Showing posts with label Kylie Buckley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kylie Buckley. Show all posts

Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Ice Monster

The Ice Monster by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross (Harper Collins) PB RRP $22.99
ISBN 9780008297244

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

The Ice Monster is a middle grade fiction novel set in London in 1899. The protagonist, Elsie, is a kind-hearted 10-year-old orphan who has lived at Wormly Hall: Home for Unwanted Children all her life. After being constantly and severely mistreated by the iniquitous old Mrs Curdle, who manages the orphanage, Elsie decides to escape to ‘anywhere but here.’

Elsie then lives on the streets and fends for herself. Her new-found freedom, and sneaky tricks, allows her daily access to the National History Museum to relish in the wonders of the world. Big news soon hits London that an Ice Monster will be arriving from the Arctic to be exhibited at the museum! Elsie sees its photo on the front page of the newspapers and feels an instant connection as it looks ‘lost and alone’’an orphan’’just like me’. She follows the news daily until the perfectly preserved woolly mammoth, found frozen in a huge slab of ice, arrives. Elsie immediately and unequivocally adores it.

Elsie comes up with an idea to bring the prehistoric creature to back to life.  With the assistance of a newly found ally (Dotty the museum cleaner) and an egocentric museum Professor they put their strategy into action. A hilarious adventure and plenty of mishaps ensue, including a list of entertaining characters and some enemies intent on foiling Elsie’s plans for ‘Woolly’.

481 pages including 78 chapters may, at first, seem overwhelming for younger readers, however; with a quick flick through the pages they’ll soon discover lots of monochrome pictures, big spacing between lines and plenty of onomatopoeia in large bold font throughout the book. The Ice Monster is highly recommended for children aged 8+ who enjoy humorous adventures. For those of you familiar with Walliams work and curious… yes, Raj makes an appearance!

Monday, 22 October 2018

Max Booth Future Sleuth: Stamp Safari

Max Booth Future Sleuth: Stamp Safari by Cameron Macintosh, illustrated by Dave Atze (Big Sky Publishing) PB RRP $12.99 ISBN 9781925675368

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Max Booth and his trusty robo-dog Oscar are back for another sleuthing adventure. Stamp Safari is the third book in this futuristic series for young readers.

The year is 2424 and the world is a very different place. There are floating skyburbs as well as the usual ground level suburbs and zoom tubes with aircells that transport people back and forth. Zip coasters move people around the city by looping over buildings and underneath bridges. Max Booth lives on Skyburb 6. Since his escape from the Home for Unclaimed Urchins, he secretly lives in the storeroom of the Bluggsville Museum. Max helps his friend Jessie to identify ancient objects for display in the museum, to earn a little cash.

Max and Jessie become intrigued by a tiny rectangular piece of paper that has a pattern cut into its edges. It has a picture on one side and is sticky on the other.   Unfortunately, the Great Solar Flare of 2037 destroyed the old Internet and its contents, and this patch of paper is too old to easily identify. So, Max sets off with his resourceful beagle-bot Oscar in search of clues to find the origin of this rare and fragile piece of paper.

It isn’t long before Max and Oscar get themselves into trouble and hopes fade for identifying the piece of paper. Max gets captured by Captain Selby (the leader of the Unclaimed Urchins Recapture Squad) and is separated from his beloved Oscar. Max needs to try every trick in the book if he is to safely return to the museum with his dog and the patch of paper.

This humorous book would appeal to children 7+ years old who are beginning their chapter book journey. Atze’s monochrome cartoon vignettes are scattered throughout the book to help young minds visualise the futuristic world that Macintosh has created. If you’re keen for more sleuthing fun after you’ve read this book, make sure you check out the other two books in this series: Tape Escape and Selfie Search.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Jacaranda Magic

Jacaranda Magic by Dannika Patterson, illustrated by Megan Forward (Ford Street Publishing) PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781925804010

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Jacaranda Magic is a picture book that delightfully captures the beauty of imaginative play and the enchantment that nature so brilliantly provides.

The tale begins with five young friends sitting under a jacaranda tree pondering what to do. They are stuck for ideas until nature beautifully intervenes. The children’s imaginations are soon ignited when a cool breeze causes the purple bell-shaped blooms to rain upon them. The small flowers transform into a variety of props including genies, butterflies and asteroids. The large tree branches become abodes, vehicles and vessels for their lively outdoor adventures.

