Thursday, 28 February 2013

Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster

Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster by Jacqueline Harvey, illustrated by J. Yi (Random House Australia)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9781742755434
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9781742755441
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

Clementine Rose is five years old and ready to start kindergarten with her friends, Poppy and Sophie, after all, she’s been wearing her new school uniform for weeks.

This is the second book in the darling new series by bestselling author Jacqueline Harvey. There is nothing pretentious or spoilt about the main character, Clemmie. She is wide-eyed and bright as a button.

In this adventure, Clemmie encounters several hurdles on her first day at school. First of all, she doesn’t have the sweet Miss Critchley as her teacher. Instead, she has Mrs Bottomley, ‘a short woman wearing a drab brown check jacket and matching skirt’ with a ‘helmet of brown curls perched on top of her head.’

Author, Jacqueline Harvey, puts well to play her experience as a teacher of young girls, just as she does in her other delightful series, Alice-Miranda. She’s spot on with description and emotions and draws you into the humour of everyday situations that young kindergartens experience.

It’s not all plain sailing for Clemmie as the boys tease her about her name. They play tricks on her and wipe snot on her uniform.  One poor girl has an ‘accident’ and the boys call her ‘piddle pants.’ Clemmie realises another disappointing thing – she is not going to learn to read in an afternoon, as she thought she would.

The worst boy in the class is Mrs Bottomley’s grandson! It’s all too much and Clemmie decides she’s not going back to school. After a trip to the doctor for a wobbly tummy, Clemmie is back in class and her spirits are lifted as the principal, Miss Critchley announces that the school is having a Pet Day.

You can imagine what happens when children and an assortment of bizarre pets come together. There’s mayhem, but out of the fun, comes first prize in the dress-up competition for Clemmie’s pet, Lavender, the teacup pig dressed in a ‘tutu and ballet slippers’.

Many of the characters from Book 1 are interwoven in this second book. There’s Digby Pertwhistle, the butler and crusty, mean-looking Great Aunt Violet and her sphynx cat, Pharaoh (who together take out the prize for Pet Most Like its Owner).

The tone throughout is conversational, and often as a reader, you can hear Clemmie’s thoughts, which for young readers would be reassuring, knowing that they are not alone when it comes to little things going wrong at school. Each chapter is graced with a black and white illustration and a handy Cast of Characters is included at the back of the book.

Perfect for 6-9 year old girls, Clementine Rose will become a favourite friend. Her next exciting adventure is coming out soon, Clementine Rose and the Perfect Present. We can only wonder what it could be!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Superworm by Julia Donaldson, illustration by Axel Scheffler (Scholastic UK)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-407132– 04-4
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

“Superworm is super-long.
Superworm is super-strong.
Watch him wiggle! Watch him squirm!
Hip, hip, hooray for SUPERWORM!”

I adore the combination of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and look forward to each new book with set high expectations. Superworm does not disappoint. Once again Donaldson has perfect rhyme and metre making it a pleasure to read out loud. Scheffler’s familiar illustrations are delightful, full of humour colour and life.

Superworm is a friend to all in the garden. He helps out anyone who is in trouble in the most inventive ways:

Help! Disaster! Baby Toad
Has hopped on to a major road.
“Quick! Whatever can we do?”
Look – a Superworm lasso!

But who will help him when he is in trouble? Well, everyone of course.

The simple message of the importance of helping out your friends no matter how small and powerless you feel is entertainingly brought across through the text and illustrations. Superworm is carried off by Wizard Lizard and his servant crow. His friends from the garden rally together to rescue their superhero and the plan is ingenious and unusual.

Young children will relish the small amount of danger, knowing a happy ending is coming. And they will love to explore the garden’s tiny world of insects, bugs and small creatures. There is a page dedicated to illustrations of the Superworm in various contortions: - a swing, a hoola-hoop, a hat, a crane – and children with patience and good eyes may even spot the Gruffalo. The language is lively and repetitive, just as young children love it.

Toddlers from a young age will love this story and its complexity will keep children up to early primary age amused as well.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Etiquette Espionage - Finishing School Book the First

Etiquette Espionage - Finishing School Book the First by Gail Carriger (Little, Brown/Atom/Hachette)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 9781907411588
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie
This quirky novel is within the author's Parasol Protectorate Series and aimed at the 12+ market.
Set in a time governed by manners and etiquette rules, the gender divisions of accepted behaviour and the use of extravagant names, readers may wonder if they are in for an old-fashioned read. But the antics of Sophronia Temminick will lure the sceptics to persevere, despite the ridiculous character names. Mrs Barnaclegoose, Frowbritcher, Pillover are some examples. The use of uncommon words, e.g., dirigible, india-rubber may puzzle, but it isn't long before the reader discovers the story, unfolded in a combination of yester-year and modern language, is part of a fantasy which includes mechanicals, flywaymen, werewolves and vampires.
Sophronia is packed off to a finishing school for young aristocrats in a horse-drawn carriage. But it soon becomes clear to Sophronia that there is a mysterious element attached to one of her companions, particularly after they are attacked by sky highwaymen (flywaymen) who are searching for some unknown object. Our heroine being both courageous and a tom-boy, saves them from the flywaymen and determines to discover what they are after and why.
With great imagination, Carriger unfolds an amusing and exciting first novel in the Etiquette and Espionage series. The book is a stand alone, and readers will enjoy the send-up of the English aristocracy's expectations of young ladies as well as the mystery-fantasy element. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Zal and Zara and the Champion’s Race

Zal and Zara and the Champion’s Race by Kit Downes (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 14.95
ISBN 9781406309201
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

The Champion’s Race is the sequel to Zal and Zara and the Great Race of Azamed.

Zal, Zara and Rip the dog are in Shirazar to take part in the Champion’s Race, the greatest of all magic flying contests. They will again use their enchanted seven-colour rainbow carpet which won them the Great Race. The race track has been marked out in readiness, the judges chosen and the rules confirmed.

Valuable ancient magic items have been stolen from the Shirazar museum and the thief has not yet been caught, although Sari Stormstrong is known as the greatest thief in the Seventeen Kingdoms; ‘a mercenary thief that steals for others’. She is clever and deceitful, always playing two sides; able to conceal her whereabouts and not get caught. What are these things needed for and who needs them?

