Bobbie Dazzler, by Margaret Wild & Janine Dawson

Bobbie the wallaby can hop and skip and bounce. But she cannot do the splits. Her friends tell her not to mind, but she does mind – a lot. Then when Bobbie finally manages to do the splits, she gets stuck and her friends have to help her out. But Bobby doesn’t mind – because now she knows that she cando the splits.

Bobbie Dazzler is a beautiful new picture book from the talented pairing of author Margaret Wild and illustrator Janine Dawson. Wild’s text is simple and joyful, celebrating a small achievement and a lovely friendship, with humour and an innate understanding of the pride children take in developing new skills. The illustrations, in pen and ink and watercolour, are a delight, featuring four warm and lively Australian animal characters. While all the illustrations are gorgeous, a special favourite is the final one, without text, showing the four friends having a group hug, contented smiles on their faces. The endpapers, too, featuring Bobbie’s happy friends and pictures of Australian flora, are also superb.

This is a truly dazzling offering for young Australians.

Bobby Dazzler, by Margaret Wild & Janine Dawson
Working Title, 2006

The Land of Bad Fantasy, by K.J. Taylor

The medallion appeared at around four in the afternoon, when I was doing my homework…It was very large: larger than the palm of my hand. On one side was etched a map, though not a map of any continent I recognised. The other side was covered in some kind of script I couldn’t read. I sighed, tossed the medallion aside and returned to my books. Mysterious happenings were all very well, but I had work to do.

Ana Beachcombe isn’t terribly surprised when a magic transport medallion lands in her bedroom. She does, after all, live in a Crossroads universe where all other universes meet. She waits for the right moment to use the medallion – packing carefully and planning her exit for maximum impact. Soon she finds herself alone in a strange land – Sydnup: the Land of Bad Fantasy. Here she makes some strange friends – a troll who is allergic to eating people, a were-person who turns into a canary instead of a wolf, and a monster who is scared of just about everything. Together the four go an a quest across Sydnup to he great city of Laundromatt, to speak to the King about equal rights for all.

The Land of Bad Fantasy proclaims itself as a parody of every fantasy you’ve ever read. Fantasy fans will recognise characters and motifs from the genre – from the teenage wizard with glasses and messy hair, to the quest itself and the consequent complications. Ana is a wryly cynical narrator and central character, who relates her adventures in a conversational voice which is easy to read.

Prior familiarity with the fantasy genre will be a helpful tool for readers, with much of the humour stemming from the clichéd characters, landscapes and events.

The Land of Bad Fantasy, by K. J. Taylor
Omnibus, 2006

Crazy Cars for Crazy Kids, by Mark David

Is your family car boringly simple – with four doors, four wheels and one steering wheel? If so, then you obviously don’t have one of Mark David’s crazy cars. David has a car for every taste. There’s the Luxury Resortster, complete with a golf course, water slide, pony rides, hang gliding and more, which guarantees that you’ll arrive at your holiday destination feeling like you’ve already had a holiday. Or perhaps you’d prefer the Taskbuggy, which lets you fit in those pesky chores while you are driving to work. You can get your hair cut, go to the library or even do you banking, all in an easy stroll around your car.

Crazy Cars for Crazy Kids is filled with wild and weird cars for every taste. Kids will love the humour of cars which double as amusement parks, or fishing boats, or dog exercisers, and will love studying the detail of Mark David’s illustrations, with every page full of little bizarre elements to be discovered over time.

Suitable for primary aged children, this is a fun little offering.

Crazy Cars for Crazy Kids, by Mark David
Little Hare, 2006

Platypus Deep, by Jill Morris

Reviewed by Alison Miles

Having recently met the author, and having seen much of her work collected together, the abiding regard she holds for Australia’s native wildlife became vividly apparent. Along with many talented artists, Jill has brought the bush to young readers with such characters as golden wombats, fig parrots, crocodiles, geckos and platypuses. In this she could be compared favourably with another Queenslander, Narelle Oliver.

