Sunday, 7 July 2019


Congratulations to Juliet M Sampson whose picture book Grace's Mystery Seed (Ford Street Publishing) has been honoured as a 'Finalist' in the 'Children's Picture Book: Softcover Fiction' category, 2019 International Book Awards, the 11th Annual Awards sponsored by American Book Fest.

Sunday, 16 June 2019


Hazel Edwards was invited to re-record her 1998 Monash Uni Grad Address to Arts Graduates from 21 years ago for Speakola site. Hazel says that issues she addressed then are still relevant.

Saturday, 15 June 2019


Squishy Minnie is an amazing bookshop located in Kyneton, 60 minutes north of Melbourne. The owner, Kristen, is genuinely passionate about books and has an incredible knowledge of them. The shop focuses on children's and young adult books and is the type of place I can see kids and adults spending hours, if not days.

As a school librarian, I have a generous budget to purchase books and Kristen is extremely helpful in selecting books for me that kids will love! I emailed her a list of topics my schools were covering and a few days later she had created an account on her website for me. In the account where summaries of books she recommended and a picture of their covers. All I had to do was read through the list and delete the ones I didn't want (there weren't many at all, just a few I already had). She then shipped them all to me and the whole process only took a bit over a week. 

She recommended (and I bought so many great books), I now have two problems:
          1. I brought the books home and my own children have loved them so much they've secreted several in their rooms and I need to sneak them back out.
          2. I now must catalogue and contact all the books

I can't recommend Kristen and Squishy Minnie bookstore highly enough, as a parent purchasing for kids, for myself and as a teacher-librarian.

Contributed by Matt Porter

Thursday, 13 June 2019


Matt Porter has become the principal of a new school! The educational facility is made-up and exists only on the internet, but that’s only a small matter. The school’s website has updates on incidents (in the likely event they will be used as evidence in future court proceedings) every Thursday. The school’s motto is:

Welcome to Everyday College P-12 – where every day is a new day … but still structured to support optimal learning, but with enough spontaneity to ensure student engagement … but not too many surprises as we pride ourselves on teaching the core curriculum … with enough scope to pursue learning opportunities as they arise.

Everyday P-12 School is situated in the north-east of south-west of Victoria, approximately 180 km from Melbourne. The town of Everyday has a population of approximately 6,400 which swells to over 6,415 during the annual Black Cat Lolly Festival. The school’s extensive grounds are filled with trees, open spaces and play equipment. In an achievement the school is extremely proud of, over 65% of the school grounds have recently been declared non-toxic by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The school tends to have staff and incidents that reflect common goings-on at schools across Australia. Such events include a teacher being scolded for labelling a learning group the Wombats, a staff meeting held in silence after the talking stick was misplaced and a parent busted running an Uber-eats style food delivery service to students.

Check out the school at
and follow along with updates every Friday at

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Paint with Magic by Sandi Wooton, illustrated by Pat Kan (Big Sky Publishing) HB RRP ISBN9781922265180

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is a clever picture book which would be ideal for the classroom as it teaches the readers which creatures live in and near the ocean.

Told in rhyming verse, it starts with a child indoors on a cold, rainy day who decides to paint an octopus. The octopus then dictates other creatures to be painted in the sea such as fish, whale, dolphin, squid. The magic begins with the addition of starfish, crabs, urchin and shells. But suddenly there’s a shark! What will happen next?

This is a fast-paced, exciting book which is sure to be a hit with readers aged three to six years. The illustrations in watercolour are bright and attractive with the artist declaring, ‘It’s my best work, my best painting ever!’ 

Next there’s a clean sheet of paper so the young artist gets to work on a new painting. To find out what it begins with, you need to grab Paint with Magic and read it all the way through!

Friday, 7 June 2019

The Disasters

The Disasters by M.K English (Harper Collins) YA Science Fiction
PB RRP $19.99     ISBN: 9780062909817

Reviewed by Jeffery E Doherty

The Disasters follows the adventures of Nax Hall, an aspiring young space pilot, straight from the farm, attending the elite Ellis Station Academy. Unfortunately, he is kicked out on the first day and is about to be sent home with three other young washouts when the station is attacked. The four cadets are thrown together and manage to escape in a stolen shuttle but that is where their real troubles begin.

The four cadets are branded as terrorists and hunted, not only by the ones responsible for the attack but by the authorities on all the colony worlds as well. They need to work together, utilising their individual skills sets to discover who the real terrorists are, what they want and to clear their names. In the process they might just become heroes.

During its early stages, this book seemed in danger of shaping up to be an angsty teenage romance in space. Fortunately, this aspect of the characters relationships did not overpower the flow of the story. The characters are interesting, and their diversity should appeal to fans of LGBTQI fiction.

The Disasters has lots of action but weaves in quiet moments where we learn about the each of the main characters. The book is well written and the story would resonate with teens and lovers of YA speculative fiction. Hard science fiction fans might rankle a little at the story’s mechanics of long-distance space travel but on the whole, I would recommend giving this is a story a read.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

River Stone – Book One of The Burning Days

River Stone – Book One of The Burning Days by Rachel Hennessy
(Midnight Sun) YA Science Fiction  PB RRP $19.99  SBN: 9781925227499

Reviewed by Jeffery E Doherty

Disaster comes to the River People on the day of Pandora’s Blossoming. Most of the adults are struck down with a sickness and the only chance to save them lays in finding a cure inside a city, mostly destroyed in The Burning. Pandora believes in her heart that she is destined for more than her inevitable pairing with her life-long friend Matthew, so she volunteers to find the cure.   

Joined by Matthew and several other young people from the village, she sets out for the city. The group do not realise how unprepared they are until they meet, Bayat, a young hunter from the Mountain People. Bayat decides to accompany them and help the group prepare for the dangers they will face.

River Stone is a post-apocalyptic story set after an event called The Burning. It explores the conflicted feelings of Pandora, while being paired with Matthew by the village elders, develops a deep connection with the confident young hunter. Although there are moments of struggle and high action in this book, it is essentially a quiet, character based, coming of age story of a group of sheltered young people discovering a big and dangerous world.

River Stone is the first book in The Burning Days and is a great lead into the series. Rachel Hennessy has created an appealing cast of characters and left several threads to be explored in the next book. There are questions to be answered about the city and the strange once human creatures inhabiting it. There is a missing friend who Pandora has vowed to find, and will Pandora fulfil her duty to the village by pairing with Matthew or will she choose Bayat.

This is a book I would recommend to readers 12+ years and fans of character driven dystopian fiction.