Miles Nocturne is Zal’s best friend from fencing school. His father Paradin, known as the Red Squirrel, is entering the race for the twentieth and last time before he retires.

These people and the other participants of the Champion’s Race have the Shadow Society to fear without knowing it, although Zal and Zara believed that the Society had been dismantled.

But during this competition, friend becomes foe, and foe becomes ally. As magic is utilized for selfish, dangerous and destructive purposes, Zal, Zara and Rip find themselves locked in an ancient genie bottle which produces more adventures than the Arabian Nights. All the rainbow carpets are destroyed except theirs (due to a problem with octopus dye), by the Knife Demon, one of the items stolen from the museum. The other items are put to similar use after an incredible betrayal takes place.

The two children’s lives are filled with dangerous but thrilling adventures that flow into one another like night into day. As always, the resourceful pair find solutions to theirs and others’ problems, and still win the race. They are also strengthened by their disarming of the treachery that surrounds the races and the people of Shirazar.

This exciting magical fantasy novel is full of incredible adventures through imaginary places, within situations full of battles between good and evil, and played out by courageous, resourceful and optimistic characters. It is suitable for the 8+ age group.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Granny Grommet and Me

Granny Grommet and Me by Dianne Wolfer, illustrated by Karen Blair (Walker Books)
HB RRP $ 27.95
ISBN 9789121720161
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

This fantastic book is about the value of older people and the things they can share with the younger generation. It is presented through a most delightful and entertaining story. The superlative illustrations by Karen Blair are in complete harmony with the text. They are created by using mixed media comprising of watercolour paintings on paper with chinagraph pencil and acrylic paint.

Four grannies go to the beach, one of them with her grandchild and dog. They are all grommets. They wear wetsuits and caps, and use sunscreen.  Before entering the water with their surf boards, they check for rips. They enjoy themselves in the sun and the surf.

Granny calls to the child to come in. But it is afraid of ‘strange things under the waves’. The child has a small board with which it plays at the water’s edge until something touches its leg. Then out it runs.

When the grommets are finished surfing, they all go to a rock pool. Granny explains that the sea is like a giant rock pool. They don their snorkels and masks and granny confesses to the child that she too was afraid till the other grannies showed her the beauty beneath the waves. The child agrees to lie on granny’s surf board and look through the mask at the glory to be found beneath the water. The child sees the amazing sea life and is enchanted.

There is a list of Granny Grommet’s Beach Tips at the end of the story.

Dianne Wolfer has fifteen books in print with more on the way. She is the author of wonderful books like Lighthorse Boy, the companion book to Lighthouse Girl which won the West Australian Young Reader’s Award, was the CBCA Notable book, and which was Shortlisted for two Premier’s Awards.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Bad Grammar

Bad Grammar by Nathan Luff (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 16.95
ISBN 9781921977862
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Bad Grammar is what Bourkley Boys Grammar is called. It’s the last resort for boys who don’t fit in. Situated in the remote outback, it has hammocks and dirt floors, no privacy and bad food. That’s where Marcus gets sent.

Marcus is a computer games addict; a loner not interested in school. He has made no new friends since his mate Bashir left for India, and is totally indifferent to everything. He’s an only child whose parents spend little time with him. He has created a world of his own in which he is a dragon-slayer; a warrior with a Warrior’s Guide to every problem.

But his parents have had enough. So he travels to Bad Grammar with other misfits. There it is hell on earth as the three prefects make sure life is a misery for all the boys. Scarface takes particular interest in making Marcus suffer, especially after he has stolen his memory stick containing everything worthwhile on it. He uses this to blackmail Marcus into doing every humiliating thing he orders.

But he is befriended by oversized Trent who is there to lose weight, and is also Fred’s best friend. Fred’s non- stop talk drives Marcus crazy, but the three soon become close. They try to find a way to retrieve Marcus’ memory stick and support him in his attempts to escape, which leads them into all sorts of trouble and additional punishment.

It’s when mutiny is initiated by Scarface that things somersault. Secrets, mysteries and truths are finally revealed about Bad Grammar and the adults who run it.

This is a fast-paced book in every way. Things are happening continually in rapid sequence, through the dialogue, with the characters and within the descriptions. The story is full of craziness and unbelievable events. But it’s entertaining, ridiculous and well-written, and keeps the reader turning the pages. This is suitable for age 9+.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Kick it to Me

Kick it to Me by Neridah McMullin, illustrated by Peter Hudson (One Day Hill)
HB RRP $19.99
ISBN 9780980794861
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Hallelujah, the AFL season is nearly upon us again! But if it wasn't for Tom Wills and the Australian Aboriginal game of Marn-grook we would not have Australian Rules football at all. Kick it to Me captures the very beginnings of the greatest of sports, Australian Rules football, in this beautifully presented picture book.

Neridah McMullin takes us back to 1846 when a young Tom Wills lives in western Victoria and has his first contact with Marn-grook. Despondent over the end of the cricket season, Tom is searching for something to do. When his friend Jirra introduces him to the athleticism and fun of Marn-grook, Tom is gobsmacked and enthusiastically joins in.

Peter Hudson's colourful and lively illustrations have a freshness and vitality about them and the expressions of joy on the boys' faces as they play Marn-grook with their friends are a highlight of the book. Being Melbourne born and bred (and with a Sherrin for a soul) I can tap into this emotion. Football is exciting, it brings everyone together, it's fun!

Following the story, a fascinating biography of Tom Wills is included. Tom Wills has been credited with being the instigator of Australian Rules, blending aspects of different sports and developing the rules to create this unique game.The interaction in the text between Tom and the Aboriginal boys accurately depicts Wills' friendship with the local Djab Wurrung tribe whose language he became fluent in. As a youth, Wills attended school in Rugby and went on to study at Cambridge. On his return to Victoria, he became a leading sportsman and lobbied for a football club to be formed, working towards developing an Australian code.

There is also glossary of Aboriginal words and a forward by the Collingwood Football Club president, Eddie McGuire.

Kick it to Me is a book for young sports fans and a reminder of how Australia has managed to combine aspects of indigenous and European culture to come up with our own unique game and contribution to the sporting world.

