Showing posts with label friendships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label friendships. Show all posts

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

A Lot of Stuff Happens


A Lot of Stuff Happens by Adrian Beck, Oliver Phommavanh, Will Kostakis and Andrew Daddo (Penguin Random House) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN9780143794752

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Here is a collection of four books in one from some of Australia’s best-known contemporary males writing for children. The book is divided into four sections titled, ‘Dale’, ‘Ned’, ‘Sean’ and ‘Ethan’. Dale, for example, is written by TV producer Adrian Beck and begins with the words, ‘Press-studs are evil’. When you read the sentence below which contains the words ‘I once had a pair of pants with an unreliable press-stud fly’, you know to prepare for something humorous to happen.
Each of the four boys attend Monvale Primary where everyday stuff happens, such as friendships, ghost stories, the school play, disappearing hamburgers, new teachers, singing monkeys and lions, the first day at school, flags made of underwear, living up to older brothers and sisters, warring dinosaurs. Stuff that happens all the time!
The stories are related in first-person and are written in easy-to-access, informal language that demonstrates lots of wit and good humour. There’s action a-plenty in this fast-paced book which is sure to be a hit with readers aged 8 to 11 years.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Graces

The Graces by Laure Eve (Allen and Unwin) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9780571326808

Reviewed by Daniela Andrews

‘Wouldn’t you ever be tempted?’
‘… Black magic?’ he teased. ‘Nah … Those kinds of things always have consequences …’

When lonely River moves to a new town mid-term, she forms an obsession with the three Grace siblings – the twins, Thalia and Fenrin, and their younger sister, Summer. Everybody says they are witches. There are those that keep well away from them, and those that follow them like puppy dogs. River wants more than their attention – she wants to become one of them. She is living with a dark secret that she believes magic can fix. She’s also attracted to Fenrin. She forms a close friendship with Summer, hoping to learn all she can from the Graces, despite the warning she’s given by social outcast, Marcus: ‘when you do something they don’t like, your life is going to go very wrong’.

The novel is described by the publisher as a cross between The Craft (movie) and The Secret History (Donna Tartt). Readers will also draw comparisons between Stephenie Meyer’s Cullen family (Twilight) and the Grace family. The Graces is slow-paced in terms of action, but it builds up to a dark and gripping climax with an inevitable plot twist. Its constant sense of foreboding makes the book hard to put down. The protagonist, River, is very secretive – not just with the other characters in the book but also with the reader, who might therefore find it hard to form a connection with her. She is not always likeable. I don’t believe she is supposed to be. The author challenges us to decide for ourselves where our alliances lie: will we also fall under the spell of the Graces? (I love the hidden message on the spine of the book!)

Other than witchcraft, the book also covers themes of broken friendships, broken families, bullying and unrequited love. It will appeal to readers aged 12 – 16 years. The author, Laure Eve, has previously written two fantasy novels. She concludes The Graces with much remaining mystery around the parents, Esther and Gwydion, and also takes the story in a new direction. Fortunately, she also leaves us with a promise for a sequel in September 2017.


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Loveability

Loveability by Dannielle Miller and Nina Funnell (Angus & Robertson)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978 07322 96469

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Subtitled An Empowered Girl’s Guide to Dating and Relationships, this book has been co-authored by two women with an impressive list of credentials in relationships and writing – and more. To read this book is to hear the voices of great-aunts who’ve been there and done that and have lots of valuable advice for someone who hasn’t. It’s a comprehensive book that includes quizzes, questions and answers, compatibility tests and (according to the cover) ‘the ultimate true love checklist.’ To make the book more appealing, there is a variety of typefaces, break-outs and lots of headings and sub-headings.

Chapters deal with situations such as having crushes, body image, friendships, sex and power, how to heal heartbreak and more. There is a substantial list of resources at the back of the book such as useful websites, organisations and books as well as end notes that allow the reader to check out specific sites if needed.

It’s difficult to imagine a more comprehensive book on the subject so dear to a teenage girl’s heart and life. As founder/publisher of Mamamia.com.au Mia Freedman says, ‘an empowering advice book… brilliant and about time. Should be compulsory reading.’

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Loveability

Loveability by Dannielle Miller and Nina Funnell (Angus & Robertson)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978 07322 96469
Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Subtitled An Empowered Girl’s Guide to Dating and Relationships, this book has been co-authored by two women with an impressive list of credentials in relationships and writing – and more. To read this book is to hear the voices of great-aunts who’ve been there and done that and have lots of valuable advice for someone who hasn’t. It’s a comprehensive book that includes quizzes, questions and answers, compatibility tests and (according to the cover) ‘the ultimate true love checklist.’ To make the book more appealing, there is a variety of typefaces, break-outs and lots of headings and sub-headings.

Chapters deal with situations such as having crushes, body image, friendships, sex and power, how to heal heartbreak and more. There is a substantial list of resources at the back of the book such as useful websites, organisations and books as well as end notes that allow the reader to check out specific sites if needed.

It’s difficult to imagine a more comprehensive book on the subject so dear to a teenage girl’s heart and life. As founder/publisher of Mamamia.com.au Mia Freedman says, ‘an empowering advice book… brilliant and about time. Should be compulsory reading.’

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Frank Pearl in the Awful Waffle Kerfuffle

Frank Pearl in the Awful Waffle Kerfuffle by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Erwin Madrid (Walker Books)
PB RRP $11.95
ISBN 978076367213
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

This chapter book full of fun, exploration, determination and trial and error, is from the series Judy Moody and Friends for the 6+ age group.

All the children are practising their Yo-Yo skills at the Frozen Yogurt shop. The best player will get to name the new flavour. Frank, unlike his friends, has never won a contest. He longs to have something to boast about as the others do. He is last to show his skills with the Flying Skunk. But things go wrong, for the ‘skunk stunk’ and he ended up breaking his glasses.

Feeling a failure but still optimistic, Frank enters Cookie his parrot in the in the Pets are Family contest. But Cookie chooses the wrong moment to refrain from public performance. Refusing to give up, Frank is determined to try one more time.

The Great Third Grade Breakfast Bash and Waffle-Off will determine who can make the best-dressed waffles. Frank feels the Blue Ribbon he longs for is within reach with his innovative exploding waffle. Unfortunately, his Mount Vesuvius has a meltdown. Just when he expect things to turn out one way, they do a flip and take an unexpected direction.

Frank is a fantastic role model for young readers. He encourages children through his actions to be persistent, give things a go, be in it no matter what, and always try to have fun. It will be your turn to win sometime. Don’t ever give up!

The whole series has familiar faces and names, terrific characters, lots of lessons to be learnt about friendship, and many other positive reinforcements. The illustrations are outstanding and complement the text perfectly.