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Review: Gone To The Woods

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Regrettably, Gary Paulsen was a bit of an unknown to me until discovering this transcending story about his childhood. A multi-award winning author of young adult fiction, Paulsen reveals how his ability to smith words developed as a consequence of his remarkable upbringing, or more accurately, lack thereof. Paulsen was, not literally an orphan, but he was a lost child. Gone to the Woods begins with one such journey adrift an ocean of salacious events thanks to his mother and her penchant for supplementing her hourly wage at local Chicago clubs. At just five years of age, Paulsen is dumped upon a train bound for a relatives’ farm in north Minnesota not far from the Canadian border. It proves to be his temporary salvation and a place he acquires the art of patience, a deep respect for nature and an appreciation of what genuine kindness tastes like. Edy’s motherly compassion and Sig’s reticent guidance nurture the abandoned boy until a sense of who he is begins to emerge. It’s bone

Christmas Countdown Collection: Merry Christmas!

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The trouble with advent calendars is their finite nature. Once the occasion is reached or the countdown completed , one is left with a lingering sense of,  'Well, what now? ' Well not this Countdown! In case you've missed the last three week 's worth of cracking Christmas bookish gift ideas, cast your eyes downwards. Here you'll find all the links to take you to all of the afore mentioned must reads. There's something for every taste from thrilling YA to heart-melting picture books and middle grade marvels, fabulous non-fiction and even the odd autobiographical true story by yours truly. You'll be fighting the kids for them and don't worry if good old St Aussie Post couldn't quite deliver on time...these beauties are most assuredly anytime-of-the-year-reads.  It's been a mighty year with monumental challenges but one thing has remained resolute for me; the absolute power a book has to transform, uplift, support, entertain and reassure in times

Christmas Countdown Crunch Time! Days 17 - 24!

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I’ve been indulging in (almost) daily posts, savouring some of my standout reading recommendations for Christmas this year but like any Christmas feast, the time has come to harness gluttony and reduce mouthfuls to meaningful bite-sized tastes. So here is a super quick, but delicious, sample of some more cracking good reads to cram into your kids’ stockings this year. They sure beat lumps of coal! There’s A Zoo InMy Poo The title alone entices further inspection. But as we all know, or should, poo is life and maintaining a healthy gut system is key to happy poos and happy YOU! This book explores the microscopic stew of your inners, examining up-close and personal the zoo of bugs your gut harbours and how and why they are super critical for good health. As head zookeeper, it’s a tricky job keeping every bug happy but this nifty guide for youngsters is brilliant for explaining what to feed your bugs (recipes included!) and how to keep them strong and diverse. Explicit and excellent,

Christmas Countdown: Day 16 - Egg & Spoon: An Illustrated Cookbook

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The Pipi Café tucked away in the New Zealand village of Havelock North is not as proprietor and chef, Alexandra Tylee purports, a cake or dragon or dog but rather a pretty pink institution of fine pizzas and local cuisine. And fortunately for us, she is also a cookbook of the most divine proportions. Egg and Spoon: An Illustrated Cookbook looks less of a cookbook for kids than a regal creation resplendent in its deep red, egg adorned cover. It is the gold crown atop the boiled egg however that hints at rich, tongue in cheek things to come. Tylee wastes no time in getting to the point orientating would-be cooks with kitchen layout and utensils before strutting confidently onto the most important meal of the day, breakfast. Each recipe is allocated a full two page spread, dividing method and ingredients into neat eye-catching panels with nifty informal suggestions scattered throughout offering alternatives, tips and tricks and useful hacks. Tylee flavours each entry with her unique

Christmas Countdown: Days 14, 15 - The Biscuit Maker & How To Make A Bird

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These two beautiful picture books by Australian creators will enhance your child’s bookshelf this Christmas and also their sense of collective humanity. Wise and wonderful they are the ingredients for soaring hearts. The Biscuit Maker Despite Liz Anelli’s eye-feasting illustrations, brimming with detail and wit or maybe because of the gorgeous jumble, we don’t immediately realise who Audrey Mae is however we soon discover she and Benedict Stanley are great gardeners and live at 23 Mavin Road. Each morning they greet the world about them with joyful expectation. Sadly, their salutations are never returned. Benedict and Audrey, whom young eyes will by now have identified as Benedict’s faithful companion and fellow watcher, observe the countless comings and goings on Mavin Road every day from the refuge of their bright and cheerful sanctuary. The world bustles by, grim and endlessly busy, punctuated by unique ordinariness that only Benedict and Audrey have the time to notice; and yo

Christmas Countdown: Day 13 - Little Lion: A Long Way Home

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Saroo Brierley’s tale is one of heartbreak and tenacity. It’s the kind of bad dream that has you waking in a cold sweat; you know the one, where dread and abject terror fill every cell of your body because something so unconscionably bad happens and you are helpless to reverse it. Saroo Brierley experienced such a dream, which for a boy of just five years of age is harrowing enough, except Saroo’s nightmare was real. Separated from his older brother one fateful night whilst roaming the train platforms near his small hometown village, Saroo’s life takes an irreversible detour. From simply searching for opportunities to improve their improvised existence in India’s regional mid-west, Saroo’s young logic transports him half-way across the country to Calcutta (Kolkata); a veritable galaxy away from everything and everyone he’s ever known. Incredibly, he survives alone on the streets for weeks until he finds refuge in an orphanage. Within a month fate steps in again and Saroo is adopted

Christmas Countdown: Days 11, 12 - The Twelve Days of Christmas with Roald Dahl & Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Book of Fun

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The Twelve Days of Christmas with Roald Dahl This redunculusly good collection of festive activities to make and do by one of the world’s favourite story tellers, Roald Dahl is more fun than Dim’s Christmas Countdown. The Twelve Days of Christmas is a nifty little novel-sized compendium broken into twelve chapters that celebrate the most scrumptious and jolly best bits of the silly season. And you know there’ll be a fair amount of silly with Dahl at the helm of this particular sleigh ride. Each chapter is a line out of the beloved Christmas carol and highlights a classic Dahl title; One Matilda in the Library ; Two Smelly Twit s… Five Golden Tickets …and so on. Everybody’s favourite characters get an airing and each chapter relates in some obscure, tricksy way to the novel’s theme. Cleverness aside, this book is a genuine cache of Christmas craft and art, gob-smacking recipes (you must try the Chocolate and Brussels Sprouts pie ) , puzzles, pranks, gift ideas and mind-benders de