Sunday, 26 May 2019

No Baths Week

No Baths Week by Katrina McKelvey, illustrated by Cheri Hughes (Big Sky Publishing) RRP PB $14.99 HB $24.99
ISBN 9781925675429 (PB) 9781925675436 (HB)

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Ben and his shaggy dog Bandit love to spend time together painting, exploring, baking, digging and having a ball. What they don’t like doing is taking baths! So, young Ben comes up with the idea of ‘No Baths Week’ and does everything he can to avoid taking a bath. Unfortunately for Ben, his mum doesn’t share his enthusiasm, but at least she has a sense of humour.

Each day Ben and Bandit enjoy some messy fun together and each day his mum suggests they take a bath. Ben always insists it’s ‘No Baths Week’ and finds alternative ways to get themselves clean, without taking a bath. He comes up with an assortment of ideas, although he soon regrets each of his choices. Ben and Bandit manage to avoid a bath each day from Monday to Saturday, but can they make it through the entire week without taking a bath?

No Baths Week is a fun and playful picture story book aimed at kindergarten aged children. The action filled illustrations are bright and colourful and the use of onomatopoeia throughout makes it a fun read-a-loud.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Kisses in your Heart

Kisses in your Heart by Sonia Bestulic, illustrated by Nancy Bevington (Big Sky Publishing) RRP PB $14.99 HB $24.99
ISBN 9781925675924 (PB) 9781925675931 (HB)

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Kisses in your Heart is a sweet bedtime story for young children, written in rhyming verse from the point of view of a nameless young girl. The beautiful soft watercolour illustrations complement the story well, along with bright red hearts which highlight the focus of the tale.

Throughout the book the little girl seeks constant comfort from her favourite teddy. However, naturally it’s her mother’s love that she holds most dearly. When her mother kisses her goodnight, she explains that the kisses hold love inside and can be kept in her heart. The young girl then knows that wherever she goes and whatever she does that her mother’s love is always with her. So, when the little girl feels shy, sad, scared or lonely she thinks about those kisses in her heart. Her smile and confidence soon return at the thought of her mother’s love.

This picture book is aimed at children aged under eight and can be a great conversation starter about feelings and the love that ties families together. The figurative concept of ‘kisses in your heart’ is a beautiful one, and may be especially helpful for anxious children to remind them that their parents love them and care about them even when they’re not around.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The Wrecker's Revenge

The Wrecker's Revenge by Norman Jorgensen (Fremantle Press) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 9781925815450

Review by Wendy Haynes

The Wreckers’ Revenge is a sequel to The Smuggler’s Curse and is suitable for 9-14-year-old readers. It is typically a book for boys having a male-dominated cast of characters, but those who like adventure, action, history, and tales of the high seas will also enjoy the story.

The main character Red Read finds himself in a whole lot of trouble and is expelled from a boarding school after sticking up for a fellow student: he hates bullies. Being told in first person lends to the nature of this action
packed story. 

While imprisoned, he discovers what seems like a treasure map on the wall. Soon though, he is whisked away by Captain Black Bowen his guardian, boards the Black Dragon and sets sail for another adventure, in search of treasure. They soon come to realise that their quest may lead them to discover the lost treasure of William Dampier.

The crew finds they are under attack from the Wreckers’ Pearl Divers seeking revenge from their previous clash. Their ship sinks and they are stranded on an island. But the Captain has a plan to help them off the island and teacher the Pearlers a lesson. From there they continue their journey always with the treasure in mind.

Norman Jorgensen has masterfully woven an abundance of surprises along the way adding the them of growing relationships and a captain who loves quoting Shakespeare into the mix making this fast-paced story a must read.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed by Juliet Sampson and Karen Erasmus (Ford Street)
ISBN 9781925804218 PB RRP $16.95 PB $24.95 HB

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Grace’s Mystery Seed is a gentle tale about a girl called Grace and her elderly neighbour Mrs Marino. It does contain a mystery, and this keeps the reader turning the pages to discover what happens. Beautiful water colour and ink illustrations, by Karen Erasmus, fill every page with gardens and plants. This is a story about patience, and the value of waiting for something worthwhile to happen.  

