Los’ Literary and Librarianly Birthday Bash


So things have been a little quiet on the blogging front but that was because I had a special and significant birthday to celebrate – lots of planning, lots of visitors from all over the place – overseas even! – and lots of FUN!

Naturally I would have to have a theme – and there were many references to children’s literature.

I felt the most appropriate choice of character and costume for me was Mme Irma Pince the Head Librarian from Hogwarts. Planned the costume for months and had lots of special details organised, including library card earrings!!!

Next week it will be back to reviews – in the meantime I will keep enjoying my visitors!14691099_10154493604995281_7957034982278079395_n

The Crayons’ Book of Numbers – Drew Daywalt/Oliver Jeffers Harper Collins



Harper Collins

  • ISBN:9780008212865
  • ISBN 10: 0008212864
  • Imprint: HarperCollins – GB
  • On Sale: 24/10/2016

RRp $14.99


Since the first appearance of the ‘Crayons’ they have been very firm favourites with readers of all ages but of course, especially little people.

This delightful board book is a great introduction to these colourful personalities particularly for the tiniest of book-lovers.

Duncan has lost his crayons! The reader is invited to help find them and count all ten. Each page of course features its own colour with a typically quirky comment from the featured crayon – and naturally an illustration which highlights its character.

Little ones will love this and counting books are always so popular! This one does double duty helping toddlers and upwards learn both numbers and colours.

Highly recommended as a terrific addition to a Santa sack for a special little person in your life.

Watch Out for Muddy Puddles – Ben Faulks/Ben Cort



Allen & Unwin

ISBN :9781408867204

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Imprint: Bloomsbury Child

Pub Date: October 2016

RRP $14.99

Being Aussie I was not familiar with Ben Faulks’ name but UK readers will recognise it from his very popular television presence. This is his first picture book and is colourfully illustrated by Ben Cort, who also did the illustrations for Aliens Love Underpants and Shark in the Dark.

This is simply a very fun look at the eternal joy of splashing in  puddles but with a twist of imagination that invites young readers to picture what might be hiding in some of those tempting pools.

Watch out for muddy puddles!

Because you never really know…

What there might be lurking

down in the depths below.

Pirates, fossils deep in the earth, kissing frogs or a gigantic rubber duck all just might give you a surprise but really splishing, sploshing, splashing in  puddles is always just great fun.

Lots of onomatoepia and interesting vocabulary, rhythm and vibrancy will engage young readers from Prep-3.

Watch a trailer here and download activities here.


Beck – Mal Peet, with Meg Rossoff



Walker Books

ISBN: 9781406331127

18 Aug 2016



Vale Mal Peet.  What a privilege to review this novel from Carnegie Medal winner, Mal Peet post-humously.  It is powerful, it is harrowing, it is positive and you would need to have a heart of stone to not be moved by the narrative.

Ignatious Beck (hereafter known simply as Beck) is the illegitimate child of a mixed encounter. His early life in a Catholic orphanage is mean and cold particularly because of his colour. Then apparently remarkably he is plucked from this horrid existence and put on a boat with a load of other children – all bound for Canada.  On arrival Beck is installed with others in what appears to be a fabulous residence with caring Brothers of a certain Catholic order until their ‘happy resettlement’ with some God-fearing families establishing farms.  The kindly faces and personas of the Brothers are not what they seem. Beck is warned but still uncertain, until he is put into an untenable position and realises the perverted paedophilic intentions of the saviours. Retaliating against the pressure being put upon him Beck is sadistically and ignominiously punished with beatings and rape and then subsequently sent off to an isolated farm.  The uneducated incumbents are shocked to find they have been sent a ‘coloured’boy and promptly relegate him to the barn – and feed him the most meagre rations possible. Not surprisingly Beck takes the first opportunity to escape.


And so begins an arduous trek across Canada, running, hiding, struggling, starving. Freezing in a cold lonely stop, Beck hides out in the back of a truck, which turns out to be a runner for illegal alcohol from Canada to the US and suddenly finds himself embraced by the first adult Negro people he has ever seen. When the rival gangs scuttle the operation Beck again finds himself on the road and penniless – set upon by thieves and shysters until finally he hits upon a safe place. Owned by a similarly half-caste person although her other half is North American Indian, Beck finds himself in a place of security.  But the emotional and sexual tension between him and Grace seem to be too much to bear.  No more story now.

This is a powerful novel with echoes from the past resonating with current issues; systematic abuse of children from the Church, forced immigration of orphan children to the colonies (cheap labour often), racial discrimination, poverty and homelessness.

Apparently, as Mal became more and more ill, he asked Meg Rossoff to finish the book if need be  – and that she has with such sensitivity that it is impossible to know where one begins and the other finishes.

I am highly recommending this for your own reading but certainly for your Senior Secondary students – so much to debate and reflect upon and an astounding read as well.

Wormwood Mire: A Stella Montgomery Intrigue – Judith Rossell



Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780733333019

ISBN 10: 073333301X

Imprint: ABC Books – AU

On Sale: 10/24/2016

Pages: 288

List Price: 22.99 AUD

Warning: This review will be chockers with fulsome praise and expressions of delight.

