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Review: Paws

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This book had me at its title, Paws : simple and unambiguous with a huge promise of something cleverly canine exciting the dog lover in me. Having woofed this middle grade fiction down faster than my dog can empty a bowl of kibble, I wonder though if author, Kate Foster had other implications in mind when naming her latest book; we authors are fond of layered meanings and wondrous wordplay after all. For me Paws is a story about self-identity and recognition, of ‘pausing’ for thought not just to give ourselves more time to process a particular situation or emotion but also to appreciate another’s; so much easier to write than do especially if you are 11-year-old Alex Freeman dealing with autism.   Alex’s most pressing life goal is to secure a true and proper friendship before he is obliged to set sail on the unnavigable social ocean of high school. He believes his best chances lie in winning a coveted PAWS Dog Show trophy so spends his mornings and afternoons training his constant

Oswald Messweather: Publication Day!

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Say hello to OSWALD MESSWEATHER . I'm stoked to finally share my own picture book joy with you all. Oswald is the new diminutive guy in my life who's endearing tale of enduring and taming his OCD disorder, I hope, soothes, inspires and uplifts. It's been a joy to tell his story especially as this condition is one that is often overlooked in the classroom and kids' lit. I invite you to explore it with me... and Oswald. Available now, everywhere and from Wombat Books . For personally signed copies please just slip me an email or DM via any of my socials. Strikingly illustrated by Siobhan McVey ,  Oswald Messweather is one of those books I hope finds a special spot on your bookcase for it's a story of perseverance and endurance; two concepts I hold in the highest regard. For the complete low down on all things Ozzie and an ocean of free downloadable resources for parents, teachers, librarians and kids, please visit Ozzie's page on my website.

Review: The Power of Positive Pranking

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I don’t usually do a lot of second-book-in-the-series reviews because, well life being too short and book shelves being too full and all that, but this follow on story by Nat Amoore warrants a megaphone of praise all on its own. The Power of Positive Pranking is a not just the second in a series about the antics of a bunch of upper primary school scallywags, it’s a standalone rib tickler packed with tidy trays-full of heart, subterfuge and oh yeah...good old fashioned PRANKING!   We’re back at Watterson Primary School, breeding ground of some great characters like Tess and Toby from, Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire . This time the focus is on Casey Wu and her secret band of fellow pranksters, Cookie and Zeke aka the Green Peas, a name that can be interpreted in multiple ways but essentially is a club of pre-teens dedicated to the art of pranking for the greater good. So what does this oxymoron actually mean? As with its predecessor …Positive Pranking’s chapters are defined

Review: Evie Is All Ears

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Easter is different things to different people: a time of rest and relaxation with family, a moment to reflect on new beginnings, a sacred religious observation symbolising rebirth and renewed hope. Here in Australia a new tradition is taking hold; the Easter Bilby has been bouncing alongside the traditional Easter Bunny as a symbol of encompassing change and compassion in addition to recognition for our very own long-eared lookalike Easter cutie for some time now. While picture book, Evie Is All Ears is devoid of Easter Eggs, it does feature bilbies in abundance and is a tender example of consideration and coping with change; two significant Easter concepts. With that tenuous connection made, let’s explore Evie’s world. Evie lives in the harsh Australian brigalow bush. She attends Miss Briar’s school with gay abandon and applies herself to every bilby task required be it learning to dig with her sharp claws or sniff out tasty morsels using her keen nose. The one thing she finds d

Review: Penguin Bloom: The True Story of an Unlikely Hero Young Readers' Edition

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Five years ago an incredible book emerged about an odd little bird who saved a family ; the Bloom family, who endured a horrific tragedy and learnt to live with pain and disappointment, heartache and renewed love thanks to an angel clothed in black and white. Penguin Bloom (HarperCollins 2016) was an instant success resulting in the production of a major motion picture still showing on the big screen. This Young Readers’ Edition is the movie-tie in and every bit an emotional heart tug as its parent editions. Samantha Bloom was a young energetic vivacious mother of three committed to life and adventure when she had a harrowing near death accident whilst on holiday with her family in Thailand. Her subsequent paralysation left her broken and wheelchair bound and in terrible mental decline. This was not the life she had planned. She was no longer the woman she thought she’d be. Her sons and husband, helpless bystanders in this tragedy felt every bit of her pain and despair but were un

