The Butterfly Dance – Suzanne Barton

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Allen & Unwin

Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing

ISBN: 9781408864845
ISBN-10: 1408864843
1st April 2017
RRP $24.99

Butterflies are very important in our house. We know when we see them that Mummy is watching and we can send her our messages.

So this beautiful happy book was very well received. Not only is it sweet and pretty but there is a lovely message as well.

Dotty and Stripe are the very best of caterpillar friends. They do everything together – chewing leaves, exploring and playing. One day the time comes for them to make themselves silky hammocks and sleep. What a surprise when they wake to find themselves transformed into butterflies! Flitting and flying around is very exciting but then they realise that all the dotty butterflies are in one part of the meadow and all the striped ones in another. They think they should hang out with their own kind but they miss each other dreadfully. What a relief to eventually find that in another part of the meadow all kinds of butterflies dance together!

Beautifully elegant illustrations swirl throughout as does the text. This is a visual delight.

Whether we are dotty or striped, being different to is no hindrance to being best friends or even being part of a larger group, that’s for sure.

Highly recommended for little people from around 3 years to 7 years.

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Amazing Australians in Their Flying Machines

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By Prue Mason and Kerry Mason
Illustrated by Tom Jellett

ISBN: 9781922244635
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
April 1, 2017

Australian RRP: $24.99

Daughter of an RAF Lancaster WO/AG and with a dear friend who was a Squadron Leader, then a commercial pilot (RIP Dad and Wal), you might think I’d be across most of Australia’s aviation history.  Instead, I find that I’ve missed quite a significant chunk of it!

This is just fabulous and one of the best information books I’ve reviewed for a while (surely a contender for the next CBC list?).

Looking at the history of ten leading aviators of Australian history from Dr William Bland in the 1850’s (who knew?) through icons such as Bert Hinkler and Nancy Bird Walton this is a fascinating time line. It includes technical information about flying in easy to understand terms, fun facts and an update on modern aviation.

The format is super. Each double spread features an imagined piece from the actual person, then a summary of their achievements with a side panel giving some other techno information.  With illustrations plus photographic it is also a visual delight.

This is a winner-winner for either boys or girls I would guess around ten years upwards.

How The Queen Found The Perfect Cup Of Tea

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By Kate Hosford
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

ISBN: 9781467739047
Imprint: Lerner PG – Carolrhoda Books
Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS

April 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

Life as the Queen is pretty luxurious. There are maids to help one get dressed each day and footmen to serve delicious beverages and food. Still, this particular Queen grows very dissatisfied especially with her daily cup of tea. To find out what is wrong with her brew she commands her butler to accompany her to find the perfect cup of tea. A whirlwind journey to Japan, India and back to England by hot air balloon leads the Queen to children of various cultures who invite her to make and share tea with them. The text includes step-by-step recipes for each brew which is quite lovely.

When the Queen returns to her palace she realises what is missing from her own cup of tea – friendship. The book finishes with a Queen who is not so dependent on her flunkies and a wonderful tea party for all her new friends. Ahhhhh, the perfect cup of tea at last!

A very different way to examine some self growth, this is beautifully illustrated and a delight to read.

Recommended for children from about 7 years upwards.

Henry and the Yeti – Russell Ayto

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ISBN: 9781408876619
Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens

March 2017

RRP $12.99

Henry is positive that yetis exist even though no one else nor has proven it either way. Despite ridicule from non-believers, Henry determines to go on an expedition to discover the truth himself. He packs carefully and of course includes a camera to take pictures of the elusive creature. The journey is long and arduous but he is rewarded at last when a HUGE yeti finds him and they have a wonderful time playing and taking ‘selfies’.  When Henry sets off home again, he once again packs all his gear carefully and arrives home triumphantly – but alas! No camera. Just as he is facing the jeers of the disbelievers again, his yeti turns up  – with the camera! Huzzah!

A terrific story for little people about never giving up and believing in yourself.

Recommended for young readers up to about 7 years old.

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill – Megan Shepherd/Levi Penfold

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By Megan Shepherd
Illustrated by Levi Pinfold

 

ISBN: 9781406367584
Imprint: Walker
Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS
October 1, 2016
Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99

Just to continue on my ‘historical’ trail for the day, this is a simply beautiful novel which I read a few months ago and let slip down to the bottom of the pile (thank goodness for holiday cleaning frenzies!).

