Onesie Mumsie by Alice Rex ill Amanda Francey

‘Onesie Mumsie!

Onesie Mumsie!’

‘Whose bedtime is it?’

‘Onesie Mumsie!

Onesie Mumsie!’

‘Whose bedtime is it?

A small girl is resisting bedtime. Although it might be bedtime for little girls, and even for little rabbits, it’s clearly not bedtime for some of her other onesie-inspired friends. Mum, who may or may not be planning a sit down with a mug of hot chocolate, is happy to play along. Illustrations move from the realistic to the imaginary as different onesies inspire imaginative play. Mother and child enjoy their play until it seems the little girl is finally content to stay in bed. Now Mum can also go to bed. Illustrations are watercolour and pencil, set mostly in white space, although there are hints about what ‘adventure’ will follow. Cameo roles are played by the little girl’s favourite soft toys.

Onesie Mumsie! is a celebration of pre-bedtime games, a celebration of the one-on-one time that is so important for parent and child. The child initiates an activity and Mum rolls with it, joining in to vanquish the animals that appear on her bed. Cue cuddles, tickles and more. Young children will love the playfulness, and the illustrations offer an introduction to different habitats and potential discussions about animals and their habitats. (Tired parents might want to schedule reading to the weekend!) Recommended for pre-school children.

 

Onesie Mumsie!, Alice Rex ill Amanda Francey New Frontier Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9781925059243

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Go to Sleep, Jessie! by Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood

Every night she does this.
Ever since she moved into my room.

Jessie won’t go to sleep. She throws her pillow on the floor, she stands at the bar of her cot, and she screams. Her big sister can’t sleep either – she wishes Jessie would be quiet, or, better still, that Jessie wasn’t sharing her room at all. It seems nothing will settle Jessie down to sleep, except maybe a little bit of sisterly love.

Go to Sleep, Jessie! is a gorgeous tale of a situation many families will relate to,from one of Australia’s favourite picture book pairings. Libby Gleeson’s text tells a fairly simple tale of a baby who won’t sleep in spite of big sister, Mum and Dad’s efforts, but at the same time there’s a deeper tale, of both sibling rivalry and sibling love. Apart from not being able to sleep, the big sister also laments the loss of her own space, and the disruption that Jessie has brought to her life. When Mum tells her she doesn’t really want her own room, big sister disagrees – but when Dad takes Jessie out for a drive to try to settle her, big sister can’t sleep, and it is her sisterly intervention which finally gets Jessie to sleep and helps her sleep, too.

Freya Blackwood’s illustrations, in watercolour, gouache and pencil, perfectly capture both the frustration and the mixed emotions of the big sister, as well as Jessie’s upset. WHile Mum and Dad are art of the story, Blackwood makes sure the children are central – with Mum and Dad only visible either from behind or from angles which don’t show their faces. This is the children’s story, and the final image of them asleep together in Jessie’s cot is gorgeous.

A beautiful picturebook.

 

Go to Sleep, Jessie! by Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood
Little Hare, 2014
ISBN 9781742977805

Available from good bookstores and online.

One Rule for Jack, by Sally Morgan & Ezekiel Kwaymullina

This is what I do every morning.
Lock the bathroom door. Turn on the shower. Take off my clothes. Wet my hand. Run it through my hair. Turn off the shower. Come out with a towel wrapped around my waist.

When Jack discovers that pretending to have a shower gets him out of having to have one, he decides to use his one rule – do it badly – to get out of just about everything. But Mum seems to have a solution to everything: when he breaks the broom, she gets him to sweep with a dustpan and brush, when the mophead ‘disappears’, she suggests a toothbrush; and when it’s time to wash the dog, Jack’s really in for a smelly surprise. Maybe Mum is onto his tricks.

One Rule for Jack is a funny chapter book for newly confident or emerging readers. The text is accessible and humorous, and there is illustrative support in the form of grey-scale illustrations by Craig Smith.

Any child who has tried – and failed – to trick their parents will enjoy themselves in this book.

 

One Rule for Jack

One Rule for Jack, by Sally Morgan & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Omnibus, 2014
ISBN 9781742990330

Available from good bookstores and online.

Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth

This is my nightmare. Sure, there are any number of planks in the rickety suspension bridge of our trip that could give out and send us plummeting – the flight, the road trips to Okanagan Lake and Seattle. Foreign places, foreign people. Foreign everything. And, of course, The Appointment and all of the question marks it entails. But to go wrong here? Here? At the airport? On the list of places you’d want to avoid acting out of the ordinary, the airport would rank number one with a bullet. Or maybe a taser.

Nineteen year old twins Justine and Perry have had a tough few years. Their beloved dad has died after a battle with cancer, and they are on their own. Now, as they plan to part ways for the first time in their lives, they are taking a trip together. But travelling is complicated, because Perry is autistic, and doesn’t always cope well with change. Justine has always looked after him, but there are times when even she finds it hard to get through to Perry. From their arrival at the airport she is faced with challenges, but only she knows that in Canada they are going to face what could be their biggest challenge of all.

