Finding Grace, by Alyssa Brugman

When Rachel leaves school, she thinks she knows everything there is to know.

But when she meets the mysterious Mr Preston and he offers her a job, she is no longer sure. Her job is to look after Grace – a brain-damaged woman who doesn’t talk. Rachel thinks the job is a wonderful opportunity – she gets to live in a beautfiul house close to Uni, and gets paid for babysitting and a bit of cleaning.

The reality is a little harder. She has to contend with the responsibilities of looking after a once vibrant woman who seems to be no longer able to think for herself, as well as contending with rude neighbours and Grace’s predatory sisters. At the same time she is trying to come to grips with Grace’s past and with her own identity.

This is a book with some intense soul-searching and serious issues, but manages at the same time to be funny, with Rachel’s eccentric almost-adult viewpoint and occasional switches from past to present tense.

A short listed candidate for the 2002 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards (Older Readers Category), Finding Grace will appeal to readers aged sixteen to adult.

Finding Grace, by Alyssa Brugman
Allen & Unwin, 2001

Cowtime, by Kim Barnes

When the sun goes down and the farmers go to bed – it’s COWTIME!

The girls in the cowshed really go to town, dancing and mooing up a storm. But that’s not all – soon the pigs start jumping, horses start wiggling, and the goats, sheep, ducks – even kangaroos and possums – all join in.

This high energy book, by talented writer/illustrator Kim Barnes, is guaranteed to thrill every young reader. The rollicking rhyme, compelte with mooing chorus, is silly enough to have the most serious listener smiling and mooing along.

There are even actions, demonstrated on each page by a dingo, making the book an excellent resource for preprimaries, playgroups and child care centres.

The illustrations are outstanding. Every page is packed full of colour and action. The detail is exceptional, with loads of surprises to be discovered on rereadings. A cat (who refuses to take part in the silliness of the dance) is cleverly hidden on each page, and other clever touches, include the multicultural faces of the human characters, as well as one who is wheelchair-bound.

Cowtime is sure to be an enduring classic.

Cowtime, written and illustrated by Kim Barnes
Scholastic Press, 2002

My Yellow Blanky, by Sofie Laguna

This is Yellow Blanky. We go everywhere together.

Eevry child can relate to the experience of owning a special blanket or toy which spells security and familiarity. In My Yellow Blanky, the special item is, predictably, a yellow blanket.

The child (delightfully unnamed and of an indefinite gender) loves the blanky, especially the special smells it harbours – smells that encompass all of the child’s experiences. But, when Mum takes the blanket away for a wash, something happens to those smells.

The delightfully simple text (little over 200 words) of this title will appeal to preschool aged children and also be accessible for the beginning reader. It would be an excellent bed time story, with its gentle action and message of security.

The beautiful colour pencil illustrations of Tom Jellett complement the text perfectly – the rich pastel tones giving a warmth which echoes the story’s message.

Sofie Laguna comes from an acting background. My Yellow Blanky is her first picture book. She is also the author of Bill’s Best Day, an Omnibus Solo.

Tom Jellet has illustrated a number of children’s books, including Australia at the Beach and Fuzz, the Famous Fly

My Yellow Blanky, by Sofie Laguna, illustrated by Tom Jellett
Omnibus Books, 2002

Murder in Montparnesse, by Kerry Greenwood

There is nothing that inspires Phryne Fisher more than a mystery. When her wharfie mates Bert and Cec come to her for help, Phryne becomes involved in solving a mystery more personal than she first expects.

Bert, Cec and their five mates, celebrating the end of World War I in 1918, have unknowingly witnessed a murder in Paris. Ten years later, two have died in strange circumstances and the remaining five men fear for their own lives.

While Phryne delves into these events in a quest to find the killer, she must deal witht he memories of her own time in Paris. Her former lover Rene Dubois returns to haunt both her dreams and her reality.

At the same time, Phryne’s houshold is in turmoil. Her lover, Lin Chung, is about to be married and her trusted staff are threatening to leave her employ.

