Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Trouble for Toby

Trouble for Toby by Janet Reid, illustrated by Amanda Francy (Wombat Books) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN: 9781925563351

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

Toby wants a pet more than anything. He isn’t fussy, almost anything will do, a dog, a rat or a hermit crab. His parent’s response to his request is always the same, “We’ll think about it. But only if you’re good at school.” And this is where Toby’s problem lies.

Toby finds it difficult to stay out of trouble. First, he leaves his friend Sam buried in the sandpit, then he knocks two girls off the playground equipment, there is the unfortunate accident at the flying fox and then the inquisitive spider at the tranquillity garden. It seems, no matter how hard Toby tries to stay out of trouble he ends up right in the centre of it, until one day, when his quick thinking and swift action saves Jenna from a snake bite.

Toby’s bravery is acknowledged and rewarded but best of all, his parents let him get a pet and he decides to choose a snake.

Trouble for Toby is a junior fiction chapter book for children of ages 6+ years. It is aimed at Australian audiences with Aussie references, and the story flows well from chapter to chapter. It is set primarily in the school and school yard with funny and entertaining adventures that children will be able to relate to and enjoy.

Saturday, 16 June 2018


We are now showcasing the amazing achievements of Buzz Words readers each month in our blog. We hope that you support each and every one of them!

Janet Reid has an early reader, Trouble for Toby (Wombat Books) being released this month. Toby has one mission at school: to stay out of trouble! Only then will his parents let him have a pet. But that's just it, Toby has trouble staying out of trouble. Will he ever get a pet? And if he does, what pet will he choose?

The book is brought to life with illustrations by Amanda Francey and is ideal for the young reader seeking the challenge of a short chapter book. The book will be launched on Saturday 16 June – 1.30pm at The Artist CafĂ© and Gallery, 662 Samford Road, Mitchelton, Qld, 4053. All welcome!
Congratulations to Bill Condon for his two acceptances from NSW School Magazine, a poem ‘Swish Swash’ and a play called ‘Snow White and the Seven Sumos.’

Wow, what wonderful news: Debra Tidball’s interactive picture book The Scared Book, has won the SCWBI Crystal Award for books published in Australia and New Zealand!
Well, done Debra! Everyone is so pleased for you.
Congratulations to Al Tait who has been invited to participate in the Word Play program designed for students from prep to year 12, at The Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF) from 4 to 7 September. Word Play will also present professional development sessions for teachers featuring a selection of authors and illustrators, and an Online Literature Festival, which will connect Word Play authors with students and educators in regional Queensland.
Here’s a new book, Olivia Stone and the Dread of the Dreamers by Jeffery E Doherty
"I don’t like spiders…they give me the shivers.” Olivia shudders to prove her point.
Dreamweavers feed on the dread and despair of their victims.  To help Yip stop their nightmarish infestation of the city, Olivia must prowl dark streets, brave the boy’s toilet, and break into the old Haven Asylum. She must face her greatest fear, the mother of all spiders, if she has any hope of saving her friend, Emmett.

 Jeffery E Doherty’s new middle grade novel, Olivia Stone and the Dread of the Dreamers, Book 2 of The Guardians of St Giles series will be on sale in Australia, UK and New Zealand on 1 August 2018, and is available for pre-order until the 11th July 2018, through IFWG Publishing Australia.   www.ifwgaustralia.com  
As a bonus, the first 50 people pre-ordering the title will also receive a signed, illustrated book plate.

A new book out this month is The Fastest Ship in Space by Pamela Freeman (new edition published by Christmas Press under its Second Look Publishing imprint), with brand new cover and internal illustrations by Yvonne Low.  Yvonne created the cover illustrations (see left) initially in pencil then finished them digitally, and the internal illustrations were created in pencil, pen and ink.                                                  ***

How wonderful for Rachel Noble to have her debut book, Finn’s Feather, illustrated by Zoey Abbott, released this month by New South Publishing and published by Enchanted Lion based in Brooklyn, US. It is a gentle and touching story about a little boy grieving the loss of his brother.

Finn knows his brother is gone. But he also knows that Hamish sent the beautiful white feather on his doorstep. Finn runs to show his mother the feather from Hamish, but she only gives him a big hug. In school, Finn’s teacher responds similarly. Why isn’t anyone as excited as he is?

Finn’s Feather is a story about resilience and memory— about a child, his brother, and a friend who meets him where he is. The author was inspired to write Finn’s Feather, following the loss of her son Hamish in 2012. Rachel says she enjoys writing for children, particularly stories that sensitively empower them to navigate big feelings. Rachel loves rainbows, the beach and of course, feathers. She is lucky to get all of this in Queensland Australia, where she lives.

