Monthly Archives: August 2018

The Poesy Ring: a love story – Bob Graham

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poesyring

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781406378276
Imprint: Walker
Release Date: November 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99\

 

This one had slipped through the cracks but certainly not by intention! I love Bob Graham’s books and this one is no exception.

It is the story of the travels of one Irish poesy ring from the time it left the hand of its teary owner as she rode across the downs in 1830 flinging it away until it fetches up in a New York pawnbroker’s shop in 1967.

Demonstrating yet again that he has the ability to create a seemingly simple picture book which actually takes the reader across time and space to deliver a beautiful and poignant message, Bob has created yet another to-be-classic.

Aside from the ring’s own journey what a beautiful way to explore the passing of time, the changing of landscapes and the shifting of circumstances to young children. And how many readers will be thrilled to think about the possibility of hidden forgotten treasures not to mention wondering if the ring – with its inscription of “love never dies” will fulfil its destiny of belonging to someone much loved.

In a broader sense this could well explore the idea that we all wind up where we are meant to be – no matter how long it takes.

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I am Out with Lanterns – Emily Gale

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Penguin Random House

9780143782766

July 30, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $17.99

One of us is in the dark. 
One of us is a bully.
One of us wants to be understood.
One of us loves a girl who loves another.
One of us remembers the past as if it just happened.
One of us believes they’ve drawn the future.
But we’re all on the same map, looking for the same thing.

If you love The Other Side of Summer with its beautifully drawn characters and superb writing you will be thrilled with a continuation which now turns its focus to Wren, the older sister.

Wren is an outsider she feels and gravitates towards other loners. As that turns out one of these is a strange girl, oddly familiar to some, newly arrived in town. Adie, it seems, has been dragged from pillar to post by a drunken artist father with his endless parade of nasty girlfriends since Adie’s mother left when she was little. While Wren seems fascinated by Adie, her neighbour Milo burns with unrequited feelings for Wren despite his lack of confidence, largely due to his autism.

In this mix are also Hari, Juliet and Ben each with their own story and their own sense of exclusion for various reasons. Year 10 is off to a disturbing start with upheavals galore for all these troubled teens. But the forging of friendships can be a great leveller as well as an equaliser for those who suffer through their individual crises.

I freely admit to a binge read of this one – it was too good to put down!

Emily Gale’s ability to create such believable and intriguing characters that make you sad to leave them is astonishing.  Each chapter takes the reader into an individual character’s narration giving some beautiful insight into each.

While you certainly could read this as a stand-alone it would be helpful to know the back story from the previous book. Reconnect with this amazing cast of characters and meet some new ones – you won’t regret it.

Highly recommended for readers from around 14/15 upwards.

 

House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery –  Liz Rosenberg. Illustrated by Julie Morstad

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Maud

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9780763660574
Imprint: Candlewick
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99

This year marks the 110th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables and what more fitting way to celebrate the author who brought so many thousands of readers such a memorable cast of characters than a brand new biography.

While others have been written about this remarkable resilient woman this is the first specifically aimed at younger readers. The story of Maud’s life from small girl growing up with strict grandparents, after her mother’s death and virtual abandonment by her father traces her development as an often solitary child who retreated into her writing and books for comfort.  Prince Edward Island a quiet little piece of paradise in Maud’s youth was always her lodestar of inspiration and though she left it in later life she would always return there to refresh her spirit.

Her life, often far from happy, resounds throughout her many books and we can recognise the lonely girl, and then young woman, repeatedly stymied by circumstances beyond her control. A marriage later in life than most of her generation brought her some degree of fulfilment but was also fraught due to her husband’s mental health issues and later her eldest son’s despicable and often illegal actions.  Throughout every tumultuous interlude Maud never gave up her dream of writing – not only with a view to success but because of the compulsion to do so. Her determination saw her become Canada’s most successful and wealthiest writer, one who left a legacy around the world for generations and to this day is still revered by readers of all ages.

If like me and those many thousands of others, have read and re-read Maud’s wondrous stories, you will enjoy knowing more about the woman behind the books. The delightful line illustrations denoting each new chapter bring a stylish suggestion of the period to the work.

