Monday, April 29, 2013

Touch and Feel Playbook by Eric Carle

I actually purchased this book for my grandson who is three months old and just starting to be interested in  brightly-coloured picture books. It is a board book and is 25.5cm by 25.5cm which makes it a good-sized book to share with babies. The apple on the front is a shiny padded plastic, and upon opening the book you are greeted by a white, woolly sheep and a furry-maned lion. Adults will be enticed to touch  the textured joys as much as their infants. There is a mirror hidden under a square on the shapes page and the frog has a very interesting texture. One of my favourites is the corrugated roof on the house. The big, hungry caterpillar is hidden under a cocoon flap and a beautiful butterfly makes a spectacular last double page spread. The book of course features artwork from The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other Eric Carle picture books, having first concepts such as animal sounds, colours, numbers band shapes along with some basic words. I can't wait to share it with little Archie.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer

Do you like a dark and dastardly story? Want to scare your toddler? The three robbers in their large black capes will do just that, well initially at any rate. The threesome, toting a blunderbuss, a pepper-blower and a huge red axe, are out to reek havoc on their victims and to cash up as quickly as possible. One day, after much plundering,  they are confronted by little orphan, Tiffany on her way to live with her wicked aunt. Now strangely enough, the villains carry her away to their cave and upon her suggestion and without reservation, decide they can do a lot better with their loot. It is a rather ridiculous story but the beautiful silhouettes and artwork compel you to read this book and to appreciate it for this; the appalling plot is soon forgiven. I just love the awesome weapon, the pepper-blower!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Sword in the Grotto (Araminta Spook) by Angie Sage

 In this second book by Ange Sage in the Araminta Spook series, it's Sir Horace's five-hundredth birthday and Araminta  wants to give him a surprise party. Only problem is that there is considerable angst in the spooky household at this particular point in time as Uncle Drac has had a nasty fall from his bat turret, and it seems he has inadvertently squashed his favourite bat, Big Bat. So someone has to do the bat manure run out to the local mushroom farm in his place. Araminta is one of the volunteers along with her "wizzard" friend Wanda. Whilst exploring the beach area, they discover a grotto and inside it an amazing medieval sword which would make the perfect present for the aging ghostly suit of armour, Sir Horace. Only problem is they can't quite locate the entrance. Amazingly enough, when they return home they find that there is a secret entrance from their house, how convenient! Anyway, it is not long after this discovery, that the two friends find themselves trapped in a very unenviable position and face the prospect of being drowned. Can the Edmund ghost do anything to help them? The amazing ink work illustrations by Jimmy Pickering are really what make this book, which is pretty much what I said about the first book in the series.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spud by John Heffernan

Spud, a blue heeler, is born into city life in the times when owning a blue heeler was all the rage. However, she soon finds herself in the pound after her antics become too much for the family. Fortunately, one day an old farmer sees an advertisement in the paper and gives her a new lease of life as a cattle dog on his property where she enjoys the company of his other dogs Pup and Chester. Then, due to sad circumstances, Spud's fortune changes again and he finds himself with a new master, a cruel man with no real interest in her welfare. His down-trodden wife and young daughter do their best to protect Spud from the vicious outbursts of the man, but  it is not long before she is roaming the surrounding country fending for herself.  Parts of this book could be confronting for a young reader, as it deals with the realities of country life. Nevertheless it is a pacy read with never a dull moment. If you enjoy novels about dogs, this one will not disappoint. 

The one and only illustration in the novel

John Heffernan has a great website which is worth a visit at:
There are two other books in this series: Chips and Pup.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dandelion by Galvin Scott Davis & Anthony Ishinjerro

Dandelion, written by Galvin Scott Davis is fresh out on the market this year. I actually bought this book new as "Dandelion" was one of my nicknames when I was at matriculation college, and I was curious about it. The central and faceless character, Benjamin Brewster, likes to count things to try and put his mind at rest, and attends a school where bullies reign supreme. The central message is that bullying is done by people with no imaginations. It is  written in rhyming couplets and has unusual sepia tone illustrations and the white, block-letter  text leaps out of the dark pages.  

