It's All a Matter of Attitude, by Justin Herald

I don’t have an attitude problem…
You have a perception problem.

Justin Herald is the master of Attitude. Well, actually, he owns it. His business, Attitude Inc. , was founded with just $50 and has since grown into an international success. Herald now travels the world, spreading his message about following dreams and staying motivated.

In It’s All a Matter of Attitude Herald shares some of the slogans that have appeared on Attitude Inc. merchandise, with each accompanied by an explanation of its meaning and insight into his personal experiences and where the slogan came from.

This little volume could be read cover to cover, or readers may choose to open randomly at a page in their search for inspiration. It isn’t really intended as read-once kind of a book – rather, it is meant to be savoured and revisited as and when needed – both at times when, Herald says, things aren’t going as planned, but also when things are working perfectly. Different slogans are likely to speak to different readers in varying ways at differing times.

It’s All a Matter of Attitude is likely to speak to a range of readers – from those who are starting businesses, to those who want more from life, and would make a good gift.

It’s All a Matter of Attitude, by Justin Herald
Allen & Unwin, 2004

Dog Den Mystery, by Darrel & Sally Odgers

I was running my ninety-fifth lap of the boring backyard. There was nothing else to do, except sleep in my basket and chase sparrows.
Then Sarge came home.
‘We’re getting a transfer, Jack’, he said.

When Jack Russell and his owner, Sarge, move to Doggeroo, he doesn’t expect to become a victim of crime. But he has no sooner unpacked his squeaker-bone than strange things start to happen. First an old boot disappears from the yard, then Jack’s squeaker bone is stolen. When his blanket and bowl disappear, too, Jack is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Jack Russell, Dog Detective, has his first case.

This is the first instalment in a fun new series from the husband-wife team of Darrel and Sally Odgers. Readers aged 7 to 10 will enjoy the humour and pace, as well as the novelty of the first-person narration of the tale, from the point of view of the doggy hero.

Teachers and librarians will be attracted to the series also, because of its easy-read format, with large font and plenty of illustrations, and its use of different text-types, including lists, glossaries, maps and more, which could be used as teaching tools and springboards to writing exercises.

Dog Den Mystery is a lively, fun read and readers will look forward to the next instalment in the Jack Russell: Dog Detective series.

Dog Den Mystery, by Darrel & Sally Odgers
Scholastic, 2005

And the Roo Jumped over the Moon, compiled by Robin Morrow

Willie spied a wallaby hopping through the fern –
Here a jump, here a thump, there a sudden turn.
Willie called the wallaby, begging him to stop,
But he went among the wattles with a
(CJ Dennis)

CJ Dennis is just one of the well-known names whose work appears in this quality anthology. Others include Colin Thiele, Norman Lindsay, Libby Hathorn, Robin Klein, Doug McLeod and Sally Odgers as well as award-winning illustrator Stephen Michael King.

The anthology includes stories and poems on every topic, from rubber thongs to the seasons to bulldozers, and with different moods and styles. The special appeal is that this is an anthology specifically for Australian children from Australian authors, so the Australian tone is strong.

This would, of course, be an excellent classroom tool, with many of the pieces being more suited to reading aloud, but it is also accessible to independent readers of around the age of 8 and over, to read alone. Class teachers could share the book by reading random selections, or use it to source material relating to a specific class theme or topic. Many of the poems would also make wonderful school assembly pieces.

First published in 1996 under the title Beetle Soup, the anthology has been re-released with the title And the Roo Jumped Over the Moon.

And the Roo Jumped Over the Moon, compiled by Robin Morrow, illustrated by Stephen Michael King
Scholastic Australia, 2004

Evil Genius, by Catherine Jinks

At the age of seven, Cadel Piggott is expelled from school and in trouble with the police for hacking into computer systems and creating chaos. His adoptive parents take him to see psychologist Thaddeus Roth, whose guidance they hope will help Cadel become a happy, well-adjusted boy.

As he grows up, Cadel’s life is monitored and overseen by Roth, who has input on very aspect of the boy’s life. But far from helping the boy become normal, Roth is steering him along another path – that of the evil genius. By the age of fourteen Cadel is at university studying for a degree in World Domination. It is only here, at the Axis Institute, that Cadel starts to question his upbringing and the motivations of those who guide him.

Evil Genius is a complex book which will appeal to older teens, or those of high reading ability, with a crossover appeal for adult readers. With 480 pages of small text, it is a lengthy but absorbing read, with twists and turns to keep the reader guessing right up until the end.

Jinks’ devotion to detail will appeal to readers with scientific or mathematical minds, who will enjoy the intricacies of the Axiom institute and the research and conundrums within its walls.

The premise of the book – an adopted child who doesn’t know his true heritage and lacks the protection of a family – is not new, with some similarities with the young heroes of the Lemony Snicket books and even Harry Potter, but this book is darker and aimed at a slightly older age group. Readers will be drawn into Cadel’s world and, once into it, will not want to put the book down.

