventure. There’s ‘no time to waste/This baddie knows he’s being chased!’ On foot or in vehicles, the baddie continues to evade capture and to steal as he proceeds. To find out the baddie’s fate, one must follow him through the pages of the book until the end.

This book – ideal for reading aloud – is action-packed and fast-paced with lots of energy accompanying the animated and interesting illustrations. Lots of good fun and sure to amuse and entertain readers aged 4 to 8 years.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

All the Ways to Be Smart


All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribble) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925713435

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

‘Every hour of every day, we’re smart in our own special way’ reads the penultimate page of this rhyming picture book for readers aged 4 to 7 years. Presented in mostly greens, oranges, blues and browns, the book shows children interacting with a host of beings, some other children and some monsters and some people like pirates, witches and clowns.

The aim of the book is to show the reader ‘how smart you are the whole day through’. Numerous children, such as a red-haired boy, a brown girl, a boy wearing glasses and numerous others are shown being smart in numerous ways. These include being talented in arts and crafts: ‘Smart at drawing things with claws/facts about the dinosaurs’, and in treating other people humanely: ‘Smart is kindness when there’s crying’.

Basically, the book is a list of ways in which children can be smart, presented in rhyming couplets. It would read well aloud and allow small children to feel that they are accomplished as they recognise the skills which they already possess.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials


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

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

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

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

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

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

The book is highly recommended.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Total Quack Up!


Total Quack Up! Edited by Sally Rippin & Adrian Beck, illustrated by James Foley (Puffin Books) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780143794905

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

‘Funny stories to make you feel good about some of your favourite authors!’ is printed on the cover of this book published in Australia. The authors are Matt Stanton, Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks, Paul Jennings, Alex Miles, RA Spratt, Jacqueline Harvey and Oliver Phommavanh, as well as the two editors.

Superheroes, footy-obsessed pigs, birthday parties that go terribly wrong, criminal cats and hippos which prefer the beach rather than rivers are the subjects of some of these short stories.

In ‘Ratbagg’, Rory Albert Thomas Bragg has a mild superpower, which enables him to control rats with his mind. Of course, he owns pet rats, but when he discovers his school principal Mr Blart has a rat phobia, anything can happen! In Tristan Banck’s story, ‘The Pigs’, soccer team, the Kings Bay Pigs is down three to nil a few minutes from half-time: if they lose, they’ll hold the record for the Most Consecutive Losses by a Football Team in the World. In ‘How to Be A Super-hero’, Ann Small renames herself Arabella von Champion, and then attempts to reach up to the status. The title of Matt Stanton’s story, ‘What Hippopotamuses and Sharks have in Common’ signals what the story is likely to be about.

All ten stories are printed in large, easy-to-read font and black and white illustrations are scattered throughout. Not all of the stories are hilarious but there is enough humour in the book to keep a reader aged 8 to 12 years engaged for many hours.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Do Not lick this Book


Do Not lick this Book by Idan Ben-Barak, illustrated by Julian Frost (A&U) HB RRP $19.99   ISBN 9781760293055

Reviewed by Dianne Bates
                                                                                                                                           This is a brilliantly simple, funny, interactive picture book that introduces children to the strange, unseen world of microbes all around them by the award-winning author of Small Wonders and the animator of the insanely successful video 'Dumb Ways to Die'. It is so good it was winner of the CBCA Book of the Year, Eve Pownall Information Book Award, 2018

Min is a microbe. She is small. Very small. In fact, she’s so small you'd need to look through a microscope to see her. Or you can simply open this book and take Min on an adventure to amazing places she's never seen before - like the icy glaciers of your tooth or the twisted, tangled jungle that is your shirt.

The author Idan Ben-Barak holds a BSc in medical science, an MSc in microbiology, and a PhD in the history and philosophy of science. His first book, Small Wonders: How Microbes Rule Our World has been published around the world and won the 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru SB&F (Science Books and Films) Prize for Excellence in Science Books, Young Adult category. An excerpt from his most recent book, Why Aren't We Dead Yet? The Survivor's Guide to the Immune System, was runner-up in the 2015 Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing. Idan lives in Melbourne with his wife and two children.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Little Heroes: Inventors who changed the world


Little Heroes: Inventors who changed the world by Heidi Poelman, illustrated by Kyle Kershner (Familius LLC) HB RRP $9.99 ISBN 9781641700351

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This board book looks at eight inventors including two women, Marie Curie and Grace Murray Hopper. With two sentences each double-spread page, the reader learns those who created inventions which revolutionised society. Cai Lun, for instance, mixed ‘pieces of bark, old rags and fishing nets’ with water to produce the world’s first piece of paper. Grace Murray Hopper programmed a room-sized computer to respond to human voices, not just number codes.

In introducing each of the inventors, the author uses the word ‘little’ before the name, so ‘Little Louis’ found germs through the lens of his microscope. This surely gives the impression that each of the people targeted made their discoveries when they were young. A misconception, of course. 

Naturally it’s a good thing that small children learn that Thomas Edison found a way of lighting up light bulbs, that Leonardo Da Vinci drew plans for machines that eventually became real and that Johannes Gutenberg created the first printing press and so on. But one must question why these facts are presented in a book for pre-readers, that is, a board book.

Also, the reading level of this book is that of a 7 to 8-year-old. Even if someone read to a small child, it would probably be incomprehensible to someone so young.
Having said that, it must be pointed out that the book is colourfully illustrated and it’s good that children can learn, probably for the first time, about people who made our world more accessible.