There Was an Old Bloke who Swallowed a Bunny! By P. Crumble ill Louis Shea

There was an old bloke who swallowed a bunny.

I don’t know why he swallowed that bunny …

Crikey, that’s funny!

There was an old bloke who swallowed a bunny.

I don’t know why he swallowed that bunny …

Crikey, that’s funny!

Based on There Was an Old Bloke Who Swallowed a Bunny! and part of a series of similarly based stories, ‘There Was an Old Bloke …’ is a comically absurd romp through the countryside. He has an explanation for the consumption of all animals except for the bunny – that’s just funny. Illustrations are full page and full of detail. The refrain curves on the page, and each about-to-be-consumed animal word is in bold. All of the animals on the Old Bloke’s menu are farm animals except for the bunny, which would probably be most farmers’ first nibble.

The world needs some nonsense, some silliness, and this series of books modelled on an old folk rhyme is perfect in delivering it. And much learning can be slipped in underneath the silliness. The rhyme, rhythm and repetition in these titles are perfect for pre-reading skills. Children learning to read can predict what’s coming next and before long will be able to ‘read’ it themselves. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

There Was an Old Bloke Who Swallowed a Bunny! P. Crumble ill Louis Shea Scholastic Australia 2013 ISBN: 9781742831602

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

My First Book of Jokes illustrated by Mark Guthrie

What do you call a crocodile wearing a watch?

A tick-tockadile.

What do you call a crocodile wearing a watch?

A tick-tockadile.

My First Book of Jokes is, as the title suggests, a collection of simple jokes for the very young. Each short joke question is presented on the right hand page of an opening with the answer revealed on turning the page. Illustrations are full page and comic in style. Most are Australian animals although there is also a banana joke.

My First Book of Jokes is about the size of a class reader – larger than a board book, smaller than a picture book. Newly independent readers will enjoy testing the jokes on family and friends.

My First Book of Jokes

My First Book of Jokes, ill Mark Guthrie Scholastic Australia 2013 ISBN: 9781742837925

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

The Jade Widow by Deborah O’Brien

All afternoon the fierce February heat had kept the two young women indoors, sipping lemonade and wafting silk fans in a vain attempt to cool themselves. Even the children had abandoned their outdoor pursuits and disappeared into the depths of the cellar where they were busy building a fort from fruit boxes.

‘I fear I will succumb to the vapours if this heat continues,’ sighed Eliza Miller, waving her fan theatrically.

‘I didn’t know ou could catch the vapours from the heat,’ said Amy Chen, her voice full of anxiety.

Eliza began to laugh. ‘Of course you can’t. I was speaking in jest. There is no such thing as the vapours.’

All afternoon the fierce February heat had kept the two young women indoors, sipping lemonade and wafting silk fans in a vain attempt to cool themselves. Even the children had abandoned their outdoor pursuits and disappeared into the depths of the cellar where they were busy building a fort from fruit boxes.

‘I fear I will succumb to the vapours if this heat continues,’ sighed Eliza Miller, waving her fan theatrically.

‘I didn’t know ou could catch the vapours from the heat,’ said Amy Chen, her voice full of anxiety.

Eliza began to laugh. ‘Of course you can’t. I was speaking in jest. There is no such thing as the vapours.’

‘The Jade Widow’ is the sequel to ‘Mr Chen’s Emporium’ and picks up the story of Amy and Eliza in a hot summer in Millbrooke. Amy is widowed and has a young son, Charles. Eliza has been studying at the Sorbonne in Paris because no Australian university will accept females into their medical faculties. Eliza would be finished now except that she has delayed and then interrupted her studies to support her family. Both are single: Amy because she continues to grieve her husband; and Eliza because she is sure it’s not possible to completely dedicate herself to a family AND a career. But it is the late 1880s and there are signs that things are changing for women in general and these two women in particular. Amy wants to build a fine hotel, and Eliza wants to be part of the women’s movement. But of course life is seldom straightforward and there are many hurdles if these determined pair are to achieve their goals. Sections are headed with quotes from the work of Lewis Carroll.

‘Mr Chen’s Emporium’ introduced the reader to Amy and to Eliza and their family, as well as to a contemporary character, Angie. The women were linked via the town they lived in – Millbrooke – and their stories alternated. In ‘The Jade Widow’ the action stays firmly in the 1880s and alternates viewpoint between the two main characters, Amy and Eliza. Amy, while holding fast to the past, has plans for the future. These competing emotions are embodied in her struggle to keep her child close, but do the best for him, while establishing her credentials as an influential businesswoman. For Eliza, the frustrations are with a world that won’t let her do what she knows she is meant to do. Themes in ‘The Jade Widow’ include racism and women’s rights. Millbrooke, a small country town west of Sydney, struggles to adapt to life after a gold rush, changing rights for women, and to seeing their sons go off to war. Rich material, lightly handled. Recommended for readers who prefer their history woven into an engaging narrative.