In two days’ time, Rachel will head to the US to launch Finn’s Feather at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. She will also visit bookstores in Alabama and Mississippi and will appear at the American Booksellers Association Children’s Institute.  She has included a few links to reviews of the book.  https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59270-239-8
Congratulations to Sarah Epstein whose book Small Spaces (Walker Books Australia) is on the shortlist of Readings Young Adult Book prize www.readings.com.au/the-readings-young-adult-book-prize In the book, Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing. As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again.

It’s terrific to hear that Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts (A&U) by Lesley Gibbes illustrated by Stephen Michael King, has been shortlisted in the Red Dot Book Children’s Choice Awards 2017-2018 in the Younger Readers category by the International School Libraries Network in Singapore.

Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts (Kane Miller) has also been included on the Banks Street College's Best Children's Books of the Year list in America. The list is one of the most comprehensive annotated book lists for children, aged infant -16. The committee reviews over 6,000 titles each year for accuracy and literary quality and considers their emotional impact on children. It chooses the best 600 books, both fiction and nonfiction, which it lists with annotations, according to age and category. 

Thursday, 14 June 2018

The Things We Can’t Undo

The Things We Can’t Undo by Gabrielle Reid, (Ford St. 2018) 346 pp, ISBN 9781925736045   PB RRP $19.95

Reviewed by Pauline Hosking

This appealing, fast-pace novel covers tricky subjects like consent, mental illness, suicide and the negative aspects of social media. It doesn’t pull any punches but is never gratuitous.

Year 10 students Samantha Jun Chen and Dylan West are in love. They’ve been together for nearly a year, so it’s no surprise when they leave Saturday night’s party to go into a quiet bedroom. What happens next will have a profound effect on both.
Did Dylan rape Samantha? He doesn’t think so. He’s totally pumped because he’s finally had sex with his wonderful girlfriend. Samantha has a different take on the experience. She wanted to say no, but she is a quiet girl not used to speaking her mind. Afterwards, she wishes she had spoken up. Samantha’s best friend Tayla is sure it was rape and sets about naming and blaming Dylan.

Samantha is a very average student who has to work twice as hard as everyone else because her parents expect her to be academically brilliant. They also believe ‘Boyfriends can wait until university’, so she’s had to keep her relationship with Dylan a secret. This means she has no one at home she can talk to honestly about what happened.   

The pressure from parents and friends, combined with her loss of trust in Dylan, has a horrific outcome. Over-stressed Samantha must find a way out. She chooses suicide.
The Things We Can’t Undo is Gabrielle Reid’s debut novel and it’s a gutsy read. None of the characters are totally black or white. As the book progresses both Tayla and Dylan develop and mature. The final pages describe Dylan carefully entering a new relationship.

Much of the story is written from Dylan’s point of view. Samantha’s feelings are recorded in the letters she writes but will never send. Tayla’s campaign to brand Dylan a rapist develops via online chats. The use of these various formats will appeal to its target audience.

If promoted sensitively, The Things We Can’t Undo should be a winner with readers from Year 9 upwards.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Not So Scary Bear

Not So Scary Bear by Ruth Waters HB RRP $25.99 ISBN 9781922081728 (Windy Hollows Books)                                               
Reviewed by Brook Tayla
The clues begin with the title on the cover – the bear in this book is really NOT that scary. He does try to be scary.  He has a traditional role to fill after all! – but he is lonely and wants to be friends with the other animals in the forest.  He cleverly solves this dilemma by using his own interests whilst staying true to his inner self.
Ruth Waters’ story is cleverly encoded – it is a meaningful story told with such delight and warmth.  Just a purely inspiring story that will be read over and over again.
Her completely handmade collages of paper, wool, ‘acrylic, glue and mess’ are warm,inviting and show mastery.  The use of collage creates tension between the individual parts as a comparative representation of a whole scene and fit perfectly into the concept of this book. They are also modern with clean-cut lines using a gorgeous palette of colours.
Brook Tayla writes a picture book review blog at telltalestome@wordpress.com and would love you to drop by, read some reviews, leave a comment and subscribe.  Brookis a CBCA BOTY judge who also offers editing services for beginning and emerging writers and is

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Perfect Leaf

The Perfect Leaf  by Andrew Plant (Ford St. 2018), picture book 32pp, ISBN 9781925736007, HB $24.95, PB $16.95

Reviewed by Pauline Hosking

The Perfect Leaf tells the sweet story of a friendship that develops when two girls meet on a ‘cold-sun’, ‘wind-in-the-branches’ Autumn day. The girls, Elly and Mai have their own favourite coloured leaves, but neither manage to find the perfect leaf. Instead they discover something else – the power of imagination. The last few pages have no text and give the reader the chance to share the lovely feelings of childhood joy and new friends discovered.

Andrew Plant is the author and illustrator of the CBCA Notable Book The Poppy. His illustrations for The Perfect Leaf are glorious, with washes of gold and red spilling over the pages. Observant young readers will also find insects and fairies hidden in the leaves.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish by Ben Long illustrated by David Cornish, (Ford St. 2018), ISBN 9781925736021, HB $22.95    PB $14.95

Reviewed by Pauline Hosking

This is a cute, funny and short tale told in rhyme. It teaches counting from 1 to 12 and reminds us that we can learn anything if we start small and gradually build our knowledge.