This clip by the author about the book is well worth watching. I bought the app and it's fantastic.

Camels Ships of the Desert by John F. Waters

Well, it is quite obvious that Camels Ships of the Desert is a book primarily about camels. This hardback edition is worth having alone is only to enjoy  the beautiful and very lateral artwork by Reynold Reyonlds. It was first published in 1974 and probably aimed at the middle primary market. This is the 1975 edition. The information is still relevant  today and it discusses the main characteristics of camels especially  their cooling mechanisms, and makes specific references about the differences between humans metabolism and that of camels.  Apparently humans have to urinate way more than camels, and camels may drink more than 100 litres of water all at once! It also differentiates between the Arabian camel and the Asian camel. Below are some of the illustrations from the book:

Great Creatures of Mystery by Jan Fortman

Great Creatures of Mystery by Jan Fortman was published in 1977, and although some of the information is a little dated, it is still an interesting read. The opening chapter focuses on the San Clemente Monster  which apparently fishermen first sighted off  the island of San Clemente, off the Californian coast around 1900. It then briefly introduces the topics of the preceding chapters, animals of mystery: lemmings' mad race to nowhere,  the great salmon journey, whales who beach themselves, insectivorous plants, and finally, the great caribou migration.
The San Clemente Monster
There are illustrations by James Warhola, Lynn Sweat and illustrations courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.  

Black and white, and colour  photographs are also scattered throughout the text.

Beached whales

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mister Eternity by Maggie Hamilton

Mister Eternity by Maggie Hamilton is basically a crime book for children set in Kings Cross, Sydney. Sebastian and Josie find themselves enmeshed in mysterious events after their elderly friend, Lil, is bashed nearly to death and her home set on fire.The teenagers had been visiting her only hours before having their futures read in tea leaves. Now, they are on a quest to find out what really happened to their friend and to discover what it is people seem to be after in her apartment. An elderly gentlemen appears in Sebastian's life scribing the word "eternity"on the sidewalk outside his apartment building, and Sebastian instinctively knows that this man is part of the puzzle. Sebastian has problems of his own at home, like his mother he misses his dad and his brother Scotty who were killed in a trucking accident and now his mother is thinking of selling up and moving out of Kings Cross. Sebastian is devastated at the thought of leaving his beloved neighbourhood and dreads the idea of having to move in with his cold and authoritarian grandmother. Then, suddenly, Razor, an old friend is found murdered and the two friends know they must act quickly to save Lil who has mysteriously been moved from the hospital to an aged-care facility  called Greystaines in the outer suburbs

According to the author, Maggie Hamilton, Mister Eternity was inspired by the life of Arthur Stace, a reformed alcoholic. She has dedicated her final chapter of the book to him Further information can be found at:

The Stinking Great Lie by Catherine Jinks

This books really hooks you in right from the start when you discover that eleven year old Camilla has been offered in marriage to fifty-year old Orazio Busini, who's putrid breath and wife-correcting whip would make any mature woman run a mile, let alone a poor wretched girl who serves in the powerful  Tozzini household run by Bernardo and Alessandra . Camilla is desperate to escape such a fate, and who can blame her for all the lies she so effortlessly spins in order to find some respectable way out. Alessandra is relentless in the persecution of her servant entrusted to her care by Camilla's humble father, a widower and a a urine collector in the walled city of  Lontiano.  Camilla also suffers the full brunt of the jibes of the boys from the rival Marzocca family who have named her "Pisspot."  Battista, one of Bernardo's daughter-in-laws, is her only friend in the household and reluctantly agrees to help her disentangle herself from the marriage agreement. The trouble is that Camilla has invented a saint, San Ugolino, the patron saint of sewerage workers. It seems this saint is proving to be a real hit with many of the townsfolk, and it is not long before Camilla has to confront Father Stefano.

I will now be looking out for more books by Catherine Jinks to add to my bookshelf. I basically read this whilst waiting for the Bruny Island ferry over the busy Easter break.