Showing posts with label Sally Rippin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sally Rippin. Show all posts

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Total Quack Up!

Total Quack Up! Edited by Sally Rippin & Adrian Beck, illustrated by James Foley (Puffin Books) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780143794905

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

‘Funny stories to make you feel good about some of your favourite authors!’ is printed on the cover of this book published in Australia. The authors are Matt Stanton, Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks, Paul Jennings, Alex Miles, RA Spratt, Jacqueline Harvey and Oliver Phommavanh, as well as the two editors.

Superheroes, footy-obsessed pigs, birthday parties that go terribly wrong, criminal cats and hippos which prefer the beach rather than rivers are the subjects of some of these short stories.

In ‘Ratbagg’, Rory Albert Thomas Bragg has a mild superpower, which enables him to control rats with his mind. Of course, he owns pet rats, but when he discovers his school principal Mr Blart has a rat phobia, anything can happen! In Tristan Banck’s story, ‘The Pigs’, soccer team, the Kings Bay Pigs is down three to nil a few minutes from half-time: if they lose, they’ll hold the record for the Most Consecutive Losses by a Football Team in the World. In ‘How to Be A Super-hero’, Ann Small renames herself Arabella von Champion, and then attempts to reach up to the status. The title of Matt Stanton’s story, ‘What Hippopotamuses and Sharks have in Common’ signals what the story is likely to be about.

All ten stories are printed in large, easy-to-read font and black and white illustrations are scattered throughout. Not all of the stories are hilarious but there is enough humour in the book to keep a reader aged 8 to 12 years engaged for many hours.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Billie B Brown’s Animal Hospital Adventure

Billie B Brown’s Animal Hospital Adventure by Sally Rippin, illustrated by Alisa Coburn (Hardie Grant Egmont) HB RRP $19.99
ISBN 9781760126902
Reviewed by Liz Ledden

Billie B Brown is back in another dynamic adventure for the 4 to 6 year old set. This time, Billie arrives at preschool with a hurt knee. Teacher Simon quickly diverts her attention to a sick teddy, spurring Billie and sidekick Jack into action. They pile into their cardboard ambulance, which morphs into a real one in a puff of coloured clouds, transporting them to an animal hospital.

The action ramps up as a series of animals are brought into the hospital, where Billie is the doctor and Jack is the nurse. Billie rewards each one for their bravery during their treatments, and receives gratitude in return. When her own bandage falls off, Billie feels overwhelmed, until she has her signature ‘super dooper idea’ – she can make a bandage herself. 

Overcoming obstacles, taking charge of situations and being brave are the key themes contained within a fun story, where Billie’s imagination comes to life.

The Billie B Brown ‘Adventure’ series is so beautifully presented, with their hardcovers, unusual size (mid-way between a chapter book and picture book), and vibrant illustrations. This one is sure to have major child appeal, with its cast of animal characters and reassuring ending.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Billie’s Yummy Bakery Adventure

Billie’s Yummy Bakery Adventure by Sally Rippin, illustrated by Alisa Coburn (Hardie Grant Egmont)
HB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9781760124458

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

Billie B Brown arrives at kinder hungry and a little cranky. Luckily, there’s some baking going on, however Emily’s manning the bakery and won’t let Billie or Jack join in. Teacher Amy subtly helps the situation out by pointing out some hungry toys and encouraging teamwork, so the children start to bake some delicious treats.

This is when my favourite part of the Billie’s Adventure series takes place – the illustrations (which are vibrant and action-packed) reveal the bakery transforming from a cardboard stand to a fully imagined patisserie, complete with live frogs, robots, matryoshka dolls and more as customers. However, when jealousy and competitiveness brew between the kids, things start to go wrong. The baked goods turn from ‘fantabulous’ to disastrous, when Billie adds a whole packet of magic mix to her cake in order to out-bake Emily. It explodes everywhere, causing the customers to flee.

Billie comes up with a solution to create a new cake, encouraging collaboration with the other kids. This is another feel-good story from a fun series that bridges the gap between picture books and short, illustrated junior fiction. Emotional highs and lows and age appropriate conflict are found in a scenario blurring the lines between what’s real and imaginary – just like the life of a pre-schooler, really!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Billie’s Great Desert Adventure

Billie’s Great Desert Adventure by Sally Rippin, illustrated by Alisa Coburn (Hardie Grant Egmont)
HB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9781760124434

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

Billie’s Great Desert Adventure is part of Sally Rippin’s new picture book series, featuring a younger Billie than in her well-known and much loved Billie B Brown junior fiction series.

