Showing posts from June, 2020

ABC Radio New England: School Holiday Reading Recommendations

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…

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

I don’t normally share adult fiction here but this recently read novel is pure magnificence and deserves  attention. I value stories that illuminate the dingier parts of history, especially histories that are not that old, like this one. Teens should therefore find A Gentleman in Moscow particularly fascinating. A Gentleman in Moscowis a story of grand proportions, immense character and infinite humor. And like all stories of colossal significance, those most successful and long remembered, it is utterly transformative. Therein lies the poetic essence of this tale; it’s essentially about the multitude of ways we are transformed by life as it itself yields to constant change.

Count Alexander Rostov's life is one of continual transformation despite the fact that his current habitat confined within the walls of the Hotel Metropol under house arrest remains static. The Count is a gentleman of former prestige and aristocratic bearing whose main occupation of the bourgeois is as observe…

Ready Set READ! Premier's Reading Challenge

This sounds just the sort of race I'd love (being fairly average at most other sports!). 
There's no way I could run out of steam with so many exhilarating stories to fuel imagination and interest like the ones included in this year's QLD Premier's Reading Challenge
The Premier's Reading Challenge is an annual statewide initiative for Queensland state and non-state schools and home-educated students from Prep to Year 9, as well as children (aged up to 5 years) enrolled in an early childhood centre, that aims to improve literacy and encourage children to read for pleasure and learning. It's on right now, but there is still plenty of time to register. And the best part, for this little grey pigeon anyway...?

PIPPA is part of the amazing array of children's titles for 2020. You'll find Pippa's self-titled picture book in the Prep - Year 1 List. So what are you waiting for? 
Register, Get your Wall Chart, Get Ready, Set and READ!
For those of you NSW, you&…

Review: The Wall in the Middle of the Book

At a glance, there is not much to this book. A brick wall is wedged in the gutter (middle) of the book with blank pages on each side of it. On closer examination, you'll notice a brick is missing on the left-hand-side of the wall. Supposedly, this is the better side of the book, so it's fortunate the wall is in the middle of the book, protecting it - so says the little knight, who armed with a suitably sized ladder, aims to replace the missing brick.

While all this is happening, we catch a glimpse of the other side of the book. It's full of predatory and fierce animals, rhinos, tigers and gorillas. They don't have ladders, just a natural curiosity to explore the other side of the wall, the safe side. They are not the most dangerous aspect of the right-hand-side side of the book though. The knight informs us that honour belongs to the ogre. Oh dear. Lucky for our knight there is a wall for if the ogre was on the other side, he would surely eat the knight.

Then a fright…

Review: Mindcull

This is a curiously compelling thriller that sets your mind whirling with speculation. After an initial period of accustomization of where and why (and wrapping my head around a slew of acronyms I thought I had to remember), this YA thriller settled into a convincing mystery of deceit and apprehension.

Sixteen-year-old Eila is shortlisted to be the face of a global marketing campaign for a new virtual reality skinsuit, the kind never before seen in her futuristic world of VR and AR commonality. These skinsuits have the ability to adhere to their wearers' thoughts and emotions with action, surpassing conventional VR 'normality'. In short, they are uber high tech units.

K H Canobi has crafted an action imbued tale of suspenseful turmoil that crackles with tension and doubt. Once we are lured into Eila's world, one that is eerily easy to accept as our own; as it might be just a few years from now, we are swept along with her in a confusion of mind altering, sinister subpl…

Review: Hattie

Hattie is six and has been waiting forever for school to start.
Interestingly, I picked up this novel, first published in Sweden in 2005, at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown when many a young pupil was itching to get back into their own classroom. Hattie however, an only child living on the edge of nowhere with just a dog and two outdoor cats for company, has never set foot in a real classroom and can't wait to exchange her wild, gloriously unstructured days spent among her mother's flowerbeds for the adventure of cutting and pasting and forming friendships.

Having survived the bus ride to school, Hattie attempts friendship with Linda, a girl with little blue eyes and a disposition so timid, Hattie initially mistakes her for a stuck-up angry girl instead of the sweet little princess she really is. Linda's cautious but caring personality is the perfect counterfoil to Hattie's torrent of unregulated candour and cheek. Barely a moment passes that Hattie isn't in s…

Review: Ribbit Rabbit Robot

This is one of those picture books that is few on words but big on interpretation and thus possesses that wonderful read-again-and-again magic. Simple and seemingly unstructured, Ribbit Rabbit Robotis really a lesson in paying attention to the minutiae that make up our lives for when we do, magic is often revealed.

One day while hanging out in a fantastically congested shop of curious antiquities, three friends, Rabbit, Robot and Frog, happen upon an enchanted lamp. It's clever frog who rubs the lamp releasing a wish-granting genie of mythical proportions. The genie comes with a caveat that Rabbit and Robot overlook in their wishing-make zeal. They each conjure up companions suited to their desires but as they bicker for possession of the lamp, Frog, who has taken the time to read further, admonishes their greed and selfishness.

Rabbit and Robot employ stealth and subterfuge in an effort to second the lamp for themselves. Hot-headed robot appears to have outwitted his rivals havi…

Review: Beyond Belief

Dee White's narrative is a compelling mix of poignancy and poise. From the very first line, we are condemned to the cellar with Ruben and his exiled family, huddled in the dark under a mantel of uncertainty and fear. His confusion and anxiety are palpable but we are helpless for it is 1942 and for Jews like young Ruben, there is no longer any safe place in Paris as long as the Nazi stronghold remains. Except one...

In desperation, Ruben's parents escort him to the Grand Mosque where dozens of other Jewish children take refuge. Ruben's parents hope he will be safe here while they search for his adult sister in Spain, for salvation. After his mother's rushed and tearful farewell, Ruben realises the only familiar thing that links him to his true identity is the tattered yellow Star of David he keeps hidden in his shoe. It's enough to condemn him yet he refuses to part with it. He is an alien in a strange but beautiful new world, one he must now call home to survive.


Review: The Battle

Edward's battle has begun. He's apprehensive and concerned how the day will unfold so he dons his sturdy suit of armour and helmet and hopes for the best. And although Edward is fond of hunting dragons and chasing ogres in his spare time, he is careful to sit in the back row of knights' school lest he bothers all the other creatures.

The king of knight school generously dispenses kindness and understanding but Edward is wary of the attention so ducks and weaves his way into obscurity, to the furthest side of the playground. It's hard though; there are giants, ogres and dragons everywhere! Despite his best efforts, he is approached by a grinning ogre at lunchtime. She proffers cake...with sprinkles. Is it a trick? He decides to ignore his knight training and accepts her gift. But just as the cracks in his amour begin to widen, in troop the dragons.

The first day of school or even returning to school after a long period of absence just as many children are currently exp…

Review: James Gong: The Big Hit

This is so not my genre but the eye-snagging cover and jazzy back cover blurb hooked me as solidly as a jumping spinning side kick so I found myself spending some unexpected quality time with James Gong, Paul Collin's latest middle grade fiction offering.

It does not take long to settle into James Gong's high energy world. Edgy narrative and vibrant characters are driven by a seemingly implausible story line that evolves into a curiously involved teen tale.

James Gong is a teen on the precipice of stardom. He's OK at school, has a sister whose bestie seems bent on giving him nosebleeds, and two best mates, Jay and Ethan, who keep his fourteen-year-old world balanced. He is also pretty hot at taekwondo despite a slightly goofy veneer and shaved head.

James' prowess on the training floor means he is just a few poomse routines away from earning his black belt, but his reckless and uncontrolled rouge behaviour is not enough to convince Mr Choi, his martial arts instructor…