The Jade Widow, Deborah O’Brien Random House 2013 ISBN: 978174275571

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

10 Hooting Owls by Ed Allen ill Simon Williams

Ten hooting owls lounging in the sun

Ten hooting owls lounging in the sun.

And if one hooting owl should go off for a run,

there’d be nine hooting owls lounging in the sun.

Ten hooting owls lounging in the sun

Ten hooting owls lounging in the sun.

And if one hooting owl should go off for a run,

there’d be nine hooting owls lounging in the sun.

The hooting owls are taking a break from their nocturnal activities and experiencing all manner of leisure pursuits. Ten begin their adventure (modelled on a traditional rhyme) and page by page, the numbers decrease until there are no hooting owls. All ten return in the final spread to settle in for the night. All illustrations are full page and cartoony in style. In this counting book the numbers are spelled out throughout, although the relevant number (symbol) is secreted on the page. Text is informal, with the number spelled out in different colour, larger letters.

These are owls of a different colour indeed. They are doing their thing in the middle of the day, are of all shapes, sizes, hues and activity. This is a comical counting experience that begs to be shared. Out loud. Sung. Children will chuckle at the antics, enjoy finding the hidden numbers, and fix numbers in their order. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

10 Hooting Owls

10 Hooting Owls, Ed Allen ill Simon Williams Scholastic Press 2013 ISBN: 9781742836980

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores and online. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

If you’re cheeky and you know it by P. Crumble ill Chris Kennett

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it,

then you really should just show it …

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it,

then you really should just show it …

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If You’re Cheeky and You Know It! is a new take on an old rhyme/song. It takes a familiar rhyme/song and introduces a range of cheeky animals. It begins with a monkey and adds a new animal each opening. A cheeky monkey is joined by a penguin, frog, hippo and more, and they frolic through the pages. Illustrations are mostly set in white space although there are also full bleed spreads. Text bops around the spreads.

If You’re Cheeky and You Know It! offers the opportunity to add some silliness to your life and to the reading experience. The rhythm, illustrations and bouncing text make it almost impossible to just read – singing and joining in is almost mandatory. Young listeners will enjoy mimicking the actions portrayed. A fun experience for pre- and early-schoolers.

If You're Cheeky and You Know It!

If You’re Cheeky and You Know It!, P. Crumble ill Chris Kennett Scholastic Australia 2013 ISBN: 9781742836478

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores and online.

Scarlet in the Snow, by Sophie Masson

It was a beast, and yet not a beast. A man, yet not a man. It stood tall on two legs and was clothed in a long coat and boots. Its intelligent eyes were of a tigerish, glowing amber, set in a hairy face like a bear’s; it had a tawny mane like a lion’s, while its open mouth displayed teeth as white and sharp as a wolf. I knew at once what it was though I’d never before heard of one that could take such a mingled form. Abartyen. Shapeshifter. Man-beast

Since the death of her father, Natasha’s family has fallen on hard times. So when someone must deliver a special painting that might turn their fortunes around, Natasha knows she must go. On the way home, a terrible blizzard forces her to seek shelter and, just as she thinks all is lost, she stumbles upon a beautiful mansion. Once inside she soon senses that something strange is afoot. When she finds a perfect red rose blooming in spite of the cold, she reaches for it – and finds herself soon coming face to face with the rose’s owner. Her terror at this fearsome man-creature gradually changes until she realises she loves him. But while that love could free him, nothing is simple, and instead Natasha must undertake a dangerous journey to save her new love.

Scarlet in the Snow is a beautiful, engrossing fantasy for teen and adult readers. Readers will recognise this as a retelling of the fairy tale most commonly called Beauty and the Beast, but should not expect that this means they will know what happens, as Masson has truly made the story her own, blending fantasy and intrigue in a wonderful tale of adventure and romance.

The exquisite cover is a good indication of the quality of the take within.

 

Scarlet in the SnowScarlet in the Snow, Sophie Masson

Scarlet in the Snow, by Sophie Masson
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781742758152

Available from good bookstores and online.

A Cyclone is Coming! by Darlene Oxenham

Pop was right! Yesterday afternoon the wind started blowing and has not yet stopped blowing since. I have never been in a cyclone before. In fact, I’m not even sure what a cyclone really is.

