Showing posts with label humour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label humour. 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, 4 September 2018

Dr Boogoloo and the Girl who lost her Laughter

Dr Boogoloo and the Girl who lost her Laughter by Lisa Nicol (Random House Australia) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN 978014 3782599

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Blue is a girl whose name keeps changing depending on the moods and interests of her largely absent mother. Blue's father is absent, too, and only occasionally available via Skype. Blue is ‘blue’ as she’s often alone; this is no doubt due to her lonely life and is responsible for her losing her laughter – a condition that’s persisted for 712 days. 

Mr Boogaloo, on the other hand, whose clinic is called Boogaloo Family Clinic of Musical Cures, is a jovial chap whose aim in life is to help others. His patients include Charlie whose head is ‘filled with mean, nasty thoughts’ and Dan Mutter who has the delicate problem of always forgetting to wear underpants to school. Boogaloo’s usual remedy is to play music – such as calypso tune played on bagpipes or music from a flumpet, flugelhorn and fujara. Any problem can be solved with music rather than pills according to Boogaloo!

Blue’s case is exceptional, so, after her mother takes her to the esteemed doctor hoping for a cure, Boogladoo’s indispensable wife Bessie who has ‘a fairy-floss cloud of mandarin-orange hair’ and whose skirts house a small family of pygmy possums, is Blue’s first port of call. She takes the small girl on her magical bicycle which looks as if an entire orchestra of instruments have collapsed on top, to the Snorkel Porkel Crumpety Worpel Laughter Clinic where Blue’s therapy begins. Because Blue’s condition is ultra-serious, a cure must be worked at. Hence there’s much effort expended by many laughter performers and much more.

This is a book which is filled with colourful and often invented language (as well as musical instruments). Every moment offers imaginative actions as well as characters which are unusual, awe-inspiring (such as the enormous blues-singing whale, Leonard) and downright amusing. Any child from 8 to 11 years, who likes to be entertained and have their imagination stretched, is sure to enjoy this charming, often humorous and fast-paced, quirky tale.

Rights have been sold to a musical based on this middle-grade novel by writer/filmmaker, Lisa Nicol which should be interesting as there are lots of weird musical instruments and personalities featured.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Books 2 & 3

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Fight Back by Tim Harris (Random House Australia) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780143785873

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Go Wild by Tim Harris (Random House Australia) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN9780143789024

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Such was the popularity of Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables, Random House Australia took the decision to continue publishing the series of an extraordinary teacher, Mr Bambuckle and his adventures with students of 12B. At the end of book one in the series, Mr Bambuckle (who rides a unicycle, performs magic and reads minds) has been booted out of Blue Valley School because his teaching methods are too unconventional for principal Mr Sternblast.

At the beginning of the Fight Back book, 12B’s new teacher is Miss Frost whose rules (such as ‘no speaking’ and ‘don’t be lazy’) are written on the board as the students enter the class room. ‘Discipline is the new order’ is her mantra. Contrast her with Mr Bambuckle who had ‘charmed the students with his surprising tricks and fantastical lessons.’ No wonder the students decide to revolt especially after Carrot Grigson gets a detention for complimenting Miss Frost on her bobby pin and the new teacher tears up Victoria Goldenhorn’s immaculate handwriting (to take her down a peg or two).

Even while Mr Bambuckle is absent, his magic continues with one student being able to control the weather (and Miss Frost who mysteriously disappears to Ecuador). It’s then that Mr Bambuckle re-enters as 12B’s teacher and the excitement he generated in book one continues.

As with all the books in the series, children in the class often relate stories and there is ample scope given over to interesting internal book design. Once again, for instance, Mr Bambuckle has a dialogue with nasty Canteen Carol (using speech balloons), and notes are passed in class, printed in children’s handwriting. James Hart illustrates numerous pages with black and white and grey wash cartoonish pictures.
In the last chapter of the book, Principal Sternblast makes an unexpected announcement when he introduces the new deputy principal, a familiar foe. Let the adventures begin in the next book about the remarkable Mr Bambuckle and his remarkable students!

In book three of the series, Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Go Wild, the action of the book takes part in the outdoors as the charismatic teacher has taken his students on a camp. Unfortunately, they are joined by Miss Frost, now the deputy-principal of Blue Valley School, who is determined to find enough ammunition to lead once again to Mr Bambuckle’s dismissal.

