Middle school readers fell in love with Grace’s adventures in her first book, Grace’s Secrets, and they will love this next instalment as Grace and her friend, Millie, continue to slip between past and present investigating mysteries and becoming acquainted with literary greats of the past.
Grace and her mother are settling beautifully into Faerie Castle, with the fun of Victorian-themed weekends, their guests, and, certainly, the added excitement of the girls setting up their beautiful olde-worlde style stationery shop is bringing much joy.
Once again the enchanted map leads the girls into a strange adventure in which they are mistaken for sisters, Georgiana and Theodora, who were meant to arrive at the castle of the past but did not. It’s up to Grace and Ellie to rescue these sisters it seems, along with Grace’s precious pup Coco, who is dog-napped by the same villain who has captured the girls.
As they dip in and out of the castle’s history, the girls become firm friends with Mamie – perhaps better known to some as May Gibbs, creator of the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie stories – as well as J. M. Barrie – playwright and storyteller who gave the world Peter Pan and the wonderful Beatrix Potter. Fortunately, they are able to outwit the villains, rescue the missing girls and, along the way, provide inspiration to these legendary creators.
This is such a delightful adventure that will enchant your readers who love to hear of historical people, particularly ‘bookish’ folk, and who relish the thought of living an almost double life – enjoying the wonders of modern life as well as savouring some of the beauty and elegance of times past.
My own thrill comes with the my own little mention – as Grace’s much missed teacher-librarian back in Broome – thank you Louise for such an honour !
Highly recommended for your readers from around Year 3/4 upwards. It is a must have for your collection!
It’s been a rather hectic time the past month or so. A new school, a new job always presents its challenges and a special kind of tiredness but in this – dare I say – year of unprecedented circumstances, perhaps even moreso. While I’ve done a fair bit of reading after crawling into bed exhausted each night, weekends have been so full that time to write reviews has been at a premium. Now I’m ready to rock and roll again and so I’m kicking off with a swag of Christmas books, both new and older – most for your little peeps but one for the discerning grown-ups as well.
Christmas Tales – William McInnes
OCT 27, 2020 | 9780733644733 | RRP $32.99
No doubt you know William for his extensive acting career but if you haven’t had the joy of reading any of his books why not make a start with this one? Of course, I am a little biased given our shared Redcliffe connection as well as the fact that I’ve had the joy of meeting him several times but he really is a supremely acute observer and hilarious raconteur which makes his memoir writing just delicious.
I can’t help it if I’m a boring conservative dag, but I love Christmas, always have and hopefully always will. Whatever brand of faith you fly under, even if you proclaim you don’t have one, Christmas is a time of generosity, good citizenship and decency.
This is a collection of anecdotes about celebrating Christmas as a child, a young man and now an older adult with many references to our home town but also peeks into other settings. All are laced with William’s own brand of quintessentially laconic larrikin humour and his unfailing ability to pinpoint the kernel of hilarity in each situation. Naturally I particularly loved the many insights into Christmas times in Redcliffe past but the acerbity is not confined to these.
Anyone with a fancy for some light and witty reading will love this – Australian readers will recognise many of the ‘types’ in characters and situations described but I would also suggest that if you have overseas friends to whom you gift, this would make a truly epic present. Of course, buying oneself a treat is always completely justified as well. For whatever reason, this is one to put on your ‘must read’ list.
Get in the hammock or deck chair or simply sprawl on a beach towel beside the sea (can’t go past Moreton Bay!) and soak up the happiness.
Highly recommended for anyone with a sense of humour – or those who need to acquire one!
Slinky Malinki’s Christmas 1 2 3 – Lynley Dodd
Even the Kid still loves Slinky Malinki the adorable scamp of a cat – possibly because our Whiskers closely resembles him!
For the little ones beginning their wondrous journey of books this delightful counting book in board format will make an excellent stocking stuffer.
