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Showing posts from October, 2019

Book Bites: Stories, Stories Everywhere - How Do I Choose?

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They say the cure for anything is salt: be it sweat, tears, or the sea. I say, the same applies with stories, for within a cleverly crafted collection of words great knowledge and opinion may be stockpiled and revisited as you would a favourite secret haunt. What’s more, like salt, salt, everywhere, it’s sometimes difficult to discern the most satisfying, nourishing story – the one that’s just right for you – from the vast ocean of tales out there.

With Christmas gift lists in mind, I’ve put together a wee list of a huge selection of stories, some of which may well end up as one of your life essentials. Be warned, there’ll be more to follow in the weeks leading up to Christmas so make sure your listing-making essentials are in good supply.

If you obsess over lists and book recommendations as much as I do, then check out Megan Daley’s awesome, Children’s Books Daily site for a great collection of Book Lists broken down into age groups. Boomerang Books online have a great assortment of

Book Bites: Spooktacular Halloween Tales

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Halloween is just around the corner and although observations celebrating this time of remembering the dead vary from country to country, the traditions associated with it have made it one of the most notable celebrations of the year. This wee collection of children's picture books embrace the essence of spook but also fun and friendship.


1, 2, Boo! A Spooky Counting Book
I love a bright colourful board book, able to withstand years of love and wear. 1, 2, Boo! is a counting book that clusters all of your favourite Halloween images and themes into a chillingly colourful countdown from 1 – 10.Crammed with ghosts, goblins, bats, dangling skeletons and even warty toads, this fun rhyming romp harnesses the fun of the trick-or-treating tradition, neatly entertaining even the wee non-verbal youngsters in your life, never mind the bigger ones whose sole aim is to fill their lolly bags.

Title: 1, 2, Boo! A Spooky Counting Book
Author: Paul Howard
Illustrator: Paul Howard
Publisher: Bloomsbury…

Review: The Thing About Oliver

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Deborah Kelly has a way of cramming gallons of heart into very small spaces. Her picture books and junior novels entertain, yet never fail to unleash unexpected emotions, all perfectly on the mark for her intended reading audience.

The Thing About Oliver is a brief but brilliant novel that will appeal to confident young primary aged readers yet also strike a distinct chord with those of the middle grade age group. Fast paced, funny, and deeply satisfying, this story touches on the subject of Autism and its impact on family life and sibling mental well being.

Tilly's heart is set on becoming a marine scientist. She lives, breathes and draws marine creatures and has turned herself into a veritable walking Google page of sea creatures and their habitats. The only glitch in her plans is her distance from anything remotely resembling the ocean - they live in the drought-stricken outback - and the fact she can't even swim, let alone owns a swimsuit.

As crazy as that premise sounds, t…

Review: Tim & Tigon

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A few dozen moons ago, this little black duck backpacked around Europe and the Middle East. It was the era of reverse-charges communications, before the advent of free Wi-Fi or even the Internet for that matter. The sensation of roaming freely through unknown countries and soaking up new cultures with nothing more than a well-thumbed travel guide, three pairs of gaily coloured socks and the budget of a nine-year-old was inexplicably fulfilling. Our packs contained our whole existence yet the horizon possessed everything else we really needed – or wanted.

I suspect author, film-maker, adventurer extraordinaire, Tim Cope’s feelings about his incredible expeditions replicate those I had some 26 years ago – only, a thousandfold.

Fast forward 12 or so years and I find myself watching this remarkable young man on the tellie, forging through extreme weather conditions on horseback across the impossibly remote Eurasian Steppes. His aim: to travel 10,000 kilometres from Mongolia to the Danube…

Festival Fun: StoryArts Ipswich 2019

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This author has been fortunate to be involved with the biennial StoryArts festival in Ipswich for a number of years now, as a panel host, session reporter, delegate and fan of Kids' Lit. This year, however I had the joy of presenting to the school children, who each festival, are bused in from around SE Queensland to enjoy a host of story and drawing orientated sessions performed by a stellar lineup of children's authors and illustrators from around Australia.

The school and family programs make up the bulk of the Festival operating out of Marburg near Ipswich, which concludes with a brief Adults' program, this year running in Brisbane. Lucky primary school children and their families are still enjoying events (I was only able to do one day) but my memories of the marvellous location at Woodlands of Marburg, lingering over lattes with industry mates and presenting in one of the haunted rooms of the magnificent Woodlands mansion remain sharp and colourful. 
The pics say it…