Jacaranda Magic is beautifully written in verse and accompanied by gorgeous soft pencil and watercolour illustrations, predominately in double-page spreads. This playful picture book is likely to engage children aged 4-6 years old. It would be equally suitable for the early years’ classroom or read as a bedtime story at home. This tale would sing to the heart of any early childhood educator. Let’s hope that the magic of open-ended imaginative play is never lost.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Colourful Memories

Colourful Memories by Catherine Bauer, illustrated by Kathleen O’Hagan (Wombat Books) PB RRP $16.99  ISBN 9781925563429

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Colourful Memories is a beautiful picture book that highlights the life of a gentleman who migrated from Germany to Australia after World War II. Moments from his past were captured on film and are now revealed to his young grand-daughter, Charlie, in the black and white photographs they’ve found in an old box.

Charlie questions her opa about the lack of colour in his pictures. This prompts him to recall some of the colour in those past moments, revealing both good and bad memories. Snapshots of a happy childhood and loving family are remembered with fondness and warmth, and glimpses of poverty and war are described in a soft and tasteful way. The superb pencil illustrations complement the story well, displaying the colour Opa remembers. Throughout the story Charlie has questions and comments about Opa’s photos. Later Opa encourages Charlie to visualise colourful memories of her own.

Written in the third person, Colourful Memories is a lovely story embracing both the past and the present. It reminds people, young and old, that while photographs are great reminders of moments in time, colourful memories are made every day. These memories are kept inside you and can be shared with loved ones whenever you choose. This book is suitable for children aged 5+, especially those who are starting to ask questions about their parents and grandparents’ younger days. Colourful Memories would also be a great addition to the primary classroom and used as a conversation starter about war and immigration. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018


Found by Fleur Ferris (Random House Australia) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9780143784326

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Elizabeth Miller (Beth) is a seventeen-year-old school girl who lives in a small rural town in New South Wales. She has been brought up in a safe and loving environment by her parents, is well-liked and has lots of friends. She has recently got a boyfriend, Jonah, whom she goes to school and has fallen in love with. Beth has a great relationship with her parents; however, they are somewhat strict and a little overprotective, especially her father. So, for the past six weeks she’s put off telling them about her relationship with Jonah.

Beth is anxious about telling her father her secret, yet she is looking forward to the relief it will bring when it’s finally out in the open. Little does she know that her secret will pale in comparison to the one that is about to be revealed. On the afternoon that Beth finally works up the courage to tell her father about Jonah, her safe little world comes crashing down. Unfortunately for Beth, a seventeen-year-old family secret is exposed, and the fallout is enormous.

Found is a fiction novel suitable for young adults. It is a captivating story from start to finish and is highly recommended for those who enjoy drama, mystery and suspense. The book is written from two points of view – both Beth’s and Jonah’s in alternating chapters. Interestingly, Beth’s point of view is written in first person and Jonah’s point of view is told in the third person. This is the fourth young adult book by Fleur Ferris. If you like this novel, you may also enjoy her previous books - Risk, Black and Wreck.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Olivia Stone and the Dread of the Dreamers (Book 2)

The Guardians of St. Giles: Olivia Stone and the Dread of the Dreamers (Book 2) by Jeffery E. Doherty (IFWG Publishing) PB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781925759136

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Olivia is a twelve-year-old girl who was left with a limp and an ineffective arm after a giant grotesque statue fell from the roof of her school, St. Giles. However, all is not what it seems. The accident did leave Olivia with some disabilities, but it also left her with a lot more…a secret identity! The grotesques on the school roof were magical protectors of the city and Olivia inherited some special powers from the fallen grotesque. After the accident, all the grotesques were taken down from the roof and it’s now up to Olivia and Yip, the tiny grotesque she rescued, to rid the city of any evil.

Yip senses that something strange is happening in the city and he needs Olivia’s help to sort out what’s causing it. After much speculation, they discover that dreamweavers are infiltrating the town. Dreamweavers are supernatural spiders whose venom forces victims into having ‘mind destroying nightmares’. Olivia learns that a friend of hers is in trouble and they must do everything they can to save him. The only complications are… Olivia’s fear of spiders, the ignorance of the town’s doctors and the overwhelming number of dreamweavers!

