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Archive for July, 2012

I Love You Little Monster

By: Andreae Giles

Illustrated By: Jess Mikhail

It is after bedtime and Small isn’t asleep yet, when Big comes in to take a moment to share with the child that should be sleeping.

This book leapt straight to the top of my highest recommends pile. Firstly Andreae wrote it and has such an excellent way with text (such a great track record as well). Michael’s illustrations are simply adorable. I could share stanza after stanza of these heartfelt words that almost bought a tear to my eye. As a parent you totally feel the same way Big does. Because I can’t not share something with you:

It’s the only sure way to be happy

The only sure way to be free

Believe in yourself and believe in your dreams

And you’ll be what you dream you can be.

Publisher: Orchard Books

Published: 06 September 2012

Format: Paperback 32 pages

Categories: Family, Monsters

ISBN 13: 9781408314289

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

The Great Snortle Hunt

I received this as an ARC from the publisher.By: Claire Freedman

Illustrated By: Kate Hindley

One night Mouse convinces Cat and Dog to go with him up to the scary-creepy house that is on the bumpy-steepy hill. They are on a Snortle hunt. It is dark and creepy and a little bit scary as they make it to the house, and then inside. They climb up the stairs looking for the Snortle but what will they do if they actually find one? More to the point what will the Snortle do to them?

This is a wonderful, spooky little tale about rumours, adventures and courage. Claire Freedman is the author of the Aliens Love Underpants series and brings her wonderful sense of fun (though it is more subtle than the Underpants books) to a new set of characters. The text is simple and rhymes, which children love, and the quantity of text makes it great for younger listeners. Hindley’s illustrations are quirky and expressive. A great book that really isn’t all that scary, especially when you get to the Snortle. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Published: 02 August 2012

Format: Hardback 32 pages

Categories: Monsters, Fun

ISBN 13: 9780857072627

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

Aliens Love Underpants

By: Claire Freedman

Illustrated By: Ben Cort

There aren’t any underpants in space but aliens love them they think they are great fun. So when aliens decide they have to have some underpants they come down to earth.

Really the title of this books says it all. It tells you right away that this is going to be silly and fun. It is enjoyable text that rhymes and the illustrations are bold and equally as silly. A great choice for children who like aliens and things related to toilet humour.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s

Published: 08 May 2007

Format: Paperback 32 pages

Categories: Aliens, Humour

ISBN 13: 9781416917052

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

Kids Need To Read

Like I need another reason to love Nathan Fillion.

The Hungry Bear

By: Nick Bland

Bear has been cranky and itchy and now he is hungry, very hungry. he is trying to catch a fish. He has caught something really big, but it is no fish. It is a polar bear without a home. Bear sets out to help his new friend find a home. When you friend is a polar bear it turns out that that isn’t quite as easy as it might first seem.

Hungry Bear follows the success of Cranky and Itchy Bear. Like those books it is a delight to read. The text is simple and it rhymes, which is always appealing to youngsters. The illustrations are open and engaging. I am a fan of Nick Bland and this is a worthy addition to his bear series.

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 01 June 2012

Format: Hardback 24 pages

Categories: Animals

ISBN 13: 9781742831701

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

The Famous Five

By: Enid Blyton

Illustration by Quentin Blake

ISBN : 9781444908657

George is used to being alone. A girl who would prefer to be a boy doesn’t want cousins she’s never met before ruining her holidays. Julian, Dick and Anne are excited to be meeting George and before long they help her realise company can be fun.

There is a shipwreck off Kirrin Island, a legend about missing treasure, a map and a mystery. If only the cousins and George’s faithful dog TImmy can keep on the right side of Uncle Quentin, maybe they will get to the bottom of it all.

Illustration by Helen Oxenbury

ISBN: 9781444908664

Back at Kirrin Cottage for the Christmas holidays, the five are sure there won’t be any time for adventure, not with three of them having to study with a tutor. Then they hear a tale of secret passages and find a mysterious map. Added to that it seems there is a thief at Kirrin Cottage. That’s not all, George doesn’t like their tutor but then she doesn’t like anyone who doesn’t like Timmy. The question is why doesn’t Timmy like the tutor?

Illustration by Emma Chichester Clark

ISBN: 9781444908671

Holidays at Kirrin are supposed to be a fun time but that is a little hard with Mrs Stick and her horrid son around. Things take a turn for the worse when George’s mum gets taken to hospital and Mr Stick turns up. With such a difficult situation to deal with the cousins think there is someone up to something on Kirrin Island. How are they going to find out what is going on? Then George has a plan and they may be on the trail of smugglers. Who was that screaming? And what do the Stick’s have to do with any of it? The five find themselves entangled in another mystery.

Illustration by Oliver Jeffers

ISBN: 9781444908688

Kirrin Cottage is badly damaged in a terrible storm, so the five are shipped off to stay at Smugglers Top with a scientist friend of Uncle Quentin’s. Fortunately his son Sooty is friends with the boys and it looks as though it will be a fun time. How could it not be when they are staying at a place filled with secret hiding places and underground tunnels. Of course a place such as this was designed for adventure and they find one. What is the mysterious signal from the tower and what is going on with Block?

