Rodney Loses It

But then one day disaster struck –
the one thing Rodney feared.
While working at his drawing desk
his pen just …
DISAPPEARED!

Rodney loves nothing more than drawing. He does it night and day. But when his pen – his favourite, perfect pen named Penny – suddenly disappears, Rodney is frantic. he searches in vain, getting more and more upset until he totally loses it – at which time his pen magically reappears. What Rodney doesn’t know, but eagle-eyed viewers will, is that the pen is never lost – it is tucked safely behind his ear, viewable in some illustrations, depending on the angle – until he ‘loses it’ and his vigorous actions dislodge the pen.

Rodney Loses It is a humorous picture book, written in rhyming text which scans well and is a delight to read aloud.  The digital illustrations show Rodney  as a simple, but very expressive rabbit, with his eyes, ears and whiskers all used to show his emotions with delightful effect.

Sure to be loved by kids and adults alike.

Rodney Loses It, by Michael Gerard Bauer & Chrissie Krebs
Omnibus/Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781742991900

 

 

The Pink Snowman, by Alan Horsfield

He twisted his head from side to side enjoying the wintry scene. He looked up to admire the falling snow, but then he made a ghastly gasp.
I couldn’t see anything even when I squinted. Nothing.
i turned. Our snowman had turned a very bright pink!

Stuck inside on a snowy day in the Blue Mountains, Krystal is bored. When her father end her out on a fool’s errand, Krystal decides to build a snowman. her friend Jasper helps but, when the snowman comes to life, he has a very odd problem: he has turned pink. Krystal and Jasper must figure out what is causing the problem, and how to fix it.

The Pink Snowman is a short chapter book posing a humorous, unexpected problem. Complemented with black and white line drawings with pink highlights, this is an entertaining read.

The Pink Snowman, by Alan Horsfield
Big Sky Publishing, 2017
ISBN 9781925520439

Hello, Goodbye, by Emily Brewin

I wish I could laugh too but I can’t because I’m supposed to be the serious one. the one who toes the line and never takes risks; who wears her school dress below the knees and keeps a Bible in the drawer next other bed. Ma raised me that way.

May Callaghan has been raised to be a good girl. Her mother is a devout Catholic, and she thinks May will do the right thing; say her prayers, live devoutly, then marry well. But seventeen year old May has a secret boyfriend. Sam is a star footballer, and the way he makes May feel leaves her questioning what her mother has taught her. Fed up life in her small town, may lies to her parents and sneaks to Melbourne to visit Sam. there her eyes are opened to a whole other world: including a liberal thinking shared household heavily immersed in the anti-war movement.

With her parents struggling through problems of their own, and Sam called up for service in Vietnam, May finds herself very alone facing the biggest challenge of her life.

Set in the midst of the Vietnam War,  Hello, Goodbye is a moving coming of age story. Whilst May’s relationship with Sam, and her journey through an unplanned pregnancy, are central to the story, subplots involving issues of the impact of war, conscription, family relationships, women’s rights and more are skilfully entwined.

A powerful, emotional read.

Hello, Goodbye, by Emily Brewin
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781925575101

Do Not Open this Book Again, by Andy Lee & Heath McKenzie

Oh! You again. Well, you’ll notice I’m back to being little, old, non-froggy, normal me. So, no point reading on because this book is very, very boring.

The little monster character from Do Not Open this Book is back, and back to his normal self, but he really doesn’t wanting readers opening the book, or turning pages. He tries everything to stop the pages being turned, finally revealing why: the wizard who turned him into a frog last book has fixed him – but if the end of the book is reached, he will be naked.

This laugh out loud, interactive book will delight young readers, and will be requested over and over again. With text by Andy Lee (best known as one half of Hamish and Handy) and digital illustrations from Heath McKenzie, Do Not Open This Book Again is good fun.

