Sunday, 6 December 2020


Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson (Harper Collins) RRP PB $19.99

ISBN 9780063056718

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Grown is a young adult fiction novel about Enchanted Jones, a talented seventeen-year-old girl who aspires to be a singer.

Chanty, as she is affectionately referred to, is trying to cope with life’s recent changes and feelings of isolation. Her family have recently moved from a seaside town to a suburb: she is one of only ten people of colour at her new high school and she feels she is missing out on being a ‘normal teenager’ as she spends most of her spare time looking after her four younger siblings while her parents are working.

Chanty’s life changes forever when she meets the famous R&B artist Korey Fields at a singing audition. He pays her some attention, compliments her talent and offers her tickets to his upcoming show. Chanty is smitten. Korey, eleven years her senior, soon offers to mentor her. Chanty jumps at the opportunity and believes all her dreams are coming true. “All this time, my heart has been beating, but this is the first time I’ve felt fully alive.” The platonic relationship quickly turns romantic and then turns toxic as Korey is revealed as a master manipulator. The controlling relationship goes from bad to worse to tragic.

This novel’s many mature themes include: sexual, physical and emotional abuse, grooming, rape, drug addiction and violence. Grown is a powerful story suitable for readers aged 15+ years.

Saturday, 5 December 2020

Macca and Al, Super Pals

Macca and Al, Super Pals 
by Matt Cosgrove (Koala Books) HB RRP $17.99 ISBN: 9781760970246

Reviewed by Jeffery E Doherty

Macca and Al, Super Pals is the seventh book in the Macca the Alpaca picture book series. What can I say, other than these books are universally adored by children? They are clever and funny with catchy rhyming texts, wonderfully quirky illustrations, and a cast of intriguing characters.  

In Macca and Al, Super Pals, Macca and Al take their love for comic books and superheroes to the next level: they decide to become superheroes. Their antics are gut-wrenchingly funny for both children and adults. I read this book to a class of kindergarten and year one students. They were literally rolling on the floor with laughter, particularly when the scenes involved underpants. I also read the book to my eighty-year-old mother who was laughing so hard she was crying and nearly wet her pants. 

This series of picture books is one of my favourites and Macca and Al, Super Pals does not disappoint. This book is light and funny and will be loved and re-read by children of all ages. I definitely recommend this book!

Friday, 4 December 2020

Stupid Carrots


Stupid Carrots– by David Campbell and Daron Parton (Scholastic Press) PB RRP $17.99 ISBN: 9781760970024

Reviewed by Jeffery E Doherty

Stupid Carrots is a picture book with a theme every parent can relate to -- having a child who is a fussy eater. From end page to end page, this book is beautifully designed. The colour palette is appealing, and the illustrations are clean and simple with no fussy backgrounds. The text and illustration both work to enhance the other in this delightful picture book.

Betty is a young rabbit who has decided that carrots are stupid, and she does not like them, and she will not eat them. Her attempts at convincing her parents of this fact are amusingly flawed and absolutely typical of my own children’s attempts to avoid food they had never tried but were still convinced they hated.

Stupid Carrots is a book that can be enjoyed by parents and children alike. The entire team who put this book together have done a wonderful job. I definitely recommend it for preschool and school-aged children. It is a fun attention grabber, sure to leave them laughing.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

The Great Realisation

The Great Realisation – by Tomos Roberts and Nomoco (HarperCollins Children’s Books) Picture Book RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781460759806

Reviewed by Jeffery E Doherty 

The Great Realisation is the picture book version of Tomos Roberts’ poem, written in response to the Covid 19 pandemic. Roberts, a freelance filmmaker wanted to write something with a hopeful message for his younger brother and sister. The poem was performed online by Roberts and has been viewed over 60 million times and has been translated into over twenty languages. It is a beautifully written poem with an uplifting, message albeit with a slightly unrealistic outcome. The illustrations by Nomoco are colourfully simplistic and suit the text.

The language of the text is clever, sophisticated and utilises some complex language and concepts that would be lost on many children. For example, “It was a world of waste and wonder, of poverty and plenty. Back before we understood why hindsight’s 2020.” I am a firm believer that authors should not write down to children. However, even though The Great Realisation is a wonderful poem, I am not so sure that the picture book audience it the correct market for this work. It almost seems like HarperCollins saw the viewer numbers of the poem and thought, “This will make us some money.”