Jasper is an octopus who goes to school. He finds counting jellyfish a struggle so says he’d ‘rather learn to juggle’. He begins by juggling 1, 2, 3 jellyfish with two of his arms. Of course, as he’s an octopus he has eight arms. If each pair of arms can juggle three jellyfish, four pairs of arms can juggle twelve! Jasper and the jellyfish have fun and learn about numbers.

The illustrations by David Cornish are delightfully quirky. The colours are bold and bright. Each jellyfish has its own shape and personality. I especially liked Curlywurly meeting the startled gull, and the first double page spread which showed Jasper, a crab and a starfish on their way to school. Highly recommended.

Friday, 8 June 2018

When I’m shining with LOVE

When I’m shining with LOVE by Wendy Mason & Lisa Maravelis, illustrated by Kayleen West (Kids Light Up)  PB RRP $12.99  ISBN 978-0-6482065-3-8

Review by Wendy Haynes

When I’m shining with LOVE is part of a picture book series that is designed to drive a positive message and to help children 3 plus with everyday life skills.

The co-authors Wendy Mason and Lisa Maravelis have crafted a well written story in rhyme that will delight children. The adorable character Stella Bear features in the series, and in this book she helps guide the reader and listener on the concept of what love is. It’s a discovery of self, feelings, and a reminder to be there for others and embrace friendships.

Kayleen West brings the text and the understanding of love to a deeper level with her beautiful illustrations showing how different we can all be. The pictures are pleasant and inviting to the eye.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

When I’m shining with KINDNESS

When I’m shining with KINDNESS by Wendy Mason & Lisa Maravelis, illustrated by Kayleen West (Kids Light Up) PB RRP $12.99

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

When I’m shining with KINDNESS is a picture book aimed at kindergarten-aged children. The book is based on the premise that we all ‘shine’ when we display kindness and are treated with kindness. Given that this concept is a metaphorical one, the book helps young children understand the idea by using cute bear characters that have a large star on their chest. The stars shine when the bears display appropriate behaviours and they become dull and misshaped when the bears are treated poorly. The story highlights examples of kindness and introduces the phrase: ‘Stop, look, think, speak!’ as a reminder for young children to behave positively towards others.

When I’m shining with KINDNESS is written in verse and is beautifully illustrated using soft colours. It is typeset in Open Dyslexic font aimed at making ‘reading this series even more enjoyable for children and adults with dyslexia.’ 

The book is a part of a series for young children that gently introduces a range of values. This series includes 10 books: Kindness, Joy, Love, Peace (all available now) as well as Patience, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Goodness, Self-Control and Light (launching at a later date). To purchase this book and others in the series visit your local bookstore or kidslightup.com.au. This website also includes teaching notes and handy parent tips. 

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Bubbles and Puddle

Bubbles and Puddle written by Michelle Wanasundera, illustrated by Thana-one Yazawa (Lilly Pilly Publishing) HB  RRP $19.95     ISBN 9780648123804

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is a beautiful book with bright and cheerful illustrations which make use of rich colours and patterns. On each of the twelve double page spreads there is a full-page illustration showing children at play, as well as animals, butterflies, fairies, and even a kangaroo (with a sleeping child in her pouch), and a koala and its baby. Not all children and adults depicted are white; some are brown or yellow. The talented young illustrator herself was born in Thailand.

On each of the left-hand pages is a long story poem (generally presented in three columns with small typeface) on a range of topics with titles such as ‘Rainbow Lotus’, Puddles around the World’ and ‘Rainmaker’. Small coloured vignettes (trees, frogs, waves, shells and so on) are scattered over the verse pages.

Bubbles and Puddles is dedicated by the author to her daughter, Amali, who Wanasundera says has experienced joy and comfort from reading the book. In the back are two pages explaining each of the stories. Some of them relate to Amali: for example, the author explains how she wrote ‘Belly Bubbles’ to help her daughter learn to share her worries which she tended to bottle up. ‘Silver Lining’ tells how mother and daughter love to find ‘the silver lining’ wherever they can, citing an experience where Amali coaxed her mother to walk when she was tired. ‘The Magical Feather Tail’ is based on a true story when Amali’s best friend found a lyrebird feather.

Each of the twelve poem stories are written in rhyming lines, sometimes in couplets. They don’t always scan, and often half or awkward rhymes occur, but generally the voice of each seems to be that of a loving, caring parent talking to his or her child. Some of the verses show a child using her imagination, creating (drawing on sand, making sandcastles), or simply having fun (splashing in puddles, jumping in fallen leaves).

Overall this a joyous book for parents to share with their children aged 4 to 7 years.  It is available through http://bubblesandpuddlesbook.com/