Platypus Deep follows Orni the platypus as he searches for a deeper home. It is this search that shows both platypus and reader how important the creek system has been to many animals over millions of years.

Orni’s journey visits the familiar imagery of Jill’s books – native animals facing nature while living in a world dominated by humans. The author lives in Maleny where non-fictional platypuses have recently experienced the disruption of human intervention.

A reading of this lyrical narrative suggests a quiet creek setting with just the trickle of a waterfall and FLIP FLOP of Orni’s flippers to rustle the peace. A carefully measured repetition of sounds and the appearance of echidna hunting for ants leads to a beautifully balanced book. It is hoped that Platypus Deep will continue to introduce this curious animal to children, and not be the only remaining evidence of its existence.

(For children aged 3-10)

Platypus Deep, by Jill Morris & Heather Gall
Greater Glider Productions, 2006
ISBN 0947304 74 6

© alison miles, 2006.

Ruby Rosemount and the Travellers Telescope, by Jodie Brownlee

Ever since Ruby discovered she is half genie. She has been desperately trying to improve her magic skills. Granny is helping by sending her magic lessons on the mail wind, but these don’t seem to be helping. Ruby hasn’t mastered any of the magic skills a good genie knows. Then when her mother forbids her from using magic in the house, it seems she is destined not to ever get good at magic.

But Ruby finds it hard to follow her mother’s instructions, and when her next door neighbour Mrs Pinkus disappears through Granny’s travellers telescope, Ruby knows she has to use magic to get Mrs Pinkus back. This is only the start of her adventures, involving flying camels, a genie oasis and an enemy who’ll do anything to stop her.

Ruby Rosemount and the Travellers Telescope is an action filled fantasy for upper primary aged children. A sequel to Ruby Rosemount and the Magic Carpet this title can be read as a stand-alone, with enough back story to place the action for the new reader, while those who have read the first will enjoy seeing what is happening to their favourite characters.

This is a fun fantasy read.

Ruby Rosemount and the Travellers Telescope, by Jodie Brownlee
Omnibus, 2006

Dorothy the Dinosaur Let's Party and Goes Camping

Every child loves the Wiggles, and these two newly released board book editions are sure to please every Wiggles fan.

In Dorothy the Dinosaur Let’s party, Dorothy and her friends Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword are busily preparing for a party to celebrate the tenth birthday of Wiggles Bay. Just like every year, there will be a surprise guest, but none of the friends can guess who it will be, until toot, toot, toot – could the surprise guest be the Wiggles?

In Dorothy the Dinosaur Goes Camping Dorothy invites her friends to camp for the night in her back garden. But when bedtime comes, the friends have trouble sleeping – they seem to be having one another’s dreams.

With illustrations by Jonathan Bentley and in durable board back format, this duo is ideal as first books for babies and toddlers.

Dorothy the Dinosaur Goes Camping and Dorothy the Dinosaur Let’s Party, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley
This edition ABC Books, 2006

Emily Eyefinger and the City in the Sky, by Duncan Ball

Suddenly the prescriptions man screamed, ‘She’s got a gun! She’s got a gun! It’s the witch again!’
The lipstick woman froze. Slowly, she put her hands in the air.
‘Don’t shoot!’ she said. ‘Take the lipstick! It’s yours!’ With this, she dropped to the floor behind the counter.
‘Wait!’ Emily said. ‘It’s not a real gun. Look! It’s plastic!’

When Emily and her friend Janey dress as witches to practice for a play, they don’t realise the trouble it will cause. But why are the people at the pharmacy so scared of two girls in costume? Emily and the eye on the end of her finger are going to investigate.

Emily Eyefinger is a normal girl with a fairly extraordinary extra eye – on the end of her finger. It has all kinds of uses, especially for solving mysteries or getting out of scrapes, because with her extra eye Emily can see into all sorts of things that ordinary eyes can’t.

Emily Eyefinger and the City in the Sky is the tenth book of stories about Emily and her adventures, told by one of Australia’s best-loved children’s writers, Duncan Ball, perhaps best known for his stories of Selby, the talking dog. There are six self-contained stories in the book, perfect for independent reading by kids aged seven to ten.

