Hairy MacLary, Shoo, by Lynley Dodd

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe


In the world of children’s books, no-one writes and illustrates the rhyming picture books better than Lynley Dodd with her Hairy Maclary series. Her use of language and rhyme is impeccable. She is wonderful for introducing young listeners and readers to new words. Her books are fun and Hairy Maclary and friends are cute dogs who get into lots of scrapes. In that, Hairy Maclary, Shoo is no exception.

I remember giving this to one of my grandchildren in hardcover. All my grandchildren loved hearing and then reading the Hairy Maclary books. They have several.

This latest edition of Hairy Maclary, Shoo is a board book version for those tiny fingers that cannot quite be trusted with the real thing. I have to admit I am not a fan of board books and never have been. I never bought them for my own children and refuse to buy them for my grandchildren, preferring to teach them the right way to handle books from a young age by using proper books. However if you like board books or your children or grandchildren cannot be trusted to care for books, then the board book version of Hairy Maclary, Shoowill be a welcome addition.

Hairy Maclary, Shoo has all the wit and charm of other Hairy Maclary books as Hairy Maclary’s curiosity gets him into one scrape after another and sees him ending up at Magnolia School. This is another gem from Lynley Dodd with the usual expressive illustrations. Great fun.

Hairy Maclary, Shoo By Lynley Dodd
ABC for Kids, 2011
HarperCollins Publishers
Board book RRP $14.99

This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Goodnight Mice! by Frances Watts

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

The rhyme and rhythm of this picture book is perfect for the story of four mice who are tired but suddenly become very active , skittering and scampering around when Mum and Dad say it’s time for bed.

The text and accompaniying illustrations take the reader through all the routines the mice do before bedtime, routines of bath times and brushing teeth and kisses goodnight that young children will be familiar with. The repetition of once and twice is effective in the story. Sometimes it is

Kiss Grandpa once,
Kiss Grandpa twice.

Other times it is

Mum sighs once.
Dad sighs twice.

This is a gentle tale that will delight young children and provide a satisfactory ending to a day. It is a story filled with warmth and family love.

The illustrations are cute. Although they are not overly imbued with colour most of the time, they are warm and suit the gentle text. The faces of the mice are very expressive. I particularly liked the bath Time illustrations and those of the scampering, scrambling scurrying fun. I loved the books on the bookshelf and the mice being read a bedtime book. Even the end papers are a delight to pore over with the little mice in various activities.

This is sure to become a book young children and parents will be happy to read again and again.

Goodnight, Mice!

Goodnight, Mice!
Text Frances Watts
Illustrations Judy Watson
Hard cover picture book $24.99
ABC for Kids
HarperCollins Publishers

Available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

Gift of the Gob, by Kate Burridge

Compiling dictionaries is tricky, especially now when English is acquiring vocabulary at such an extraordinary rate. Many new words are one-offs, of course, spur-or-the-moment, short-lived. People do love to invent words and…some even send their creations off to dictionary editors in the hope they might make it onto their lists. …Stroodle ‘the annoying piece of cheese stretching from a slice of hot pizza to one’s mouth’, like all of Rich Hall’s wonderful inventions, certainly fills a lexical gap, but hasn’t yet made it – it remains a sniglet ‘a word that should be in the dictionary, but isn’t’.

Gift of the Gob is subtitled ‘Morsels of English Language History’. It is not intended to be a dictionary, rather a degustation offering of many and varied words of interest. It begins with a definition of ‘gob’ and other words in similar form, rejecting the salivary ‘gob’ for other more interesting meanings including mouth, ‘gobbet’ for mouthful and more. Chapters include ‘Dictionary’, ‘Slanguage’, ‘Language on the Move’ and more. Burridge tracks the origins of words like ‘hamburger’ (derives from Hamburg) and follows the path past the original meaning, through the ham-burger (meat-in-bun) which leads to limburger, eggburger and more. Much of the content has been inspired by questions Burridge has received from the public, either via radio and other shows, or via contact directly with her. Information boxes offer asides on particular words or sayings, or provide answers to questions.

English is an amazing living language with words entering and leaving official dictionaries. And those who love English, do so in a variety of ways. Some want the language to stay as they learned it, with no relaxing of ‘proper’ English. Others make up words for themselves or for others. It’s a living language, and language changes in usage. Once offensive words become mild, and new ones arrive to shock or titillate. Gift of the Gob dances through the field of wild and ordinary words, bringing them all to life by sharing their history. The reader may never use some of the words examined here, but it’s fascinating to understand a little more of their journey to our modern usage. Burridge introduces and reintroduces words and their meanings in an informative yet conversational style, that excludes no one. Recommended for anyone fascinated by the ever-changing language we call English.

