Daughter of Mine, by Fiona Lowe

It was a family to be proud of, and throughout the one hundred and seventy-five years since the Mannering brothers had crossed the Moorabool River, there’d always been at least one branch of the family living in Billaware. It gave Harriet a reassuring sense of tradition and a great deal of family pride.

Harriet Chirnwell’s life is perfect – which is how she always planned it to be. Descended from the Mannering family, who pioneered the farming district,  with a successful career as a surgeon, an equally successful husband and a daughter who will follow in her footsteps, life could hardly be better. Her sister Xara  has a more chaotic life, married to a farmer, and with a severely disabled daughter and twin sons. A third sister, Georgie, lives in Melbourne, where her busy teaching job leaves her little time to mourn the loss of her still born baby.

But life for all three gets a whole lot more complicated when their mother, a year after their father’s sudden death, turns up to a birthday party with a strange man on her arm. Edwina has always been reserved and very very proper. Now she is glowing with happiness, and happy to cause scandal. But soon, her scandal is overshadowed by an even bigger one.  the lives of the Chirnwell sisters are thrown into turmoil as revelation after revelation shakes their lives.

Daughter of Mine  is a story of family secrets, mothers, daughters and sisters set in rural Victoria and crossing generations.  With complex issues explored, there are many highs and lows, but ultimately this a moving story of the bonds between sisters.

Daughter of Mine , by Fiona Lowe
Harlequin, 2017
ISBN 9781489220349

Frankie, by Shivaun Plozza

Book Cover:  FrankieIt was a young voice on the phone. Male. ‘Are you Francesca Vega?’
‘I’m Frankie. Who the hell are you?’
‘Is Juliet Vega your mum?’
‘Why are you asking?’
‘Cos I’m Xavier Green. She’s my mum too.’
Bam, crash, ka-pow. Hell of a game changer.

Frankie Vega is in trouble. She’s broken a boy’s nose and is at risk of being expelled. But that’s only the latest of her troubles, which began when her mother abandoned her when she was four. Since then Frankie has been scared and angry with just about everybody. So when a kid turns up claiming to be her brother, Frankie is wary of being hurt. Then, when Xavier goes missing, she isn’t sure whether he’s let her down or whether he is actually lost. It seems no one else but Frankie cares where he has gone.

Frankie is a moving and absorbing contemporary novel. Frankie is a sassy yet inwardly fragile character whose first person voice is believable and oddly endearing, even when she’s behaving badly towards the few people in her life who seem to care for her. Her story is heartbreaking but also has funny and heartwarming moments.

Dealing with issues including what constitutes family, homelessness and self-belief, Frankie is a brilliant young adult novel.

Frankie, by Shivaun Plozza
Penguin, 2016
ISBN 9780143573166

Hattie Helps Out, by Jane Godwin & Davina Bell, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Hattie watched as Mama’s breath went9781743435434.jpg
in and out, in and out. She looked just like a little girl.
Poor Mama must be very tires.
I know! thought Hattie. I will help out.

It’s Dad’s birthday and Mum is getting everything ready for the party – with help from Hattie. But when Mum says it’s time for Hattie’s nap, Hattie isn’t keen. She convinces Mum to lie down with her and she doesn’t fall asleep – but Mum does. So Hattie decides that it’s up to her to help out and get everything ready for the party.

Hattie Helps Out is a gently funny story about growing up, being helpful and families. When Hattie tries to help, not everything goes the way it should – she sticks the biscuits together with stickytape (instead of icing), puts flowers in odd places all around the house and hides the mess wherever she can manage. But she does it with love – and that is how it is received by the extended family when they arrive, and Mum when she wakes up.

The water colour and pencil illustrations by Freya Blackwood bring the family to life, with the rough outlines giving a gentle quality.
Hattie Helps Out will make adult and child readers alike smile.

Hattie Helps Out, by Jane Godwin & Davina Bell, illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781743435434

The Creatures of Dryden Gully, by Aunty Ruth Hegarty & Sandi Harrold

The young Royal was taller than Joey and he had four long legs that all reached to the ground. Joey looked at his own short front paws and sighed.
“I wish I had four long legs that could take me wherever I wanted to go. Maybe the Royal joey could teach me,” he whispered hopefully.

