Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Granny's place

Granny's place by Allison Paterson, illustrated by Shane McGarth (Big Sky Publishing) HB RRP $24.99 PB RRP $14.99
ISBN: HB 978-1-925275-62-9
           PB 978-1-925275-63-6

Reviewed by Anita Howard

Through the voice of a little girl the reader experiences what can be missed and gained when big changes happen. The girl loves visiting her Granny and Pa. She describes what is special about where they live; the farm, the mud brick house that pa made, sleeping in high metal beds, the animals like ducks and games pa had kept from his childhood.

Then Pa died and Granny had to leave the farm. Her new home is very different. 'But there was one thing that was still the same -- Granny.’

The book provides a gentle reflection about dealing with change and loss. There are also smaller changes that reflect changes in history, technology and materials used; these are seen between the farm home and Granny’s new home, such as the large wooden kitchen table replaced with a smaller mental legged table.

Delightful illustrations create energy and mood, and inform us visually of what and how things have been changed from one place and time to the other.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

A Toy Christmas

A Toy Christmas – a magical, illustrated anthology of original stories compiled by Sophie Masson (Christmas Press) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9780994234063

Reviewed by Catherine Bauer

With Christmas glittering on the near horizon, if it’s a little festive season magic you’re after, look no further than A Toy Christmas, the latest gem from Australian publisher Christmas Press. Compiled and edited by award-winning author Sophie Masson, the 13-story anthology features Christmas-themed tales by some of Australia’s most talented authors, both established and emerging.

Each beautifully crafted story is themed around toys that magically come to life at Christmas time. There are stories about toys that chase the nativity star, toys that realise Christmas is more about who we are with than where we spend it and truly touching tales about toys that help unite sad souls and help build friendships. There’s a story for just about every taste, whether it’s pure fantasy with dragons, adventure and pixies or more contemporary family scenarios featuring grandparents and annoying siblings. 

Illustrated in full color, the anthology is the perfect book to tap into the gathering Christmas cheer, not just for this year, but for many Christmases to come. So gather the family for a story from A Toy Christmas and let the celebrations begin.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Odd Dog Out

Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph (Harper Collins – GB) HB RRP $16.99        ISBN 9780007594153

Reviewed by Sharon McGuinness

From the opening pages of this delightful, slightly retro style picture book, Biddulph gives his reader an illustrative explosion of colour and pattern, the perfect accompaniment to his rhyming text featuring sausage dogs.

Pages of sausage dogs, all the same, yet one stands out, ‘dancing to a different beat’. This ‘odd dog out’ longs to be like the rest, acknowledges her difference and decides to leave her home in  search of a place where she ‘fits’.

Travelling far and wide, she does discover a place where all the dogs look like herself – all except for one. This dog, though, does not feel odd: she celebrates her difference. ‘Stand tall, be proud,’ she tells ‘odd dog’.

Realising there is nothing wrong with herself after all, ‘odd dog’ travels back home where she is greeted warmly by the other dogs, as they have missed her. Looking closely at the dogs, many more are now behaving a little differently, now able to appreciate their differences, even celebrate them.

Biddulph’s final words, ‘So blaze a trail, be who you are’ will resonate with readers, regardless of age.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read that’s suitable for ages 3 years and up.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Selwood Boys - Battle Royale

The Selwood Boys - Battle Royale by Tony Wilson (ABC Books) HB  RRP $14.99   ISBN 978-0-733335-45-7

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

In this recent book in the series, Tony Wilson introduces AFL Royalty, the Selwood Boys and shares stories about the four future AFL stars growing up in the Selwood house.  There's madness, mayhem and sibling rough and tumble everyday - and lots of footy, of course! 

Meet the Selwood boys: there are the twins, Troy and Adam, strong and sporty and full of energy, then Joel, who is talented and itching to be a fair dinkum footy player, and finally little Scott, who just does his best to keep up and not be left behind. Joel dearly wants to be off the sidelines, and on the footy field to play with his big brothers. But Mum and Dad are making Joel wait, so he has to make do with being the boundary umpire for his brothers.
It'll be a battle royale that's bound to involve the whole family! The book targets ages 7 to12 years.  Battle Royale is a fantastic tale for all young readers, especially boys aged seven and up with a love for AFL footy. 

