Sunday, June 30, 2013

Queen Alice’s Palaces – Juliette MacIver and Lucia Masciullo ★★★

Reviewed by Carmela Ramos Meet Carmela

          In ‘Queen Alice’s Palaces, Juliette MacIver demonstrates an imaginative creativity with her unique writing style. MacIver skilfully uses rhyme to weave a tale of the challenges Queen Alice and Sir Hugh face as each extraordinary palace is built.
          MacIver uses a four-line stanza with every line rhyming except the fourth line. The ending of the fourth line in each stanza is identical so there is a constant ‘oo’ sound pattern throughout the read.
          Lucia Masciullo’s visual portrayal of the different palaces and humorous characters, using magnificent colour and lines, brings the story alive. I’m definitely a fan of the illustrator’s work!
          Sadly, my children (aged 4, 8 and 12) didn’t love the book as they didn’t appreciate the poetry style. However, with my school teacher cap firmly in place, I would recommend this lovely book for classroom use. Its uniqueness and clever use of rhythmical words is a great example to students of creative poetry. This book is well suited for primary school children.

THANK YOU to our most regal friends at HarperCollins Publishers Australia for our review copy.
On Sale in Australia:    May 2013
 Formats:     Hardback | CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON PURCHASING     E-Book here: CLICK

  I have always enjoyed writing, since I was a child, but I never aspired to the idea of Being A Writer, as such. I did always hope to write a children’s book or two at some stage, and when I finally did, I found it to be such marvellous fun that I decided being a writer was actually a splendid idea.
I grew up in Wellington and went to Victoria University, where I completed a degree in linguistics, then a diploma in teaching English. I taught English on and off, working in-between as a cycle courier; in cafes; ushering at festivals; as a guide at the national museum; and as a travel agent (at which I was particularly hopeless). I also travelled around Thailand and Europe by myself. Finally, after a short spell in a government department, I left to become a fulltime mother of four children (who arrived in an orderly sequence, not all at once). This wonderful job has involved a vast amount of “market research” for my eventual evolution into a children’s author. Writing fits in (with a squeeze) around caring for my children, and I LOVE it to excess, so it is rather a perfect job for me.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Elvis and the underdogs by Jenny Lee ★★★★★

Illustrated by Kelly Light

Reviewed by Sophia (aged 11) Meet Sophia

Benji is a small ten-year-old boy with a weird personality. He is always sick and faints a lot.
So when Benji wakes up from a bad spell the doctor gives him two options; to wear the world’s ugliest helmet or get a therapy dog. Benji chooses the dog. But when a huge crate arrives in his house he can’t believe his eyes! There before him is a massive two-hundred-pound dog!
The amazing thing about the dog is that it can talk! He tells Benji his name is Parker Elvis Pembroke IV. But the weird thing is that only Benji understands him; everyone else hears Elvis’s speaking as a bark or a whimper.
Elvis is very bossy and sometimes tells Benji what to do! But having a bossy dog could come in handy and might just show Benji how easy it is to make new friends.
I thought this was a wonderful and magical read with lots of exciting moments and heaps of bravery!

THANK YOU to our lovely friends at HarperCollins Publishers Australia for our review copy.
On Sale in Australia:           1st May/2013
 Formats:     Hardback | E-Book
Sneak Peek available here: CLICK

           Jenny Lee is a writer and producer on the Disney Channel show Shake It Up.
She has written episodes for the shows In Case of Emergency, Samantha Who?, The Troop, and Shake It Up.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau ★★★ ½


Reviewed by Katelyn (aged 13). Meet Katelyn

After the seven stages of war, Earth is a mess. Most food is inedible, the water undrinkable and the animals mutated until they are unrecognisable. Life is a continuous struggle to survive for all inhabitants. This is the world where Cia Vale lives with her family in the isolated and desolate Five Lakes Colony.
Cia has always longed to be chosen to for the Testing and then, hopefully, University like her father did, but to be Chosen you have to be the best of the best. On her Graduation Day, Cia desperately hopes to be Chosen but sadly she is not, until the day after Graduation when a representative from the University arrives.
Cia is so happy she is one of the Chosen, until her father warns her about what he can vaguely recall of the Testing after his compulsory memory wipe. Cia is then thrown into the Testing where no one can be trusted and a wrong answer can have seriously fatal consequences.
This book is an interesting dystopian book which I quite enjoyed. It is very similar to many of the latest release YA dystopian novels in that we have a lead female character who is placed in a situation of life and death in a bleak, futuristic Earth setting. The character of Cia is one which young teenage girls could easily idolise as she displays leadership qualities and compassion even while she is fighting for her very survival. The story itself is interesting and flows quickly, however the plot is one that you shouldn’t over analyse. I would recommend it for 12 to 17 year olds.