Murder in Montparnesse is the twelfth title in the Phryne Fisher series by Australian author Kerry Greenwood. For those not familiar with this sassy, self-styled detective of 1920s Melbourne, there are some unanswered questions about her background, however as the novel progresses these become less important.

Phryne Fisher moves in a world of class and culture, but hovers on the edge of shadow and intrigue. She is equally comfortable with fine art and cocktails as with house breaking and vengeance – on the side of justice, of course.

Murder in Montparnesse is a delight for lovers of crime fiction.

Murder in Montparnesse, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin 2002

Astrid Spark, Fixologist, by Justin D'Ath

Despite the regular stream of people wanting Astrid to fix things, her parents try to keep her life as normal as possible. That means no media interviews and definitely no experiments.

Until Doctor Hu visits, seeking Astrid’s help in an experiment so important that even Astrid’s parents can’t say no. Doctor Hu wants Astrid to fix the hole in the ozone layer.

Doctor Hu’s plans involve a bagggoon – a contraption combining a balloon, an old volvo,lots of ginger beer, a pair of rubber gloves and a stack of hair dryers. When the time comes Astrid is accompanied by her friends Lucas and Kia Jane and a very rude galah, on the journey of a life time.

Astrid Spark, Fixologist, is the latest offering from the talented Justin D’Ath, with illustrations by Terry Denton, whose other credits include the Storymaze series and Andy Griffiths’ Just books.

Kids will love the silliness, the inventiveness and the sheer fun of this book.

Astrid Spark, Fixologist, by Justin D’Ath
Allen & Unwin, 2002

Studying Part Time Without Stress, by Teresa De Fazio

Studying part time means juggling all areas of your life – work, relationships, family life, social life and other interests, along with fitting in time to make a go of whatever course you are undertaking. For those returning or contemplating a return to study, it can be a daunting prospect.

Studying Part Time without Stress is a no-nonsense guide to coping with these competing demands and making the most of your time. It gives practical advice on ways to make the experience a rewarding one for yourself and for those around you.

As well as chapters on choosing what and how to study, there are sections devoted to identifying your learning style, effectively organising your time, writing assignments and more. For those who have been away from study for a length of time, there is clear advice on how to write notes, essays and reports, how to correctly reference these, and how to locate suitable resources.

Appendices to the book include a list of useful print and electronic resources, note taking short cuts, weekly study schedule templates, glossaries and more.

Theresa De Fazio is a teacher at the Centre for educational Development and Support at Victoria University. She is the author of Studying in Australia (1999) and managed to find time to write this book while teaching, conducting research for her doctoral thesis and looking after a young family. Studying Part Time Without Stress is aimed at students taking courses at all levels of college and university and will help you succeed in your study.

Studying Part Time Without Stress, by Teresa De Fazio
Allen & Unwin, 2002.

Facetime, by Winnie Salamon

When Esmerelda moves in with Charlotte she’s not sure if she’s done the right thing. The two don’t have much in common. Charlotte takes herself way too seriously and Esmerelda finds her intimidating and aloof.

Charlotte doesn’t hit it off with Esmerelda’s best friend Ned, either. Ned is a hardcore geek who wears flannies and Linux t-shirts and has no sense of style. He loves bad movies and trashy music. Esmerelda thinks he’s great.

When Ned suggests Esmerelda try internet chat rooms she meets and falls for Jack, an American geek who is both charming and mysterious, and who seems to like all the things Esmerelda likes. They share secrets, even passion – so much so that Jack decides to fly to Australia so they can meet.

Is love in a chat room the same as love in real life? Can Jack and Esmerelda sort out the teething problems of their relationship? And what of Ned – how will he feel about this intruder?

If you have ever sung along to 99 Luft balloons or Electric dreams or lip-synched with b-grade horror films, then Facetime is for you. If you haven’t, you will probably find yourself somewhere in this book anyway. Full of geeks and gnomes, and young people finding their way through life, along with inflatable underwear and loads of other weird stuff, this is a fun read for the 16 plus young person (of any age).

Author Winnie Salamon is a writer and freelance journalist who has written about everything from amputee fetishes to Posh Spice. This is her first novel.