Joey wants to be better at hopping, so that he can go wherever he wants to. So when outsiders – Royals (deer) – come to the valley, Joey envies their long legs, and wonders if he can learn from them. He follows them into the hills, but before he can talk to them, danger arrives, and Joey has to hide. When his mother finds him, she explains to him that he is special just as he is.

The Creatures of Dryden Gully is a picture book story about belonging, difference and being unique. Joey learns that being different does not make him less special. He also learns the reassurance of his mother’s love and understanding.

Aboriginal elder Dr Ruth Hegarty tells the story in clear language, allowing readers to learn from Joey’s experience. The illustrations use colours of the Australian landscape against textured backgrounds and are both gentle and warm.

A touching story.

The Creatures of Dryden Gully, by Aunty Ruth Hegarty, illustrated by Sandi Harrold
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781760151997&

Mum Goes to Work, by Libby Gleeson & Leila Rudge

Mum Goes to WorkIt’s early morning.
Everyone is arriving at the centre.
It’s noisy and busy while Mark and Mai greet everyone.
Mum is going to work.
“Bye, Mum.”
“Nye.”

As the mums head off to work, their children settle in for a day of playing, and resting, and eating. What do mums do when they are wt work? And what do the children do while Mum is away?

Mum Goes to Work is a beautiful picture book about mothers and children, and about child care centres. Each spread shows one mother at work, explaining what she does there, before looking at what the child and a friend do at the childcare centre. The children’s activities mirror what the mother is doing. So, while Laurence’s mother works in a cafe, Laurence and Georgia make sand cake and sand biscuits in the sandpit, and while Max’s mum works as a nurse, Max and Ann put the dolls to bed in the dress up corner.

The illustrations show mums from lots of different backgrounds and, while the text focusses on mums, the illustrations show dads at drop off and pick up, too, a nice touch, as is the fact that one of the childcare workers is male. The illustrations, in watercolour, pencil and collage, are softly coloured and have lots of detail of both the childcare centre and the mothers’ workplaces, with mots spreads having several smaller pictures. This gives plenty to be explored on the repeated readings that the book is likely to have.

Mum Goes to Work is an excellent offering, particularly for families who use childcare, and for centres, too.

Mum Goes to Work, by Libby Gleeson & Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2015
ISBN 9781921529825

Available from good bookstores and online.

Our Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro

In the deep green forest, Pip asked, ‘Mama, when will I be big?’
‘You’re bigger than you were before,’ said Mama.

Pip the panda looks forward to being big, but her gentle, wise Mama tells her she is bigger than she was, and goes on to tell her just how she has grown – and how their love has grown, too.

This gentle, lyrical picture book is a celebration of love and parent-child bonding, told partly in rhyming prose, and with just a line or two of text per spread. This allows the simple but divine watercolour illustrations to take centre stage, with the love between mother and child obvious through their facial expressions and the range of activities they do together: playing, exploring, resting and admiring the world around them.

A feature of both text and illustration is that Pip’s gender is not mentioned, an ambiguity which allows the child reader to choose (or not to choose) whether (s)he is a girl or boy.

Perfect for bedtime, cuddle time or any time reading.

Our Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro
Scholastic Press, 2015
ISBN 9781743626269

Available from good bookstores and online.

Hey Mum, I Love You, by Corinne Fenton

Hey Mum,
I love you…
more than the prickliest tickle…

This delightful offering for the very young, and their mothers, is an absolute delight. The text is simple, only a few sentences in total, with a list of ways the child narrator loves his/her mum, and how affirming that is:
Because I know
with you beside me
I can do anything.

The illustrations are large photographs of various animals, chiefly of an adult with one or more young, showing affection (such as a giraffe kissing another), or in action. The text and illustrations are on white backgrounds, adding to the simplicity and making the overall product a gentle whole perfect for cuddle time or bedtime reading.

Hey Mum, I Love You is a lovely complement to Hey Baby, but each stands alone.