Here, Billie attends ‘kinder’ or preschool. She excitedly arrives at kinder on a rainy day wearing her duck boots, anticipating puddle jumping and outdoor fun, only to learn she must remain inside. Barricading herself in a pile of cushions, Billie realises the possibilities they hold for creative play when Jack (of Rippin’s ‘Hey Jack’ series) arrives on the scene, excitedly interpreting the cushion pile as a cave. The two then embark on a magical adventure that references Aladdin, complete with treasure, thieves and a magic carpet ride. Reflecting the boundless imaginations of preschool-aged children, the story immerses the reader in a fast-paced, fantastical journey, only ending when Billie and Jack emerge from their cushion cave in time for an all-important snack.

Alisa Coburn’s vibrant illustrations have a timeless, retro feel, and help bring the story to life. The expressive faces of the characters reveal a gamut of emotions from fear to elation as Billie and Jack devise a way to thwart the thieves, further bring the reader along for the ride.

Rippin’s foray into picture books allows a greater exploration of language than the conventions of her read-alone junior series’ both allow. It introduces the 3 to 5 year old set to the worlds of Billie and Jack, paving the way for a love of reading and an eventual confidence to tackle the Billie B Brown and Hey Jack novels. Interestingly, Billie’s earlier dismissal of reading books when she arrives at kinder is counteracted by Coburn’s strategic inclusion of imagery of opened books strewn on Billie’s and Jack’s cushion cave. Just like the kids’ adventure, the books look to be Aladdin-inspired, hinting at the inspiration to be found within their pages.

Billie’s Great Desert Adventure is a charming story that perfectly captures the heightened imaginations of young children.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Big Sky Mind

Big Sky Mind by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Sally Rippin (Windy Hollow Books)
HB RRP $25.95
ISBN: 9781922081339
Reviewed by Anne Hamilton

Author Whitney Stewart has trekked in Nepal, Tibet and India, learning from the best of meditation masters, including the Dalai Lama. Now a teacher of mindfulness practice, she has collected a set of meditation exercises in this simple book aimed at children.

Tranquil illustrations feature Elephant and Monkey and complement the instructive text. Meditations include:

Mind drawing

Protection circle

Jigsaw puzzle

Special place

Friendship meditation

Mind clearing

Wise friend

Bursting emotion

Big Sky Mind

Questions are included to help children in practical ways when they’re feeling bored or wriggly or otherwise distracted.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Billie B Brown – The Missing Tooth

Billie B Brown – The Missing Tooth by Sally Rippin, illustrated by Aki Fukuoka (Hardie Grant Egmont)
PB RRP $7.95
ISBN 978-174297310-4
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

Billie B Brown is the only one in her class who has never lost a tooth. But one of hers is now wiggly! Mum tells her to stop playing with it and that it will come out when it’s ready. Dad offers to pull it out for her but Billie declines, because that would hurt. As it turns out, it’s only a few hours before the tooth does fall out. It leaves Billie’s mouth when she trips over during a game of chasey at recess, hitting her chin on the ground.

Her teacher gives her a tissue to wrap the tooth in to keep it safe and Billie is excited that the tooth fairy will visit soon. When Billie arrives home she unwraps the tissue to show Mum, but the tooth is missing. Though Billie is at first sad about this she quickly comes up with a solution. She decides to try leaving a note for the tooth fairy to explain what happened and ask for money anyway.

Her letter is displayed on a page that gives readers a great example of this text type as well as demonstrating what funny thoughts Billie has. My favourites were ’PS If you don’t believe me, check my mouth’ followed by ‘PPS I will try to sleep with my mouth open, but if it’s closed, could you come back in a little while?” Her note does the trick and in the morning she wakes to find a coin under her pillow.

Four short chapters in large font are spread over forty-two pages and they skillfully include many of the worries and concerns that young readers can identify with, as well as a few simple but sweet illustrations to break up the text. It’s the perfect type of story for those embarking on the earliest chapter books.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Spooky House

Spooky House written by Sally Rippin & illustrated by Aki Fukuoka (Hardie Grant Egmont)
ISBN 978-174297651-8
PB RRP $9.95 
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

The readers of Billie B Brown are now a little older, and Billie B is growing up with them. The first in a new Billie B Mystery series, Spooky House is a chapter book, suitable for readers around eight or nine years old. Quirky illustrations accompany the text which is more mature than the previous Billie B books, containing longer sentences and decreased print size. Interesting words are highlighted in bold.

The story begins in the playground with Billie B and her gang of friends: Alex, Mika and Billie's best friend from next door, Jack. With Jack's dog Scrap, they make up the Secret Mystery Club, SMC for short (a younger, Aussie version of the Famous Five). Keen to find a spooky mystery to solve, Billie B doesn't let the truth get in her way. She invents a story about a witch who lives in an old house in her street. In doing this she scares her friends, particularly Jack.