As with the other two books in the series, there are short stories within, narrated by students, as well as dialogue (again with Canteen Carol and Mr Bambuckle), hand-written notes and illustrations. The final chapter is left so that the reader can expect another book in the series, but the ending is not a cliff-hanger as in the previous books.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables by Tim Harris (Random House Australia) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780143785859

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Author Tim Harris first came to attention some years ago when he published two collections of humorous short stories which exploded onto the Australian scene and proved very popular. Now he’s being acclaimed for his latest very funny book series about a fantastical teacher who can read minds, make magic and totally draw class 12 B into his thrall. The reviewer of Sunday Telegraph wrote, ‘Mr Bambuckle is an extraordinary teacher, and this is an extraordinary book.’ Certainly, this first in a series of three books (so far) is fast-paced, full of fun and likely to become popular reading.

Bambuckle arrives at Blue Valley School, on his first lesson balancing on a unicycle on top of his desk, singing a rare Mongolian welcome song. His 15 students have never experienced an adult quite like him, and they are soon drawn into his stories and lessons. Which child wouldn’t want to design stamps for the teacher, or invent a drone or create an app? The new, fascinating teacher has the gift of making even the most nervous student feel proud of herself, as he does when he gets Evie Nightingale relates a story to the class about a washing machine from hell which proves the girl is indeed very brave.

In between episodes where Mr Bambuckle is interacting with his class, there are short stories narrated by students, black and white illustrations, pages of projects, streams of dialogue (between nasty Canteen Carol and Bambuckle who charms the woman everyone fears), and notes passed from student to student when the principal, Mr Sternblast, appears. Appalled by the new teacher’s teaching methods, it becomes the principal’s aim to rid the school of him.

This book is sure to create addictive readers who like to laugh aloud, who cheer for teachers who are extraordinary, and who hiss villains. Highly recommended for children aged 8 to 12 years.

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.

Monday, 1 May 2017

What not to do if you turn Invisible

What not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford (Harper Collins Children’s Books) PB RRP $14.99   ISBN 9780008156350

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

From the author of Time Travelling with a Hamster comes another creative and entertaining read. It’s every child’s dream to be invisible and I suspect even some adults.  This book would suit from 9 years old onwards.

The text is cleverly crafted to grab the reader’s attention and ensure they keep on reading.
‘On the way to the kitchen I catch a glimpse of myself in the long hallway mirror. Well, I say ‘myself’. What I really see is a pair of jeans and my favourite red T-shirt walking by themselves.’

The story is deceptively simple to read and surprisingly very different.  The book uses humour to explore that terrifying topic of trying to find yourself and where you fit in this world. This includes within your own family, with your friends and at school. 

There are bullies and loud mouths that make Ethel feel isolated. Thirteen-year-old Ethel has a very painful problem, a bad case of spots.  Just like anyone else with a very painful problem Ethel tries to find a solution. With the help of her mate Boydy Ethel hides her invisibility and along the way they solve a mysterious mystery.

Without giving away too many secrets Ethel finds her identity and inner strength and as well as a happy fit with her place in the world.

Teachers will enjoy reading this book to their class just for fun or for discussion about bullying and friendship. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

See You in the Cosmos

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (Puffin) PB RRP $16.99  ISBN 9780141365602

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is a middle-grade debut novel about a space-obsessed boy's quests in life. All eleven-year old Alex wants is to launch his iPod into space. With a series of audio recordings, he will show other life forms out in the cosmos what life on Earth, his Earth, is really like. Thus the book, instead of being written in chapters, is presented as a series of five to six minute recordings with Alex’s spirited, optimistic and largely innocent voice telling the aliens ‘out there’ about all aspects of his life which is largely complicated by his depressed and unavailable mother, his long-dead father and his absent older brother.

Eleven year old Alex struggles with the big questions. Where do I come from? Who's out there? And, above all, what can I achieve? Determined to find the answers, Alex sets out with his dog Carl Sagan on a remarkable road trip that will turn his whole world upside down. First stop is the south-west high altitude rocket festival (SHARF) where he plans to launch his rocket. From there he travels further, all the time full of joy and optimism and determination. He doesn’t always get what he seeks but he is constantly brimming with a love of life and its possibilities.

