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Archive for November, 2011

Violet Mackerel’s Natural Habitat

By: Anna Branford

Illustrated: Sarah Davis

Violet Mackerel is the sort of girl who likes to help. She really likes to help small things, it is a new theory she is working on. She wants to help her sister with her science project but her sister doesn’t want her help, she says Violet is too young.

So Violet decides to work on her new theory and help a tiny ladybird she has named Small Gloria. Sometimes though helping isn’t easy. When things don’t work the way she wanted Violet gets help from her sister and learns all about natural habitats. With all this going on she manages to help her sister with her project and help something small.

Violet Mackerel is, quite simply, a charming character. She is wonderfully spirited, thinks of others and is inquisitive. It is always nice to see a character willing to learn, particularly in books for this age, it is behaviour that isn’t necessarily modeled all that often. This story is, well to use the word again, charming. The family dynamic is modern, broken and real, this makes it easier for readers to relate.

I think these books are great and love sharing them with my girls. It is always a pleasure to find a writer or a story I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

Publisher: Walker Books Australia

Published: 01 November 2011

Format: Hardback 112 pages

Categories: Family, Science

ISBN 13: 9781921529191

Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on side of page


This is just a very quick post to say sorry I haven’t posted for the last few days, two reasons – one I was at the Foo Fighters concert one night, which totally is not book related in any way. More importantly, or more related industry wise, I set myself the NaNoWriMo challenge this year.

For those of you who don’t know what this is it is the challenge to write a novel or start a novel and write 50 000 words in 30 days.

I am very happy to say that I did it with a day to spare, I wasn’t sure I had enough of a story to get me to 50 000 words and yet I got there and still have a little story left to finish.

So anyway if any of you have any inclinations towards writing I’d just like to encourage you to give it a go.

Book Club – Book Giveaway

I am in the fortunate position to have my hands on a spare copy of the second Heroes of Olympus book – Son of Neptune.

It’s real easy to win this comp, just leave a comment about why you loved the Percy Jackson books and someone will be selected at random.

And just in case you forgot or didn’t know – Percy is in this book. Yay!

Blood Money!

By: J.E. Fison

Part of the Hazard River series

Jack has things he wants to buy, so being industrious like he is he sets up a little stall to sell some stuff and make some bucks. The thing is some of the things he is trying to sell don’t belong to him so when his brother pulls out cash to buy his stuff back. Jack is determined to find out where he got it from. His brother leads him to a bag full of money, and a dead lizard. Jack thinks all his dreams have just come true. He is about to learn that money doesn’t always make things go smoothly or bring happiness. Big bags of it can in fact come attached to big bags of trouble. Who does the money really belong to and how did it get where the boys found it in the first place?

This is another fun adventure story for the younger reader wanting a little more excitement and action in their stories. The sibling rivalry is tangible enough to resonate off the page, it is like watching brother’s from the outside in.

This story also deals with things such as; taking stuff that doesn’t belong to you, being honest, and animal smuggling. All good topics for conversation if you are so inclined. Otherwise just open the book and enjoy the ride. A comfortable and adventure filled read that would be good for 8 to 9 year olds.

Publisher: Ford St Publishing

Published: 2011

Format: Paperback 101 pages

Categories: Adventure

ISBN 13: 9781921665462

Purchase: use booktopia logo on side of page or go to Ford Street Publishing

Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler On Their New Book

Here is a little clip of Jay Asher (New York Times best selling author) and the award winning Carolyn Mackler, talking a little about the new book – The Future of Us, which they co-wrote.

The Future of Us – Book Trailer

What if you could see what your life would be like 15 years in the future? Is that something you’d really want, or would it suck?

Well this is the premise of the new book The Future of Us by New York Times bestselling author of TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY Jay Asher & award-winning author Carolyn Mackler.

View the trailer for a little taste.

The Lost Hero – Book Club November

So having read the two Heroes of Olympus books I felt the need to go and re-read the whole of the Percy Jackson series. Yep, the whole thing. My conclusion? I still think they are really fun.

I really like the way Rick Riordan has made this a modern story woven through with mythology. Sure the purists will probably find a few problems with the underlying mythology but is that really why you read something like this? To get a greater knowledge and understanding of mythology? No not really. Not me. I read them because they are fun.

