Showing posts with label Julie Dascoli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Julie Dascoli. Show all posts

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.

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.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Around the world with Gramps

Around the world with Gramps by Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzeeti, illustrated by Teresa Lawrence (Celapene Press) RRP PB IBSN:978-1-925572-15-5 

Reviewed by Julie Dascoli

Today, Lucy’s Gramps is wearing a tasselled cap, a white shirt, his red knitted waistcoat, a pleated tennis skirt, long johns and a fat pom-pom attached to each of his slippers. Today they are studying Scotland.

Every Friday of the school holidays, Lucy stays at her Gramp’s house while her mum goes to work. As a retired Geography teacher, Gramps takes great delight in surprising his Granddaughter with the country they will study on that day. He greets them at the door in a costume, plays music from the country of choice and explores the globe in the morning. In the afternoon they cook food from the chosen country and do a craft activity.

All this has been fun over the years but now that Lucy will soon be going to high school and has a cool friend, Briony, she would rather not go to Gramp’s house any more but hang with Briony at her Grandma’s house. Mum won’t hear of it.

Everything changes one day when Lucy’s mum receives a phone call to say Gramps is in hospital having had a mild stroke. After contemplating her life without her gramps Lucy’s next move surprises us all. Especially Gramps.

Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzetti is a renowned and award-winning author of poetry for both children and adults, countless short stories, articles, a picture book and so much more. She has done herself proud with this one as well. Around the world with Gramps is a mindful, sweet story for children around maybe 6-9-year-old, (and old ladies like me.) It would be ideal for a read-aloud or for an independent reader. The ending bought a tear to my eye

The recipes at the back of the book are a novel addition: I’m sure readers will give them a go.

The illustrations for Around the world with Gramps are by Teresa Laurence. They are grey scale sketches depicting the characters beautifully.  I especially liked the expressions on the character’s faces. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Institute of Fantastical Inventions

The Institute of Fantastical Inventions by Dave Leys, illustrated by Shane Ogilvie (Harbour Publishing House) PP RRP  $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-922134-93-6

Reviewed by Julie Dascoli

For all your wildest fantasies, the Institute of Fantastical Inventions is the go to place. The more absurd your fantasy is, the more they like it at IFI.

With a huge team of scientists, headed by Director Baldy Bob, we have Leo McGuffin, the main character, Edward Bump, the child genius, Andrea Allsop, and many others. The teams put their expertise together to make the zaniest of requests come true for their clients. The outrageous requests include a person who wants a third leg that glows in the dark and a young  girl who wants steam to blow out of her ears like a locomotive.

After discovering the plans for all of the fantasies from IFI have been stolen by Pip Poplet, the villain and in secret partnership with their Director, Director Baldybob, Leo and his wacky science mates set out to catch the crook and expose the director for the traitor that he is. 

Leo’s prickly relationship with Andrea Allsop is set aside to solve the crime, and almost becomes a romance. (Not that Leo realizes it.) The Outrageous plan the scientists plot to save the company is every bit as crazy as the ideas they come up with for their clients.

This is Dave Leys’ first young adult novel. From Sydney, Leys is an English teacher who, according to him, wishes he was good at science. Undoubtedly, he has tapped into the wacky craziness that children enjoy reading, and just maybe McGuffin is his alter ego.

When I picked up this small, novel, the colourful cover with the wacky, illustrated characters, intertwined in the title, I somehow had a good idea where this story was going to take me. The black and white illustrations throughout, in a cartoon style, are funny and engaging and assist in the telling of this story: Shane Ogilvie certainly helped us know the characters.

This is a great read for both boys and girls between the ages of 8 to 11 years. The wacky adventure and sense of humour will keep them reading on. It’s a book suitable for readers of David Walliams and those who enjoy light mystery/sleuth bookswith a crazy slant -- lovers.