Monday, 1 March 2021

Courageous Lucy, The Girl who Liked to Worry

Courageous Lucy, The girl who Liked to Worry written by Paul Russell, illustrated by Cara King (EK Books) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978 1 925820775

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Lucy worries about anything and everything. Her worries stop her from doing and experiencing things. She really wants to be in the school musical but is too worried. She watches the preparations from the sidelines and her want to be included increases until Lucy finally takes one brave step. Lucy still worries but realises that by being brave she can do things.  


Paul Russell brings us into Lucy’s world in the very first sentence: ‘Lucy worried about everything.’ His words brilliantly paint the picture of worries and how they grow and fester. He takes the reader inside the worries. We discover that Lucy is smart and knows things but is afraid to show what she knows. Russell brings Lucy’s knowledge into the text with some interesting facts and observations. Russell conveys Lucy’s bravery with one simple sentence: ‘Mrs Hunt, I would like to be in the musical.’ This lets children know that it’s okay to ask even if you are afraid. Russell uses dialogue between Lucy and her teacher to great effect to bring bravery to the forefront. I love how the author is realistic and that if you worry, one act of bravery is not going to make your worries go away, but it does make you braver.


Cara King’s illustrations sing as she depicts Lucy’s worries clearly with her cartoon-like facial expressions and body language. Instantly, before we even read one word, we can see that Lucy is a child who worries. I love the endpapers because they are a double spread of a reflective Lucy and her internal world. King brings diversity into the story with all the different children in the class. She shows us how Lucy’s imagination manifests her worries. Her use of perspective highlights the emotions, the bigger the worries the bigger the illustrations. Cara’s use of watercolours perfectly matches the childlike worlds she creates.

Courageous Lucy, The Girl who Liked to Worry is a picture book for children 3-8 years. This book gently shows how worries stop us from enjoying and doing things. It is a wonderful book for both parents and teachers to explore worrying and its message showcases how bravery can triumph.  This book would make a great gift for any anxious child.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Tomorrow Girl A Tale of Mindfulness

Tomorrow Girl A Tale of Mindfulness written by Vikki Conley, illustrated by Penelope Pratley (EK Books) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978 1 925820362

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Vikki Conley, captures being mindful in a quirky and wondrous way. Meet Tomorrow, a girl who is always in a hurry. She just might miss out on something. It’s not until Tomorrow trips over Yesterday that Tomorrow starts to slow down. It is poignantly clear Yesterday is stuck in the past. Then Tomorrow bumps into Today. She wonders why Today is standing there doing nothing. But is this really true? Tomorrow does slow down with Today and realises that she is missing out on things. And now her days are just that little bit slower.    


This is a picture book that is both current and topical. Its title captures the essence of the book and will command attention from a bookshelf. The natural dialogue and short sentences move the story along with haste as we travel along with Tomorrow. The questioning and answering allows the messages of the book to be told easily and simply. Vicki uses verbs to great effect and she captures the innocence of a child’s world. The ellipsis at the end of the story intentionally slows the character and the reader naturally down to bring mindfulness into play in the story.


Penelope Pratley starts this story with a mindful sky and clouds on the endpapers. Her realistic drawings and watercolours show the natural movement and speed of Tomorrow as she travels through the story. The body language of all the characters mirrors their personalities. The double page spreads with varying perspectives match the movement and flow of the story and its messages. I particularly love the double page spread of Today and Tomorrow with the creek, grass, and tadpole catching: it brings a smile.


Tomorrow Girl A Tale of Mindfulness is a picture book with a timely message that’s for 3-8 years. This is a book that can be used as a tool for both parents and teachers. Tomorrow Girl A Tale of Mindfulness will gently encourage children to slow down and find magic in their everyday. It is a clever and sophisticated picture book.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

This is the Dog

Please welcome 'This is the Dog' - a brand new picture book by author Maura Finn and illustrator Nina Rycroft (released by Scholastic, Feb 2021.)

'This is the dog with the snuffly snout, the half-crumpled ear, the fur that sticks out...'

The gentle, heart-warming, story of a homeless dog's adventure as he searches for his forever home.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021


Peta Baxter and Connie Hemmens are passionate and dedicated Early Childhood Educators who teach at a kindergarten in North Queensland and have approximately 20 years’ experience educating young children. Frankie Goes to Kindergarten, published by Ford Street Publishing, is their first book. They were inspired by their experience with a real kindergarten therapy dog and wanted to share this special story with everyone.