Alex is a wonderful, memorable character which is reflected in the voice of this novel. There are many funny and poignant moments, and lots of wisdom from a small boy. Any reader aged 10 years and up is sure to be captivated by Alex and his quest.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Mabel Jones and the Doomsday Book

Mabel Jones and the Doomsday Book by Will Mabbitt illustrated by Ross Collins (Penguin Books/Puffin)  PB RRP $16.99 ISBN9780141362939

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

I couldn’t wait to review this, the next children’s novel in the Mabel Jones series as I absolutely loved the last one, Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City. (There’s also the first book, The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones). Generally I don’t much care for fantasy books, but Will Mabbitt is such a good writer that genre doesn’t matter – story does and so do his characters.

For a start, there are 31 short and quirky chapters, also a map at the front of the book (kids – and I – love maps in novels!) and then Chapter One title The End, followed by the words ‘Not long after you’ve finished reading this sentence, the whole hooman race will become extinct.’ But (of course), not Mabel Jones ‘who skipped the fate the rest of you will suffer, by virtue of being snatched from the present and pulled deep into the footure: a footure without hoomans.’ But maybe – just maybe – Mabel can stop it happening…

Breath-taking, isn’t it? And it's very funny, laugh-aloud and very witty. By now (and we’re not even on to Chapter two), I’ve been snatched by the story, engrossed and sucked in. I’m sure, too, that readers aged 8 + years will be, too.

Before long Mabel Jones is on her way to the city of Otom in search of the legendary Doomsday Book, an ancient document that might save you and me, the book's readers. But! Otomo is a dangerous place, packed with soldiers, spies and stinking rebels which Mabel has to overcome – that and the dreaded Grand Zhoul.

If Mabbitt could illustrate, his pictures would be exactly like those Ross Collins produces – attention-grabbing, idiosyncratic and very funny. There are plenty of Collins’ black and white line illustrations scattered throughout the book along with lots of typography – words and phrases of all sizes which again jump out to engross the reader.

Full of vigour, surprises, humour that is sometimes laugh aloud, other times simply witty, this is a book I’d give to any child, but especially to a reluctant reader because once they started reading, I could pretty much guarantee they’d be reluctant no longer. Highly recommended.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Beaky Malone: World’s Greatest Liar

Beaky Malone: World’s Greatest Liar written by Barry Hutchison, illustrated by Katie Abey (Little Tiger Press) PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9781847156730

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

Beaky Malone is a self-confessed Olympic-level liar. He tells so many crazy lies he drives his family completely mad, particularly his sister, Jodie.

On a road trip with extended family and ever-present dog Destructo, Beaky’s lies are bigger and more elaborate than ever. Just when Jodie reaches breaking point, she and Beaky are sent out in search of fish and chips. Instead, they come across the mysterious Madame Shirley’s Marvellous Emporium of Peculiarities, home to the world’s only truth-telling machine. After Beaky’s shoved inside, it and *gasp* it actually works, Beaky can tell nothing but the truth. At this point, the story really ramps up the fun factor, with Beaky revealing everything from gross personal habits to his canteen lady crush.

This is a super fun read for mid to older primary school aged readers who appreciate a bit of sarcasm, and will understand references to Instagram and the like. The outrageous truth-telling capers don’t stop at the end of the book though – a second title in the middle grade series is due out in January.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat
(Harper Collins)  PB RRP $14.99  
ISBN 978002663665

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Debut author Vivat has creatively written a fun, engaging book that has a strong voice for a young reader. This book would suit 8-12 year olds.  Vivat’s clever doodles and illustrations sparkle and show emotion with honesty and warmth. They show the dramatic Abbie Wu as a loveable, honest and likeable character.  How can you not like Abbie Wu’s open heart?

Vivat’s original style of writing speaks clearly to young readers in their own language.  The story moves at a lively pace with a fun sense of humour.

‘Not all adults are that honest. On the way home from back-to-school shopping, Mum made a surprise stop at Antonia’s and offered to buy me a pastry. But, turns out, the pastry was a trap! Let’s talk about school.’

