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

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.

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’.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Buzz Words Achievers

Augustus Brown by Margaret Pearce is a rhyming picture book illustrated by 13-year-old Xanthe Turner and published by Turner Books. It is a poem about a pet spider. As most mothers have a bias against spiders Augustus had to settle to only being a fantasy pet. This is not a disappointment as interesting things happen and keep on happening with a fantasy spider that is the cutest pet around. The book is available on Amazon, Booktopia, Fishpond, Angus & Robertson, Barnes and Noble. It is official released in August 2019.

Julie Thorndyke’s
 first children’s picture book Waiting for the Night, with illustrations by Anna Seed, has been published by Interactive Press. A review of it by Dannielle Viera will appear in on 25 July.

Kate Simpson's debut picture book, Finding Granny was released this month through EK Books. Finding Granny is beautifully illustrated by Gwynneth Jones and tells the story of a special relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter that is turned on its head when Granny has a stroke.

Congratulations to Jo Mularczyk who entered the recent Short short short story competition (21 words) run by the Australian Writers’ Centre. They received almost 1000 entries, so naturally Jo was thrilled to have two of her entries placed in the list of finalists and one named among the five winners included in their newsletter.