Are You Seeing Me? is a beautiful young adult novel, dealing with themes of disability, family, loyalty and change. While it is Perry who seemingly has the hardest time dealing with change, Justine too has lessons to learn about trust and about caring for herself, even about her brother. Their journey is both physical and metaphoric, and readers will enjoy seeing the sights through Perry’s eyes, as his fascination with earthquakes, mythical sea-creatures and Jackie Chan dictate their touring schedule.

Using the alternate viewpoints of Justine and Perry, each with their own unique voice and take on the world, Are You Seeing Me? is funny, sad and touching in equal measure.

 

Are You Seeing Me?

Are You Seeing Me?, by Darren Groth
Woolshed Press, 2014
ISBN 9780857984739

Available from good bookstores and online.

Intruder, by Christine Bongers

Maybe it was the creak of a worn floorboard that woke me. Or the subtle shift in air pressure as another body invaded my space. I struggled up out of a dream, confused and disoriented, squinting into the darkness.
‘Dad?’ The shadows coalesced into a human form, close enough to touch. ‘Is that you?’
‘Is he here?’ the strange voice – a man’s voice – struck my heart like a hammer.

When Kat awakes to an intruder in her bedroom, she screams, and her neighbour comes running to her aid. But Edwina, the neighbour, is almost as unwelcome in Kat’s life as the prowler, having betrayed Kat’s dying mother in the last days of her life. Now it seems Edwina is going to become a part of her life again, whether Kat likes it or not.

And there’s another unwanted guest in her house – a dog called Hercules, who is supposed to guard her in future. Kat is terrified of dogs, but given the choice between Hercules or sleeping at Edwina’s when her dad is out working, she accepts the dog as the lesser of two evils. When walking Hercules leads to her meeting Al at the dog park, Kat realises he’s not all bad, and when the prowler reveals he isn’t done with her, Kat comes to realise she might need Hercules AND Edwina on her side.

Intruder is a gripping story that takes the reader on a journey from fear, to laughter, to confusion, to angst and well beyond. There are lots of light moments, as well as feel-good ones, but the threat of a stalker-intruder hangs over the book, as do the back story of Kat’s mother’s death and the events for which Kat blames Edwina. The reader wants to know what happened and what will happen in equal measure.

Teen readers will lap this up, with the blend of mystery, suspense, angst, romance and humour satisfyingly executed.

 

Intruder

Intruder, by Chris Bongers
Woolshed Press, 2014
ISBN 9780857983763

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Eye of the Sheep, by Sofie Laguna

‘Whooooeeeeee!’ I screamed as I jumped. ‘Paaaauuuullllllaaaaaa!’ The blades or me, who was the fastest? Nobody knew! Nobody even knew! I jumped again then I ran to the fence, touched it and ran back. Dad swiped at me. Mum came running, rocking like a rowboat on the sea, down the back step and across the gravel path, towards me and the mower and my shouting dad. ‘Wheeeeeeeeee!’ I screamed as I jumped, falling against the handle of the mower, tipping it on its side so its whirring silver blades glinted in the sun. I jumped again. Dad reached for me, but he went too close, too close!

Jimmy Flick is different. He’s too much of everything – too fast, too slow, too unpredictable, and certainly too different. Only his mother, Paula, seems to be able to manage him. His big brother Robby is often absent, and his dad doesn’t know what to do with him. Paula calms him when his thoughts are too fast, and tries to explain the world to him. She also protects him from his father. But there are some things a mother can’t protect her child from and when that happens Jimmy has to find a way for himself.

The Eye of the Sheep is a novel that stuns with its plot, wrenches with its emotions and leaves you satisfied, not because the ending is perfect but because the story has been put together perfectly.

Jimmy’s first person narration takes the reader inside the confused world of a child who sees things differently, which gives some relief from subject matter which could be bleak, even overwhelming. Jimmy’s family is dysfunctional, with alcohol abuse and domestic violence part of his every day world. His take on life is heart-wrenchingly poignant and his honesty and openness to people around him mean that he always seems to have some slim sense of hope.

This is not a feel good story. It is tough and in your face, but in such a way that you’ll be glad you read it.

 

The Eye of the Sheep

The Eye of the Sheep, by Sofie Laguna
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743319598

Available from good bookstores and online.

Crimson Dawn, by Fleur McDonald

Sean cleared his throat and stood up. ‘Laura, we know how much you love farming and Nambina. It’s that sort of love I have never understood or had, and it’s why today we are passing the reins of it over to you, darling girl….I believe you are destined for greatness within the ag industry…we can’t wait to watch and see what happens and where it ends up.’

When Laura Murphy is handed the reins of the family property, she hopes that she can justify the trust placed in her. She sets to work building her breeding program and establishing a school to teach young women farming and property management skills. She is independent, strong and determined to succeed.