Sure genre fiction can slip little useful bits and pieces of information into your brain that you may find useful at some point in time. But really that isn’t why you read it.

Why do you read genre fiction?

I read it because it takes me away and I love to escape reality. Sure I’ve never read a book that is close to my life but then I wouldn’t want to, not sure it would be that exciting. Though having said that there are certain things I’ve gone through that I can identify with in some characters and I quite like that.

In this series I really like the way Riordan has added the three new characters into a setting we are already very familiar with. I also like the way he connects Jason into the world we know. The similarities and the differences are key as is his real connecting to a character we are also very familiar with. I have to say that that connection did surprise me and I like it when I am surprised.

In Piper’s case I really like her reluctance to be Aphrodite’s daughter, her disappointment when she finds out, also the flip side to what we tend to think of when we think of that particular goddess, I like that extra dimension. Piper and Leo are an interesting addition after the loss of Silena and Beckendorf in The Last Olympian. It brings a welcome balance to the previous loss.

Do I like these more than the Percy books? I think the series has developed strongly off the back of the Percy Jackson series and I really enjoy them.

Pizza Cake

By: Morris Gleitzman

This is a book about many things. Open these pages and you will find out how to survive a deadly situation with a paper clip. You may find the courage to face up to scary things by eating a certain type of pizza. Then again you may simply relate to being part of a strange, weird and annoying family, and find the ability to make friends in the most unexpected of places. Of course it could be worse, you may find yourself in a reality where teachers get paid better than rock stars.

With a collection of short stories it can be difficult to summarize a book, suffice to say, this is a collection of witty, clever and just plain funny stories, from an author that speaks a language young readers understand and enjoy. Some of these stories are a little ridiculous, and some have a little hidden meaning if you care to scratch under the surface. With these stories Gleitzman has taken some familiar concepts (vampires, embarrassing parents and sibling rivalries) and had a little fun with them.

As with any story collection there will be certain tales that jump out at a reader, I know which of these stories are my faves, just like I’m sure many a reader will be happy to romp through this collection in search of their own. If you’re a fan I don’t really need to say anything else, and if you’ve never sampled, then Pizza Cake is a pretty tasty place to start.

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 31 October 2011

Format: Paperback 160 pages

Categories: Fiction, Short Stories

ISBN 13: 9780143305989

Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on the side of the page

The Highway Rat

By: Julia Donaldson

Illustrations: Axel Scheffler

Beware if you are out on the highway for along the highway rides the Highway Rat. The Highway Rat loves to steal travelers food, it doesn’t matter what, he just wants it. Then, as is wont to happen to baddies like him, he comes across someone a bit smarter. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next.

Okay I will say it, this is awesome. I didn’t read the author blurb on the back cover before reading the story and I was only a few stanzas in when I was transported back to a time I learnt a poem called ‘The Highwayman’ by Alfred Noyes. Donaldson says she was inspired by it and has kept true to its style – cadence and structure of the original. Of course the theme is is much more child friendly than the original, it is though a great take on the older poem. This version is filled with plenty of animals and silly goings on.

As always Scheffler’s distinctive illustrations fit the text perfectly, they are as fun and appealing as the text. It could also be a good way to interest young readers in poetry, though perhaps stick with something more child friendly than Noyes (my father was fond of Banjo Patterson).

Another winner.

Publisher: Alison Green Books

Published: 01 September 2011

Format: Hardback 32 pages

Categories: Poetry, Picture Books, Animal Stories

ISBN 13: 9781407124377

 Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on side of page


By: Julia Donaldson

Illustrations: Axel Scheffler

Zog is in Dragon School. He is the keenest of dragons and he learns his lessons and he practices loads. Zog though is also quite accident prone. Lucky for him there is a young girl around to offer help every time he does something like fly into a tree or set his own wings on fire. With all these accidents will Zog ever get a gold star.

Yet another wonderful picture book from the award winning team of Donaldson and Scheffler (this one was a winner of the Galaxy National Children’s Book of the Year, 2010) It is a wonderfully fun and entertaining story accompanied by the great, textured and distinctive Scheffler illustrations. It is a story of trying and learning and also pushing against stereotypes (the wonderful princess character for example). Another must have book for your collection.

Publisher: Alison Green Books

Published: 01 September 2011

Format: Paperback 32 pages

Categories: Fiction, Dragons, School

ISBN 13: 9781407115597

Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on side of page

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