This is a special poem with a great message. As a picture book, I believe it would be better suited to older readers, upper primary aged children or even adults

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

League of Llamas – Undercover Llamas and Rogue Llama

League of Llamas –
Undercover Llamas and Rogue Llama by Aleesah Darlison (Penguin Random House) RRP $6.99 ISBN: 9781760894191 and 
ISBN: 9781760894207

Reviewed by Jeffery E Doherty

Undercover Llamas and Rogue Llama are books three and four in Aleesah Darlison’s League of Llamas series for children. Like the first two instalments, they are a fun, and punny mix of James Bond and Mission Impossible with a bumbling Get Smart spy twist. These two books take our heroes away from the Llama Republic to exotic locations like Chickenlovakia, Ratopia and Categonia.

Phillipe Llama has a magnificent fringe, which often distracts him from his duties as an agent of LOL, the League of Llamas. His partner Lloyd has an unfortunate eating disorder. He is unable to resist the temptation to eat everything in his path. Elloise Llamaresky, the third member of their team is stylish, elegant and unlike Phillipe and Lloyd, she is a competent spy.

In Undercover Llamas, the LOL agents are going undercover in the world of pop music. They are joining the band of pop idol Bruno Llamars, on his tour of Chickenlovakia. Elloise is a big fan of the singer and Phillipe is a little jealous.

In Rogue Llama, Phillipe, Agent 0011 has been framed for a crime he did not commit. He puts on a disguise and sets off to find the true criminal. Phillipe is being hunted by both friends and enemies, and as he investigates, thing begin to make even less sense. He starts to smell a rat, or maybe an old nemesis.

These League of Llamas books are short, fun, and easy to read. They are packed full of even more interesting and wonderfully flawed characters. The amusing spy references are sure to keep parents engaged, and the llama and other animal puns will leave kids howling with laughter as they follow the antics of Phillipe, Lloyd and Elloise. The fun black and white illustrations by Simon Greiner add to the reading experience.

The League of Llamas books are adventures that play brilliantly to the funny bones of young readers. Definitely recommended.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020



At the recent Children’s Book Council of Australia (SA Branch) dinner, Janeen Brian was awarded Honorary Membership.


Janeen became a fulltime writer in 1990 and now has over 100 books published. They range from picture books, short fiction, novels, poetry, and non-fiction. Many have won awards and been translated and distributed worldwide. Over 200 poems and stories have been published in children’s magazines and have appeared in over a dozen anthologies.


Janeen belongs to many writers’ groups: (ASA) The Australian Society of Authors, (SCBWI) Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Writers SA, and Ekidnas (South Australian Children’s Writers and Illustrators). For ten years she was an Ambassador for the Premier’s Reading Challenge and a Role Model for Books in Homes. Now she is an Ambassador for Raising Literacy Australia (The Little Big Book Club)


In 2012 Janeen won The Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature Carclew Fellowship and in 2009 she was awarded a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Creative Fellowship.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Kay's Anatomy

 Kay’s Anatomy by Adam Kay, illustrated by Henry Paker (Puffin) PB RRP $29.99 ISBN 9780241452943

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This 405-page book is ideal for the young reader 8+ years who is interested in learning about their body, ‘an incredible machine that’s been perfected over the last seven million years, give or take a few days.’ Former doctor Kay uses a humorous conversational style to guide the reader with interesting facts such as the heart pumps enough blood around your body every day to filly ninety baths, and your lungs puff out enough air to blow up a thousand balloons. Other information he imparts is gluteus maximus (your bum) is the largest muscle in the body, you spend about a year of your lifetime on the toilet and bogeys are okay to eat.

The contents section of the book covers all the major body systems from the skin to the gut and beyond, also offering sections on reproduction, life and death, and germs. As well as covering the usual, Kay answers questions such as ‘Why can’t we tickle ourselves?’ and ‘Why does your skin get wrinkly in the bath?’ in break-out boxes throughout the book. There’s also a running gag which features a maths’ teacher, and factual material, such as scientists have sent back-ups of human DNA into space, in case the earth is ever wiped out. Every page includes at least one amusing black and white cartoon illustration which adds to the book’s appeal. To guide the reader, a glossary and index are included at the end of the book.

To sum up: Kay’s Anatomy is comprehensive and easy to read. My review copy is going to a nephew, aged 12, whose ambition is to become a doctor. But any child curious about their body is sure to read and enjoy the book – and to learn much. Recommended.