Thursday, 31 May 2012

Luke’s Way of Looking

Walker Classics: Luke’s Way of Looking by Nadia Wheatley, illustrated by Matt Ottley (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 16.95
ISBN 9781921977725
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Reissued through Walker Classics, this is a poignant story with strong themes of a boy who sees the world differently and expresses it through his art. This causes him to be bullied and marginalized by his teacher and peers.

Being different makes Luke an outsider. He can’t explain why he paints things in a way the teacher can’t understand. His classmates mock him and he’s friendless and alone.

Luke decides not to go to school one day. He’s tired of being laughed at and having his brushes broken by his angry teacher. He takes the opposite road and stays on a bus that passes a building which looks different to other buildings from the outside.  When Luke goes in, he feels an immediate affinity with his abstract surroundings.  He wonders what his teacher would think if he could see the different interpretations and styles of painting and art creations. Luke recognizes a separate place where everything his eyes look upon is beautiful.

Overflowing with happiness, Luke sets off for home. The world around him seems changed. The revelation that there is a place where he belongs has made him a new person. He decides to go to afternoon classes. Nothing bad can touch him now. When Luke starts to paint his way, the teacher remains silent.

Matt Ottley has captured the essence of the text, and through his illustrations we can feel the emotions the boy and the teacher are feeling. Its colour-filled covers depict Luke joyously liberated and swinging from a tree branch amidst his abstract art. This was a CBCA Honour Book and is now another classic available again to a new audience of readers.

At the end of the book there is a full page summary of the story by Dr Robin Morrow, President of IBBY Australia. Following is a page each of biographical information on the writer and illustrator.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Single Shard

A Single Shard A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (UQP)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9780702239373
Reviewed by Jo Burnell

A Single Shard won the Newbery Award for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children in 2002. Fancy words for a simple tale that will touch the hearts of all who hear or read it.

Linda Sue Park has woven historical facts from 12th century Korea and Korean Celadon pottery with unlikely heroes. The result is a warm, enticing tale for all.

Tree Ear was orphaned as a toddler. Monks asked Crane Man, homeless, disabled and living under a bridge, to mind the child as they searched unsuccessfully for relatives. When they return ready to take the child to a nearby monastery, Tree Ear would not be parted from Crane Man.

So began the pair's happy struggle for survival under the bridge. Together they eked out a simple but honourable existence on the edge of starvation, adhering to Crane Man's philosophy: 'there are many ways to garner a meal, but stealing and begging make a man no better than a dog'.

A Single Shard is the tale of how, amid this fight for survival, ten year old Tree Ear's hopes and dreams of being a Celadon Potter rise and fall in a village filled with potters. Tree Ear's longing collides with the cantankerous Min, Master Potter, and his kind-hearted wife.

Join Tree Ear as his efforts to be a trustworthy assistant are met with obstacles and resistance. I could't put the book down as I cheered him on, only to find him fall once more. Tree Ear is not the sort to give up easily, but the peaks of tiny triumphs wrestled time and again with difficulties and tragedy.

Will Tree Ear ever reach his dream? A Single Shard touched me to my core, revealing my own real life fears and hopes. Sometimes life blocks us on our journey to fulfilment, or does it?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Wingless Fairy Series Book 1: Rebecca and the Changeling

The Wingless Fairy Series Book 1: Rebecca and the Changeling by Margaret Pearce (Writers Exchange E-Publishing)
Ebook RRP $3.99
ISBN 978-1-921636-91-2
Reviewed by Nina Lim

Get ready to be transported to a magical world of fantasy, fairies, and goblins in this fast paced ebook for mid-grade readers. Margaret Pearce has created an enchanting world of make believe and adventure.

This is the first book in the wingless fairy series. We meet Princess Dewdrop, who is not your ordinary fairy princess, and a host of other well-crafted characters. Princess Dewdrop is one feisty fairy, and bored with life in the confines of her enchanted fairy kingdom, she longs for adventure and new experiences. But when her life intersects with Rebecca – a willful but strong and brave human girl – she is exposed to more excitement, thrills, danger, joy and delight than she ever dreamed possible.

Along the way Dewdrop learns the value of friendship, loyalty, self-belief and the importance of knowledge and grabbing opportunities to learn. A fun read that transports you to another world and makes you wonder what happens next.

Nina Lim is the author and creator of Super Harry, an interactive storybook app for the iPhone and iPad.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Greatest Liar on Earth

The Greatest Liar on Earth The Greatest Liar on Earth by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Frane Lessac (Walker Books)
HB RRP $29.95
ISBN 9781921529856
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

He was a liar, and a fabricator of stories; a great pretender. The adventures told by Louis de Rougemont, a persuasive hoaxer, were believed by so many he quickly became a celebrity. He was invited to speak at gatherings of prominent and other interested people who filled the theatres to hear his tales of life threatening episodes and miraculous escapes.

But who was he really? When he was uncovered and ridiculed by being billed as ‘The Greatest Liar on Earth’ first in South Africa then in Australia, he returned to what he had been before his great deception. A man of no account: lost and forever searching.

