Showing posts with label Jacqueline Harvey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jacqueline Harvey. Show all posts

Monday, 4 February 2019

Kensy and Max Undercover

Kensy and Max Undercover by Jacqueline Harvey (Random House Australia) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 978014379104

Reviewed by Max Emmerson

This is the third book in a series about twins, Max Grey and his sister Kensington who are undercover agents-in-training at Pharos, a covert international spy network. In the first book, the twins’ lives are turned upside down when they are whisked off to London and discover their parents (both agents) are missing. In attempting to uncover the truth, strange things happen as they enter a weird new school, come across bizarre grannies on their street, and keep finding coded messages and adults who keep secrets. Who can they trust?

In the latest book of the twins’ adventures, the prolific Australian author Harvey helps any reader new to the series with clues at the front of the book: two maps, one of Sydney, the other of Cherry Tree Farm. As well, there are three comprehensive pages of the cast of characters (so many!), and then over seven pages of ‘Case Note 17’ which fills the reader in on what has preceded the current book. Again, these notes are comprehensive and filled with characters and places, recounting fieldwork undertaken by the twins, their skills, strengths and vulnerabilities, their training and more.

This is a lot to take in before moving on to the current state of play. The Undercover book starts with Kensy and her science partner in class almost burning down the lab and causing the evacuation of students. The next chapter switches to (Granny) Cordelia Spencer, who, the earlier notes tell us, is a Dame and Head of Pharos. More characters appear…There’s so much to take in. Next Granny ships the twins off from England to Australia on an undercover mission. There the two are enrolled in a posh Sydney school where their spying skills are used to infiltrate and befriend students.

Every chapter of the book begins with an incomprehensible row of letters: if the reader wants to decipher them, there’s a code-breaker at the back of the book.

Many characters, twists and turns, mysteries and fast-paced action: these abound in this book which no doubt will be followed by yet another in the series. Suitable for ages 9+ years.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Stories for Girls

Stories for Girls a selection of stories by Australian authors, illustrated by J. Yi (Random House Australia Children’s)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9780857980861
Ebook ISBN: 9780857980878
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

Who’s up for a story, or 12? This anthology of short stories is perfect for so many people. Young readers aged six to eight will laugh out loud, parents will rejoice at bedtime with the witty selection they can share with their children and teachers will be pestered by their students to read another story.

Jacqueline Harvey, Dianne Bates, Janeen Brian, Tania Cox, Claire Saxby – it’s a galaxy of writers presenting a stellar smorgasbord of stories about ghosts, glamour and games.

In Jess Black’s A Pony for Alice, there’s a wonderful unicorn connection. Maisie Dubosarsky’s short story tells of young Grace who wished so hard for long hair that it grew out the window. Just as well Mrs Finn, the violin teacher, had a great solution.

George Ivanoff is up to his usual funny stuff in his story of Ug the troll who wants to make a fairy pie as he ‘really, really liked eating … even people, when he could catch them.’

For dance enthusiasts, there’s Grace Atwood’s story of Arabella the ballet-dancing giraffe. Her perfect manners forbade her to show her long, blue tongue in company … ‘If she couldn’t reach the leaf with her lips, it was not the leaf for her.’

Challenges abound in David Harding’s Monkey Man. It’s the day of the Dad and Daughter school picnic and the permission note sternly states ‘No animals!’

In Deborah Kelly’s story about a pet rat, secrets abound– with a delightful twist on the theme of sibling rivalry.

There’s even a twist on fairy tales, as Martin Chatterton weaves his magic in The Tale of Handle and Kettle.

There’s so much to recommend this collection of short stories for girls. The stories are a great segue into chapter books with plenty of white space, large type and scatterings of illustrations by the quirky J. Yi (illustrator of the Alice-Miranda, Clementine Rose and Ghost Club series). There’s even a bio on each author at the end of the book with plenty of author goss.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Alice-Miranda 2014 Diary

Alice-Miranda 2014 Diary by Jacqueline Harvey (Random House Australia)
HB RRP $17.95
ISBN 9780857980526
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

Seeing this gloriously pink 2014 diary sent me searching for my own diary secreted away from prying eyes all those years ago. Mine wasn’t fancy; it was purely for personal, secret thoughts of my life as an eight-year-old. Fans of Alice-Miranda will delight in this hard-back, pink-spotted, gorgeously illustrated A5 diary. Perfect for a Christmas present or for a new start to the school year.