Olivia Stone and the Dread of the Dreamers is a middle grade fiction book suitable for children aged 10+ years. The dark and gloomy book cover sets the tone for this dark adventure. It is not for the faint-hearted or those prone to nightmares. This novel, written in the third person, would appeal to those who enjoy magic and fantasy as well as hero vs villain action stories. While it’s not a necessity, I would recommend you read Book 1: Olivia Stone and the Trouble with Trixies prior to reading Book 2, as there are references to it throughout.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas: Book Review

Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas by Michelle Worthington, illustrated by Cecilia Johansson (New Frontier Publishing) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9781925594034

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Tom is told that when he goes to stay with his Aunt Roz there’ll be a new friend for him to play with. Tom is excited, until he actually meets this potential new playmate…. Ellie, his Aunt’s pet pug! Tom is not happy. Does Ellie bite? Does Ellie snore? Does Ellie poop where she’s not supposed to? No, no and no. Ellie receives privileges that most pets don’t. Ellie does things most pets don’t. Ellie wears pyjamas, eats at cafés, wears hats and rides a skateboard. She is beyond spoilt and Tom is far from impressed, especially because Ellie gets all the attention wherever they go. Will they ever be friends?

Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas is a cute picture book about a pet being treated like one of the family. It is a brightly illustrated book that includes a combination of single page images, double page spreads and vignettes. The simple lilac end papers beautifully sum up the indulged pooch’s life. This book is suitable for children aged 3-6. It would particularly appeal to dog lovers and any young families who’ve ever referred to their pet as a ‘fur baby’.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

When I’m shining with KINDNESS

When I’m shining with KINDNESS by Wendy Mason & Lisa Maravelis, illustrated by Kayleen West (Kids Light Up) PB RRP $12.99

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

When I’m shining with KINDNESS is a picture book aimed at kindergarten-aged children. The book is based on the premise that we all ‘shine’ when we display kindness and are treated with kindness. Given that this concept is a metaphorical one, the book helps young children understand the idea by using cute bear characters that have a large star on their chest. The stars shine when the bears display appropriate behaviours and they become dull and misshaped when the bears are treated poorly. The story highlights examples of kindness and introduces the phrase: ‘Stop, look, think, speak!’ as a reminder for young children to behave positively towards others.

When I’m shining with KINDNESS is written in verse and is beautifully illustrated using soft colours. It is typeset in Open Dyslexic font aimed at making ‘reading this series even more enjoyable for children and adults with dyslexia.’ 

The book is a part of a series for young children that gently introduces a range of values. This series includes 10 books: Kindness, Joy, Love, Peace (all available now) as well as Patience, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Goodness, Self-Control and Light (launching at a later date). To purchase this book and others in the series visit your local bookstore or This website also includes teaching notes and handy parent tips. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

In the Dark

In the Dark by Carole Poustie (Celapene Press) PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781925572001

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Ish is a thirteen year old boy who spends his summer holidays with his mum and sister at his gran’s house ‘up near the Murray [his] favourite place in the world’. He and his older sister, Molly, have also planned to spend a week of their holidays with their father, who moved to Sydney after separating from their mother.

Ish’s plan of fishing every day on the Murray, with his dog Lucky, comes to an abrupt end shortly after arriving. He and his sister become grounded, after a careless accident, and must spend most of their days at the house. Soon after being grounded Ish finds himself in hot water again when he enters his gran’s forbidden old cellar and comes across a letter. The letter is not addressed to him, however, he chooses to open it and the contents immediately changes his world.

It seems that their parent’s separation has put a strain on everyone’s relationship. Molly is rude and disrespectful and has trouble relating to anyone. Ish is resentful towards his dad for moving away. The children’s mother and their gran also have trouble connecting at times. Will time with their father in Sydney help smooth things out? Or will the letter Ish found change relationships forever?