With this book Mark Greenwood and his illustrator wife Frane Lessac, have brought to our attention a great story in history and an astonishing life albeit a falsified one. Henri Louis Grin aka de Rougemont, whose life is recorded in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, was highly intelligent otherwise he would never have pulled off this incredible deception. His speaking ability was exceptional and he persuaded his audiences that he had actually experienced all the adventures and dangers that he related to them. Nothing was more important to him than the urge to be something other than what he was. He abandoned his wife and seven children in pursuit of this ambition. He spent his life moving from one persona to another, but at the same time, learning, reading and changing.

Although this fantastic story is a picture book it is also for an ageless audience. Illustrated using gouache, it freely depicts in vibrant colours what can only be described as the extraordinary life and death of a great and temporarily successful pretender. 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Who You Are Is What You Do

 Who You Are Is What You Do: Making Choices About Life After School
 by Heather McAllister (Wilkins Farago)
HB RRP $29.99
ISBN 9780980607024
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

If only I had this book when I was at school.

Primarily aimed at secondary school students, Who You Are Is What You Do is a careers counselling tool with a difference. Rather than focussing on 'the job' this innovative book focuses on the person. Author Heather McAllister briefly explores the ideas of the great philosophers Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre and uses the approach of determining career choices through individuals examining their core values, passions, skills, strengths and dreams.

This is not a book to flick through and shelve. It is a workbook that demands readers to really think about what makes them happy and fulfilled and to encourage them to take control of their choices and their life.  Questions are asked and space is provided for responses. By the end of the book, thoughtful readers will have a much clearer idea of who they are and which prospective careers might be best for them.

McAllister also provides general careers advice and there are plenty of websites the reader can access for further information. Personalised examples illustrate the point that by examining core beliefs and preferences, individuals can take control of their lives and move into areas of interest to them.

This is a great book for students to help them determine their futures. More importantly, it is a tool to help all of us determine who we really are and what makes our hearts sing.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Genie in Charge: Tweenie Genie

Genie in Charge (Tweenie Genie) Genie in Charge (Tweenie Genie) by Meredith Badger (Hardie Grant Egmont)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 978-192184883-4

I have to admit I love this series. It is a well written, easy to read series that is positive and set in the world of young genies that is bound to capture young hearts. Throughout the series we follow Poppy, a genie in training at Genie High School. The series delivers a host of personable characters, both boys and girls, as they confront the problems and excitement of being a genie.

Genie in Charge is the third book in the series. Polly and all of her friends are in their final year of Genie High School. This is the year that all genies get to make their own wish rather than granting wishes to others.

Their final task before graduation is to mentor a second year genie. If they succeed they will be granted their wish for the job of their dreams. If they fail their wish may be distorted.

Poppy is assigned a very unusual second stage genie, she doesn’t wear her uniform correctly, she doesn’t like fun parks and she doesn’t like to fly magic carpets. At first Poppy believes that they have nothing in common and there is no way that she can mentor, her. Her wish and her future are at risk as the two of them argue, fall out and then find a way to understand and help each other.

For a fun, easy to read story I definitely recommend Tweenie Genie.

Friday, 25 May 2012


Whisper Whisper by Chrissie Keighery (hardie grant Egmont)
PB RRP $16.95
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Whisper has been short-listed for the 2012 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Older Readers. It is easy to see why. Chrissie Keighery has penned a wonderful book about Demi, a girl who has become totally deaf following a vicious bout of meningitis. The whole way Demi experiences life and how she reacts to the world, and how the world reacts to her, has changed.

Keighery's  meticulous research is apparent. She opened up a whole new world to me in her portrayal of the deaf community and its interactions within and with the hearing world. All this is handled perfectly through a range of sympathetic and unsympathetic three-dimensional characters, in both the deaf and hearing worlds.

The strength of the story lies in its depth. It is not merely a story about a girl who goes deaf and how she deals with it. Whisper explores aspects of everyday life for an Australian teenage girl: changing schools, making friends, blossoming love, family friction. These issues are exacerbated by Demi's deafness but her enduring spirit and strength guide her through. Demi also learns that sometimes those that may seem the most privileged may also have their own cross to bear.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Wrong Boy

The Wrong Boy The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail (black dog books, an imprint of Walker Books)
PB RRP $18.95
ISBN 9781742031651
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

The Wrong Boy is a fictional account of a girl and her family struggling to survive one of history's most horrific events, the Holocaust. It is compelling reading. Written in first person, I felt I was there with Hanna every step of the way as her family is deported from their comfortable middle-class home in Budapest to the atrocities of Auschwitz concentration camp.

As the Mendels arrive at Auschwitz, Hanna, her sister Erika and mother are separated from her father. She never sees him again. Hanna finds solace in her music and eventually finds herself as pianist in the commandant's house. Hanna is ignored by all there. She is the invisible provider of the classical music. She feels the particular disdain of the Karl, the commandant's son, but later discovers that Karl's distance is not due to anti-Semitism but rather his own disgust towards his father and the Final Solution.

Life in Auschwitz is not glossed over: how the need to survive drives divisions within the Jewish women prisoners, the decline in the physical and mental health of Erika, and the relative health of Hannah are marked.

The romance between Hanna and Karl is delicately handled and not overplayed. Internal and sibling conflicts over the relationship simmer throughout. I thought it brave to introduce this element but Zail uses a deft hand and it adds to the poignancy of the story right to the very last line.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Chill Chill by Carol Thompson (Little Hare)
HB RRP $16.95
ISBN 978-192154173-5

Dolly is a cute little pig that loves to play on her own for some games and with her best friend, Jack Rabbit, for others. We follow the pair as they play and laugh and paint. 

