Monthly Archives: December 2020

Bath Time: Kitty is Not a Cat – Bogan Entertainment Solutions/ Jess Black

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Hachette

OCT 27, 2020 | 9780734419798 | RRP $9.99

5 Minutes with Jess Black

The TV show that has enchanted young viewers continues to draw them in further with the books that are just perfect for newly independent readers.

Kitty has a very bad cough so of course her cat family all try to help, with varying suggestions none of which seem entirely useful. When Kitty coughs up a furball the cats all realise that the little girl has been following their example of grooming styles when in fact what she really should do is have a bath. A BATH! That’s definitely not the cat way so it takes quite some persuasion to get Kitty into the tub but once she’s there she realises that in some ways she’s far more human than cat!

Again another delightful story from the creators of these charming characters and one that will be a very popular read with your littlies from around 5 years upwards.

You could even check out the Kitty website here for some inspired stocking fillers and wonderful holiday activities!!

Two for Tweens/Teens

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Well here we are a week out from Christmas 2020 and while you likely have most of your shopping sorted you may just still be tearing your hair out for the age group that always seems to be the hardest to please.

These two titles have been thoroughly vetted by The Kid who approves of them with enthusiasm, the content being two of her favourite topics.

We Love Billie Eilish: her life, her music, her story

Allen & Unwin

Publisher: Mortimer Imprint: Wellbeck

November 2020

ISBN: 9781839350252

RRP: $14.99

Table Of Contents:Welcome • Profile: Billie • The Story So Far • Profile: Finneas • Don’t Smile at Me • 9 Reasons We Love Billie • When We Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? • Billie By Numbers • Music Videos • Speaking Out • Promoting Change • Gallery: iconic looks • Quiz: Your Billie look • Awards and Nominations • Influences • How to Be the Ultimate Fan • Top Billie Quotes • Spot the Difference • Hair gallery • Songwriting Process • Things You Didn’t Know • Gallery: Performance highlights • 2020 Tour • Quiz: How Well Do You Know Billie? • The Future.

She’s probably be one of the most talked about performers this year and by all accounts a great role model for young people. Still just 19 this young woman has risen to the pinnacle of stardom by staying true to herself whether that’s with her music, her style or her advocacy.

Young fans will gobble up the facts and images in this attractive informational text and perhaps find their own inspiration to create. With stats galore, packed with fabulous photos, quizzes and with loads of quotes from both Billie herself as well as her family this will be a highly-prized addition to a bookshelf. I foresee many of our students going wild to get their hands on it (we had put it on our orders list when it was first promoted!).

‘I’m not going to say I’m cool, because I don’t feel that. I just don’t care at all, and I guess that’s what people think is cool.’

Show your cool and get this one into the hands of some young thing who knows their stars.

Recommended for kiddos from around 10 years upwards.

The Ultimate Fan Book Tik Tok Famous – Malcolm Croft

December 2020

ISBN: 9781838610760

Publisher: Welbeck

RRP: $14.99

We might all shake our collective heads at the ubiquitous social media sensation – and of course, are cautious about the content – but there’s no denying there has never been anything quite like this phenomenon in my experience.

The Kid loves watching the dance clips and for her it’s just an amusing diversion but for some it’s a huge money-spinner like no other. This book gives the facts and photos about the virtual superstars who have gone viral around the world.

Beginning with a general introduction to the app that’s taken the world by storm the content is then categorised: houses, people, artists, music and fashion which kids will no doubt find fascinating (as they plan their own stellar future digital careers). The book concludes with some rising stars and a very handy guide on How to be Tik Tok Famous which I’m sure they will love!

Given that over the past few years approximately half the secondary students I’ve asked re their potential future careers have given the response ‘I’m going to be a YouTuber’ I feel sure that answer has probably been overtaken by the hullabaloo that is Tik Tok.

Recommended for readers from around 8 upwards.