 Grace is a little girl who is curious about gardens and Mrs Marino has the best one in the street. When Grace asks what kind of seed the parrot is eating, Mrs Marino helps Grace to plant it. Then they wait for it to come up. While the rest of Grace’s class have theories about what it could be, all Grace and her best friend Leo can do is wait. And no one is disappointed – the seed is an impressive sunflower, with plenty of seeds for all.

The inter-generational relationship between Grace and Mrs Marino is a highlight of this story. So are the illustrations, which have so much to look at. In many there are a cat walking along a fence and a dog on the other side. There are also chickens and parrots to spot. Karen Erasmus has illustrated several picture books including most recently The Flying Optometrist and Eva’s Imagination.

Previously published as an adult romance writer, this is Juliet Sampson’s first children's picture book. Grace's Mystery Seed is suitable for lower primary school students. It provides its readers with information about the natural world in the form of an engaging and enjoyable story.  

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Moon Fish

Moon Fish by Harry Laing with various illustrators (Ford Street Publishing) RRP $16.95 PB ISBN 9781925804256

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Moon Fish is the second book of poems for children written by comedic performer Harry Laing and illustrated by eighteen different artists, including well-known illustrators Shaun Tan, Leigh Hobbs and Mitch Vane. Named after one of the poems (illustrated by Lucia Masciullo), Moon Fish states its aim on the cover:  'Poems to make you laugh and think’. The variety of illustrations accentuate each poem's individuality with colour and style.

The poems are mostly quite silly, which should appeal to the readership of primary school children. And as I found, they are funnier when read aloud. It would work well as an audio book. Some of the poems rhyme, others are more of a rap style, while others use much of repetition. There’s an Australian theme, with poems about goannas, emus (or he-mus), magpies and even a Diprotodon. Some are about creepy crawlies like spiders, ants, termites and snails. There are also a couple about a ‘Yumbie’ and a ‘Grack’ whatever they are!

This is the sort of book where every reader can choose a favourite poem, as the different styles and illustrations make them all unique. The pictures add character and vibrance to the writing and the cut-out style of the title on the cover is also effective. The Swooper Mag poem (illustrated by Tony Flowers) – ‘I’m a mean mean bird, I’m a bad magpie’ was my personal highlight. Anyone who has been attacked by one of these birds in Springtime will appreciate it! 

Moon Fish is a book written to be appreciated by kids. Reminiscent of Spike Milligan’s silly verses (although less rhyming), it’s a bit of fun with some high quality pictures, ready to be read and enjoyed by ages six plus.

Friday, 17 May 2019


Congratulations to the Buzz Words compiler Dianne (Di) Bates who recently signed two book contracts. One is for a middle-grade novel (Mad, Bad Jason) with Austin Macauley in UK. The other is a picture book text, Big Boss, with Kathy and Peter Creamer of Australia’s Little Pink Dogs.

Di has published over 130 books for young readers but previously has only published one picture book, Big Bad Bruce, which is in the KOALA Hall of Fame.

Check out Little Pink Dogs on They are based in Armidale, NSW and have a terrific range of books.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Hayden’s Bedtime

Hayden’s Bedtime by Wendy Haynes, illustrated by Brett Curzon (Inprint Publishing) HB RRP $22.99 ISBN: 9780987643506

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Many children fret about the infamous monster under the bed, and Hayden is no different. He begs his dad to check not only under his bed, but also behind his door, inside his cupboard and in his drawer. To Hayden’s delight, his dad finds nothing more sinister than ‘a blue building block’ and ‘a very smelly sock’. After listening to a bedtime story, Hayden settles down easily because ‘the coast is clear’ and he has ‘nothing to fear’.

Hayden’s Bedtime is a charming book for children aged three to six years. Inspired by her grandson’s dread of going to bed, Wendy Haynes has created a cheerful and comforting story that chases kids’ concerns away. Fun rhymes ease the stress of getting reluctant youngsters to sleep, ensuring that the bedtime routine is enjoyable for all involved.

Brett Curzon’s sweet illustrations are bursting with bright pinks, deep blues and vivid oranges. They work well with the text, adding a unique layer of tenderness to the tale. The characterisation of the father is particularly appealing, with the bespectacled dad soon becoming an amusing yet reassuring influence throughout the pages.

The strength of Hayden’s Bedtime lies in the book’s ability to allay a child’s wildest worries about the night, replacing them with vibrant vignettes and happy dreams. The sleepy smile on Hayden’s face as his dad says ‘goodnight’ makes for a touching end to this enjoyable story.