Monthly Archives: October 2019

The Australia Survival Guide – George Ivanoff

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9780143796572

 

Penguin Australia

October 2019

ISBN: 9780143796572

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $24.99

George Ivanoff is not just a pretty face. Under that luxuriant  mop of ever-changing hair there’s an inventive and clever brain which can produce not only awesome adventures of the fictional kind for readers but now the ultimate field guide to surviving in the harsh reality of the Australian landscape.

Naturally, George being George, this is not just a dry and dull book of sensible information but is crammed with quirky facts, funny interjections, news articles, and scientific information about creatures of all kinds, first aid tips and much much more. I love the way the book finishes off with the wacky aspects of Australia – the ‘big’ things, weird slang, Vegemite and neatly a glossary to explain any difficulties (which might be very useful for foreign readers!).

From Swimming Death to Totally Fake Death, Wibbly-Wobbly Death to Death from Above every conceivable aspect of our country’s multiple potential hazards is covered but always partnered with practical suggestions for avoiding the ghastliness of being dead in the landscape.

A particularly favourite chapter for me is the one on Not Death (Bush Tucker and Bush Medicine) and I think readers who are as yet unfamiliar with the native bounty of our bush will be intrigued by this cultural inclusion.

All in all I must agree with George….”I’m beginning to think that even though Australia is DANGEROUS…maybe the good things outweigh the bad? Apart from the occasional natural disaster, staying alive seems to be a matter of commons sense. It’s about avoiding the dangerous things…”

Thanks George for an entertaining and informative read which I know many young people will thoroughly enjoy, particularly those from around mid-primary to mid-secondary.

Highly recommended for your collection or any avid adventurer of your acquaintance.

Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein [Young Readers Adaptation]

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Harper Collins Australia

August 2019

ISBN: 9780062935076

ISBN 10: 0062935070

Imprint: HarperCollins – US

List Price: 14.99 AUD

For everyone who has loved the series of A Dog’s Purpose (which definitely includes me and K) this book will bring much joy though at times it is both poignant and tense.

It is the story of a family in essence. Beginning with the adoption of the smart and funny Enzo by Denny, amateur (but yearning to be professional) racing car enthusiast and following the often difficult trials that ensue after Denny’s marriage to Eve and the subsequent birth of Zoe, their daughter. At first Eve and Enzo are rather in a stalemate situation, neither thinking very highly of the other but after Zoe’s arrival and Enzo’s slavish devotion to and unfailing protection of her their relationship changes.

However family life can often be fraught, indeed heartbreaking, and at times can be under serious threat of falling apart and so it is in this instance. But throughout all it is Enzo who is ever present and faithful to the preservation of the fragility of his humans. He may be a canine but he is intelligent and understands everything that is happening around him and is determined to do anything he can to support Denny and Zoe.

Funny and tender, insightful and courageous, mute but definitely expressive Enzo’s observations, humour and loyalty will make you laugh and cry. It is truly delightful.

This special edition of the best-selling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain is timed to tie-in with the upcoming movie version. I can highly recommend it for readers from around 12 years upwards.

Pages & Co [Book 2]: Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales – Anna James

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Harper Collins

September 2019

ISBN: 9780008229900

ISBN 10: 0008229902

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

List Price: 19.99 AUD

Once more Tilly and Oskar are plunged into a whirl of adventure and mystery as their book-wandering travels continue. Their world and their families are in a state of flux as the British Underlibrary becomes embroiled in turmoil. The new Librarian Melville Underwood is decidedly sinister and unscrupulous and there is a veil of mystery about his long absence in the fairy tale world and the continued unknown whereabouts of his sister Decima.

When Tilly and Oskar visit Paris (and discover that Oskar is also a book-wanderer) they bravely venture into the fairy tale world and are dismayed by the instability of the stories there – large black abysses appearing in plots, various versions of the same story overlapping randomly and characters becoming lost. All this appears to be the work of some dark force and it seems that Tilly and Oskar are the ones to solve the problem and restore order.

This series is proving to be quite a delight with its fresh approach to plot and characters. Book lovers both young and old will relish the concept of becoming truly ‘present’ in the stories they read and will readily identify with Tilly’s favourites as well as being very cognizant of the ever-present dangers and villainous characters lurking in odd places. There are tense moments when ‘happy ever after’ seems elusive and there is no doubt that the evil characters are ruthless but Tilly and Oskar have proven their mettle already and will not rest until the fairy tale world is safe again.

My first readers to try out this series have been completely taken with it and I know they will be enthusiastically lining up for this second instalment. I highly recommend it for your kiddos from around Year 4 upwards.

Beverly, Right Here – Kate diCamillo

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1560726444168

Walker Books

ISBN: 9781406391633
Imprint: Walker
September 2019
Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99

Without a doubt this is the happiest review I’ve ever written. Not just because it’s another fabulous book from this much-loved author, nor just that it continues the story of Raymie, Louisiana and Beverly but for a far more personal reason.

My review copy arrived just a few days before my girl and I were going on our holiday to Tasmania so it was one of my first choices to take along with me. I read most of it in the Brisbane airport terminal then finished it off during the flight. The Kid was quite taken with the cover and then curious about the story so I handed it to her and before we landed in Melbourne for the first leg of our trip she had read the first chapter. Now for a 14 year old you may not think this a significant moment but for a child who was first assessed with an intellectual impairment at six and who has struggled for years with both spoken and written language it was a true milestone moment. In that first chapter there were just five words of which she was unsure – and after checking with me, three of them she had correct and the other two she had worked out but couldn’t quite get the context or meaning. TRIUMPH!

She is now halfway through the book and is really enjoying the story – and the effect of her success has been electrifying to say the least. Her ‘reading level’ (GRRRR) at school has escalated over eight levels at least since her last literacy group before the holidays. My heart is singing! It is such a breakthrough for her and her confidence is soaring.

So with that out of the way, let me tell you about the story itself. We know from the two previous books that Beverly’s life is far from easy and when her beloved Buddy dies she’s finally had enough and takes off. At 14 with no money and only the clothes she’s wearing she lands in a new town where she manages to find some work and is taken in by a quirky but kindly old lady who becomes Beverly’s entrée into an atmosphere of caring. As some time goes by Beverly begins to establish positive relationships and meaningful friendships and eventually is able to rationalize her old life and how she might overcome the obstacles she faces.  Her newfound insight into herself enables her to move forward with confidence and determination.

Once again Kate has given us a memorable book. For me it will always be the book that turned my girl into a ‘reader’. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Kate diCamillo.