Unfortunately, one friend takes offense to a portrait and they argue. The argument escalates and the friendship breaks down. When alone, both characters are angry, then upset and then sad. They both learn to chill and concentrate on the things that matter the most to them, leading them back to friendship.

This is an endearing little story. The language and situation are accessible and easy to relate to. The graphics are simple and highly complimentary. It is a good book to teach the very young to chill and focus on friendship not anger.

Monday, 21 May 2012

House Held Up By Trees

House Held Up by Trees House Held Up by Trees by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)
HB RRP $27.95
ISBN 9780763651077
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Ted Kooser’s first picture book was Bag in the Wind. He was the US Poet Laureate from 2004 till 2006 and won the Pulitzer prize for his poetry book, Delights and Shadows: Poems. This new impressive work reinforces his ability to tell a story so well you simply want to read it again.

House Held up by Trees spans the life of a man who built a house on a block that he totally cleared of bushland. The surrounding area was covered in different types of trees, but not a single sprouting plant was allowed within the space of land that the house occupied.

His two children grew up in that surrounding forest, discovering its magic, listening to the rustle of leaves and animals in the bushes. But they always returned to their pristine environment and the perfect lawn that their father worked so hard to keep. Although autumn loosened the leaves and seeds fell to the ground, the man remained vigilant, always ready to remove any threat of sprouting plants from the perfect lawn.

But the children grew as children do, and moved away. The father remained and cared for his house and the grass until he was too old to do so any longer. He tried to sell the house but no one seemed to want to buy it. So he closed it up and moved to the city. 

The house began to fall apart from lack of care. Children smashed the windows with stones and the trees began to take residence around the house once more. They grew around and within the space created by cracks and leaks in the foundations and gutters. The house was held together within the arms of the trees. As the trees grew the house was lifted and embraced tighter in the branches. The trees had one again claimed their ground and the house as well.

This is a moving tale of man versus nature and the ultimate, inevitable take-back. The beautiful illustrations are created digitally and in gouache, in subtle earthy browns, greens, ochre and beige which accent the countryside while focusing on the isolation of the house. The jacket of the book is a replica of the hard cover beneath, showing the house held up by trees.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Black Bottle Man

Black Bottle Man Black Bottle Man by Craig Russell (Great Plains Teen Fiction)
PB RRP US$14.99
ISBN 9781894283991
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Black Bottle Man is a superbly-crafted fable structured in a back and forth sequence, in smooth and seamlessly connecting chapters. This structure feeds the reader the background and story of each character in tiny, tasty morsels. It opens with Rembrandt, the main character, in the year 2007 when he is ninety years old and has only thirty days to live.

Rembrandt’s mother and Pa, and Pa’s married siblings, all live in separate houses but close together in the corner of a great piece of land known as Three Farms. Each family helps the other in every way. But Rembrandt is the only child between them. His aunts, Annie and Emma, and their husbands Uncle Billy and Uncle Thompson have shared his parenting, and he grows up surrounded by love and care.

But Annie and Emma long for a child of their own. That longing motivates them to write a letter to their family in the city for any sort of help they can seek out at any cost, that would enable them to have a child.

But the price demanded for something is always the last consideration when longing consumes all thought. On the day the parcel arrives in the mail containing a black bottle and directions, no one can imagine how high the cost will be. Five weeks later, the Black Bottle Man follows the package with his demands for payment. But neither Annie nor Emma will make the payment. Deception and secrets will rule from that day on. Two marriages are shattered. Lives end. But still the price is not paid.

Rembrandt, Pa and Uncle Thompson must find a champion to fight the devil and win in order to save their souls. But after a lifetime, and thirty days to live, Rembrandt has still to find a way to beat the devil.

Within this story, there is another sub-story that filters in and out, adding suspense and another dimension to the fable.

Gail, a teacher who is taken hostage with her class of young children, makes a decision that proves fatal. She withdraws from the world and becomes homeless as a way of punishing herself for the outcome.

This is a Canadian author of great talent. Black Bottle Man is imaginative and well-written with prose that is thoughtfully constructed. But it is the innuendo and the unsaid that magnetises the reader up to the last word.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Our Nest is Best

Our Nest is Best! Our Nest is Best! by Penny Olsen with Penny O'Hara (National Library of Australia)
HB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9780642277374
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

In board book format suitable for the youngest of readers, Our Nest is Best! is a beautiful and unique way to introduce children to the different nests birds build. Our Nest is Best! follows Rocky and Ruby, a pair of robins, as they discover the type of nest that is best for them. They visit the nests of their friends: magpies, owls, fairy-wrens, swallows, emu, kookaburras, reed-warblers, and grebes.

The birds visited and their nests cover a wide range of environments and different styles of nests. However, Rocky and Ruby find that, for one reason or another, those nests do not suit them. They decide that they'll have make one their own way. in the most understated of ways this demonstrates to children that merely copying others is not the best way; your own home should be a reflection of you and your needs.

Our Nest is Best! sources its illustrations from the National Library's own collection. How wonderful that even the very youngest of Australians can peek into our national treasures.

