What do Werewolves do when it’s not Halloween? By Heath McKenzie

November the 1st is kinda the worst

For everything SPOOKY and CREEPY,

In fact, truth be told, you’ll find that it makes

Most HALLOWEEN GHOULS rather weepy!

For there isn’t a day that’s further away

From next HALLOWEEN, it’s true,

So every last thing that goes BUMP in the night

Has to find something DIFFERENT to do!

November the 1st is kinda the worst

For everything SPOOKY and CREEPY,

In fact, truth be told, you’ll find that it makes

Most HALLOWEEN GHOULS rather weepy!

For there isn’t a day that’s further away

From next HALLOWEEN, it’s true,

So every last thing that goes BUMP in the night

Has to find something DIFFERENT to do!

What Do Werewolves Do When it’s Not Halloween? offers an explanation for the 364 days between Halloweens. It speculates that vampires do some catching-up, mummies try some alternative costumes, skeletons just hang around – in fact everyone seems to find a way to fill in time. But werewolves – what do they do? Do they hide away with other werewolves and wait for Halloween? Well, you’ll just have to read and find out. Illustrations depict all manner of spooky and creepy creatures doing their thing through night and day.

Halloween is a big night for those who like to be or to experience spooky or creepy things, but for the rest of the year, creeping and spooking are less visible. Perhaps it’s odd that no one has previously offered an answer to this question! Young readers can experience the inventiveness of Frankensteins and the wildness of witches in this funny, fiend-filled rhyming stories, which ends with a ghoulish answer to its own question.


What Do Werewolves Do When it’s Not Halloween?, Heath McKenzie Scholastic Australia 2013 ISBN: 9781742838793

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller


Available from good bookstores or online.

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?

Visit www.alisonreynolds.com.au

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.

A Year with Marmalade, by Alison Reynolds & Heath McKenzie

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

A Year with Marmalade

This is a delightful picture book about friendship. Two girls Ella and Maddy are best friends. That is until Maddy has to go away for a year and asks Ella to take care of Marmalade, her cat. Both Marmalade, the cutest orange cat you could ever wish to see, and Ella are sad at the parting.

Anyone who has ever had a best friend who went away will be able to associate with the feelings conveyed. It made me think of a best friend who went away when I was young and I’m sure it will evoke similar memories in readers young and old.

Through the changing seasons which are beautifully depicted in text and illustrations, we see Ella’s feelings about the loss but then something starts to change. I’m not going to give the ending away by saying what that is, but let me say it is a satisfactory ending.

The text is simple and flows well with a great deal of expression and the illustrations compliment it perfectly. With its limited colour scheme the illustrations manage to convey so much and Marmalade is one of the most expressive cats I have ever seen (this from someone who is not a cat person. But Marmalade almost convinced me. )

Given the reasonable price for a charming hard cover picture book this is sure to find its way into many homes and schools and so it should.

A Year With Marmalade
Text by Alison Reynolds
Illustrations by Heath Mc Kenzie
Published by Five Mile Press
ISBN 9781742488806
Hardcover picture book $14.95

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Cocky who Cried Dingo, by Yvonne Morrison

Cocky is a young Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and he’s rather proud of his snowy white feathers and his fine yellow crest. He likes a party and a joke and really isn’t taking much account of others around him. When other birds around him are keen to settle in to sleep, he wants to party on. When they ignore him, he decides to play a trick that will wake them for sure. So he pretends he is being attacked by a dingo. Well, that certainly wakes the flock and they hurry to his aid. A great joke! It works so well that he repeats the trick the following night with similar success. The other birds are now seriously cross with him and when on the third night, as in ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, his call for aid is real and urgent, they are reluctant to respond. He’s in a bind and only narrowly escapes, sacrificing some of his prized crest. He is suitably chastened, and has a temporarily diminished beauty to remind him of his near escape.

