Jake’s Cooking Craze by Ken Spillman ill Chris Nixon

Jake is back in a new adventure. This time it’s cooking. All his classmates, and even his teacher, are entranced by the latest kids cooking show. When Jake starts watching, he too catches the bug. He’s keen to go straight to the top, to competition standard. He’s not keen to learn the basics, like safety and cleanliness, even though Nana is happy to teach him.

Everybody at school was talking about JuniorChef. Jake felt left out. He’d only watched half of the first episode before Dad switched channels.

Jake hadn’t thought it would be super interesting anyway. Contestants on the show talked about cooking as if it was the only thing they could ever be interested in.

Didn’t they practise pulling faces in front of the mirror?

Hadn’t they tried flying with helium-filled balloons?

Or imagined lasers that could clean your teeth while you sat on the toilet?

Jake is back in a new adventure. This time it’s cooking. All his classmates, and even his teacher, are entranced by the latest kids cooking show. When Jake starts watching, he too catches the bug. He’s keen to go straight to the top, to competition standard. He’s not keen to learn the basics, like safety and cleanliness, even though Nana is happy to teach him. She does teach him how to make chocolate mousse and then he undertakes teaching his friend. When the school decides to hold a cook-off, Jake is selected as one of the representatives. He begins the search for the winning dish. Black and white illustrations on every opening immerse the reader in the action.

Jake is a young boy with a healthy curiosity and self-belief. He is supported by a family who allow him to follow his passions, no matter how unexpected or transitory. They sometimes suggest caution but beyond that, they allow him his own voyage of discovery. Jake is supported by his friends and endures his less-favourite classmates. Not all his adventures turn out quite as he expects, but then that’s the point of an adventure, isn’t it? Discovery. Jake’s Cooking Craze is full of humour and absurdity, and is sure to delight young readers. The topical nature of this offering will have them chortling, and possibly inspire them in their own creations. Beware! Recommended for newly independent readers transitioning from fully illustrated texts.

Jake's Cooking Craze (Jake)

Jake’s Cooking Craze, Ken Spillman ill Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press 2013 ISBN: 9781922089106

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author


Available from good bookstores or online.

Dinosauritis, by Jeannette Rowe

Darwin was a normal child,
who used to run and go quite wild.
Until one day he clamped his claws,
around a plastic dinosaur.

Darwin loves dinosaurs, and nobody is better at talking about dinosaurs than Darwin. He can say all their names, and impresses everyone he meets. Everyone that is except Sally Dolomide, who knows just as much about dinosaurs as Darwin does. Darwin starts to feel quite ill and when his mum finally calls a doctor, the diagnosis is serious – Darwin has Dinosuaritis!

Dinosauritis is a fun flip the flap story of a dinosaur obsessed boy, filled with dinosaurs enough to please any child who, like Darwin, is dinosaur crazy. The pictures are big and bright, and the flaps on every spread encourage interaction. There are also bonus dinosaur facts and games at the back of the book.

A fun offering for sharing.

Dinosauritis: A Flip-the-Flap Dinosaur Tale

Dinosauritis: A Flip-the-Flap Dinosaur Tale, by Jeannette Rowe
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781743310120

Available from good bookstores or online.

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory, by Peter Smith & Bob Graham

There’s a hush in the crowd as the mayor lifts his gun,
then an ear-splitting Bang! and the race has begin,
with a flashing of goggles and pale cyclists’ knees,
and a murmuring sound like the bumble of bees.

Monsieur Albert loves cycling – but he loves prizes even more. SO when he reads in his morning paper about a cycling race about to start, he decides to enter. When he arrives at the starting line with his suit and cycle clips, and pannier full of supplies, the other cyclists laugh at him – none more than handsome young Francois. But it is Albert who has the last laugh as he proves that sometimes slow and steady really does win the race.

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory is a humours take on the Tour de France, told in witty rhyming verse and accompanied by the whimsical humours illustration work of Bob Graham. Youngsters will love the silliness of both story and illustrations, and adults will enjoy reading the story out loud.

Lots of fun.

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory, by Peter Smith & Bob Graham
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742376806

Available from good bookstores and online.

March Reads

I had lots of reading fun in March. I’m currently immersing myself in collections of children’s poetry, which has given me a chance to rediscover some old favourites and discover some new (to me) gems. Of course, I’ve read lots of prose, too, but it may be the first month ever that the amount of poetry I’ve read outweighs the prose – and I like it. Hopefully it will reflect in my own poetry writing.

