Sunday, 24 May 2020

Eloise and the Bucket of Stars

Eloise and the Bucket of Stars by Janeen Brian

Orphaned as a baby, Eloise Pail yearns for a family. Instead, she lives a lonely life trapped in an orphanage and made miserable by the cruel Sister Hortense. Befriended by the village blacksmith, Eloise soon uncovers some strange secrets of yesteryear and learns that something terrible may be about to happen to the village. As troubles and dangers mount, she must learn who to trust and choose between saving the village or belonging to a family of her own. Unless something truly magical happens...
The title is mid-grade, historical, magic realism aged at readers 9+ years. It’s described as:

·       A powerful tale of how magic weaves its way into the real world.
·       Explores themes of belonging, what it takes to be a friend and what constitutes a family.
LINKS:   Available online and in all good bookshops.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Rachel Carson, Scientists Who Changed the World

Rachel Carson, Scientists Who Changed the World by Anita Croy (EK Books)
Hardback, 88 pages RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925820690

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Rachel Carson is a book that is part of a series designed to help children learn about scientists who changed the world. Rachel Carson’s discoveries changed our understanding of the natural world and the impact of humans. Protecting the earth is her legacy.

This book has six chapters. It starts with a biography and then moves onto background information about the natural world and saving our environment. I particularly like the use of timelines to show the changes through time as awareness and understanding about our environment developed. Another strength of the book is the direct quotes by Carson sprinkled throughout the pages. Her skills as both a scientist and a writer combined to give a powerful voice to her discoveries about the natural world. Her childhood shaped her personality and set her onto a lifelong path of environmental pursuits. Rachel Carson wrote the New York Times bestselling book Silent Spring.

The six chapters include photos, quotes, facts, and varied page layouts with colourful illustrations where a child can open the book and read what interests them. The book doesn’t have to be read in order and is reader friendly. It supports STEM in our schools and there is a glossary and information about books and websites for further information for the curious child.

Rachel Carson’s achievements were many and her contributions to our world are still topical and relevant today. A child can be inspired to know that they can make a difference in the world with lots of hard work, persistence, and patience.

Rachel Carson is a book that will fascinate any child 10-13 years with an interest in the natural world. This book is part of a series about scientists who really did shape and change our world in momentous ways.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Daisy Runs Wild

Daisy Runs Wild by Caz Goodwin, illustrated by Ashley King (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $19.95 ISBN: 9781760503055

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Daisy Runs Wild is the sequel to the popular Lazy Daisy, and follows the little koala on her latest adventure. Her friend Jasper has ‘built a machine so that she could sit down’ while they strolled around town, but something is not quite right. She leaps off the seat and darts away through the park. ‘What in the world was poor Jasper to do? Daisy kept running, so Jasper did too.’ When Jasper eventually catches up to Daisy, he discovers the problem: ‘He plucked out a thorn that was stuck in her rear.’

Caz Goodwin’s rhyming couplets fly off the tongue as quickly as Daisy gallops across the grass. Kids will giggle at Daisy’s increasingly hilarious actions, from knocking over a wicket to landing on a passionfruit sponge. Caz’s enthralling use of language is seen to best effect on the blue page, where she utilises alliteration of the ‘s’ sound to emphasise Daisy’s pain: ‘The little koala was such a sad sight, squealing and squawking and shaking with fright.’            

Colour bursts from the pages at every turn. Ashley King’s dynamic illustrations dance across brightly hued spreads, dazzling the eyes with pattern and pandemonium. Young readers will adore her characterisation of Daisy, from her absurdly large ears to the tiny red bow perched on top of her head.

Brisk rhythms and spirited images combine to create a highly entertaining picture book for children all ages. Youngsters will ‘run wild’ as they read this laugh-a-minute story again and again, finding amusing new details each time they chase Daisy through the vibrant pages.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Books by Hong Kong Authors

Title: Surprising Mrs Rhubarbson (English)
BlurbRoxy Rhubarbson is feeling sad for her mum. Mrs Rhubarbson takes care of the Old Tree Home animals all by herself. It's her birthday today. How can Roxy and her friends Marble Mangosteen and Shooz Starfruiter help plan a surprise for her mum? How can they show her she's special too?

This is the first book in the Marble Mangosteen's Good Deed Collection series. The series aims to inspire and instil good values in each book. For this book, some of the themes and values are as follows: teamwork, not taking others for granted, spending time with the elderly, caring for Mum, friendship and sharing (among others).
Amazon link for English version 

Title: Yani the Unicorn and the Day Mommy Went to the Moon
Blurb: Yani the Unicorn and the Day Mommy Went to the Moon is a book about the special bond every mother has with her child.  The book follows Yani through that special day when her mommy has to leave her for the first time. A relatable theme for families with working moms or parents. 

The book wants to convey the message that developing a deep mother-child connection can help our children feel safe and secure in their own little world while they explore life around them. It provides a valuable opportunity to build connection and assure our children that they are loved and that mommy always comes back.