Friday, 18 May 2012

No Return: Captain Scott's Race to the Pole

No Return: Captain Scott's Race to the Pole by Peter Gouldthorpe (Lothian/Hachette)
PB RRP $17.99
ISBN 9780734412799
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie

No Return first emerged as a hard back picture book in 2011. Now Lothian have published it as a paperback, however there is no separate map which accompanied the hard back version. My review of the original publication was posted on Buzz Words Books on 15th November 2011.

Tasmanian-located Peter Gouldthorpe is a CBCA award winning author/illustrator and his talented artwork is showcased in this recounting of the race to the South Pole by Robert Falcon Scott.

Lieutenant Scott heads The National Antarctic Expedition in 1901, sailing from London in the Discovery. He hopes to fulfil his dream of being first to reach the South Pole. A secondary purpose is to gain scientific knowledge of plant life, the climate and the geology of this frozen land.

Among Scott's party are Ernest Shackleton and Edward Wilson and 19 huskies. The men trek to within 850 kilometres of the South Pole, but are forced back by terrible deprivation and the loss of all the dogs. Nevertheless, they remain there for two years before arriving back in England in 1904 with their data of new scientific discoveries. Scott is hailed as a national hero and promoted to Captain.

Interest revives in the South Pole after Robert Peary conquers the North Pole in 1909 and Shackleton’s own expedition to Antarctica comes close to reaching the Pole. Scott, spurred on by this news, forms a second expedition funded by himself. On June 1, 1910, the Terra Nova sets sail for Australia. While docked in Melbourne, to Scott’s dismay, a telegram arrives to say Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, was challenging him in the race to the Pole.

Once in Antarctic waters, it takes a month for the ship to navigate through the pack ice. The Terra Nova anchors off what is now called Cape Evans, and the preparations for the race to the South Pole begin in earnest. Within two weeks, a hut is built to house the men in the bitter Antarctic winter ahead.

Scott sends out two exploration parties. One returns with the news that Amundsen's ship has anchored in the Bay of Whales. Scott works out that the Norwegian will be 97ks closer to the Pole than his own party. Wondering whether his rival will reach the Pole first must have lain heavily on his mind through the long winter months.

The many experiences of the twenty-five men who remain behind after the ship returns to New Zealand are recorded in both text and brushwork. Peter Gouldthorpe's detailed and powerful illustrations magnify the horrendous conditions and challenges Scott's exploration party face. -44°C temperatures without modern thermal clothing would have been daunting enough, but along with the blizzards, the men suffer fatigue, hunger, frostbite, painful snow blindness, and loss of companions and horses (whose meat provided valuable food). The picture book's title is well chosen and the reader is in no doubt of the outcome.

No Return: Captain Scott's Race to the Pole pays homage to Captain Scott and his team. Their courage, determination and sacrifice is an inspiration and has reserved them a well-deserved place in history. A map is printed on the last page of the book showing the adventurers' routes. There is also a time line which is an excellent tool for an instant overview of the race to the South Pole.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Baby Animal Farm

Baby Animal FarmBaby Animal Farm by Karen Blair (Walker Books)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781921720376
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Baby Animal Farm is the perfect book for younger children. Five toddler friends spend a day venturing through a farm meeting baby animals along the way. The text is comfortably predictable and simple with one animal and then the sound the animal makes. ‘Cuddle the kittens. Mew, mew, mew.’

Of course, there is a break for lunch (‘Munch, munch, munch.’). Karen Blair has taken this book above the average baby animal farm book by injecting toddler angst when the one of the toddlers asks, ‘Where’s my teddy? Where? Where? Where?’ A puppy which has featured in the background of the illustrations saves the day to the delight of the five. The day ends with them asleep in their strollers.

The book is delightfully presented with the endpapers being utilised to their full extent. Both are fully illustrated with the back ones showing the farm and the baby animals asleep at night. Illustrations in pastel shades perfectly complement the text. Baby Animal Farm is a perfect book for carer and child to share.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Jessie the Lyrics Fairy (Rainbow Magic: The Pop Star Fairies)

Jessie the Lyrics Fairy (Rainbow Magic: The Pop Star Fairies) Jessie the Lyrics Fairy (Rainbow Magic: The Pop Star Fairies) by Daisy Meadows (Orchard/Hachette)
PB RRP $9.99
ISBN 978 1 40831 5897
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie

This is the latest addition to the number one bestselling girls' series, Rainbow Magic. Over 26 million copies have sold worldwide. In each story, Kirsty Tate and Rachel Walker have an adventure which features a particular fairy. The bright covers are very attractive, and the stories will appeal to girls in the six to 10 years range. Jessie the Lyrics Fairy is the first book in the Pop Star Fairy series.

When Kirsty and Rachel arrive at the Rainspell Island Music Festival, they meet up with their pop group friends, The Angels who are the opening act. Later, while helping Rachel's parents set up the tent in the camping area, the pair suddenly spot Destiny the Pop Star Fairy, whose magic ensures that pop concerts go perfectly.

The Fairyland Music Festival coincides with the human pop festival, and Destiny invites the girls to attend. Delighted to accept, the girls are covered in magic dust from Destiny's wand and become fairies. In Fairyland, they meet the other Pop Star Fairies - Jessie the Lyrics Fairy, Adele the Singing Coach Fairy, Vanessa the Dance Steps Fairy, Miley the Stylist Fairy, Frankie the Make-up Fairy, Rochelle the Star Spotter Fairy and Una the Concert Fairy. However, the fairies seem worried and distracted, and when the rehearsal begins, the Pop Star Fairies perform badly and can't keep in step or in tune.

