Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hello from Nowhere by Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair

Reviewed By Carmela Ramos

       Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair have created the most endearing child protagonist I have met this year in their fabulous picture book Hello From Nowhere. Raewyn Caisley’s enthusiasm and appreciation of the Australian outback oozes out of this great story. 

       My children and I enjoyed the way Eve, the main character, interacted with her wonderful surroundings. We had a glimpse of how interesting a roadhouse can be. It was very empowering to see Eve come up with an idea of how to get her Nan to visit, and it was heartwarming when Eve shows her Nan how special it is to live in the middle of nowhere.

       Karen Blair has done an amazing job in bringing ALL the characters to life. Her illustrations are fun, appealing, and full of emotion. Whether it’s sharing a laugh, sharing a magical moment or sharing a hug, this relationship between grandmother and granddaughter is beautifully presented. 

      This picture book would make a great gift and would be a lovely addition to children’s libraries (I have already given a copy to our school library!).

We are very grateful to Penguin Group (Australia) for sending us a copy of Hello From Nowhere.

Back cover blurb
Eve thought that living in the middle of nowhere was better than living anywhere else in the world…Only one thing made Eve sad. She hadn’t seen Nan since they left the city long ago.

Eve lives in a roadhouse in the middle of the Nullarbor and when her Nan finally visits one day, Eve shows her all the things that are special about where she lives.

A moving celebration of the Australian outback and the special bond between grandparent and grandchild.

Release date:                 27 August 2014
Author's website:  
Illustrator's website:
More Info on the book:
About The Author

      Raewyn Caisley was born in New Zealand but has lived in Australia for the past twenty years, in Fremantle, WA, with her husband Terry and their son Jack. Raewyn is the author of books for younger readers that include bestselling Aussie Bites and Nibbles titles such as Monkey Trix, The Big Waves, The Mermaid's Tail and Tai's Penguin, and The Queen's Cubby. She is also the author of junior sports fiction titles Not Cricket, In Union, Karate Star, Tennis Star, Great Lead, Hot Shot and Top Marks.
Photo credit: Joanna Everitt, ImaJE Photography

About The Illustrator:

       Karen Blair grew up in Perth, Western Australia. She made her first picture book when she was nine for a Year 5 project, and by the time she was in her 20s and living in the UK, she knew it was her dream to continue. She now lives in Fremantle with her husband and two cats and works part-time as a primary art teacher. Recent titles include CBCA Honour Book With Nan, written by Tania Cox; Granny Grommet and Me by Dianne Wolfer; Baby Beats and Baby Animal Farm, both of which were written and illustrated by Karen.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Do You Dare? Fighting Bones by Sofie Laguna

Reviewed by Carmela Ramos

  Set in the Point Puer Boys Prison of Tasmania, Fighting Bones, by Sofie Laguna, gives us a vivid glimpse of what life was like in 1836 for convict boys. Written in the present tense, Fighting Bones, places the reader alongside Declan Sheehan, an irish convict boy sent to Point Puer with his little brother, Danny. The story unfolds through Declan's eyes as he endures harsh conditions of prison life joined by Danny and their two inmate friends, Col and Seamus. Exhausting physical labour and strict discipline are not the main problems the four irish boys face. When young Danny witnesses a murder, they all become targets for the prison bully, Striker, and his gang. Escaping the prison is their only chance to survive.

    The reader is compelled to follow Declan as he makes important decisions, and we can also see how Declan deals with the emotions he faces. Pace and emotion work well together here, and Sofie Laguna successfully engages the reader with wholesome themes of bravery, loyalty, loss and hope.

     Fighting Bones is part of the Do You Dare? series aimed to engage Australian historical fiction for boy readers aged 8 to 12. Full of tension, action, emotion and adventure, Fighting Bones is perfect for young male readers.

Thank you to for sending us a copy of this great book in exchange for an honest review.

Released in June 2014

For more information go to:        Do You Dare? Fighting Bones
Author's Website:                


Sofie Laguna

Sofie Laguna was born in 1968 in Sydney. She studied to be a lawyer, but after deciding law was not for her, she trained as an actor. Sofie is now an author, actor and playwright.  

Her books have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier's Awards. She has been published in the US and the UK and in translation in Europe and Asia. Her picture book with Andrew Mclean, On Our Way to the Beach was included in the White Ravens 2005 annual selection of outstanding international children's books by the International Youth Library (Associated Project of UNESCO). Her other books include My Yellow Blanky, Too Loud Lily, Surviving Aunt Marsha, Bad Buster and Big Ned's Bushwalk.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Big Pet Day by Lisa Shanahan and Gus Gordon

Reviewed by Carmela Ramos  

  There are a lot of pet books around, but Lisa Shanahan’s originality brings this popular topic freshness in her latest picture book Big Pet Day. With an interesting and large cast of characters, Big Pet Day is indeed full of action and surprises. The reader is invited to explore what happens in Lily’s class on Pet Day. Lisa Shanahan makes it totally believable that a dragon could be a pet.

  Gus Gordon extends the fun of this story with his brilliant illustrations. He successfully creates an energetic and busy classroom environment. My five-year-old son enjoyed looking at the character’s reaction to the pets visiting the school, which resulted in very slow page turns. I personally liked the added touches, such as the dragon’s hat and the use of collage and vintage cutouts.

  With action-packed text and humorous illustrations, Big Pet Day is a highly appealing picture book suited for 4 to 8 year olds.

Thank you to Hachette Australia for our review copy of Big Pet Day, which we received in exchange for an honest review. 

For more information about the book, please visit:

Release Date: 12 August 2014
Back Cover Blurb

Everyone is so excited about bringing their pets to school that they don’t notice Lily’s pet isn’t quite like the others. When the ordinary animals cause a commotion, it’s up to Lily and her dragon to save the day.

Lisa Shanahan (AUTHOR)

Lisa Shanahan studied at UTS and trained as an actor at Theatre Nepean before discovering her true passion was not just writing, but writing for young people. Some of her well-loved picture books include BEAR AND CHOOK and DADDY’S HAVING A HORSE, illustrated by Emma Quay, both of which were shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year for Early Childhood and BEAR AND CHOOK BY THE SEA, winner of the CBCA Book of the Year for Early Childhood. Her first book for teenagers, MY BIG BIRKETT, was published to acclaim and shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers in 2007. Lisa lives in Sydney.


Gus Gordon illustrated his first children’s book in 1996 and has since illustrated more than seventy books. His debut as an author/illustrator, WENDY, was a CBCA Notable Book in 2010 and was highly commended in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. 2012’s HERMAN AND ROSIE was named Honour Book in the picture book category at the 2013 CBCA awards, and was selected for the Read with Australia national simultaneous storyline.