Book Review: Twig

Twig – Aura Parker – Scholastic – Published November 2016

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Synopsis

Finding friends isn’t easy when no one can find you!

One, two, three. One, two three.

Why won’t someone play with me?

Heidi is a stick insect, long and thin like the twig of a tree. It’s her first day at Bug School, where she hopes to learn lots and make new friends. But no one will talk to her . . . and no one will play with her at lunch. No one notices her at all – not even her teacher Miss Orb. Perhaps she’s blending in with the branches a little too well! Finally, Heidi speaks up for herself and Miss Orb comes up with a plan to help Heidi stand out.

Aura Parker’s winsome illustrations are a pure delight. Kids of all ages will pore over the adorable details and enjoy the numbers and counting elements throughout the story. The endpapers are a delight and each includes a search-and-find activity.

My thoughts

I fell in love with this picture book when I first saw the end pages. I didn’t even need to read the story or flick through further to know it was going to be a gorgeous book.

Are you a bit different from those around you? Do you stand out? Or maybe you are so different no one even sees you? That’s the problem Heidi has. No one sees her. Heidi is tall and thin, just like the twig of a tree. It is her first day of school, but it is hard to make friends when no one notices you in the playground and you can’t join in the classroom activities if no one knows you’re there.

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Book Review: Lucy’s Book

Lucy’s Book – Natalie Jane Prior, Cheryl Orsini (ill.) – Lothian – Published 28 February 2017

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Synopsis

LUCY’S BOOK captures that special connection between a child and their favourite book, as well as celebrating the way sharing stories can bring people together.

Lucy’s mum takes her to the library every Saturday. Lucy loves to read, but there is one special book that she borrows over and over again. The book is shared between friends, dropped in the ocean, flown to China and even made into a banana sandwich. But what will happen when everyone’s favourite book goes missing?

My thoughts

Lucy’s Book is a charming and delightful story that perfectly captures that magic moment when a book and a person first meet and change each other forever.

When the librarian hands Lucy a book and says “I think you’ll enjoy this one,” she couldn’t predict what would happen next. It becomes Lucy’s book. Her favourite. The book she wants to reread a hundred times. Lucy borrows it many times, shares it with her friends, takes it on holidays, and then discovers it has been removed from the library shelves. Desperate, Lucy begins a search to find her book.

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Book Review: Welcome To Country

Welcome To Country – Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy (ill.) – Black Dog Books

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Synopsis

Welcome to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People. We are part of this land and the land is part of us. This is where we come from. Wominjeka Wurundjeri balluk yearmenn koondee bik. Welcome to Country.

My thoughts

Welcome To Country shares the wonderful traditional words of welcome from the Wurundjeri People of Melbourne. It is beautifully written and the words flow gently over the pages, set against gorgeous illustrations.

In a day when showing respect to the traditional owners of the land is so key (though it has never not been important, I might add), it is wonderful to share the words traditionally used to welcome visitors.

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Book Review: The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre – Gail Carson Levine – The Two Princesses of Bamarre #0.5 – HarperCollins – Published 2 May 2017

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Synopsis

Peregrine strives to live up to the ideal of her people, the Lakti—and to impress her parents: affectionate Lord Tove, who despises only the Bamarre, and stern Lady Klausine. Perry runs the fastest, speaks her mind, and doesn’t give much thought to the castle’s Bamarre servants, whom she knows to be weak and cowardly.

But just as she’s about to join her father on the front lines, she is visited by the fairy Halina, who reveals that Perry isn’t Lakti-born. She is Bamarre. The fairy issues a daunting challenge: against the Lakti power, Perry must free her people from tyranny.

My thoughts

Achingly gorgeous, this is a tale of courage, family, love, loyalty, and a dangerous quest for freedom.

The name Gail Carson Levine evokes strong memories – my first discovery of her beautiful stories, an eternal love for her wonderful characters, sharing her books with other readers, and rereading the tales many, many times over. Of all her books, The Two Princesses of Bamarre was always my favourite, so let’s just say I was completely thrilled that there was to be a new book, a prequel to this wonderful story. Starting The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre I was both excited and cautious – could this story possibly live up to the wonder I feel when reading The Two Princesses? At first, no, it could never have that sparkle of first discovery, but this new story shares all the same wonder, vibrant character, clever storytelling, and magic as the original, and by the end I was just as in love with this book as I am with The Two Princesses of Bamarre.

Perry is the daughter of Lord and Lady Tove – a true Lakti in strength and ability and courage. She can run and fight better than all of her peers. But when she discovers that she is actually Bamarre, stolen from her true family, her eyes are opened to the treatment of the Bamarre and how, with a little courage, freedom could be theirs.

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Book Review: Suri’s Wall

Suri's Wall

Suri’s Wall – Lucy Estela, illustrated by Matt Ottley – Penguin Books Australia – Published 26 August 2015

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Synopsis

Eva squeezed Suri’s hand. “What’s there? What can you see?”

“What can I see?” Suri looked out over the wall. “Oh, it’s beautiful, let me tell you all about it.”

A moving tale of the power of the human spirit.

My thoughts

This is an incredibly powerful book.