The Cocky Who Cried Dingo is a new take on a traditional tale and brings Australian birds into play the roles otherwise played by a boy, a village and a wolf. But the message loses nothing in translation. Yvonne Morrison’s rhyming yarn rolls easily off the tongue as the story moves to a familiar conclusion. Heath McKenzie uses torn paper as his backgrounds, using different shapes and depths of colour to convey emotion. His slightly manic but beautiful birds look capable of most anything, particularly as their sleep is yet again disturbed. Children will join in the refrain with Cocky, waiting to see what will happen when the dingo is real. Cocky is taught a lesson, and is duly chastened, but less the reader think he is totally reformed, McKenzie provides a final cheeky image. Recommended for early-primary readers.

The Cocky Who Cried Dingo

The Cocky Who Cried Dingo, Yvonne Morrison, ill Heath McKenzie
2010 ISBN: 9781921541421

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

An ABC of Pirates, by Caroline Stills & Heath McKenzie

is for adventure
on an azure-coloured sea.
Hoist the anchor, maties,
’tis a pirate’s life for me.

Whilst there are plenty of ABC books on the market, the simple reason or this is that they are popular with parents and educators as an early-learning tool. An ABC of Pirates is likely to be also popular with young readers, offering, in addition to an exposure to the letters of the alphabet, an exciting pirate adventure. Each letter shows pirate characters in a range of exiting adventure situations. With the entry for each letter written in rhyming verse, the letter is used to begin several words in the entry, which are highlighted in bold font. The illustrations, by Heath McKenzie show the things mentioned int he text, as well as other items which start with that letter. For example, the ‘A’ entry has an astronaut, an alligator and an abacus in the illustration.

Easy to read aloud and fun to explore visually, this is a swashbuckling, fun-filled offering.

An ABC of Pirates

An ABC of Pirates, by Caroline Stills and Heath McKenzie
Little Hare, 2010
ISBN 9781921272776

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Slowcoach Turtle, by Kyle Mewburn

Tilda scrambled up the steep, overgrown bank towards the apple orchard. It was hard work. her fringe was plastered to her sweaty face. But her eyes were shiny with excitement. She could see the frame of the old flying fox peering over the top of the bank.

Slowcoach Turtle is book three in the Pop Hooper’s Perfect Pet series for newly confident readers. Main character Tilda lives life at a breakneck speed and is a little annoyed that her best friend Nat doesn’t seem to want to play at her pace. They have an argument and Tilda goes off on her own, wishing she had a monkey to play with. Cue the arrival of Pop Hooper and his wonderful road train full of pets. He promises her a monkey if she will look after a turtle for 24 hours. Tilda is less than enthusiastic about the turtle which although slow, keeps wanting to escape. She can’t wait until the 24 hours are up and she can get her monkey. The wait seems even longer because she’s still not friends again with Nat. Heath McKenzie’s humourous illustrations add to the fun.

Pop Hooper is very good at matching pets with children…much better than the children initially think. He gently encourages the children realise that the pet they thought perfect may not be their perfect pet after all. Not by telling them, but by giving them a pet that seems to bear little resemblance to their expected perfect pet. Tilda discovers that being slow isn’t such a bad thing, in fact it’s the very characteristic that made Nat such a good friend. Chapters are short and most openings are illustrated, perfect for young readers.

Slowcoach Turtle (Pop Hooper's Perfect Pets)

Slowcoach Turtle Kyle Mewburn ill Heath McKenzie
Little Hare 2010
ISBN: 9781921541230

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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

Halloween in Christmas Hills, by Karen Tayleur

Whenever Miles Cameron looked at Mr Jack’s house he couldn’t help but think of all his lost favourite balls. When the kids’ balls went over Mr Jack’s fence they didn’t even bother asking to get them back. Mr Jack kept the balls. That’s why the kids called him Stingy Jack.

The Johnson family love holidays – Australia Day, Christmas, St Patrick’s Day and Halloween. They like to dress up and celebrate with their neighbours. But one neighbour – Stingy Jack – never joins in. When Miles is allowed to go trick or treating for the first time, his siblings dare him to ring Stingy Jack’s doorbell. Soon, Miles is wondering whether that action will be his downfall. But Mr Jack has a surprise of his own.

Halloween in Christmas Hills is a humorous picture book story about Halloween and about appearances and friendship. The text also offers some insight into the Halloween tradition which is often perceived as being an American custom.