Kirsty and Rachel ask Destiny what is wrong and she tells them that the magic music clefs the fairies wear around their necks to ensure their performances go well are missing.

The clefs have been stolen by Jack Frost and his goblins. Jack Frost is planning to be the biggest star at the Rainspell Festival. Returning to Rainspell Island, the girls attend The Angels' rehearsal. The pop group are not performing well, either. It is up to the girls to get back the clefs so that both festivals are a success.

Will Kirsty and Rachel be able to retrieve each fairy's musical clef?

Written in an easy-to-read style supported by black and white drawings, Jessie the Lyrics Fairy with its pop festival background is sure to be a hit. Another six books complete the Pop Star Fairies series which is good news for fans. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Blog Tour and Giveaway: DC’s Amazing Life!

Welcome to DC Green's Grat Siege Blog Blitz Tour. Today, Buzz Words interviews DC Green on his Amazing Life! and whoever likes the ‘DC Green Author’ page in the month of May and sends a message to DC saying ‘Buzz Words’ will be go into the draw for a free copy of his new release Erasmus James and the Grat Siege. 

BW: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

DC: When I was a boy I dreamed of growing up to become a writer, a professional surfer, an astronaut or a jelly wrestler. I was only ever an average surfer, Australia had no space program and I couldn’t afford a swimming pool full of Aeroplane jelly, so I focused on writing. Many grown-ups told me I was a fool and that I would never make a living out of writing. But the only fools are those who are too scared to follow their dreams!

As with any sport or activity, the more you practise something, the better you become. I wrote so much, I won an award from the Victorian government for one of my short stories and had my first article published in Tracks surfing magazine – both when I was still in high school. When I received a cheque for $60 from Tracks, I felt like the richest boy in Ulladulla!

BW: You recently did well in a few writing contests?

DC: Yes! In the last month, my unpublished children's novel 'City of Monsters' has won first place in the Adult Category of the Writing Classes for Kids and Adults Fantasy Writing Competition and runner-up in the 8th Kathleen Julia Bates Memorial Writing Competition. Any discerning publishers reading this are welcome to jump in now, while I’m polishing the final draft until it glistens!

BW: And your latest book is being launched this month?

DC: Right now, I’m on a nation-wide ten-blog tour, launching Erasmus James and the Grat Siege (for details, see below). The official galaxy-wide book launch will be at Ulladulla Library on Saturday, June 2, from 12-1 pm. There will be great prizes, including signed books and posters, ripping yarns, lots of laughs and the chance to ask me just about anything and/or have me sign a book or three.

BW: You worked for surf magazines for many years?

DC: Many, many years! Apart from the abysmal pay, it was a dream job in many ways. I was able to combine the three great loves of my life: writing, surfing and travelling – the latter on someone else’s coin! I roamed the coastlines of multiple continents, usually with a photographer and an ever-changing crew of pro surfers. I was fortunate to have a succession of wonderful editors from magazines around the world who let me be in turn experimental, investigative, tangential, satirical, irreverent, demagogic, demented, gonzo, naughty and frequently the star of my own stories.

BW: Humour seems to be an important element of your stories.

DC: Indeed! I’ve always loved making people laugh. As a grommet (also known as a kid), I was always in trouble for calling out funny comments in class. The teacher would frown my way and shout, ‘Green… detention!’

I interrupted the teacher with so many feeble jokes, I think I set a new world record for being on detention! I suffered chalk dust poisoning and Vitamin D deficiency from being indoors every lunch-time!! I decided there surely had to be another way to make people laugh that didn’t involve me writing, ‘I must not be a goose’ 200 times on a blackboard before I was allowed to eat my sandwich. So I snuck into my big brother’s room and tore pages out of his school books. I cut these up and turned them into… mini-comics!

Four amazing things happened. I discovered that writing and drawing comics was a fantastic way to spend a rainy afternoon. My friends at school dug my comics so much they wanted to buy them. And my big brother had a temper tantrum because pages kept falling out of his school books! So I was having fun, making money, annoying my family and not being put on detention every day! Woo-hoo! Double quinella!!

BW: You often refer to your guard cats.

DC: Yes, I can’t afford guard dogs, so instead my life is in the paws of three bold if usually comatose guard cats: Ninja the Ginger, Frankie Hollywood Junior and Boofhead. I’ve even written a chapter book mystery story featuring the cats, which I hope a clever publisher will want to publish one decade!

BW: I understand you do a lot of school shows?

DC: Definitely the best part of my job is touring schools. In the last six years, I’ve performed over 700 school shows in every Australian state and territory. Instead of being put on detention, I now get PAID to make silly comments and jokes in classrooms! I love hearing windows shake because the audience (including the teachers) are laughing so hard – even if just because they’ve never seen a big bald man rap so badly before! I’m always stoked when teachers tell me their students were so inspired by my show they all wanted to rush back to class to write their own amazing yarns. Sure beats being on detention!

BW: Tell us about your current publisher, Barrel Books.