We put our tree up over the weekend and because it hasn’t had an airing for two years we wondered how the cats would react, especially the kitten – so far, so good! But Slinky of course has other ideas. Tiny readers will delight in watching this rascally cat work his way up the tree pouncing on ornaments. Spotting the ornaments on the full illustration of the tree will add some fun for those a little older.
It goes without saying that Dame Lynley’s delightful illustrations will provide much enjoyment for both small and big people sharing the book.
Highly recommended for tiny humans from 0-5 years old.
The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit – Emma Thompson
Imprint: Warne ISBN: 9780241427279
First published 2013 and this edition 2018
The joy that is Peter Rabbit continues over a hundred years since his original creation by Beatrix Potter – witness the huge success of the recent movies. Emma Thompson, award-winning acress and screenwriter, has taken up the challenge of continuing the legacy left us by B.P. in the most charming way.
‘Rabbits are always very uppity during the Christmas season, and Peter Rabbit was no exception.’
We all know Peter has a talent for mischief and when he pairs up with his cousin Benjamin, even more so! But we also know he is essentially a very kind little bunny and when the pair make a new friend, William the turkey, they are shocked to find out that the bird is intended for Mr MacGregor’s Christmas dinner. Of course, they are not going to let that happen!
Emma Thompson’s continuation of Peter’s adventures is a loving tribute to the style of the original books and the delightful illustrations by Eleanor Taylor likewise reflect the charm of those of Beatrix Potter. A beautiful hardback edition with both dust jacket and binding so superb it’s hard to decide which I like best – and the most adorable endpapers, this is one to make a little person very happy indeed.
If you are searching for a special gift for a newly independent reader this is one that will be treasured and re-visited with great love.
Highly recommended for readers from around 4 years to 8 years old.
What Do You Wish For? – Jane Godwin & Anna Walker
Imprint: Picture Puffin
Originally published in 2015 and then re-issued in softcover some years later this is book which begs to be brought out each Christmas and perhaps, this year, more than ever. Read here for Jane’s own reflections on the inspiration for the book and her thoughts about gratitude.
Ruby loves the magic of Christmas – the fun and the lights, the presents and the baking and of course, Christmas wishes. But while the other children in the street are busily writing their wishes for the special wishing tree, Ruby decides to write down all the things that make Christmas truly magical. As we know, and try to impart to our little people, the true meaning of the festive season goes well beyond the fripperies and fun.
To encourage your readers to think more deeply about the real spirit of Christmas, definitely add this one to your list.
Highly recommended for readers from around 6 years upwards.
The First Christmas – illustrated by Jess Racklyeft
Being in a Christian school my library team and I feel it is particularly important to have a collection that reflects the spirituality that imbues our whole curriculum. This year we had commented that many of our books for little people were very tired-looking and certainly lacked engaging appeal – and had decided that a goal for next year is to improve this situation.
This absolutely charming picture book captures the essence of wonder and amazement that is the Nativity and is definitely one we will be promoting in our re-vamped collection. Retold simply and celebrating the true spirit of Christmas as well as the hope and joy brought to the world over 2 000 years ago, this is a modern classic which should be standard fare for any library collection as well as home bookshelves.
There are stunning double spreads as well as smaller illustrations all emphasising the idea of family at the heart of this event – a notion that surely continues today and particularly this year when so many families have struggled with separations and disappointments.
Needless to say, I suggest this is a must for your gift or order list and a book to which readers will return again and again.
This is a swag of lovely titles for little people just in time for Easter gifts. When my girls were little – and then with my grandies – their Easter gift was always heavier on the book gifts than the chocolate. (Of course a little bit of chocolate is always necessary at any age!). So if you are of a similar bent these might suit your purpose from tiny ones to slightly bigger ones – enjoy!