Illustration by Chris Riddell

ISBN: 9781444908695

The cousins convince the adults to let them go caravanning and they decide to follow the circus that inspired the idea. They have a wonderful time picnicking and staying in fields. When they find the circus, Nobby is happy they followed but some of the other circus folk aren’t as pleased. The five don’t mind, when threatened they simply move a short way away so they can still enjoy the location and spend time with their new friends, Nobby and the ape Pongo. It starts out like any normal kind of holiday but Lou and Dan are up to something, the five know it and they simply can’t turn their backs on an adventure.

Book 13 in the series and one of my faves

This series is considered a children’s classic. My confession here is that as a young kid they were some of my favourite books, I devoured them. They still hold a special place in my heart and I want to share them with my kids, hopeful they will enjoy them too.

These stories are still loved today, they hold a timeless appeal especially for children longing for stories filled with mysteries and adventure. What’s not to love about four kids and their loyal dog, solving mysteries, finding treasure and foiling the bad guy’s plans?

The style is very innocent, ‘it’s all simply swell’, unfortunately it is also a little dated. Some children will love these, they will be the ones who can see past the ‘gollys’ and such and even treat it like a kind of escapist fantasy (seriously 11-14 year olds allowed to take off in horse drawn caravans by themselves for weeks at a time?). Probably not the books to go for if you are trying to get a reluctant reader to read but revisiting all these years later I still think they have something to offer. In a time where so much is pushed at our children it doesn’t hurt to go back to more innocent times.

The versions I have featured here are the beautiful 70th anniversary covers designed by five wonderful children’s illustrators. I am so happy to add them to my bookshelf.

(I received mine from the publisher but mostly because even 30 years later I can tell you without looking the first sentence from the third book, ‘”George dear do settle down and do something,” said George’s mother.’ And know I don’t know why that has stuck with me for so long.)

Wisdom’s Kiss

By: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Fortitude is an orphaned maid with a very special ability but she keeps it hidden and longs for the day her best friend Tips returns. Tip’s is busy learning and working and keeping his true identity a secret. He sends gifts and notes back to the lovely Fortitude and promises to return but even those don’t contain the truth. Princess Wisdom is known as Dizzy and really only wants a life filled with adventure. To this end she agrees to a marriage, anything to get out of the kingdom of Montagne. These three lives collide in the lead up to the wedding. Hopes will be shattered and new dreams will be formed.

A humorous fairytale style of story, told from multiple points of view, in differing styles; some narrative, some letters. The characters are interesting; Fortitude has her strange gift, Tips is playing a part and Wisdom longs to be anything but a proper princess. There are lies, intrigues, magic, romance, broken hearts and a very special cat.

The style the story is told in is different as it is comprised of a compilation of scenes and letters from different characters but it never gets confusing or dull. There is plenty of action, even though you may wonder at the different strands in the beginning.

[Spoiler Alert!!! – Mild] Not all characters may get the happily ever after they think they want but that only adds to the charm of the story and as much as it is a fantasy that trait gives it a bit of grounding in reality. If you like fairy tales or enjoy Murdock’s previous book, Princess Ben, then definitely give this a try. A fun and light read.

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Published: 01 February 2012

Format: Paperback 300 pages

Categories: Fairy Tale, Fantasy,

ISBN 13: 9781742379265

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

GIRL! The Ultimate Guide to Being You.

By: Anna Barnes

Now I don’t normally review non-fiction, mostly because I don’t read a lot of it but I started going through this and thought it was a great idea. Not only a great idea but very well executed. This is a book that doesn’t stick to one theme in regards to growing up, it doesn’t push any one thing at you. Instead what Anna Barnes has presented us with is a self-discovery guide. It contains chapters dealing with everything from creating your own style, to body image, environmental issues to changing the world.

This book is choc full of information about all sorts of things (parents can even learn things as they look through it -I did).

It is an open, honest look at what it is to grow up and try to figure out who you are. At times it is serious other times it is funny. Best of all it offers a variety of suggestions letting the reader know that no one way is the right way to be. We are all different and this is a book that celebrates that. I would totally recommend giving this to a pre-teen or a young teen, it may even provide an icebreaker for broaching certain topics.

Definitely worth a look.

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 28 March 2012

Format: Paperback 240 pages

Categories: Social Issues, Growing Up, Adolescence

ISBN 13: 9780143305767

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

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2012

Winners of the fifth annual Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were announced today. The awards, ‘celebrate the contribution of Australian literature and history to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life’.

There are six categories – Fiction, Non-Fiction, Australian History, Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Fiction, and a Poetry award – the winners were selected from shortlists of five works in each category

The winners we are of course interested in are:

Young adult fiction – When We Were Two by Robert Newton  (Penguin)

Children’s fiction – Goodnight, Mice! By Frances Watts, illustrated by Judy Watson (Harper Collins)

It goes without saying that all other winners deserve big congratulations as do all short listed authors.

Vale Margaret Mahy

Renowned, award winning and popular New Zealand children’s author Margaret Mahy has died at the age of 76.

Throughout her career she published more than 200 titles, and her books were translated into more than a dozen languages.

Mahy was the recipient of numerous honours and awards and the year she turned 70 she was awarded perhaps the most prestigious – the Hans Christian Andersen Award for her lasting contribution to children’s literature.

Here are some of her titles.

Here is an article about her life and work.

Rest In Peace.

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