Tag Archives: william mcinnes

Back…in time for Christmas


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

Penguin Australia

October 2020

ISBN: 9780143775355

RRP: $16.99

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

Penguin Books

Imprint: Warne
ISBN: 9780241427279

First published 2013 and this edition 2018

RRP $35.00

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

Penguin Australia

  •  October 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143506249
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • RRP: $14.99

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

Penguin Australia

  • October 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143796909
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $24.99

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.

An assorted swag of audio books recently enjoyed…




Cricket Kings – William McInnes                                

Hachette Australia 2007

How could I resist this novel from our own local Redcliffe boy, William (brag note: with whom I have had the pleasure of conversation on more than one occasion!) – especially when narrated by Himself.

After delighting readers with his uproarious first book of memoirs A Man’s Got to have a Hobby, William published this novel to similar great acclaim. His writing career continues to attract a loyal and enthusiastic fan base.

The Yarraville Fourths are a suburban cricket team comprised of mostly middle-aged men of dubious skills, none of whom would ever have been considered as a contender to wear the baggy green.

However, there is much more than just neighbourhood cricket going on in this hugely funny book. Chris Andersen is really the Everyman figure and his team of assorted characters range from Brian, the intellectually impaired young man to Livey, the constantly farting local butcher – and each one has his own story to bring to the Cec Bull Oval.

Connecting past and present, the local oval is like a hub in the wheel of life in this typical suburban locality. Although, on the one level a very humorous book about an often dysfunctional team, McInnes takes the reader on a journey of exploring much deeper themes and concepts mostly through the eyes of the gentle and kind hero, Chris.


Fat, Fifty & F***ed! : a fast and furious novel – Geoffrey McGeachin

Penguin Australia 2004

Definitely was gravitating towards humour in the last few audio selections and this was a superb choice – the kind that had me sitting in the car at my various destinations just to listen to a little more, and no doubt, passing motorists thinking I am somewhat challenged, driving along laughing aloud for no apparent reason.

Martin Carter is having a serious mid-life crisis day. The manager of a small town bank, married to a cheating bitchy wife with two decidedly unlikeable stepchildren, Martin turns fifty and not a single person remembers his birthday. As it happens, he is also losing his job as his little local bank exists primarily to handle the wages of the local meatworks, now being closed down. Faced with an overwhelming sense of depression and failure, Martin makes a snap decision that shakes him out of his torpor with a vengeance – he robs his own bank.

With $1 000 000 stowed in garbage bags and no real plan, Martin takes off on an extraordinary, and hilarious, road trip – meeting the enigmatic and delightful Faith (a librarian, no less!), becoming embroiled with bikies both dead and alive, getting caught up in a spy scandal of deadly proportions, meeting a millionaire mogul and more – to find his way to an old schoolmate’s place in Far North Qld – and that’s when the action really begins!

Jolly Wicked Actually: the Hundred Words that Make us English – Tony Thorne

Quite interesting and gently humorous, though not riveting, Thorne explores 100 slang terms that define the Englishness of the English.

I particularly liked this excerpt:


Sometimes intensified by the addition of ‘utterly’, ‘totally’, ‘completely’ or ‘absolutely’, barking means abjectly, visibly and audibly – and the implication is hopelessly, on a long-term basis – deranged: possessed of an aggressive rather than a passive craziness. Among hundreds of examples of barkingness gleefully printed by the tabloids since the 1980s have been King George III, a £32, 000 lottery grant to teach the homeless to growl (“Phil Minton …uses the cash to create so-called ‘feral choirs’ of tramps keen to ‘find their inner voices’”) and a bride whose wedding train was carried by pug dogs instead of bridesmaids.


The Camel Book Mobile – Masha Hamilton

In my last couple of schools I had purchased a very attractive and informative picture book called My Librarian is a Camel by Margriet Ruurs – a photo essay of unusual mobile libraries around the world and thus was immediately drawn by the title of this novel.

This novel looks at such a library service in Kenya, staffed by a rather grumpy local librarian and Fiona (Fee) Sweeney who has taken leave from her New York library to bring literature, culture and enlightenment to remote communities.   Although her intentions are completely well intended and her passion genuine, Fee is unprepared for the difficulties that this project brings, especially to one little nomadic settlement called Mididima. Conflicting views on the presence of the book mobile along with a clash of traditional and more modern values, complex relationships all contrive to create a situation of great tension within the community.

The ending is quite haunting and I was left feeling a little depressed I think but it was certainly a compelling and well told story. My only complaint was that I did not care for the choice of narrator.