Sunday, August 30, 2015

SURI'S WALL by Lucy Estela and Matt Ottley

Reviewed by Carmela Ramos  


     Magnificently illustrated and beautifully written, Suri’s Wall immerses the reader into an imaginative and empowering story with messages of hope, wonder and friendship. The intricate details of Matt Ottley’s illustrations not only provide the reader with many amusing scenes to observe, it also adds visual depth to Lucy Estela’s heartfelt story. Here is what Joseph, aged 6, had to say after reading Suri’s Wall.

     Suri likes to walk next to the wall around her home. The wall makes her happy but she is very lonely. Suri is already the tallest but she grows taller and taller and then she can see over the wall. Then a little girl asks Suri what she can see, and Suri tells her she can see lots of beautiful things. Then more children come closer to Suri to listen and then Suri is not lonely anymore.

     Suri is like a storyteller and I think she is nice because she shares her imagination and cares about all the other children. I think the other children would be sad and scared if they didn’t have Suri’s stories.

     I really liked the pictures of the elephant and the big ship. I also like the page with the town because I like the waterwheel and the animal cart. I liked watching the people with carts walking past very tall trees. My favourite part of the story is when Suri is storytelling to the children and she is not lonely anymore.

     This is a truly beautiful picture book to be enjoyed by dreamers, storytellers and readers of all ages. Thank you to Penguin Books Australia for sending us a copy of Suri’s Wall in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: 26 August 2015
Author’s Website:
Illustrator’s Website:

About the Author

     Lucy Estela's love of writing became apparent as early as age seven when she began writing and illustrating a multitude of storybooks and newspaper columns that were printed up at home and forced upon her family. Since then she has taken a fascinating path towards publishing her first book.
Her university degree focused on languages but rather than becoming a language teacher, Lucy was introduced to the world of computer games and has pursued a successful career in London and now in Australia as a developer of websites and games for the kids and youth entertainment market including such brands as Disney, Warner Bros Pictures, Chorion and Xbox.
Suri's Wall, illustrated by the talented Matt Ottley, is Lucy's debut book with Penguin. Lucy lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

About the Illustrator

     Matt Ottley is a multi-modal artist working across the fields of visual arts, music and literature. He is an award-winning picture book writer and illustrator, with 25 picture books published. He spent his childhood in Papua New Guinea, and has travelled widely throughout Australia and the world. As a teenager and during his early twenties he worked as a stockman on remote cattle stations in the Australian outback, before studying fine arts and music. He lived for three years in Britain working as an equestrian painter, painting some of Britain's finest racehorses and polo ponies.

     He is now one of Australia's most popular children's author/illustrators, and has been published in several different languages around the world. His book and musical work for young adults, Requiem for a Beast was awarded the Children's Book Council of Australia's Picture Book of the Year in 2008, and the Queensland Premier's Award for Young Adult Literature in the same year. His picture book, What Faust Saw was an international best seller. Matt has also worked as a professional flamenco and classical guitarist. He is currently working on two large-scale orchestral projects that will also have visual and literature components.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Our Australian Girl – Marly and the Goat by Alice Pung

Reviewed by Jessica (age 8)

     This is the latest instalment in the Marly series of the Our Australian Girls books. It is 1983 and Marly is excited because her grandparents arrive from Vietnam and her Mum is having a baby. Marly’s Grandpa is really nice, but a bit eccentric. He buys a goat and chickens despite many objections being made by the family (including Grandma). When a neighbour complains about the new pets, Marly is forced to go to a Council Meeting because she is the only person in her family who speaks English. 

     I really enjoyed this book because it was very interesting and it had a real sense of adventure. My favourite character was Marly because she didn’t care what anyone thought of her and she was very brave.  I really like the Marly books. This was the best yet!



About the Author                                                                                          
     Alice Pung is a writer, editor, teacher and lawyer based in Melbourne. Born a month after her Chinese parents fled from Cambodia to Australia as asylum seekers from Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge Regime, Alice has used her shared family's experiences to write stories that captivate all readers.       
     She has won numerous awards including the 2007 Newcomer of the Year Award in the Australia Book Industry Awards for her first book Unpolished Gem. Her next book Her Father's Daughter won the Western Australia Premier's Book Award for Non Fiction, and it was also shortlisted for the Premier's Literary Awards in Victoria and New South Wales, and nominated also in the Queensland Literary Awards. Laurinda, Alice's first novel, was published in 2014 and was one of Readings' Top 100 bestselling books for the year. She is writing four books around the character Marly for Penguin's Our Australian Girl series.
     Alice's writing has appeared in many notable publications including the Monthly, the AgeMeanjinBest Australian Stories and Best Australian Essays. Alice edited Growing Up Asian in Australia, a collection of personal accounts, essays, short stories and poetry which is currently a set text for the VCE English context on Identity and Belonging.