Set in Second World War England, Emmaline has been evacuated away from the bombs. But this is not just about escaping bombardment to safety, because Emmaline along with many other children of the time contracted tuberculosis. My knowledge of history is not deep for this period, despite having had a RAF father in Bomber Command and I certainly had never realised that due to the cramped and often unsanitary living conditions resulting from bomb devastation TB was rife, particularly amongst children.

Briar Hill Hospital in Shropshire has its fill of these poor kids many of whom were destined not to survive. Emmaline is not one of the worst – at first – and when she arrives she makes an amazing secret discovery. There are winged horses in the many mirrors at Briar Hill. Only she can see them and they call to her constantly.

She first discovers a beautiful horse called Firefox outside the mirrors and in the garden but it seems that she is not alone in this secret. The handyman Thomas appears to have some uncanny connection as well. Emmaline fights her disease but also begins a battle with the Black Horse, who wants to take the horses away. She writes to the Horse Lord – and he responds. But the Horse Lord cannot protect everyone and everything and soon Emmaline begins to see the purpose of the existence of the winged horses.

This is richly imaginative in both writing and illustrations, a wonderful and poignant tale of love and loss, the power of words and writing and fantasy.

Highly recommended for children from around 10 years upwards

The Turnkey – Allison Rushby

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ISBN: 9781925126921
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
March 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $16.99

More mystery and history and another great read following my last post. Clearly a talent for beautiful writing and an interest in history runs in this family!

In this gripping story the mystery and history are wrapped up in a spooky supernatural plot. Flossie Birdwhistle is twelve and the youngest turnkey in living (or not living) memory. A turnkey is the guardian and keeper of a cemetery and Flossie’s responsibility is huge given that she is in charge of one of London’s oldest and most well-known graveyards, Highgate.  As such she must ensure that those in her care must be kept safe and undisturbed in their eternal rest.  Difficult at any time, during World War II, with London being blitzed beyond comprehension Flossie’s task is even greater.

This charge becomes even more complex when Flossie comes upon the ghost of a German soldier who appears to be carrying a strange object. Her suspicions aroused, Flossie begins to investigate and before too long is embroiled in a very sinister plot which threatens not only her cemetery but her country at large.

Fascinating and intriguing, this is a novel that will be loved by readers from around 9 or 10 years old.

How marvellous to read two fabulous novels both with such unusual plots and such strong ‘Mighty Girl’ protagonists in just a few weeks!

Highly recommended for your library shelves – and yourself!

Rose Ravensthorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers – Janine Beacham

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Rose Ravensthorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers – Janine Beacham

MAR 28, 2017 | 9781510201286 | RRP $14.99

Hachette Au.

Imprint: Little Brown Books for Children

This has been one of my favourite reads of the past few weeks. Described as “The Clockwork Sparrow meets Downton Abbey”  it is really energetic and engaging novel.

Rose is meant to be a properly brought up young lady but somewhat rebels against this classification and when butlers all over London begin to be murdered including her own beloved Argyle, Rose determines to find out the truth.

Set in a quite Edwardian period Rose teams up with her not-so-bright friend and discovers a hidden world of secret guardians of York – butlers sworn to protect and serve.

Amidst complications of grave robbers, her father’s mission to destroy the opium trade from the Far East and an over-the-top magician, Rose becomes a trusted ally of the butlers’ secret society.  As the butlers wield their concealed rapiers, Rose unravels the dark reason behind the murders and triumphs exultantly.

Despite the darkness of the murders this is what I would describe as a ‘fun’ read. The prose simply rolls along and one must turn the page quickly to keep going until the denouement.

With mystery and history and a judicious splash of humour, this is a terrific addition to your library shelves for readers from around 9 or 10 upwards. I’m definitely looking forward to the next instalment!

 

Running From the Tiger – Aleesah Darlison

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Empowering Resources

September 2016

ISBN 9780994501066

RRP $15.00

Empowering Resources is an independent publishing company dedicated to informing, discussing and enabling both children and adults to engage in ‘meaningful dialogue’ about important social issues.

Aleesah Darlison is an award-winning author (and resident of the beautiful Sunshine Coast!) who is unafraid to tackle topics which will raise awareness and be thought-provoking reads.

Domestic abuse is one of those issues which is so prevalent in our society that it is completely frightening and it is no wonder that so many voices are being raised to address this insidious and often fatal flaw in our so-called civilised modern world.

Running from the Tiger is a powerful and purposeful combination of author’s voice and topical problem which could be shared, with caution, with any person trapped in a cycle of abuse.