DC: Barrel Books has been a fantastic publisher, very supportive and open to new ideas. For example, they agreed to share the cost of ten per cent of all sales of my picture book, Three Little Surfer Pigs, going to CanTeen Australia, the organisation that supports young Australians living with cancer and their families. Neither Barrel Books or myself made much money out of that endeavour; but the feeling of doing something for others was wonderful. I wish more famous and wealthy and authors would follow suit!

Unfortunately, the company that distributed Barrel Books’ books, Scribo, went out of business last year, so my five books are now only available through a limited range of bookstores, at my school shows and other public appearances or through in dead tree, audio or ebook formats.

BW: I understand you’ve already received some good reviews for your new book, Eramsus James and the Grat Siege?

DC: I have! Here are some selected quotes!

‘Hilarious and action packed… an unforgettable book of beasts, battles and bizarre bodily functions.’ – Dee White, Kids’ Book Capers.

‘Grat Siege is full of page turning terror, amazing creatures and amusing one-liners that will appeal especially to boys, holding their attention until the very last full stop.’
– Sally Hall,

‘Nothing can compare to this… It’s impossible to predict just what will happen next. It’s crazy fun wrapped up in mindgames… Extraordinarily punny, (it) will spin you around until you lose all sense of who you are and what you’re doing there. In a good way. You’ll get dizzy in this whirlwind universe.’ Claire Saxby,

‘It’s funny, sad, scary and the BEST Erasmus novel! I’ll read it 100 times!’ 
– Jack, 12-years-old.

‘It’s funny, exciting and written by a genius!’ 
DC Green.

BW: Thanks for dropping by Buzz Words, DC!

DC: Thanks for inviting me, Vicki!

The DC Green Grat Siege Blog Blitz Tour Itinerary
Topic 1: Blog Tour Mania!
DC Green, Saturday May 12

Topic 2: Inspiration and Ideas
Ian Irvine, Sunday May 13

Topic 3: Book Giveaway
Kids Book Review, Tania McCartney - Monday 14 - Sunday 20

Topic 4: DC Green’s Books
PIO - Monday May 14

Topic 5: DC’s Amazing Life
Buzz Words, Tuesday May 15

Topic 6: Writing Great Characters
Robyn Opie, Wednesday May 16

Topic 7: Plotting and Planning!
Jill Smith, Thursday May 17

Topic 8: Surf Journalism
Chad Kolcze, Friday May 18

Topic 9: Random Questions
Helen Nolan, Saturday May 19

Topic 10: Sneak Peeks
Jackie Hosking, Sunday May 20

DC would be stoked if you could like his ‘DC Green Author’ page on facebook: 
Like DC's page in the month of May and send the message 'Buzz Words' to DC and you'll go into the draw to win a free copy of his new release, Erasmus James and the Grat Siege.

DC’s books can be purchased online here:

Monday, 14 May 2012

YA Review: Revived

RevivedRevived by Cat Patrick (Hardie Grant Egmont)
PB RRP $22.95
ISBN 978-192169063-1

This is the second book from author Cat Patrick. Her first was Forgotten, about a teenage girl who overnight forgets everything that happened that day. It is a fantastic premise and story.

Revived does not disappoint. Cat Patrick has a wonderful imagination. Once again she manages to build an intriguing medical world. In this story we follow Daisy, who is a medical trial participant for a drug called Revive. The drug brings healthy people back from death and it is imperative that it is kept a secret. Daisy has officially died on five separate occasions, with each death and revival she has to move state and reinvent herself. Each move proves to challenge all of her previous thoughts and assumptions about living, friendships, romance, trust and death.

This is a great coming of age story. The medical aspects of it make it a great read that takes the familiar teenage issues and sets them side by side with science, intrigue and action.

Cat Patrick has announced her third book on and I am looking forward to getting a hold of it. This is an author to follow.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Book Review: Super Baby and Ted and the Cotsville Kids

Super Baby and Ted and the Cotsville Kids by Jennifer Bates, illustrated by Luke Watson (
PB Boxed set of six: $29.95
ISBN 9780987121400
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

This is a great series for pre-school children with a significant overall theme – child safety awareness. Over thirty years in the making with a big stop along the way, the series has finally made its way into the world. Jennifer Bates started with an idea that came to her lips as a form of entertainment when her children were very young. It has evolved into a significant project aimed at protecting children from the dangers that surround them daily. But this cannot be done without  adult awareness.

There are many important themes in this set of six books. The need to supervise young children while they are at play, around water, when playing close to roads, the positioning of furniture near windows or other danger areas, the danger of stairs, chemicals and cleaning fluids being high or locked away. Responsible pet care by children is also addressed, as is the importance of not taking what doesn’t belong to you.

Through the situations that the characters get into, the reader/adult, is told and shown by Super Baby, what can happen when supervision, the preoccupation with other things, and the lack of vigilance, is absent. The interaction between child and adult, the reiteration and explanation of the whys and hows, will serve to inform and refresh the memory of both the reader and the listener.

Super Baby's motto is ‘A Safe Baby is a Happy Baby’, and to this end she has stayed true to the characters she created using the original classical images that were born that time long ago. They are: Super Baby and his sidekick Ted the bear; babies Thomas and Kate, Andrew and his dog Smudge, Jaxon and Dudley - best friends but different in every way; the little Aboriginal girl Zoe and her cat Furnella that doesn’t really like playing, and the bully Sammy Snatchet who also takes things that don’t belong to him.