In the Dark is a middle fiction novel suited to those who like drama and suspense. It has themes of family, friendship, loss and dishonesty. The story is written in the first person by Ish, a nickname given to him at birth. Throughout the story Ish writes poetry, a passion he shared with his late grandfather. Not only does he use it as a way of expressing himself but it is also a way of keeping a beautiful connection to his grandfather. In the Dark is Carole’s second novel for children.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Little Witch: Hauntings and Hexes (Book 2)

Little Witch: Hauntings and Hexes (Book 2) by Aleesah Darlison (Big Sky Publishing) PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9781925520576

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Courtney Little is a teenage girl embarking on a new stage in her life. She has recently moved to the little seaside town of Mixton Bay with her family and is about to start at a new school. Naturally she is a little nervous and has some self-doubt, as many teenagers do, however she has a little more to worry about than most. Courtney is trying to keep the fact that she is a ‘witchling’ under wraps. With the position fairly new to her, she is still finding her way and letting very few people into her secret world.

Courtney’s grandmother, Delia, was a white witch who left her special skills and spells to Courtney when she passed away. Courtney now explores incantations, spells and potions using Delia’s ‘Little Book of Spells and Secrets’, but unfortunately she doesn’t always get it right. She spends most of her spare time practising her spells and relishes in the thought of what might be. Courtney is warned that ‘magic isn’t a game and it’s not fun. It’s extremely serious stuff’. Initially she disregards this advice but after making a big mistake she quickly realises she has a lot to learn. White magic and black magic soon collide with potentially dire consequences for the people of Mixton Bay.

Hauntings and Hexes is the second book in the Little Witch series of middle grade fiction. It would suit readers 8-12 years old who enjoy stories of magic and fantasy. If they haven’t already, readers are encouraged to check out Secrets & Spells (Book 1) and stay tuned for more books in the series.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Max Booth Future Sleuth: Selfie Search

Max Booth Future Sleuth: Selfie Search by Cameron Macintosh, illustrated by Dave Atze (Big Sky Publishing) PB RRP $12.99
ISBN 9781925520880

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Max Booth escaped from a ‘Home for Unclaimed Urchins’ a couple of years ago and now lives/hides with his trusty robo-dog Oscar in the storeroom at the Bluggsville City Museum, where his best friend Jessie works.

The year is 2424 and Max assists Jessie by identifying old objects that come to the Museum, and earns himself a little bit of cash in the process. With the help of his beagle-bot Oscar, Max is able to problem solve like a professional. While Oscar’s favourite thing to do is to chase robo-rats he is truly Max’s ‘robotic super assistant’. Who wouldn’t appreciate an assistant who can project images into the air, make good use of their 3D printer, and activate their in-built metal detector whenever the situation calls for it?

Jessie comes across an old object she needs help with and Max’s initial disinterest turns to excitement when he discovers there’s more than meets the eye. They search through the ‘old’ 2017 phone’s photographs to find an abundance of pictures of a man who ‘definitely liked looking at himself’. The photos include one of the man holding a skateboard ‘an ancient one, with actual wheels on the bottom.’  Max and Jessie soon discover this photograph holds the key to a missing piece of Bluggsville’s past and a potential fortune…. and so, their ‘Selfie Search’ adventure begins.

Selfie Search is the second in a series of futuristic, humorous, fun-filled chapter books, suitable for readers 7+ years old. The book is written in the first-person and is set 400+ years into the future. A larger font, plenty of white space and scattered monochrome cartoon drawings target an audience just starting their journey with chapter books.

The future looks bright with the splinternet, zip-coasters, hover-skates and gigapixel cameras and no doubt young readers will be keen to follow more Max Booth adventures. If they haven’t already, readers are encouraged to check out Book 1: Tape Escape and stay tuned for more books in the series.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Chronicles of Jack McCool: The Amulet of Athlone

The Chronicles of Jack McCool: The Amulet of Athlone (Book 1) by R.E Devine (Bauer Media) PB RRP $14.95   ISBN 9781742459202

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Jack was an ordinary teenager with a regular life until one night, hiding from his brother in the attic, it all changed. Jack is transported back in time to find that he is the Prince of Tara. Not only does this regular school boy have to wrap his head around news of his elite status, he also comes to learn that the Fianna clansmen are relying on him to rid them of the evil High King’s reign.