First up from the Baby Animal Tales series:
Walker Books Australia
Goodnight Little Duckling
ISBN: 9781916180543 Imprint: Magic Cat Publishing Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS Australian RRP: $18.99 New Zealand RRP: $22.99
Goodnight Little Bunny
ISBN: 9781916180505 Imprint: Magic Cat Publishing Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS Australian RRP: $18.99 New Zealand RRP: $22.99
These are such sweet and simple books perfect for some soothing reading sessions with little people. The illustrations are digitally manipulated combining photographic images of each little animal with glorious watercolour-like enhancements. The overall effect of this simply shouts sunny days and happiness.
Little Duckling ignores his mother’s instruction not to leave the nest while she goes off to find him a juicy worm and inevitably gets into a little pickle when his solo adventure on the water leads him to following first a darting dragonfly and then a friendly frog. Naturally this leads him well away from the nest and he gets a little anxious. Fortunately, he discovers he has paddled around in a complete circle and when he hears some quiet ‘peep peep’ sounds he realises his brothers and sisters have hatched and he is home safely
Little Bunny is very wary of leaving the safety of the burrow but her good friend Mouse is excellent at teaching important safety skills like using her twitchy whiskers and velvety ears and most of all her strong back legs. All of these come in very handy when she accidentally runs into a fox and despite her fright is able not only to escape but also to warn her bunny family in the burrow.
These are just truly delightful and would make a beautiful gift for any little reader from around toddler up to Prep age.
I’m Ready series – Jedda Robard
Penguin Random House Australia
I’ve shared some from this series before so many of you will already know how adorable these are for little kiddos around 2- 4 years old. Each title deals with those significant events in childhood featuring Australian animal families in a sturdy board book format.
I’m Ready for the New Baby
Quite possibly the most significant life event for a little person – especially if they are the first-born little Wombat is excited about the forth-coming arrival of a new brother. Mother and Father Wombat are very on top of involving the little one in all the preparations including helping to decorate the nursery, handing over her old cot (because she’s way too big for it now!) and choosing a gift (and one for herself as well). All of this ensures a happy and calm time for everyone and the joy in welcoming new little baby brother wombat is evident.
I’m Ready for Easter
There is great excitement all round as little Platypus and his friends prepare for an Easter celebration. All the familiar rituals are here for the little readers to recognise – bakers with their hot cross buns, colourful treats appearing in the shops, making Easter hats for the parade, as well as making a basket to hold treats and of course the fun of an Easter Egg hunt and special lunch with family and friends. Given our current circumstances and most if not all little ones missing out on all this shared fun, this would be a fabulous read to share and perhaps plan ahead for the next Easter
Peter Rabbit 2 tie-ins
Penguin Random House
Peter Rabbit Movie 2 Novelisation – Beatrix Potter
The first Peter Rabbit was a runaway (hop away?) success and the sequel released this month has been hotly anticipated. Sadly children will not get to see it just yet with all the cinemas closed but the next best thing would surely be sharing the new adventures by reading the book. Then they will even more hyped up for when they eventually get to see the movie!
Based on the Beatrix Potter’s original stories of Peter but with a modern twist to contemporise for new audiences, these new adventures will be just as popular in this sequel.
Peter Rabbit 2: Bunny Trouble
And not to be forgotten the emergent readers have this very cute easy reader to add to their reading repertoire. Peter’s new adventure in the big city is illustrated with photographic stills from the movie making a great connection between film and text. Level 2 in Penguin Young Readers for ‘progressing readers’ this one would be perfect for little ones from around Prep- Year 2 as the tackle more complex sentences, simple dialogue with picture and context clues.
Also look out for the Peter Rabbit Quiz Book, Peter Rabbit Sticker Activitybook and the Peter Rabbit Colouring Sticker Activity book.
This Easter is not the one that any of us expected. The Kid and I were meant to be going on our first joint overseas adventure for a week in Phuket but instead we are going to be grateful to be safe at home and enjoy some sunshine, gardening, walking and reading. I hope all my readers will also be feeling as blessed in their homes and don’t forget to add a bit of chocolate to your reading!