Lots of fun.

Emily Eyefinger and the City in the Sky, by Duncan Ball
Angus & Robertson, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2006

Frankly My Dear…The Ultimate Movie Quote Quiz Book

Do you know which classic movies the following quotes come from?

1. My father taught me many things…Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer
2. Does anyone else feel like having a little giggle when I mention my friend Bigus Dickus?
3. Perhaps it is good to have a beautiful mind, but an even greater gift is to discover a beautiful heart.

Frankly My dear offers movie buffs and would-be movie buffs the chance to brush up on their movie trivia. There are more than 700 classic movie quotes, from a wide range of movies, old and recent.

The book is set out with a set of seven quotes on each right hand page, and the answers (which movie each quote belongs to) on the reverse left hand page, so that the book can be used as a trivia game, either alone or in groups. There are instructions on how to play the quiz game, but the book is also fun for just browsing and testing your own knowledge.

A great gift for the movie lover in your life.

Frankly My Dear…The Ultimate Movie Quote Quiz Book
Allen & Unwin, 2005

Across the Dark Sea, by Wendy Orr

The half-moon came out, its crescent of light shining in the calm sea.
It shone on the soldiers who burst out of the woods, and on the sampans racing up the river to hide.
It shone on the shore where Ma waited with Mai, while the fishing boat with Ba and Trung sailed out to cross the sea to Australia, 6000 kilometres away.

It is 1978. Trung, his sister Mai and their mother live together in Vietnam. Their father has been in prison for two years, because he was a doctor for the army that lost the war. In the dead of night Trung, Mai and Ma make their way to the beach where they are briefly reunited with Ba. Then, in the mad rush to get aboard boats which are their chance to leave Vietnam, the family is separated – Trung and Ba make it aboard, but Ma and Mai have been left behind.

After a long and dreadful journey, Trung and his father arrive in Australia, where they begin their new life, but both of them have challenges to face, living in a strange country with a strange language. The biggest challenge of all is missing those they left behind.

Across the Dark Sea is a junior novel which shares one boy’s story of coming to Australia as a refugee. Because the issue is humanised through the endearing character of Trung, children will be able to better understand some of the challenges both of getting to Australia and of building a new life here.

Making Tracks is a new series of junior novels produced by the National Museum of Australia Press, presenting history to primary school aged children through accessible stories. Each story is written by a well known Australian author, and based around an artefact from the National Museum’s collection.

A wonderful little book.

Across the Dark Sea, by Wendy Orr
National Museum of Australia Press, 2006

One Perfect Day, by Jackie French

May 9, 1927 didn’t start as a perfect day. Not for Billy.
‘Rise and shine!’ yelled Mr Cuddy. ‘Blast the boy, he’d sleep through a mob of emus galloping through the butter! Billy!’
‘Coming Mr Cuddy!’ Billy rolled over on the potato sacks in the sleep-out, waking Dusty beside him.

Life is hard for Billy, an orphan who has been sent to work on a farm near Canberra. He works long hours, doesn’t get enough to eat, and can’t keep warm. But when he hears that Mr Cuddy, the farmer, is going to shoot Dusty, the dog who is Billy’s only friend, Billy knows life could get much worse. He has until sun-down to find a new home for Dusty.

It is the opening day of the new Parliament House, and there is plenty of traffic heading for Canberra. Perhaps Billy can find someone to take Dusty home. When he finds a car broken down at the side of the road, he ends up with more than that.

One Perfect Day is a junior novel about friendship and loyalty, set amidst the events of the commissioning of the original Parliament House in Canberra. Part of the Making Tracks series, published by The National Museum of Australia Press, One Perfect Day is an easy to read offering, with plenty of interest for young readers. Kids will love the surprise ending and be fascinated by the old motor cars which feature heavily in the story.

One Perfect Day, by Jackie French
National Museum of Australia Press, 2006