This closet geek hopes it won’t be her last.

Facetime, by Winnie Salamon
Allen & Unwin, 2002.

Alan the Alien, by Penny Hall

It’s student exchange time – country kids coming to stay with city kids to experience city life. Clark doesn’t want anyone staying at his house, sharing his room and his things, but Mum thinks it’s a great idea, and signs the form.

When a visitor arrives at their front door the next day, he’s not what anyone expected. He looks kind of different. He tells Clark he’s come from another planet, but Clark isn’t so sure at first. He just wants this strange kid to go away and leave him alone.

But Alan the alien isn’t going away – he’s won a trip to visit Earth and he wants Alan to show him around. When he helps Clark defeat the bullies, Clark realises that having Alan to stay might not be so bad after all. Perhaps he and Alan can become friends.

Alan the Alien, by Penny Hall, is an orange level Tadpole book from Koala Books. Aimed at readers making the transition form picture books to novels, Tadpoles are highly illustrated books well pitched at young readers. The illustrations of Craig Smith complement Hall’s text, adding to the pacing and excitement of the story.

An earlier Tadpole written and illustrated by the duo, Fixing the Tiger was listed as the Children’s Book Council Notable Books. Other titles by Penny Hall include A Knight in Different Armour, Fantastic and Fabulous and Fraidy Cats.

Alan the Alien
is a fun read which will be enjoyed by 6 to 10 year old readers.

Alan the Alien, by Penny Hall, illustrated by Craig Smith
Koala Books, 2002.

Going Solo in Your Own Small Business, by John English

Do you dream of being your own boss? Of working at something you love, answering only to yourself? The dream of running a small business of their own is one thousands of Australian’s share, yet many lack the knowledge to make that dream a reality.

Going Solo in Your Own small Business, by John English, may be the book that brings you to make the leap from working for someone else to working for yourself in your own small business.

In this handy guide, English guides the reader through the process of deciding to go into a small business, to deciding what sort of business to set up, and through the many considerations and realities of the daily running of a solo business. There is advice on registering business names, gaining appropriate permits, utilising your own skills as well as those of others, paying taxes, managing money and much much more.

English presents his information in a manner so straightforward and practical it is akin to having a personal business advisor standing next to you. He continually challenges the readers to consider how his advice applies to their own situation.

John English has created and run several small businesses of his own. He is an associate Professor in the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Tasmania, a Certified Practising accountant and a business consultant. His previous books include How to Organise and Operate a Small Business in Australia and Australian Stockmarket Investor.

Going Solo in Your Own Business will help you turn your dream of independence into a reality.

Going Solo in Your Own Small Business
, by John English
Allen & Unwin, 2002

The Wonder Dog, by Pamela Freeman

When Luke’s parents ask him what he wants for his birthday, he asks for a puppy. He really wants a puppy to take for walks, to play with and to love. His friend Celia has a puppy and he wants one too. Luke’s parents aren’t so sure. They tell him that puppies are messy, expensive, dangerous and prone to digging up garden beds.

After this Luke knows he won’t get a puppy for his birthday so when he opens his present on his birthday, he is delighted to find a dog inside. Until he discovers it’s a Wonderdog – a robot.

Ruff looks and sounds like a real dog. Luke can take him for walks and throw sticks for him to fetch. He even barks like a real dog. But he’s a robot – he can’t be loyal to Luke and he can’t love.

Luke’s parents don’t understand the problem, but Celia does. She can see the difference between her dog, Digger and Luke’s Wonderdog. What will it take to convince Luke’s parents that a Wonderdog is just not the same as a real live one?

The Wonder Dog, by Pamela Freeman, is a funny tale of friendship, loyalty and love, part of the Orange level Tadpoles series from Koala Books. Well paced and with plenty of excellent illustrations by David Stanley, it will appeal to young readers just making the transition from picture books to chapter books.

Two of Ms Freeman’s earlier books, Victor’s Quest and Pole to Pole made the Children’s Book Council shortlist in their categories.

The Wonder Dog, by Pamela Freeman, illustrated by David Stanley
Koala Books, 2002.