Not everything is perfect though. Laura is haunted by a personal tragedy which cost her a friendship and broke up her relationship with Josh, from the neighbouring property. Her latest batch of students have started off strongly, but seem to splintering as a group as the year goes by. And a solicitor has notified her that someone else has a claim over Nambina. It’s going to take all her strength to keep it all together.

Crimson Dawn is a rural novel of courage, family and survival. With elements of mystery and romance, and a slit narrative which gradually reveals the details of the family split which lead to the property claim, there is a lot happening in the story, but McDonald weaves the varying threads together strongly.

An absorbing, satisfying story of outback life.

 

Crimson Dawn, by Fleur McDOnald
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743315316

Available from good bookstores or online.

Small Bamboo, by Tracy Vo

I was on a plane from Sydney to Perth to see my parents, but it was much more than just a flight west. It would eventually take me back more than thirty years, all the way back to Vietnam, back to a time when my parents were young and brave and desperate.
Desperate enough to get on a leaky boat.

In 2012 a break from her Sydney-based media career to visit her parents made Tracy Vo realise how homesick she was. It was time to move home to Perth. Ultimately, this decision took her much further, on a journey of discovery into her parents’ past. Thirty four years earlier, they had fled post-war Vietnam in a leaky boat, making a new life in Australia, where Tracy and her b=older brother Trevor were born and grew up.

Small Bamboo is a captivating account of the Vo family’s life in Vietnam prior to and during the Vietnam war, their subsequent escape and journey to Australia, and their lives adapting to this new country. Vo also shares her own experiences as the child of refugee parents, and charts her career to date as a television and radio journalist.

Readers will be entertained and intrigued by this glimpse into one family’s lives, and also witness to the way that hard work and determination can overcome adversity and lead to success.

 

Small Bamboo, by Tracy Vo
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743316153

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Break, by Deb Fitzpatrick

‘…You mean live there?’
‘Yeah.’
The woman next door was clattering about in her garden, shushing the dog when it barked.
‘Well…’ He struggled to get it into his head. ‘Why would we do that, exactly?’…
‘To be our own people,’ she eventually managed, in a whisper.
‘Instead of…’ And he was quiet for a moment. ‘Being other people’s people,’ he said finally.

Rosie can’t be a journalist if it involves chasing ambulances and looking for shock value. Cray has had enough of the fly in fly out lifestyle, especially when it means long stretches away from home. When they throw in their jobs, they decide to make a change, and head down to Margaret River, a place they’ve always loved. But starting again in a place that’s facing challenges of its own might not be all plain sailing.

Fergus and Liza have always lived in Margies, and Fergus runs the farm which his father built up. Their son Sam loves life – watching stars, fishing and swimming in the river, and following his favourite sci-fi serial on the computer his much loved uncle gave him. The only thing he doesn’t like is when his parents fight. Lately they’ve been arguing more, especially about Uncle Mike.

Rosie gets to know Liza and Sam, through their common concern of the effects a big development will have on their favourite piece of coastline. Development, though, proves the least of their worries, when the coastline itself proves a natural enemy.

The Break is a heart-wrenching novel about family, community, loss and change, set in the South West of Western Australia in the 1990s. Though there are parallels with real events,including the Gracetown Cliff Collapse in 1996, this is a work of fiction, allowing readers into the lives of deftly drawn characters and allowing readers to consider one version of how such an event might impact individuals and a community. Fitzpatrick does this with a special touch.

This is Fitzpatrick’s first novel for adults, but would also be suitable for young adult readers.

 

The Break, by Deb Fitzpatrick
Fremantle Press, 2014
ISBN 9781922089632

Available from good bookstores and online.

Going Bush With Grandpa, by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, illustrated by Craig Smith

I jump in the front. ‘Bye, Mum!’ I yell as we pull out of the drive. ‘I’ll bring you back a shiny gold nugget!’
‘Make it a big one!’ she laughs. ‘Then we can all go on a holiday!’

Pete is off on a bush camping trip with his Grandpa, whose name is also Pete. Both of them are excited about the prospect of finding a gold nugget with Grandpa’s super duper new metal detector. But as well as looking for gold, the pair are spending time together – they play jokes, they sing songs, and Grandpa cooks his speciality – curry.

Going Bush with Grandpa is a lovely story of the friendship and connection between two generations of a family. Pete and Grandpa share a special bond and the reader is given the sense that the real nugget here is that connection – though they’ll also hope, along with Pete, for a gold nugget to be found.

With text by Sally Morgan and her son Ezekiel Kwaymullina, and illustrations by Craig Smith on every spread, the story is accessible to readers in early primary years.

 

Going Bush with Grandpa

Going Bush with Grandpa, by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, illustrated by Craig Smith
Omnibus, 2014
ISBN 9781742990262

Available from good bookstores and Sally Morgan and online.