Showing posts from September, 2019

Review: Lizard's Tale

The heady scent of tropical blooms and odorous perfume of food street vendors waft deliciously throughout this action-packed middle grade read by debut author, Weng Wai Chan. Set in the turbulent early 1940s in pre-war Singapore,Lizard's Taleis an exotic dim sum steamer full of mystery, dubious characters, spies and espionage that barely takes a breath.

Lizard is an all but orphaned boy eking out an existence in Singapore's Chinatown. Home is a windowless cubicle above a tailor's shop and survival means he has to resort to charging money for writing other people's letters and petty theft. It's an unsavoury childhood at best and one he is keen to abandon.

He yearns to return to his home by the sea at Changi, which he shared with his enigmatic Uncle Archie, who has been his guardian since his parents died but after Uncle Archie mysteriously disappears and fails to return home one day, Lizard is left alone and vulnerable. So when he is coerced into a job for the cor…

Review: This Is My Song

Perhaps the greatest expression of song is Yaxley's exceptionally lyrical prose. This is My Song is a sweeping story told in three parts across three continents, embracing three monumental periods of time. The story of young Rafael Ullmann's rising love for music amidst the growing tensions of the 1940s is chocked with heartbreak and wrenching disappointment.

He survives the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp but at the cost of losing his passion for the thing he loved most, music. His song lies withered, abandoned and forgotten like a childhood pet that died long ago. By the time his daughter, Annie arrives, Rafi has accepted his world of silence and regret.

Annie is a child of the sweeping isolation of the Canadian prairie lands, yet she is a bird eager to fly and seeks a freedom she cannot enjoy with her parents. It is her son, Joe, an uncertain modern-day Aussie youth seeking a solid sense of self from a history he knows nothing about, that eventually helps them all reu…

Review: Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire

It's a premise that most kids regardless of entrepreneurial motivation will find irresistible, having a zillion (read: million) dollars virtually thrown into their laps to spend with unrestricted abandon and no adult involvement.

This is the princely predicament young Tess finds herself struggling through along with her best mate, Toby. Struggling, because despite their best efforts, spending a gazillion (read: million) dollars as 10-year-olds is not as straightforward as walking into a candy store. It takes more cunning than a weasel and a whole lot of guts especially as said million is the former spoil of her no-good, recently arrested, criminal backyard neighbour.

As Tess and Toby endeavour to right wrongs, distribute funds multifariously and maintain a low profile (which is difficult to uphold thanks to their philanthropic habit of doling out free lollipops and wearing sunglasses indoors - because that's what millionaires do), they encounter more and more moral hurdles an…

Natural Disasters: Fire Fire

This cluster of picture books and middle grade novels has been on my desk since last summer, the advent of winter extinguishing the heat of urgency to share them. It’s hard to feel the desperation of draught and the destructive fear of fire when it’s eight degrees outside and rain is pummelling against the window panes like it will never end. But it has ended and here, in Queensland like many other parts of Australia, the draught which never ended has ignited more anguish and despair. The beauty of these titles though is their ability to transcend sadness and instil hope. Natural disasters will always be a major part of Australian life. Giving kids the ability to understand and manage this is paramount to survival. These commemorative releases do so with candour and compassion.

Ella and the Ocean
Bentley's absolutely captivating illustrations will stir heartstrings into dust-devils of delight as they depict Ella's story of isolation and wonder.

Ella lives in the red-dirt coun…

Sojourns and Celebrations: Pippa Takes Off

Pippa pigeon has certainly been clocking up her flying hours the last month or so. In case you haven't been able to keep up with her feathered fiascoes, here's a pictorial collage from the first couple of Book Launches for Pippa's self-titled story, PIPPA! Enjoy. 
If you want to meet the real Pippa and her amazing chaperon, aka me, Dimity Powell, please do not ignore your urge to get in touch. We'd both love the chance to visit your school, library, care centre, bookshop or event. Assurance Pledge: Pippa is 100% house-trained and exemplary in confined spaces with small humans.
If you can't be bothered scrolling through these book launch happy snaps, check out the mini-movie below for a few of our best moments. (Photo credits to all and sundry who attended, Maria Parenti-Baldey, and George Ivanoff) Pippa Book Launches August 2019

Review: Under The Same Sky

If you're the type to pick a picture book by its cover, you'll find it hard to walk past Under the Same Sky. Its sumptuous velvety blue cover is bedecked with shining rose gold stars in the same glinting foil as the looping title. Stars shoot through the night sky although we don't yet know what they might portend.

Once inside we are plunged into the worlds of two young children who despite living on opposite sides of the world share a common wish - to share their lives as friends. It's an immense concept, wanting and waiting for someone when you are so very far away from them. This story about a city-dwelling nameless boy and countryside nameless girl, explores the desire to reduce distance with metaphoric reality.

The boy draws on figurative comparison - like the sun and moon...always seeking...the sky and the sea...always apart - in an effort to understand his situation. The longing is always there but so is the separation until realisation dawns and with a bit of…

Review: Vincent and the Grandest Hotel On Earth

If you want that eat-all-the-icecream-you-want-super-satisfied feeling, read this exceedingly grand book. Chock-a-block filled with joie de vivre, llamas and teeny tiny dogs, this is a rollicking tale of following your heart's desire, grabbing opportunity by the horns and pure exuberant fun.

Look between the witty one-liners and fabulously named rooms of the Grandest Hotel on Earth, though and you'll find a story imbued with heart promoting the courage to dream.

Vincent is ordinary and often overlooked until the day not-so-ordinary, Florence Wainwright-Cunningham III invites him to her family's hotel establishment high in the Mabombo Ranges. Armed with nothing but his toothbrush and his grandfather's fantastical shoe-cleaning box, Vincent embarks on a journey of marvellous discovery.

Although miles out of his comfort zone, Vincent soon adapts to the grandeur and unbelievable improbabilities the Hotel presents. He learns to love the art of shoe shining and repair whic…