Saturday 9 December 2023

Christmas Tales 8

Series: Short Tales

by Storm Cloud Publishing

Whether your Christmas is touched by joy or sadness, you’re wrangling kids or elves (is there much difference?), fending off dragons or sharing dinner with your woodland friends, or simply looking for that quiet time, there’s sure to be something in here for everyone. 

A Christmas-themed collection of short stories and poems for kids 8-12 years. With stories and poems from Jo Mularczyk, Debra Williams, Elizabeth Klein, Jill Barlow, Bobby Cohen, Jacqui, Hewlett, James Jesse, Sam Blake, and Lucy Marbelone. 

A Christmas-themed collection of short stories and poems suitable for kids 8-12 years – or that child in all of us.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Blueberry Farm

Blueberry Farm by Stephen Michael King (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia) HB RRP $18.99 ISBN: 9781761205644

Reviewed by Kellie Nissen

Stephen Michael King has done it again with a simple, yet delightful picture book celebrating country life, Blueberry Farm.

Giving young readers a window into a morning routine on a farm, we follow Henna, Ziggs and Moe as they say ‘good morning’ to all their animals, collect the eggs, feed the pony, gather blueberries and pick fresh flowers – all before breakfast. And, what’s for breakfast? Why – blueberry pancakes, of course.

City-dwelling readers may gain a few (albeit rose-coloured) insights into the joys of farm life, along with the plethora of jobs those living on a farm must complete. There is much for children to find and discuss in King’s gorgeous illustrations and words. How many red birds can you find? What sounds to animals make? What chores are there to do on a farm? What can you see, hear, smell and taste?

Blueberry Farm, with its beautiful and vibrant watercolour and ink illustrations, speech bubbles and simple recount-style storyline invites interaction and prompts discussion.

Perfect for young readers from 3 to 7 years of age, Blueberry Farm is another heartwarming offering from this multi-award-winning author and illustrator who also brought us Leaf and Mutt Dog.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Mia’s Glamma

Mia’s Glamma by Josie Montano and Carla Hoffenberg (IP Kidz, Interactive Press) HB RRP $26.00 ISBN: 9781922830203

Reviewed by Kellie Nissen

What if you took every stereotype of ‘grandma’ and turned them upside down, inside out and back to front? You’d have Mia’s glamorous grandma, ‘Glamma’.

Glamma shops online, runs a restaurant, wears glittery high heels and dyes her hair hot pink (and other colours as the mood takes her). But, deep down, underneath the glitz and glamour, is Mia’s Glamma just like everyone else’s grandma?

In this day and age, I’m not convinced children will understand or resonate with the grandma stereotype of a grey-haired, slipper-wearing elderly lady who spends her days knitting in her rocking chair. However, Mia’s Glamma encourages young readers to explore differences and similarities between grandmas (and people in general) – eventually coming to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what grandmas do or what they look like, their love and the relationship they have with their grandchildren trumps all else.

Illustrator Carla Hoffenberg has captured the love between Mia and Glamma beautifully, with the bright colours and bold pictures singing of joy and happiness as the pair delight in each other’s company. Make sure you check out Glamma’s fun earring collection too.

I feel it takes a special grandmas to show this relationship with such clarity, and author Josie Montano clearly meets the brief.

Mia’s Glamma is a wonderful read for children aged from 4 to 8, and is sure to become a favourite shared book.

Sunday 3 December 2023

Two Rabbits

Two Rabbits by Larissa Ferenchuck and Prue Pittock (EK Books) To be released February 2024.

 Brown Rabbit and Little Grey Rabbit have had an argument. As they go their separate ways into the night, the wind whispers around them to remind them of their sharp words. Will they be able to come back together and find a way to save their friendship?

The story portrays the physical and emotional journey of two best friends as they experience feelings of anger, sadness, and loneliness. Young readers will learn that friendship can overcome differences and disagreements.

