Wednesday, 19 June 2013
RRP HB $24.95
Reviewed by Vicki Thornton
Based on a true event, this is the charming story of rescuing and raising a baby kookaburra after it falls out of its nest.
Rescued by the family cat, the baby bird is ugly with no feathers and large bulgy eyes that are closed. He is placed in a box with a hot water bottle and a teddy bear, and named Jeremy. He squawks for food and seems to be hungry all the time but he grows and grows. Soon it is time for Jeremy to learn to fly, to be outside with the other birds. He says goodbye and returns to his family.
This is a very sweet story, with lots of information given gradually but also more detailed information for the discerning reader provided on the endpapers. A trend for a lot of picture books that combine fact with fiction.
But what made the story come alive for me were the illustrations. I loved Snell’s use of vibrant colour, the detailed depiction of the kookaburra but also the artist’s sense of humour. The double page spread of Jeremy watching television late at night, with his teddy bear made me laugh out loud. A lovely book and even lovelier illustrations.
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN – 9781921928161
Reviewed by Emma Cameron
Angus, Lucy and their family don’t have much in the way of a grand home. They live in a caravan with no TV and don’t own a car. They do, however, own oodles of books. These are stacked and piled everywhere. There is even a tower of them propping up their outdoor table. No room in the caravan for a table! Filled to breaking point, the caravan is unable to hold anything more and one day spills hundreds and hundreds of books all over the place.
Dad’s solution is to ferry them all away. All that lovely space sees the family no longer snuggled together sharing stories. They grow further and further apart. They learn that a life without books, the closeness they bring to the family and the worlds stories take them to, is no life at all. When a book tumbles from Lucy’s school bag one day, Mum asks where it’s from. Lucy says “The library.”
Before long the family gathers around it as Dad reads. Even as darkness falls their caravan shines bright, long into the night. The next morning, closer than ever, they head into town. Though nobody says where they are going, Angus and Lucy know their destination. Turning the page confirms that a library visit means they have all the books they need, and further ensures readers will easily embrace the celebration of books that this story brings.
Watercolour and ink illustrations show so many things that are never spoken of in the text. The warmth and togetherness of shared interests in reading are felt in each scene, as are the sadder moments when the family grows apart, no longer held close by the power of books. The community around the library expands on the value that books hold for all of society and the story told in pictures, alongside simple yet charming text, will see the book become a favourite.
Monday, 17 June 2013
Gamers’ Rebellion by George Ivanoff (
PB RRP $16.95
Reviewed by Francine Sculli
Gamers’ Rebellion is the last book in ‘the Gamers’ trilogy. The trilogy, written perfectly for the young teenager market, is a speedy nosedive into the gamers’ world – full of adventure, bold characters, striking sci-fi worlds and a racy plot that leaves readers hanging on every word. Gamers’ Rebellion is all of these things and more.
The previous book, Gamers’ Challenge, saw Zyra and Tark – our feisty protagonists – share a kiss inside the game that changed their whole lives. The kiss pushed them into the realm of asking questions, seeking their identities and trying to find a way out of the game. Gamers’ Rebellion starts at the juncture where Tark and Zyra’s desire to exit has become a reality, but out of the game they have found that not everything is as they expected.
Their first taste of reality is in the hands of the designers. Both Zyra and Tark wake up in the cold, futuristic research facility of the Designers, but not long after they both wake up in separate rooms, Tark is kidnapped by a group of young rebels who take him to their hidden, low-fi laboratory. Their plan to take Zyra, too, is thwarted by a security alert that forces them to leave Zyra behind. The heart racing adventures kicks off immediately. At the Designers’ Research Facility, Zyra meets Designer Prime, Robert, her creator. Robert tells Zyra many things she has been dying to know – about her consciousness, her creation and about how the game is really played but there is also so much more that he doesn’t tell her. At the young rebel’s laboratory, Tark finds out that the Designers have been stealing children for the games and have hidden agendas and malicious plans for the game – seeking power and fortune. What Tark and Zyra don’t realise is that the reality they sought outside of the game, will be the very one that drives them back into it as they join the young rebels to fight against the Designers – both inside and outside of the game.