Hubert and the Magic Glasses

Hubert and the Magic Glasses by Candice Lemon-Scott, illustrated by Joe Spellman (New Frontier Publishing)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN – 9781921928246
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

When the story opens, a nervous eleven year old Hubert is in the change room taking his time to put on his soccer gear. He loves soccer but for some reason he seems to play worse each week, not better like his team mates. When it becomes apparent that he needs glasses, Hubert instantly goes into denial. He doesn’t want to let his team down but he doesn’t want to be different either.

Readers will understand his dilemma but will also be pleased to see that he gets no say in whether he will or won’t wear glasses to play. They’ll also delight in seeing how stunned he is to discover that the glasses help. His vastly improved play takes the Able Ants to the grand final. When his glasses smash before the big game the optometrist fixes them with magic but stresses to Hubert that it is he who much control the magic, not the other way around.

Hubert is surrounded by helpful and caring family and friends but the story also shows how it is he who is really able to help himself the most by overcoming his own low self-confidence. It’s a great lesson in how skill will only develop if you keep at it and that simply giving it all you can is sometimes the best magic there is.

Like other titles in the Little Rockets series this book contains well-spaced text and colourful illustrations to help break up the nine chapters, thereby encouraging young readers finding their feet in the world of chapter books to give it a go. The high quality paper used in production of this series, for readers aged 7+, will prove excellent for very likely repeated library borrowing.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Bear Has a Story to Tell

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Allen and Unwin)
PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-1-74331-342-8
Reviewed by Ann Harth ( )

It’s almost winter and Bear is getting sleepy. Before he curls up for the season, he has a story to tell. He asks his friends if they will listen but they are caught up in a necessary whirlwind of chores and responsibility. Mouse has to gather seeds, Duck has to fly south, Frog has to find a place to sleep and Mole has already dropped off to sleep. Bear helps his friends with their tasks and tucks himself into his cave for the winter.

The days grow longer and warmer and the animals wake up. They are ready to listen to Bear’s story now, but Bear surprises them all, including himself.  He cannot remember his story. His friends help him begin a new story which brings this beautiful picture book full circle creating a gratifying ending.

Bear Has a Story to Tell will appeal to children aged 3-6 but adults will also love the language and simple structure of this story. It is a pleasure to read aloud. This book is a gentle story of friendship and patience as Bear puts his friends’ needs before his own. It also highlights the desire many of us have to tell our own stories.

Erin E. Stead’s subtle water colour illustrations add warmth and realism to the characters in this book. They are set against a natural backdrop infused with muted colour creating a calm, soothing effect.

Husband and wife team, Philip C. and Erin E. Stead are winners of the 2011 Caldecott Medal for their picture book, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. After winning such a prestigious award, they got straight back to work and created three more books in 2012 including Bear Has a Story to Tell. They each have a new book planned for this year. For more information on Erin E. Stead please visit To read about Philip C. Stead, an illustrator in his own right, his website is

Ann Harth is a published children's author and writing tutor at Australian College of Journalism. She loves to read and is committed to creating children's literature that inspires, entertains and triggers a tiny twist in the mind. Her latest middle-grade novel, The Art of Magic, is available from Amazon.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Hidden Diffability: Discovering Aspergers

The Hidden Diffability: Discovering Aspergers by Lyndel Kennedy, foreword by Dr Richard Eisenmajer (Blasck Publishing)
RRP  $10 e-book; PB $39.95
ISBN 978-0-9873505-0-3 (ebk) and 978-0-9873505-1-0 (PB)
Available at Dymocks, Readings
Reviewed by Hazel Edwards
Reading Ambassador

A timely book, in different formats too.

This is one of the first e-books I have read on my iPad. I also gave a print copy to my psychologist friend who counsels many families and another to a busy mother of students in the age range of these families. In either the electronic or print format, this book is a valuable resource for continuing reference.

It is also very accessible reading, which is why this collection is significant. It deals with the real questions which families face and contains strategies for everyday practicalities relating to diagnosis, finding an appropriate school, applying for funding support and the final question, of educating non-Aspie families too.

The ‘Hidden Diffability’ title appealed to me, as did the emphasis upon the positive aspects of Asperger Syndrome. Fifteen families are interviewed but these are representative of much more research behind this book.

The strength of this Autism Spectrum collection is in the range of viewpoints, logical structure, excellent editing and cover, but also in having real experiences to share. Vocabulary and terms are explained. No-one wants to insult or alienate by inadvertently using ‘a label’ which others find offensive. I’ve learnt it’s okay to say ‘Aspie’, but it’s even better to talk about ‘diffabilities’.

Author Lyndel Kennedy is to be commended. Two more books are planned in the series and will cover Aspergers at School and Everyday Aspergers. Lyndel also maintains the website of the Aspergers Syndrome Support Network and is a parent support group facilitator. She is a writer, researcher, editor, webmaster (mistress) and mother of three. is where she publishes Asperger-related information.

I’m glad I went to the launch. Lyndel is also a ‘Hazelnut’, a self-named group of writing mentorees who have helped each other in the process of getting their important books written and published. All were at the launch.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Homer, the Library Cat

Homer, the Library Cat by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 16.95
ISBN 9781406338584
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Homer the cat lives in peaceful surroundings together with a quiet lady that lives with him. Each day when the lady leaves, Homer sits quietly at the window. The things he plays with make no noise. Peace and quiet surround him until…

He hears a loud sound which makes him jump – right out of the window and into the rubbish bin which sends another bin rolling as well. Noise follows him everywhere. But he finds a quiet spot in the fire station until…

“Clang! Clang! The fire bell rang.” Homer runs until he comes to a railway cart which is quiet and peaceful until the crew arrive.

Homer goes through doors and marble halls. He finally hears a voice he recognizes. It is the quiet lady in a room full of books and children who are overjoyed to see him. He sleeps through all the stories. He’s so quiet he soon becomes a permanent fixture and is recognized as the Library cat.

This superlative picture book in rhyming verse is written by the daughter of aviator Charles Lindbergh and Ann Morrow Lindbergh. Reeve Lindbergh has written many children’s books which include My Little Grandmother Often Forgets, and Nobody Owns the Sky. The illustrations are equally outstanding. Anne Wilsdorf uses detailed facial expressions and body language to bring the characters to life. The bright, attractive media of watercolour outlined in pen and ink, completes the perfect union of text and illustration.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Gracie and Josh

Gracie and Josh by Susanne Gervay, illustrated by Serena Geddes (Ford StreetPublishing)
HB RRP $26.95; PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 978-1921665851
Reviewed by Francine Sculli

I remember exactly how and why I fell in love with the last book I read of Susanne Gervay, Ships in the Field. It was poignant, simple (but by no means simplified), effortlessly poetic and deep. So when Gracie and Josh, the latest released from this award-winning author, arrived in my mailbox I had high expectations of the story it would tell.

