Mrs Dog, by Janeen Brian & Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

‘Leave it, Mrs Dog,’ called Tall One.
‘It’s too small and weak to live.’
But Mrs Dog carried the little Woolly-Head home to the Big Kennel.

Mrs Dog is getting too old to round up sheep, but when she finds a tiny orphaned lamb, she is determined to help him. She takes him home, keeps him warm and tries to teach him all that she knows. Baa-rah does his best to do the things Mrs Dog teaches him, and one day, when it is Mrs DOg who needs help, Baa-Rah saves the day.

Mrs Dog is an adorable picture book story about an unlikely friendship between a dog and a sheep, elderly and very young. Children will love not just the events of the story, but the use of language, with Mrs Dog’s terminology for sheep being Woolly-Heads, the humans called Tall Ones and so on. The illustrations, in soft colours and with loads of detail, capture farm life and the expressions of the animals. A wonderful touch is that while the humans do lend a helping hand, they are barely there in the illustrations, allowing the bond between animals to be highlighted.

A lovely picture book.

Mrs Dog, by Janeen Brian & Marjorie Crosby-Fairall
Five Mile, 2016
ISBN 9781760066451

Archie: no ordinary sloth, by Heath McKenzie

Archie – No Ordinary SlothArchie was a sloth.
But, while all the other sloths liked to flop and snooze and sloth about, Archie liked to leap and swing!
He liked to juggle
and jump!
He liked to move and groove!
But he was the only one.

It’s widely known that sloths are –to be honest – slothful. They don’t have any energy and they don’t mind a bit. They sloth about all day and all night. Except for Archie. He likes to leap and swing and move. He tries to get his friends to join in, but they don’t want to. What’s worse, they tell him to go away.

In the deepest corner of the jungle, Archie makes friends with other animals who are different – a white zebra, a short giraffe, an elephant with a small trunk, and a hyena who doesn’t laugh – but Archie misses the other sloths. When he goes home to see if they will take him back, he discovers they are in danger. And it is his energy that will help them.

Archie is a comical, warm-hearted book about difference, and friendship – and sloths. The text is laugh out loud funny, but the illustrations are simply sublime. Archie’s expressions are adorable and the supporting cast is bought to life with humorous detail.

Will be loved by adults and children alike.

Archie: no ordinary sloth by Heath McKenzie
Five Mile Press, 2016
ISBN 9781760067892

Shadowcat by Julia Louise ill Anne Ryan

Edith worried she might be turning into a garden gnome.

Every day she sat alone, as still as a statue.

Sometimes she sat for so long that the grass grew

past her nose to tickle her eyelashes.

ShadowcatEdith worried she might be turning into a garden gnome.

Every day she sat alone, as still as a statue.

Sometimes she sat for so long that the grass grew

past her nose to tickle her eyelashes.

Edith is feeling blue. Since the arrival of her new baby brother, it seems that everything she does is wrong. She is sure no one will miss her if she turns into a garden gnome. Then she meets Shadowcat. Shadowcat can tell that Edith has stopped dreaming. Shadowcat reminds Edith how to find joy in simple things. While Shadowcat is there, Edith regains her joyfulness and dreaming. When Shadowcat is gone, Edith must learn to rely on herself to remember how to dance. Illustrations are painted in stain-glass window colours, warm and rich.

Edith feels left out now her family has grown to include a little brother. She is depressed, gradually closing down until she feels almost unable to do anything. The gnome-state is where she’s headed without intervention. Lucky for her, Shadowcat arrives. Childhood depression is increasing and Julia Louise’s Shadowcat offers an accessible text to explore this clinical and crippling sadness with young readers. Anne Ryan’s artwork is stunning, colourful and empathetic. Ideal for parents and teachers wanting to introduce and support feelings. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Shadowcat, Julia Louise ill Anne Ryan
Five Mile Press 2015
ISBN: 9781760067090

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

The Great and Wondrous Storyteller, by Michael Scott Parkinson


The Great & Wondrous Storyteller

Oh, hello. I am the Great and Wondrous Storyteller!
I have read big books. I have read little books.
I have read short books, tall books,
thick books and thin books …
I have read every
type of book you can imagine!

Everybody knows that the Great and Wondrous Storyteller is, in fact, a great and wodndous storyteller. Everyone knows he has read all kinds of books, to all kinds of people. But everyone also knows that you don’t eat books, or hold them upside down, or start at the end. So why is the Great and Wondrous Storyteller doing all those things?
The Great and Wondrous Storyteller is a gorgeous celebration of books and reading, with a gently educative element – teaching youngeters about the magic of books, and encouraging them to take up reading. The digital illustrations are bright and colourful, with the main character, Norbert, an adorable green monster, and other characters being a range of cute, big-eyed animals.

This debut picture book also explores themes of honesty and learning.

The Great and Wondrous Storyteller, by Michael Scott Parkinson
Five Mile Press, 2015
ISBN 9781760066628

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Playground is Like the Jungle, by Shona Innes & Irisz Agocs

Playgrounds are a little bit like the jungle. Lots of creatures come together to live and play in the jungle. And when lots of creatures come together in one spot, things can get really wild and adventurous.