Gamers’ Rebellion, is just as fast-paced and as meaning driven as its predecessors. Filled with strong insights into the human mind and touching on the essence of humanity and the values of trust, friendship, truth and identity that drove through the trilogy, this book is a gripping and touching futuristic look at what it means to be human. And it is not shy of Ivanoff’s brilliant writing either – dynamic dialogue, interesting vocabulary, constructed ‘gamer’ speak and the painting of vivacious characters and worlds are just a few of the techniques Ivanoff uses to make this the perfect ending to the Gamers’ Trilogy.
Sunday, 16 June 2013
His Day by Heather Potter (
BB RRP $9.95
ISBN – 978-1-921720-35-2
Reviewed by Emma Cameron
One in a pair of gender specific baby board books, this title uses simple text alongside delightful softly coloured sketches of a very young boy going about what comprises every baby’s day. All pictures will be easily identified with by any child and the book begins by showing how each day starts with waking before having a nappy change.
Breakfast is followed by getting dressed and playtime takes baby till lunch time. Baby’s nap is followed by a walk before visiting with an older child. The day draws to a close with dinner, bathing, a story and a cuddle before bed.
Not only do the whimsical and very appealing pastels show much emotion and wonder as baby makes his way through his day, they also provide plenty of well thought out detail that ensures the illustrations will be happily marvelled over again and again.
While the publisher states that one of the books is for boys and one is for girls, parents and preschools may consider reading them as a pair, one after the other, to help reinforce that while genders may be a point of difference, boys and girls are very much the same on the whole.
Saturday, 15 June 2013
PB RRP $9.95 each
Book 5 – Call of the Wild
ISBN 9781742750934 – pbk.
ISBN 9781742749594 - ebook
Book 6 – Dino Champions
ISBN 9781742750941 – pbk.
ISBN 9781742749600 - ebook
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness
After many adventures in his previous books, Robert Irwin is back with his best friend Riley. With the aid of his lucky claw, Robert and Riley continue their adventures as they time travel back to the era of the dinosaurs. This series of single-plot storylines continues to excite new readers and is a winner for six to nine year old boys who dream of dinosaurs, adventure and time travel. Along with lots of action, there’s a handy dinosaur fact file at the end of each book (where I learnt that dinosaurs probably didn’t roar, except in the movies!) as well as plenty of illustrations to further enliven the boys’ adventures.
Book 5 – Call of the Wild – Robert and Riley are camping with their families in outback Queensland. They’re in Muttaburrasaurus country, where the first fossils of this dinosaur were found.
It’s night and raining and the boys need to go to the loo. In the dark they get disorientated. Robert’s magic dino claw whisks them back 100 million years where a storm is also raging. Reptiles fly overhead and in a lightning flash the boys see an abandoned baby dinosaur, with ‘it’s legs stuck in a deep pool of mud.’ They nickname him Barry and try to push him out of the swamp. Pterosaurs flap their skinned wings overhead and chase Riley, intending to make a meal of him.
Finally the boys free Barry. They try to find his mother by ‘honking’ through the bushes. In a spike of lightning the boys see ‘the figure of the adult Muttaburrasaurus.’ It ‘rose up on its back legs, stretched out its neck, maybe seven metres high, and gave an enormous honk.’ Robert and Riley watch as ‘the two ancient Australians walk away to rejoin their pack.’
As Robert and Riley chase each other around Australia Zoo, Robert’s magic dinosaur claw jiggles around in his backpack. Before they know it, the boys are in Canada, 74 million years ago. They’re being chased by a dinosaur with ‘three claws on each foot to grip into the ground like running spikes.’ It’s a dromiceiomimus, meaning, ‘emu mimic.’ Robert makes notes of its running style to use in his athletics race.