The themes of change, finding your ‘thing’ and fitting in are popular with middle grade students.  School is a big deal at this age, and making subject choices and fitting in is very important.  Abbie is a middle child too so she is stuck in the middle of everywhere.  Being in the middle makes you invisible.

Abbie Wu is dramatic and everything is always a crisis: ‘I am guaranteed without a doubt 100% doomed.’

Vivat shares pieces of herself in her character Abbie Wu who just makes you smile.  Once you start reading this book it’s hard to put down.
Frazzled will have leave young readers wanting more of Abbie Wu. I wouldn’t be surprised if a series is written about Abbie Wu.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

My Perfect Pup

My Perfect Pup by Sue Walker, illustrated by Anil Tortop (New Frontier)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-92505-960-1

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Milly and Max are looking for a puppy. One Milly can primp and preen. One Max can teach tricks to. When they see a tiny puppy at the pet shop they think have found their perfect pup. But has this little puppy found his perfect family?

This delightful story turns the idea of picking a perfect pet on its head. Here, it is the dog which picks the family he wants. And it is very clear why this family is more suited to him than his previous family.

The language the author uses is clear and simple, appropriate for the three to six year old age group. ‘...and Max’s tricks were always just a little too tricky’. It is also lively, ‘Collie pups bounced, and Pointer pups pranced, but the tiniest pup waited politely’ lyrical and fun to read.

The illustrations are bright and bold and full of humour. They enhance the text, telling parts of the story the text does not. This brings even more character to the dogs and children, adding to the appeal and helping to make this an engaging and entertaining picture book for preschoolers.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Snot Chocolate

Snot Chocolate by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin Books) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 9780143309222

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

‘Funny stories from one of Australia’s favourite authors,’ reads the title page of this collection of nine stories that follow earlier titles Give Peas a Chance and Pizza Cake. Yes, there is certainly humour in the stories, but sometimes, too, the author sneaks in political statements: ‘Trump our dog sits on the floor next to me liking his bottom, which is his hobby.’

The first story, ‘King Ned’, set in the thirteenth century, features a boy who, with his Uncle Vern, always gets up at dawn in a hovel ‘in case the pigs needed a lie down.’ Overnight events have changed in England so that suddenly, to his immense surprise, Ned is proclaimed King. His Lord Chamberlain is a ruthless man: ‘before Ned could say anything else, the Lord Chamberlain’s sword flashed and the heads of two courtiers plopped onto the ground, followed by the thud of their bodies.’ Despite the goriness of numerous beheadings, there is a lot of humour in the story.

Other stories in the book are set in modern times and include the secret diary of a dog, the story of how one slice of bread can make you the most popular person in school, and how to defeat a bully using a demolition ball. One story focuses on pig-nostril gruel, another on a child who lives in a house 'that gets wiped clean more often than a bottom'; the FDC title of one story refers to a Fairy Demolition Contractor who grants a boy wishes to demolish whatever three structures he chooses. The final, title story is told from the point of view of a boy whose chocolate-addicted mother is in court defending her clients accused of hijacking over five thousand Easter bunnies. There she is, ‘a top lawyer picking her nose and eating it.’

As in many of his books, Gleitzman’s stories display a wild and clever imagination. Also, too, he appeals to kids’ basic instincts with numerous references to peeing and pooing: ‘Sometimes life does a poo on your head and you just have to wear it.’ And too, he tells his tales in simple, easy-to-read sentences. There's no doubt young readers with a penchant for gross – and more subtle -- humour will enjoy this book.   

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

There’s a Magpie in My Soup

There’s a Magpie in My Soup by Sean Farrar, illustrated by Pat Kan (Big Sky Publishing) HB RRP $24.99 PB RRP $14.99
ISBN: HB 978-1-925275-67-4
           PB 978-1-925275-68-1

Reviewed by Anita Howard

This is a book of nonsense and anticipation that children will enjoy, filled with Australian animals in unexpected places such as a snake in a cake and a cockatoo in a loo.

The format for the book is two full spread pages, with the initial page introducing the animal and object and the following page a reaction between animal and object. These pairs are separated by an individual full spread page of text and illustration.

There are delightful rhyming phrases that children will enjoy repeating and I can imagine action accompanying the text.

