Cuddle Time, by Libby Gleeson & Julie Vivas

The sun slips into our quiet room.
“I’m awake,” I say.
“Let’s play.”

This delightful read aloud picture book is the story of an early morning wake up that is part game part morning cuddle as the two children of the house wake up and playfully head to Mum and Dad’s room to make sure they are awake, too.

The text is seemingly simple, though the clever use of internal rhyme, and alliteration makes it fun to read – and to listen to, -and Julie Vivas’s warm, rich watercolour and pencil illustrations have lots of humorous detail, adding to the text to build a satisfying whole perfect for sharing.

First released in 2004, the beauty of this book ensures its longevity.

Cuddle Time

Cuddle Time, by Libby Gleeson & Julie Vivas
Walker Books, this edition 2009

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

The Best A Man Walks into a Bar Jokes, by Billy Brownless

A man walks into a bar…Ouch!

Everyone knows a man-walks-into-a-bar joke, whether it’s rip-roaringly funny, or plain lame or downright silly. This offerings bring together hundreds of such jokes, from well known old favourites, to lesser known ones – and again ranging from rip-roaringly funny to downright lame.

Compiled by football legend and television personality Billy Brownless and featuring photos of him in various bar room poses on the chapter divisions, this is a funny offering which will be enjoyed by footy lovers and can be read cover to cover or just dipped into.

The Best ‘A Man Walks Into a Bar’ Jokes, by Billy Brownless
Allen & Unwin, 2009

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

Blacky Blasts Back, by Barry Jonsberg

I took a step nearer the bed.
‘Blacky?’ I breathed.
‘Who were you expecting, bucko? Barack Obama?’
I turned on the bedside light.
A small, scruffy, dirty-white dog sat on my pillow. It looked at me through pink-rimmed eyes.
‘Watcha, mush,’ said the dog.

All the bad boys from Marcus’s school are off to Tasmania for an army-style camp, to teach them some discipline and team working skills. Marcus is not one of the bad boys (even though his best mate Dylan is), but he desperately needs to go on that camp – because Blacky, the talking dog has ordered him off on a new mission, to track down and rescue the last Tasmanian tiger.

It’s bad enough that Blacky is a talking dog – but he also stinks, and is very bossy. Soon Marcus is off in the wilds of Tasmania doing Blacky’s bidding at the same time he needs to evade a bully out to get him, and a mad Scotsman camp leader. With plenty of silliness mixed with some action and even some issues including bullying, mateship and conservation, there’s a lot happening here – which is why primary aged readers will love it.

This is the third story featuring Marcus and Blacky, but happily stands alone for those new to the series.

Blacky Blasts Back: On the Tail of the Tassie Tiger, by Barry Jonsberg
Allen & Unwin, 2010

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

How To Make Money on eBay, by Todd Alexander

There are four basic rules to making money on eBay. Observe these and you’ll be well on the way to realising maximum profit.

Did you know that fifty thousand Australians earn all or part of their income by selling on eBay? Yet for lots of people who are interested in joining this phenomenon, it can be a confusing platform. How do you work out what to sell, and how do you make sure it not only sells but also actually makes a profit?

This little offering, from ebay expert and employee Todd Alexander, offers step by step advice for serious sellers to grow an online business using eBay. Topics covered include ensuring online security, sourcing suitable (and saleable) products, using advanced selling tools, marketing advice and more.

Aimed at the Australian market, this guide is intended for those wanting to sell regularly on eBay, rather than those simply having a small clean out of unwanted belongings. Its no-nonsense approach and accessible language make it a valuable tool.

How to Make Money on eBay: The Official Pocket Guide for Australian Sellers, by Todd Alexander
Allen & Unwin, 2010

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

Dear Swoosie, Kate Constable & Penni Russon

Dear Swoosie,
I was thinking about what you said all the way home. Of course I trust you!!!! I can’t believe you need to ask. It’s just that after all this time, I’d almost given up hope that I would find anybody special. I’m so scared that talking about it, even thinking about it, will jinx it and it (he!!) will slip away before anything has a chance to happen. So please forgive me for not wanting to talk about it out loud. (Because you never know who might be listening!) But I know I CAN trust you not to tell anyone. So yes, it’s true, (here goes, deep breath):
I think I might be in love!!
But you already guessed that.

India has skills which help her to predict the future, and Poppy is trying to change her past, but they have nothing in common. Until they land themselves in trouble and have to clean out the school attic together as punishment. Among the dusty boxes and old school play props, they find a bundle of old letters and can’t help but read them. Who is the mysterious Swoosie, and what connection does she have to the girls? As they find out, the pair find themselves working together to try to heal old wounds.

Dear Swoosie is a story about the challenges and the joys of teenage friendship, as well as about love and about family relationships. Written by the talented pairing of Kate Constable and Penni Russon, and using a combination of alternating first person narrators and letter format, this is another wonderful addition to the Girlfriend Fiction series.

