Storm and Grace, by Kathryn Heyman

…she is screaming, the way he wanted,
the way he promised she would…

Grace Cain loves diving, and is in Sydney completing her degree so she can make a career beneath the ocean. But when she meets Storm Hisray, world-famous freediver, her world is rocked. She has never met anyone like him. He convinces Grace to follow him back to his home on an idyllic Pacific island. There life seems perfect, and soon Storm is teaching Grace to dive like him, alongside him. They will be a freediving couple.

But as Storm pushes Grace to dive deeper, push herself further, cracks start to appear. Is it Grace who matters to Storm, or being the best, being noticed?  Grace becomes increasingly aware that she is deeper water than she could have ever imagined.

Storm and Grace is a haunting novel. The reader is drawn into the beauty and the terror of freediving – and of life with a charismatic man who will stop at nothing to manipulate those around him. The voices of other women, other victims, of Storm and men like him, narrate parts of the novel, so that the reader sees the danger  long before Grace, an unusual technique which keeps pages turning.

Beautiful yet terrifying, this is a remarkable novel.

Storm and Grace, by Kathryn Hayman
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781743313633


Available from good bookstores and online.



Blue Whale Blues, by Peter Carnavas

I’ve got the Blue Whale Blues,
I’ve got the Blue Whale,

Whale is singing the blues. He’s sad because he doesn’t know which was the bike he found goes. Luckily his good friend Penguin is there to help him turn it up the right way. But with that problem fixed, Whale finds another, and another. Finally comes the biggest problem of all, when the friends set out to ride thier ‘bike’ and discover that it isn’t a bike at all, but an abandoned shopping trolley.

Blue Whale Blues is a humorous story about friendship and imagination which will have youngsters laughing out loud – and probably telling Whale and Penguin of their mistake long before they realise it for themsleves, with a little help from their friend Turtle. The repeated refrain will encourage them to join in singing the Blue Whale Blues, and the illustrations, using watercolour, collage and digital techniques, will delight.

Lots of fun for preschoolers but adults will smile too.

Blue Whale Blues, by Peter Caranavas
New Frontier, 2015
ISBN 978192505941

There Was an Old Sailor, by Claire Saxby & Cassandra Allen

There was an old sailor
who swallowed a krill
I don’t know why
he swallowed the krill
It’ll make him ill

So begins this delightful rhyming picture offering, a nautical twist on the old rhyme There was an Old Woman, which sees the sailor eat his way through a host of ocean dwelling critters, from the tiny krill, to a fish, a ray, and even a whale.

Young readers will love the silliness of the tale, and be able to join in the repetitive rhyme. They’ll also be surprised by the ending, which adults may also approve of, because unlike the traditional rhyme, in this one the eater does not end up dead.

The illustrations, in richly muted ocean tones, are beautiful, with lots of comical touches. The sailor’s expressions are especially humorous and endearing. Back of book fishy facts provide a gently educational touch.

This is a gorgeous hard cover offering which will sit well in libraries and classroom collections, but be just as loved and treasured at home.

There Was an Old Sailor

There Was an Old Sailor, by Claire Saxby and Cassandra Allen
Walker Books, 2010

This book can be purchased online from (the appropriately named bookstore) Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Australia at the Beach, by Max Fatchen

I’m holding my new flippers.
Quick! Time is racing past.
Australia Day. The sky is clear.
Here’s William, always last.

The neighbours’ car is loaded
With such a noisy crowd.
It’s very sad for Rover,
For beach dogs aren’t allowed.

Happy Anniversary to Australia at the Beach! Ten years is a great achievement. For many Australians trips to the beach are part of every summer. For those lucky enough to live within cooee of the coast, this can be a daily excursion over summer. For others it’s a holiday treat. But for the family in Australia at the Beach this is an Australia Day outing. There’s Mum and Dad, Grandad, a boy, a girl and baby William. The journey, recounted in rhyme and illustrated in bright beach colours, begins with the loading of the car. The adventure continues through the day with swimming, building sandcastles and more until finally, it’s time to go home. Throughout, William makes his presence felt, with lost sandals, nappy changes and much more. Little aside vignettes share ‘beach etiquette tips’.

Australians love their beaches and rightly so. In a hot dry country, the cool ocean is a natural retreat. Max Fatchen and Tom Jellett provide a day at the beach that will resonate with adults and children alike. There’s the paraphernalia required, the journey and the carparking before the magic land that is the beach. There is no age limit to enjoyment of the beach and each double spread is full of Australians young and old. The narrator is the young boy of the family who though occasionally exasperated by his baby brother, keeps an eye out for him. Many readers will recognise experiences from their childhood. Australia at the Beach is ageless. Despite a changing world, the simplicity of water and sand will continue to attract all ages. Recommended for preschool and early primary readers.

Australia at the Beach

Australia at the Beach Max Fatchen ill Tom Jellett
Omnibus Books 2009
ISBN: 9781862918702

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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