The book’s illustrator is Buzz Worder Marjory Gardner who says, ‘Frankie Goes to Kindergarten’ was an absolute joy to work on from start to finish. I was so lucky : An endearing story, a great hero, and a fabulous team to work with: authors (Peta Baxter and Connie Hemmens), editor (Nan McNab), designer (Cathy Larsen) and publisher (Paul Collins).

Friday, 19 February 2021

Float or Sink?

 Float or Sink? by Kylie Covark, illustrated by Andrew Plant (Ford Street Publishing) HB RRP $24.95

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Float or Sink? is a delightful picture book for young children written in rhyming couplets. The story begins with a simple stick bobbing along a creek. The question is posed to the audience: Float... or sink? The cumulative tale technique is used as a variety of bugs land on the stick, one by one, and the same question is asked each time. In the end, it is not a bug that has its eye on the stick.

The illustrations and shimmering blue endpapers are uniquely glorious. The pictures are presented on double page spreads and alternate between monochrome sketches and brightly coloured artwork.

The rhythm, rhyme and repetition make this book an enjoyable read aloud for children aged 3-6 years old. Float or Sink? would be a great addition to any early years’ classroom and a thought-provoking prelude to a fun science lesson.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

The Violet Veil Mysteries: A Case of Grave Danger

The Violet Veil Mysteries: A Case of Grave Danger by Sophie Cleverly (HarperCollins) RRP PB $16.99 ISBN 9780008297350

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

A Case of Grave Danger
 is the first book in an upcoming series of middle grade fiction novels titled The Violet Veil Mysteries. Violet is a smart and determined thirteen-year-old girl. Her father, Edgar Veil, runs a mortuary and her family live beside the town’s graveyard.

The narrative is set in England during a bygone era when servants and governesses were prevalent in homes, horses and carriages rattled through the streets, females wore multiple skirts and only boys attended schools.

Violet longs to become her father’s apprentice; however, she is constantly told ‘a funeral is not a place for a girl’ and ‘young girls are not undertakers’ and laughed at when she suggests that the ‘Edgar D. Veil & Sons Ltd. Undertakers’ business name should change to include ‘daughter’. Violet doesn’t appreciate the restrictions society has placed upon her and is constantly trying prove her worth.

Violet gets an opportunity to roll up her sleeves when she discovers that a boy who is supposed to be dead (presumed murdered) is still very much alive. Together with the boy and her trusty dog, Bones, the trio secretly try and solve the mystery of who wanted to harm him. In the process, more drama unfolds and another case of life-or-death hangs in the balance.

A Case of Grave Danger is an enjoyable tale of a strong-willed female protagonist and her sidekicks, Oliver and Bones. The novel would suit readers aged nine years and older who enjoy humorous stories of adventure with a bonus interwoven history lesson.

Monday, 15 February 2021

The Lost Moustache

The Lost Moustache by Vikki Conley and Caterina Metti (Red Paper Kite Publishing) PB HB RRP $26.99  ISBN 978 0 674207

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

The Lost Moustache is a quirky, fun-filled picture book, as it entices the reader to join Frankie as she tries to find the rightful owner of a moustache.

The text is delightful, engaging, and reads aloud super well. The vocabulary extends the readers and their understanding of theatre and story. I particularly love the dress-up fun and imaginative play on each spread. The structure of questioning and answering works perfectly for this story. Child readers really do enjoy this type of structure. The storyline hooks the reader into wanting to know who really does own the moustache. This is revealed at the end of the story. Vikki puts alliteration and rhyme to great use, and this makes the story highly enjoyable.

The detailed illustrations dance with the words beautifully and take imaginative play to another level. The use of perspective adds to the theatre of the story, and multiple characters add movement and drama. I particularly love the use of a large shadow depicting a wild animal as a frightened character runs away. The unspoken interaction between the characters adds multiple layers of meaning. The illustrator’s use of rich hues enhances the setting and works well with her quirky style. The black and white spreads at the end of the book allow the reader to create and play for themselves.

The Lost Moustache is much more than a mystery as this unique book allows for such fun interaction with the reader. This is a picture book that suits a home, school, or library bookshelf. It is the type of book that a child will want to read again and again. It is suitable for ages 3 years plus.