Monday, July 28, 2014

The Queen's Hat by Steve Antony

Reviewed By Carmela Ramos

 Hats off to Steve Antony for his debut Picture Book The Queen’s Hat.
With a well-crafted plot, straightforward text, and limited colour palette of only four colours, The Queen’s Hat is a perfect example of where less is more.

 My children and I highly enjoyed following the Queen as she chases her favourite hat, which is being wind-swept all through London. On our tour of London’s iconic landmarks, we were accompanied by the Queen’s ant-like guards, an adorable royal corgi, and a tray-balancing butler!

We were delighted with each page turn and the ending is truly heart-warming. With a brilliant combination of simple language and visual humour, The Queen’s Hat is sure to please children from three years and up.

Back Cover Blurb
A Sudden Gust of wind sets off a marvelous adventure for the Queen, lots of Queen’s men, and one very special hat. Just where will that hat land?
A witty and stylish celebration of London, the Queen, and the new royal baby.

Released in May 2014

For more information visit or

Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending us a copy of this charming book.


Steve Antony is a highly talented and versatile author-illustrator. He has had a passion for storytelling from an early age, but it was the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge that really enabled him to channel this passion. Since embarking on the MA course, he has enjoyed creating picture books on a range of subjects from the Queen’s hat to a war between rectangles and lizards! He aims to create picture books that are slightly ‘off the wall’, books that children will laugh at and adults will tweet about, but most of all, books that he enjoys.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Soldier's Gift by Tony Palmer and Jane Tanner

 Reviewed by Carmela Ramos. 

Tony Palmer has taken the essence of a past reality to create a story worth telling, The Soldier’s Gift. This wonderfully written book acknowledges the Australian soldiers at Gallipoli and their families during the First World War. The book cover, detailed Endpapers, and realistic illustrations all capture this moment of time. 

Jane Tanner successfully communicates depth of emotion in all the characters. Her illustrations, together with Palmer’s child-friendly language, leads the reader on an emotional journey of a girl named Emily whose brother, Tom, leaves home to join the war. Tom promises to write letters to her, and it is in these letters that Emily discovers something precious which needs to be nurtured. The gift from her brother brings an array of emotions for Emily and her loved ones at a difficult time. This gift captures the memories of a loved soldier who was also a brother, a son and a nephew.

The Soldier’s Gift is a Picture Book for 8+ readers but can easily be appreciated by all ages. It is a great resource for teachers to have as the content of The Soldier’s Gift can be linked to the Australian Curriculum : History. In particular, the book can be used to allow students to explore how some aspects of Australian family life has changed over time and how other aspects have remained the same. The book can also encourage students to see how the past is significant to their own lives today. There are a number of themes and feelings which can be explored, some of which include; love of family, moving away, loss, and bravery. The Soldier’s Gift also includes four non-fiction pages that provide additional information about Australia’s involvement with the war. These pages are detailed with photographs taken during WW1. The Soldier’s Gift helps the reader connect to the past and is a beautifully presented story.

We received a copy of this book from Penguin Australia in exchange for an honest review. For more information please visit The Soldier's Gift at Penguin Australia website

RELEASE DATE:   23rd July 2014

Back Cover Blurb
Emily knows her big brother, Tom, wants to leave Hillside Farm and go overseas to the war, but Emily doesn’t want him to go.

‘Everyone else is going,’ said Tom to Emily when their uncle was gone.
‘That’s not a good reason,’ said Emily.

The Soldier’s Gift is a moving story of one family’s courage and endurance during the First World War, the terrible losses at Gallipoli and a time that changed Australia forever.

Tony Palmer (AUTHOR)

  After graduating from Monash University in 1985 with an honours degree in Graphic Communication Tony Palmer has worked full-time as a book designer for various publishers. He has also been a part-time typography teacher at Victoria University and is currently undertaking a Masters in Art and Design at Monash University focusing on the aesthetics of typesetting in Mandarin. As a long-time enthusiast of Australian History Tony wrote his first novel for teenagers, Break of Day which was published in 2007. Following this he wrote The Valley of Blood and Gold, published in 2011.


  Jane Tanner completed an Associate Diploma of Fine Art in Printmaking and Painting and a Diploma of Education. She taught for several years in Victorian secondary schools before taking up full-time illustrating in 1984.
  She is the acclaimed illustrator of the best-selling picture books There's a Sea in my Bedroom, Drac and the Gremlin, The Wolf, The Fisherman and the Theefyspray and Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds. She is the author and illustrator of Playmates, Isabella's Secret, Ride with Me, Just Jack, Love from Grandma and Lilly and the Fairy House. She has won or been shortlisted for many prestigious awards, including the CBCA Book of the Year Awards in the  categories of Picture Book of the Year, Younger Readers' and Early Childhood. This much-loved author/illustrator is one of Australia's outstanding picture-book creators.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Sunday by Pamela Allen

Reviewed by Carmela Ramos
   I was so thrilled to add One Sunday to our Pamela Allen collection at home. On seeing the cover,  my children recognized the distinct style of the illustrator and knew they were in for a treat. Pamela Allen is also well known for her use of repetitive, humorous and engaging text. I love reading her books out loud as she always provides the reader with opportunities to create a theatrical performance.
   I read this charming book to my five-year-old on a wintry night. The tiny wooden house in the story looked so warm, safe and inviting. The eery illustrations outside the house enhanced the wintry atmosphere. My son was fascinated by the sounds of the blowing wind, groaning trees, and creaking wooden house. He was highly interested in the story from beginning to end and happily joined in reading the recurring bits. The little old man and little old woman are familiar and loveable characters but my son’s favourite was the special visitor (who I must add had lovely manners). 

This book can definitely be linked to many areas of learning. One Sunday would appeal to pre-school age children to 6 year olds (and not forgetting the privileged person to be reading it!).
Thanks to Penguin Group (Australia) for our review copy of One Sunday, which we received in exchange for an honest review.

Released May 2014

For further information:  
Back Cover Blurb
Outside the wind blew. Oooooh! The trees groaned. Ahhhhh!  And the tiny wooden house creaked. Eeeeeek!
Inside, a delicious roast dinner was cooking. The little old man was expecting visitors. The little old woman said no one would come.
Who was right? Come inside where it’s cosy and warm, and wait…                                                             
You might get a big surprise.
Here is a gentle story about home and hearth, about the comfort of ritual, and about opening your heart to the possibilities of life.                                                              

Pamela Allen (AUTHOR, ILLUSTRATOR)                                         
  Pamela Allen is a phenomenon in the world of children's literature.    For almost thirty years her picture books have enchanted generations of children in Australia and overseas and many of her titles have won prestigious awards and commendations. She has earned classic status through the enduring popularity of her stories with the very young.
 Pamela's books are full of the music of language; they are 'fragments of theatre', designed to be read aloud and shared between an adult and a child. Eight of Pamela's titles were adapted for the stage by Patch Theatre Company, and performed in the Sydney Opera House. In 2004, Grandpa and Thomas won the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award: Early Childhood and The Potato People was named an Honour Book in the same category in 2003, and Grandpa and Thomas and the Green Umbrella was shortlisted for the same award in 2007, as was Shhh! Little Mouse in 2008. Is Your Grandmother a Goanna? won a 2008 Speech Pathology of Australia Book of the Year Award, as did Our Daft Dog Danny in 2010. 
'From Pamela Allen's first publication in 1980 it was clear that here was a creator of picture books with all the glow, gesture, din and dance to capture the attention, engage the imagination, teach, show, tickle and excite small children.' Meg Sorensen, Australian Book Review.

Pamela Allen lives in New Zealand with her husband.