Dear Swoosie (Girlfriend Fiction), by Kate Constable & Penni Russon
Allen & Unwin, 2010

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

ANZACs at War, by Dr Peter Pedersen

With ANZAC day coming up, it is timely to take some time to reflect on Australia’s involvement in international conflict and so gain a better understanding of what ANZAC Day is all about. This new offering from Allen and Unwin is a wonderful tool for such reflection, or for educational purposes.

Anzacs at War: From Gallipoli to the Present Day is a hardcover offering which explores Australia’s involvement in the major conflicts of the twentieth century and beyond, and the ways in that involvement shaped the national character. Using over 150 photographs, to provide a vivid pictorial record, the book also has a hands on element in the form of recreated facsimile documents including maps, telegrams, letters and more, in slips attached to pages. Readers can read these documents in something approaching their original form alongside historian Dr Peter Pederson’s analysis and discussion.

An excellent resource and an absorbing read.

Anzacs at War: From Gallipoli to the Present Day, by Dr Peter Pedersen
Allen & Unwin, 2010

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

The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill, by Dorothy Wall

Over seventy years after he first made Australian children smile, rascally koala Blinky Bill is back in print in The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill. Combing three volumes of Blinky’s adventures, this book was first published as a combined volume in 1939, and has been rereleased to commemorate the seventy year anniversary.

In hard cover format, with coloured pages (different for each of the three books), and coloured endpapers and plates as well as black and white illustrations, this is a delightful offering which will be loved by collectors who remember the stories from their childhood, as well as children who may not have heard them before. Whilst the stories are in places dated (even politically incorrect), Blinky’s adventures are still lots of fun. I shared the book with my nine year old son over several weeks of bedtime reading, and he laughed out loud many times, and repeatedly asked for more.

The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill would be an ideal gift for any Aussie kid.

The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill

The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill, by Dorothy Wall
This edition Harper Collins, 2009

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

Dreaming of Amelia, by Jaclyn Moriarty

Funny thing is, even while I’m laughing, and falling in her eyes, a part of me knew she was a ghost.
The first time I saw her I knew my Amelia was a ghost.

Amelia and Riley are bad kids from bad Brookfield High, but they’ve just been given scholarships to the exclusive Ashbury High, and they are the talk of the school. They are elusive, they are brilliant, and they are possibly evil – but everyone at Ashbury wants to know them.

Dreaming of Amelia is a compelling, crazy book. Told from multiple viewpoints and largely in the form of HSC Exam answers (it also uses other forms including blog entries, meeting reports and emails), it could appear fragmented, but instead this very fragmentation is what drives the story – the reader being asked to constantly reassess what is happening (and has happening) and to piece together clues from differing stories and versions of events. More than once the reader is lulled into thinking they have a handle on what is happening, only to be shocked by new revelations.

Dreaming of Amelia is a companion novel to Feeling Sorry for Celia, Finding Cassie Crazy and The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie, but is not a sequel and readily stands alone.

A must read for teenage girls, especially competent readers who will enjoy the intricacies of the book.

Dreaming of Amelia

Dreaming of Amelia, by Jaclyn Moriarty
Pan Macmillan, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond.

The Flying Orchestra, by Clare McFadden

Some days are so windy that even the angels lose their balance from the top of City Hall. It’s always a day like this when the Flying Orchestra blows into town.

This is a delightfully whimsical picture book offering about a magical orchestra which flies the skies playing music for every occasion – a symphony for a returning traveller, a concerto for someone who stays awake all night thinking, or a sonata for a sad moment at a birthday party. Whatever happens, happy or sad, the orchestra is there playing.

Whilst the magical orchestra seems sheer whimsy, this is also a story about the music of life, and the idea that there is always an orchestra playing for us. The illustrations, using acrylic and pencil on rag paper, show seemingly everyday scenes, with musicians and instruments tucked away for young eyes to discover and delight in.

This debut picture book is sheer delight.

The Flying Orchestra

The Flying Orchestra, written and illustrated by Clare McFadden
UQP, 2010

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

Halt's Peril, by John Flanagan

Halt was lying face down and, gently, Will rolled him over. He moved the cowl back from Halt’s face. His eyes were shut and his face was deathly pale. He didn’t seem to be breathing and for a moment Will felt a surge of horror rush through him.
Halt dead? It couldn’t be! It was impossible. He could not imagine a world without Halt in it.

Will loves travelling with his friend Horace and his mentor Halt, who is like a father to him. But this journey is also filled with danger, as the trio track Tennyson and his followers, trying to stop their reign of crime on villagers, and their deception of gullible believers in their cult. When he and Halt take on two Genovesan assassins who try to ambush them, Will wonders whether this might be his mentor’s last battle.

Halt’s Peril is the ninth title in the Ranger’s Apprentice series and picks up in the days following the previous instalment. With the blend of humour, action and adventure which this medieval series is known for, there is also character development as we see Will’s continuing maturation in the face of new challenges and setbacks.

Best read in sequence with the rest of the series, the story does largely stand alone.

Halt's Peril (Ranger's Apprentice S.)

Halt’s Peril, by John Flanagan
Random House, 2009

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