Pippa’s Island: The Beach Shack Cafe

Outside, kids were running, shouting, playing and laughing. If I closed my eyes it sounded just like the playground of my old school back in London. But instead of cool and misty air, the sun shone down bright and hot. The air smelled different too. All sea-salty and spicy. And of course the biggest difference was that almost everyone was a stranger.

Pippa and her family might have moved to an idyllic island town, but that doesn’t make it easy. She has left behind friends she’s known since nursery school in London, and moved across the world to Australia, where everything seems different. On top of that, they are living in a caravan in her grandparents’ garden while Mum puts everything into renovating a run-down boatshed she wants to make into a cafe bookshop. Pippa isn’t sure it will work, but when she makes some new friends, things start looking up.

The Beach Shack Cafe is the first title in a new series following Pippa’s new life on Kira Island. Pippa faces the challenges of a new start with the help of her thoughtful, if slightly distracted, mum, and through trial and occasional error.

Young readers will love the island setting and will look forward to more installments.

Pippa’s Island 1: The Beach Shack Cafe, by Belinda Murrell
Random House Australia, 2017
ISBN 9780143783671

I Want to be in a Book, by Narelle Oliver

In his imaginary book . . .
Cecil could be anyone
in any story.

Since Cecil was drawn, he’s been waiting to be in a book. He’s spent most of his life on a pin up board, where he’s seen other creatures come and go, pained, adorned and surrounded by words in shiny new books. Now, he’s sick of waiting. Determined to be in a book, he rips himself from the pin up board, but soon finds himself getting more adventure than he planned, in the wrong book. Luckily, after he escapes, he realises there is a scrapbook full of ideas waiting for him.

I Want to Be in a Book is a delightful meta-fiction offering from the late Narelle Oliver. With a mix of illustration techniques including Cecil sketched on lined paper, collage, photography and digital techniques and the text ‘typed’ on note paper, the story is visually pleasing with lots to see and find.

Cecil is a delight and a wonderful reminder of Oliver’s talents.

I Want to Be in a Book, by Narelle Oliver
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743811634

The Very Sleepy Bear, by Nick Bland

Winter had come early and Bear was running late.
He was feeling very sleepy, it was time to hibernate.
He hurried down the mountain, past the icy rocks,
and never even noticed a rather sneaky Fox.

The Bear is back – and this time he’s really sleepy. Winter is here, and he needs to hibernate, but a sneaky fox thinks Bear needs a new bigger cave. First he offers a train tunnel, then a bat cave, and lastly an ocean-side cave. When bear decides he’s had enough and wants to go back to his own snug cave, he finds Fox and his friends have moved in.

The Very Sleepy Bear features the bear who youngsters may well know from The Very cranky bear and other offerings. Told in humorous rhyme and featuring the big brown bear and assorted other characters in gently humorous acrylics , the book will nightstand repeated rereading – which is just as well, because it will be requested over and over.

The Very Sleepy Bear, by Nick Bland
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743812549

Charlie and the Karaoke Cockroaches, by Alan Brough

Three Things You Should Probably Know About Me (Charlie Ian Duncan)
. I am a digital orphan. (That means that my parents spend so much time on their iPhones they have forgotten I exist.)
. Last year I made a granny explode.
. I never want anything to crawl into the back of my nose, make a nest and lay thousands of eggs.

Charlie isn’t particularly brave or particularly clever, but things seem to happen to him. His new friend Vivienne appears at his front door in the middle of the night with a mysterious black box which she asks him to look after no matter what. Charlie isn’t so sure about this, but Vivienne disappears, and only Charlie’s other friend, Hils, has any ideas what they should do. Because a huge man, The Exterminator, is after Charlie and the things in the box – three karaoke-singing, talking cockroaches.

Charlie and the Karaoke Cokcroaches, the second book featuring Charlie’s fun-filled adventures, is silly, gross, and far-fetched: which is just why young readers will love it. From television personality and comedian Alan Brough , the text has lots of action, short sentences, dialogue and features including funny advertisements and signs, as well as font embellishments.

An easy read with plenty of fun for readers of all abilities.

Charlie and the Karaoke Cockroaches, by Alan Brough
Pan, 2017
ISBN 9781743548448

Miniwings: Whizz’s Internet Oopsie and Glitterwing’s Book Week Blunder

Let me tell you right now: the Internet oopsie was NOT OUR FAULT. The only thing Clara and I did wrong was to have a teeny, tiny moan to Mum about how we never got to buy anything online. We asked if she might like to give us her credit card number. She said: “Dream on.”
That was it. PROMISE.

When Nana gives Sophia and Clara six little winged horse toys for Christmas, they think they are just ordinary plastic toys. But when there are no adults around, the Miniwings come alive, to become a herd of tiny, talking, glitter-twinkly, flying horses. Which is pretty cool – except that they are also very mischeivous.

In Whizz’s Internet Oopsie, the miniwings are bored when Sophia and Clara are at school, so they use Mum’s credit card to order a few things online: first a footspa, then a cordless drill and, finally, a goat. Chaos ensues. In Glitterwing’s Book Week Blunder, they make such a mess that it looks like the girls won’t be able to dress up for the Book Week parade. Disaster.

Miniwings is a new, glittery, fun-filled series for younger readers. With colour illustrations, glitter, and of course sparkly horses, there is lots to appeal, and adornments including font effects and back of book glossaries of Miniwing-ese.

Cute.

Whizz’s Internet Oopsie ISBN 9781775434245
Glitterwing’s Book Week Blunder ISBN 9781775434238
Both by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Kirsten Richards
Scholastic, 2017

Blossom, by Tamsin Janu

The little girl was silent, and just stared.
So Lottie asked questions. ‘What’re you up to? Are you lost?’
Silence. The little girl hadn’t blinked once.
‘Where’re your parents?’
Silence.
‘Don’t worry if you haven’t got any parents. I don’t. I live with my Uncle Bobby, who’s kind enough.’

