Author Archives: Sue Warren

About Sue Warren

Teacher-librarian http://about.me/suewarren https://www.pinterest.com/losangz/

This is Banjo Paterson – Tania McCartney/Christina Booth

Standard

this-is-banjo-paterson

NLA Publishing

February 2017

ISBN 9780642278982

RRP $24.99

 

Those of us of a certain age will most likely have grown up with the ballads of Andrew Barton Paterson. I was fortunate to share a love of the Banjo’s work with my father and would often perform his bush poetry as my ‘party piece’ for my parents’ friends.

Our younger readers may not be so familiar with the name but will most definitely know Waltzing Matilda and may even recognise The Man from Snowy River or Clancy of the Overflow. This wonderful and lively picture book will introduce the man behind the verse to a whole new generation.

Tania McCartney has a real gift for bringing the best of our Australian culture and icons to life for children and this book is further testament to her skill.  Her delightful re-tracing of Banjo’s childhood and later life is told simply but engagingly. The recurring dialogue (in an effective use of speech bubbles) underline the early beginnings of Banjo’s writing successes as the boy who loved to rhyme grows to a multi-talented man.

With a clever twist Christina Booth has provided charming illustrations which show the young Barty with his family, dogs and friends in a contemporary backyard setting to which young readers will instantly relate.

At the close of the book factual information and images are provided in a delightful newspaper facsimile brilliantly alluding to one of Banjo’s many talents – his journalistic writing. Selections of his poetry are also included and thorough teaching notes are also available from the publisher’s website.

On this, the anniversary of his birth in 1864, what better to honour the man who has become the human representation of the Australian bush and its many colourful characters, than sharing his story with the next generation of readers?

Highly recommended for primary aged children, as well as adult aficionados of the Bard from the Bush.

Happy birthday A.B – I believe you would be thrilled with this special tribute to your amazing life.

220px-banjo_patterson

A Monster Calls: Special Collector’s Edition (Movie Tie-in) –Patrick Ness {Siobhan Dowd}  . Illustrated by Jim Kay

Standard

monster

ISBN: 9781406365771
Imprint: Walker
November 1, 2016

Australian RRP: $34.99
New Zealand RRP: $37.99

I first fell in love with Patrick Ness’ writing with the much acclaimed and prize winning Chaos Walking trilogy. I had not read A Monster Calls until this gorgeous hardback edition, which marks the imminent release of the movie, arrived and I’ve fallen in love all over again.

What a master of flawless prose he is! and combined with the illustrative magic of Jim Kay (think the illustrated Harry Potter books) this is a book that a reader will return to again and again.

Author Siobhan Dowd had put forward an idea or concept for this novel but sadly succumbed to cancer before she could move forward with it. Her publishers thought it was such a valuable premise that they sought a writer who might do it justice. Patrick Ness was the perfect choice and created what is now considered a modern classic.

When young Conor realises that a nightmare has become real and there really is a monster in the garden and it has come for him, the reader is taken on an emotional journey that is moving, funny, profound and heartbreaking until the truth is revealed.

Conor’s recurring nightmare began when his mother’s treatments did and won’t end until he has accepted why the ancient and very wild monster has come for him and what he must do to send it back to its former slumber.

Along with the fully illustrated novel there are over one hundred pages of interviews, details, essays, stills and more from the movie, which promises to be every bit as powerful as the novel.

I read it in one sitting and savoured every moment. So many books arrive for review that they stack up in tottering piles and after review. I find them good homes either in our own library collection or passed on to those who could use them but this one is too beautiful to leave my shelves. It will be taken up and stroked for its aesthetic qualities and read for its marvellous writing and illustrations many times.

Highly recommended for Upper Primary and Secondary students as well as all adults who appreciate a truly remarkable read.

amonstercallspic.jpeg

Lift the flap fun from Bloomsbury

Standard

Lift-the-flap Friends Dinosaurs – Peter Allen

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781408864166

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Imprint: Bloomsbury Child

 

dinos

 

 

Lift-the-flap Friends Fairy – Peter Allen

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781408864159

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Imprint: Bloomsbury Child

fairy

Bloomsbury seem to have a special knack for interactive books and these two lift-the-flaps will be very well received by little readers.

Each page has not just one flap to lift but often several – so much to explore and delight the teeny ones.

The illustrations are bright and cheery and the books are a sturdy format and a good size for lots of handling.

 

$12.99 is a very small price to pay for a whole lot of joy and re-reading! More stocking fillers but this time for the smallest from about 0-3 years.

