The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, illustrated by Robert Ingpen

When a storm carries Dorothy and her dog Toto away, all she wants is to get home to Kansas. But that isn’t going to be easy – because she has landed in the mystical world of Oz, and nobody there has even heard of Kansas. But Dorothy is determined to get home…

Dorothy and her friends were at first dazzled by the brilliancy of the wonderful City. The streets were lined with beautiful houses all built of green marble and studded everywhere with sparkling emeralds.

When a storm carries Dorothy and her dog Toto away, all she wants is to get home to Kansas. But that isn’t going to be easy – because she has landed in the mystical world of Oz, and nobody there has even heard of Kansas. But Dorothy is determined to get home and so she journey across Oz to find the wizard who might help her. Along the way she makes friends with a scarecrow who yearns or brains, a tin man who wants a heart and a lion in search of courage. Together the friends have an action-packed adventure.

First published in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been loved by generations. This new edition holds special delight, being illustrated by award-winning Australian artist Robert Ingpen.

As with other classic titles produced by Ingpen and Walker Books, the illustrations are filled with detail and coloured with washes that highlight the classic feel of the tale and the series. Endpapers feature sepia toned line drawings and sketches of the characters and the hardback volume is wrapped in a slipcover and printed on sturdy paper, giving a feeling of quality that make this a collector’s item.

Wonderful as a gift for a reader of any age.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank baum, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
Walker Books, 2011
ISBN 9781921720444

This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Peter Pan and Wendy, illustrated by Robert Ingpen

ll children, except one, grow up.

For one hundred years children world wide have been captivated by the tale of the boy who never grew up, and the story of what happens when he flies through the nursery window of the Darling children in search of his lost shadow. To celebrate the 100 year anniversary, Walker Books have rereleased this classic tale, with illustrations by the amazing Australian illustrator Robert Ingpen.

The unabridged text is presented in hardcover format with over 70 colour illustrations, ranging from little cameos to double page spreads. The endpapers show Peter Pan at his impish best in a variety of poses and jacket flaps give a little insight into author JM Barrie. An introduction by the author’s great-great nephew gives further insight.

This gorgeous edition is perfect for collectors but will also be treasured by young readers.

Peter Pan and Wendy, by JM Barrie, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
Walker, 2010

This book is available in all good bookstores, and can also be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Spook's Shack, by Wendy Orr

Reviewed by Sally Odgers

Finn is between worlds. His old house has been sold, and his parents have flown to ‘the biggest city in the world’ to choose a flat. Finn is left to spend the hiatus with his mother’s aunt, Agatha Greene. Agatha lives on a bush block between a farm belt and Boris Banks’ mansion. She tells Finn to watch out for snakes, explains the procedures for surviving a bush fire and basically leaves him to himself.

Down in the bush, Finn discovers a fire-singed shack. When he enters, he wakes the inhabitants; an old swagman, Jack Henry, and his collie, Nipper. Jack and Nipper are surprised to find themselves waking as ghosts, but they discover that swallowing green fungus from the inside of the shack renders them easily visible.

Finn makes friends with the odd pair, and together they rescue a joey wallaby, foil the land-grabbing Boris Banks’ plans to foreclose on Aunt Agatha, and preserve her house from a fire.

The plot may sound like a standard bush/fantasy adventure, but the style, the themes and the deft interweaving of worlds and times sets this novel apart as something rather special. The narrative is both elusive and allusive, as Finn moves through Jack Henry’s world experiencing the old ghost’s kinship with the local wildlife and introducing him to the modern joys of radio, computer games and mobile phones. Their shared fascination with one another’s knowledge and skills is touching and very believable. Jack’s life story is one of wandering and betrayal, of a friendship turned to enmity with Boris Banks’ ancestor. The past impinges on the present, and the various elements of the plot move forward in a dream-like way. At times, the reader is enmeshed in Jack Henry’s perception, either directly or while he is recounting an incident to Finn. This led to me needing to reread a few brief passages, just to make sure I really understood what was going on.