Do Not Open This Book Again, by Andy Lee & Heath McKenzie
Lake Press, 2017
ISBN 9781760455163

Koala, by Claire Saxby & Julie Vivas

In a high tree fork, a grey ball unfurls. Tall as a toddler, a dozy young koala sniffs at leaves. … Climb, little Koala,
it’s dinner time.

Following the adventures of one young koala as it becomes time for him to separate from his mother and find his own way in the world, Koala is a wonderful blend of narrative and fact. Koala must overcome hunger, predators, natural disasters, and even other koalas before, finally, he finds a new home where he can live safely.

Part of the wonderful nature Storybooks series, Koala uses narrative non-fiction to trace the life of a fictional koala, grounded in fact, and supported on each spread by additional facts. The text is lyrical, making it accessible and a joy to read, and the illustrations, by one of Australia’s best-loved illustrators, Julie Vivas, are superb.

A must have for Australian homes and classrooms, Koala is also sure to be enjoyed by overseas audiences.

Koala, by Claire Saxby & Julie Vivas
Walker Books, 2017
ISBN 978192512639

I Just Ate My Friend, by Heidi McKinnon

I just ate my friend.
He was a good friend, but now he’s gone.
What if I never find another friend again?

A glum yellow character is lonely: because he just ate his only friend. Now he is regretting his actions, and is searching for a new friend. But the other creatures he finds are too big or too small, or even too frightening. When he does finally find a suitable friend, the tables are turned, in an unexpected ending which makes even adults laugh out loud.

With a potential message about belonging and the importance of impulse control, this hilarious offering is mostly just good fun. the whimsical digital illustrations feature dark, night-time backgrounds and a cast of deceptively simply rendered characters (which might be described as monsters or beasts) in a range of shapes and sizes.

Suitable for children AND adults, I Just Ate My Friend is a wodnerful debut for Heid McKinnon.

I Just Ate My Friend , by Heidi McKinnon
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 978176029434

Trouble and the Exploding House by Cate Whittle ill Stephen Michael King

We had a visitor the other day. Which is weird. We don’t usually get visitors. For one, we live way up in the mountains and we don’t even have a road that comes to our place. And, for seconds, we live with a giant green dragon with blue wings and dried scaly bits around his ears. Which puts most people off.

Life is always going to be interesting when you live with a dragon who can change size at will. But when the Government man arrives and tells you that it’s not possible for you to continue to live in your house because it is in a Wildlife Park, things become even more ‘interesting’. The house was carried there by a dragon (Trouble) and it’s going to be difficult to move it, so the government says it will have to be blown up. Very soon. The race is on, to save their home. In between, Georgia continues to navigate school and friends and keeping Trouble out of … trouble. Most openings include black and white illustrations.

Trouble and the Penn family met when Trouble relocated their home. In this, the fourth adventure with Trouble, they are more or less accustomed to living with a dragon. There are definite advantages including riding to school, work and shopping on Trouble’s broad back. But there are also challenges, just like with any pet, and in any family. Georgia, as first person narrator, simply tells it like it is when you live on a mountain with a dragon. Humour sits underneath every sentence, every outrageous situation, but each is presented as very normal in the life of Georgia and the Penns. Recommended for newly independent readers comfortable with a longer story, but who will still enjoy the extra richness that illustrations bring.
Trouble and the Exploding House, Cate Whittle ill Stephen Michael King Omnibus Books 2017 ISBN: 9781742990798
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Pip and Houdini by J C Jones

Pip Sullivan’s middle name was trouble. At least that’s what people said.
She was the girl who’d gone on the run from the welfare in case they locked her up, broken into an empty house, bet on the horses, had the entire police force looking for her, brought down a very bad man and discovered why her mother had abandoned her as a baby – all in just a few days.
And she was still just ten (and a bit) years old.

Pip is back in a new adventure. After finding a new home with a new family, she’s trying to settle down and fit in, but somehow she always seems to be in trouble. This time the trouble is so big, she’s sure her new family will reject her and she will never find a place to belong. She and her dog Houdini sets out on a mission to find the mother who gave her up, Cass. The only clue she has is a postcard from Byron Bay. So that’s where she heads.

