Wednesday, April 29, 2015

DROPPING IN by Geoff Havel

Reviewed by Carmela Ramos

‘Three mates, one beat-up old couch, a couple of skateboards and a really steep hill…  what could possibly go wrong?’

     Dropping In exhibits Geoff Havel’s adeptness in writing a fun and engaging story which addresses social issues pertaining to bullying, friendship, ADHD and living with disability. Geoff Havel convincingly writes from the point of view of a teenager and uses language well suited to the protagonist’s age.

     Sticks, a timid and likeable teenager, has known Ranga since he can remember and enjoys spending time with his fearless and energetic friend. When Sticks and Ranga meet James, the new kid in their street, they initially can’t see past his wheelchair and disability. The boys soon discover they have a lot in common. Judgements about each other’s capabilities transform into thoughts of acceptance, inclusion, trust and respect. Together the three mates not only face the fun challenge of becoming a ‘Dip and Gunk’ champion, they also have to deal with the aftermaths of involving themselves in creative yet risky skateboard stunts. While Ranga and James have to contend with all sorts of issues arising from living with ADHD or cerebral palsy, Sticks has to deal with his own concerns of helping Ranga when a social worker questions his bruises, sorting out a complication with a girl he likes, and having to face up to a bully at the local skatepark.

     Dropping In highlights the value of true friendship and underlines how perceptions and expectations can impact the way people with special needs are treated. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and highly recommend Dropping In to 10 to 14 year olds.

Thank you Fremantle Press for sending us a copy of this fun and action-packed story in exchange for an honest review.

RELEASE DATE : April 2015
For more information on the book go to

About the author
     Geoff Havel has been a primary school teacher for 30 years and has written two picture books and five children's novels, including The Real Facts of Life (2001) and Grave of the Roti Men (2003). Geoff has been the recipient of a West Australian Young Readers' Book Award and was shortlisted for a Western Australian Premier's Book Award.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Harold and Grace by Sean E Avery

Reviewed By Carmela Ramos

     This creative and intriguing picture book, will definitely be a teacher’s delight. Harold and Grace is perfect for Kindy to grade 3 children. Written in simple and suitable language with enough unfamiliar words to expand children’s vocabulary, Harold and Grace will fascinate as it educates. Not only does it explore wetland ecosystems and the life cycles of butterflies and frogs, the reader will also be gifted with a beautiful story of an unlikely friendship between a plump, cute, furry caterpillar named Grace, and an adventurous, loveable, buck-toothed tadpole named Harold.

     Sean E Avery’s process of using a combination of traditional art and digital art is exciting and fresh. The sketchy ink drawings together with the runny green and purple tones are unique and effective. The colours successfully enhance the feel of a wet, slimy, leafy environment. The characters' expressions are fun and filled with emotion. My six-year-old son pointed out that “on the front cover Grace feels furry and Harold feels slippery.” I was also amazed when my son observed how Harold and Grace’s colours changed from the beginning of the book to the end. He stated, “They swapped colours!”.

     The story of Harold and Grace opens up discussions on friendship, bullying, feelings, the environment, and the wonders of metamorphosis. With so much to explore, Harold and Grace makes an ideal addition to children’s libraries and lower-primary classrooms.  

For more information and access to some great Teaching Notes go to the publisher's website  

About The Author

     Sean E Avery is an internationally acclaimed sculptor, author and illustrator best known for his animal sculptures made from CDs and electronic waste, some of which are featured in the SciTech (Perth) and Ripley's Believe It or Not (USA) exhibitions. He has presented at various Writers festivals and represented Australia at the International Waste To Art exhibition in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2014.