If she’d felt a jolt earlier, this was a canon, blowing a giant hole right through her. Cancer. Had they used that word earlier? She didn’t remember it.
Apparently appeased by her expression – finally the reaction they’d been waiting for – the doctor began to explain it all again, a third or maybe fourth time. Once again, Alice zoned out. because she couldn’t have cancer. She was barely forty, she ate well, exercised occasionally. More importantly, she couldn’t have cancer. She had Zoe.
Since Zoe was born, it has always been just her and Alice. And that’s the way they have both preferred it. Alice has never shared the story of Zoe’s conception, sure that she is enough for Zoe. And for Zoe, who lives with crippling social anxiety, Alice is enough for her. So, when Alice is told she has cancer, her first thought is for Zoe. Who will be there for her daughter? With her parents both dead, and her only remaining relative, her brother, a hopeless alcoholic, Alice reaches out to women newly in her life – her oncology nurse, Kate, and her social worker, Sonja. the three women have more in common than they could ever realise.
The Mother’s Promise is a moving story of strength, friendship and love. While Alice deals with her own battle, each of her two unlikely new friends also has her own private battle to face. At the same time her daughter, Zoe, must deal both with her mother’s illness and with her anxiety and its consequences.
Though the subject matter could make this grim, the story is both warmly and compellingly told.
The Mother’s Promise, by Sally Hepworth
Pan Macmillan, 2017
Eve was not good at waiting.
She stood with her nose pressed against the cold glass while balancing on tiptoe on the arm of the couch. From this height she could see all the way to the corner of Stewart Street. Eve knew that this was the way her grandmother, Sylvie, would walk from the bus stop when she arrived.
Eve and her dragon, Ingvar, are waiting for Sylvie and Oscar to arrive. Sylvie is Eve’s grandmother and Oscar her friend. They’re staying with Eve while her parents are out of town. Eve, Sylvie and Oscar have had many adventures ‘and travelled to many worlds’. Eve’s not expecting any adventure or danger this visit, but she’s always prepared. Just as well, as adventure seems to find her. This time, there’s a visit from an old enemy and a griffin who needs their help in Dracburn, where one-eyed men are stealing the lining from griffin nests. While her grandmother deals with the old enemy, Eve, Ingvar and Oscar are off on a new quest.
What young girl wouldn’t want a dragon as a companion? And the ability to help other creatures in magical worlds. Keeper of the Crystals: Eve and the Griffin’s Gold is Book 5 in this series from New Frontier Publishing. It’s at newly competent readers wanting to be whisked away on magical adventures full of jewels and wondrous creatures. Eve is a gentle champion who works with her friends to solve mysteries and rescue those in distress. She must be brave and resourceful and overcome seemingly impassable obstacles to succeed in her missions. And she does. Then arrives home in time to spend time with her grandmother. Recommended for young readers, ready for fantastical stories.
Keeper of the Crystals 5: Eve and the Griffin’s Gold, Jess Black
New Frontier Publishing 2017
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
One Wednesday in October I spoilt a perfectly good spring evening by going to bed with a book called Run, Bobby, Run. Hugh at the deli had lent it to me that afternoon when I dropped in for twenty kilos of coffee beans, promising a gripping, fiendishly clever read, and after a solid fortnight of my late Great-Aunty Sheila’s Anne Hepple novels I thought that sounded like just the thing.
‘The Pretty Delicious Café’ is set in a small town on the coast in New Zealand. Lia and her friend Anna run a café that gets very busy in tourist season. Sounds idyllic. And it is. Or would be, if life hadn’t also introduced pre-wedding nerves in your business partner … who is about to marry your twin brother … and an ex-boyfriend who won’t take no for an answer … and two differently challenging parents who live (luckily) in different places … and a business that’s not yet on firm footing. Lia has it all, and then some. On the night ‘The Pretty Delicious Café’ begins, she also has a prowler.
Lia is just trying to make a go of life. She has loving but eccentric family and friends around her and she’s doing her best to make a go of the café she co-owns. But it’s hard to keep your focus when an old romance is over, a new one may just have appeared, your partner is behaving strangely and you feel you are parenting your parents. ‘The Pretty Delicious Café’ is full of love and laughter, drama and excitement. An entertaining peek into small town world, jam-packed with character and charm. Recommended for readers who like their stories fast-paced and with a happy ending.