I was not disappointed. Not one single bit.

Gracie and Josh, is the touching tale of sister Gracie and brother Josh. They are just like any other brother and sister. They share tales, make each other laugh, poke fun at one another and spur each other on with Gracie, a budding actress, dressing up as a sausage legged spider for Josh’s film. Except for one difference – Josh is terminally ill and Gracie sits by her brother’s side hoping each day that it will be one of Josh’s good days, not a bad one. We experience the pain of the situation, but also the undivided love, comfort and support of this family as Gracie and her mother accompany Josh to the hospital, the subtleness in the anger Gracie feels when the doctors ask Josh to remove his favourite green striped beanie and in the hardness of their mother’s hand squeeze. It is subtleness that Gervay has absolutely mastered and her ability to write a story so painful and heartbreaking with such hope and love is truly incredible, making it an accessible read for primary school-aged children.

Gervay’s perfectly carved words are matched with the beautiful watercolour illustrations from Serena Geddes. The illustrations are full of character and truly capture the strength of the relationship between Gracie and Josh and her skill in harnessing the character’s facial expressions and emotions is striking and powerful. One of the most noteworthy illustrations sees Gracie by Josh’s bedside. Gracie’s mouth is agape, her face slightly panicked as she tries to show a ghostly looking Josh all the spiders she has found for him in books. The words are so sharp they cut through your heart: ‘Look Josh, the spider fell down sick times. But the spider didn’t give up. You have to try, try and try again.’ It is heart wrenching.

Gracie and Josh is a book about sticking together – through good and bad. It is about unconditional love and support, about resilience and about never giving up. It is a book that will make you turn to your family members and hug them. It is a book that you won’t easily forget.

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Freakling by Lana Krumweide (Walker Books)
HB RRP $ 27.95
ISBN 9780763659370
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

In her powerful debut novel, Lana Krumweide has a created a futuristic world where people have the gift of psi, a form of telekinesis. They don’t need to read nor write for their gift is more than enough to sustain the life they live. The ones without the gift are sent to the powerless colony and are forbidden to enter the city of the psi.

Two centuries have passed since the prophet Nathan built the city of Deliverance. A new Great Cycle is at hand and the High Priest is searching for the True Son that will lead the people.

Young Taemon and his older brother Yens are in conflict. Taemon keeps a lot of his abilities secret at the request of his father. Yens is jealous of his brother and wants him dead. Yens wants to be the next True Son, and will stop at nothing to gain this position.

Taemon begins a hero’s journey which brings about many confrontations with his conscience. He loses his psi during a rage against his brother, and is sent to the powerless colony. Yens is declared the True Son by the High Priest, but in truth, his role is as pawn to a greater evil.
 In the colony, Taemon discovers life without psi suits him, especially as people do unusual things with their hands like touch and hug, repair machines and grow food. There he meets his unknown aunt, the loopy Challis, who reveals some incredible truths about who he really is and what he’s capable of. But can he believe her?

Back in the city, people have gone missing. Chaos has broken out. Poverty and filth reign, and free will is exercised for both good and evil. Taemon is faced with his greatest challenge – a decision that will save the city’s population, or see them subjugated by the ruthless and power seeking High Priest and Yens. Everything depends on the decision he must make.

This is a great read; an imaginative adventure story with lots of twists and turns, sub-plots, and excellent characters that are constantly evolving.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Do Your Ears Hang Low?

Do Your Ears Hang Low? sung by The Topp Twins, illustrations by Jenny Cooper (Scholastic NZ)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-1-77543– 104-6
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Do Your Ears Hang Low? is a well known and very catchy song. I’m sure most people know the tune. This book version is fantastically illustrated by Jenny Cooper and features the cutest animals with amazing ears, including a sheepish looking basset hound with his ears tied in a bow, a buck toothed llama with ears standing high and a charismatic mouse who directs the action throughout.

My nine-year-old daughter read this and was immediately singing the song for days, adding her own words and flavour as she went. Kids have so much fun with the words:

   Do your ears flip-flop?
   Can you use then as a mop?

and the total silliness of the suggestions:

    Can you semaphore your neighbour
    With a minimum of labour?

The pictures are truly humorous and endearing. I especially love the cover illustration of the mouse, pulling the hound along by his ears. Cooper is brilliant at capturing animals and the expressions on their faces.

There are plenty of easy actions kids that can add to the tune as they sing-along and the interaction continues to the last page where the reader can check out their own ears on the mirror provided.
At the end are some astonishing, silly and funny facts about ears.

The accompanying CD has two tracks, one with The Topp Twins singing Do Your Ears Hang Low? and one with the instrumental version for anyone to sing along to. This book is entertaining and perfect to share with kids from pre-school age up.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Dessi’s Romance

Dessi’s Romance by Goldie Alexander (Indra Publications)
Ebook US $3.99; for P.O.D. copies contact the publisher
ISBN 9781920787219
Reviewed by Nina Lim

When best friends Dessi and Emma finish year 12 they have bold dreams of celebrating at Schoolies Week together and sharing an unforgettable summer. But when a car accident lands Dessi with a broken ankle she is forced to stay behind in Melbourne while Emma goes to Surfers Paradise, and summer becomes unforgettable in ways they would never have dreamed possible.

What happens when Dessi falls in love with her best friend’s guy? Abdul is so exotic and charming, she finds him utterly irresistible. Should she follow her heart or ignore her burning feelings for him? To complicate matters further, Abdul’s family are less than impressed when he brings her home to meet them. How far should she take this new relationship? Or does she risk losing everything?

Meanwhile, in Surfers Paradise, Emma is grappling with her thoughts about meeting her Dad again and his new wife. And why is her good friend Sasha acting differently? Something important has changed about him. When her Mum is diagnosed with a serious illness Emma returns home and is faced with Dessi’s duplicity.