Friday 1 December 2023

Ivy Newt and the Time Thief

Ivy Newt and the Time Thief by Derek Keilty and Magda Brol (Scallywag Press) PB ISBN 9781915252333

On the island of Miracula, Ivy Newt lives in Newt Castle with her Sand Witch parents King Lucius and Queen Fenella. The book starts on Halloween morning when Ivy excitedly tells her familiar, Tom Wolf (which can morph into many shapes), to stop sleeping. Ivy has a new mystery to solve: why does the spooky house over the bay only appear at Halloween? In a race against time, Ivy, and Tom (who’s now morphed into a boy), must break a powerful spell and outwit a crazy sorcerer, all before the last stroke of midnight.

This is the second book about Ivy Newt: the first was Ivy Newt and the Storm Witch. It was highly praised by Lancashire Evening Post which said, ‘The perfect book to launch youngsters into a lifetime of reading.’ Book for Keeps wrote, ‘A satisfying mix of jeopardy and laughter.’

Like the first book, this latest book is frequently illustrated with black and white line and wash pictures, starting with a labelled map of Miracula, and going on to display portraits of characters which appear in the book, such as Thaddeus Creep, Magpie Meg, Felicity Ticks, and four animals. Some illustrations are full-page, and there’s an illustration at the top of each chapter.

This book is suitable for readers aged 8+ years.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Walk with Us

Walk with Us by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing, illustrated by David Hardy (Allen & Unwin) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781761065071

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

One evening, young Harvey recites an Acknowledgement of Country and sings a song in a traditional language. His mother reflects on the fact that she did not learn these things at school and it gives her an idea for an outing. The next day, Harvey and his mother go for a walk to their favourite park, but this time they explore a new bush track on a group walk led by Uncle Boris. Along the way, Uncle Boris imparts a wealth of knowledge about the land they live on. They learn about awakening the ancestors, traditional language, flora and fauna, traditional uses for shrubs and trees, and land management practices.

Walk with Us is highly recommended for an audience aged 4 years and older. It encourages readers to slow down, enjoy nature and acknowledge the land on which they live. The book invites readers on a ‘journey of learning and appreciation’ and to respect Country for all that it provides.

The full colour illustrations will appeal to a young audience, as will the challenge of spotting the pelican and black cockatoo that appear on most pages. The end papers include 15 spot illustrations and vignettes with corresponding labels in both English and the traditional language of the Cammeraygal people.

Walk with Us is the fourth picture book in the Welcome to Our Country series. Other books in the series include: Somebody’s Land, Ceremony, and Back on Country. Walk with Us is inspired by the Uluru Statement from the Heart (a proposal for constitutional change and substantive recognition for First Nations peoples in Australian history). The title of this book is a further nod to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, as the phrase ‘walk with us’ appears in the final sentence of the document.

The Welcome to Our Country series should be an essential inclusion in every primary school library across Australia. The narratives are informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking and a perfect fit for the Australian Curriculum’s ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures’ cross-curriculum priority.

Monday 27 November 2023


Emmett by L.C. Rosen (Allen & Unwin) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9781761180620

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Emmett is a sassy and self-assured seventeen-year-old who attends the prestigious Highbury Academy. He describes himself as gay, handsome, popular, smart, and wealthy. Emmett believes he is lucky to lead the life he does so his philosophy is to be nice to everyone… because ‘blessed people have to give back.’

Emmett makes it very clear that he is not interested in being in a relationship and is waiting until he is 25 years old when his brain will be fully developed. Interestingly, that does not negate the ‘friends with benefits’ opportunities that arise along the way. However, Emmett is not thinking of himself, he is always trying to help others. He claims that he is a great matchmaker because he played a part in getting two friends together. When Harrison, the student that Emmett ‘tutors’ (cough cough), suggests he wants a boyfriend, Emmett accepts it as his mission to set him up with the perfect guy. In his quest to find Harrison a boyfriend, Emmett learns more about himself and others than expected.

Emmett is promoted as a humorous modern-day gay reimagining of the Jane Austen classic, Emma. Themes include queer culture, friendship, and romance. Emmett would appeal to young adult fans of the movie Clueless and those who enjoy LGBTQIA+ romcoms.