Delightful.

 

Hey Mum, I Love You

Hey Mum, I Love You, by Corinne Fenton
Black Dog, 2014
ISBN 9781922244581

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Night Before Mother's Day, by Doug MacLeod & Judy Horaceck

This laugh out loud little offering shows how one mum – who is, in a way, a part of every mum – lies sleepless through the night before Mother’s Day, enumerating the ‘delights’ the day will hold.

‘Twas the Night

before Mother’s Day,

Mum lay awake,

The sense of excitement

Was too much to take.

She knew that tomorrow

Would bring her such joys

As gifts from her daughter

And two darling boys.

This laugh out loud little offering shows how one mum – who is, in a way, a part of every mum – lies sleepless through the night before Mother’s Day, enumerating the ‘delights’ the day will hold. First there will be home made gifts and flowers pulled (with roots intact) from the garden. Then there will be breakfast, made with love, but not easily digested. As Mum tosses and turns she frets about these and the other joys the day ahead holds – before thinking, finally, of her own mum who will understand, having been there herself.

In small format hardcover, with cartoon illustrations, mothers will nod in agreement with the humour of the book, making it an ideal Mother’s Day gift, especially from one mother to another. Of course, in spite of the illustrated format this one is aimed at adults rather than children – with little ones unlikely to appreciate the wry humour, although older children and teens may well get it and join in the laughter.

As for this mother – she loved it!

The Night Before Mother's Day

The Night Before Mother’s Day, by Doug MacLeod & Judy Horacek

Allen & Unwin, 2012

ISBN 9781742379401

This book is available from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

I Love My Mum, by Anna Walker

Little zebra, Ollie, takes the reader through a normal sort of day, the sort of day familiar to many mothers and small children. There are everyday tasks like washing and going for a walk. But everyday tasks are new to little people and there is mystery and adventure in the simplest of tasks. The text here is very simple and there is magic in the illustrations. Anna Walker has used watercolours and ensured plenty of white space remains. Ollie is a small stuffed toy, perhaps a zebra, and Mum is a slightly larger version. I Love My Mum is a small format hardback book, perfect for little hands.

Anna Walker’s illustrations are just beautfiul. Her gentle watercolours set in white space allow plenty of room for the reader to bring their own story. It’s easy to imagine sharing I Love My Mum with a small child and revisiting their day or their way of doing things. Walker’s use of an androgynous toy as main character allows wide appeal, although with the pink detail on the cover, it’s most likely this will be a treasured book for a small girl. A lovely book. Recommended for 3-5 yo children. First released in small format hardcover in 2009, it is now available in larger format paperback.
I Love My Mum
I Love My Mum, Anna Walker
Scholastic 2009
ISBN:9781741693331

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
www.clairesaxby.com.

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

I Spy Mum! by Janeen Brian & Chantal Stewart

I spy with my little eye
mums all starting with m.
But can I find the one who’s mine?
Will she be with them?

A young boy sailor is searching for his mum. He sits in his boat and peers out through his telescope. With gentle rhythmic language he tells of the mums he sees. There are drawing mums and roaring mums, making mums and baking mums. But none of them are his. There is a refrain, to let the reader know that the search must continue, and never be given up. Of course, he ultimately finds his own mum and they sail off together on the ocean. Illustrations are watercolour with plenty of white space. Text meanders around the pages, much as the searcher does with his telescope. There is always a sense that he will eventually find his mother.

I Spy Mum! is a celebration of the special relationship between child and mother. It might be on the tennis court, stringing flowers or sailing the seas, but the main point is that children love to share time with their mum. They like doing all sorts with mums, including playing hide and seek. The text is short, the language simple with repetition of sounds, and children will soon be predicting the next word, then ‘reading’ the whole text. The relationships portrayed are varied but all warm and inclusive. I Spy Mum! is a companion to ‘I Spy Dad!’ and will be enjoyed by young, pre-reading and early reading children.

I Spy Mum!

I Spy Mum! Janeen Brian, ill Chantal Stewart
New Frontier 2010
ISBN: 9781921042164

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
www.clairesaxby.com

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.