The Quokka’s Guide to Happiness – Alex Cearns

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Harper Collins Australia

  • December 2020
  • ISBN: 9780733341090
  • ISBN 10: 0733341098
  • Imprint: ABC Books – AU
  • List Price: 24.99 AUD

If you are looking for a last-minute gift for someone – including yourself – this delightful gem will tick a lot of boxes for anyone you care to make smile. Quokkas really are one of the most easily anthropomorphised animals surely and their antics in seemingly posing for selfies with endless tourists has become known around the globe.

Now Alex Cearns has combined stunning photographs of these delightful little marsupials with pithy and potent quotes from great minds (particularly writers) ranging from Virgil to Shakespeare, Lincoln to Mary Shelley and more.

It’s petite size and handsome hardback binding make for a perfect stocking stuffer – that being said, I love it so much I’m keeping it 🙂 as a lovely addition to my small table of ‘inspiration’ I have in my library :-).

Why not rush out and grab a copy or two now? You know you can’t resist the quokkas!!!

Serpentine: a short story from the world of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust – Philip Pullman

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Penguin Australia

  • November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241475249
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Hardback
  • RRP: $16.99

Naturally I read it immediately! Pullman explains that following His Dark Materials ‘Lyra and her world wouldn’t leave [him] alone’ and he wrote this short story following a request for a contribution to a fund-raising even for the National Theatre. Given that the NT had staged a wonderful production of His Dark Materials he was happy to do so and gratified that this story made a generous amount of money. Sixteen years later and two books into The Book of Dust Pullman felt it time to share this story which foreshadows so perfectly the heart-breaking dilemma in which Lyra and Pantalaimon find themselves in the new series.

Lyra and Pan return to the North accompanying an Oxford archaeological dig giving Lyra the perfect opportunity to re-visit the meaningful memories of her younger self and especially to talk with Dr Lanselius Consul to the witches. She is desperate to find an answer to the question that has plagued and grieved her since she separated from Pan whimpering on that jetty. What had Pan done, what had he seen and where had he been? How did he manage on his own? The pair may have become comfortable with their ability to part but Lyra has never been reconciled to the difference between them that it has created nor can she ask Pan himself about this sensitive matter. This gulf between them, as we know, becomes irreconcilable and a crucial element in The Book of Dust, particularly The Secret Commonwealth.

We may not have the answers but at least we begin to understand the true pain of the separation which is so much more than a physical one.

Lovers of Pullman’s world will delight in this little addition to their collection – and what a perfect little stocking filler it makes!!

This one stays on my shelf – enough recommendation I think for anyone.

The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home – Joanna Nell

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Hachette

Trade Paperback: OCT 27, 2020 | 9780733642869 | RRP $32.99

While the wind howls wildly and the rain is falling constantly this is the perfect read to take a break from the busyness of Christmas preparations and just relax. Light-hearted and witty the antics of this group of senior citizens will entertain you and demonstrate that old age does not equal abandonment of living life to it’s fullest.

Retired nature writer, Hattie Bloom, has lived her entire life in the home she and her parents shared with her wild garden full of birds for the only company she wanted. A nasty fall puts her into the Woodlands Nursing Home and as she has no family to care for her it is there she must stay – very reluctantly. She is determined to ‘escape’ the confines of this annoyingly noisy and peopled place as she chafes against the loss of her solitary independence.

She’s not the only one to be determined to resume her own self-sufficient existence. Walter Clements, widower and retired driving instructor, who fancies himself as not only an excellent comedian but also a ‘ladies’ man’ is set on returning to his home and life once he has been assessed as capable and fit to manage his brand-new mobility scooter. These two not only clash in temperament but in the physical sense when Walter barrels his scooter into Hattie badly injuring her and further delaying her rehabilitation process.

At the clandestine meeting of The Night Owls, a very unofficial group run by the innovative and unconventional Sister Bronwyn, the pair have their official meeting but remain at odds. That is, until the late-night hijinks are uncovered and Sister Bronwyn is dismissed summarily with a very dodgy replacement installed. Hattie and Walter join forces to rescue both Sister Bronwyn and the Night Owls along with the only joys and pleasures their group of fellow oldies have.

This is hilarious, poignant and often surprising but there are also some serious undertones that give pause for thought around how our older citizens are treated in some facilities as well as some inspiration on how things could be changed for the better in such places.