Title: The Mother’s Day of Rock
BlurbJoin Sara and her pet goat, Nana, on an adventure as they search for the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. What will Sara do when things don't go as planned? And will Sara's mother like her gift? Children, parents, and grandparents will enjoy reading this story with a special message about the love between a mother and child, and a love and respect for Mother Nature and the world we share.
Title: Mother Hen and Her Eggs
Author: Deeksha Palanna 
Blurb: A riveting and humorous story of a MOTHER HEN and her frantic search for her lost eggs
On a tip-off from a friendly BIRDIE, a MOTHER HEN races to retrieve her stolen eggs from the nest-robbers before it is too late. After a roller-coaster chase, a joyful surprise awaits her and the readers in the end.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Sir Isaac Newtown, Scientists Who Changed the World

Sir Isaac Newtown, Scientists Who Changed the World by Anita Croy (EK Books) Hardback, 88 pages RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925820713

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Sir Isaac Newtown is part of a series designed to help children learn about scientists who changed the world. Isaac Newtown’s discoveries changed our understanding of the world through science.

This book is divided into chapters that build a picture not only of Sir Isaac Newtown’s discoveries and achievements over his lifetime, but it gives background information that shows the young reader who and what shaped his personality and scientific mind.

There are six chapters which include photos, quotes, facts and varied page layouts with colourful illustrations where a child can open the book and read what interests them. The book does not have to be read in order. The text is child-reader friendly and supports STEM and history in our schools. There is a glossary and information about books and websites for further information for the curious.

Sir Isaac Newtown’s achievements were many and his contributions to this world are hard to include in one book, yet Anita Croy has successfully captured the essence of Sir Isaac Newtown and all that he contributed with his incredible mind. A child can be inspired to pursue a scientific field they are interested in and know that it is not enough to have the ability: it also requires lots of hard work, persistence and patience.

Sir Isaac Newtown is a book that will fascinate any child 10-13 years with an interest in Science. This is a great resource for schools and teachers.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Rocky and Louie

Rocky and Louie by Phil Walley-stack, Raewyn Caisley and Dub Leffler, (Puffin Books), HB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 978143786528

      Reviewed by Dianne Bates

      Noongar man and emerging elder, Phil Wally-Stack, a champion of reconciliation, an internationally known musician, entrepreneur, film maker and role model, has collaborated with white woman, Raewyn Caisley, to write this picture book. 

It’s about older brother Rocky who teaches his young brother Louie all about tribal ways, including belonging and traditions. The two also play football together, but one day Rocky announces he needs to go to the city to follow his dreams. Upset, Louie begs him to stay, but when it is clear Rocky will leave, Louie, with the help of his elders, makes his brother a boomerang. This is a reminder to Rocky that, like the boomerang, he will return. And he does.

      This is a simple story with beautiful, appealing pastel illustrations by Dub Leffler who is descended from the Bigamul people of south-west Queensland. Details about the three book creators are shown in the front of the book.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

The Book of Chance

The Book of Chance by Sue Whiting, (Walker Books), 2020, RRP $17.99 pb
ISBN: 9781760651367

Reviewed by Pauline Hosking

Here’s a really suspenseful page-turner. Each tiny nugget of information builds to a shocking reveal. 

Chance is a happy Year Seven student, living with her caring Mama, Nadia. Next door is the Deng family, former refugees from South Sudan, who have become Chance and Nadia’s extended family and best friends. Chance believes her father Steve died in a fire the day she was born. Her mother has written journals chronicling their lives entitled The Book of Steve, The Book of Nadia and The Book of Chance.

The novel begins in the present. Something catastrophic has happened and Chance is being interviewed by the police. No further information is given. The sense of mystery and secrets will immediately intrigue young readers. 

The story then jumps back 37 days to the Beginning of the End, the day Chance’s life began to unravel. Almost by accident she is given compelling evidence that contradicts what she believes is the story of her birth. When she confronts Nadia demanding the truth, Nadia admits that Chance is adopted. This is a huge shock, but worse follows. Although Nadia swears she doesn’t know Chance’s real parents, Chance finds a photo of two young people who died in a car crash. The woman looks so much like her, Chance wonders if this is her real mother.

A four-week-old baby was also believed to have died in the crash, although no remains of the baby were found. Chance struggles to make sense of the information. Is she the baby? What would that mean? Confused and sick in her stomach, Chance enlists the help of a journalist to find out more.

She’s a very black and white girl who believes something is either right or wrong. The truth or a lie. She is horrified when she discovers that her life has been built on lies. Although it is also true that Nadia really loves and cares for her. They have been happy. Plus, Nadia has led an exemplary life helping refugees adapt to the Australian way of life. To what degree does the truth of Chance’s present, balance the lie of her past?

The decision about what to do next is taken out of Chance’s hands. An associate of the journalist reports the situation to the police.

Sue Whiting based the book on a real crime that was committed in 1998 and not solved until 2017.  It is some comfort that this story, and I hope the real event, has a hopeful ending.

The Book of Chance is a compelling read, perfectly pitched for a middle-grade to younger YA readership. It poses many questions about the levels of right and wrong, and what it means to take responsibility for your actions. There’s an interesting sub-plot concerning trolling on social media which cleverly links the themes. Highly recommended.