Like all good stories, things are never as they seem. Billie B is shocked when she knocks on the door of the spooky house, to find a woman who really looks like a witch. She then must use all her courage to return to the house and 'save' her friend Jack. An admirable main character, Billie B is a gutsy girl. Even if she makes mistakes sometimes, she does the right thing in the end.

This lively story starts the series with aplomb. Full page black and white illustrations help the story along, effectively showing Billie B's feelings. The last couple of pages of the book introduce the sequel, involving a mystery code. Readers can look forward to seeing what Billie B and her friends do next. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang, illustrated by Sally Rippin and Regine Abos (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 16.95
ISBN 9781742032092
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

 This book is superbly produced from the wonderful covers that depict a tiger leaping from the back cover to the front, to the last pages that document the Twelve Animals of the Chinese Zodiac with accompanying Chinese symbols.

The Jade Emperor announces a race which will enable the first twelve animals that cross the river, to have a year named after them.

Friends Rat and Cat catch a free ride on Ox and show him the way. Dog follows splashing. Rooster finds a raft asks for help and Monkey clears the way while Goat pushes the raft into the water. Snake hides in Horse’s mane for a free ride, and Pig eats until her tummy is big ‘as a balloon’, so she falls asleep.

Dragon flies out across the river causing the earth to shake with sound. But it’s Rat that gets the first year named after him with Ox claiming the second.  When Rabbit asks Tiger what kept him, Tiger answers that he ‘was carried downstream on a strong current’. He claims third place with Rabbit taking fourth after jumping from a log behind him.

The Jade Emperor questions Dragon’s lateness. Dragon explains how he came across a drought so he ‘stopped to make rain’. Next is Snake, then Horse, Goat, Monkey and Rooster, Dog and finally Pig. Unfortunately, Cat misses out. That’s how the Chinese Zodiac was created.

This beautifully illustrated book teaches children about the Chinese Zodiac in an educational as well as entertaining way. The superb drawings are created with mixed media comprised of Chinese brush and ink, digital media and linocut. Thick black brush strokes and shades of bronze, burnished gold and golden browns dominate the colours. Green plays a big role on the dragon pages. The facial expressions of the animals are terrific and will appeal to young readers as they follow the race to the finish line.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Billie B Brown:The Copycat Kid

The Copycat Kid (Billie B Brown)
The Copycat Kid (Billie B Brown) by Sally Rippin (Hardie Grant Egmont)
PB RRP $7.95
ISBN 978-174297141-4

Billie B Brown is a wonderfully strong honest character. We meet her dressed to impress and excited about having a new student in her class. The new girl has come from Japan and Billie has been assigned the important role of being the new girl’s buddy. She is excited and enjoys her first day of being a special friend. The second day brings a new and upsetting challenge for Billie – the new girl is copying everything she does. We follow Billie as she tries to deal with the situation.

Billie B Brown is an exciting, active and open little character. She loves colour (not just pink), has a boy as a best friend and serves as a positive role model. I recommend this story and series. The language throughout is age appropriate with new or difficult words printed in bold, encouraging readers to pay attention and determine their meaning. New concepts, such as writing in Japanese, are introduced and reinforced with graphics and an appropriate amount of repetition within the story. The narrator also speaks directly to the reader asking questions and encouraging thought and interaction.

Billie B Brown books have sold over 220,000 since their launch only 12 months ago. This story was a good read, encouraging and interesting. It is also accompanied by a colourful and easy to use website –

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Angel Creek

Angel Creek by Sally Rippin (Text Publishing)
ISBN 9781921758058
PB RRP $16.95
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Angel Creek is a story about what happens to a girl named Jelly the summer before she starts secondary school. It's about magical discoveries, secrets from family and the awareness that growing up is just around the corner. This book should appeal to 8-12 year old girls as well as some boys of this age.

The story begins just before Christmas when Jelly and her cousins find a baby angel by the creek behind Jelly's new house. They decide to keep it and hide it, not telling anyone else. This is when things start to go wrong. Jelly's Nonna goes to hospital and then the baby cousin gets sick. Is this all just a coincidence or does it have something to do with the angel?

At the centre of the story is Jelly, an admirable character who isn't scared of much. She still climbs trees and scrapes her knees but she is aware of Spook, a boy who will be going to her new school. The story switches smoothly between the otherworldliness of the angel to Jelly's everyday life. There's a dramatic climax, then a satisfying ending that pleasingly doesn't feel the need to explain absolutely everything.  

With an ethereal cover (by WH Chong) and angel's wings at the start of each chapter, the supernatural theme is strong and appealing for young people this age. Angel Creek is an imaginative and assured move into writing for older children by Sally Rippin