The amulet that Jack finds in an old wooden trunk in the attic is pivotal to the story, hence the title. (Amulet, noun: 1. a small object worn to ward off evil, harm or illness or to bring good fortune; protecting charm). This gold bracelet permanently attaches itself to Jack’s wrist. Unfortunately, it is missing the six precious gemstones, ‘cut from the mines of the magical city of Athlone’, imperative for its magical powers. Jack soon discovers that all the gems must be replaced for an ancient curse to be broken – and it’s his job to find them! In his quest to seek the valuable gems Jack teams up with warrior Finn McCool, ‘the hero of the book of Irish folk tales he’d loved to listen to his mother read when he was younger’. Jack must find the strength and courage to do things he’s never attempted before and overcome many obstacles including one of the King’s evil and deceitful banshees.

The Amulet of Athlone is suitable for middle grade readers who enjoy tales of adventure and fantasy. This novel is the first in an upcoming six book series to be released over the next six months. An enticing first chapter of Book 2: The Tomb of the Emerald Scarab is included at the end of this book. For further information and exclusive news visit

Monday, 24 July 2017

Song Bird: The Battle of Bug World (Book 2)

Song Bird: The Battle of Bug World (Book 2) by Karen Tyrrell (Digital Future Press) PB RRP $14.95   ISBN 9780994302182

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Weird things were happening around town. Not only had the bees disappeared, but there were storms like never before, a black tornado over the next-door neighbour’s house, a giant sink hole in the main street and, to top it off, Rosie’s sister Raven had gone missing!

Rosie is convinced that Frank, the bully next door, has something to do with the strange events and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. Rosie Bird is a school girl who can transform herself into Song Bird Superhero using her voice to fuel her superpowers. Rosie’s teacher and mentor, Miss Darling (aka Wonder Girl), convinces Rosie to go to the Bug World theme park to look for her sister - ‘Be Brave. Be Song Bird.’

Rosie decides to take on the challenge and asks her two best friends for help. With Amy and Ben by her side, Rosie sets out on a mission to find her sister and seek some answers. But, of course, it’s not that easy. Firstly, Rosie’s voice is croaky and sore, hindering her superpowers. Secondly, Frank appears at Bug World and Rosie starts believing he is somehow able to block her superpowers. What is Frank capable of? Can the trio save Raven? Can they stop the weird climate changes?

Song Bird: The Battle of Bug World is the second book in the Song Bird series of fantasy chapter books. Karen dedicates this book to ‘all those who deeply care about the Earth and the Environment’. In addition to highlighting environmental issues, this book contains themes of friendship, teamwork and diversity. It is suitable for children 7-10 years old who enjoy hero and villain stories. Teacher notes and children’s activities can be found on the author’s website ( Song Bird (Book 3) is due for release in 2018.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Ori the Octopus

Ori the Octopus by Anne Helen Donnelly (Self Published) PB RRP $17.99
ISBN 9780646962207

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Ori the Octopus is fun picture book written for preschool aged children. The text is simple and the illustrations are bright and bold with cartoon-like characters. The first page invites children to join in the actions of Ori and his friends during the story, and sets the tone for a playful reading experience.

Ori is a friendly octopus who likes helping his sea creature friends. When it’s Sally Starfish’s birthday he decides to make a cake for her. ‘Mix, mix, mix the cake.’ What starts off as a simple act of kindness slowly becomes a difficult task as his friends drop in, one by one, to ask for Ori’s help or attention. He does his best but soon realises that, even with eight legs, unfortunately he can’t assist everyone. Eventually things go wrong, and the tasks get muddled up. Fortunately for Ori, none of his friends like to see him tangled so they all pitch in and work together to get everything done. Then, at last, they can celebrate Sally’s birthday!

At the end of the story there are notes for teachers and parents, offering discussion points for a young audience. Following this are three pages of Ori the Octopus puppets to cut out. These puppets are a great inclusion, as re-enacting the story is excellent for young children’s language development and to consolidate their understanding of the book. If children are still keen after their puppet show, there are many more activities to download from the author’s website ( including dot-to-dots, mazes, spot the difference, matching and counting activities.

