An Australian ABC of Animals, by Bronwyn Bancroft

An Australian ABC of Animals has little text – with each page bearing a letter and the name of an animal – A ant, B bandicoot, C cockatoo – and so on. But what makes this one delightful and very Australian is more than just the choice of Australian animals, but the illustrative style of Bronwyn Bancroft.

Bancroft combines elements of traditional Aborignal art with her own inspirations and talents. She describes the art (in a back of book profile page) as “an exploration in line and colour”. These colours are vibrant and the patterns used by Bancroft rich and exciting.

Children will love seeing animal shapes – both familiar and less familiar – decorated with this use of patterning and colour. Each illustration has intricate detailing which children (and adults) will love to explore.

This is a unique production which will enhance any home, school or public library.

An Australian ABC of Animals, by Bronwyn Bancroft
Little Hare, 2004

The Way I Love You, by David Bedford and Ann James

I love…
the way you always care,
the way you’re always there…
That’s the way I love you.

This is a picture book which parents, grandparents and other gift-givers will buy for its beauty. From an adorable cover, with a simple cream background and heartwarming illustration of a girl hugging her dog, right through to the back cover, with a view of the same pair from behind, with the girl’s arm around the dog and their heads leaning conspiratorially towards each other, all about this book is adorable.

The text is simple – with the first person child sharing the ways that she loves her dog, and the illustrations showing the simple joy the pair share in being together. Of course, the book is much more than a tale of a girl and a dog – the words remind us of the many ways of sharing love, in simple, every day moments.

Adult readers will be touched by this message and be reminded to cherish each small moment with their young loved ones, while children will love the simple rhythm of the story and the delightful illustrations of Ann James.

The Way I Love You will make a lovely going to sleep book and won’t suffer from being read over and over. It would also be an ideal gift for a newborn, to be treasured by both parent and child.


The Way I Love You, by David Bedford and Ann James
Little Hare, 2004

Mr Moo, by Margaret Wild

Mr Moo has a nice house and good neighbours. Mostly, he’s content, but sometimes he wishes for a special friend to share things with. Then along comes Jimmy Johnson, who is off to see the world. When he takes Mr Moo’s unfinished row boat for a row and it sinks, however, he changes his plans. He will stay and help Mr Moo fix the boat.

Mr Moo takes Jimmy home to stay and soon the pair have the kind of special bond that Mr Moo has dreamed off.

Mr Moo is a bright picture book combining the writing talents of the renowned Margaret Wild with the illustrative skills of Jonathan Bentley. Published in a hardback edition in 2002, it has just been released in paperback format.

Kids will love the anthropomorphic Mr Moo (a cow) and Jimmy (who is a duck) as well as the minor characters and bright surrounds of Mr Moo’s home. They will also like the uncomplicated story – perfect for the littlies.

Mr Moo, by Margaret Wild and Jonathan Bentley
ABC 2004, first published 2002

The Girl in the Cave, by Anthony Eaton

Kate doesn’t have a bedroom like an ordinary child. Instead, she sleeps in a cave in the backyard of her Aunt and Uncle’s house. During the day she is allowed out of the cave and into the house, so that she can cook and clean and look after her aunt and uncle. Poor Kate. Life isn’t much fun.

But one day the telephone rings. A strange woman called Miss Pincushion wants to come and visit. Kate has never seen her aunt and uncle look so alarmed. Suddenly she is banished from the house and her aunt and uncle start a mad search through every room.

Kate has no idea what is going on, but she has every intention of finding out. What she learns could well change her life – for the better.

The Girl in the Cave is a fast-paced, comic tale of greed, stolen babies, lost fortunes and butterflies. The twists and turns are zany and unbelievable – which is just what kids like.

Anthony Eaton’s wicked sense of humour makes for a read that will appeal to a wide range of young readers.

The Girl in The Cave, by Anthony Eaton
UQP, 2004

Amber Pash on Pink, by Pauline Luke

I wish
I was
a balloon too.

Rebecca’s life is pretty complicated. She has a brother she calls “Frog Face” who is always in trouble with somebody, a grandfather whose penchant for colour meditation means he dresses entirely in one colour each day and parents who are separated and seem intent on competing with each other. So when a gorgeous new guy turns up at school, she figures things are about to get a whole lot better.