While essentially a light and hugely enjoyable read of the laugh-out-loud kind the reader cannot help but reflect on aging, love, community and friendship but it is thoroughly heartening and it would be a hard to please reader who could not find it a worthwhile read.

Highly recommended for your holiday pleasure!

I’m a Hero Too – Jamila Rizvi/Peter Cheong

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Penguin Australia

October 2020

  • ISBN: 9781761040115
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $19.99

While it goes without saying that all of us have had some difficulties, at the very least, in adjusting to the strange and sometimes scary year that we’ve had it is perhaps most hard for little folks who can often struggle to understand the reasons for some changes.

This is the perfect book to engage with your littlest peeps to discuss and explain the impact of Covid. Arty is your regular kid who loves playing with his friends whether at kinder or the playground, visiting Granny for cooking and cuddles and just doing the everyday things with his family. The virus swept so much of that away that it can be hard to adapt for these little humans but Arty knows that he can be a hero just like his mum, who is a scientist working hard on the vaccine development.

How can our small people be heroes too? They can be just like Arty – remembering all the important things like washing hands carefully, sneezing into an elbow, not drinking from the bubblers and keeping fingers away from eyes and mouths.

This is a book for now and I would suggest, as the school year draws to its close around Australia, for your first week back at school in 2021. While we are all, as one, hopeful that the Covid situation will improve as the vaccines begin to roll out and science gains an ever-growing more accurate analysis of its nature it will still be vitally important for little people (as well as big ones!) to be mindful of these now established hygiene practices.

If this isn’t already in your collection make sure you have it ready for the children at the very beginning of Term 1. It is simply but effectively told with engaging illustrations and will empower your little peeps to be everyday heroes for each other.

Highly recommended for kiddos from around 3 years upwards.

The Tree – Graeme Base

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Penguin Australia

  • November 2020
  • ISBN: 9781760897048
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $24.99

Yet again Graeme Base gives us the most beautiful picture book with a charming story that cloaks a hugely important message for all.

This is the story of a cow, a duck and a very big tree.

When two friends discover an enormous tree both are thrilled especially with the mooberries and mushquacks it provides. They become so absorbed in their new-found goodies each forgets the other is there. The situation becomes even worse when a big storm comes along and although the tree bends and survives, both Cow and Duck become jealous of each other and determine to protect their own part of the tree. Their fortifications of above and below become so extreme and so stressful for the tree that when the next storm comes along, the tree does not bend – instead it is smashed apart and neither of the friends has their guarded space.

It takes a long time but eventually a new young sapling begins to grow amidst the ruin of the old tree and this time Cow and Duck work together to protect it and share the good things it provides with all who come. A timely lesson indeed for the imperative facing each and every one of us – to protect and share our natural abundance, without selfishness and greed.

Children as young as Prep will enjoy the humour of the story and delight in finding the other creatures tucked away in each illustration, in typical Base style, but will also be able to comprehend the message. I foresee many rich and deep discussions arising from sharing of this outstanding new offering from one of Australia’s most celebrated creators.

Highly recommended for children from around 4 years upwards .

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares [Netflix tie-in edition] – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

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Allen & Unwin

November 2020

ISBN 9780593309605

RRP: $19.99

You may recall that not long ago I reviewed Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily and totally fell in love with these characters, so I was super happy to receive this tie-in with the forthcoming Netflix series (woot! now that’s going to be fun!) and find out how it all began. This first outing with this lovely pair of characters is also set at Christmas time so it makes for great timing as a gift book for a teen in your circle.

Lily is a sweet unsophisticated 16 year old not very lucky with boys and decides, on an impulse, to take her brother’s advice about casting her net wider. She leaves a gorgeous red moleskine on a certain shelf in her favourite bookstore with some cryptic dares written in it, hoping that just the right guy will find it and take up her challenge. Dash (by name and nature) is the boy who picks up the book and rises to the adventure. The ensuing development of their relationship unfolds over various dares and clues left for each other as they share deep thoughts and dreams in the talisman notebook. It certainly seems they are falling in love – on paper at least – but can their budding relationship work in real time?

