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: 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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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

Display: Fairytale Retellings

Fairytale Retellings Display

Fairytale Display - 1
Fairytale retellings are so popular right now in children’s and young adult fiction. In fact, fairytale retellings have become timeless right along with the fairytales they seek to emulate. Some of my favourite books from childhood, Ella Enchanted and North Child, are fairytale retellings. This display seeks to highlight both the old retellings hiding on the library’s shelves and the abundance of new titles currently being released.

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Book Review: Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous

Bala-Gala

Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous – Gita V. Reddy – Published 7 August 2015

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Synopsis

Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous is a bed time story for kids, and also a first-read for early readers.
Bala-Gala lives in the forest of Gamba-Bamba, and must save himself from the crocodile, Brammy-Gommy, who lives in the River Kanga.
But who is Bala-Gala? Is he is deer, a tiger, a dinosaur, or a dragon? The answer will delight kids, as will the story. 

My thoughts

I was asked to read and review this children’s picture book. It is a clever and sweet story about a child’s playful imagination.

Bala-Gala is brave and dangerous. When he walks through the forest as a deer his friends hide from his large, earth-shaking steps. When he is a tiger he can scare the nasty crocodile. And he loves being a dinosaur so he can carry his friends all over the forest. But when a monster threatens the peace of the forest it will be up to Bala-Gala to save his friends.

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Display: If you liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid…

DOAWK Display 2

If you liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid Display

“What should I read if I liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid?” is a question school and children’s librarians often hear.

DOAWK Display titles

There are plenty of answers one can give. “What about Big Nate, Timmy Failure, or Dork Diaries?” But sometimes, pre-empting these questions is so much fun and reaches kids who you didn’t even know loved the series.

This Diary of a Wimpy Kid display was an absolute hit, especially with the grade 5 and 6 classes. The day it was completed almost all of the suggested titles were loaned.

The Long Haul

The most popular titles included the Timmy Failure books, My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series, and of course The Long Haul, book 9 in the DoaWK series. It is easy to add new titles to the display as the collection is expanded. I’m thinking the latest addition of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is going to be a big hit – one that might deserve its own display… Continue reading

Book Review: The Duck and the Darklings

Duck and the Darklings

The Duck and the Darklings – Glenda Millard, Stephan Michael King – Allen & Unwin Australia – Published 1 April 2014

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Synopsis

Grandpapa’s eyes shine when he remembers the beauty of the world, long-ago. Peterboy wants to find something wonderful to bring the light to Grandpapa’s eyes and keep it there. What he finds is a duck, wounded and broken, and Grandpapa mends her from top to tail; quack, waddle and wing! This is a triumphant story, for children and adults, about the coming of hope in dark days, the warmth of friendship and the splendour of a new dawn.

My thoughts

This is the first book I will be reviewing as part of my Book Week 2015 summary. The Duck and the Darklings has been nominated for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award in 2015 in the Picture Book of the Year category. You can find the full short list of nominated titles here.

The Duck and the Darklings is a very special picture book, most notably for its creativity. I have read lots of post-apocalyptic young adult books, but never have I come across a post-apocalyptic picture book before now.

Peterboy lives with his Grandpapa. They live underground, away from the ruined world where they only venture to scavenge for lost things. When Peterboy finds an injured duck, he takes her back to his grandfather. Together they mend the duck and she in turn brings happiness and light to Peterboy and Grandpapa, inspiring them to look past their safe hole in the dark for hope for the future.

The illustrations in The Duck and the Darkling are as beautiful as they are unique. Large swarths of black and purple shade the majority of the book, with swirls and splashes of colour in yellow, red and green, purple, orange and pink. Peterboy, Grandpapa, Idaduck and their fellow Darklings stand out, drawn in white with black outlines. The writing style is incredibly poetic. The ideas of where the characters are living now, why and what happened to where they were living before are all cleverly alluded too. There will be much to discuss with young readers about what they think happened and why. There are wonderful words, such as disremembered and spiderling, and nothing is described with one word where two or more can be used. Sticks are fiddlesticks for firewood and collecting water is instead filling billies with trickle.

Aside from its creativity and unique beauty, this book is so well placed for Book Week 2015. The themes of dark and light and hope work so beautifully with this year’s theme Books Light Up Our World, as indeed they do in this time of considering our impact on the world. A wonderful and thought-provoking picture book.

More information

Category: Fiction – Picture Book.

Genre: Post-apocalyptic

Themes: Social issues, friendship, family, environment, communities, hope and renewal.

Published: 1 April 2014 by Allen & Unwin.

Format: Hardcover, ebook. 32 pages.

Find it on Goodreads