They are all gorgeous and endearing characters. The endless source of safety information will certainly bring more books to series once the interest they deserve is fired up. The books are also available through Kidsafe WA, and Sids and Kids WA. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Greedy Crocodile: A Collection of Australian Stories

The Greedy Crocodile
The Greedy Crocodile by Sally Morgan (Walker Books)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9781921720659
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

In this collection of ten Australian stories contained in seventy-six pages, there is a wonderful mixture of creation, animal, earth, sea and sky, and Spirit stories. They are in part drawn from Sally Morgan’s own childhood. Others are drawn from family sources. Some are gross, all are entertaining and clever with a moral to each tale. This is a perfect collection for readers of all ages that reflect the inexhaustible ability of Aboriginal people to tell the most creative and amazing stories.

A greedy crocodile named Shontu loses all his friends because he keeps trying to eat them. He gets his payment when the family he swallows gets their revenge.

Yamin was always wishing. Every thought was a wish – good and bad. He thought he had it all until the wishes turn into an unstoppable chain of cause and effect .

Marni is a girl who can’t stop shouting but is finally balanced out by her clever grandmother with the help of a little magic. There is a wondrous tale about how the first white man came into the world, and one of Wadjella, a boy of great courage. Then there’s Roly Poly the wombat who escapes a giant and finds a mate after many hairy adventures.

Other animals include the proud goanna who was so stuck up, he held his head so high that he lost his footing and fell into the crocodile’s mouth. Then, The Gourmet Giant with an enormous appetite is stopped by his clever cook Nardu.

A beautiful story is that of Yael, a bird spirit, and Mulwarra, a human girl. Two beings who are different to one another in every way, yet with so much in common, who finally find a way to be together.

The Grumpy Frog tells of a giant frog that swallows everything in its way.  He could have swallowed the whole of Australia, and almost did but for the intervention of the Good Spirit who put a blowfish in his way with unforeseen results.

Many of these tales are adventures while in search of food; others are character flaws that are corrected through a lesson learnt. Then there are the ones that are just good fun, and an extremely good read. There is a Glossary of words at the end of this superbly illustrated book, produced with quality semi gloss pages and a fantastic front cover depicting  the greedy crocodile.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Violet Mackerel's Personal Space

Violet Mackerel's Personal Space Violet Mackerel's Personal Space by Anna Branford, illustrated by Sarah Davis (Walker Books Australia)
HB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9781921529207
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

What a joy Violet Mackerel is! This series of books is written straight from the heart of a young girl who in her own unique way makes sense of the world around her. In this title, the fourth in the series, Violet and her family are undergoing some big changes. Mum and Vincent are getting married (good) and the Mackerels must move house (not-so-good). Violet's older brother, Dylan, finds the changes particularly difficult and the tender way that Anna Branford shows the great emotional turmoil in Dylan touched me.

Sarah Davis's black and white illustrations fill the pages, expanding and interweaving with the text to further bring Violet's world to life.

Gentleness and tolerance triumphs in Violet's world and brings to mind those other great books of a beautiful family, The Kingdom of Silk series by Glenda Millard.

I cannot recommend this book and series highly enough and if, like me, you want more Violet she has her own website of activities. You can read the Buzz Words Books review of Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat here.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Book Review: 30 Things My Mum Taught Me

30 Things My Mum Taught Me 30 Things My Mum Taught Me by Denis and Ian Baker (Jane Curry Publishing)
PB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9780987227508
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Just in time for Mother's Day, 30 Things My Mum Taught Me  is a heart-warming (and at times tear jerking) book of cherished memories, words of wisdom and stories of Dorothy Josephine Mitchell, the mother of the authors. However, the book is more than a homage from sons to their mum. It is a celebration of all mothers and the joy and guidance they bring to the world as women, wives and mothers.

Reflections on family life are at the heart of this book. Throughout the book there are pages where readers can add their thoughts about their own mother. The Bakers have also included some of their mother's recipes (I particularly like the look of the recipe for lamb shanks) and there is space provided to record personal recipes.

30 Things My Mum Taught Me is the companion book to the previously released 30 Things My Dad Taught Me (You can read the Buzz Words Books review here.)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Messy Mother's Day

Messy Mother's Day illustrated by Lucie Billingsley (Lothian Children's Books with text input from Theresa Bray)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 9780734412430
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie

It is Mother's Day and Dad, Sophie and Jake want to make Mum happy with special gifts they will make themselves. Baby brother clutches his teddy and watches the proceedings.

After giving Mum breakfast in bed, they start on their gifts. Dad bakes in the kitchen, Sophie gets to work with paints and crayons, and Jake tackles making a photo frame. However, there is one other member of the family who wants to be part of the fun. Baxter, the dog, insists on lending a paw.

"But what will Mum say when she opens the door?" is the refrain as Baxter destroys their efforts one by one, and the house gets messier and messier.

When Mum gets up and asks, "Who made all this mess?" Baxter's furry coat covered in paint and cake is a big clue. Fortunately, there is time to get things back in order so that the messy Mother's Day can be enjoyed by all the family, including the culprit.

Lucy Billingsley is a Sydney artist whose lively, large and bright illustrations are a good example of how pictures should interpret and extend the meaning of a picture book's text. I also like the cover's central raised illustration which is very tactile.