This novel delivers eloquently on many of the topical issues affecting young adults today. Themes of love and friendship, betrayal and deception, religion and acceptance, sexuality and identity interweave to create a compelling narrative. As Dessi and Emma come of age, they learn not only about themselves, but the wider world around them.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Inc)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-0-545– 42492-9
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Maggie Stiefvater is a well known and popular YA author. She has written many books for teens with a gothic flavour, packed with paranormal activity and fantasy. The Raven Boys is the first of a new trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and is engrossing and addictive. The author’s writing is mesmerising at times, creating an uneasy atmosphere in places, drifting into events in sly tendrils, creeping around people and place with increasing intensity until you suddenly realise the storyline is being choked by it. It is easy to sink into this book and just let the enchantment of the words carry you away.

Blue Sargent is the daughter of a psychic. Although she has not inherited any of her family’s psychic abilities, her gift is to amplify the energy and magic of those near her.  And she believes wholeheartedly in her fate, that if she kisses her true love he will die. Partly because of this, Blue avoids boys in general, but she takes special care to also avoid the Raven Boys, students from the local private school Aglionby. However, after her mother specifically forbids her from becoming involved with Gansey, Ronan, Noah and Adam and their quest, she is drawn towards the foursome and their search for ley lines and Glendower, the Sleeping King.

The characters in this book are well rounded with depth and complexity. The dialogue is natural and convincing. Even some of the more elusive characters such as Persephone and Calla are tangible and intriguing.

Nothing is straight forward and simple, but the subplots add to the twists rather than distract the reader from the main storyline. There are so many delicious moments when something unexpected happens, but with hindsight all seems obvious and makes perfect sense. The relationships and bonds the teens have, both healthy and destructive, are skilfully painted as is the relationship they each have to the woods, where the seasons change as they walk through and the trees whisper in Latin.

It is easy to see why this author is a favourite with teens and young adults. The Raven Boys has all the elements of an entertaining story. It is wonderfully gothic, with the drama of adolescence, forbidden romance, mystery, psychic predictions, ghosts, obsession, compulsion, a quest and an ending that promises more to come. But with all this magic and drama, it doesn’t lose sight of the importance of family. Much of the characters motivations come from these bonds, and the family ties, or lack of, that reach out to affect their lives, decisions and fate.

The end does not resolve the story but it is satisfying.  Although not exactly a cliff hanger, it leaves many questions unanswered with the last sentence creating much anticipation for the next book in the series. It is a long book for YA reading, over 400 pages, but I found it easy and quick to read as I became so involved with the people and story.

Maggie Stiefvater is an author I have heard much about but had never read. From my first glimpse of the fabulous cover- a bold raven with wings outspread, painted in feathery brush strokes - I was intrigued, and happily followed Stiefvater’s words to see where love and death would lead the characters and me. I will definitely be reading more.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Tell Me About Your Day Today

Tell Me About Your Day Today by Mem Fox, illustrations by Lauren Stringer (Scholastic Australia)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-74283– 578-5
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

This is a bedtime story about a boy who loves to go to bed. After his last kiss, story and goodnight, he asks his soft toy friends about their day. Then he tells them about his.

Tell Me About Your Day Today is a stunning book. Mem Fox is a brilliant story teller and I would place this one amongst my favourites. It is a perfect example of how the illustrations can speak as clearly as the text does. And Lauren Stringer does this masterfully with gentle and soft pictures which portray emotions, relationships and quiet humour. Bold and bright colours that glow on the page create a surprisingly a warm and cosy atmosphere.

This is a positive bedtime story. The ritual embedded in the bedtime routine and the repetitive nature of the ask-and-answer about the day’s events reinforces how children learn and act. Young children love repetition and find it comforting and reassuring. And talking about the day’s events is one way they can process all that has happened to them. This is a great message to convey to children.

This fabulous story is full of imagination and is entertaining and humorous. Children will relate to the bedtime routine and to the interaction with the soft toys as friends. Most children will have a ‘Greedy Goose’, or a ‘Blue Horse’, or ‘Fat Rabbit’ to sleep with.

Many young children like to have the same story read every night for a period of weeks and this one would be enjoyable to read over and over again. I loved this book, from the ‘boy who loved bedtime’ to the Fat Rabbit with the band-aid on his bottom. I would highly recommend it to all who have young children to read stories to. I can see many children taking the cue from this boy and talking to their bed buddies about their day before they go off to sleep.

Mem Fox is a highly regarded picture book author. She has written over 35 picture books and is very popular among children and their parents and other older readers.

Lauren Stringer has illustrated many picture books, including The Princess and Her Panther by Wendy Orr. Her bright bold style characterised by a gentle glowing quality is recognisable in all her illustrations.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Lost Tail

The Lost Tail by Patricia Bernard, illustrated by Tricia Oktober (FORD ST)
HB RRP $22.95
ISBN 9781921665868
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Illustrator Tricia Oktober has done an incredible job of illustrating the detailed features of the characters in The Lost Tail. Their eyes seem to peer at the reader from the page. She has brought the story to life using vibrant colours to depict the flora and fauna of the forests, and to accentuate the face and body painting, masks and head dresses, and traditional costumes. What can one address first in this exceptional book which concentrates on bringing into focus the traditions and customs of Papua New Guinea?

The Bundi Boys have set out on a five day walk from their village to Goroka (which is the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province of PNG) and the dance festival there. They want to win the competition with their snake dance.  Alfred, the tallest, carries the head of the snake. The others support the body. Nura hears his mother’s voice saying, ‘you are very important. You carry the snake’s tail’.

The boys have been made aware of the dangers they may encounter, but Nura knows that Bundi warriors are never afraid. But after the journey, when sleep overtakes them, Nura awakes to an empty hut, and is filled with fear.

There is now a snake without a tail carrier and a boy alone amongst crowds. He asks a man with a straw in his nose, the women wearing moss wigs, a group of ghost dancers, and two beauty queens if they’ve seen anything. All say no.

He passes drummers in blue-striped skirts, chicken dancers, warriors carrying bows and arrows. Suddenly, he sees the tail. He is overjoyed for the Bundi Boys can’t dance without Nura. But can they win the competition?