 

 

Push! Dig! Scoop! ; a construction counting rhyme – Rhonda Gowler Greene/Daniel Kirk

Standard

pushdig

Allen & Unwin

Push! Dig! Scoop! ; a construction counting rhyme – Rhonda Gowler Greene/Daniel Kirk

Allen & Unwin

November 2016

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s

ISBN: 9781408881668

RRP $9.99

 

What a darling book! I’m fascinated to learn that the author has been an elementary teacher for learning disabled children. She knows her stuff for sure. This is full of terrific rhyming, an engaging story and loads and loads of onomatopoeic language which will provide so much fun for young listeners/readers. It simply begs to be read aloud!

Mamas and Papas are down at the construction site with their little ones – who are learning to do all the things their parents do. Busily digging, scooping, making from the morning until it’s time for snuggles in the evening.

Count along with these busy vehicles and enjoy the ride!

I will definitely look out for others by this author – who has some twenty books to her credit.

Highly recommended for the little guys from 0-5 J.

 

 

November 2016

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s

ISBN: 9781408881668

RRP $9.99

 

What a darling book! I’m fascinated to learn that the author has been an elementary teacher for learning disabled children. She knows her stuff for sure. This is full of terrific rhyming, an engaging story and loads and loads of onomatopoeic language which will provide so much fun for young listeners/readers. It simply begs to be read aloud!

Mamas and Papas are down at the construction site with their little ones – who are learning to do all the things their parents do. Busily digging, scooping, making from the morning until it’s time for snuggles in the evening.

Count along with these busy vehicles and enjoy the ride!

I will definitely look out for others by this author – who has some twenty books to her credit.

Highly recommended for the little guys from 0-5 J.

 

 

Standard

Return of the Dinosaurs _- Bronwyn Houston

Magabala Books

November 2016

ISBN:9781925360370

RRP $17.99

Over the years as a teacher-librarian I’ve probably lost count of the number of dinosaur books, both factual and fictional, I’ve seen or read or bought or circulated. This is the first one I have ever seen which incorporates an awareness of First Australian culture as Bronwyn Houston imagines what might happen if the dinosaurs returned to Broome.

The vibrant illustrations and simple but amusing text will appeal to young children, both boys and girls, and would lead to many discussions around country and time for all.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a huge supporter of Magabala Books and that the importance of teaching the children in our classrooms or libraries the respect and reverence for the history of our First People is dear to my heart.

Explore the Kimberley vicariously with your readers in the new year and make sure you put this book on your ‘to buy’ list. You will not be disappointed I know.return_of_the_dinosaurs_high_res_

Happy Holidays for Everyone (especially parents!)

Standard

Here in Queensland, the independent schools broke up over a week ago and the state schools finished up last Friday. I can guarantee that there are already kids complaining about being bored!  Any of these will stop them in their tracks.

 

The Arty Book – Nikalas Catlow, David Sinden

artybook

Bloomsbury

September 2016

ISBN: 9781408870662

Imprint: Bloomsbury Activity Books

$16.99

When this first arrived in my pile of books I thought it would be a ‘how to’ book but in fact, it is a wonderfully interactive activity book for budding artists.

Each page has a minimal start to a new project for the reader. Whether this involves drawing, colouring, painting, applying tape or even leaves, the happy reader will spend hours creating their own take on the suggested idea.

A terrific holiday or rainy day book for anyone, this one is going to a very busy little seven year old.

 

The Anti-Boredom Christmas Book – Andy Seed

anti-boredom

Bloomsbury

December 2016

ISBN: 9781408870105

Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens

RRP $12.99

Now this will really hit a high note with any child who needs something to while waiting for Santa to arrive.

Find out how to say snow in 16 different languages; discover who banned Christmas carols; act out your own wacky routine of the Twelve Days of Christmas… and much much more!

Chock-a-block with many funny and fantastic facts, quizzes, games and other activities, this will guarantee any frazzled parent some quiet time.

Some hilarious artwork [Scott Garrett] adds to the overall festive flavour.  Andy Seed has also published some other anti-boredom books which may well be worth adding to your collection for  moments of the inevitable “Mum, I’m bored” moments.

My Lovely Christmas Book

lovelyxmas

Bloomsbury

November 2016

ISBN: 9781408883679

Imprint: Bloomsbury Activity

RRP $11.99

And yet another great book from Bloomsbury Activity, this one is full of colourful pages for the owner to cut and create projects such as frames or pockets, spaces to doodle and diarise, write poems or lists, make Christmas tags and much more.

There are simple activities like ‘spot the difference’ or mazes as well as whole pages for writing ‘what I like to eat at Christmas’ or thank you letters.

A really lovely and pretty book with its scarlet cover and green edged pages not to mention the lovely silvery title and robins on the front cover!

 

 

Series-ly Super Stocking Stuffers

Standard

superstocking

We all know that there are many of our children who absolutely eat up their favourite series. And what a way to keep them hooked on reading!

I’ve had a stack of new episodes come in recently so thought I would run through them all for your stocking filling information.

