Calpepper's Place, by Trudie Trewin & Donna Gynell

One day, Calpepper stopped plodding,
and kicked the hot desert sand.
“This is not the place for me,” he snorted.
“I’m going to find a far away exciting place.”

Calpepper the camel is fed up with trudging behind the plodding camel train. He is sure there are much more exciting places he’d rather be. So one day he leaves the desert behind, and catches a bus, in search of an exciting place. But every place he visits is not quite camely enough: the ski slopes are slippery and cold, the city is too jostly and the waves at the beach are just a bit too high. Finally, Calpepper realises that only home is camely enough for him.

Calpepper’s Place is a gorgeous picture book about camels, home and belonging. Young readers will delight in the humour of Calpepper’s adventures, with text which plays with sound and is patterned in a way encouraging children to predict, and illustrations which perfectly capture the movement and humour of the tale.

The sort of book which will will be happily read over and over by parents and carers, and enjoyed by young readers every time.


Calpepper’s Place, by Trudie Trewin & Donna Gynell
Windy Hollow, 2014
ISBN 9781922081322

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Marjery Williams Bianco ill Helene Magisson

There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

The rabbit in The Velveteen Rabbitis a Christmas gift to a young boy. Although the Boy has many toys, he comes to love the Rabbit and for a long time they are close companions. Another toy in the nursery, the Skin Horse, tells the Rabbit that if a child really loves you, for a long time, then you become Real. The Rabbit longs to become Real, but there are many twists and turns along the path he wants to travel. Illustrations are in gentle blues and greens, lyrical and lovely. Endpapers offer two views of an empty toy room a

The Velveteen Rabbitwas first published in 1922 and has been a favourite of many young and old. This beautiful edition of the story about the magic of love is sure to win a new generation of fans. Readers will enjoy their visit to a different time, and empathise with the longings of a loved companion. Observant readers may also find extra details in the endpapers. Recommended for pre- and early schoolers.


The Velveteen Rabbit, Marjery Williams Bianco ill Helene Magisson New Frontier Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9781925059304

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain, by Steven Herrick

My name is Jesse James Jones. Call me Jesse. Don’t call me triple j. I’m not a radio station, I’m an eleven-year-old boy.
Trevor looks down on me with understanding eyes. It’s pretty tough going through life with a name that people make fun of. ‘ven though I walk through the valley of the shadow -‘
‘Mum! Jesse’s talking to himself again!’ yells my sister Beth, from the next room.
‘Jesse.’ Mum’s voice is reproachful, as though I’ve been caught doing something sinful.

Fitting in to a new school is rarely easy, and when there’s a school bully with you firmly in his sights, it’s definitely going to be difficult. Lucky for Jesse there’s also a girl called Kate who has curly black hair and a beautiful smile. While Jesse’s helping her to save the whales, he’s also trying to save starving orphans in Africa, and his family from financial ruin.

Bleakboy and Hunter Stand out in the Rain is a funny story about standing up for beliefs, friendship and fitting in. Told from the first point viewpoint of Jesse, interspersed with a third person look at Hunter’s perspective, the reader is thus able to see the complexities of the boys’ interaction as well as what is happening in each boy’s life. This adds a depth which a single viewpoint would lack.

Young readers will enjoy the silliness of scenes including Jesse’s interaction with a poster of Jesus (who he calls Trevor to appease his atheist parents) and Hunter’s ability to find sponsorship for the Save the Whales cause , whilst appreciating the poignancy of the tougher moments of the story.

Herrick is a powerful storyteller. Bleakboy and Hunter Stand out in the Rain will not disappoint.


Bleakboy and Hunter Stand out in the Rain, by Steven Herrick
UQP, 2014
ISBN 9780702250163

You can read an interview with Steven Herrick here.

This book is available from good bookstores or online.

Pretty Girl, by J. C. Burke

The other girls are looking up and laughing, the tension dissolving around them. But it’s not for Sarah. Where Sarah and Tallulah have found themselves in their first year of college is worse than Sarah could ever have been imagined.

AT school Sarah, Tallulah, Jess and Tallulah were inseparable, so when they were all offered places at the same university college, it seemed certain their friendship would continue to flourish. But none of them could have foreseen the way their first year at university would pan out. Sarah’s having relationship trouble with her long-term boyfriend Wil, Paige and Jess hare both keeping secrets about their new crushes, and Tallulah is partying way too hard. Then Sarah finds Paige face down in the university swimming pool, and although she saves her, the months that follow are confusing. Was it a terrible accident, or did someone hurt Paige? Sarah saw something that night, but hasn’t told anyone, for reasons of her own. Then Jess has a fatal accident, and the remaining girls struggle to remain connected.

Pretty Girl is an intriguing blend of thriller and coming of age tale. Told from the dual perspectives of friends Sarah and Paige, readers are able to piece together much of the mystery of what has happened, but at the same time can only guess at how it will end. Alongside the mystery, we see the two girls, and (to a lesser extent) their friends, struggle to find their place in the world. Their friendships, their relationships and their sense of identity are all questioned as they navigate a tumultuous year.

An absorbing read for teens and young adults.


Pretty Girl, J.C. Burke

Pretty Girl, by J. C. Burke
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781741663136

Available from good bookstores and online.

WeirDo, by Anh Do

‘Weir, what’s your surname?’ she asks again.
‘Do? Rhymes with GO?’
‘Your name’s … Weir Do? It’s not really, is it?’
‘Yes, actually, it is,’ I reply.
Get ready for it. In exactly three seconds all the kids will start laughing…

Every year, Weir’s school year starts the same way – with questions and jokes about his name. This year it’s even worse because he’s in a new town, at a new school.Fitting in is not going to be easy, especially when you add in a crazy family with some weird habits.

WeirDo is a quick to read, really funny story from comedian Ahn Do. There’s lots of silliness about names, and ‘thingies’ getting slammed in toilet seats, cleverly delivered in a manner sure to keep young readers turning pages and, of course, giggling. There’s also some character development and messages about friendship, acceptance and family, but these are not oevrpowering.

Illustrated on every page in black and white, with red embellishments within the texts for emphasis and humour, this is an excellent offering for lower and middle primary aged readers.


WeirDo, by Anh Do
Scholastic Australia, 2013
ISBN 9781742837581

Available from good bookstores and online.

Ted, by Leila Rudge

Ted had been at the pet shop for as long as he could remember.
He was a smart dog with his own jumper,
and he did his best to make a good impression.
But there were so many other dogs that nobody noticed Ted.

Ted is a little dog with a big problem. he doesn’t belong – and belonging is what he most wants. So he sets off to find the perfect place. He tries the circus, but everybody cheers the circus dogs and nobody notices Ted. Similarly, Ted doesn’t succeed as a pageant dog or a guard dog. Dejected, he is about to head back to the pet store when he comes across Dot, who is looking for a furry friend who enjoys long walks and ball games. Ted does his best to get noticed by Dot – and succeeds.

Ted is an adorable picture book story about an adorable dog. He may not be suitable for any of the roles he tries, but he is a dog who will win the hearts of young, and not-so-young readers. The illustrations, using pencil and ink with touches of paper collage, have a gentle whimsy to them, with lots of detail for readers to explore and discover.

Perfect for young animal lovers.


Ted, by Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2013
ISBN 9781921977503

Available from good booksellers or online.