     Alice lives with her husband at Janet Clarke Hall at the University of Melbourne, where she is currently the Artist in Residence. 

About the Illustrator
     Lucia Masciullo grew up in Livorno, Tuscany, among smells of saltiness and rosemary. She always loved painting and after graduating in Biology she decided to pursue her dream career as an artist. In 2006 she moved to Brisbane and since then has been happily working as a fine art painter and freelance illustrator. She has recently illustrated Sonya Hartnett's The Boy and Toy.

Juliet Nearly a Vet – Cat Show Queen by Rebecca Johnson

Reviewed by Jessica (age 8)

      In this book, Juliet’s Mum is in charge of the cats that board at her Vet clinic when there is a cat show in town. Juliet and her best friend, Chelsea, are so excited and can’t wait to see all the different cats and their owners. The cats have to be prepared beautifully for the show and some of the owners are very particular, so you can imagine the drama that unfolds when something goes wrong before the show.

     I enjoyed this book. My favourite character was Juliet’s best friend, Chelsea, because she is very calm under pressure. Kids who really love cats and animals would like this book.

     For more information about this book which is part of a series go to

About The Author     
     Rebecca Johnson is an Australian author, teacher and mother of two. Juliet, Nearly a Vet is her first fiction series with Penguin. She has also written a best-selling non-fiction series of adventures featuring Australian wildlife, which has sold more than 2.6 million copies.
From the author:
When I was growing up, I was mad about animals. Not just the normal kind like cats, dogs and horses, but anything that moved. The best part of all was that I actually lived next door to a vet! We are still great friends and he's 95 now. One of my fondest memories of growing up is going out in a canoe with my sister and brother after a f lood and ­rescuing animals that were stranded on sticks and twigs and ferrying them to safety. Not every girl I know would be happiest in a canoe full of mice, bugs and the odd green snake, but I'm sure Juliet would!
      For more information about the author go to

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fortune Cookie – The Chocolate Box Boy by Cathy Cassidy

Reviewed by Bella (age 11)

     I absolutely loved this book. By the time I had read the first page, I was hooked! The plot in this book contains many realistic events that are amazing and exciting.  The book is creatively written and it has inspired me to embark on adventures.

     The book is about a curious and adventurous boy named Jake who visits his “step” family in a leisurely house next to the beach where lemonade is drunk, ice cream is eaten and exciting beach parties occur. Jake learns that you can’t run from your problems and eventually returns to his real family. He learns an important lesson - that you can’t run away from destiny.

     There were so many astounding ideas in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope there are many more books to come in this series. The beach setting in this book made me really wish that I lived right next door to the beach, that my parents owned a chocolate business and that I had a perfect life that was full of adventure. I strongly recommend this book to people my age. This book was definitely a fantastic read.

About The Author
     I was born in 1962 in Coventry (scarily ancient, I know).
 I wrote my first picture book for my little brother when I was eight or nine. I loved making comics, too - pages and pages of picture stories, features and competitions. I'd sell my homemade comic to a friend for 5p, then claim it back and sell it again to someone else . . . they didn't have photocopiers back then!
     I went to Art College in Liverpool, then got a job as fiction editor on the fab and legendary Jackie magazine. Later, I married my boyfriend Liam, went back to college and trained to be an art teacher. I taught in a Coventry secondary school for a few years, which I loved, then moved to Scotland with Liam to start a family. My kids are 11 and 12 years old now, and the four of us live in a cottage in the Galloway hills with sheep and cows for neighbours. As well as writing books, I am the agony aunt on Shout magazine and a couple of days a week I teach art in a bunch of local primary schools, which is great fun and keeps me sane. (Well, maybe!)
     I love my family, I love living in the middle of nowhere and I love my work. Of all my jobs, writing has to be the best - it's the perfect excuse to daydream, after all!