The Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Nick Bland

Trip, trap, trip trap,

Three billy groats named gruff want to cross a bridge to eat the sweet grass on the other side – but first they must get past the grumpy troll who lives under the bridge and wants to eat them for his dinner.

While many adult readers will be familiar with this tale, many younger readers will not. author/illustrator Nick Bland brings it to life with his humorous style, which many will recognise from such favourites as the Very Hungry Bear. The text is simple, with visual features such as bold and larger font for key words, and the troll is rendered with humour making him more comic than fearsome to the reader.

Perfect for classroom or home reading.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Nick Bland
Scholastic Australia, 2019
ISBN 9781743815885

Meet My Book: Pickle and Bree's Guide to Good Deeds, by Alison Reynolds

It is a pleasure to welcome Alison Reynolds to the blog today. Alison is here to introduce us to her two new books, which sound absolutely wonderful. Welcome Alison!

1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.Pickle & Bree's Guide to Good Deeds: The Birthday Party Cake
Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds – The Decorating Disaster
Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds – The Birthday Party Cake
Illustrator Mikki Butterley
The Five Mile Press
October 2015
2. Why did you write the book?
I was commissioned to write a book about manners subtly hidden in a picture book.
3. How long from idea to publication?
About 9 months. I feel as if I’ve given birth to twins!
4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?
I had been ill and delayed the whole process. (A big thank you to understanding editors)
5. Coolest thing about your book?
The illustrations! I love them.
6. Something you learnt through writing the book?
That it is possible to have a message and a story without being didactic. Also, sometimes it is possible to break the rules. These books are over the customary 500 word rule for picture books.
7. What did you do celebrate the release?
Dinner at favourite Italian restaurant.

Pickle & Bree's Guide to Good Deeds: The Decorating Disaster
8. And how will you promote the book?
I’m having a colouring competition and another competition for adults beginning Thursday 15th October.
9. What are you working on next?
There are a few ideas floating around for picture books, and I’ve got the first page and outline of a historical YA.
10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?


Thanks so much for visiting, Alison. The books look divine.

Chase Through Venice, by Sally Gould & Laura Peterson

Marco dreams of being a gondolier like his father, and the tourists seem to think that’s cute. But when one of the tourists leaves his camera behind on the gondola, Marco becomes a hero. Using his skills of deduction, and his determination, he chases through Venice until he finds the tourists and returns the camera…

‘Buongiorno,’ I say to the tourists with red caps.
‘My name is Marco.
I’m going to be a gondolier, like my Papa.’
They smile at me.

Marco dreams of being a gondolier like his father, and the tourists seem to think that’s cute. But when one of the tourists leaves his camera behind on the gondola, Marco becomes a hero. Using his skills of deduction, and his determination, he chases through Venice until he finds the tourists and returns the camera.

Chase Through Venice is a gorgeous picture book highlighting the sights and experiences of Venice whilst sharing a story of thoughtfulness. The illustrations, show the buildings, the residents and, of course, the waterways in rich colour and from a range of angles and perspectives, creating a visual feast for youngsters to explore.

A celebration of the delights of Venice, this hardcover offering is a delight.

Chase Through Venice

Chase Through Venice, by Sally Gould & Laura Peterson
Windy Hollow, 2011
ISBN 9781921136733

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

Waiting for Later, by Tina Matthews

‘I know I’m big, but today I feel small,’
said Nancy to no one in particular.
And she slid
from the top of the stairs to the bottom.

Nancy is feeling very little. She’s played by herself and really would quite like someone to do SOMETHING with her. One by one, she asks her family members, but they are all too busy with other things. They always promise that they’ll be able to play with her…later. So Nancy climbs a tree and she entertains herself watching others, looking for bugs and more, while she waits for ‘later’ to arrive. The text is set on the left of each opening for the first part of the book, with Nancy shown in silhouette on the page with text. On the right hand side, images fill the page and are full of life and texture. In the second half of the book, Nancy is shown on the left page, in the tree. On the right page is the text and silhouettes of her family completing whatever it is that they were doing.

