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Review: Shooting Stars

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Most modern epistolary novels for tweens and teens veer towards a collection of email exchanges or even sms text messages to relay story plot and character reaction.Shooting Stars is a refreshing step back into genuine epistolary storytelling through the use of diary entries with one remarkable point of difference; our main character has never met another person his age, in his entire life.

Egan Tucker is fifteen. He is a teenager of rugged burly appearance, can smell danger (literally) from a mile away and can slaughter and butcher a wild boar in less time than than it takes to fry bacon. Egan likes to dance in the rain - naked. He moves without shoes and his best mate is a dog, named Jack who'll bite your arm off if you mess with his toy bunny. Their's is a wild, carefree existence, deep in the heart of a tiny bush valley hidden from civilization. No TV. No internet. No other human interaction...except for Moma, Egan's fearless and indomitable mother.

Through Egan's d…

Author Interview: The Author in The Time of Coronavirus - A Weekend Notes exclusive

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There's a lot of useful information and enlightening blogs percolating about the writers-verse about the importance of self-help, patience, and mental plasticity in this whirlpool of changing times. When physical security - our health - is compromised, then it follows our mental well being may be affected. Stress (including eustress, aka good stress) keeps us on our toes, one leap ahead in the scramble to live another day. But it needs some adjusting to, just like change.
To say that this pandemic affliction has been good for me (as an author) is a slight distortion of reality and not meant to sound flippant or disrespectful . How can such universal pain be a good thing? But to say that I have learnt much and benefited by the confinements and challenges thrown up in all our faces, is no exaggeration. 

In this article published in Weekend Notes on line zine by Belladonna, I and several other well-know children's authors touch on our Covid-19 experiences, the lows and also the une…

Review: The Monster Who Wasn't

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Most of us have believed in monsters at some point in our lives, whether metaphorically or from when we believed they dwelt underneath our beds and behind our bedroom doors. This extraordinary middle grade fiction not only reignites the notion that we coexist with all manner of devilish beasts, it bravely intimates that not all of them are bad. Could there be some that fall somewhere in between good and bad? Is it possible to love a monster?

Sam hatches one fateful night in the vast underground lair where all monsters dwell and begin. He is a curious and inexplicable creation never before seen by the noxious collection of pixies, ogres and trolls. Resembling something of an imp, the grumpy gargoyles adopt him as one of their own. Displaced and unexplained, Imp (aka Sam) learns more and more about his new world with each passing minute, however not the answer to his existence; why he looks like a human but behaves like a monster.

From atop his cathedral spire home, Sam adapts to gargoy…

Review: A Bear Named Bjorn

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Bjorn is a bear who lives in a cave. It meets all his needs and even sports a mailbox out front where letters sometimes arrive. Bjorn is not the sort of bear to boast about his various wins in life, like his acquisition of a three-seater sofa. His responses are always considered and calm. In fact, Bjorn thinks a sofa may actually take up more room than it's worth in his tidy compact cave.This is quite the opposite to his woodland friends who think a three-seater sofa is their ticket to comfort and happiness. They quickly assume full sitting rights, which crowds the cave even more until Bjorn cannot think about the sofa without feeling unhappy. To him, the sofa is not great so he decides to give it away. After Rabbit declares that it would make an ideal woodland sofa for everyone to share, Bjorn retires to his cave without it, and is happy.

This is just one of the handful of introspective, wickedly playful chapters about Bjorn and his buddies. Through regular deliveries to his mail…

Review: Through My Eyes: Hasina

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The Through My Eyes series is an extraordinary up-close and personal collection of novels that depict harrowing, gripping stories about children from various nations around the globe - from their unique view point. This one,Hasina'sstory is about one girl's experiences of persecution during the political upheaval of Myanmar in the late 80s.

Hasina enjoys a humble yet rich childhood in her ancestral home in the lands of Rakhin, a province on the western side of the Arakan Mountains. Together with her baby brother, Araf, she and her village friends attend their aunty's makeshift home school because the village one is no longer in operation thanks to the conflicts between the police, Army and local governments. In fact many of the freedoms of the past have been sacrificed as growing religious intolerance spreads across the conflicted former lands of Burma.

It is occasionally difficult to bend one's understanding around so much unrest. This sadly common abhorrent afflictio…

Review: Bin Chicken

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What do meat pies, hot chips and the land of the Pharaohs have in common? As it turns out, quite a lot thanks to a curious looking, bald-headed bird with stilt-like legs and a beak that arcs like an oversized hairclip. The Straw-necked Ibis is an instantly recognisable suburban bird to even the youngest of humans thanks to its ungainly appearance and potent guano pong. Yet this hilarious tribute to one of our most misunderstood rubbish bin visitors, allows the humble Ibis to take on a glorious new role.Mother Ibis nests high above her suburban kingdom in a palm tree that is home to three adorable fluffy chicks. Despite the eclectic furnishings of their treetop home, the chicks learn from their mother not only how to survive in this modern world but gain a sense of their ancestry and history. For you see, their ancestors used to grace the banks of the Nile in Egypt and were once regarded regally rather than in distain. So when did it go so awry and Ibis became synomous with the term, B…

ABC Radio New England: School Holiday Reading Recommendations

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It would take me approximately the equivalent of six school holiday periods to get through every recommended reading title. There is simply an ocean of brilliant titles bobbing around at the moment or soon to be released. It's often the last thing you read that resounds most loudly in your head, so with that resolutely in mind, I refrained from 'going overboard' with Kristy Reading as she probed me for a list of children's books that will entertain both kids and their parents these holidays.
Click on the image below to listen to the ones featured on Monday 29 June 2020 for ABC New England NorthWest radio's breakfast show: Morning Book Club with Kristy Reading. 
Scroll forward to the 2 hour 50 minute mark to hear my segment or grab a comforting beverage and settle back to enjoy the whole show!

Here's the not-quite-full list (not full because there are a zillion other great titles to enjoy of course!). But hopefully this handful of fairly recent releases, several of…