Showing posts with label Quentin Blake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quentin Blake. Show all posts

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Matilda’s How to Be a Genius

Matilda’s How to Be a Genius by Roald Dahl illustrated by Quentin Blake (Penguin Random House) PP RRP $16.99 ISBN 9780241371183

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Ultra-popular children’s author, the late Englishman Roald Dahl lives on, thanks to the UK marketing department of his publisher. As well as the books on writing recently released, now comes this book which was inspired by Dahl’s novel, Matilda. It’s a colourful book with the sub-title ‘Brilliant tricks to bamboozle grown-ups’ and with lots of visual interest which ought to appeal to readers aged 8 to 12 years.

After the bright fly and title pages, there’s a double-page spread introducing, with drawings and descriptions, all the main characters in Matilda, including the ‘extra-ordinary child genius looking for revenge’ (Matilda herself), Mr and Mrs Wormwood, her ‘stupid and despicable parents’, Miss Honey, the kind teacher, Miss Trunchball (‘hulking and horrifying’) and Bruce Bogtrotter (read the book to find out about Bruce!)

In this book readers will discover mental marvels, amazing tricks, puzzles and games to train the brain. They will also learn how to stun others with the powers of mind-reading (guessing shoe size, for instance), how to add massive numbers sans calculator and how to write fiendish riddles, including secret messages using invisible ink. They will even learn how to poke skewers through balloons without popping them, and how to make exploding cakes.

No doubt this is a book which will entertain and occupy curious kids. It’s chock-a-block full of amazing material. No doubt Dahl would have approved!


Friday, 30 September 2016

The Glorumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl

The Glorumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl written by Stella Caldwell, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Carlton Books)
HB RRP $29.99
ISBN 9781783122158

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

2016 is shaping up to be the year of all things Roald Dahl. It is 100 years since Dahl’s birth and the year the BFG movie was released, among other initiatives from stage shows to re-released books.

A large, hard-covered keepsake, the Glorumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl is a scrapbook of sorts. It is divided into chapters for each of his best-known titles, and full of interesting extras for fans young and old to pour over. There are anecdotes about Dahl and his quirks sprinkled throughout, too. For example, did you know he kept a piece of his own hipbone in his writing hut, post-operation? Or that he ate a bar of chocolate every day with his lunch, and added the foil wrapper to a ball that gradually grew bigger? Perhaps envisaging a certain chocolate factory at the same time?!

The book is written by an English literature scholar, Stella Caldwell, whose amassed facts, letters, overviews and excerpts provide fabulous snapshots of Dahl’s beloved books. An official book authorised by the Roald Dahl estate, the illustrations by Quentin Blake mark its authenticity.

The pages have a thick, matte feel evoking quality and longevity. There’s lots of fun extra features, too, like fold-out flaps and little booklets (like ‘A Spotter’s Guide to the Man-Eating Giants of Giant Country). There’s even an inspiring letter from Dahl himself folded inside an envelope, a little touch of magic for young readers.

This is a wonderful companion title to add to any Dahl enthusiast’s collection, and would make a wonderful gift.


Monday, 29 June 2015

Barnabas the Bullyfrog

Barnabas the Bullyfrog written by Em Horsfield, Carol Heuchan and Yolande Bromet, illustrated by Glen Singleton (Little Steps Publishing)

PB RRP $16.95
ISBN: 9781925117202

Reviewed by Anne Hamilton


The illustrations in this book remind me of Quentin Blake’s work -- they’ve got that flavour and sense of style. But these are bigger and bolder and spread wider across the page.
This is a fun book that begins with a page introducing the characters. Great touch! There’s Max the boy, Maureen the kangaroo, Madge the emu, Arnold the koala, Dean the echidna, Gus the wombat, Borris the goanna, Nosh the nutmobile and of course Barnabas the Bullyfrog.
The story begins with Arnold reading his beemail and exclaiming, ‘No! The bullYfrog is back! He’s blaming bees-es for his sneezes, threatening to attack! He plans to bullYdoze the bees and drive them far out west; demands we meet him at the hive, if we know what is best.’
Yep, it’s rhyming verse again! Generally it scans quite well but it’s probably worthwhile for the adult reader to look it over once before attempting it because the rhythm only works when the emphasis is correctly placed.
Barnabas the BullYfrog is back and he plans to bullYdoze the bees because he’s blaming them for his sneezing. Nosh the nutmobile and his friends have been bullied before, so they rally to the defence of the bees. I’m sure kids will love the picture of Barnabas with his tongue trapped under one of Nosh’s wheels while Dean spreads honey along its length.

Barnabas changes his tune when his sneezes ease at the honey application.


With a mixture of themes on friendship, bullying and the benefits of bees, this is a book for more than one occasion. It is created by Macadamia House and is part of ‘The Nutmobile Series’.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Rain Door

The Rain Door by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Walker Books)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781406343816
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

First published in 1986, this edition of The Rain Door follows the release of Russell Hoban’s new work, Rosie’s Magic Horse, which was published posthumously soon after his Soonchild, both through Walker Books in 2012.

On a hot summer day in London, Harry sees the rag-and-bone man pass by. He follows him and his wagon, and his magical words that Harry couldn’t comprehend, through the shade shape of the rain door. A voice urges and warns at the same time, about what he should expect on the other side.

Harry is ready for adventure, and rain. On the other side is the rag-and-bone man’s collection of oddities scattered everywhere. What does this magical place hold for Harry?

In an imaginative and thought-provoking adventure about the other side of reality, Harry has a lion, a dinosaur, a horn that goes GAHOOGA  and lots of rain to contend with. Will he be able to get back home, and how? Quentin Blake’s easily identifiable watercolour and pen art beautifully translate the text with coloured swirls of fascination and magic. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen

How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Walker Books)
HC RRP $ 24.95
ISBN 9781406343830
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Tom loves to fool around - with everything. He is fearless and loves to challenge life. His Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong wants the fooling around to stop so she sends for Captain Najork and his hired sportsman to combobulate Tom.

But Tom is a master at fooling around. It’s what he loves and he’s not reforming easily. The challenge begins between Tom and the hired sportsmen. Who will succeed in this tug-of- fooling around? Will the stickler for obedience Aunt F W-S get her comeuppance?

This is a fiercely entertaining and clever book. The language is unique and the artistry of Quentin Blake is also in a class of its own. It’s a funny book about the importance and benefits of play and having fun.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Rosie’s Magic Horse


Rosie’s Magic Horse by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Walker Books)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781406339826
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

This delightful story, beautifully illustrated in watercolour and ink in Blake’s easily identifiable style, carries a strong message of hope. It represents the endless possibilities that life holds and the magic of dreams come true.

It all began with a new cast away icy-pole stick. It was picked up by Rosie and added to the collection in her cigar box. The old sticks believed they were useless, and nothing. The new one told them that it can be something wonderful like a horse. Desire is born in the others. They too, want to be a horse. A dream is born to all the sticks which renews hope and life in them all.

Rosie’s parents are unable to pay their bills. As she wishes that night that her cigar box was full of treasure that would pay for their bills, her hands unconsciously create a stick horse. “A horse can’t pay the bills” says Rosie before she falls asleep.

In her dream, Rosie astride Stickerino the stick horse, searches for treasure. They pass over cities and jungles, oceans and deserts until they come to an icy-pole mountain which is a treasure in itself. But it is pirate treasure she wants. Her longing becomes an adventure with pirates and icy-pole sticks and a casket of treasure. Rosie grabs the casket and escapes on Stickerino.

With the morning, the treasure from Rosie’s dream has materialised. Dreams can come true. Sticks can become something - even if they’re old.