This book is beautifully designed by Grant Gittus. The text and illustration have united to provide a spectacular ‘culture tour’ for the reader aged from 5-105 years.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Om Shanti, Babe

Om Shanti, Babe by Helen Limon (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 16.95
ISBN 9781847803573
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Helen Limon was the winner of the 2011 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award. This award ‘celebrates cultural diversity either in terms of its story or the ethnic and cultural origins of its author’. And the storyline is full of a variety of sub-stories that are emotionally rich and interesting like the culture they depict.

Cass and her mum Lula have set off for India. All that Cass knows about that country is what she’s learnt from the Bollywood films she watches to improve her dance moves.

But on their arrival, nothing is as Cass had planned. The time she’d hoped to have alone doing things with her mother is snatched from her by business dealings, phone calls, and secret meetings with Vikram, her mother’s Indian associate and more than close friend.

But Cass doesn’t know about the collapse of their business. Her mother has kept many things from her, for Cass struggles with her father’s leaving, her guilt about her breakup with her friend Rachel, her loneliness, and the way she sees the world around her in general.

As always, things are not as they first appear to be. India proves to have a great influence on Cass, but only after she has met Dev and his deaf, dancing sister Nandita. Her blossoming friendship with the gifted and creative Priyanka shifts her view on life and her abilities. This gives birth to new ideas for saving the business, and an environmental conscience to fight for the mangrove swamps that developers plan to clear away to create a Hotel complex at great cost to the locals.

This is an interesting book which addresses a lot of issues. Perhaps too many, but they have been linked together fluidly to create a rich and interesting storyline.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Catch the Zolt

Catch the Zolt (The Debt: Instalment One) by Phillip Gwynne (Allen and Unwin)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978-1-74237-844-2
Reviewed by Ann Harth ( )

It’s Dom’s 15th birthday and his life will never be the same. A meeting with his father and grandfather leaves him reeling when he discovers that it is up to him to repay a debt that’s been haunting his family for generations.

If he fails? He pays with a pound of flesh – his own.

A secret and deadly organisation called The Debt, requires Dom to complete six formidable tasks. Catch the Zolt tells the story of Dom’s first assignment.

Zolt, a 17-year-old Facebook hero is in the habit of stealing small planes. Although he has eluded capture many times, he is finally caught – but not for long. After the Zolt escapes, it’s Dom’s job to find him and hand him over to The Debt.

The last place The Zolt was seen is Reverie Island where Dom’s self-centred and arrogant neighbour, Tristan has a family holiday home. Dom finagles an invitation accompanied by his beautiful best friend, Imogen, and the recent object of his affection. Unfortunately, Tristan is the recent object of Imogen’s affection. Although Dom’s focus is slightly blurred, he has a job to do. He’s determined to hang onto every pound of his flesh.

Catch the Zolt is a novel packed with adventure, danger and the stirrings of new love. Readers aged 10-14 will be swept up in this fast-paced tale from the very first page. Dom is a likeable and believable character in an unbelievable situation. His reaction to his plight makes the story realistic and his courage and newly tapped skills allow readers to feel empowered as they follow Dom on his perilous mission.

Phillip Gwynne uses language in such a way that he hands over his story like a gift. The writing flows smoothly as the story of Dom’s first daunting task unfolds. The best aspect of this book? There are five more to come. I would recommend Catch the Zolt to anyone with a taste for adventure.

Award winning Phillip Gwynne is no stranger to success. His first novel, Deadly Unna? won numerous awards and was also Children's Book of the Year in 1998, selling over 200,000 copies. It was later made into a film, Australian Rules, and winning an AFI award in 2002. Since then Phillip Gwynne has written many novels for children as well as adults. The Debt is his first middle-grade series. For more information about the Debt Series visit 

Ann Harth is a published children's author and writing tutor at Australian College of Journalism. She loves to read and is committed to creating children's literature that inspires, entertains and triggers a tiny twist in the mind. Her latest middle-grade novel, The Art of Magic, is available from Amazon.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Toocool: Series 5

Toocool: Series 5 by Phil Kettle, illustrated by Tom Jellett (Ford Street Publishing)

The Big Bash
ISBN 9781921665783
ISBN 9781921665790
The Interview
ISBN 9781921665806
Round ‘Em Up
ISBN 9781921665769
The Race
ISBN 9781921665776
PB RRP$ 9.95 each
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

The highly successful and popular Toocool series for age 7+ readers is now up to book 39. In this set of five books, Toocool and his gang of friends, mainly Spike his buddy, Marcy and Bella, and neighbour Wong, experience all sorts of amazing adventures due to Toocool’s irrepressible enthusiasm for life. He believes he can do anything better than anyone else, therefore he tries everything.

In The Big Bash, the Browns plays cricket against The Legends, Toocool’s team. Bad Billy Brown is determined to squash the opposing players. But Toocool believes he is a star of the future and goes out with that in mind and lots of attitude. But Marcy has a hilarious and outrageous plan where anything can happen!

Pirates are what the group want to become after Toocool finds a treasure map in his cereal box. He believes treasure is buried on Duck Island. Is it possible, or is this one of his incredible theories that will lead to wild adventures?

Everything Toocool does is ‘exciting, unique and special’ just like he is. We learn this and many things about Toocool and his friends when he is interviewed for a television program by Ms Stickybeak in The Interview.

In The Race, a planned race across Duck Pond against Marcy, Bella, and Spike turns wild when Toocool’s supercharged Jet Ski, built with Wong, becomes airborne. But will he win the race as he believes he will?

Toocool and Spike are invited to Uncle Buck’s farm as jackaroos to help with the cattle round up in Round ‘Em Up. They become responsible for the feeding and care of a calf that loses its mother, and turn out to be a great help to the team rounding up the cattle. But when camping out means eating tinned baked beans and sleeping close to the campfire, this presents a different set of problems.

This is a terrific and clever series of chapter books with priceless illustrations accompanying the text. The uninhibited bunch of characters are wild and interesting; full of positive energy and life. Every chapter is an entertainment unit. Toocool is reminiscent of Dennis the Menace, and Wong like the long suffering Mr Wilson. Each book has a Glossary of terms for specific words that readers might not know, and every title always ends with up with a list of jokes as the last delicious offering.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Malice: Conspiracy 365

Malice: Conspiracy 365 by Gabrielle Lord (Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978-1-74283– 382-8
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Winter Frey receives a note which reads: ‘The Drowner, 30 days’. Winter is sure she is being watched but has no idea why. Cal is about to go to flight school and neither of them knows whether the present danger is connected to their past experiences or if it is a completely new threat. Winter, Cal, Boges and Ryan quickly realise they are about to be pulled back into a whirlwind adventure full of secrets and danger once again.