Introducing Oswald Messweather

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Word's just in; a little fellow I've been spending a bit of time getting to know online had finally arrived in Australia. We've yet to set eyes on each other in real life but I'm told he's a stunner. I can't wait to meet him. Only a few more weeks to go. I wonder how I'll feel holding his story in my hands, knowing I had some part in its creation, accepting that it was demanding to tell but emancipating to share, feeling his exasperation and exhaustion and frustration...his fear, for real.  He's rather shy and reclusive but I know that together we can initiate ripples of greatness that might cause waves of change, acceptance, understanding and hope. We'd both like that very much. He sent me a little compilation of his story thus far and I'm allowed to share it with you. Ready? Here it is, the book trailer of Oswald Messweather , my next special little picture book - arriving 28 March 2021! We hope you like it. Let us know what you think. Ozzie an

Review: What Do You Do With An Idea?

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Since last year, I have been invited to present specialised language programs for gifted and talented school students throughout Australia for the G.A.T.EWAYS Education organisation. It’s always a privilege standing in front of a group of motivated young students no matter who they are. The G.A.T.EWAYS kids are especially challenging for they love to question. Fortunately I love to find answers; to questions like: ‘Where did that idea come from?’ and ‘How to you grow an idea?’ My latest workshops cover these precise quandaries focusing on what ideas become…why marvellous stories of course! Stories themselves illustrate this point best which is why I was delighted beyond words to unearth this gem, What Do You Do With An Idea? by the quietly brilliant award winning, Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom. This book embraces the notion that everything, every single thing, you see and experience around you was once an idea; a huge concept that Yamada breaks down into an absorbing narrative starr

Review: Ham

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Animal lover that I am, I am also an unashamed omnivore with a discomfiting appreciation of bacon and ham, thus a picture book so titled could not fail to set the salivary glands in motion. Ahem… but jokes aside this is a serious(ly funny) situation for one little porker aptly named, Ham. Ham and his barnyard buddies, Satay, Chops and Stew – notice the theme here – luxuriate in each other’s company and their benignly serene farm lifestyle until one day reality arrives with a heart-seizing shock; the realisation they are part of the human food chain. This is a devastating life blow that Ham takes particularly hard owing to his gorgeously, plump, voluptuous, wobbly …rump. Determined to foil the farmer’s intent and their inevitable fate, Ham and his mates devise multiple plans to ensure they do not end up on a dinner plate. Each salvation attempt results in near annihilation but Ham refuses to be beaten, read: eaten. They decide on a more vegan approach but the farmer’s veggies are re

Review: Ling Li's Lantern

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In just a few more days, the lumbering Ox takes over from the scurrilous Rat in the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Rat was arguably one of much shifting and called for quick-wittedness at which the wee rat excels. The new year of the Ox promises a more measured, assured and progressive adventure, one marked by restoration, resoluteness and renewed strength. I wonder how this will translate on a global scale. One thing is for certain, no matter what your beliefs or desires, all can be enhanced by wisdom, patience and the practice of compassion. So this year’s Chinese New Year offering is the enchanting picture book by new picture book duo, Steve Heron and Benjamin Johnston, Ling Li’s Lantern . Ling Li is the youngest child of Da Zhi, a highly respected village elder. She is his only daughter and shares the family home with quick-thinking, Jingming and fun-loving, Miao. Mindful that all aspects of success are built with wisdom, Da Zhi devises a great challenge for his offspring to

Book Bites: Under The Sea - Picture Books Going Beyond the Sea

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I often tell kids how lucky I am to live so close to so many wonderful worlds, Sea World being one of them. A recent visit beyond the sea to this world famous attraction plunged me back into all things Atlantis. It was marvellous. Fortunately, there is a raft of equally phenomenal picture books into which youngsters can immerse themselves for fun – and learning. Here are just some of the special ones. Bad Crab This is basically a wordless picture book with a restrained use of just one expression however when coupled with Philip Bunting’s comically styled illustrations, the result is a visually powerful and entertaining narrative. Crab is a cranky crustacean whose first reaction to newcomers is to claw nip them, an anti-social behaviour not uncommon among young biting pre-schoolers. His unaccommodating mood swings push his sea-mates literally to the edge and force them to abandon their cantankerous chum. A change of circumstance forces Crab to re-evaluate his behaviour leading to a re

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