The book not only covers the code, but the themes of family, sportsmanship, friendship and bullying.  Battle Royal is perfect for teachers who are looking for a fun book to cover bullying.   This is the first book in a series of four so I can also recommend Book 2 - The Miracle Goal, with books 3 and 4 coming out very soon.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Miracle Goal

The Miracle Goal by Tony Wilson (ABC Books) HB RRP $14.99   ISBN 978-0-733335-46-4

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

The Miracle Goal is one of those books written from the heart.  It is based on the antics of the real life footy mad Selwood Boys, which makes it not only easy to read, but genuine and warm.  If you are an AFL fan and love footy, this is the book for you.  The book targets the 7 years plus age group and would also suit classroom teachers due to its broad range of topics so skillfully  covered.

Tony Wilson is a well-loved Australian author who inspires children to read and love books.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a book to ignite a love of reading in a child and who needs to find a book that suits a child’s interests.  Boys in particular will gravitate to this story, but girls will also soak it up.

The Miracle Goal is part of a series of books based upon the Selwood boys’ childhood growing up in Bendigo, Victoria and is based upon the funny things that happened to the boys.  The topics covered include footy, family, sibling rivalry, competitveness, pranks, school, friendship, fairness, twins and having a disability, so you get a lot of bang in one story.  There is madness, mayhem, mischief and mateship.

The sign of a good writer is the ease in which you can read and enjoy the story and this book does that.  The first few chapters introduce each boy and their individuality and little quirks.  Then the scene is set around footy and school by portraying all the characters to paint a vivid picture. I won’t give too much away as I think you need to read the book.

For some light hearted fun with learning along the way give ‘The Miracle Goal’ a whirl and remember to be the best that you can be. 

Friday, 2 December 2016

My Donkey Benjamin

My Donkey Benjamin by Hans Limmer and Lennart Osbeck (Scribble) HB RRP $24.95 ISBN 9781925321234

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Originally published in the late 1960s and currently in its 42nd edition, this is a new English tradition of a modernist picture book classic. Illustrated throughout with clear black and white photographs, My Donkey Benjamin is told from the point of view of blonde-haired Susanne whom everyone calls Susi. Benjamin, who Susi calls Ben, is small like her, a baby donkey found by the girl and her father alone among rocks on Rhodes, near the Mediterranean Sea. Angelika, Susi’s baby sister, squeals with delight when toddler Susi and her dad bring home the donkey.

The book’s photos show the interior of Susi’s house with its white-washed walls and pebble floor where Ben seems to be allowed to have free reign. Susie lies across Ben, washes his face from a tub, ties white bandages on his head, and romps through the house. When the two are outdoors, the reader can see the dozens of Mediterranean houses and the sea beyond. At night Susi and Ben fall asleep in a makeshift bed – indoors, of course.

One day, Ben disappears, and of course Susi goes in search of him, and then the two are lost. Of course the book ends happily, both greeted at home by Mum and Dad.

This is a beautiful and engaging picture book sure to be enjoyed by small children being read to by their mum or dad.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

My Pig Pauline

My Pig Pauline by Hans Limmer and David Crossley (Scribble) HB RRP $24.95 ISBN 978192532121241

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Author Hans Limmer was born in 1926 but in 1960 he emigrated with his family to Greece where he lived on the island of Rhodes where this hardback picture book is set. The story is of Angelika who lives on Rhodes with her parents and sister Susi (who owns Benjamin the donkey, another charming tale by Limmer). A blonde-haired toddler, Angelika loves roaming the Mediterranean island with her favourite doll, Hippi. When she adopts a piglet named Paulina she finds in a small sack near the road, the two have lots of fun together. We see Paulina’s small pen, the pig rolling in mud (Angelika muddy, too), and Angelika on a trike, pulling Paulina along in a cardboard box. The little girl also dresses her pig in striped underpants.

Illustrated by president of the Houston Centre for Photography, David Crossley, there are numerous engaging photos such as the small girl and her pig friend are nose to snout, the two are racing through a field of flowers and chubby-faced Angelika lifting Paulina up from the cobblestones.

However, when a farmer wants to take Paulina away, Angelika knows she has to save her best friend. Equipping herself with supplies, she sets off with her pig to run away where they can’t be found. On the way to who knows where, the two meet a cow and a straggly-coated goat before arriving at some woods. Deeper in the woods Angelika finds a small cave. Of course little girls can’t be lost forever…

Like its companion classic bestseller book, My Donkey Benjamin, this is a picture book with compelling, naturalist photographs, sure to entertain and amuse children aged 5 to 7 years.