Monthly Archives: November 2016

Peggy and Me – Miranda Hart

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Hachette Australia
ISBN:
 9781444769135

Publication date: 11 Oct 2016

Page count:

Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton

 

Many readers will be familiar with Miranda Hart’s work as a comedic actress; appearances in Absolutely Fabulous, Smack the Pony and of course, Call the Midwife and her own self-titled sitcom Miranda.

She had long been more a cat person than a dog person and relates some hilarious observations about dog owners. And then nine years ago Miranda met and fell in love with a tiny shih tzu/bichon frise cross puppy she named Peggy.  The two became inseperable and Miranda’s recount of her life shared with Peggy is both funny, poignant and wise.

Throughout the ups and downs, insecurities, sadness, elation and day-to-day life of their time together, Miranda noted that her best life lessons were in fact taught to her by Peggy.

In this delightful memoir, the reader is introduced to Peggy who always has her own take on the situation and is pleased to share it with us.

This is a laugh-out-loud read so just be aware that fellow commuters may look askance at your snorts as you follow the travails of Miranda and her best friend Peggy.

This would make a fabulous Christmas present for someone who appreciates both the joy of dog-owning and the virtues of humour as an antidote for drab and uninspiring daily grinds.

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One Woman’s War and Peace: a nurse’s journey in the Royal Australian Air Force – Wing Commander Sharon Bown (Ret’d)

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Exisle Publishing

Hourglass Imprint

September 2016

ISBN 9781925335316

RRP $29.99

 

Many of you will already know that I’m an advocate for Mighty Girls, particularly now that I’m raising Miss Small after the untimely death of her mum, my Jennifer.

This is the memoir of a true Australian Mighty Girl and is riveting reading. My only small gripe is that the print was a little small for my night reading but that didn’t stop me pursuing Sharon’s journey over the past week or so – a little each night.

Born in Tasmania and training as a nurse, Sharon sought a new adventure after some years of achieving excellence in her chosen field and joined the RAAF. Again she proved her worth as a more than competent medical saviour.

However, the highs of her career path have been dogged by extreme lows. Her mother’s diagnosis and consequent lost battle with cancer was a tremendous blow to her and her family. But greater still was the horrific helicopter crash while deployed to Timor Leste which resulted in a long and painful rehabilitation and her determination to resume her military career.

With the loving support of family and friends, and particularly her (now) husband Conway, Sharon fought back to medically fit status and did indeed resume her career and worked her way up the promotional ladder, albeit with a few detours such as being ADC to Brendan Nelson, as Minister for Defence, for twelve months. Along the way throughout all her troubles (including the near fatal shooting of her police officer father) she doggedly continued with her dream and her commitment to serving her country.

Resuming deployment capability was a huge positive for Sharon and her stint in Afghanistan was both satisfying and sobering.

When Sharon finally realised that PTSD and her physical condition, which followed the helicopter crash which shattered her body, signalled the end of her active career it was with a certainty that her life would never quite be the same.

There have been many memoirs published by males who have been on active service and their often terrible histories, but this is the first I have read by one of our female officers. It has been a privilege to share Sharon’s journey and her easy style of writing made that journey an engaging one to follow.

I urge you strongly to add this to your secondary collection or to put it on your ‘to read’ list for your personal edification.

Listen to Sharon here.

Highly recommended for readers from around 15 upwards.

 

 

 

 

Jinny & Cooper – Tania Ingram

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Penguin Random House

9780143308751

February 1, 2016

 

$14.99

This is my first taste of the Jinny & Cooper series but it certainly won’t be my last! And it’s already on my ‘read aloud’ list for Miss Small, my library and relief teaching days!

When Tania’s young daughter first asked her to write about a magical guinea pig, I suspect she had no idea that what would evolve would be a very successful series with appeal to a wide audience.

A question asked of me recently by a couple of parents was regarding fun reads for younger children who have moved on from the beginning chapter books but not yet ready for something beyond their capabilities. This is a series that will fit that bill perfectly and on my notes to buy all for next year’s budget.

Jinny has always wanted a guinea pig but she imagined something golden brown, soft and cuddly and above all, sweet. Little did she expect to end up with something that looks like an unkempt doormat with a real attitude and the power of speech amongst other things.

In this adventure, Cooper fingers Jinny’s seemingly kind teacher Miss Bunney as a nasty witch. Of course, this just seems ridiculous – but is it? Armed with salt and potato charms Jinny, her brother Tyrone and Cooper go into battle with one very unpleasant elderly teacher.

Boys and girls alike will delight in this series and no doubt will be scouring petshops for talking guinea pigs who eat a lot of junk food!

Recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

Read more about Tania and the series here.

Australia Illustrated – Tania McCartney

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Exisle Publishing

November 2016

ISBN 9781925335217

RRP $29.99

 

Five years ago while the teacher-librarian at Red Hill Primary, Canberra, I invited a local author about whom I had heard good things to come on an author visit to talk about her popular ‘Riley’ picture books.  Elegant Tania McCartney walked into my library and we were instantly friends. The children were entranced by her presentation (one little boy wrote and illustrated his own Riley book the next day) and all of us looked forward to seeing more from this talented woman.

In the last few years I have watched with great pleasure as Tania’s work has grown and blossomed into books in which her creativity has gone to greater and greater heights.

During the process of this latest (and greatest) of her books it has been such a pleasure for so many of us to feel as though we had something to contribute as Tania sought opinions and feedback on ideas she was developing. Little did I know that my own granddaughters were going to provide inspiration for some of her illustrations!

Australia Illustrated takes readers – both children and adults – on a virtual trip around Australia to examine the beauties, nature, culture, icons and quirks of each of our states.

With a glorious binding to complete it, the book begins with some pages of general information about Australia as a whole. The double page spread underlining our diversity is marvellous but each page is a revelation and a delight. Tania’s sense of fun comes through in each new vista. The double page ‘café style blackboard menu’ that details so many of our iconic favourite foods is just one example and one of my personal favourites.

After this overview of our country we move from state to state seeing children from all over with their own unique local flavours and settings. Each new state’s pages is heralded with a detailed and stylistically fun map and already I have had children (and grown ups) delightedly pointing out places they have been or know.

The virtual trip takes in all that is special, unique or iconic of the individual states illustrated in such a glorious fashion that this will prove a book to which to return over and over to continually discover new details.

The overriding emotion evoked by this armchair travelogue of our great country is one of joy in all that we, as Australians one and all, and our beautiful land have to offer. I have already sent off two copies to my Welsh friends, who recently visited and were entranced by the very small snippet they saw, for their grandchildren to savour. The appeal to adults is validated by the fact that Tim, Welsh grandad, had to have it prised out of his hands to be put away for the children!

In a social climate when we are eager to encourage our young readers to embrace all that is good about our nation – the people, the diversity, the beauty and the traditions – this is a book which resonates with a patriotic pride in its purest sense.

This is a definite ‘must have’ for your library collection indeed but also for your personal bookshelves and for you to share with your friends overseas. I know ours will be treasured and enjoyed for years to come.

Australians all, let us rejoice! That we have author/illustrators of Tania’s calibre is indicative of what we have to offer to a world too often troubled with negative and destructive images.

Congratulations Tania on a simply superb creation. Roll on the lavish praise and recognition for a truly remarkable book!

taniamccartney

 Riley’s red planes flying over Red Hill library!

 

Postscript from Tim: As the Welsh grandad referred to, but not because I’m he, I would endorse the review wholeheartedly. As a visitor, it gives a bite-sized introduction to Australia that informs but doesn’t overwhelm. I loved it and look forward eagerly to being able to share with my grandies!