Baby Bedtime, by Mem Fox & Emmay Quay

I could eat your little ears.
I could nibble on your nose.
I could munch your tiny fingers.
I could gobble up your toes.

The gentle lulling rhythm of this rhyming bedtime offering is divine. Written for the very young, it could be read to newborn babies but will still be suitable for older toddlers and preschoolers, especially as an end of day read. The text describes all the things the narrator/parent could be doing in adoration of the child, but ends with a reminder that it’s bedtime and so time for sleep. In the meantime, the kissing and cuddling and settling to bed has happened in the illustrations – between a a pair of purple elephants who could be either a male or female parent (or grandparent/carer) and child. These lovely elephants are rendered using pencil and acrylics, and digital collage using a variety of objects including fabrics, knitting and baskets.

The format of the book also makes it suitable for bedtime – the hardcover being cushioned to make it soft touch. It’s easy to imagine a toddler sleeping with the book.

Perfect as a gift for a newborn, Baby Bedtime is a book to be treasured.


Book Cover:  Baby Bedtime

Baby Bedtime, by Mem Fox & Emma Quay
Penguin, 2013
ISBN 9780670075195

Available from good bookstores and online.

If I Tell You … I'll Have to Kill You, edited by Michael Robotham

Geoffrey McGeachin’s number one writing rule is Real writing is rewriting. Gabrielle Lord’s is Make writing your first priority, and Peter Corris doesn’t want to set rules but does advise learning from both mistakes and successes. With nineteen others, these crime writers share their journey to publication, their writing processes, tips and rules, and recommended reads in If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets.

Whilst suitable for anyone with an interest in crime fiction or true crime, this offering is most likely to appeal to writers (and aspiring writes) of the genre. The contributors are all multi published Australian authors, who’ve also had success on the international stage. Though crime is the common ground, the range of their writing focus is broad – from true crime, to detective novel, to historical fiction and more.

Because each chapter is contributed by a different author, the book can be either read cover to cover or dipped into, and while the focus is crime writing, writers of all interests and levels of experience are likely to find value in both the writing advice and the sharing of journeys to publication (and beyond).

Other contributors include Kerry Greenwood. Garry Disher, Barry Maitland and Leigh Redhead.

If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets, edited by Michael Robotham
Allen & Unwin, 2013
ISBN 9781743313480

Available from good bookstores and online.

Matilda Saves Santa Claus, by Alex Field & Sophie Norsa

‘We’re stuck,’ said Rudolph. ‘Santa’s sleigh is caught in the forest vines.’

Matilda Mouse lives alone deep in the forest. She doesn’t have much, but one thing she desperately wants is a Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve she goes out searching for a perfect tree – but instead she finds Santa’s sleigh, caught in some vines. She may be small, but Matilda proves that she is both clever and strong, as she chews her way through the vines and frees the sleigh. Then, on Christmas morning, she wakes to find an exciting surprise – Santa has left her a tree and plenty of presents.

Matilda Saves Santa Claus is a gently exciting Christmas tale which will appeal to youngsters around the world. Matilda is brave and resourceful, and her willingness to help is duly rewarded. The story is brought to life in delightful water colour and ink illustrations, with the double page spread showing Rudolph nose to nose with little Matilda especially sweet.

Suitable for pre school aged readers, this would make a lovely Christmas gift.


Matilda Saves Santa Claus, by Alex Field, illustrated by Sophie Norsa
New Frontier, 2013
ISBN 9781921928604

Available from good bookstores or online.

Snake Bite, by Christie Thompson

Goon of Fortune is one of those games that people cracked out at parties when everyone is already too maggot to realise what a pointless game it is. A bunch of people circle the Hills Hoist and you peg a bladder of cheap wine to the line. People take turns spinning the clothes line and whoever the wine sack lands in font of has to scull for five seconds.

Seventeen year old Jez has an alcoholic mother, an absentee father and a next door neighbour who’s a stripper. Her future looks pretty ho-hum, with job prospects and options pretty limited. Her best friend is an emo named Luke, who she’s liked hanging with for years, but lately things have started to change between them. Jez isn’t sure if she has feelings for Luke, or whether she’s just jealous that newcomer Laura is macking on with him.

Snake Bite is a coming-of-age story set in a very unfamiliar Canberra. Narrator Jez offers a first person insight into life in a low socio-economic area where unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse and disengagement add to the usual teenage issues surrounding relationships, independence and identity. There are no easy solutions, but the story does offer both character development and hope, in realistic measures.

Likely to appeal to teens through to new adult readers.


Snake Bite

Snake Bite, by Christie Thompson
Allen & Unwin, 2013
ISBN 9781743316863

Available from good bookstores and online.

Burning the Bails: The Story of the Ashes, by Krista Bell & Ainsley Walters

When the ashes were ready, Russell put his hand in his pocket and pulled out one of his mother’s empty perfume bottles. It was porcelain and had two tiny handles.
‘How wonderful!’ laughed Miss Morphy. ‘It looks exactly like a miniature urn. Well done, Russell.’
‘This is perfect, darling,’ exclaimed his mother. ‘A real urn for our Rupertswood “Ashes”.’

When the touring English cricket team visits his family home in Rupertswood, Russell Clarke is delighted. He loves cricket and longs to be part of the fun. So when his mother and her companion decide to burn the bails from a match and present it to the English captain, Russell joins in by finding the perfect vessel for the ashes.