There is humour in the story, but Wendy Orr has not taken the easy route of making Jack Henry into a comic figure. As Finn discovers, Jack is not dangerous, but allowing himself to become immersed in Jack’s world is. The thrilling defence of a goat and kid from a pack of dogs is a triumph – but the appearance of the farmer with a gun brings real danger to Finn.

In the end, Jack redeems his long-ago betrayal with a favour for an undeserving enemy, but it is not the redemption that could send Jack into limbo…

Symbolically, Jack casts off his modern delights, but Nipper is able to join him – somewhere. Aunt Agatha has her happy ending, and Finn is able to move on to the next thing; his life in ‘the biggest city in the world’.

Spook’s Shack, by Wendy Orr (illus. by Kerry Millard.)
Allen & Unwin 2003

Sally Odgers is a Tasmanian author of children’s and young adult books. By Sally Odgers By Request – visit her new project at her website and have your say.

Grandma Cadbury's Bikie Gang, by Dianne Bates

Cadbury tells all his mates his Grandma’s getting a Harley – and loves their jealous reaction. Soon he’s off cruising the highways on the back of Grandma’s Custom Softail. It’s just one of the wild things his Grandma has done – she used to drive a big rig, and after that a mini bus to take tourists around Australia. Now she’s staying nearer to home to be with Cadbury when his mother is away. And Cadbury couldn’t be happier.

Well, he could be happier – if all the pesky girls in his class would just leave him alone. They seem to think he’s cute and they want to kiss him – yuck.

Outside of school, Cadbury and his Grandma and her biker friends have loads of fun and exciting adventures. Some are more scary than exciting. Perhaps the scariest of all is when a new girl comes to school – and turns out to be part of the gang.

Grandma Cadbury’s Bikie Gang is the third book about Grandma Cadbury and her hilarious adventures. Author Dianne Bates has a special talent for stories which are silly, adventurous and educational all at the same time. Good fun.

Grandma Cadbury’s Bikie Gang, by Dianne Bates
Angus & Robertson, 1993

The Boy Who Loved Chocolate and Other Stories, by Dianne Bates

What would happen if you loved chocolate so much that you stole some from your auntie’s sweet shop? What if she was able to turn you into a statue?And what would happen if your Mum’s new boyfriend was a vampire and crept into your room at night?

Author Dianne Bates knows the answers to these questions – because these and other questions are at the heart of the short stories in The Boy Who Loved Chocolate and Other Stories.

The eight stories in the book are as entertaining as they are different – as well as the chocolate thief and the vampire boyfriend, there are female bushrangers, magician uncles, a dog called Custard and more.

Ideal for classroom use, the stories are also great for readers who like to read just a little at a time – a complete story can be devoured in one sitting.

Published in 1990 and followed by several reprints, The Boy Who Loved Chocolate remains a great collection of short stories for 8 to 12 year olds.

The Boy Who Loved Chocolate and Other Stories
, by Dianne Bates
Omnibus Books, 1990

Pincus Corbett's Strange Adventure, by Odo Hirsch

Pincus Corbett works hard in his tailor shop, attending to every detail, working late when customers have special orders. His is a hard-working, very regular life. But one night, as he works late, a mysterious customer puts in a very strange order. He wants a multicoloured suit with matching cape, made to order from an old sketch. Pincus obliges, but doesn’t know why anyone would want to wear such a suit.

When the man doesn’t come to claim the special suit, Pincus decides to try it on for himself. When his wife finds him gone the next morning she is mystified – where has he gone and why?

The media aren’t much interested in Pincus’ disappearance. They are far more interested in a strange hypnotist who appears at Sir Malcom Hersey’s party, and in the Prime Minister’s sudden unplanned holiday.