A cyclone is headed for Useless Loop. Annie isn’t really sure what a cyclone is, but her dad explains that it is a big storm that can do a lot damage. Annie and her family must work to prepare for the cyclone, to keep their caravan – and themselves – safe. When the cyclone hits Annie finds out exactly what it is.

A Cyclone is Coming is a new junior fiction title aimed at primary aged readers. Part of the Waarda series. Aimed at encouraging literacy and cultural awareness for Indigenous children and children of all backgrounds, A Cyclone is Coming offers an interesting story with simple text and illustrations to support meaning making.

 

A Cyclone is Coming , by Darlene Oxenham
Fremantle Press, 2013
ISBN 978192208934

Available from good bookstores or online.

Lilla and Shadown in Trouble, by Laura Dudgeon

Nan hesitated… ‘I’m worried about Shadow. He hasn’t been going to the mango tree lately. And he isn’t as black as he should be. I think he is fading. See if you can find out what’s been bothering him. He is acting very strangely and I can’t work out why.’

When Lilli had to move away to the city, her Nan send Shadow with her to help her settle. But now Shadow is back home, where he belongs, and Lilli has come to visit. Her excitement turns to concern when Nan reveals that Shadow isn’t well. Something is troubling him and Lilli and Nan must figure out what it is, and how to hep him.

Lilli and Shadow in Trouble is a short, exciting, chapter book adventure set in Kununurra and featuring a young girl and her guardian spirit friend Shadow. As well as being an intriguing adventure, this is also a story about friendship and environmental issues.

Part of the Waarda series, aimed at supporting the literacy needs of Indigenous children, Lilli and Shadow in Trouble will interest primary aged children of all backgrounds.

 

Lilli and Shadow in Trouble, by Laura Dudgeon and Sabrina Dudgeon
Fremantle Press, 2013
ISBN 9781922089359

Available from good bookstores and online.

Into My Arms, by Kylie Ladd

The kiss ignited something, blew it into being, and afterwards, all Skye could think about was Ben.

Skye is happy with her boyfriend Hamish, her job at the gym and her blossoming art career. Even though she’s been through some tough times with the loss of her father, her life is on track. When she meets Ben, though, things change instantly. For reasons she can’t explain, Skye is instantly attracted to Ben, and she senses that he feels the same. Soon she is throwing away her steady relationship and starting a new, all-consuming one with this new man. Wrapped in the bliss Skye is sure she has found the love of her life and as if nothing can go wrong – until she discovers that Ben is the one man she should never be with, and her world falls apart.

Into My Arms is a heartbreaking, captivating novel which deals with a subject which is both confronting and highly plausible. The plot twist is one which leaves the reader chilled, and Ladd cleverly takes us along so that we feel the protagonist’s pain and suffer her dilemma. The apparently simply answer is not simple for Skye and Ben, and we are invited to empathise, even whilst being shocked.

Subplots also explore important issues and their impact: Skye’s twin brother is gay and faces a childless future; one of her students is a refugee whose family has been separated and struggles to cope; and Skye’s father has died after a battle with dementia. Yet for all of this, this doesn’t feel like an issues-driven book – rather the issues form part of the mesh of a wonderfully engaging, absorbing story.

Not an easy read, but a rich, satisfying one.

 

Into My Arms

Into My Arms, by Kylie Ladd
Allen & Unwin, 2013
ISBN 9781743314586

Available from good book stores, or online

Mortified and Mortal Combat, by Martin Chatterton

Having a huge World-War=Two German stormtrooper screaming at you while jamming the business end of a submachine gun on your ribs was, decided Mortimer DeVere, most definitely one of life’s less pleasant experiences.

When you are 10 000 years old, but look only 10, life could pretty boring. You could find yourself doing the same things over and over again. That is unless you do something to make life more interesting. Mortimer DeVere (Mort) has certainly made his life exceptionally interesting. In his efforts to evade school he has travelled back through time with his sister, two school inspectors and a Ghengis Khan clone. This isn’t looking like it will end well.

Mortal Combat and Mortified! continue the adventures of Mort first begun in the book of the same name. Along with the trip back to Nazi Germany, there are dinosaurs, vikings, mummies, crocodiles and even Queen Victoria.

Primary aged readers will love the chaos, the action and the humour – and they might even pick up a little history along the way.

Good fun for readers eight and over.

Mortal Combat: Time's Running Out (Mort)

Mortal Combat , by Martin Chatterton
Random House, 2012
ISBN 9781742753164

Mortified!

Mortified!, by Martin Chatterton
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781742758886