From the point I took this book from its package two days ago I was in love with it.

We know that you can indeed judge a book by its cover often and looking at the beautiful artwork of this novel and stroking its textured surface was like holding a plush box of chocolates and greedily anticipating the contents.

And I was not disappointed. A gorgeously bound book with wonderful creamy pages, full page illustrations, embellishments and font all in a forest green this just oozes style and superiority.

After Stella’s first adventure (Withering-by-Sea) the nasty Aunts are icily furious and ponder what to do with such an unsuitable child.  They grasp the opportunity to send her to the old family home where their cousin is going to have his two (also motherless) children taught by a governess (hah! Expense-free solution) and so Stella is packed off to Wormwood Mire, a decaying mansion set in huge overgrown grounds. Her initial trepidation is relieved when she meets Strideforth and Hortense, her two cousins, both of whom are quirky in their own ways. She is further reassured by Miss Araminter the governess who is at the very least eccentric but extremely kind and sensitive.

Before she departed the gloomy house of Aunts Stella had discovered an old photograph which she has identified as being of her mother at Wormwood Mire with two babies in an old-fashioned pram – two babies? Did she once have a sister or twin? She is determined to solve the mystery of this while she is in the crumbling family ruin.

But Wormwood Mire holds many secrets. The children’s ancestor Wilberforce Montgomery who built the house was a traveller and collector of the curious and bizarre; objects, plants and animals. And there is something all the villagers are terrified by but won’t talk about. What is it and will the children be able to discover the menace – and survive it?

What a sensational read this is! The narrative flows perfectly from eddy to whirlpool to backwater and the reader is carried along effortlessly. For me it would have been a one sitting read had I not had to get up early the next morning. As it was I had to save the last few chapters but quickly polished them off, savouring every word.

Stella is indomitable – a Mighty Girl in every sense – she has courage and intelligence and empathy. There is also the mysterious power she possesses. She is a perfect foil for Strideforth, the essential scientific mind (at times with less than perfect success) and strange wild little Hortense, who is more often than not like the little creatures she adopts.

I cannot recommend this highly enough – of course, those who loved Judith’s Withering-by-Sea will be eager to get their hands on it – but for those who have not yet been introduced to Stella and her hidden otherworldly talent, it will also be a joy to read.

Artie and the Grime Wave – Written and illustrated by Richard Roxburgh



ISBN: 9781760292140

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Imprint: A & U Children

October 2016

RRP $16.99

Ok so Richard Roxburgh is a talented actor and director in both theatre and screen and of course the star of Rake. Now he’s added writing and illustrating to his portfolio in a very successful way. I mean to say, he’s good looking as well? Talk about take out a jackpot! Anyway, I digress so on with the review.

For your kids who love the rambunctious humour of the likes of Andy Griffith, Tristan Bancks, or Aaron Blabey and get the hysterical giggles over a few fart mentions this is perfect.

Artie and his friend Bumshoe are not the most popular kids in town. One is skinny, has lost his dad which has sent his mum into a deep depression and the other is a chubby one-of-many in a pretty ‘relaxed’ family.

When these two discover a Cave-of-Possibly-Stolen-Stuff they realise that the dodgy Mayor Grime is somehow involved with this gang of thugs. There have been so many thefts around town that everyone is on high alert yet no one wants to believe the two boys. Artie in particular is determined to rescue his lovely neighbour Gladys’ pet tortoise which has apparently been pet-napped with many other creatures.  But the two boys lack a serious amount of luck when it comes to finding a solution to the problem and end up in all sorts of trouble – including being almost eaten! An eccentric old lady who dabbles in high-tec inventions although continually coated in talc, a mum who rouses herself into tigress mode at exactly the right time and the stalwart support of good friends and neighbours saves the day.

Artie is no hulking hero but he stands up for what he believes and stands up to the bullies – and that’s an important message for any reader.

Any kid will love the part when one of the thugs has his bum bitten by the gang’s savage guard dog while enduring the world’s worst wedgie and will certainly love Aunty-boy’s invention the Fartex 120Y.

Highly recommended for readers who like to laugh out loud – from around 9 years old upwards.

The Eagle of Rome: A Lottie Lipton Adventure – Dan Metcalf


Lottie Lipton.jpg

Allen & Unwin

Bloomsbury Publishing


Imprint: A&C Black Children’S

September 2016

RRP $12.99

I have some little girls who will be most excited when this hits the shelves after the holidays. They loved the first one I brought along to the library so the rest of the series is on our ‘to buy’ list for next year’s budget.

The stories are quick and easy to read but the secret codes are great fun and provide a real challenge for some little readers.

In this new adventure Lottie comes up against famous treasure seeker Lady Viola Kirton who is desperately hunting the lost Eagle of the Ninth Legion. Lady Viola has long been Lottie’s role model but not once she discovers that the snobby woman only wants the Eagle so that she can sell it for a fabulous price rather than preserve it with the other antiquities in the British Museum.  Young Lottie is not about to let that happen so along with Uncle Bert and Reg she determines to solve the mystery of the hidden treasure first.

