In the dead of night we run away.
Dad hoists the new pack over my shoulders. I rub at my eyes, drag sleep-flattened hair into a rough ponytail, then trail him out the door. It clicks softly behind us. Dad’s twitchy. I’m twisted in knots.
Mackenzie’s mum is missing. It’s been 114 days since she was last scene in remote Panama. Most people think she must be dead, but Mackenzie’s dad is convinced she is still alive. Without telling Nan, or anyone else, he wakes Mackenzie in the dead of night and takes her to Panama where, he is sure, they will uncover the truth. But, while Mackenzie’s Dad is desperate to find Mum, Mackenzie is desperate to make sure he doesn’t, and that they don’t uncover too much information.
Missing is an emotional, absorbing read. The blend of mystery, adventure and emotion make for an enticing combination which won’t let readers put it down. With chapters set ‘now’ , as Mackenzie deals with her Dad’s desperation and unbalanced approach to solving the mystery, interspersed with chapters set ‘then’, in the days surrounding Mum’s disappearance, and in the months since, as Mackenzie and her father and grandmother struggle to deal with the situation, the format allows readers to gradually piece together what has happened, and to travel with Mackenzie as she moves closer to the truth.
The balance between action and emotion is done well, making for a satisfying, if heart-churning read.
Missing, by Sue Whiting
Walker Books, 2018
Australia is full of the most amazing animals. Many of them are found nowhere else in the world. From gliding and dancing animals to slithering and hopping ones – all are unique!
Australian animals are as amazing as they are unique. From marsupials including kangaroos and wombats, to big birds such as the emu, to poisonous critters like the irukandji jellyfish, each animal has something special which will amaze young readers.
A is for Australian Animals, combines facts about these animals with deatiled, delightful illustrations. There is one or more animal for every letter of the alphabet, with each given a page or spread containing several facts about the animal against illustrations bringing both the animal and its environemnt to life.
Combining Lessac’s gouache illustration style with a range of facts, A is for Australian Animals is both visually and mentally engaging.
Suitable for schools and home enjoyment.
A is for Australian Animals: A Factastic Tour, by Frane Lessac
Walker Books, 2017
We start sorting the buttons.
The button I’m looking for
needs to be just the right size,
just the right shape and just
the right colour.
Nanna’s button tin is a treasure trove of buttons of all sizes and shapes. But when Teddy needs a button, it has to be just the right one. As Teddy’s owner and her Nanna sort through the buttons, they also revisit the memories that the buttons contain – buttons from a baby cardigan, a button from a first meeting, and buttons from special outfits. Finally, though, just the right button is found, and Teddy has a new eye.
Nanna’s Button Tin is a divine picture book offering. Many adults will share the joy of remembering a grandmother or mother’s button tin, and the bond between generations depicted is really special. Wolfer’s simple, heartwarming story is brought to life in beautiful pastel-toned gouache with ink outlines. The inclusion of details including a grandfather and baby sibling reading in the background highlight the warm family feel.
Suitable for all ages, this is just beautiful.
Nanna’s Button Tin, by Dianne Wolfer & Heather Potter
Walker Books, 2017
My other name is Chook. People call me that because chickens are sometimes called chooks, and I’m a bit of a chicken. That means I’m scared of hings, which is true. I do get scared of things. A lot.
Chook – also known as Simon Henry Doolan – is scared of a lot of things. Holidays away from home, school camps (they’re might be snakes!), talking to new people, and crowds. Luckily, deep down he is pretty brave, and with support from those around him he manages to find ways to confront his fears.
The Chook Doolan series features a likable, everyday kid, with lots of worries. Chook is honest about his failings, but also draws on everything he can to confront his problems and to find a way forward. Young readers will relate to many of the things he fears, as well as to the gentle humour of the stories.
The text is accessible to early readers, and is supported by illustrations on most spreads. Each book stands alone, meaning that these four new i=offerings, plus the previous four, can be read in any order.
Chook Doolan: On the Road (ISBN 9781925381566)
Chook Doolan: Un-happy Camper (ISBN 9781925381573)
Chook Doolan: Up and Away (ISBN 9781925381580)
Chook Doolan: Let’s Do Diwali (ISBN 9781925381597)
All by James Roy, Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford
Walker Books, 2017
We were all hooked (and a bit unsettled) from the outset, so there was no turning back. My brother and I looked forward to each progressively disturbing chapter: conniving pigs, brainwashed sheep, a horse carted off to something called the “knackers”, and poor Mum had to field all of our questions. (Shaun Tan)
From acclaimed authors from around Australia and overseas, The Book That Made Me offers a glimpse into the formative years of the creators, and of the book (or books) that shaped who they are – as authors, as readers, as people. From early readers and picture books to graphic novels, science fiction, to medical encyclopedia, each author’s preference is different and their tales behind why and how these particular books stayed with them are sometimes funny and other times very moving, but always intriguing.