Thank you to the kind people at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for our preview copy of The Testing


Joelle has always loved telling stories and bringing them to life on the stage. Joelle graduated from Milikin University with a Bachelors Degree in Vocal Performance and then continued onto DePaul University to complete her Masters Degree in Opera Performance. From there she went onto perform across the Chicagoland area in a variety of Operas, Operettas and Musicals. She also started teached acting classes and private voice lessons to pass her passion along to the next generation.
Joelle had never planned on writing a novel until one day she had an idea and started to write. She found her passion for creating characters lived on the page as well as the stage.
Visit Joelle's website here

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Truly Tan: Jinxed! by Jen Storer ★★★★

Reviewed by Sophia (Aged 10)  Meet Sophia    
Tan’s house is full of dead people’s stuff and now her Dad has brought home a freaky, old tram that might be jinxed! It even has “follow me through the shadow” painted on it!
Bill Brodie was the person who owned the Tram and when he passed away people sold his stuff. Tan’s dad bought the Tram from Bill Brodie’s deceased estate (dead people’s stuff is sold at a deceased estate). Tan’s friend Gloria knows all about the Tram and they decide to search for the answers.
The first person they could think of was Mr Drake. Mr Drake owns the town’s junkyard and Tan thought  if Bill Brodie got the Tram from anywhere it would have come from the junkyard. Tan found out that the Tram’s name is Miss Havisham. He becomes even more curious than before and wants to discover why the Tram is called Miss Havisham and why the Tram is jinxed.
I really liked this book and thought that it was an exciting read with twists and turns at every chapter!.

Thank you to our friends at Harper Collins Australia for our review copy of this book.
Truly Tan: Jinxed is available now in hardback and ebook (available 1st August 2013)
Visit the Truly Tan information page 


         Jen Storer is a talented and exciting writer for children. Her fantasy novel Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children was shortlisted for a string of awards, including the Prime Minister′s Literary Awards (Best Children′s Fiction) and the 2011 CBCA, Book of the Year. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Jen worked in the publishing industry as an editor, a project manager and in creative development. Jen has a studio at the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne.

 Visit Jen Storer’s Website:
More books by Jen Storer:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mabel and Me Best of Friends by Mark Sperring & Sarah Warburton ★★★★★

Reviewed by Carmela Pollio.  Meet Carmela

“Mabel and Me” is a  brilliant book embracing the wonders of true friendship. Mark Sperring and Sarah Warburtan have created a book which transcends all ages and will surely be embraced internationally. It appeals on so many levels that my entire family enjoyed this book.
The story is told via the character “Me” who is by no means just a mouse. It has a bestest, bestest friend named “Mabel”, a likeable little girl who, whilst strolling down a “strolly” street, stops the mouse in his tracks and asks why they are bestest, bestest friends.
The two friends then encounter a Famous French Photographer and a Spanish Ballerina who help the mouse discover the answer to this tricky question.
The moment my children realised the hilarious twist, when the mouse misinterprets the photographer and the ballerina’s remarks and defends his friend Mabel, was a treat for me.
Sarah Warburtan’s visual portrayal of the four characters is delightful. There is a real sense of movement and emotion thanks to her artistic talent.  This combined with Mark Sperring’s cleverly written story means this is a book to be read and enjoyed over and over again.

Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for our review copies.

Available in hardback and ebook

Visit the Mabel and Me Best of Friends information page 

Brillustrators Mark Sperring and Sarah Warburton discuss their book project history together and the creation of Mabel and me Best of Friends:  CLICK HERE

The Fearsome, Frightening, Ferocious BOX – Frances Watts and David Legge ★★★★

Reviewed by Carmela Pollio.  Meet Carmela

Open the box, if you dare,
But danger lies within: beware!

Frances Watts and David Legge have cleverly partnered to create fearsome, frightening, and ferocious images using poetic words and marvellous pictures in this intriguing story of brave animals.
When reading “The Fearsome, Frightening, Ferocious Box” to my three children we were drawn into discovering the mystery of the box. My children were attentive and curious throughout the read and enjoyed the challenge of spotting hidden creatures.  
It was a pleasure for me to read using the wonderful, descriptive words which captured the ferocious creatures so well. The clues, to the identity of the hidden creature in the box, create a gripping eagerness to discover the box’s contents. All three children were surprised by the box’s revelation and I was most amused.
My four-year-old said some of the pictures were too scary and didn’t like it. The nine-year-old thought the pictures were great and enjoyed the book. She said, “It was interesting because every time you turn the page you wonder what is next until the very end.”  The book did not appeal to my eleven-year-old as he found it too repetitive and slow. He thought the pictures were good though.
Due to the repetition and marvellous use of rhythmical and flowing words I would enthusiastically recommend for an emergent reader. This book is well suited for six to eight year olds.

Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for our review copies.
Available in hardback and ebook
Visit the The Fearsome, Frightening, Ferocious Box information page 

About the author and illustrator

Visit the author’s Website:
Frances Watts was born in Lausanne, Switzerland and moved to Sydney when she was three. She worked as a bookseller and editor for nearly ten years before she began her writing career. Her first picture book, KISSES FOR DADDY (illustrated by David Legge), was an Honour Book 2006 CBCA Awards and has sold thousands of copies around the world. Her next two picture books with David Legge, PARSLEY RABBIT’S BOOK ABOUT BOOKS and CAPTAIN CRABLAW'S CREW, both won accolades in the CBCA Awards. In 2012, her picture book with illustrator Judy Watson, GOODNIGHT, MICE!, won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Children's Fiction. She is also the author of the EXTRAORDINARY ERNIE series for younger readers, and THE GERANDER TRILOGY, which follows the adventures of four plucky mice.
David Legge is the illustrator of many innovative picture books, including the award-winning BAMBOOZLED, BABY BOOMSTICKS, KISSES FOR DADDY, PARSLEY RABBIT’S BOOK ABOUT BOOKS and CAPTAIN CRABCLAW’S CREW. David lives in Sydney's west.