Highly recommended to readers of around 13 upwards.

Book Week 2018 sampler

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Book Week is done and dusted for another year………hence the lack of posts. It’s been huge! The theme of Find Your Treasure led us to lots of piratical rumbustifications and of course dress ups! my amazing library team did a superb job and we had loads of laughs over the course of the week before we collapsed with exhaustion……..

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The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up Great: Changing Bodies, Periods, Relationships, Life Online

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–  Sophie Elkan with Laura Chaisty & Dr Maddy Podichetty. Illustrated by Flo Perry

Bloomsbury Australia

June 2018

Imprint: Green Tree

ISBN 978147294374

RRP $22.99

Navigating through puberty is no easy ask and often it seems tweens heading into teens can be quite overwhelmed despite all intentions to help them be informed and comfortable. For some, in this instance, girls it can be a very beneficial adjunct to whatever home and school offers to have their own relatable ‘reference’ book and this one is a great example.

Aimed to empower girls through its sensitive, wise and often humorous take on issues that can be of real concern to young women it covers a wide array of topics including basics about body changes, care and comfort, relationships and friendships, information on sex and sexuality plus some input regarding safety on the internet. All this is couched in accessible straightforward text accompanied by some very quirky illustrations.

The main author’s clear information is supported by both a psychotherapist and a medical doctor which is helpful and provides a very balanced viewpoint. The illustrator has also included some space for girls to record their own thoughts or feelings which is a very nice touch indeed.

Whether you are looking to provide your own girl with a reliable source or perhaps seeking to support the teaching of Personal Development in your collection, this would be an outstanding addition.

I highly recommend it to you for girls aged from around ten years upwards.

The Peski Kids #1: The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach – R. A. Spratt

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9780143788812

Penguin Random House

9780143788812

July 30, 2018

Puffin

 

$16.99

 

There were many sad faces in my library when I reported that the Friday Barnes series had come to an end (including mine) but there was the consolation that R. A. Spratt was working on a new series. And here it is! And it’s hilarious! I was tucked up in bed reading it and snort-laughing at so many times.

I’ve said before that Spratt has such a knack for creating quirky characters and a real sense of the absurd and it doesn’t get much quirkier or absurd than this narrative!  Meet Joe, sixteen and a bit gawky with a nervous stammer, Fin (i.e. Sharkfin) thirteen and April, twelve, siblings who are always arguing – easy enough as April is pretty much your semi-psycho anarchist tween who live with their mother, a middle-aged professor of paleontology –  or so the children think.

It’s not until a wholly unexpected visit from their mother’s boss, Professor Maynard, that the children discover that their mum is actually an international spy who has been incarcerated by the dreaded Kolektiv organization. As the kids are now also targets they are rushed out of their home minutes before it explodes and re-located hours later in the country town of Currawong and the home of their father, who is without doubt the most eccentric, absent-minded and wimpish dad ever. He’s clearly unaccustomed to children whether his own or not. The kids’ entrée into Currawong community life is  far from auspicious as they (April) scorn such long-held traditions as the Cockroach Races, lawn bowls and flat caps and escalates when competitive cockroaches begin being nobbled. Throw into the mixture a bizarre but beautiful neighbor, a maniacal dog (April’s) and a host of weird and sociopathic townspeople and you have the makings of a series that is going to captivate kids right from the get-go.

Watch the book trailer here and R. A. Spratt talking about the book here.

Without a nano-second’s hesitation, highly recommended for your readers aged from around ten years upwards.

 

 

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables #3: Go Wild – Tim Harris

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9780143789024

Penguin Random House

9780143789024

September 3, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP : $14.99

 

Being curled up and cosy with a steaming cup of Himalayan tea – what could be better? If you have the new adventure of Mr B and 12B to make you laugh, of course.

The class camp is going to be super-fun with Mr Bambuckle’s feathered friend Dodger having carefully chosen the right location and Mr B’s own unique style of doing things which means it’s not going to be your average school camp. However, it looks as though plans are going to be thwarted when the heinous new deputy-principal Miss Frost (think Tilda Swinton as the White Witch from Narnia) turns up to throw cold water over any proposed activities.