Using the extended simile of the jungle to represent the playground, author/psychologist Shone Innes explains to young readers the dynamics of playground interactions, highlighting the fun and pleasure that can be had there, but also some of the pitfalls. She identifies some of the personalities that may show up in the playground – cheeky monkeys who chase and tease, tigers that lash out when they’re angry, and slipper snakes who pretend to be friends – before offering suggestions for being safe and comfortable in their midst.

The Playground is Like a Jungle is a Big Hug book, designed to help young children understand and tackle life’s challenges. There are also back of book notes for parents and teachers. Illustrations, in watercolour with pencil outlines, have plenty of movement and an appropriately gentle humour.

A great resource for home, childcare centres or schools.

The Playground is Like a Jungle, by Shona Innes & Irisz Agocs
Five Mile Press, 2015
ISBN 9781760064150

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Internet is Like a Puddle, by Shona Innes & Irisz Agocs

The internet is a bit like a puddle.
It can be lots of fun and very useful.
But…the internet can also be deeper than it looks.

Few children are unaware of the fun that can be had on the internet, using computers, tablets and even phones. But for parents, teachers and carers, explaining the pitfalls of the online world can be difficult, as can setting and enforcing boundaries.  By using the analogy of a puddle, The Internet is Like a Puddle looks at the uses of the internet as well as its pitfalls, in a way aimed at engaging young readers.

Just as a puddle can be a fun place to play, so can the internet provide entertainment and education. But, the book goes on to explain, just as we can’t always see what’s under the surface of a puddle, so the internet has hidden depths and workings. Sometimes adult help is needed to get out of difficulty, or to avoid it, and turning off the internet and doing other things is important, too. In the end, used safely and with guidance, the internet puddle can be wonderful fun.

A Big Hug book, The Internet is Like a Puddle will serve as a useful classroom tool and also be helpful at home, in both cases opening up discussion about safe usage, and rules for internet sessions. The use of the analogy helps to explain the pitfalls – and the pelasures – in a kid-accessible way. Back of book notes aimed at parents, from author and psychologist  Shona Innes, add to the usefulness of the book.

With gorgeous watercolour illustrations, The Internet is Like a Puddle will suit children in their early years of schooling.

The Internet is Like a Puddle, by Shona Innes & Irisz Agocs

Five Mile Press, 2014

ISBN 9781760064167

Meet My Book: The Littlest Bushranger, by Alison Reynolds

Another wonderful visitor. I am delighted to welcome Allison Reynolds to the blog today, here to tell us about her newest book. Welcome Alison.

1.    Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.

Littlest Bushranger [Board book]
The Littlest Bushranger

Author: Alison Reynolds

Illustrator: Heath McKenzie

Release date: June 1 2013

The Five Mile Press

2.    Why did you write the book?

The publisher commissioned me to write a picture book about a bushranger.

Somehow, Jack and Hector’s story emerged.

3.    How long from idea to publication?

About 14 months.

4.    What was the hardest thing about writing it?

It was difficult to think of how to have a bushranger book suitable for very young children.

5.    Coolest thing about your book?

I feel very lucky to have Heath McKenzie as the illustrator. I love how he captures the essence of the words, and transforms it into something amazing.

I couldn’t wait to see how he would interpret the outlaw/monster in The Littlest Bushranger

Also, I really like how he sneaked in an illustration of Hector the dog on every page.

6.    Something you learnt through writing the book?

I realised how much I use my own childhood in my writing. My backyard was my entire world, and I loved recapturing that feeling in this book.

7.    What did you do celebrate the release?

Booked myself a holiday, which will be known as The Littlest Bushranger  holiday.

8.    And how will you promote the book?

I’m having a blog tour to celebrate The Littlest Bushranger . We’re saddling up for it on Tuesday, 11th June. I’ve managed to get some excellent prizes,

including a piece of Heath McKenzie’s fabulous artwork. I’m also having a few signings.

9.    What are you working on next?

I have a YA that wants to be revisited.

10.    Where we can find out more about you and your book?


I would love to see you there.

Thank you for inviting me onto the Aussiereviews blog, Sally!

You’re welcome Alison. It’s lovely having you here.

Allira's Gift, by Paul Collins

A deafening roar filled her ears. Shouting erupted and she jerked around to find its source. “Ohmigod,” she mouthed.
Part of the castle gate had been blown to smithereens. A lingering green mist like cannon smoke wafted on the still air. Debris lay scattered across the immediate area. Through the mist surged a horde of small, green-skinned creatures.

Allira and Steven are not terribly impressed with the country town of Coradgee, the town where their father grew up, but it seems they’re here to stay, at least until their missing grandfather is found. Fergus Hart has vanished without a trace, and the children’s father has come home to try to find him. But home isn’t quite as he remembers it. The farm house has been replaced by a huge castle, a castle which Allira feels is pretty special. As reality and fantasy clash, Allira finds just how special the castle is. The goblins who work there are at first visible only to her, but when she finds herself swept up in dangerous events, Steven is there ot help her.

Allira’s Gift is the first title in the new World of Grymm series from Australian fantasy master Paul Collins. With a host of fantastical creatures both familiar and unfamiliar, and plenty of action, it will appeal to readers aged 10 through to young adult. Illustrated by Danny Willis with black and white drawings of key characters and events, and in a sturdy hard cover format, this is a keeper, sure to be enjoyed over and over and with readers looking out for the next instalment, due for release in June 2008.

The World of Grymm: Allira’s Gift, by Paul Collins and Danny Willis
Five Mile Press, 2007