It has a week-by-week calendar for all the special occasions in the year including Australian holiday dates. It is filled with plenty of space for personal details, the reader’s family tree and favourite activities. There are quotes from the Alice-Miranda series, quizzes, drawing instructions and even an “Application for Enrolment” to fill in for Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. Young diary-keepers can also try their hand at the assortment of recipes, like “Nana Jones’s Marble Cake” and “Easy Spaghetti Bolognaise.”

This beautifully detailed, pink-ribbon-bookmarked diary is just waiting to have a name printed in ‘This Diary Belongs To …”

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Alice-Miranda Shines Bright

Alice-Miranda Shines Bright by Jacqueline Harvey (Random House Australia)
PB RRP $15.95
ISBN 9781742752907
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9781742752914
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

For a seven-year-old, Alice-Miranda is certainly savvy. This is Jacqueline Harvey’s eighth book in the popular and award-winning series. It doesn’t matter what order you read these books in. They’re quite “stand-alone” and handily accompanied by a “cast of characters” just in case the reader needs a little reminder.

Alice-Miranda Shines Bright is set back at school. It’s nearly the end of the school year and Alice-Miranda is puzzled as to why her friend Jacinta’s moods have become “darker than a thundercloud.” For the first time ever, the chirpy Alice-Miranda has “absolutely no idea of what to do next.”

With the plot of pre-teenage angst threading along in Jacinta’s story, there are other mysteries to solve. One of their neighbours, Reginald Parker (who has been in a coma for three years) has gone missing. Alice-Miranda and her friend, Millie, soon get onto the case. They ride their ponies, Bonaparte and Chops across the hills and through the woodlands while they communicate on walkie-talkies.

As they follow the clues to solve one mystery, another is evolving. The girls have found a teeny entry into a cave in the hills and have discovered gold. The trouble is, there are a few other interested and greedy people after it as well.

What has happened to Reginald Parker and why is Jacinta so moody? With her usual bright and bubbly demeanour, Alice-Miranda goes headlong into adventure and takes her readers with her.

Jacqueline Harvey’s Alice-Miranda series is hitting the high time overseas, and so it should. There’s innocence mixed with adventure and a rollicking good time for the reader, 8+.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Alice-Miranda in Paris

Alice-Miranda in Paris by Jacqueline Harvey (Random House Australia)
PB RRP $15.95
ISBN 9781742752884
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9781742752891
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

Bonjour to all the fans of Alice-Miranda. Oui oui, the seventh book in Jacqueline Harvey’s series is set in Paris.

Alice-Miranda and a clutch of her school friends, along with a group of boys from Fayle School for Boys have travelled to Paris as a combined choir to sing at various fab locations during Fashion Week.

As always, things do not go smoothly. There are several plots at work in this epicentre of fashion and City of Love.

The children have fun touring the Louvre, sailing the Seine and performing at the Palace of Versailles, Notre Dame Cathedral and The Ritz. They have their own room keys (like adults), eat breakfasts of croissants and pastries, and walk the hotel owner’s dog Lulu, who ‘strutted like a model on a catwalk.’

But, all is not oh là là! There has been a theft of expensive llama fabric just before the fashion show and Alice-Miranda and crew set out to unravel the mystery.

As usual, there are many deliciously named characters. There’s Mr Trout, Mr Lipp (whose suit was a ‘particularly nasty shade of electric blue’), Mr Plumpton and Professor Winterbottom.

There are several questions that will keep young readers hooked. Who is the famous person strangely named Dux LaBelle who hides beneath a mask and cape? Who is the fabric thief, and who will ask their English teacher, Miss Reedy, out to dinner, after all it is the City of Love!

Beautifully paced and airily written, young readers 8 and up will believe themselves to be walking the streets of Paris with Alice-Miranda aided by the handy glossary of French phrases at the beginning of the book.

Award-winning author Jacqueline Harvey is currently writing more Alice-Miranda books. Sacré bleu! What will her next adventure be?

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster

Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster by Jacqueline Harvey, illustrated by J. Yi (Random House Australia)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9781742755434
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9781742755441
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

Clementine Rose is five years old and ready to start kindergarten with her friends, Poppy and Sophie, after all, she’s been wearing her new school uniform for weeks.