Editor Judith Ridge is a passionate children’s literature advocate and has brought together a wonderful array of authors, including Shaun Tan, Julia Lawrinson, Sue Lawson, Markus Zusak, Ted Dawe and many more – thirty-two authors in total.
This is a book for book lovers of all ages and, with all royalties going to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, purchase supports a really important cause.
The Book That Made Me
Walker Books Australia, 2016
“My little sister.
What will her name be, Mummy?”
“Well, she’s not quite with us yet,” said Mum.
“But when will she have a name, Mummy?” said Francie.
“Soon,” said Mum. “Sometime soon.”
It’s a very wet day, and Francie and Mum have a long drive home from Grandma’s house. Stuck in the rain, Francie has lots of time to wonder what her new baby sister will be called and, just before the weather clears, Mum finds a name that seems just right.
Home In The Rain is a beautiful slice of life book from master picture book creator Bob Graham. While the trip is long and the rain is heavy, nothing world-changing occurs – but this makes what does happen – the choosing of a baby’s name – monumental.
Bob Graham’s portrayal of both the heavy rain storm and its effect on the traffic, people and animals, as well as of the little world inside Francie and Mum’s car, is divine. WHile this is chiefly a story about the latter, the detail of the former adds interest and humour and highlights the way life goes on around the little family. Younger children will enjoy the detail and older children will spot layers of meaning, and enjoy the use of light, colour and persepctive. Even the name chosen for the baby, Grace, is connected to the rain through a John Updike quote on the dedication page.
Home In The Rain, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2016
Welcome to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People. We are part of this land and the lands is part of us. This is where we come from.
This beautiful, important book is a joy to read, to view and to hear. Many children will have heard a traditional Welcome to Country at a school or community event, but having Aunty Joy’s welcome on behalf of the Wurundjeri People presented in picture book form will allow the welcome to be brought into classrooms and homes in an accessible form.
The use of English as well as a language, the explanations of the significance of the parts of the greeting and the invitation to pay respect and traverse the lands draw the reader into the text, and the rich acrylic illustrations from Lisa Kennedy bring the land and its traditional inhabitants – human, animal and spiritual – to life, again drawing the reader in with its beauty.
A wonderful asset which should be in every school ad household.
Welcome to Country, by Aunty Joy Murphy & Lisa Kennedy
Walker Books, 2016
In a place where mud and sand become sea…
a godwit with white wing patches
flies up with his flock.
The moment is right
for the long journey north.
A godwit leaves a sandy shore, knowing its is time to journey north. Joining his flock, it flies day and night until he knows it is time to stop for food and rest. Later, replenished, the godwit continues his journey until the flock reach their northern home and he goes alone to his remembered place. Attracting a mate, the pair breed and produce chicks. Eventually, though he knows it is time to rejoin the flock, feed and begin the long flight south to return to the beach he started from.
Circle is a beautiful picture book exploring through text and amazing art the migration of the godwits, through the perspective of a single bird. Readers are given a wonderful insight into the challenges faced on the long journey, as well as through the breeding season. The story is also bookended by hints of the story of a boy who witnesses the departure and return of the bird. AT he front of the book, preceding the title page,w e see the boy bedbound, wishing he could fly. In the opening spreads he watches the birds from a wheelchair,pushed to the edge of the beach. In the closing scene, as the godwits return, he is again on the beach, with the aid of a pair of crutches which are discarded as he tries to stop his dog chasing the birds.
With the amazing collage artwork for which Baker is known and loves, gentle text and so much detail to explore and discuss, Circle will delight young readers, teachers and adult readers.
Circle, by Jeannie Baker
Walker Books, 2016
Far up north, clouds are gathering: thunderheads and rain clouds.
Rivers fill and break their banks,
And water swirls and roars down the empty riverbeds towards the lake.
Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre – is a dry salt lake in the centre of Australia. But once roughly every ten years heavy rains to the north fill the lake with water, awakening frogs and shrimp. carrying fish down creek beds, giving new life to parched plants, and bringing birds, including pelicans and ducks, to the lake to breed, feed and flourish. When the lake starts to dry out again the birds and their new young fly away and the other life returns to dormancy waiting for the next flood.
Desert Lake: The Story of Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre is a beautiful non-fiction book which brings the changing lake to lif through the combination of well-written text and stunning mixed media illustrations. The narrative text is complemented on each spread by the inclusion of facts, presented in a different font so that readers can read the story and facts separately, if desired. The illustrations show the diversity of the lake’s inhabitants and the lake itself through contrasts between the ochres and browns of the dry, and the greens and blues of the wet.
Par of the Nature Storybook series, Desert Lake is excellent both as an educational tool and for prib=vate enjoyment.
Desert Lake: The Story of Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre, by Pamela Freeman & Liz Anelli
Walker Books, 2016