Not in any particular order (more like how I grabbed them from the various piles!):

Rangers’ Apprentice The Early Years 2 : The Battle of Hackham Heath

rangers

Penguin

ISBN 9781742759326

October 31, 2016

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $18.99

 

I’m actually only halfway through this but definitely need to put it top of the list.  Like so many others I love this series and was worried when the ‘final’ was published that we would have no more of the adventures.  Whew! Thank goodness John decided to provide us all with more of our fix with The Early Years.

 

Readers are discovering how Halt becomes the most successful of the rangers, despite the fact that he has not had the arduous long official apprenticeship and training of others. We are also privy to the growing romantic attachment between Halt and the beautiful Lady Rosalind.

More importantly we follow Halt’s dangerous and stealthy mission to track down and report on Morgarath’s mountain hideout and his recruitment of fearsome beings known as Wargals to form a new army. Araluen’s peace is not an easy one but more an anxious lull and it is up to Halt to learn exactly what the kingdom faces.  At the same time there is tension around the Queen’s much-anticipated pregnancy and Crowley is charged with keeping her safe as she undertakes a dangerous journey to ensure the baby’s delivery.

 

As always the reader is fully engaged in the world of the Rangers and their commitment to the kingdom.

 

I’m quite disappointed that the girls at my current college don’t seem to care for the series (though hoping to promote it next year) as I have always found that both boys and girls relish this fantasy fiction and eagerly wait for more instalments.

Highly recommended for adventure lovers from around 10 years upwards.

 

Dork Diaries: Frenemies Forever –  Rachel Renee Russell

dork-diaries-frenemies-forever-9781471158018_lg

Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster Children’s UK |

ISBN 9781471158018 |

November 2016

RRP

AU$ 19.99

NZ$ 22.99

 

On the other hand this is a series that our girls go crazy for! This is the 11th instalment and the troubles for Queen of the Dorks, Nikki Maxwell just keep rolling on.

 

The very exciting news is that Nikki has been accepted (as part of the ‘school transfer’ program at her own school) to spend a week at prestigious North Hampton Hills. This is the way cool school – very ‘preppy’ and she is suitably thrilled to be spending her week there.

 

Except for one teeny problem, her arch-nemesis Mackenzie started at the school just recently and she will have to deal with her on a daily basis.

 

But that issues pales into insignificance when the ruling queen bee of NHH, Tiffany, decides to make things very unpleasant indeed.

 

Ouch! It seems as though Nikki and Mackenzie may need to sign a truce to deal with this horrible girl and survive her week of preppy school life.

 

Girls from 10 years upwards just adore this series and no doubt will pounce on this latest one as well.

 

 

Double Down: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11 – Jeff Kinney

wimpy
Penguin Australia

9780143309338

November 1, 2016

Puffin (AU YR)

 

Without a doubt one of the most popular series for kids, this one appeals to both boys and girls and I know in my libraries, the copies become as dog-eared and tatty as can be as they are read and re-read. It is a continual mission keeping copies up to scratch!

 

I could pretend I’m all highbrow and find them beneath my reading contempt but the truth is they make me laugh out loud (have had some weird looks given me when reading them in public and snorting into my coffee).

 

Poor old Greg is the ultimate in anti-heroes. His mum (always good value) is on a mission. She thinks Greg is spending far too much time on (video) games and that his brain will soon turn to jelly and dribble out of his ears.  She thinks it’s high time that he begins to explore his ‘creative side’.  Oh dear.

 

Add some Halloween into the mix with scary things coming at Greg from all angles and there’s a recipe for hilarity right there.

 

When Greg comes up with a plan to quell his mother’s nagging – and possibly become rich and famous – by making his own movie, you just know it’s going to be a complete disaster!

 

Boys and girls from around 8 years upwards will go crazy for this latest.

 

How to Beat Genghis Khan in an Arm Wrestle – Nick Falk/Tony Flowers

genghis

Penguin Australia

ISBN 9780143780342

August 29, 2016

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $14.99

 

This is the second in the latest crazy series from this equally crazy pair of creators. (Having seen them in action earlier this year, I can definitely verify their madness!)

Sid has spent literally hours working on his own comic – we all know his drawings skills are legendary – and when Zac, the biggest bully ever, steals it Sid is determined to get it back.  The problem is that Zac will only return it if Sid beats him in an arm wrestle.

 

Time to call in reinforcements in the shape of Sid’s neighbour Professor Skeletron who uses his super-powers to calculate that Sid’s chances of beating Zac are pretty abysmal but with his usual cunning skills comes up with a plan. All they need is a Time Rescrambler so that Sid can ‘rewind’ and take on Zac ten times, eventually winning.

 

Sounds simple – until the rewind button jams and the pair, along with Sid’s little sister, find themselves in their new predicament – back in the time of the Mongol Empire’s most feared leader, Genghis Khan. Worse – the mighty Khan gets his hand on their gadget.