Burning the Bails is a fictionalised account of the true story behind the Ashes, the trophy for the cricket test series between Australia and England. While Russell’s involvement is imagined, the story is based on fact, and will give young cricket fans an insight into the origin and significance of the Ashes.

With the story supported by photographs, pages of historical facts, and the illustrative work of Ainsley Walters, and with the Ashes series currently being played in Australia, this is a wonderful offering for young cricketers.


Burning The Bails

Burning the Bails: The Story of the Ashes, by Krista Bell, illustrated by Ainsley Walters
One Day Hill, 2013
ISBN 978098731398

Available from good bookstores or

Where's Santa? Around the World, by Louis Shea

With another busy Christmas over, Santa is taking Mrs Claus off on a holiday. As they travel around teh world, however, they are pursued by Naughty Nat, the naughtiest child in the world, who wants to steal Santa’s naughty-and-nice list so that she can get the pony she missed out on last Christmas.

Where’s Santa? Around the World is a look and find book perfect for the festive season. As Santa travels around the world to locations including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, China’s Great Wall and more, youngsters can find him hidden on every spread, as well as Mrs Claus, Naughty Nat, Fluffy (Santa’s pet yeti) and more.

Every spread is filled with detail to explore, and back of book lists challenge readers to find extra objects. great as a gift or stocking filler.

Where’s Santa? Around the World, by Louis Shea
Scholastic, 2013
ISBN 9781742836850

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

We Wish You a Ripper Christmas, by Colin Buchanan & Greg Champion, illustrated by Roland Harvey

We wish you a ripper Christmas
A full-bore ripper Christmas
A dead-set ripper Christmas
And a snappy New Year.

Colin Buchanan & Greg Champion have been creating Australian Christmas songs for many years, delighting Aussie youngsters and their teachers and parents with their humour and the catchiness of their tunes. We Wish You a Ripper Christmas continues that tradition, taking the chorus of an earlier offering (included in Fair Dinkum Aussie Christmas) and telling the story of Santa WOmbat losing his naughty and nice list and needing some help from the other Aussie animals to find it in time to deliver the presents.

Set to the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, the song is easy to sing, and children will join in on the chorus even on a first read. The story is humours, and is brought to life in detailed water colour illustrations by the amazing Roland Harvey. And, of course, the book is accompanied by a CD recording of the song, complete with karaoke track so that kids can sing it for themselves, either for performance or for fun.

A great Christmas gift.


We Wish You a Ripper Christmas, by Colin Buchanan & Greg Champion, illustrated by Roland Harvey
Scholastic, 2013
ISBN 9781742837239

Available from good bookstores and online.

My Christmas Crackers, by Bronwen Davies

What is Santa’s dog called?
Santa Paws.

How can you tell if Santa is really a werewolf?
He has Santa claws!

If you are looking for a book to add to a Christmas stocking or parcel for a young reader, My Christmas Crackers may well fit the bill. This hard cover offering offers Christmas jokes ranging from the punny to the really very funny, and will appeal to readers from 6-12, though even adults will smile or groan along. Each joke runs over two pages, with the question on one page and the answer overleaf, coupled with humours digital illustrations.

Available from bookstores and online, My Christmas Crackers makes an affordable, entertaining gift.


My Christmas Crackers, by Bronwen Davies
Scholastic, 2013
ISBN 9781742839585

Meet My Book: The Disappearance of Ember Crow, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Delighted today to welcome Ambelin Kwaymullina to the blog to chat about her latest book, the second in the Tribe series. Over to you, Ambelin.

1.         Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.

The Disappearance of Ember Crow, Walker Books, released 1 November 2013.

2.         Why did you write the book?

The same reason I write any of my books. Because I have to. In the times when I do not write the stories build up and up beneath my skin; they begin to whisper in my ear and demand to be told. If I do not write I fear I will explode. Or possibly go crazy.

3.         How long from idea to publication?

About a year, all in.

4.         What was the hardest thing about writing it?

I feel what my characters feel when I am writing; that makes the tough moments for them even tougher to write for me.

There’s this very quiet moment for Ember, when she’s on the road heading into Fern City. It’s the scene that ends ‘There was no one to witness my foolishness now, except perhaps for the crows, and crows kept each other’s secrets…I let myself smile.’

That’s not a particularly dramatic moment, but it was difficult to write because I was conscious when I was doing so of how very vulnerable Ember is. She’s hiding what she feels from Jules at this point; she doesn’t believe it’s possible for him – or for anyone – to truly care about her. I felt so sad for her, my Em; I could feel her isolation, there on the road in the dark.

5.       Coolest thing about your book?

The big revelation moments – and I can’t say anything about them without giving something away! But there’s lots of ‘wow I didn’t see that coming!’ or ‘I can’t believe it!’ moments in Ember Crow.

6.         Something you learnt through writing the book?

Second books are not easier to write than first books. I retain the hope that the third book will be easier than the first two. Not happening so far…

7.       What did you do celebrate the release?

Scrabble tournament with my family. It was a draw between me and my brother Blaze.

8.       And how will you promote the book?

Well – this blog tour, for a start! And I’m in the process of putting my own author website together which is very exciting. If there’s any fans out there who are reading this, once my website is done you’ll be able to go onto it and work out what animal you’d be bonded with in the Firstwood. Pretty cool, huh? (I think it is anyway).

9.       What are you working on next?

Third book in the Tribe series – The Foretelling of Georgie Spider.

10.   Where we can find out more about you and your book?

Thanks for visiting Ambelin. You can visit the next stop on Ambelin’s blog tour tomorrow at