Eleven year old Ebony is the oldest of three girls. Mum is expecting another baby and Dad, who does not deserve that appellation is a misogynistic drunken no-hoper who takes his inadequacies out on his family. In particular, Ebony cops the brunt of his physical and mental abuse.  Isolated from true friendship and with no one to share her frightening home life (her mother being totally ineffectual) Ebony suffers in silence.

But when new girl Teena arrives at their small country school, Ebony finds her first real friend. Both girls have secrets and both girls discover in each other strength which grows as their trust and friendship deepens.

Aside from the actual violence of Ebony’s father, a disturbing thing is the fact that to her community this ongoing abuse is invisible. Even those who might suspect – or indeed, Teena’s father who confirms her tragic circumstances – do nothing to help her. Having experienced this type of situation first-hand I would urge anyone who suspects that something may be amiss with a child or even adult should report their concerns to appropriate agencies.

With Teena’s support Ebony begins to find her voice and resilience to stop her father. I would have liked to see him hauled away to some kind of Azkaban personally.

This is realistic fiction at its grittiest and most confronting. I suggest that this be reserved for senior primary students and be prepared to debrief if necessary.  I can certainly see it being used by guidance officers for children who are coming to terms with such home situations and in need of extra affirmation that sometimes standing up for yourself is the only way.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile – Laura Amy Schlitz & Brian Floca

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ISBN: 9780763648220
Imprint: Candlewick
Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS

April 1, 2017

Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99

Newbery medallist Laura Amy Schlitz and Caldecott Medalist Brian Floca have teamed up to produce this absolutely delightful easy chapter book about a sweet little princess and a rather roguish crocodile.

Most little girls would love to be a princess but they would surely change their mind if they had to be Princess Cora. Her mother and father have very definite views on how their only child should be raised to take up her position. Her father says Princesses must be strong so Cora must skip rope for hours. Her mother says Princesses must be knowledgeable so poor Cora has to stew over the most boring books ever every afternoon. And her Nanny says Princesses must be clean so three baths a day it is for Cora. The poor thing has no time to play or do anything that is remotely fun. (Sounds like so many children who are so booked up with activities, they have no time to just be kids!)

She really wishes she had a little dog. At least that would be company and good fun.

So Cora writes a letter to her godmother – and as all good fairy godmothers would there is a swift response. But Cora’s desired pet is not a dog – it’s a crocodile!

You can well imagine the resulting chaos when the crocodile, determined to help Cora, sets about ‘fixing’ things for her.

Like all good fairy tales, this has a happy and humorous ending for all.  This is simply great fun throughout with terrific illustrations and beautiful presentation.

Highly recommended for readers from about 6 to 9, I foresee this will be a big hit in our library next term.

Bronze Bird Tower: Dragonkeeper #6 – Carole Wilkinson

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Walker Books

ISBN: 9781925381412
Imprint: Black Dog Books
March 2017
Australian RRP: $24.99

In 2002 Carole Wilkinson introduced us to a small downtrodden Chinese girl with no name and a marvellous world of beautiful, mysterious and terrible dragons. Set in ancient China where dragon hunters and warring feudal lords, oppression of the miserable poor and contemptuous dismissal of females were commonplace, the girl who became Ping the honoured dragon keeper is a heroic figure.

Six books later 400 years have passed in the history of the dragons and their keepers and now Ping’s descendant Tao, a young Buddhist boy partly trained as a monk, and Kai, the dragon Ping cared for as a hatchling are escaping from the dreaded Jilong, avowed dragon hater, and his horde of nomads.

They finally reach their destination, the dragon haven, where Kai is destined to fulfil his role as leader and Tao hopes to become dragon keeper for all dragons only to find much is amiss with the remaining dragons. A mysterious sickness afflicts the beasts and that is only the beginning of the many trials Tao must overcome before he, and Kai, can attain their desire and destiny.

There are, as usual, so many beautiful moments and themes in this latest instalment – the strength that resides within even the smallest of sentient beings, the connections between all living things, the loyalty and faith of friends, acceptance of differences and more. So much richness in Carole’s writing always has readers hooked in readers from the very start and so many of us have eagerly anticipated each forthcoming new adventure.

This is ostensibly (is that a perhaps Carole?) the final in the saga but we can all hope that we may yet get to find out if the future of the dragons is assured.

Read more about the series and Tao’s guide to dragons here.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.