With the humorous illustrative style of Heath McKenzie, who manages to make the illustrations comic and creepy at the same time, this is a fun offering.

Halloween in Christmas Hills: The Legend of Stingy Jack

Halloween in Christmas Hills: The Legend of Stingy Jack, by Karen Tayleur & Heath McKenzie
black dog, 2009

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

The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Heath McKenzie

With shops full of tinsel and presents, it’s pretty obvious Christmas is on its way. But there’s a catch. Alongside the tinsel and lights, are scenes of snow, plum puddings and all the trappings of a Northern Hemisphere style Christmas. Here in Australia, Christmas usually entails cooling down and trying to escape the heat as we celebrate this special event in the midst of our summer.

The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas, puts an Aussie slant on the old song, with partridges and maids a milking replaced with a kookaburra up a gum tree, wombats, possums and, of course, flies.

Accompanying the humorous text are colourful, funny illustrations with illustrator Heath McKenzie interpreting them in a unique way. The seven possums playing are in front of the TV with Playstations, and the six sharks are swimming in paddle pools.

This is a fun Christmas offering which will appeal to Aussie kids, but would also make a novel gift for overseas friends and family. First released in hardcover format in 2006, it has been rereleased this Christmas in board book format.

The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas [Board book]


The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas [Board book], illustrated by Heath McKenzie
Black Dog Books, 2009

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

Funny Little Dog, by Kyle Mewburn

Flyn hung upside down from the oak tree, with his limbs wrapped tightly around a branch. He held his breath and carefully turned his head so he could scan the park. The boys were standing directly below him. Flyn could have dropped an acorn down Toby Downer’s collar. But that was the last thing Flyn wanted to do.
He just wanted to get to school without a fight.

Flyn is not having fun. His route to school involves passing the school bullies and they delight in tormenting him. What he needs is a big, tough dog to do all the things he can’t. Then the bullies would leave him alone. Enter Pop Hooper and his amazing collection of pets. On the side of each wagon, Pop Hooper’s Pet Express promises ‘Perfect Pets Guaranteed’. Flyn stops running away from the bullies and chases after Pop Hooper. He knows exactly the sort of dog he needs, a dog called ‘Chomper’ who will be brave where Flyn is not.

Funny Little Dog is the second title in the ‘Pop Hooper’s Perfect Pets’ series from Little Hare. The magical Pop Hooper seems to appear where he is needed, with the perfect pet. But he can’t find the pet Flyn describes so asks him to look after Pumpkin. Pumpkin has none of the attributes Flyn is sure he will need, and lots of characteristics sure to make his life worse. Poor Flyn! But Pumpkin allows Flyn’s nature to shine through his anxieties. Although it is Pop Hooper who chooses Pumpkin for Flyn, it is the boy who shows his true character and ample reserves of bravery when necessary. Funny Little Dog is a lovely mix of humour and seriousness, complemented by Heath McKenzie’s black and white illustrations on most openings. Recommended for newly confident readers ready for a slightly longer story.

Funny Little Dog (Pop Hooper's Perfect Pets)

Funny Little Dog (Pop Hooper’s Perfect Pets), Kyle Mewburn ill Heath McKenzie
Little Hare 2009
ISBN: 9781921272769

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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

The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Heath McKenzie

My true love is an adventurer. Whenever he is away from home, he sends me cards and little notes about the places he’s been. When he asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said, ‘Surprise me.’
What a mistake!

When your true love sends you a peacock up a palm tree on the first day of Christmas, it should set a few alarm bells ringing. The true love in this humorous offering follows up with two toucans, three polar bears, four rhinos reading and more, in a parade of animal gifts for his dearest.

As well as filling the pages with bright and humorous animal illustrations, author/illustrator Heath McKenzie also offers an interactive element in the from of removable letters, postcards, brochures and more, inserted between every second spread. Younger children will enjoy the bright illustrations and text, whilst older children will enjoy these extra elements.

Whilst the Twelve Days of Christmas song has been reworked on many occasions, this is an original take on the concept, with the novelty element a real delight.

An excellent Christmas gift.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: 1 Man, 12 Days, 78 Gifts, by Heath McKenzie
Black Dog Books, 2008