The boys fall asleep and are transported to North Africa, where two spinosaurus are fighting; they’re even bigger than the T-rex, with spines as tall as an adult and a skull like a crocodile.
Robert’s magic claw transports them again to the lush forests of Argentina where ‘titanic sauropods’ with bodies like bridges and legs like supports, graze on the treetops.
But the boys need to head back to Australia and the present. They wade into the freezing water where the magic claw swirls them home. When it’s time for the athletics carnival, Robert races against Lauren. He imagines being chased by a terrifying spinosaurus. He comes second but looks forward to his next adventure with dinosaurs and wonders what else he is going to discover.
Friday, 14 June 2013
PB RRP $14.95
Also available as an ebook
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness
Imagine being a ‘frever’ where every 1000 years equals one human year. Mort and his sister Agnetha are ‘frevers’. Mort might look 10, but he’s actually 10 000 years old and his sister is only a little bit younger.
Sound great? Not if every time you touch down somewhere in history in your Retro 2.0 time machine, you have to go to school!
Mortified is the third book in the Mort chapter-book series and Mort and Agnetha think they have seen it all. They’ve already encountered Mongolian warlords, sabre-toothed tigers, rampaging Vikings and bloodthirsty dinosaurs. So, when the dastardly Trish Molyneux, Assistant Chief Education Inspector, is after them to go to school in our century, Mort and Agnetha escape in their time machine, aided by an odd assortment of historical characters.
They zap back to 1889, to Swaffham, an idyllic, but dull-looking English town. Who should they bump into but Arthur Conan Doyle (of Sherlock Holmes fame) who is running around with a chicken jammed on his head. They also bump into a boy, Howard Carter (later discoverer of Tutankhamun’s tomb), and Queen Victoria, who is travelling on a steam train that’s on a collision course with the Retro 2.0.
After a calamitous meeting, they all end up inside the Retro 2.0 and take off time-travelling. The Retro 2.0’s switchboard jams and the mishmashed group is ‘bounced from one famous historical disaster to another.’
From sailing on the Titanic to sparking off the Great Fire of London, they lurch through history finally landing in ancient Egypt where they’re imprisoned. They’re deemed to make tasty morsels for the Nile River crocodiles, especially One Gulp Gus.
They escape through a poo-filled sewer where they’re chased by zombie-mummies.
Is Trish Molyneux, Assistant Chief Education Inspector successful in reining the time-travelling siblings back to school? I can’t give too much away.
Numerously awarded author, Martin Chatterton, lets his wild imagination loose as he takes readers on a rollicking, hysterical ride through history. His clever and playfully-creepy drawings will further entice 8 – 10 year old boys to read more. And if you’ve missed the first two books in the series, there’s a tantalising entrée to Chatterton’s first instalment at the back of the book.
Thursday, 13 June 2013
PB RRP $7.99
ISBN 978-1-407132– 32-7
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
Stick Man lives happily at home with his family in his family tree. One day he strays too far on his morning jog and is reluctantly taken on a long journey. He is retrieved by a dog, used as a Pooh-stick by a child, taken as a hook for a bag, and all the while Stick Man gets further and further away from his family tree and his Stick Lady Love. How is he ever going to get home again? Will someone rescue him?
I have to confess to being a huge fan of Julia Donaldson’s rhyming stories. They are just so quirky, amusing, and lovely to read aloud. This one is no exception.
They do tend, however, to have many more words than are traditionally present in picture books. This makes them perfect for the early reader form, of which this edition of Stick Man is. And even as an early reader the illustrations are a huge part of the story. Scheffler’s style is instantly recognisable with his bold bright colours, detailed scenes and wonderfully expressive characters – people, animals and stick men. There is always something peeping around a corner or hiding behind a tree.
This is a very entertaining story with wonderful rhythm and will suit six and seven year-olds learning to read. It will also be enjoyed by much younger children as a fabulous read aloud.