The illustrative style of wash and quick, expressive pen work delightfully adds to the mischievousness of the text.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Don't Call Me Bear!

Don't Call Me Bear! By Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press)
HB RRP $16.99
ISBN 97 1 76015 984 9

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Don't Call Me Bear! is a new picture book from prolific, popular and wildly funny author Aaron Blabey. Using dry humor and a wonderfully sarcastic and grumpy tone, this story explores the question as to why koalas are constantly referred to as bears when they are, in actual fact, a marsupial.

Kangaroos are kangaroos.
You don't call emus 'chooks'.
A platypus is not a duck,
Even though that's how he looks.

Warren the Koala Bear takes the reader on a journey around the world - pointing out all the bears he is not, and then introduces the reader to other Australian marsupials who are respectfully called by their correct title. So, why, he asks (perhaps not so very politely), is he still called a bear?
The other marsupials may have hit on the right answer at the end of the story.

The rhythm and rhyme of this picture book are great for reading aloud and the font changes in the text help direct the emotion and tone of the story.

Blabey's pictures are just as entertaining as his words. Expressive faces and body language enhance the dry humour of the story. The illustrations are bold and bright, with colour filling the whole page, the text appearing in speech bubbles, or on signs as part of the illustration.

This picture book is sure to tickle the funny-bones of children from three years of age and will also amuse any older readers who are lucky enough to have a child hand them this book asking, 'Can you read me this, please?'

Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Kid with the Amazing Head

The Kid with the Amazing Head by Andrew Weldon (Puffin Books) PB RRP $9.99
ISBN 9780143309161

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Andrew Weldon is a clever and highly imaginative writer and illustrator, that’s for sure. One wonders how his brain works! Very strangely, it seems, in this quirky and engaging book for children aged 7+ years.

The kid with the amazing head is Steven who awakes one day to find his head can do whatever he wants! He can make parts of it expand (such as the ears and cheeks), turn it into something else (a hand, a balloon, a sunflower) and he can make it look like anyone else, even famous people. Getting ready for school, he can create dozens of hair styles (with the head on his head, and also with beards and moustaches) as shown in one full page of hair style illustrations.

Most people are unimpressed at these tricks, but Clever Trevor (a character in another of Weldon’s Puffin books) and his friend naughty Paul work out ways in which Steven can use his unnatural talent – such as robbing a bank. (With Steven able to disguise himself, this lends itself to all kinds of possibilities!) Another idea is to find the missing heiress Claire Blairey.

No more spoilers – this is a book that needs lots of attention, not because it is full of fun and energy, but because the illustrations demand lots of pouring over. Buy it for a child you care about, and especially buy it for the kid you know who normally wouldn’t want to read. Chances are he will love this book!

Friday, 6 May 2016

I Need a Hug

I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press)
HB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-1-76362-909-3

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Little porcupine does not understand why no-one will cuddle her. Surely there is someone out there who will. I Need a Hug is another playful and fun story from author Aaron Blabey which taps into young children’s desires for hugs and kisses.

This picture book has no clutter, just wonderfully expressive animals and full colour glossy pages. All the text is in speech bubbles with great rhyme which removes any awkwardness that can sometimes come with reading speech bubbles aloud. It’s smooth and rhythmic.

Little Porcupine is adorable and the other animals who populate this book are portrayed with humour and liveliness. The pages pop with clear bright colour and the layout is very appealing.

The ending has a fabulous ‘Blabey’ twist, humorous and portrayed by both words and pictures working hand in hand, which gives a very satisfying finish.

This is a perfect story to read to pre-schoolers, cuddled up together on the couch or at bedtime. An entertaining book, it will be loved by a wide readership, young and old.

Aaron Blabey is an award winning Australian author whose picture book Pig the Pug was recently shortlisted for many awards including the CBC Awards and the Australian Book Design Awards. As well as many picture books, he has also written the hilarious series, The Bad Guys, junior chapter books for middle grade readers.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

This is a Circle

This is a Circle by Chrissie Krebs (Random House)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9780857988058

Reviewed by Jaquelyn Muller

My love of rhyme is not a secret, but rhyme with bug-eyed goats in boats and pant wearing foxes on boxes gets me giggling every time.

