Monday, 18 February 2019

Buzz Words Achievement

Good news is that Dreaming Soldiers, a picture book by Catherine Bauer, illustrated by Shane McGrath (Big Sky Publishing) has been included on the 2019 South Australian Premier's Reading Challenge list.

The book weaves tales of childhood adventures and battlefield challenges with gentle Dreaming themes. It is a touching friendship story about Jimmy and Johnno, two young Australian boys in the 1900s; mates who do everything together, sharing adventures and growing up side by side in the dusty cattle yards of an Outback South Australian station and later the dusty WWI battlefields of the Western Front. 

The simple story-telling combines with stunning images to honour the service of Australian veterans and highlight the important contribution of Indigenous soldiers.

Friday, 15 February 2019

2018 Buzz Words Short Story Prize Winners

Buzz Words is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2018 Buzz Words Short Story prize.

Congratulations to:

FIRST PRIZE: Empty Orchestra - Jemma van de Nes
SECOND PRIZE: Frog-Viking - Geraldine Borella
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Mad About Metaphors and Other Poetic Problems - Zoe Gaetjens

Thank you to everyone who entered and to everyone who supported the Prize. Thank you to our judges Jackie French, Cathie Tasker, Bill Condon and Di Bates who were so generous with their time.

All entrants have been emailed a copy of the current issue containing comments from the finalist judge Jackie French and an article on "How to Win a Short Story Competition" containing tips and feedback from the judging process. If you have not received your copy please get in touch.

If you didn't enter but would like a copy of the current issue, a sample copy of Buzz Words can always be requested here.

Buzz Words will offer its second Short Story Prize later in 2019.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Ozzie Goes to School

Ozzie Goes to School by Jocelyn Crabb, illustrated by Danny Snell (Working Title Press) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781921504907

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Ozzie lives with his dad in a shipping container on the beach. He loves his life, even when the container is closed at night and it’s pitch dark inside. Nothing worries him, but when Dad says he must go to school, he’s afraid for the first time. When Dad says he must go, he promises to give it a try, but just for one week.

By recess on the first day, Ozzie does a runner. Back he goes to school to tell the class about the enormous barramundi he and Dad caught. When it’s time for maths, a frightened Ozzie does another runner! This happens again, but with small accomplishments at school, by Friday Ozzie is ready to run – not away from school, but towards it.

This is a simple story which is likely to be enjoyed by children ready to start school. There is a loving relationship between father and son who work together and who enjoy each other’s company. It’s interesting that it’s not being separated from his dad that’s Ozzie’s problem. Rather it is his fearful reactions to school subjects such as show and tell, maths and reading. We don’t get to know Ozzie’s teacher, Mrs Jocelyn, nor his classmates, but we’re told at the end of the book that Ozzie ‘liked recess and lunch, and the new friend’s he’d made.’

The attractive illustrations use lots of large coloured spaces showing Ozzie and his dad enjoying their beach-side life, as well as showing scenes in the classroom. Ozzie’s classmates are dark and light-skinned, a typical Australian scenario. The beach scenes are visually very appealing, especially the picture of Ozzie, with a back-pack, running along the shoreline under the palms, towards home.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Charlie Changes into a Chicken

Charlie Changes into a Chicken by Sam Copeland, illustrated by Sarah Horne (Puffin) PB RRP $7.99 ISBN 9780241346211

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Charlie McGuffin is introduced to readers aged 8+ years by an avuncular narrator who is indeed jolly and obviously used to talking in such a jocular way as to immediately capture – and hold -- the attention of children. By the second page we learn that Charlie is ‘just like you. Except that he has a you-know-what, and I’m guessing many you reading this don’t have a you-know-what.’ So of course, Charles is like some of the readers, not all of them.

The most unusual and ‘majorly huge massive difference’ is that Charlie can change into animals. After visiting his older brother (SmoothMove) who is at hospital for the millionth time as he is quite ill, Charlie turns into a spider. One that has a heart-grasping escape from the family’s cat before reverting to his usual self and landing with a huge thump in bed which upsets his mum.

