Picking Up the Pieces, by Paula Vince

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

In Picking Up the Pieces, Paula Vince has tackled some very complex and emotional issues. How to forgive someone who has done something so vile it haunts you? Is it even possible? And what of the families of the two young people whose lives take a sudden and dramatic turn one fateful night?

Claire Parker and Blake Quinlan are characters you won’t forget in a hurry, as they each struggle to come to terms with the aftermath of one evening. This is a story about choices and consequences. It shows how the choices one person makes, affect not just themselves but those closest to them.

I became involved quickly in the story of Claire Parker and Blake Quinlan and their families and regretted each time I had to put the book down to do something else . A well written novel with a fast moving plot, it is the characters that will stay with you long after the final page is closed. This is a book to make you think.

This is the first of Paula Vince’s books I have read. I am sure it will not be the last.

Picking Up the Pieces, Paula Vince
Even Before Publishing

This book can be purchased from good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

Goodnight Mice! by Frances Watts

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

The rhyme and rhythm of this picture book is perfect for the story of four mice who are tired but suddenly become very active , skittering and scampering around when Mum and Dad say it’s time for bed.

The text and accompaniying illustrations take the reader through all the routines the mice do before bedtime, routines of bath times and brushing teeth and kisses goodnight that young children will be familiar with. The repetition of once and twice is effective in the story. Sometimes it is

Kiss Grandpa once,
Kiss Grandpa twice.

Other times it is

Mum sighs once.
Dad sighs twice.

This is a gentle tale that will delight young children and provide a satisfactory ending to a day. It is a story filled with warmth and family love.

The illustrations are cute. Although they are not overly imbued with colour most of the time, they are warm and suit the gentle text. The faces of the mice are very expressive. I particularly liked the bath Time illustrations and those of the scampering, scrambling scurrying fun. I loved the books on the bookshelf and the mice being read a bedtime book. Even the end papers are a delight to pore over with the little mice in various activities.

This is sure to become a book young children and parents will be happy to read again and again.

Goodnight, Mice!

Goodnight, Mice!
Text Frances Watts
Illustrations Judy Watson
Hard cover picture book $24.99
ABC for Kids
HarperCollins Publishers

Available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

Genesis, by Lara Morgan

Now on the last line that would fit on the screen, the letters and numbers were slowing and then, when there was hardly any room left, a semicolon appeared and stayed there blinking for a few seconds. Rosie and Juli watched it, holding their breaths as words started forming.
Shore beacon activated. Code entered. Target acquired. Searching …

When Rosie finds a strange box on a scavenging trip, she is intrigued. But when she and her friend Juli open the box, they unleash a terrifying chain of events, which sees Rosie on the run – first across the city and then across the solar system to Mars. Relying on the help of strangers, Rosie must uncover the secrets of the box before it is too late.

Set 500 years in the future, Genesis is a thrilling young adult science fiction offering, the first in a trilogy. Rosie is a battler, a determined girl who is one of the Bankers, an underclass of a much changed society. She is supported by a range of characters, including an aunt she wants to emulate, a man who has his own agendas, and a teen boy for whom she feels a growing attraction. Together, Rosie and her friends work to learn the secrets of the box and save what remains of her family.

Suitable for teen readers who will look forward to the next instalment.

Genesis (Rosie Black Chronicles)

Genesis, by Lara Morgan
Walker Books, 2010
ISBN 9781921529399

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Girl Saves Boy, by Steph Bowe

I was imagining him. There was a real, flesh-and-blood boy drowning in the lake. No illusions. No hallucinations.
… I couldn’t let this boy die as well.

When Jewel sees a boy drowning in the lake, she is instantly reminded of her brother’s death, and is determined not to let this boy drown, too. Jewel has recently returned to her childhood town, trying to keep her own head above water following the recent death of the grandparents who have raised her since her brother’s death eight years before.

Sacha, the boy Jewel saves, isn’t sure he wants to be saved. Not yet over the death of his mother, he has just been told he has a terminal disease. Oh, and made the discovery that his father is gay. In or out of the lake, it seems he’s going to drown regardless.

Girl Saves Boy deals with a heap of issues, most predominant that of teens facing the death of loved ones, and their own mortality, but does so in a warm, engaging story which will have readers alternately laughing, crying and sighing at its beauty. The subject matter could be heavy, but Bowe balances the tale adeptly.


Girl Saves Boy

Girl Saves Boy, by Steph Bowe
Text Publishing, 2010
ISBN 9781921656590

This book is available from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Six Impossible Things, by Fiona Wood

saw Estelle for the first time that day.
She stopped outside our place and stared up into the bare branches of the footpath plane tree. First checking there was no one nearby she turned slowly around and around and around, framing her view of the twig-snaggled sky with a hand to her eye.
Then she walked into the house next door, half-dizzy, smiling and carrying my heart.
There’s this sky she likes.

Dan Cereill’s life is filled with upheaval. First the family business went broke, then his dad announced he was gay and moved out, leaving Dan and his mother to cope on their own. Now Dan’s living in a new house and going to a new school, while his mother flails around trying to set up a wedding cake business and listening to sad music. When he sets eyes on his beautiful neighbour, he wonders if there’s hope after all – but he soon realises Estelle is way out of his league.

Six Impossible Things is a witty journey through crushes, family break up, teenage reinvention and general chaos. Dan is a likeable narrator who has a lot to deal with. He gets himself into lots of scrapes – not always his own fault – and from time to time does some pretty dumb things, but he has a good heart and is doing his best to survive more changes than any kid should have to deal with in one hit.

A loveable character and a gently humorous storyline.

Six Impossible Things

Six Impossible Things, by Fiona Wood
Pan Macmillan, 2010
ISBN 9780330426060

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Now, by Morris Gleitzman

Once I didn’t know about my grandfather Feilx’s scary childhood.
Then I found out what the Nazis did to his best friend Zelda.
Now I understand why Felix does the things he does.
At least he’s got me.
My name is Zelda too.
This is our story.

Zelda is named after her grandfather’s brave childhood friend, but she doesn’t feel worthy of sharing the name. She isn’t brave or clever like the first Zelda – or so she thinks. Her parents are overseas working to help orphans, and Zelda has been left with Felix. She loves him dearly, but still she can’t help feeling abandoned. When Felix’s birthday comes around, Zelda works hard to make it special for him – but not everything she tries is successful.

Now is a heart tugging tale of family and survival. Felix’s war-time tribulations, and the way they have affected his whole life shape the story, which sees Felix and young Zelda battle their individual demons, as well as a terrifying bushfire which threatens their life and calls on all their reserves of strength and ingenuity.

Following from author Gleitzman’s earlier titles Once and Then, Now satisfactorily completes Felix’s tale but can also stand alone.


Now, by Morris Gleitzman
Penguin, 2010

ISBN 9780670074372

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.