The Pretty Delicious Café, Danielle Hawkins
HarperCollins 2016 ISBN: 9781460752586
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
If you’re thinking this book is about the yummy hotdog that you eat, then you’re thinking of the wrong hotdog!
Hotdog is a long skinny dog – a sausage dog – who likes to try hard to get things right. His friend Lizzie is a lizard, who’s good at blending in, and their other friend, Kevin, is a lazy cat whose humans dress him up in all kinds of costumes. When the trip meet in the park for a ply, they are joined by a baby bird who has fallen out of his nest. The trio of friends are determined to get the bird back to his mother – but first they have to deal with obstacles including karate-chopping roosters and even dirty nappies.
Hotdog is a brand new series from comedian and best-selling author Anh Do. With simple, humorous text and cartoon-style illustrations (by Dan McGuiness), and textual embellishments to add interest, including different font sizes and speech bubbles, this first book will delight young readers transitioning to chapter books.
Hotdog, by Anh Do & Dan McGuiness
How he loved Christmas!
He’d chortle with glee –
‘The presents! The presents!
For ME! ME! ME! ME!
It’s Christmas Eve and Pig and his patient friend Trevor are excited. But while Trevor has written to Santa asking just for ‘something nice’, Pig has written an almost-endless list of demands. And, while Trevor knows that Santa will come when he’s asleep, Pig is determined to stay up to see Santa. The waiting is hard, but harder still is his realisation that Santa hasn’t brought him everything on his list. He wants to make Santa pay – with hilarious results.
Pig the Elf is the latest in this much-loved picture book series featuring Pig the selfish (yet somehow lovable) Pug and his long-suffering friend Trevor the dachsund. In bouncy, humorous verse complemented with big generous acrylic illustrations, this is sure to be a favourite this Christmas season.
Pig the Elf, by Aaron Blabey
George was so happy that he started to sing one of his made up songs:
‘Raspberry, raspberry, red and sweet,
How very lovely you are to eat!’
George the Bilby loves to cook, so when his friend Betty Echidna’s birthday arrives, George wants to make her something special: Raspberry Muffins. But he needs some help from his friends to find the raspberries, pick them and get them home. Finally he can bake the muffins ready for the party.
George the Bilby Chef and the Raspberry Muffin Surprise is the first in a new series from author-illustrator Jedda Robaard. With a cast of Aussie animals rendered in sweet pastel tones, and a collectible recipe card for the muffins which George bakes in the book, as well as gentle message about cooperation and sharing, this hard cover offering will be loved kids and parents.
George the Bilby Chef and the Raspberry Muffin Surprise, by Jedda Robaard
Five Mile Press, 2016
In the Jingle Jangle Jungle,
there was music in the air…
And it landed in the ears
of a very sleepy Bear.
When Bear is woken by his friends playing music, they suggest he joins in. But when he tries to play the drums, he bashes too hard and knocks them over, when he tries to play the guitar, his claws get tangled in the strings, and when he tries the trumpet, he makes a loud screech that scares the monkeys. Luckily his friends are persistent -and when he’s offered the microphone, Bear soon has everybody dancing when he roars in perfect harmony.
The Very Noisy Bear has all the fun of its predecssors, including The Very Cranky Bear, with humorous rhyming text, gorgeous animal-filled illustrations (rendered in acryclic paint), and a gentle, humorous story.
Lot sto like!
The Very Noisy Bear, by Nick Bland
Scholastic Press, 2015
Available from good bookstores and online.
Snail and Turtle…
Snail and Turtle are friends. They like to spend time together, walking and running and being quiet together. But they are also very different: Snail eats leaves, while Turtle eats flowers; Snail likes to climb while Turtle loves to dive. Difference, though, doesn’t mean they can’t be friends – they can do things together even when doing them differently.
Snail and Turtle are Friends is a divine celebration of friendship and difference and whimsy told with the simple brilliance we’ve come to expect from Stephen Michael King. There’s no need for overt explanation of what’s going on – the minimal text and the delightful illustrations work together to have the reader smiling and nodding throughout.
Visually, the characters of Snail and Turtle are created very simply, and complemented by a cast of other animals and insects who appear in the illustrations but not the text. Their landscape is green and lush with hints of seasons passing through rain, flowers and autumnal shades on different spreads (though the latter are attributed to the creative efforts of the pair). Young viewers will enjoy spotting embellishments and details throughout.
This a totally huggable book.
Snail and Turtle are Friends, by Stephen Michael King
Available from good bookstores and online.