This is the second book in the darling new series by bestselling author Jacqueline Harvey. There is nothing pretentious or spoilt about the main character, Clemmie. She is wide-eyed and bright as a button.

In this adventure, Clemmie encounters several hurdles on her first day at school. First of all, she doesn’t have the sweet Miss Critchley as her teacher. Instead, she has Mrs Bottomley, ‘a short woman wearing a drab brown check jacket and matching skirt’ with a ‘helmet of brown curls perched on top of her head.’

Author, Jacqueline Harvey, puts well to play her experience as a teacher of young girls, just as she does in her other delightful series, Alice-Miranda. She’s spot on with description and emotions and draws you into the humour of everyday situations that young kindergartens experience.

It’s not all plain sailing for Clemmie as the boys tease her about her name. They play tricks on her and wipe snot on her uniform.  One poor girl has an ‘accident’ and the boys call her ‘piddle pants.’ Clemmie realises another disappointing thing – she is not going to learn to read in an afternoon, as she thought she would.

The worst boy in the class is Mrs Bottomley’s grandson! It’s all too much and Clemmie decides she’s not going back to school. After a trip to the doctor for a wobbly tummy, Clemmie is back in class and her spirits are lifted as the principal, Miss Critchley announces that the school is having a Pet Day.

You can imagine what happens when children and an assortment of bizarre pets come together. There’s mayhem, but out of the fun, comes first prize in the dress-up competition for Clemmie’s pet, Lavender, the teacup pig dressed in a ‘tutu and ballet slippers’.

Many of the characters from Book 1 are interwoven in this second book. There’s Digby Pertwhistle, the butler and crusty, mean-looking Great Aunt Violet and her sphynx cat, Pharaoh (who together take out the prize for Pet Most Like its Owner).

The tone throughout is conversational, and often as a reader, you can hear Clemmie’s thoughts, which for young readers would be reassuring, knowing that they are not alone when it comes to little things going wrong at school. Each chapter is graced with a black and white illustration and a handy Cast of Characters is included at the back of the book.

Perfect for 6-9 year old girls, Clementine Rose will become a favourite friend. Her next exciting adventure is coming out soon, Clementine Rose and the Perfect Present. We can only wonder what it could be!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor

Clementine-Rose and the Surprise Visitor Clementine-Rose and the Surprise Visitor by Jacqueline Harvey, illustrated by J. Yi (Random House Australia)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9781742755410
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9781742755427
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

‘Clementine Rose was delivered not in the usual way, at a hospital, but in the back of a mini-van, in a basket of dinner rolls.’ With such an intriguing opening sentence it soon becomes clear that five year old, Clemmie (as she is affectionately called), is a little girl with a difference. Even her pet is unconventional; a cute-as teacup pig called Lavender who is ‘as big as a cat and won’t grow anymore.’

Clementine lives in a crumbling mansion in the village of Penberthy Floss. Her mother, Lady Clarissa Appleby, not only wins lots of competitions she also takes in paying guests to help upkeep their mansion. There are lots of deliciously named characters such as Digby Pertwhistle (the butler), Mrs Moggs (who makes Clemmie’s pretty dresses) and Pierre Rousseau (the local baker of all things French).

Each easy-read chapter is filled with light, bouncy prose and takes us into Clemmie’s life as she goes from scrape to scrape. The light-heartedness changes when Clemmie’s crusty, great-aunt Violet, and her bald, sphinx cat, come to stay. Violet has a secret and Clemmie does her best to find out what it is as she accidently-on-purpose sees strange things in her great-aunt’s mysterious black bag. Violet takes a great dislike to darling Clementine as she creeps and lurks around the mansion looking for something left there from her own childhood.

Harvey’s lively turn of phrase helps the reader visualise the characters, such as the napping guest, Mr Sparks, ‘whose forehead and cheeks were lined like crinkle-cut chips’. As Clemmie reaches out to touch his ‘not quite right’ hair, it slides onto the floor ‘like a flat ginger cat.’

The cover of Clementine Rose invites the reader in as the blond-haired, blue-eyed girl taking her teacup pig for a walk, waves and makes eye contact with you. You can almost hear her asking you to come and play.

Scattered through the chapters are appealing black and white illustrations that I was so tempted to colour in myself. There’s also a handy Cast of Characters at the back of the book to help the reader keep up with who’s who.