I was immediately taken back to Fox in Socks when I first read This is a Circle by new author Chrissie Krebs. The nonsensical imagery and unexpected turns that I encountered when I first read one of my all-time favourite Dr Seuss stories came flooding back as I skipped through Krebs’ glorious pages. 

Krebs is both author and illustrator of this romp and although well suited to younger readers, my ten year old and I thought it was a hoot. But of course it is not just the bears, goats, cats and foxes dressed in primary colours that are eye catching, but the repetitive elements of the story that grow and interchange with each other to give context to shapes and surroundings.

The hardback with a peephole in the cover is always a drawcard for younger readers and the larger font for the frequently used words will aid slightly older children who are learning to read.

Cartooned themed illustrations together with rhyme give this a pacey feel that by my third read through, I was reading faster and faster to see how tongue tied I would get. 

This is the first book by Chrissie Krebs. Her second book, There’s Something Weird in Santa’s Beard, is currently under construction.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Stick and Stone

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry, Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Koala Books)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978-1-74276-167-1

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Stick and Stone is a deceptively simple story about friendship and kindness which will delight young readers. Using few words, this picture book cleverly depicts the importance of friendship, celebrates difference and presents a subtle anti-bullying message without being at all moralising. The story is told well through both the text and illustrations.

The gentle, warm rhyming text is sprinkled with humour - “You rock, Stone,” says Stick. – often leaving the illustrations to tell the story. Friendship and fun shine through on all the pages.

The pictures have a softness about them, yet use lots of colour and boldness. The illustrator has captured the energy, emotion and personalities of Stick, Stone and Pinecone, which enables readers to relate to these normally inanimate objects and become involved fully in this adventure.

This is a fun, easy to read book with a clever numeracy twist and truly shows that ‘Friends who stick up for each other rock’!

I like picture books which make use of the end papers to subtly expand the story. This book is a great example, using black and white sketches to show the beginning of Stick and Stone.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Timmy Failure 4: Sanitised For Your Protection

Timmy Failure 4: Sanitised For Your Protection by Stephan Pastis (Walker Books)
HC RRP $17.95
ISBN 9781406363494

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Book 4 is full of the usual verbal cleverness and chaos as Timmy joins his mother on a road trip to Chicago. They are helping Doorman Dave, mother’s boyfriend move, and as always, life is full of unpredictability. Timmy is faced with another crime to solve and everyone is a suspect to the over-confident detective. Additional stress is placed on him when his former partner the bear starts acting up, causing problems, and spending money that Timmy doesn’t have.

By some twisted force of nature, he encounters Molly Moskins who in Timmy’s eyes is a notorious criminal and nothing will change that view. After all she does confess twice. She even consents to a lie detector test. But is this proof enough to close the YIP YAP case? Things are turned on their head again when Corrina Corrina ends up in Chicago as well. Timmy is thrown off course by news his mother finds hard to tell him.

This award winning creator has once again surpassed all expectation with his extraordinary use of language. At times traumatic to the senses, but always hysterically funny in its oddity, this highly imaginative and entertaining book will keep kids 8 years and older laughing out loud.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Laugh Your Head Off

Laugh Your Head Off – Funny stories for all kinds of kids by Andy Griffiths, Andrew Daddo, Frances Watts, Sam Bowring, Randa Abdel-Fattah, James O’Loghlin, Judith Rossell, Tristan Banks and Lollie Barr (Pan Macmillan Australia)
ISBN 978-1-74353-787-9

Reviewed by Ramona Davey

Imagine a book full of stories from all of your favourite funny Australian authors. That is what this anthology, Laugh Your Head Of, offers.

Here are nine funny stories that include a robot programmed to put his sister’s head in the toilet, a grandpa who keeps getting one-up on his grandson, a talking rock that manages rock stars, a café owner who likes his café dirty to keep the customers away, a boy whose silly face got stuck in the wind (well his mum did warn him), a boy who wants revenge on his teacher, an over-enthusiastic fairy, a plan to nit infest the whole school and a space mission with five kids, a monkey and some strange visitors.

The comic-styled three colour illustrations by Andrea Innocent are scattered throughout the book breaking up the text for those readers who might find too many words daunting.

The bonus about one book with many short stories is that you can read one in a night. This is a fun-filled chapter book for primary aged children aged six years and above.