Waiting can be tough, particularly when you are feeling alone and small, and in need of company and reassurance. The tree, once Nancy finds it, is welcoming and entertaining. In a way, it provides all the company and games she’d been searching for. And her time in the tree restores her sense of self and Nancy again feels big. All is again right with the world. This is a lovely story about resilience, and self-reliance, in the middle of a loving but busy extended family. Recommended for 4-7 year olds.

Waiting for Later

Waiting for Later, Tina Matthews
Walker Books 2011
ISBN: 9781921720055

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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

Little Treasures, by Peter Carnarvas

Peter Carnavas has released these titles separately as standard-sized picture books over the past few years. Last Tree in the City has an environmental theme, Jessica’s Box is about connection with other people, The Important Things is about remembering and Sarah’s Heavy Heartis about friendship. Now the four titles come in a mini format, each with its own envelope. They form part of a Little Treasure series.

It’s easy to imagine these books being tucked in with other presents for a birthday or Christmas, or sent through the mail the way a card is, to brighten someone’s day or just to say ‘I’m thinking of you.’ Each is like a gentle hug. They are suited to young children, simple stories with subtle messages about endurance, courage, connection and love. But they are also destined, particularly in this format, to be exchanged between adults, trying to communicate when they are struggling with finding words themselves. Others might buy the books individually for themselves as a pick-me-up, or reminder of what is important in life.

Last Tree in the City, Peter Carnavas New Frontier Publishing 2011 ISBN: 9781921928123
Jessica’s Box, Peter Carnavas New Frontier Publishing 2011 ISBN: 9781921928093
The Important Things, Peter Carnavas New Frontier Publishing 2011 ISBN: 9781921928116
Sarah’s Heavy Heart, Peter Carnavas New Frontier Publishing 2011 ISBN: 9781921928109

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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

Song of the Dove, by Errol Broome & Sonia Kretschmar

Arm in arm, they trod the cobbled streets to the city square. Bellini pointed to two birds nesting close, one white, the other speckled grey. “They are always together,” he told Maddalena …
“Doves live in pairs,” said Maddalena. “And they stay that way for life.”
“As we shall,” said Bellini.

This beautiful picture book tells the story of the Italian composer Bellini’s career and his forbidden romance. As a young man studying music in Naples he meets and falls in love with Maddalena, but when her parents refuse to allow them to marry, he vow that he will become successful and they will be together after he has written his tenth opera. Living apart, the two pine for each other, and by the time the tenth opera is written both have broken hearts. Their deaths mean that they can be together forever just as promised.

This is a sad tale, based on the true story of Vincenzo Bellini, and includes a brief back of book note on his story and his operas. The digital illustration work of Sonia Kretschmar is breathtaking, with mystic elements such as the siren beckoning from the piano as he writes to Maddalena giving the reader much to think about.

Suitable for middle primary and older readers, this is an outstanding picture book.

Song of the Dove

Song of the Dove, by Errol Broome & Sonia Kretschmar
Walker Books, 2011
ISBN 9780143305323

this book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

My Little World, by Julia Cooke

Each time that we went walking,
My gran and Jack and me,
They saw many birds and animals
That I just couldn’t see

A young child goes walking with Gran and friend Jack, through the bush on a regular outing. The child often misses things because of his/her size, but then discovers that even from their lowly vantage point there is much to see. So begins a world of discovery as mini-beasts appear everywhere. Now the tables are turned, as the child begins to share their finds with Gran and Jack. Each opening celebrates some aspect of this ‘little world’ whether it be the fragility or the wonder. The story is told in gentle rhyme. Author notes give names and information for some of the plants and animals featured throughout. Illustrations show accurate depictions of plants and animals, large and small. Coloured plants and animals are set on a cream background, ‘un-camouflaging’ them.

The small nature lover will be fascinated by the insects and spiders featured here. The junior botanist will recognise familiar plants and be introduced to new ones. The child, initially feeling left out because he/she’s not tall enough to see or quick enough to catch the glimpse of animals Gran and Jack see, discovers a whole other world. Now, he/she is ahead of the game, spotting things that the adults are too slow or stiff to be able to see. The joy of discovery is returned to the walk. The adults are supportive in helping identify unfamiliar creatures and celebrating each find. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

My Little World, Julia Cooke Marjorie Crosbie-Fairall
Omnibus Books 2011
ISBN: 9781861917903

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

Drawn From the Heart, by Ron Brooks

If you are a parent, teacher or librarian with a love of children’s books, chances are that you are well familiar with the illustrative brilliance of Ron Brooks. As the illustrator of some of Australia’s (and the world’s) best loved picture books, including John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat , Old Pig and Fox , Brooks has captured the hearts of readers for 40 years. In Drawn from the Heart, however, Brooks shares far more than his illustration work with readers.