I went into the book knowing very little about it. I had not even read the blurb. And I think that was the best way to read it. So, if you want to go and find a copy, snuggle down, enjoy the story and then come back and read my review, go ahead. I’ll wait….

Suri’s Wall has been nominated for CBCA’s Book of the Year in 2016, and for very good reason. It is a particularly powerful and moving story. It speaks volumes and yet is gentle and quiet in conveying a message of hope and beauty in times of pain and loss.

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Book Review: Skyfire

Skyfire

Skyfire – Michael Adams – Scholastic Press Australia – Published July 2016

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Synopsis

Seven talented and driven teenagers from around the world have been selected by trillionaire Internet King Felix Scott to form an elite group of young people committed to help make a difference in the world. They meet at the ceremony announcing their selection, then their lives are bound together on a quest as they come to realise that each of them has been sent part of a code that predicts an unknown disaster.

My thoughts

Skyfire begins The Seven Signs series where seven young people are entangled in a dangerous and compelling mystery that puts the whole world in danger. It is fun, fast-paced and full of action.

Seven young people have entered a competition that is set to change their lives. As the winners, they are granted the chance to work with the internet and technology king Felix Scott. They are gifted the latest in phone technology, rides aboard space-skimmers and even one million dollars. But as they are named winners they become targets for a cruel and dangerous plot to destroy the world. They each receive a sign, which together they must decode before terror is unleashed on the world.    

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Author Interview: Soraya Nicholas

Author Interview: Soraya Nicholas

Pony DetectivesI would like to welcome author Soraya Nicholas to my blog. Soraya is the author of the recently released children’s books Pony Detectives and Gymkhana Hijinks, the first two books in the new Starlight Stable series.

This is a wonderful series for young readers, particularly if they are horse crazy. Set in the Australian bush, this is a lovely addition to all those horse stories that young readers just love.

Poppy has always wanted her own pony, and her dream finally comes true when her aunt and uncle present her with the most gorgeous pony, Crystal. But joining Poppy at her aunt and uncle’s stables are two other girls who have also been gifted their own ponies. These girls form a wonderful friendship, take care of their ponies and even set out to solve the mystery of the horses that have disappeared from neighbouring properties.

You can find my full review of Pony Detectives here.


Soraya-Finn

Meet Soraya.

Soraya is pictured here with her own horse, Finn. 

I recently had the chance to meet and work with Soraya when she visited the school’s library and conducted a writing workshop with some lucky students. Soraya shared with us some of her writing tips, her inspiration for her stories and the publishing process. She has graciously offered to answer a few more of my questions so that I can share them with my readers here.     Continue reading

Book Review: Pony Detectives

Pony Detectives

Pony Detectives – Soraya Nicholas – Starlight Stables #1 – Penguin Australia – Published 28 March 2016

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Synopsis

Poppy is thrilled to be back doing the one thing she loves – riding horses at Starlight stables – especially when her aunt and uncle make all her dreams come true with a gift of her very own horse. But there’s a catch . . . Poppy must look after the new scholarship girls. Will the bold and troublesome Milly and shy, sensible Katie be the pony-mad friends she’s always hoped for?

When horses go missing from the local farms, Poppy worries about Crystal, her new horse. Will the girls be able to protect their ponies from the horse thief and find the missing horses at the same time?

My thoughts

Love horses and dream of owning your own pony or escaping to riding camp for the summer? Well, Poppy answers yes to all three, and this summer her wishes are about to come true.

Poppy is going to stay with her aunt and uncle at their riding camp for the holidays and they have a very special surprise in store for her – her very own pony. But she will have to share this privilege with two other girls. When horses are stolen from neighbouring properties, Poppy and her two new friends decide it is up to them to keep their own ponies safe and maybe even rescue the missing horses.

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Book Review: Wonder

Wonder

Wonder – R.J Palacio – Knopf – Published 14 February 2012

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Synopsis

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

My thoughts

I have to admit when I heard about the hype, the accolades surrounding Wonder I was a little sceptical. Sure, maybe it would be a good book, but really, that great? I am very happy to report that it deserves every kind word and more. I surprised myself by really, really liking it. I fell in love with the characters little by little, I got more involved in their stories with every page and I even teared up a few times and was celebrating at the end. This is a book that will become a class reader, be pushed by booksellers and librarians alike, and top best-seller lists. But it will also be enjoyed by the children for whom it was written, and that is most important of all.      Continue reading

Book Review: Orion and the Dark

Orion and the Dark

Orion and the Dark – Emma Yarlett – Templar Publishing – Published 1 May 2014

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Synopsis

Orion is scared of a lot of things, but most of all he’s scared of the dark. So one night the Dark decides to take Orion on an adventure.

My thoughts

This book is wonderfully charming. I sat down to cover it for the library and, opening it up, could not stop reading. Every page is full of humour and surprises. Even the title page is clever and funny. Orion and the dark 3
Orion and the Dark is written in notebook form. Orion tells the reader that he is afraid of a lot of things, but is especially scared of the dark. So when Dark comes for a visit and Orion is more scared than ever before, he is a little reluctant to go on an adventure with Dark. But adventure they do, and Orion soon discovers that the dark can be a lot more fun than he ever expected. 
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