The Messy Mother's Day's rhyming language, though lacking rhythm at times, is succinct and simple for reading alone. The fonts are large to match the size of the book, and some sentences swirl to match the exuberance of Baxter. Primary age children will enjoy this contemporary celebration of Mum’s special day. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Based on a true story, Finding Hope (ISBN 978-0-646-57492-9) tells of a young girl named Srey who has lost her parents to AIDS.  When Srey’s mother dies in the hospital, the staff do not know what to do with her because no one will take her in. Srey is put in a Tuk Tuk and left at an orphanage called HOPE.  There she meets her ‘Fairy God Mother’ who rescues her from her place of hopelessness. At the orphanage she makes new friends who help build up her self esteem and confidence.

In Finding Hope Srey finally gets her HOPE back and shares it with the world. 

Finding Hope by Bic Walker will be launched by Blair McDonough, 25 May 2012 at Ashburton Primary School Hall

The book retails for $20. 100% of the proceeds of the book will go towards helping the Children at the orphanage “Hope for Cambodian Children’. For more information about Hope visit:

For more information, please contact: Bic Walker on

Monday, 7 May 2012

Jake’s Concert Horror

Jake’s Concert Horror by Ken Spillman, illustrated by Chris Nixon (Fremantle Press)
PB RRP $10.95
ISBN 9-781-921-888-755
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin

Jake’s Concert Horror is a fast moving, fun and simple read for junior primary readers. At first, Jake thinks a school concert sounds like fun. They’re going to do the ‘The Little Mermaid’ and he waits quietly listening to who has what role when he hears his own name called out for the lead role, Prince Eric!

Jake imagined scampering across the stage in a monkey suit or clashing swords with his mate Jonah. But the lead role? Jake goes through a multitude of emotions before committing to do his best. A prince might be okay – as long as princesses are kept well clear. But Mrs Paul has other ideas. Jake is going to have to kiss a girl – in front of the whole school! Is his teacher really trying to ruin his life?

Jake embraces his role and with the help of his Nanna learns all his lines, facing his fears head on. During the play the crowd clap and cheer him and he finally realises – he’s good. He’s funny and they love him. Caught up in the moment, Jake hams it up and bravely and loudly kissing the Princess, bringing the house down with his performance.

Jake is an endearing and likeable character and his fearful experience is real and heartfelt. There’s a strong message about self-belief and having a go, all wonderful qualities that are fully embraced in this story. Ken Spillman’s writing is simple, eloquent and in touch with his choice of ‘junior primary’ language.

The talented Chris Nixon has drawn the illustrations in a unique black and white format that is delightful. They are realistic snapshots of each moment in this chapter book and you can see and feel all of Jake’s emotions: nervous, scared, uncertain, committed, brave and happy!

The illustrations will definitely resonate with junior primary readers and they compliment this story perfectly. This chapter book format will suit reluctant readers. The humorous illustrations throughout the book break up the text and add fun and quirkiness.

Jake’s Concert Horror is the fourth in a series and they have terrific, comprehensive teaching notes that are readily available on-line.

Neridah McMullin is the author of three books for children. Her latest book is an Indigenous folklore story called 'Kick it to Me'. It’s an ‘aussie rules’ story that’s being endorsed by the Australian Football League. Neridah loves family, footy, and doing yoga with her cat Carlos (who also just happens to love footy). 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Hunting Lila

Hunting Lila
Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson (Simon and Schuster)
BB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-085707195-8
Reviewed by Peta Biggin

Seventeen-year-old Lila has two secrets she’s prepared to take to the grave.  The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she’s in love with her brother’s best friend, Alex.  Alex, and Lila’s brother Jack, live in Southern California where they work for a secret military organisation called the Unit. After Lila’s powers are exposed in her home town, she decides to run away to be with them – the only people she can trust.  She learns that they are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they’ve found them. She also discovers that she is not alone – there are others with special powers and her mother’s killer is among them.

Despite Lila’s abilities, the first part of the book does not contain a large proportion of fantasy.  We get to know the characters and see the dynamics between them.  Lila is wilful and passionate; Jack is somewhat introverted and very protective of Lila; Alex is confident, flirty and also protective of Lila.  

There are a lot of secrets being kept in the half of the novel.  Lila is trying to keep her feelings for Alex hidden from Jack; the truth about her powers hidden from everyone; while Jack and Alex are trying to keep the reality of their work from Lila.  As these secrets are exposed, the action really starts to kick off and the powers of Lila and those like her become a greater part of the novel.  The unravelling of the stories that each character has built around them also allows for some terrific twists as the plot unfolds. 

Thankfully, Lila’s love for Alex does not go unrequited.  Romance blossoms between the two, much to Jack’s unease.  It is not a straightforward journey for them, though.  Despite being a bit of a romantic, I was happy to see that this aspect of the story was not allowed to overwhelm the rest of the book.

Overall, I found Hunting Lila, to be a great read.  With action, fantasy and romance it’s certain to appeal to a wide audience (both teenagers and teenagers at heart).

Before becoming a full-time writer, Sarah Alderson worked in the not-for-profit sector.  Originally from London, she currently lives in Bali with her husband and daughter.  The sequel, Losing Lila, is due for release later this year.