Reading this memoir is an intense experience. On the face of it, this is a book which traces Brooks’ life through childhood, study, marriage and raising a family, whilst also detailing the process of illustrating his various works. However, it quickly becomes clear to the reader that this is much more. This is a story into which the reader is drawn. Brooks is honest and intimate, creating a sense that he is telling the tale just over a cup of tea across a well-worn kitchen table. The reader is invited to cheer, to smile, to weep and mourn with Brooks. This is definitely not a dry-eye book.

There is lots of factual information imparted – the detail of the creation and publication process of each of Brooks’ picture books is fascinating – but at the same time you are left a real sense of Ron Brooks as a person of great intensity.

A must read for anyone with a passion for children’s books and illustration, this is also simply a wonderful read for any human being.

Drawn from the Heart: A Memoir

Drawn from the Heart: A Memoir, by Ron Brooks
Allen & Unwin, 2010
ISBN 9781742371559

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews

Hairy MacLary, Shoo, by Lynley Dodd

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe


In the world of children’s books, no-one writes and illustrates the rhyming picture books better than Lynley Dodd with her Hairy Maclary series. Her use of language and rhyme is impeccable. She is wonderful for introducing young listeners and readers to new words. Her books are fun and Hairy Maclary and friends are cute dogs who get into lots of scrapes. In that, Hairy Maclary, Shoo is no exception.

I remember giving this to one of my grandchildren in hardcover. All my grandchildren loved hearing and then reading the Hairy Maclary books. They have several.

This latest edition of Hairy Maclary, Shoo is a board book version for those tiny fingers that cannot quite be trusted with the real thing. I have to admit I am not a fan of board books and never have been. I never bought them for my own children and refuse to buy them for my grandchildren, preferring to teach them the right way to handle books from a young age by using proper books. However if you like board books or your children or grandchildren cannot be trusted to care for books, then the board book version of Hairy Maclary, Shoowill be a welcome addition.

Hairy Maclary, Shoo has all the wit and charm of other Hairy Maclary books as Hairy Maclary’s curiosity gets him into one scrape after another and sees him ending up at Magnolia School. This is another gem from Lynley Dodd with the usual expressive illustrations. Great fun.

Hairy Maclary, Shoo By Lynley Dodd
ABC for Kids, 2011
HarperCollins Publishers
Board book RRP $14.99

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

Can We Lick the Spoon Now? by Carol Goess

Dad and three children are at home sharing an ‘everyday’. Once the washing is hung, the children want to know what they will do next. Dad suggests making a cake. So begins the long wait until the children can lick the spoon. There’s fun to be had first as they mix all the ingredients. The baby sits on the floor and bangs pans, investigates cupboards and generally entertains him/herself. The children regularly chant the refrain that provides the title. Finally, it’s time to lick the spoon, but there’s still waiting to be done before the cake is cool enough and iced and they can eat it. Illustrations are in pencil, gouache and some collage and provide baby with his/her own story, not alluded to in the text. The cover has a very identifiable red-with-white-spots spine and a soft lemon coloured front and back.

The text for Can We Lick the Spoon Now? is simple and the cake-making a gentle activity but many readers will relate to the stages involved before it’s possible to eat the cake. The addition of Baby’s visual story provides a second narrative that may not be seen on first reading, but supports rereading. There is a delightful calmness to the cake-making despite some of the challenges that can come with small children in the kitchen. As well as guiding his three children through the cake-making, Dad is doing the washing, and even a little shopping. There’s a lovely twist at the end that is at once real and surprising. Recommended for pre-school and early-primary aged children. (And anyone who’s ever made a cake with small children!)

Can We Lick the Spoon Now?

Can We Lick the Spoon Now?? Carol Goess, ill Tamsin Ainslie
Working Title Press 2010
ISBN: 9781921504167

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author

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