Meanwhile, Pincus finds himself caught up into a secret mission the likes of which he could never have anticipated.Is he really a hypnotist? And will he evr get back to his wife?

Pincus Corbett’s Strange Adventure is a fun book from acclaimed story teller Odo Hirsch. In his regular brilliant fashion, Hirsch weaves a fantasy full of humour and adventure, yet manages to touch on themes of loyalty and guilt.


Pincus Corbett’s Strange Adventure
, by Odo Hirsch
Allen & Unwin, 2002

So Feral, by J. A. Mawter

This book really doesn’t need a review – the title says it all. So Feral is, in fact, feral. Which is why kids will love it. While adults may squirm and feel more than a little queasy, kids will laugh out loud and just have to share the stories with their friends.

Following on from the success of her earlier title, So Gross, author J.A. Mawter has seven new tales to share. From globby bits of meat pie coming out of kids’ noses, to a record attempt for the world’s biggest fart, every page is filled with feral kids doing feral things. Eight to twelve year old readers will love it.

So Feral, by J. A. Mawter
Angus and Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins), 2002

The Fairy's Wings, by Gillian Rubinstein

Tania has fun building a fairy house underneath the lavender bush. But the next morning, she is surprised to find a pair of tiny wings hanging on the clothesline. Who could they belong to?

Tania’s brother Troy doesn’t believe in fairies – he says the wings must belong to an insect.

But someone is trying to leave messages for Tania. She can’t quite read them but is sure a fairy must be resoonsible. Is the owner of the wings asking for them back?

The Fairy’s Wings is the third book about Tania and Troy, from the talented combination of writer Gillian Rubenstein and illustrator Craig Smith. Full of magic and humour, the story is sure to delight youngsters aged six to nine.

The Fairy’s Wings, by Gillian Rubinstein, Illustrated by Craig smith
Puffin Books 1998

Honey Bunch, by Elizabeth Honey

If you are under twelve (or have kids under that age) and haven’t heard of Elizabeth Honey, then you’ve been missing out. Honey is one of Australia’s funniest and best author/illustrators. Her work includes picture books, novels and poetry for a range of ages, all with her whimsical illustrations and unique humour.

In Honey Bunch, three of Honey’s bestselling children’s novels are brought together in one volume. This should be enough Honey to keep any fan satisfied and to get any reader new to Honey’s books hooked.

In 45 & 47 Stella street and Everything That Happened, strangers move in to Henni’s neighbourhood. But these aren’t any old strangers – they’re strange strangers. They keep to themselves and actively discourage the neighbours from getting to know them. Henni and her friends think something is wrong.

In Don’t Pat the Wombat, grade six gets to go on school camp. Everything would be great, if it weren’t for the grumpy teacher known as The Bomb, and his tendency to pick on Jonah. Mark and his friends are not impressed.

In What Do You Think, Feezal, the final story in the book, Bean moves to Sydney with her parents. She lives in a luxury penthouse on the top of a magnificent building and has everything a girl could want – well, almost everything. What bean really wants is a dog and some time with her parents. Will she get either?

Honey Bunch is suitable for eight to twelve year old readers.

Honey Bunch, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2002

Rowan of Rin, by Emily Rodda

Rowan is the weakest child in the village. While the other children of Rin are brave and strong, Rowan has many fears. He is given the job of tending the bukshah herd, a job with no real challenge attached. But when the stream that flows through the village dries up, it is Rowan who has the power to to solve the problem.

Along with six of the strongest and bravest villagers, Rowan must climb the mountain that overshadows the village and find a way to restore the water supply.

On the mountain each of the seven must face his or her deepest fear. Only one will have the courage and the wits to reach the top and overcome the final challenge.

Rowan of Rin is a timeless fantasy story for younger children and would make an ideal introduction to the genre. Awarded the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award, the title has been reprinted several times since its first release in 1993 – a testament to its popularity.

Rowan of Rin, by Emily Rodda
Omnibus Books, 1993