Jacqueline Harvey is the author of the bestselling Alice-Miranda series and it looks like she’s got many more adventures in store for sweet five-year-old Clemmie, with the last page showcasing the preview cover of Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster.

This easy-reading chapter book (first in the series) for children aged 6 – 9 sings of the joy of childhood and of families, even ones with grumpy great-aunts called Violet.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Alice-Miranda at Sea

Alice-Miranda at Sea by Jacqueline Harvey (Random House)
PB RRP $15.95
ISBN 978-1-8647-1848-5
Reviewed by Oliver Phommavanh

Alice-Miranda goes abroad in her latest adventure for younger readers. This sweet girl who always looks on the bright side of life is on a luxury yacht with her family and friends. She’ll get to witness the wedding of her Aunt Charlotte and movie star Lawrence Ridley. It’s a star studded celebration attracts unwanted attention from many fronts. There’s plenty of mystery with a stowaway named Neville, a short-tempered cook who looks very familiar to Alice-Miranda and a possible thief on board.

Alice-Miranda tries to melt the staff’s hearts, which is a little tricky when they’re not used to kids. It’s another chance for Alice-Miranda to show what she’s made of and save her aunt’s wedding from being a disaster.

Harvey turns her attention to luxury cruises and comes up with luscious descriptions of the yacht. It almost reads like a brochure because it’s so enticing. I’m sure readers will continue to daydream about her glamorous life. Long-time fans of Alice-Miranda will be delighted to see some characters from previous novels returning. Jacinta finally gets to see her mother again but it’s not the reunion that she hopes for.

Alice-Miranda overcomes challenges in her positive and charming style. She’s a great role model for girls of all ages. Alice-Miranda’s friends also have their own moments, with plenty of gentle humour between them. Alice-Miranda At Sea is another exciting addition to the series and there’s more to come. Recommended for ages 8 and up.     

Monday, 3 January 2011

Alice-Miranda takes the lead

Alice-Miranda takes the lead by Jacqueline Harvey (Random House)
PB RRP $15.95
ISBN 978-1-8647-1849-2
Reviewed by Oliver Phommavanh

Alice-Miranda takes the lead is the third book in the series for younger readers. She is back at school for a new term and there’s a new student, Sloane Sykes, a pushy and rude student, similar to Alethea’s bullying ways in the first book. But that’s where the comparisons end because when readers meet Sloane’s mum, September, you’ll see where Sloane gets her attitude from.

Harvey spends a lot of time on building up Sloane and September Skyes. They are fascinating characters, who seek fame and fortune through Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale. It speaks volumes about what people will do for status and I hope it’s not lost on the readers.

Alice-Miranda seems to thrive at school, mainly because we get to see her interact with her friends, who are not as optimistic. Alice-Miranda’s trademark resilience and seeing the good in everyone will delight fans.  
Readers will enjoy the drama production with the neighbouring boys school. But there’s also an evil scheme against the boys school in the works, plus Alice-Miranda uncovers the mystery of a witch who lives in the woods. There’s so much going on than the two previous Alice-Miranda stories combined. It makes this story the best yet!

Harvey’s experience with boarding schools and girl talk comes through in this lovely adventure. Alice-Miranda takes the lead is recommended for ages 8 and up. 

Friday, 10 September 2010

Alice-Miranda on Holiday

Alice-Miranda on Holiday by Jacqueline Harvey (Random House)

HB RRP $15.95
ISBN 978-1-8647-1984-0
Reviewed by Oliver Phommavanh

The sweetest girl with hyphenated names, Alice-Miranda returns in this breezy novel for younger readers. Alice-Miranda has gone home for the school holidays with her best friend Jacinta.

The girls arrive at Highton Hall to much fanfare from her extended family. Well, almost everyone is happy. They meet a grumpy boy who doesn’t fall for Alice-Miranda’s charms. She finds herself involved in a mystery that involves a famous movie star, suspicious strangers and a grandma who has a family secret.

Readers will be enthralled to see how Alice-Miranda lives at home. Harvey has done a tremendous job in bringing a busy and lush country estate to life. It’s nice to see some boys such as Alice-Miranda’s cousin, Lucas in the story too. Alice-Miranda uses all her wits to outsmart the bad guys and her problem solving ways only add to her wonderful personality.

Harvey has thrown in some eccentric characters that make this novel a fun read. Alice-Miranda fans will love this sequel, a great adventure in a new setting. This novel is recommended for readers aged 7 and up.