I enjoyed this story. The style lies somewhere in between the television program, 24 - with chapter headings stating the day and countdown – ‘Day 13, 18 Days to go...’ and the pages numbered in reverse - and a grown-up Famous Five minus the lavish picnics. The friends discover and camp in a rundown old mansion, Perdita, they evade unknown enemies, search for sunken ships, buried treasure, secret passages, go spelunking, and are up against cyclones and king tides and ghosts.

I like the characters. They are believable but have room for independent action. They don’t shirk responsibility, they still have school and family to negotiate, but they do seem to have plenty of time, freedom and transport for teenagers. They act with a good balance of intelligence, gut instinct and loyalty.

The action, intrigue and suspense are non-stop. It is a good thing it’s not too big a book because once started, it is hard to put down.

Malice is the 14th book after Revenge (#13) and the original 12 book ‘race-against-time’ Conspiracy 365 series. I have not read any of the others and although some references may have been better understood had I read them, overall I don’t think it made too much of a difference. It could be treated as a standalone, having a separate storyline.

This book would suit both boys and girls from ten years and up. Conspiracy 365: January to December is now an Australian TV series. Fans should also check out the website for a range of fun webisodes, puzzles, dossiers, vlogs, clues and other rewards.

Butcher Paper, Texta, Blackboard and Chalk

Butcher Paper, Texta, Blackboard and Chalk by Ruby Hunter and Archie Roach, illustrations by Ruby Hunter (One Day Hill)
PB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-0-9807948– 4-7
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Butcher Paper, Texta, Blackboard and Chalk was envisioned by Ruby Hunter as an illustrated songbook/album and the title song sums up just how the songs within the pages came into being.

In 1997 Ruby Hunter and Archie Roach, with three of their sons, went to Cape York on a Land and Health tour. They travelled around the peninsula visiting kindergartens and primary schools running workshops in song writing. This collection of songs was written by Ruby and the children of Cape York about what they see and experience in their everyday lives.

The songs are stories, often universal and relevant to the lives of all children. Some songs, such as ‘I Love my Garden’, are beautiful to read as poetry and will resonate with children all over the world. Others, such as ‘Stone Finder’, serve as oral tradition, and are more specific to the Indigenous culture.

Ruby Hunter’s vibrant paintings illustrate the song lyrics throughout the book. They radiate the same energetic and joyous outlook as the songs and represent the simple stories of life.
Accompanying the book is a CD with recordings of all the songs, most of which are sung by Ruby Hunter and Archie Roach. These catchy songs for children range from bouncy sing-alongs to mellow quiet listening ones. All have something to say about the world.

On the flip side of the CD is a DVD with a documentary of the Land & Health tour. Archie describes their journey as ‘sharing the spirit of unbroken traditions’. Ruby talks about writing the songs of life and hope. Her enthusiasm and connection with the children is strongly evident and the power of song and music shines throughout the documentary.

This book, CD and DVD offers a fantastic way for children to share the experiences of indigenous children and to recognise how much we are all the same at heart. The publication of this songbook was realised after Ruby Hunter’s death (in 2010) and is a fitting tribute to a talented woman.

All the profits from the sale of the book go to Ruby’s Foundation. For more information go to

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Pirate Gold

Pirate Gold by Michael Salmon (Ford Street Publishing)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9781921665684
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Written in delightfully entertaining and clever wordplay, Michael Salmon has carefully constructed the perfect adventure story to delight readers of all ages. His illustrations are detailed and humorous, with the characters’ faces saying more than words can. It is fun-filled from the first page of framed pictures of the Piganeers and relevant others.

The Hogwash is anchored off a tropical island under Captain Porker’s orders. The Piganeers are bored. They laze about thinking of Tortuga and home. But someone has stolen the Captain’s treasure and he is fiercely angry. There are quite a few suspects including the bumbling Piganeers.

How has it happened and where is the treasure now? The Piganeers must swim for their lives with sharks biting at their heels after they admit to a prank on the Captain. But that doesn’t solve the mystery which Captain Porker is determined to get to the bottom of.

This is an adventure with pig pirates as the main characters, pirate treasure, and robbers of various animal origins making a brief appearance, plus a mystery to be solved. From the characters’ names to every measured word and illustration, Michael Salmon always produces a unified blend of picture and text.

Both front and back covers depict the so-called cut-throat characters and their ship in full colour, with Captain Porker in the forefront on the front with his misplaced map finally in his grasp. There is also a template to photocopy and use for those who love colouring in.

Monday, 4 February 2013

The Enormouse Pearl Heist

The Enormouse Pearl Heist by Geronimo Stilton (Scholastic Inc)
PB RRP $12.99
ISBN 978-0-545– 34103-5
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Geronimo Stilton, intrepid editor of The Rodent’s Gazette, doesn’t like to fly, is scared to swim in the ocean and definitely does not want to learn to scuba dive. It doesn’t take much, however, to be persuaded to holiday on Shell Island. He only needs to be asked ... by Petunia Pretty Paws, a mouse he has a total crush on.

While learning to scuba dive, Geronimo stumbles on an enormous oyster. Afraid less scrupulous mice may try to steal it for the pearl within, Geronimo and Petunia hatch a plan to get it back to the New Mouse City Aquarium. But they may just be too late!

There is more to The Enormouse Pearl Heist than I first expected. I enjoyed the humorous word play throughout – they fly out over the South Mousific Ocean – and use inventive expletives such as ‘sizzling Swiss bits!’ and my personal favourite ‘mouldy mozzarella!’

Geronimo Stilton is a reporter who has a nose for adventure and trouble. The story echoes the style of the hardboiled gumshoe detectives, but for younger audiences. Stilton is a klutz and unlucky, but somehow he eventually stumbles onto the right answer.

Clues throughout help the reader to figure out what is going on. These rely on close inspection of the full colour pictures which are on every page. Readers could spend a long time looking at the illustration of the editorial staff at the Gazette and still not notice everything that’s going on in the picture.

