Layla, Queen of Hearts, by Glenda Millard

Griffin’s daddy used to say that Layla had been sent to comfort them after Tishkin went away; like an arm about their shoulders, a candle in the dark or like golden syrup dumplings for the soul.

There is going to be a Senior Citizen’s Day at school and Griffin says that Layla can share his grandma, Nell, but Layla wishes that she had someone special of her own to take along. The whole Silk family, of which Layla is an honorary member, is involved in Layla’s selection process, but it is Nell who introduces her to Miss Amelie, who lives on her own and doesn’t remember very well. Through the special friendship that develops between Miss Amelie and Layla , she and her friend Griffin learn some moving lessons about life, memories and small miracles.

A follow-up to The Naming of Tishkin Silk, Layla Queen of Hearts is just as touching as its predecessor. Layla and Griffin are delightful young characters and Miss Amelie’s struggles with memory loss and aging tug at the heart strings. The story is tightly woven, with layers of laughter and tears which leave the reader thinking about the characters and their lives long after the cover is closed.


Layla, Queen of Hearts, by Glenda Millard
ABC Books, 2006

Heart of the Tiger, by Glenda Millard & Gaye Chapman

In a land with no trees lived an old man, a boy and wooden tiger called Tiger.

When the old man dies, the boy inherits the tiger. He loves the tiger and treats him well, taking him for walks and listening to what it says. When the tiger tells him that it is made from a branch of the last ever tree, the boy longs to see what a tree is, and to experience the sight and smell of green. The tiger tells him that he can do it, if he is prepared to make a sacrifice. The boy agrees and sacrifices the thing he most loves – the tiger – in order to bring green back to the treeless land.

Heart of the Tiger is a poignant and touching tale by award-winning author Glenda Millar and talented illustrator Gaye Chapman. The hard cover format and richly coloured illustrations make it a quality offering and Millard uses her words economically – her environmental theme is neither overstated nor hard to discern. The oriental feel of both word and picture allows readers to connect the fable with others of its genre.

This is Chapman’s first picture book, buts she is a seasoned artist and uses a blend of techniques to subtly support and extend the text. The image of Tiger, who has at this point has been destroyed, looking over the boy’s shoulder as he waters the ground, is especially evocative. The contrasting endpapers – with a barren landscape at the beginning and a green one at the end – are also richly rendered.

Heart of the Tiger, with its gentle, yet evocative text, will be just as enjoyable for home reading as in the school setting.

Heart of the Tiger, by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Gaye Chapman
Scholastic, 2004

Mrs Wiggins Wartymelons, by Glenda Millard

Life in Korweinguboora (readers will have fun geting their tongues around this) is fairly predictable. So when Ralphie the goat suggests that Mrs WIggins grow watermelons instead of potatoes, Mrs Wiggins knows just what folk will say: We can’t grow wartymelons in Korwinguboora. But Ralphie convinces Mrs Wiggins to give it a try, despite what the locals say.

Growing watermelons in Korweinguboora isn’t easy – the nights are too cold for watermelons. But Mrs Wiggins proves that, with a little determination and ingenuity, anything is possible.

Mrs Wiggins Wartymelons is a beautifully presented, funny picture book, by outstanding author Glenda Millard. The quirky tale is well complemented by the illustrations of Stephen Axelsen, which are a combination of rustic and whimsy.

Glenda Millard is the author of The Naming of Tishkin Silk, a children’s novel, which is short listed for this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia book of the year awards. Mrs Wiggins Wartymelons is very different, but shows the same outstanding storytelling ability.


Mrs Wiggins’ Wartymelons, by Glenda Millard and Stephen Axelsen
ABC Books, 2004

The naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard

Griffin Silk, was born on an uncommon day, 29th February. His father thinks he’s likely to be an ‘uncommon boy’, but Griffin is not sure that would be a good thing. Maybe if he was common and ordinary, he wouldn’t have to worry about his secret. Griffin lives in a loving home with his father, many colourful sisters and his grandmother, Nell. Until now, all the children have had home schooling, but because his mother has gone away, as has his baby sister, Griffin must attend the local school. Griffin finds school challenging until he meets Princess Layla, who helps him discover the courage to share his secret.

Caroline Magerl’s beautiful cover art and internal sketches capture perfectly the tone of this story. The language is gentle, Griffin’s voice is strong. When tragedy strikes a family, each member is affected differently. Each looks for an answer to that which is so often unanswerable. The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard (ABC Books 2003) provides many opportunities for discussion and shared experiences. But most of all, it is a compelling read. 9-12 year old readers will enjoy this most, though there is much in this book to interest readers outside this age.

The Naming of Tiskin Silk, by Glenda Millard
ABC Books 2003

Bringing Reuben Home, by Glenda Millard

Cinnabar and Judah are stunned when Cinnabar’s grandfather Reuben makes his request. He wants the teenagers to help him escape the confines of the domed city. In spite of their shock, the friends are determined to help Reuben. But time is short. Reuben’s cessation date is coming. If they don’t act soon, it will be too late for Reuben.

New Carradon is a domed city where conditions are strictly controlled. Population growth is tightly contained and only those who are deemed genetically compatible are allowed to reproduce. When a person outlives his or her usefulness, he is ceased, with a cessation party to mark the occasion and to say goodbye to loved ones.

Cinnabar has never been oustide the city walls, but Reuben remembers the old city and is determined to take his wife’s ashes there before he dies.

Judah and Cinnabar need to figure out a way to smuggle Reuben out of the city. In doing so, they uncover more about their own pasts than they ever suspected could be true. Bringing Reuben home will be only the beginning of a whole new life.

The setting of this story is familiar – the concept of a domed city is the basis of many science fiction stories. What chills and intrigues is this city’s approach to population control. The prospect of a planned cessation – a bizarre expiry date – has the reader squirming. Millard manages to create a rich contrast between the cold, sterile emotions of the protected city and the warm emotions of the outside. She does this without preaching or over-analysing. Instead, the story is fast paced, with plenty of action and intrigue.

Millard’s novel for younger readers, The Naming Of Tishkin Silk has gathered wide acclaim. Bringing Reuben Home, for an older audience, will also be well-received.

Bringing Reuben Home, by Glenda Millard
ABC Books, 2004

Bones Maloney and the Raspberry Spiders, by Glenda Millard

Bones Maloney might look tough, but his heart is as soft as a cherry brandy chocolate. Bones and his Jazz Doggies are the star attraction at Barker’s café every Friday night. But, if there is one thing that Bones loves more than singing it is the raspberry spiders that are served at Barkers. Unfortunately, he isn’t paid enough to be able to buy one. What would happen if his throat was too dry to sing half way through his performance?

This humorous picture book combines children’s fantasy with the blues scene for an effect that will entertain both children and their adult readers. The illustrations of Matt Cosgrove are awesome, with vibrant colours and adorable dog-characters ranging from chihuahuas to dalmations to mutts and hounds.

Most likely to appeal to readers aged 4 to 8, Glenda Millard’s story will have you hankering for a raspberry spider.

Bones Maloney and the Raspberry Spiders
, by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Matt Cosgrove
A Margaret Hamilton Book from Ashton Scholastic, 2002