We have four more to catch up on so they had better be top of our list methinks!


Highly recommended for your newly independent readers from around Year 1 upwards.

Fright Club – Ethan Long



Bloomsbury Publishing Australia

Published: 01-09-2016

ISBN: 9781681190433

Imprint: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

RRP: $9.99   –

This is one of the cutest board books I’ve seen for ages. Forget about sweet and pretty – this one is just in time for Halloween and a fun story for little people.

The local Fright Club led by Vladimir the vampire are busily practising their ‘ghoulish faces, scary moves, chilling sounds’ in their clubhouse when there comes a knock at the door. A sweet fluffy bunny asks if she can join the club and is promptly rejected. The monsters continue with their very amateurish spookiness and there is another knock at the door. This time the cute bunny is accompanied by her foxy lawyer citing discrimination about being excluded and pretty soon all the woodland creatures are picketing the Fright Club. Of course eventually the monsters have to give in and let them all join – and who knew? Those little animals can be quite scary when they want to be!

This is just great fun with a load of good devices to talk about if you did want to share it with older ones; speech bubbles, onomatopoeia etc but basically it is a just a hoot for Halloween.

Check out the trailer here.

Crazy Characters & Daft Deeds



I’ve chosen to review these two books on the same post as to me they are similar in many ways all of which will appeal to their audience.  Both Colin Thompson and A.F. Harrold have a singular and individualised way of providing satirical humour for a pint-sized readership. They also both employ that  every engaging device of the author speaking directly to the reader when necessary.

Fizzlebert Stump and The Great Supermarket Showdown


Published: 01-09-2016

ISBN: 9781408869451

Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens Series: Fizzlebert Stump

RRP: $12.99

I’ve not seen the previous titles in this series but any book called Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) has got my vote already and ensures I will catch up with the earlier books.

Fizz lives in a circus – in fact, he was born and raised under the Big Top. His entire life and livelihood is suddenly turned upside down when the Ringmaster sells the circus without any warning. It is all most strange. The Ringmaster assures his folk that not much will change but change it does. Those without an ironclad contract drift away to find other employment including the animals, while those basically indentured to the circus remain – and find themselves little more than navvies in a tawdry supermarket managed by a very unpleasant owner.  When a book starts at Chapter 4 you know you are in for a completely unusual read and this is the case.

Fizz is the definite hero here as he digs deeper (especially at his library!) to find out why the Ringmaster just upped and sold the circus. He runs into old friends (from previous books) and triumphantly they resolve the whole debacle.

It is fun, it is wacky and will definitely be a hit with young readers who have a yen for humour.

Watch This Space 2: In the Pink


Random House

ISBN 9781742756189

August 29, 2016

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $15.99

Previous readers of this blog will know of my attachment to Colin Thompson’s work.  I have been patiently waiting for the second instalment in the newest series which will no doubt prove every bit as popular as the well-worn Floods titles on my library shelves.

The Contrast family, sent into space by entrepreneur Radius Limpfast, in the most exciting reality TV show yet are bored out of their brains after a mere week in space. When they realise that they are trapped for five years things look grim but fortunately (?) their genius robot rRego knows what is needed. He hacks into the spaceship and re-directs the family to what they think will be Earth – except it’s not.

Weirdly the family ends up on a very Earth-like planet – well except for that thing about the planet seems to have turned pink and has a couple of extra moons – and a strange human-disguised lizard population.

As usual Colin’s play on words, and digs at popular culture are prevalent and highly amusing.

Your Floods devotees are very quickly going to take up this newest series and I predict you will need multiple copies to keep up with demand.

Girl vs. Boy Band: The Right Track – Harmony Jones



Bloomsbury Publishing Australia

Published: 01-07-2016

ISBN: 9781408868546

Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens

RRP: $14.99

If you have girls who are pop fans and are looking for a little innocent romance along with an engaging story, this will be a very popular addition to your collection.

It’s light and frothy and a bit bubble-gummy but perfect for tweens who are looking for something between Enid Blyton and The Hunger Games.

Lark is a painfully shy but quite talented musician/songwriter who is feeling pretty aggrieved that her mother and father have split up. Her father a Nashville sessions musician has stayed in Tennessee while Lark and her mother, a budding music manager intent on building a successful business, have relocated to L.A. Needless to say this causes some friction between mother and daughter but even moreso when Donna imports a boy band from the UK with big plans for their promotion. The very last thing that Lark wants is Abbey Road living in her house; she’s already struggling with emotions and having to share her mother’s time but to do so with three cheeky English teenage boys is really the last straw.  Add to this mix Lark’s growing interest in a schoolmate with equal talent and his persuasive argument for her to join him in the school talent quest and you have all the makings for a great read for girls in Upper Primary.

Aside from the fluffiness, Lark’s growth as a more confident and assured young woman is a valuable model for other girls.

This is the first in a planned series and I can well imagine it will be a highly sought after title once the word spreads.

Recommended for girls from around 10-13 who are beginning to flex their own teenage wings.