Naturally the imperturbable Mr Bambuckle is more than equal to dealing with a rigidly frigid administrator and the class seems well able to follow his lead and their own initiative to survive any obstacle put in their way. The whole class – except Vex who sleeps the entire duration of the camp – are triumphant in their successes but it does not escape their notice that Mr B seems just a little too friendly to the dreaded Miss Frost. What next for the intrepid class? Well, as Vex has disappeared mysteriously when the camp is struck – it could be almost anything!

Kids in my readership have been gobbling up the first two in this series and I can guarantee they will be grabbing this one as quickly as they can as well!

Highly recommended for kids (ok yes and grownups) who love to laugh at complete absurdity!

At the End of Holyrood Lane – Dimity Powell/Nicky Johnson

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holyrood

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781925335767

ISBN 10: 1925335763

Imprint: Exisle Kids Publishing – NZ

On Sale: 20/08/2018

List Price: 24.99 AUD

 

Just before Miss Small (who really is no longer small!) came to live with me, she was absolutely petrified of storms. She would watch the sky anxiously and literally quiver with fear. While I guessed that this was symptomatic of something else, I hasten to point out it was not domestic violence and as time went by and her emotional anxiety eased, the storm ‘thing’ disappeared.

However, as one who has lived with DV and escaped, it is not only diminishing and frightening for the adult involved but has a very real impact on the children exposed to it, whether or not they are the recipients or not.

So this book with its subtle analogy was quite resonant for me for both those reasons.

This new picture book from Dimity Powell, beautifully illustrated by Nicky Johnston, provides a safe metaphor for children in just such a situation and enables caring adults to explore strategies by which these victims can begin to feel secure.

Flick lives with the fear of storms. Normally her life is filled with ‘sunshine and butterflies’ but the storms regularly appear and Flick, in her intense terror, has no escape except to hide. At last Flick seeks help to weather the storm and finds that this is the way to become free from the tyranny of the recurring fury.

Poetically written with much onomatopoeia and beautiful language it is a book worthy of sharing even if not in a ‘pointed’ way but just to explore children’s fears in general.

We are so blessed to have such quality writers for children in this country who are unafraid to tackle difficult subjects.

This book is endorsed by ActforKids, Paradise Kids, Think Equal and will be launched on 23rd September in Brisbane.

I highly recommend it for your young readers from  Prep upwards and would suggest that you also bring it to the attention of your school guidance officers/psychologists.

HL-Book-Launch-Invite

 

Kensy and Max #2: Disappearing Act – Jacqueline Harvey

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Penguin Random House

9780143780632

September 3, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP: $16.99

 

Twins Kensy and Max are back in another absolutely cracking adventure, which will delight the readers of this new series. The pair has had some time to adjust themselves to their new life as part of the important Pharos organisation, headed up by their impressive grandmother and is now agents-in-training along with some of their school friends.

Although their parents are still missing they at least now know they are still alive, so the Christmas celebrations at Alexandria, their grandmother’s home and Pharos training centre, are quite something. Their training program has been exciting and both have added many new skills to their already natural talents.

With their manny Fitz also absent and the unexpected arrival of Uncle Rupert, a somewhat dubious character, the twins have much to occupy themselves but their school trip to Italy promises to be a welcome distraction.

But of course, this turns out to be no normal school trip with a missing boy, a den of thieves and Mafioso-like goons threatening all-round chaos. It would seem that the twins will be on their first mission much earlier than could be expected.

Jacqueline Harvey has a real talent for creating very believable characters and scenarios which immediately engage her readership and leaves them begging for more.

While her two hugely popular series are eaten up ferociously by girls for the main part, this new series has equal appeal for both genders and will be, I predict, creating another huge following from the pre-teen crowd.

With neat touches like the coded chapter headings, this will have the problem-solvers competing for first place in deciphering!

 

Highly recommended for your readers from around Year 3 upwards who enjoy everyday stories with a hefty twist of wild adventure, sleuthing and drama.