Lottie lives with just her Uncle Bobby, and has always longed for a sister, so when a lost girl turns up on her doorstep, she’s excited. But the girl – who Lottie names Blossom – isn’t like other children. Not only doesn’t she speak, but she only eats plants, makes funny sounds, and has green liquid instead of blood. Lottie navigates the difficulties of having such an odd sister presents, until Blossom gets sick, and suddenly becomes the center of scientific interest. Only Lottie and her friends can rescue her.

Blossom is a beautiful tale of an unexpected friendship, with an equally unexpected outcome. It soon becomes apparent that Blossom may be from another world, but just how different this place is is only slowly revealed. In the meantime, Lottie draws on her own strengths as well as the help of those around her.

A beautiful, whimsy-filled story.

Blossom, by Tamsin Janu
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781742991641

The Cat Wants Cuddles, by P. Crumble & Lucinda Gifford

Kevin doesn’t want a pat.
He doesn’t want a tickle.
And he definitely does
NOT want a cuddle.

When Kevin the cat’s nap is disturbed by his owner, wanting to give him some attention, he is not impressed. His owner wants to pat him, tickle him and even cuddle him. But Kevin is not all impressed. He just wants some space. Until he sees the dog getting attention instead. Now he thinks he might quite like some cuddles. For a while.

The Cat Wants Cuddles is a humorous picture book which cat owners will find especially relatable. Kevin seems to think the world revolves around him – and is really contrary. Yet somehow, he is also likable.

The text includes no narration or tags. The owner’s words are presented in bold in the opening pages, with Kevin’s responses (not understood by the human, of course) are in thought bubbles. For the majority of the book, the only text is these thought bubbles. The illustrations focus squarely on Kevin’s expressions and actions, with the human only shown as shoes, hands and a lap. Dog (who remains unnamed, seemingly because Kevin doesn’t dignify him with one) is shown on several spreads, looking slightly confused and long-suffering.

Kids will love the humour of this one.

The Cat Wants Cuddles, by P. Crumble & Lucinda Gifford
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743811412

Boy, by Phil Cummings & Shane Devries

Boy couldn’t hear the battle cries, but he had seen the fear in his mother’s eyes and felt it in his father’s hands when he held him close.
The battles were loud and long…
but no-one ever won.

Boy lives in silence. Unable to hear, he talks with his hands, though only his parents take the time to understand him. In spite of this, boy is happy. Unfortunately, the rest of the villagers are not. They live near a forest where a fearsome dragon and fierce king have been battling. Every body is in danger, but nobody know why. It takes the wisdom – and peace – of Boy to solve the problem.

Boy is a heartwarming picture book about an unlikely hero who proves his bravery and wisdom. Boy is deaf, and it is this difference which sees him not only have a different view of the world, but also inadvertently put himself in danger. However, instead of running, he tackles the two fighting sides, and finds a way to ask them why they are fighting. The message, of peace and communication, is not over stated, it just is.

Illustrations, rendered digitally with a feel of watercolour, particularly in the landscapes feature expressive human characters, and a whimsical purple dragon. with lots of humorous touches and a pastel colour pallete, with lots of sepia tones, lending a medieval feel.

Delightful.

Boy , by Phil Cummings and SHane Devries
Scholastic Press, 2017
ISBN 9781760277055

My Lovely Frankie, by Judith Clarke

Frankie believed in Heaven quite literally, as if it was another lovely world out past the stars. And when he spoke the word “love”, it seemed to spring free and fly into the air like a beautiful balloon you wanted to run after. But I couldn’t tell my parents about Frankie. I couldn’t tell them how he was becoming the best thing in my world. I couldn’t tell anyone, I  hardly admitted it myself.

When teenage Tom decides to enter the seminary his intentions are clear: he wants something more than ordinary happiness, and feels, in spite of his parents’ uncertainty, that he is being called to become a priest. At St Finbar’s life is more difficult than Tom imagined, filled with rules and restrictions. Yet it is here that he meets Frankie, and learns that happiness and love are inextricably linkd.

My Lovely Frankie  is a tale of seminary life, love and self-discovery set in 1950s Australia. From the moment he meets Frankie, Tom feels a connection he struggles to comprehend, particularly in light of his sheltered existence. What is it he feels for Frankie?

Told in the first person voice of a modern day, much older, Tom as he looks back on the events of his teen years, the story gradually unfolds, with the narrative style giving glimpses of the life he has lived in the intervening years, as well as keeping the reader guessing as to the events of the year in question.

Beautifully written, this is a story which will haunt long after the last page.

My Lovely Frankie, by Judith Clarke
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781760296339

My Meerkat Mum, by Ruth Paul

Up. Down. Dig. Play.
Meerkat Mum leads the way.

From first light till bedtime, Meerkat Mum supervises her children, guiding, scolding, feeding, and guarding. Even when they finally rest safe in their burrow, she will remain alert for danger all night.

My Meerkat Mum is a delightful rhyming text which captures the jerky, slightly humorous movements for which meerkats are known, in its stop/start rhythm. It withstands repeated readings (this reviewer road tested it with a ten month old who sat through four readings).

The illustrations, rendered digitally are equally delightful, with golden desrt hues and semi-realistic portrayals of the meerkats and other animals, though mum and one meerkat pup are adorned with flowers, and another has a favourite cuddly toy aardvark.

Suitable for babies through to early schoolers.

My Meerkat Mum, by Ruth Paul
Scholastic NZ, 207
ISBN 9781775434894