Evil Genius, by Catherine Jinks
Allen & Unwin, 2005

Vincenzo's Garden, by John Clanchy

A good short story is much more than just a story that is short in length, because such a story must impart something that goes far beyond the small number of words and pages it is allocated. It must leave the reader contemplating not just the events of those pages, or even the fates of the characters, but something more reaching – how the story relates to life beyond that plot.

John Clanchy is recognised as a master story-teller and the seven stories offered in this collection all leave the reader with that impact. They are left pondering the fate of the characters and the moral dilemmas they face, or nodding in agreement that Clanchy has portrayed life exactly as it is.

In Radinsky’s Will a woman contemplates the morality of accepting a handsome inheritance from a man she never met and whose funeral she attended by accident. When she turns it down, she is left contemplating a completely different moral dilemma. The reader, too is left making such a contemplation. What would they do in a similar situation. Is there a right answer to such a dilemma?

In Leaper a man faces another dilemma. Involved in an accident, he is unable to stop or provide answer afterwards for fear that an unrelated secret will be revealed. Again, the reader is left contemplating how a twist of fate can leave someone terribly exposed.

Whilst each of the stories is very different in subject matter and in theme, references to Vincent Van Gogh run through the collection, linking them with the title Vincenzo’s Garden. One of the stories deals directly with van Gogh, telling the story of his final days and his funeral through the eyes of Adeline Ravoux, the girl in the blue dress who appeared in many of Van Gogh’s works. In another story, the central charaacer visits the convent at Saint Remy where Van Gogh once lived. Other references are less direct, including the naming of the gardener Vincenzo in the title story. The author seems to be inviting the reader, through these links, to make other, more subtle connections.

This is a collection to be savoured. Readers will want to enjoy each story separately and to read and reread at leisure.


Vincenzo’s Garden, by John Clanchy
Univeristy of Queensland Press, 2005

Knock, Knock, by David Bedford and Bridget Strevens-Mazro

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Most children are familiar with knock knock jokes. Mine will go on for hours coming up with their own variations, most not at all funny to adults, but leaving them screaming with delight as the jokes get raunchier and sillier by the minute. Even my two year old knows exactly what to say when you say knock knock. This new book by author/illustration team David Bedford and Bridget Strevens-Marzo is suitably visual, and builds on children’s delight in the knock knock joke. Even the youngest children will cotton on quickly to the repetition in the guessing game, and will join in the reading from page 1. Little mouse is cute and attentive to the door, and children will also enjoy following the visual sequence of his dressing, from naked towel wrapped, through boxer shorts, to full black tie tails.

Other educational sequences that children will probably notice before the adults include the build up of musical instruments on the stool and outer gear on the hanger by the door. The birds outside the window also change in each scene, and the monkey knocks the down the curios and flower on the little shelf. All of these images will be noted by children, who will also enjoy opening the sturdy flaps, and talking about the animals and the sounds each one makes. The finale will have all children involved making their own music “all together now.” The animals make great music sounds which are onomotopoetic enough to get the most reticent child involved, banging a drum, blowing a trumpet, or dinging on the triangle.

The bright colours and animal characters will provide visual appeal to children of all ages, and the combination of visual puzzles, and musical sounds make this a lovely interactive book great for reading one on one or in a group situation.

Knock Knock, by David Bedford and Bridget Strevens-Marzo
Little Hare
$14.95, ISBN 1877003808, Hardcover
31-May-2005, Pages 16

This book first appeared at It is used here with permission.

How to Draw Deltora Monsters, by Marc McBride, with Emily Rodda

Emily Roda’s Deltora Quest series has been one of the most popular children’s book series in recent years. Australian children have eagerly awaited each new installment and only recently seen the ending of Lief’s quest.

A wonderful feature of all the books in the series has been the delightful cover illustrations of the talented Marc McBride. Now McBride offers young fans an insight into how the various Deltora pictures have been created, with a step-by-step guide to drawing the fantastical creatures from the series. As well as dragons, there is the fearsome knight Gorl, the gentle muddlers, the slug-like Glus, the viscious Vraal and more.

Detailed instructions for how to draw each beast begin with basic shapes which are then built on until the beast is complete and ready for colour. Variations in posture and action are suggested, along with tips to make the illustration complete. The closing pages of the book show how to create a single full colour scene.

How to Draw Deltora Monsters will delight Deltora fans, especially those already endowed with artistic talents. The detail of the original illustrations means that their recreation is not simple – even with McBride’s detailed instructions. That said, the book holds interest even for those (like this reviewer) too awed to even attempt the drawing exercises, as a fascinating look at the process of creating true masterpieces.

How to Draw Deltora Monsters, by Marc Mc Bride
Scholastic, 2004