Do Not Open this Book Again, by Andy Lee & Heath McKenzie

Oh! You again. Well, you’ll notice I’m back to being little, old, non-froggy, normal me. So, no point reading on because this book is very, very boring.

The little monster character from Do Not Open this Book is back, and back to his normal self, but he really doesn’t wanting readers opening the book, or turning pages. He tries everything to stop the pages being turned, finally revealing why: the wizard who turned him into a frog last book has fixed him – but if the end of the book is reached, he will be naked.

This laugh out loud, interactive book will delight young readers, and will be requested over and over again. With text by Andy Lee (best known as one half of Hamish and Handy) and digital illustrations from Heath McKenzie, Do Not Open This Book Again is good fun.

Do Not Open This Book Again, by Andy Lee & Heath McKenzie
Lake Press, 2017
ISBN 9781760455163

I Just Ate My Friend, by Heidi McKinnon

I just ate my friend.
He was a good friend, but now he’s gone.
What if I never find another friend again?

A glum yellow character is lonely: because he just ate his only friend. Now he is regretting his actions, and is searching for a new friend. But the other creatures he finds are too big or too small, or even too frightening. When he does finally find a suitable friend, the tables are turned, in an unexpected ending which makes even adults laugh out loud.

With a potential message about belonging and the importance of impulse control, this hilarious offering is mostly just good fun. the whimsical digital illustrations feature dark, night-time backgrounds and a cast of deceptively simply rendered characters (which might be described as monsters or beasts) in a range of shapes and sizes.

Suitable for children AND adults, I Just Ate My Friend is a wodnerful debut for Heid McKinnon.

I Just Ate My Friend , by Heidi McKinnon
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 978176029434

Polly & Buster: The Wayward Witch & the Feelings Monster, by Sally Rippin

Buster shrugs. ‘Not every witch can be a Black Witch,’ he says. ‘But you’ll be special at something, I just know it! And even if you never find that thing you are good at, you will always be special to me.’
Polly feels her heart squeeze with love for Buster. She throws her arms around his big, thick waist. ‘You are the loveliest friend a witch could ever have.’

Polly and Buster have always been friends – but their friendship has to be a secret, because witches like Polly are not supposed to be friends with monsters like Buster. Being secret friends isn’t their only problem. Polly is struggling at school, because none of her spells ever work, and Buster is hiding a secret: he gets bigger or smaller depending on his emotions, which is very un-monsterlike. When their classes cross paths on a school excursion, their secrets are in danger of being revealed, and Polly has to choose between being suddenly popular, or being true to herself – and her friend.

The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster is the first title featuring witch Polly and monster Buster, and young readers will adore the characters, the story and the format: hard cover with gold trim and black and white illustrations. While the story is self contained, readers will be keen to know what happens net and will eagerly await the next installment.

Polly and Buster: The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster, by Sally Rippin
Hardie Grant Egmont, 2017
ISBN 9781760129019

The Great and Wondrous Storyteller, by Michael Scott Parkinson


The Great & Wondrous Storyteller

Oh, hello. I am the Great and Wondrous Storyteller!
I have read big books. I have read little books.
I have read short books, tall books,
thick books and thin books …
I have read every
type of book you can imagine!

Everybody knows that the Great and Wondrous Storyteller is, in fact, a great and wodndous storyteller. Everyone knows he has read all kinds of books, to all kinds of people. But everyone also knows that you don’t eat books, or hold them upside down, or start at the end. So why is the Great and Wondrous Storyteller doing all those things?
The Great and Wondrous Storyteller is a gorgeous celebration of books and reading, with a gently educative element – teaching youngeters about the magic of books, and encouraging them to take up reading. The digital illustrations are bright and colourful, with the main character, Norbert, an adorable green monster, and other characters being a range of cute, big-eyed animals.

This debut picture book also explores themes of honesty and learning.

The Great and Wondrous Storyteller, by Michael Scott Parkinson
Five Mile Press, 2015
ISBN 9781760066628

Available from good bookstores and online.

Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales, edited by Robert Hood and Robin Peny

Reviewed by Kyla Ward


First off, you need to know that ‘daikaiju’ is Japanese for ‘giant monster’. That is, Godzilla, King Kong, Rodan and all their kind. Now you are qualified to enjoy the most unusual and entertaining anthology I’ve read in a long while.

Each of the 29 fiction entries features giant monsters but the variety is incredible. Some appear in traditional city-crushing mode (Garth Nix’s ‘Read it in the Headlines’) and some as effective metaphors (David Carroll’s ‘Footprint’). Some are the butt of giant-sized jokes (Michelle Marquardt’s ‘Crunch Time”) and others are caught in the most bizarre situations imaginable (Andrew Sullivan’s ‘Notes Concerning Events at the Ray Harryhausen Memorial Home for Retired Actors’). New extreme sports are proposed, along with unthinkable liaisons. Although I liked some stories better than others (and two of the entries are poem cycles and one a script), there wasn’t a single dud. The whole is rounded off by an essay on the films that provided the inspiration.

Robert Hood is a prolific Australian writer, with a slew of short stories and young adult novels to his credit. Daikaiju! reminds me of a previous project he co-edited, entitled Crosstown Traffic (Stuart Coupe & Julie Ogden, Five Islands Press, 1993), which put the detective story through the hoops of science fiction, fantasy, horror and more. Robin Pen was a founding editor of the prestigious Australian journal Eidolon and is known for his film criticism. But although Daikaiju is edited by Australians and published by an Australian small press, the contributors are very much international. As is the devastation; Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, San Francisco, Washington, Hai Phong and the charming Cornish village of Launceston are all trashed at various points. I recommend this book to anyone looking for something different, or who likes their heroes and villains truly larger than life.

Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales, Edited by Robert Hood and Robin Pen
Agog! Press, Sydney, 2005

Meet the Monsters, by Max Fatchen

This fun book has three things kids like – rhyme, silliness and monsters. As such, it is sure to be a hit. The book contains fifteen illustrated poems on the subject of monsters.

From short limerick-style rhymes, to longer narrative poems and with a wide variety of monsters – including bunyips, sea monsters and monsters under the bed – there is a rhyme to tickle the fancy of every young reader. The comic and colourful acrylic illustrations of Cheryll Johns will also delight.

Great for individual or home reading, this would also make an excellent classroom resource for poetry sharing with students. Many of the poems would also be suitable for class performance.

Lots of fun.

Meet the Monsters, by Max Fatchen, illustrated by Cheryll Johns
Omnibus, 2004