Gift of the Gob

Gift of the Gob, Kate Burridge,
ABC Books 2010
ISBN: 9780733324048

Reviewed by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Plum Puddings and Paper Moons, by Glenda Millard

Now she was fifteen, Scarlet wasn’t certain whether wishes ever came true. She had yet to discover what could be done with black tights and a broken bridge.

Everyone knows that Christmas time is the time for making wishes, and it’s almost Christmas in Cameron’s creek. But, in the Kingdom of Silk, Scarlet is not sure that wishes can come true. Scarlet, the oldest of the Rainbow girls, has met a boy, Anik, who has lost so much that Scarlet doesn’t know how she can make a difference. But, as all the residents of the Kingdom of Silk learn at some point, wishies can come true and one person can make a difference. Scarlet decides to declare peace on Cameron’s Creek and soon she can see that difference for herself.

Plum Puddings and Paper Moons is the fifth instalment in the beautiful, and award-winning Kingdom of Silk series. Just as breathtakingly satisfying as its predecessors, this is the kind of book that you want to hug – and that makes you feel hugged in return.


Plum Puddings and Paper Moons

Plum Puddings and Paper Moons, by Glenda Millard
ABC Books, 2010
ISBN 9780733328664

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Dragon's Lie by Kym & Oliver Lardner

Once in a zoo a small boy stood outside the dragon’s cage, asking questions…

When a boy meets a dragon kept in a cage in the zoo, he is puzzled. This dragon is not like the dragons in his books. He asks the dragon why it doesn’t fly, or blow smoke, and why it is no longer powerful. The dragon explains that without the prince and his cousins to fear him and believe in him, there is nothing left for him to do but stay caged. When the boy offers to take him home, the dragon gladly accepts, and the pair leave the zoo together.

This is a delightful tale of friendship, belief and empowerment. Young readers will enjoy discovering and discussing the dragon’s situation, past and present, and the surprise of realising that the cage which holds the dragon is not locked meaning he could have escaped sooner, but didn’t. They will also enjoy the gorgeous manga-inspired illustrations, which contrast the modern world with the ancient. Whilst the zoo features bamboo groves and cages with pagoda roofs, in the background is a very modern city, and as the pair leave the zoo they cross at the lights.

The Dragon’s Lie is a gorgeous offering from father-son pairing of author Kym Lardner, and illustrator Oliver Lardner.

The Dragon’s Lie, by Kym Lardner and Oliver Lardner
ABC Books, 2010
ISBN 9780733325229

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Skoz the Dog – All at Sea, by Andrew Daddo

Hoping for the view to change somewhere – anywhere – Skoz kept spinning. Faster and faster and faster until he eventually fell off in a dizzy wobble. Lying flat on the bottom of the boat, his head back on the packet of bait, Skoz let out a mighty yelp. This was the problem with being a sleepwalking dog.
I’ve woken up, and I haven’t got a clue where I am!

Skoz the dog has a problem. He sleepwalks. And when he does he finds himself waking up in all sorts of difficult situations. This time, when he wakes up he’s all alone on a boat in the middle of the sea. Not only does he have to figure out how to get home, but he also needs to escape from a huge shark that wants him for its dinner.

Skoz the Dog – All at Sea is the first title in an entertaining new series for younger readers. Kids will love the idea of sleepwalking dog, and the humour of the situation he finds himself in. They’ll also love the delightful grey scale illustrations which bring Skoz to life on every spread.

Perfect for emergent readers, this is bound to be popular with junior primary aged readers.

Skoz the Dog - All at Sea

Skoz the Dog – All at Sea, by Andrew Daddo, illustrated by Judith Rossell
ABC Books, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Hairy Maclary, Shoo, by Lynley Dodd

STOP this shemozzle,
this hullabaloo!

Hairy Maclary is enjoying some quiet time with his friends until a delivery van pulls up – and the van door is left often for a moment. Soon Hairy Maclary finds himself far from home, exploring shops, schools and gardens, creating chaos wherever he goes. All he wants is for someone to show him the way home – and, lucky for him, he is found by Miss Plum.

Fans young and old of Hairy Maclary will be delighted to see him in yet another of his trademark adventures, getting into mischief even without trying. As always Lynley Dodd’s rhyming text is seamless, rolling off the tongue, a pleasure both to read and to listen to. Her illustrations, too, bring Hairy to life . Hairy Maclary, Shoo is a treasure.