This 40-page paperback offers themes of friendship, kindness and teamwork. This book is suitable for children aged 2 to 5 years.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Catawampus Cat

The Catawampus Cat by Jason Carter Eaton, illustrated by Gus Gordon (Viking) HB RRP $24.99   ISBN 9780143785583

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Catawampus (cat-uh-wahm-pus): n. <1. Diagonal or at an angle. 2. Askew, awry.

The Catawampus Cat
is a fun and humorous tale of a slightly askew cat that wanders into a busy town, unaware that he is about to change everything. The beautifully simple endpapers, outlining the cat’s journey, set the tone but don’t give too much away.

The townsfolk are busy… busy doing what they’ve always done. As the catawampus cat meanders around town on a regular Tuesday morning, he unknowingly has a profound effect on the people who notice him. The grocer, the barber, the housepainter, the librarian, a school boy and even daredevil Captain Whizzbang all alter their perspectives and are left with a positive change. And it doesn’t stop there! People begin to talk, and the happiness spreads, all because of this catawampus cat. But as the town celebrates, the cat’s reaction to all the fuss may not be what you expect!

Jason Carter Eaton has written an engaging book for a young audience and there is plenty to keep them entertained. Gus Gordon’s collage illustrations are as wonderful as ever, with lots for young eyes to devour. The mixed media artwork, a little off-centre, complements the story beautifully.

This is a fantastic story about how looking at things from a different angle can be helpful, literally and metaphorically. This picture book would also be a great resource for a class lesson on synonyms (There are no fewer than 10 synonyms for ‘catawampus’ woven throughout the book!). Highly recommended for children aged 4-8.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Digby and the Yodelayhee… Who?

Digby and the Yodelayhee… Who? by Renee Price, illustrated by Anil Tortop (Create It Kids) HB RRP $22.95
ISBN 9780992345754

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

There is a noisy noise and Digby is curious. What is the noise? Where is it coming from? By the creators of Digby’s Moon Mission comes a fun and very musical story.

Digby goes in search of the mysterious noise, but the hunt is trickier than he expected. He visits several of his musical friends throughout the afternoon, only to find that none of them are making the ‘super-duper noise’. Digby then turns to his trusty ‘noise-o-meter’ for help, and his friends follow behind. The noise then grows ‘noisier and noisier’. When Digby and his friends eventually find out who is making the noise they cheer and all join in for some jamming fun. Soon another noise hits the noise-o-meter, but this time Digby laughs as he knows exactly what the noise is!

The musical theme is woven through every aspect of this entertaining book. The purple ombré endpapers are filled with musical notes, symbols and the use of onomatopoeia to imitate instrumental sounds. Even this picture book’s barcode is musically inspired!

The text is short and simple and offers plenty of opportunities for young ones to join in making musical sounds. The lively illustrations are enhanced with a different background colour on each page. The characters show plenty of movement and expression to complement the musical storyline.

When all the jollity of the story is over, a lovely bonus appears on the last page - an original musical composition with lyrics, titled ‘Digby’s Jam’. For those of you who struggle to sing or play an instrument, you’ll be happy to find a QR code is included for you to scan and download the song.

Digby and the Yodelayhee… Who? is suitable for children aged 2-6 years and is available via or through bookstores.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Brothers from a Different Mother

Brothers from a Different Mother by Phillip Gwynne, illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall (Viking) HB RRP $19.99
ISBN 9780670078486

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

It’s not often there is a tapir in a children’s story so it’s a refreshing change to see one on the cover of this picture book, knowing it’s sure to be a main character!

Every day two animals see each other playing down at the waterhole - Tapir, from the jungle, and Pig, from the village. Both animals look very similar and, at first, they are curious as to whether they are in fact the same. When eventually they notice some differences, they decide that they are ‘Brothers from a Different Mother’ and develop a special bond.

This new friendship sees Tapir and Pig happily playing together every day until their fathers get involved and forbid the friendship due to their prejudices. The separation naturally causes sadness for Tapir and Pig, who are both their parents only offspring. Both miss their new ‘brother’. Will Tapir and Pig find a way to be together again or will others’ misconceptions force them apart forever?

The life-like illustrations are presented in a combination of single page images, double page spreads and vignettes. The text is very repetitive with both animals having the same thoughts, the same conversations and the same experiences, however the repetitiveness also highlights just how similar both characters are...perhaps even Brothers from a Different Mother!

