Noah's Garden, by Mo Johnson & Annabelle Josse

Anything is possible in Noah’s garden.

In Noah’s garden he can fly an aeroplane, fight with pirates, bathe with tigers and ride crazy camels. But there’s one thing he can’t do in his garden, and that is the thing he wants to do most – play with his baby sister Jessica. Noah and his family are living in The Children’s Hospital because his new sister Jessica was born with a serious medical condition. Surrounded by loving adults and fired by his fertile imagination, Noah spends his days playing in the hospital’s garden, and hoping that one day Jess will be able to join him.

Noah’s Garden is a touching tale about the power of the imagination, and the courage of a family living through a trying experience. Based on author Mo Johnson’s observations of friends in the same situation, and brought to life through the beautiful watercolour paintings of debut illustrator Annabelle Josse, this is an inspirational picture book offering.

Johnson is donating all of her royalties for this book to the Royal Chidlren’s Hospital Foundation.

Noah's Garden

Noah’s Garden, by Mo Johnson and Annabelle Josse
Walker Books, 2010
ISBN 9781921150159

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

Something More, by Mo Johnson

‘Where is she, Isla?’
Terry barged her way into my room, slamming the door so violently that Mr Jingles the sting puppet fell to the floor in a tangled heap.
‘What have you done with Mitsy, you cow?’
Ignoring her, I began to do a mental count. By three she was fuming. By eight, her skull was about to blow off. I leant back in my chair, ready to say the last digit out loud. ‘Tenahhh!’ Unfortunately, I overbalanced and crashed to the ground. That’s the trouble with wheelie chairs: they’re great for spinning, but the minute you get the loading wrong you’re road kill.

A year ago, Isla and her family moved from Scotland to Australia. Mum and Dad are settled, her combative just-younger sister Terry can almost talk Australian, but Isla is still struggling. She misses her feisty, advice-wielding grandmother and her best friend. She also misses Brian, her old boyfriend. She said it would be easier for them to have a clean break an no contact. Add to that the fact that everything here seems to revolve around swimming pools and she can’t swim. Isla feels she is living a half-life. Her physical self might be here, but her heart is ever-winging its way back to all she left behind. Not that there aren’t potential compensations here. Her art class is great, and includes Sam (dreamy boy) and Jack (intriguing boy). But then Terry reveals a serious secret, one too big for her to manage alone. It’s time for Isla to make some decisions about how and where she belongs.

Something More is about coming to terms with life changes. At a time when every teenager is struggling to make sense of their lives, their selves, when every decision seems super-important, Isla discovers that some decisions are more significant than others. Isla tells her story in first person, but others offer their perspective very clearly in their direct speech and their actions. Isla’s view of the world, and her place in it, opens up through the novel. It’s clear to the reader from the beginning that her personality is a strong one and her perspective true, but Isla herself takes her time to grow into her new skin…to become something more. There are elements of early romance in this and other Girlfriendfiction titles but there is much more. The plot is fast-moving and realistic. Although much of the drama involves Terry, it’s is Isla’s journey and she keeps the reader close by her the entire time. Recommended for early- to mid-secondary readers.

Something More (Girlfriend Fiction)

Something More (Girlfriend Fiction), Mo Johnson
Allen&Unwin 2009
ISBN: 9781741755282

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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

Boofheads, by Mo Johnson

Change tiptoed into our lives with her eyes down, like a shy chick coming late to class. We checked her out as you do and found nothing there worth bothering about. Too many other hot girls were standing in line and Casey, Ed and I had our hands full. If we’d deemed her worthy of a second glance we might have noticed the ruthless determination in her eyes. We may even have asked what she had planned for us, but we ignored her and that was our biggest mistake. Not that she cared. She just went right on doing her thing.

Tommo, Casey and Ed have been best mates forever, and none of them expects that to change. But change comes in year eleven, as the boys’ lives start to diverge and become more complicated. As Ed tries to get his break as a professional footballer, Casey deals with family breakup and Tommo acts as an agony aunt for a teen magazine, it seems that the boofheads have less and less in common.

Boofheads is a humorous title, likely to attract teen readers, and the book does have plenty of humour. It is also, however, a serious book, dealing with many issues which teens are likely to face. It is refreshing to see such an issues-based book dealing particularly with teen boys, although the book will appeal equally to male and female readers.

There is a lot going on in Boofheads but, then again, there’s a lot going on in any teenager’s life, and author Mo Johnson brings together all the different plotlines and issues with aplomb. This is a wonderful book.


Boofheads, by Mo Johnson
Walker Books, 2008

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