In the end pages are an elaborate plan of the Gazette, a map of New Mouse City, and a map of Mouse Island. Places on these maps have fabulous names such as Goose Bumps Gorge, Rio Mosquito, Cannycat Castle and San Mosquito. These maps are well worth close inspection.
The characters and their names are fun throughout the book - from the supporting cast, Aunt Sweetfur, Bugsy Wugsy and Benjamin, to lesser characters such as the pilot Flash Pirouette and the hotelier Pinch Provolone.

The Enormouse Pearl Heist is perfect for beginning and younger readers. The text is large and broken up, not only by illustrations, but also by the text itself which changes size, colour and typeface. The chapters are short and have headings which reflect the sensationalism of newspaper headlines. It’s An Invasion! A Drowned Rat? Stay Still!

This book is number 51 in the Geronimo Stilton series so there are plenty for a budding young fan to catch up on.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Eddie Pipper

Eddie Pipper by Janeen Brian, illustrated by Emma Stuart (New Frontier Publishing)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN – 9781921928215
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

Soon to turn nine, Eddie Pipper hopes to get a pet penguin for his birthday. The fact it’s an unrealistic aim in terms of species doesn’t matter. See, in the past, Eddie forgot to latch the mouse cage (they escaped) and to feed the goldfish (they died), so Mum said no more pets. Still, the penguin obsessed dreamer hopes that if he proves to Mum and Dad that he’s responsible he’ll get a penguin.

At story opening, readers see Eddie’s creativity with his obsession. Not only is he making a penguin out of paper mache, he dressed up his little sister as one. Sadly, he forgot that he left her in the blow up pool with ice in the water. And he used paper from Dad’s study to paper mache with. Paper containing plans for an origami competition Dad was entering. Origami is Dad’s obsession. Like father, like son. But this helps Dad understand Eddie a little better.

As a fan of Brian’s work I was pleased to see the writing bore her signature humour. I laughed out loud, not only in regard to Eddie’s action but also that of others. Like when Mum finds he placed his sister in a pool of ice and forgot her, she points out the evidence like so, ‘Fridge door. Open. You?’ Eddie nodded. Why did his mum talk like she was texting him? He was right in front of her.

While it may at first seem that Eddie is simply forgetful, the story unfolds to show how his obsession overtakes and consumes his thoughts to the exclusion of practical things like remembering his school bus money or his swimmers and towel the day of the swim certificate test. Readers who have longed for something special not quite within reach will empathise and cheer dear Eddie on.

When he arrives home late for his birthday party, Mum is pleased to learn it’s not because he forgot about it but because he stopped to help an abandoned dog. This results in Eddie winding up with a pet. Not the one he hoped for but one he’ll have much fun with.

Colourful illustrations within each of the nine chapters break up the well-spaced text, making it most appealing to readers finding their feet in the world of chapter books. High quality paper used in production of this Little Rockets series, for readers aged 7+, will prove excellent for very likely repeated library borrowing.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Marcy Series #2

Marcy Series #2 by Susan Halliday, illustrated by Tom Jellett (FORD ST)
Netball Challenge
ISBN 9781921665714
Quiz Champs
ISBN 9781921665721
Thirteen Dolphins
ISBN 9781921665738
Lost Dogs
ISBN 9781921665745
Award Winners
ISBN 9781921665752

PB RRP $9.95 each
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Marcy, the  leading female character in the Toocool series, has earned her own series. Marcy is a leader. She’s assertive, organized, confident, resourceful and clever. She believes that all her ideas are brilliant, and they are.

In Netball Challenge, Marcy wants to raise money for the Lost Dogs’ Home. Her brilliant idea is to challenge the teachers to a game of netball at the end of school term. The charge to watch is a gold coin. She makes a promise to the tall Stretch Small, to attend his Ballroom Dancing classes with the others if he joins the team. Will Stretch manage to score some goals and beat the teachers?

Book 12: Quiz Champs contains interesting and educational facts. The school canteen has a new menu. Four baby guinea pigs have arrived at the Pet Library. But the best thing to happen is the class quiz – boys against girls. The winning team gets to name the guinea pigs. The class will be quizzed on the week’s lessons which include: the life of tigers, the origins of the umbrella, water, A B Patterson, and the contents of the food we love to eat. The quiz ends in a tie. How will the dilemma be solved?

Thirteen Dolphins: A pod of dolphins has been spotted near Bella’s holiday house by the sea. A young dolphin gets stranded in a rock pool. Can Marcy and Bella use their dolphin knowledge to reassure the anxious marine mammal, and get help?

In Lost Dogs, Gran-Ella has arranged for Marcy and Bella to present the money they raised from the Netball Challenge to the Lost Dogs’ Home where she volunteers. As a reward, Bella and Marcy become part of the Dog Squad which finds new homes for unclaimed lost dogs. They set out on their mission determined to succeed.

Award Winners: Marcy and Bella are chosen as joint winners of the ‘Animal Carer of the Year Award’. A reporter named Mr Hound has sniffed out the story and has come to interview the girls. It results in a comprehensive overview of the two girls’ achievements.

This series full of adventure, positive reinforcement and share the same characters as the Toocool series. Here there is also a Glossary, Jokes, and Did You Know? section that give additional information on the subject used in the book.

These two series come highly recommended for the 7-9 age groups.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Vullah Vunnah Nah

Vullah Vunnah Nah by Patricia Clarke (One Day Hill)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-0-9873139– 0-4
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Vullah Vunnah Nah is an ancient Gunditjmara lullaby, passed down through generations.

In the forward, musician Marcia Howard writes that author Patricia Clarke’s father sang this special lullaby to her as a child. Clarke’s family was affected by the Stolen Generation and most children placed in missions were not permitted to speak their own language. This song survived and Patricia Clarke sang it with Marcia Howard at Sorry Days (a commemoration for the stolen generation).

The lullaby in this book is written in two languages, Clarke’s native language, and an English translation. It is boldly illustrated with her vividly coloured rainbows dominating the pages.
Patricia Clarke sings beautifully on the accompanying CD, with Archie Roach, Stephanie Young, Shane Howard, Lee Morgan and Marcia Howard.

Both the CD and picture book are a beautiful addition to any book or music collection. It is fantastic to have the cultural background of indigenous Australia becoming more accessible and available to all.