The path of true love doesn’t always run smoothly as we all know and there are some tricky hiccups along the way with an assortment of equally delightful secondary characters helping – or at times hindering – the pair as their quirky game roams all across New York City.

I had already talked the first one I reviewed up big time to my ChocLit kiddos and will certainly be doing the same with this one – although with the Netflix series coming out I will probably not have to do so much in the way of promotion to those kids at least! It will certainly help to engage some of my more reluctant readers however and that’s always a good thing.

There is some bad language (minimal) in this one and certainly some scenes with drinking – but these are handled with good taste and a good subliminal moral tacked on – but just so you are aware if putting it in your library collection – probably for your Year 9s upwards, in my opinion.

I would highly recommend adding these to your collection for older readers who love some romance blended with some witty and intelligent writing.

Harry Potter Christmas Bliss!

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Well didn’t I feel so special when the lovely Bloomsbury Australia folk sent me these – knowing full well my HP obsession! And they will make the most highly-sought after Christmas gifts for any PotterHead in your circle too!!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: MinaLima edition

By J.K. Rowling
Illustrator: MinaLima

Published:20-10-2020
Format:Hardback
ISBN:9781526626585
Imprint:Bloomsbury Children’s Books
RRP$49.99

Even the Kid (not a HP fan – where have I failed???) thinks this is just superb! It’s the Philosopher’s Stone as you’ve never seen it before with simply stunning papercraft embellishments throughout as well as stylish bordered pages, full colour illustrations and arguably the most handsome binding I’ve ever encountered.

My able assistant agreed to show you just a couple of the enchanting surprises. First the entry to the Grynffindor common room – swing the Fat Lady’s portrait out to reveal the interior of the cosy room we all wish we could visit.

Next up this amazing fold out of Diagon Alley – have you got your sickles and galleons ready to spend? Just tap the right brick – away you go!

I suppose you could buy it for a child of your acquaintance – but really I think it will be we adults who will revel in this the most!

Christmas at Hogwarts: a movie scrapbook – Warner Bros

Bloomsbury Children’s Books

November 2020

ISBN: 9781526628244

RRP: A$29.99 NZ $32.99

Another perfect Christmas gift filled with not only glorious stills from the movies including Harry’s first Christmas at Hogwarts, in The Burrow and the holiday spent in Grimmauld Place but with the most delightful inserts of various kinds: stickers, bookmarks, sketch designs of costumes, concept illustrations as well as other insights.

There are reflections from both the actors and film makers along with special informational pieces on decorating and festive traditions in the magical sphere. Christmas as celebrated by the witches and wizards we’ve come to love like family is a bright and beautiful experience and it would be a very hard-to-please recipient who wouldn’t treasure this for their HP collection.

Needless to say these are staying right on my HP shelf which is fast becoming fuller and fuller – and very likely will continue to do so!!!

But do rush out and buy these for someone you love – trust me, they will be so filled with joy! Thank you again to the lovely Sonia from Bloomsbury who knows me so well!! What a fabulous gift with which to end a year of reviewing for this wonderful publishing company!!

PS – I’m already planning our Harry Potter Night event for the start of Term 1 2021! Let the magic continue to sparkle!

Love from Giraffes Can’t Dance – Giles Andreae/Guy Parker-Rees

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Hachette

JAN 12, 2021 | 9781408364833 | RRP $14.99

Giraffes Can’t Dance is surely one of the most well-loved and well-used picture books of recent years with its simple but effective message about being unafraid to be different – and of course, being tolerant. Now the littlest readers can experience the joy of Giraffe’s wisdom with this absolutely gorgeous board book with its expression of pure love.

I adore this little book and am very inclined to keep this (despite the groaning, protesting bookshelves) as it is just so beautiful.

Each double spread expresses a sentiment that will have both reader and listener snuggling up together with love.

Everything makes music if you really want it to,

so listen to the lovely song of shining stars above…

Make no mistake, it’s simple but hugely effective – get it onto your shelves or into the hands of your favourite tiny person.

Love love love!! For publication in around a month, now is the time to pre-order!!