From then on, whenever he is stressed (and he has more stresses than the average child), Charlie turns into an animal – like a flea, a pigeon, even a rhino. So it is that he needs help from his three best friends, Mohsen (who has a PS4 AND an X-box, but five sisters ‘so that balanced out’), Wogan and Flora to understand and work out how to deal with his new power. Flora, for instance, suggest breaking into the principal's office and shaving her monkey...

This book is fast-paced, full of action, abounding in jokes and fun which is sure to engage young readers’ attention. It also has quite a few footnotes which explain – always in a semi-serious but mostly jocular manner – things which children might not know (who knew about spiders’ bums?) and gives explanations to what has happened (not always accurate).

The book is amply illustrated with black and white sketches which complement the tone of the book and add to its joyousness.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Lucky and Spike

Lucky and Spike written and illustrated by Norma MacDonald (Magabala Books) PB RRP $17.99 ISBN: 9781921248177

Reviewed by Vanessa Ryan-Rendall 

Through the eyes of two cute hopping mice, young readers will see what they get up to each night as they search for food and escape from hungry predators!

Every night Lucky and Spike enjoy the spinifex seeds leftover from the local women who grind them to make bread but as we find out, they are not the only ones who are in search of food. Lucky and Spike need to use their quick legs to escape a hungry feral cat and a barking owl but with the help of the camp dog and the sharp spinifex grass, they escape.

Norma Macdonald's illustrations highlight the colours of the desert and the people who live there. The animals are full of life and we can see their movements over the pages as they hop, fly and run throughout the night. 

There is so much to enjoy about this book and so much to learn: it is a must for anyone interested not only in the diverse landscapes, people and animals of Australia, but also the need for better solutions for native species. 

Lucky and Spike is a fun book to read for younger children but also one which can be used for older readers to explore further into different desert animals.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed by Juliet M Sampson and Karen Erasmus (Ford Street Publishing) PB RRP $24.95 ISBN: 9781925804201

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

A picture book for ages 3+ years, this gardening tale takes us to a place where the simple things can bring the most joy.

Grace’s neighbour, Mrs Marino, has the best backyard in the street. It’s a treasure trove of delights including a veggie patch, fruit trees, chooks, fish pond and birds that visit. Grace is a good helper and loves feeding the birds. She wonders about the seeds that the birds eat.
So together Grace and Mrs Marino plant a seed. Grace learns to care and wait for her plant to grow. She shares her news about her seed and everyone is waiting to see what the seed is. Once the sunflower appears, its specialness shines as it follows the sun. Then, there is one final gift from Grace’s flower: there are enough seeds for everyone next year.

The joy of Australian backyards is delightfully shown with the realistic use of green in its many hues with blue skies in watercolours. The layout is varied and the perspective cleverly shows us the backyards from a variety of angles. I particularly love the bird’s eye views of the backyards.

The language and dialogue delight and this story would be a perfect tool in a classroom. This is a charming book that will appeal to both child and adult readers.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

Saying Goodbye to Barkley by Devon Sillett, Illustrated by Nicky Johnston (EK Books) PB
RRP: $24.99 ISBN: 9781925335965

by Anne Helen Donnelly

Olivia is not just a little girl: she is a super hero – Super Olivia! She does good deeds, sniffs out clues and catches bad guys. But she cannot do it alone. Her ever-present, faithful dog, Barkley, is her amazing sidekick. They are inseparable, and together they make the perfect pair.

But one day, Barkley was no longer by her side. Olivia tried to continue fighting crime, but it wasn’t the same. With Barkley gone, Olivia didn’t feel so Super. She was too sad to eat, didn’t want to ‘get on with things’ and didn’t want to wake up from her dreams where Barkley was still there. Olivia thought of Barkley often and realised that he wouldn’t want her to stop doing good deeds and fighting crime. She had an idea.

After a visit to the animal shelter, Oliva chose a dog. A big white fluffy one and named him Spud. Olivia tried to teach Spud how to follow clues and catch the bad guys, but her new dog was rotten at fighting crime. Spud was no Barkley, and Olivia still missed Barkley. But she grew to love Spud for what he was, a loveable lump.

This is a tale that anyone who’s lost a family pet can relate to, with themes of dealing with grief and loss, and moving on. It has lovely illustrations by Nicky Johnston who has previously illustrated for EK. Recommended for boys and girls ages 4 – 8 years old.