Pip and Houdini’ is the second instalment from J C Jones, about Pip. The first, ‘Run, Pip, Run’ introduced the reader to this feisty, independent character, Pip. Her early years have been unconventional, to say the least, but she has a very well-developed moral compass and an almost-inexhaustible store of openness, optimism and energy. Houdini is the perfect offsider: supportive and intuitive and up for any adventure Pip begins. ‘Pip and Houdini’ is a delightful and heart-warming novel. It introduces young readers to a world that may well be beyond their experience, and encourages them to look beyond first impressions to the heart of everyone they encounter. And it’s all wrapped up in a ripping yarn. Recommended for mid-primary readers.

Pip and Houdini, J C Jones Allen & Unwin 2017 ISBN: 9781780296056

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Maybe by Morris Gleitzman

Maybe it won’t happen.
Maybe everything will be fine.
Maybe I should just stop thinking about the bad things and concentrate on the good things.
Like the beautiful countryside we’re walking through. Birds chirping and butterflies fluttering and not a single one of them being blown up.
And this dust on the road. It’s very good dust. Soft under our boots. Cushioning our cartwheels. Which is the best thing you could wish for when you’ve got a pregnant person in your cart. And another person walking next to you who’s nearly forty years old with sore feet.

Felix, Gabriek and pregnant Anya are heading home to Gabriek’s farm. The war is over and they are looking forward to a new life, and to the arrival of Anya’s baby. After years of war, it’s time to look forward. Maybe. The war may be over, but those who seek revenge do not give up easily and the trio must maintain their vigilance. Home is a concept, not a place and thousands are looking for new places in a ravaged world.

Maybe’ is the sixth instalment in Morris Gleitzman’s series featuring Felix. ‘Maybe’ details how Felix came to Australia at the age of fourteen. Although readers of the series will know both Felix’s past and his future, this novel also works as a stand-alone story. As in all the books in this series, there are themes of love, loss, revenge, survival, integrity and fallibility. But most of all, it is a page-turner, a time-swallower, an insight into unthinkable awfulness told with the deft touch of a master storyteller. Recommended for upper-primary, early-secondary readers.
Maybe, Morris Gleitzman Penguin Books Australia 2017 ISBN: 9780670079377
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Figgy Takes the City by Tamsin Janu

Nana was writing so quickly that he kept breaking the lead of his pencils.
But he didn’t sharpen them. That takes time.
To sharpen a pencil we have to go outside, because Principal Mensah doesn’t like pencil shavings on the classroom floor. Which is confusing, since chickens wander into the classroom and poo on the ground all the time and she never complains about that. We also have to sharpen pencils with little metal razors, which takes a lot of effort. And sometimes, when you are sharpening too quickly, the razor will cut your finger. So there is blood, and you have to go to the teacher for a plaster, and by the time you get back to your desk the test is nearly over and the cut on your finger hurts so much you cannot write anyway.
So Nana came prepared.

Figgy is back and in this third Figgy (and Nana story), the friends both win scholarships to the high school in Accra. Figgy is initially very nervous but quickly settles in and is keen to absorb all the experiences that a city can offer. Nana, however, has more trouble and Figgy can’t make him talk about what’s worrying him. Or where he disappears to. Cities are strange and wonderful, dangerous and sad. This year is going to change them forever.

Figgy Takes the City’ follows ‘Figgy in the World’ and ‘Figgy and the President’ and continues the story of Figgy, a Ghanian village girl with a big heart, a wonderful imagination and enough love to wrap the whole world. These adventures introduce the reader to Ghana, village and city life, to dilemmas unimaginable and familiar. The definition of ‘family’ expands and then expands again. What is family after all but individuals looking after others? Figgy and her friends are warm, fallible, true-hearted and brave. This is another adventure that should find a home in every heart. Recommended for mid-primary readers.
Figgy Takes the City, Tamsin Janu Scholastic 2017 ISBN: 9781742992006
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com