Hairy Maclary Shoo

Hairy Maclary, Shoo, by Lynley Dodd
ABC books, 2009

this book can be purchased online from Fishpond. buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Possum and Wattle, by Bronwyn Bancroft

Subtitled My Big Book of Australian Words, Possum and Wattleis just that – a big, beautiful book of words from throughout Australia, illustrated in eye-catching colours by talented illustrator Bronwyn Bancroft.

Including words unique to Australia, such as didgeridoo, boomerang and echidna, as well as words for things which come from other parts of the world, but which are found in Australia, and words for things found in other parts of the world, but with special Australian features, the book contains over a hundred words and illustrations, as well as a glossary explaining some of the words, and providing interesting extra information.

With an introduction by author and artist Sally Morgan, Possum and Wattle will delight very young children with its bright colours, but will also prove absorbing for older children and lovers of Australian art, who will appreciate the detail in the illustrations.

A visual delight. First released in hardcover in 2008, Possum and Wattle: My Big Book of Australian Words has now been rereleased in paperback format.

Possum and Wattle: My Big Book of Australian Words

Possum and Wattle: My Big Book of Australian Words, by Bronywn Bancroft
Little Hare, 2008 , this edition 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Slow Cooker, by Sally Wise

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

If you ask me every home should have at least one crock pot or slow cooker, but some cook books I’ve seen for crock pots have been down right boring. This one is anything but. Just reading through the recipes in this book is enough to make you hungry.

The dishes in this cookbook make the mouth water, with recipes for Lamb and Quince Hotpot and Middle Eastern Lamb Stew to name just a couple. It has recipes for standards like Stroganoff and Lasagne, as well as Lemon Roast Chicken or Spicy Roast Chicken made in a crock pot. And there are the old favourite Hedgehogs which are always popular with adult and child alike.

When it comes to desserts, who could resist Clafoutis made with blueberries and raspberries, Summer Fruits Cobbler and the richly beautiful Black Forest Self Saucing Pudding?

As well as myriad recipes designed to please the palate, Sally Wise gives helpful hints about using the slow cooker or slow cookers. She has several which give you some indication of how much they get used. I know other people who have several.

I liked the way she gave hints of other ingredients that could be substituted for those in the recipe

The other advantage is the recipes are not complicated, which for no fuss cooks like me is ideal. The book doesn’t have colour photos, but to me this is no disadvantage. I’d rather just have great recipes than an elaborately photographic book. If you have a crock pot or slow cooker, this book is a must.

Slow Cookerby Sally Wise
*** ABC Books- HarperCollinsPublishers $24.99
Reviewed By Dale Harcombe

Delicious, by Valli Little

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

If you like your cook book to show the finished product you might appreciate this book. It is beautifully presented with a colour picture on the opposite page to each recipe.

Personally I found many of the breakfast recipes not to my taste but others may well have other ideas.

It has an interesting collection of starters and salads. Anyone who likes couscous will like the Tomato, Couscous and Salami Salad. Vietnamese Chicken Salad is another good one.,p> Spanish Soup which can be served chilled or hot would be a useful addition to any cook’s repertoire, as would Thai-Style Tomato soup.

Where ingredients in some recipes are less familiar, Valli Little directs the reader to the right place to find them.

According to Valli, when she had a gourmet food shop one dish (DPS- Daily Pasta Special) was so popular customers wouldn’t let her ever take it off the menu. The great advantage for the busy person is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare.

On the whole this book is not one for those on a tight budget, as some ingredients are expensive. That is counterbalanced by others like Vegetarian Chilli in Avocado and White Bean and Coconut Curry which are tasty, inexpensive and dead easy. What more could the busy cook want?

I immediately thought of someone I know, when I came across the Kumara Galettes as she is a sucker for anything using pumpkin or kumara. And who could resist Roast Chicken with Pan-Roasted Romesco (a Spanish sauce) or Moroccan Chicken with Olives? Moroccan Cottage Pie is a new twist on an old favourite.

Of course there are also simple desserts, cakes, and low fat recipes. Most people should find several particular favourites the will use in this book. Having said that, it’s not one I’d buy myself as I wasn’t that enamoured of some of the recipes or found others used ingredients too expensive for our budget. But I’m prepared to concede others may end up with a different idea.

Delicious: Quick, Smart Cook

Delicious: Quick, Smart Cook, by Valli Little
***ABC books RRP $39.99

This book can be purchased online from Aussiereviews. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.