This picture book is suitable for children aged 5-8. This story can be a great addition to the primary classroom and form a great conversation starter about friendship, similarities, differences and prejudices.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Me and You

Me and You by Deborah Kelly, illustrated by Karen Blair (Viking) HB RRP $24.99   ISBN 9780670079247

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

So much love packed into one book! Deborah Kelly and Karen Blair have teamed up for the first time to create this beautiful tale of love, togetherness and the simple things in life. The gorgeous endpapers set the mood for this heart-warming reflection on early childhood. The story is told through the eyes of a fun-loving young girl who has overwhelming gratitude for spending time with those closest to her. It divinely reinforces the old adage that ‘children love your presence more than your presents.’

Throughout the book, we see images of the little girl’s fun-filled days with her parents, grandparents, cousins, neighbours and dog as she describes the many everyday experiences that clearly fill her heart with joy.

‘I love our arty-crafty days, our cut-and-paste and colour days, making things all kinds of ways with scissors, paint and glue.’

Me and You
is written in verse and is beautifully illustrated using pencil and soft watercolours. This picture book makes a great bedtime story, best read snuggled up with your little one. This story may even encourage them to reflect on their own relationships and start a conversation about what they love about their days! This book is suitable for children aged 3-6 and is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile

Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile (Book 1) by Jo Sandhu (Puffin Books) PB RRP $16.99  ISBN 9780143309376

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Jo Sandhu has triumphed with her debut book, Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile, the first novel in an upcoming series. Set during the Stone Age, this is a gripping fictional tale of adventure.

We are introduced to the main character Tarin in the prologue, where he declares his desire to hunt mammoth, bison and reindeer, just like those he admires. He longs to tell stories of hunting and bravery, but instead he describes his lack of strength, his leg that twists when he runs and the disheartening names he is called by his Mammoth Clan.

When an unfortunate accident sees a hunt go wrong, and Tarin’s clan facing starvation during the long dark winter, he is outcast by those he loves. ‘I ruined the mammoth hunt. I have brought shame to my family, and that will never leave me...’ With a heavy heart and little sense of belonging, Tarin decides to escape the pity and contempt from others and sets out alone on a quest to save the Mammoth Clan.

Tarin has overcome many obstacles in his life just to be alive, but this mission is by far his greatest challenge. He faces a long and treacherous journey ‘across the frozen tundar, across many rivers, through forests and over mountains…’ Now, more than ever, he must believe in himself and ignore the naysayers, as there are plenty more moments to test him! During his trek Tarin meets Kaija and Luuka who have also fled their home and face an uncertain journey of their own. But does this potential friendship help or hinder Tarin’s quest?

This is an engaging story, told in the third person, with themes of family, friendship, strength, persistence, resilience and belief. This middle fiction novel would suit children aged 10+ and is sure to appeal to those with a sense of adventure. No doubt they’ll soon be looking forward to the release of Book 2!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

This is Banjo Paterson

This is Banjo Paterson by Tania McCartney, illustrated by Christina Booth (NLA Publishing) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9780642278982

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

This beautifully simple narrative celebrates the life of the great poet and author Andrew Barton Paterson. Tania McCartney and Christina Booth have cleverly combined forces to make this educational picture book engaging and relatable to a young audience. The text is nonfiction while the illustrations depict a parallel fictional story.

The dreamy endpapers set the scene for this inspired outdoor adventure. In a typical suburban backyard, a small group of resourceful young children recreate the events and experiences of Banjo’s life through their imaginative play. Throughout the journey we discover how this talented Australian got his nickname, his many boyhood interests, the people who influenced him and the many and varied jobs he undertook.

The children’s re-enactment of Banjo’s life story is illustrated using a combination of single page images, double page spreads and vignettes. The playful illustrations provide entertaining rhyming dialogue, via speech and thought bubbles, as well as humour scattered throughout.

This book is equally appealing as a bedtime story or read aloud in the early years’ classroom. It can be a great conversation starter about poetry and a natural introduction to Banjo’s work. A detailed biography, photos and some renowned verses can be found at the end of the book.

If you like this book you may also like This is Captain Cook by McCartney and Booth.