So, as always, here’s my list for the month just gone, with links to those that are reviewed here on Aussiereviews. Have a great April 🙂


The Hypnotiser Michael Rosen Lion Children’s Poetry
The Dog’s Just Been Sick in the Honda Colin Thompson Hodder Children’s Poetry
Great Anzac Stories Graham Seal Allen & Unwin Adult NF
Wouldn’t You Like To Know Michael Rosen Andre Deutsch Children’s Poetry
A Very Unusual Pursuit Catherine Jinks Allen & Unwin Children’s
Flower Moon Snow: A Book of Haiku Kazue Mizumura Thomas Y Crowell Children’s Poetry
Water Bombs: A Book of Poems for Teenagers Steven Herriick UQP Children’s Poetry
The Romance Diaries: Ruby Jenna Austen ABC Books Young Adult
Troy Thompson’s Excellent Peotry Book Gary Crew Lothian Children’s
Muster Me a Song Anne Bell Triple D Books Children’s Poetry
City James Roy UQP Young Adult
Honey Sandwich Elizabeth Honey Allen & Unwin Children’s Poetry
Man Drought Rachael Johns Harlequin Adult Romance
Songs for My Thongs Colin Thiele Rigby Children’s Poetry
Aunts Uncles Cousins and All Michael Dugan McMillan Children’s Poetry
Behind the Sun Deborah Challinor Harper Collins Adult
A Paddock of Poems Max Fatchen Omnibus Puffin Children’s Poetry
In the Garden of Bad Things Doug Macleod Puffin Children’s Poetry
Been to Yesterdays Lee Bennett Hopkins Wordsong Children’s Poetry
This is Just to Say Joyce Sidman Houghton Miffling Children’s Poetry
We’re Going on a Croc Hunt Laine Mitchell Scholastic Picture Book
I Love You Too Stephen Michael King Scholastic Picture Book
Bureau of Mysteries & the Mechanomancers HJ Harper Random House Children’s
Paper Chains Nicola Moriarty Random House Adult

Bureau of Mysteries and the Mechanomancers, by HJ Harper

I was about to take refuge under a table when a shadow fell across the hotel room, and I looked up to find a bull picking its way down Main Street. But this was no regular bovine: it stood three stories tall and was made of metal. Its iron hide glinted in the bright sunlight as clouds of steam snorted from its nostrils. The bull pawed at the earth and let out a bellow so loud it hurt my ears.

The land of Obscuria is in trouble once again. as crafty Mechanomancers wreak havoc. Blending magic with technology the giant trouble makers seem usntoppable. Even George and his partner Imp Spektor, and their fellows in the Bureau of Mysteries, are struggling to find a mix – but the heroic adventurer Lord Perwinkle Tinkerton seems to know how to overcome the menace. Could he be that with Tinkerton on the job, the Bureau is no longer relevant?

The Mechanomancers is the second in the Bureau of Mysteries series, a fast paced, code-cracking, humorous adventure for primary aged readers. With a steam punk flavour, and plenty of weird characters and messy scrapes, there’s a lot here to like.

Told from the first person perspective of George Featehr, a former chimney sweeper who has been taken into the Bureau because of his abilities to crack codes, the story moves quickly, encouraging readers to stop and have a go at cracking various codes, but allowing them to also progress without doing it for themselves.

Although this is the second in a series, it can be read independently of the first.

Bureau of Mysteries 2 (Bureau of Mysteries)

The Mechanomancers (Bureau of Mysteries), by HJ Harper, illustrated by Nahum Ziersch
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781742756486

Available online or from good bookstores.

Paper Chains, by Nicola Moriarty

‘I’m India. You work at the museum, right? Sit.’
She watched as Hannah hesitated briefly and then obediently followed her instructions. ‘I’m Hannah,’ she mumbled.
‘Well, Hannah, have some watermelon. I’ve got too much. I’ll make myself sick if I eat all of this on my own.’
When Hannah didn’t move to pick up a piece of watermelon, India sighed at her in an exasperated sort of way and prodded her in the side. ‘Eat, please. I can tell you’re hungry…’

When Hannah meets India she isn’t looking for a friend. She doesn’t think she deserves one. Far from her Sydney home, she is working in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, trying to forget what she has left behind, but punishing herself for it just the same. India is everything Hannah isn’t – confident, outgoing, helpful. She sees that Hannah needs help, and is determined to give it. She is determined to uncover Hannah’s secret and, while Hannah doesn’t want to tell, she does need a friend.

What Hannah doesn’t see at first is that India has a secret too. Maybe she’s busy fixing things for other people ot avoid fixing that secret. Her secret is busy travelling Europe in the form of letters passed hand to hand by other travellers. Could it be that Hannah can help India as much as India helps her?

Paper Chains is a moving tale of friendship between two young women from opposite sides of Australia who meet far from home. Initially it seems to be a tale of two backpackers off ‘doing’ the almost obligatory European trip of young singles, but readers should be warned that there is much more to the stories of each of these women, which are heart wrenching.

Ultimately heart warming, Paper Chains is beautifully told.

Paper Chains

Paper Chains, by Nicola Moriarty
Bantam, 2013
ISBN 9781742752624

Available from good bookstores and online.