Instead, though, Rebecca finds out just how complicated life can be. Her worst enemy “The Grasshopper” is after the new guy too, and another guy wants to take Rebecca out on a date. The next door neighbour thinks Frog Face needs to be disciplined and Mum is dating a mystery man. Worse is to come when Rebecca’s best friend Amber decides to run away and her grandmother dies. Rebecca has to wonder if things will ever get better.

Amber Pash on Pink is a novel which goes to the heart of what it is to be a teenager. Rebecca’s life is like a roller coaster and so are her emotions. Her voice is real, with author Pauline Luke exploring teen life without patronising and analysing.

Teens will love the format, with a mixture of diary-type entries, emails, poems, letters and even recipes.

A highly enjoyable first novel.

Amber Pash on Pink, by Pauline Luke
UQP, 2004

Saturday Morning Mozart and Burnt Toast, by Robert Newton

Wolfgang is a musician. Unlike the composer, Mozart, whose first name he has borrowed, he plays the trumpet. When he meets a violinist called Sal in an internet chat room, their love of music draws them together. Their friendship is instant.

When things get uncomfortable at home – thanks to his Mum’s new boyfriend, and his blowing a chance to play the national anthem at the football grand final, Wolfgang decides he’ll go to Tasmania and meet Sal for real.

However, running away from home proves to be much more of an adventure than Wolfgang bargains for. On board the ferry, he gets involved in a strange situation involving a Russian musician with amnesia, a missing chimpanzee, hired gangsters and more. And, in Tasmania, Sal proves to be less than receptive to his arrival. Wofgang starts to wonder whether this holiday was such a good idea.

Saturday Morning Mozart and Burnt Toast is zany, fast moving and action-packed. Possibly a little far-fetched, kids aged 12-16 will love its silliness and enjoy a plot with plenty of twists.

Good reading.

Saturday Morning Mozart and Burnt Toast, by Robert Newton
UQP, 2004

Starship Q, by Goldie Alexander

Iyaki and Aari know they aren’t supposed to be in the starship hangar, but it’s the best place for them to kick a ball. Then their ball accidentally goes into the open hull of a starship and, when the boys try to retrieve it they find themselves in trouble.

The ship has been taken over by a mutineer and when he finds the boys he locks them up with one of his prisoners, a human boy called Jackson. At first Iyaki and Aari, both Igs, think they have nothing in common with Jackson, but as they all struggle to figure out how to escape and how to prevent the mutineer achieving his objectives, they realise they can be friends. Together they just might have a chance of stopping the mutiny.

Starship Q is a fast moving science fiction title for children aged 9 to 12. The characters may be alien, but the dilemmas they face will be familiar to many children – making friends, facing consequences, and believing in one’s own abilities.

Part of the Breakers series from Macmillan Education, Starship Q is suitable both for home reading and classroom use.

Starship Q, by Goldie Alexander
Macmillan Education, 2004

Ruddy Gore, by Kerry Greenwood

‘Come for a walk, Phryne dear,’ said Bernard, looking harried. . . He lead her out into the passage and said rapidly, ‘I need your help. This is only the latest thing that has gone awry. Let me take you to supper, Phryne darling, and I’ll tell you all about it.’

Having been involved in a skrimish with thugs on her way to the theatre, the last thing Phryne wants or expects is to be involved in more off-stage dramas. But her luck is not running well. An actor has been killed while he’s been performing on stage. Sir Bernard, the company manager, wants Phryne to solve the msytery.

But the murder is not the only mishap. A ghost has been haunting the theatre, things have been going missing and the entire cast and crew are on edge.

This is the seventh Phryne Fisher mystery, first published in 1995 and now republished by Allen & Unwin. As well as an intriguing mystery played out in the theatre, it is also the book which introduces the handsome Lin Chun, Phryne’s oriental lover who plays a role in each subsequent title.

Phryne Fisher is a sassy yet classy private detective with a taste for the mysterious, as well as for the fine things in life – fast cars, good wine, beautiful clothes and more.

Ruddy Gore, which takes its name from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Ruddigore (the production on show at the theatre) is an enjoyable and intriguing offering.

Ruddy Gore, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2004, first published by McPhee Gribble, 1995