 

Hilarity ensues as usual. Recommended for girls and boys from around 8 years upwards.

 

Danny Best #2 Never Wrong – Jen Storer/Mitch Vane

dannybest

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780733333347

ISBN 10: 0733333346

Imprint: ABC Books – AU

On Sale: 01/11/2016

List Price: 17.99 AUD

Here’s my recommendation for this second in the Danny Best series. I read it aloud to a very tough Year 4 class while doing a relief teaching day and it was the ONLY time during the day that they were all quiet with no shenanigans happening.

Given the format (similar to those above) with little text, interesting fonts and ‘inserts’ along with wickedly funny illustrations as well as the raucously funny scenarios in the short stories, this is a real winner.

Danny’s meddling with his mum’s folk art sculpture, his subsequent ‘mending’ of it and his big sister’s ultimate triumph over him is a killer. But the obstacle course is wildly funny as well.  My feral 4s even jumped in to answer the quiz questions at the end of each story.

 

All in all, a great success for the day but also for your readers so why not grab both #1 and #2 to pop into someone’s parcel?

Chronologica: the Incredible Years that Defined History – compiled by the Whitaker’s Almanack team

Standard

chronologica

Allen & Unwin Australia

Imprint; Bloomsbury

ISBN
9781472932945

December 2016

RRP $ 34.99

This is exactly the kind of book I would have loved as a rather nerdy child. I had quite the obsession with books of ‘general knowledge’ and random facts and perused them for hours.  Clearly, why I love trivia competitions so much now!

Since December 1868, the famous Whitaker’s Almanack has been published in the UK chockfull of all the year’s happenings. As an iconic publication, the work has been referenced in other literary texts from Stoker’s Dracula to Fleming’s Moonraker.

This volume spans 100 years and devotes three pages to each year featured covering several topics.

For example, 1789 – why was this year important? George Washington was elected as the first American president, sailors mutinied on HMS Bounty and the Storming of the Bastille initiated the French Revolution.

I have had such fun ‘dipping’ into it over the past few days and I know that kids with similar tastes will love doing so as well.  There is something to fascinate all types of tastes from popular culture (when was Nintendo founded, the creation of the first pizza) to more serious historical events.

For your non-fiction reader, this would be a terrific addition to Christmas shopping and would certainly keep him/her absorbed for quite some time over the holidays!

Highly recommended for children from around ten upwards.

Christmas is Coming…

Standard

And it would always be incomplete without The Nutcracker.

Two beautiful new books celebrate 200 years since the first publication of Hoffman’s story and the exquisite 1954 rendition of the ballet from George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet.

The Nutcracker – Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann
Illustrated by Robert Ingpen

nutcracker

Walker Books

ISBN: 9781922244550
Imprint: Walker Books Australia

Australian RRP: $39.99
New Zealand RRP: $44.99

Hoffman’s original German publication has rarely been translated in full to English but this new bicentennial edition celebrates that first publication ably translated by Anthea Bell.

Of course Hoffman’s story remains timeless and is arguably most famous for being the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s much-loved ballet, performed all over the world and especially as part of the traditional Christmas festivities.

For me the real highlight of this volume is it’s continuation of the Illustrated Children’s Classics series, with the absolutely superb illustrations of [Australian] Robert Ingpen.

I know that many have their favourites in this series – mine: Treasure Island and The Jungle Book – but the exquisitely detailed artwork ensure this will be a sought after volume for those who both love the story, Ingpen’s magnificent work and of course the ballet.

If you are looking for a special gift for a lover of any of these, this is the book for you.

If you are especially seeking the perfect present for a ballet lover then make sure you also buy the next book in this review.

The Nutcracker – The New York City Ballet: Illustrated by Valeria Docampo

the-nutcracker-9781471161162_lg

Simon & Schuster Children’s UK |

ISBN 9781471161162 |

November 2016

List Price

AU$ 24.99

NZ$ 28.99

The NYC Ballet is well known both for bringing the story of ballet to young readers and for its outstanding production of The Nutcracker. The company’s performance of this ballet is considered the penultimate around the world. In 1948 George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirsten founded the company and Balanchine’s ‘quintessential’ production of The Nutcracker remains the benchmark for all others.

The storyline follows the choreography of the ballet and the illustrations are based on the actual sets and costumes of the production. For young (or old) readers this will be a virtual attendance at the performance so loved by so many.

For all the ballet dancers or those who love the ballet, this would make a beautiful Christmas present.

Now that school holidays have arrived, I will be spending time catching up with piles and piles of review books. Some will be posted during the holidays, others scheduled for the new school year.

In the meantime, I wish you all and your families a safe and super festive season, from me and mine.

happy-xmas

Peggy and Me – Miranda Hart

Standard

peggy

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.