Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Tag: Children’s fiction (Page 1 of 5)

Book Review: Fish Kid

Fish Kid series – Walker Books Australia –  Published 2019, 2020, 2021

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Synopsis

Faster than a speeding mullet … stronger than a bull shark … it’s Fish Kid!

Be sure to take a deep breath before you dive into this hilarious ocean-packed adventure.

My thoughts

Fish Kid is a delightful series, full of adventure and wonderful marine animals. A touch of the magical and illustrations alongside large text bring these adventures to life for young readers.

I was delighted by these books and found I couldn’t stop reading them, quickly working through all three books in the series.

Bodhi is the fish kid. In the first book on the series he gets some pretty cool powers that enable him to stay under water for a long time and swim super fast. He lives with his marine scientist father and nature photographer mother as they explore the oceans of the world. The first book is set in the waters off the Galápagos Islands. Despite his parents love of all things sea, Bodhi isn’t into swimming and do you know how many dangerous sea creature are out there? Lots. But when Bodhi discovers his new swimming abilities and has to use his skills to help save his new friend, and maybe even stop some poachers along the way. He quickly learns to love the ocean and all its wonderful creatures.

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Book Review: Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire

Once Upon A Dragon’s Fire – Beatrice Blue – Clarion Books – Published 2 March 2021

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Synopsis

How did dragons get their fire? It all began once upon a magical kingdom, where a fearsome dragon stalked the land. The dragon was mean and scary and evil, or so the stories said. One day, two brave children set out to stop him for good. But when they finally met the monster, he wasn’t quite what they expected . . .

Find out how two kids’ determination to save their village led to a friendship that will warm the hearts of dragon lovers everywhere in this gorgeously illustrated celebration of the magic of kindness.

My thoughts

A beautiful picture book about bravery and friendship, about the power of story and how changing the stories can change how we see and accept others.

Two children live in a cold village. Everyone in their town knows that the evil dragon is the reason for the cold. All the books tell the same story. When a particularly bad storm starts to build, Freya and Sylas set off to find the dragon and save their village. What they find is a surprise and their kindness and bravery might be what really saves their town.

This book has such a beautiful underpinning story of acceptance, but also of rewriting the story of acceptance and friendship. It points to the way so many of our stories and book spread the stories of evil, difference and strangeness. The two children in this book show that through kindness, bravery and being open to new stories, that we can learn the truth about others and become a far more accepting world.

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Book Review: What We’ll Build

What We’ll Build: Plans for our Together Future – Oliver Jeffers – Philomel Books – Published 6 October 2020

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Synopsis

What shall we build, you and I?
We’ll build a watch to keep our time.
I’ll build your future
and you’ll build mine.

Inspired by the birth of his daughter, and in the same vein as Here We Are, What We’ll Build is a rhythmic and heartwarming father and daughter story from the beloved Oliver Jeffers. Told in rhyming text with Oliver’s signature art, What We’ll Build is the perfect story to cherish together.

My thoughts

Oliver Jeffers can do no wrong when it comes to beautiful picture books. His latest offering is a companion book to Here We Are. Here We Are was written for his son, while What We’ll Build has been written for his daughter. She is the main character alongside Jeffers himself in the story.

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Book Review: Sandcastle

Sandcastle – Einat Tsarfati – Candlewick Press – Published 5 May 2020

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Synopsis

A young girl loves building sandcastles. But not just any sandcastles. She builds one so big and grand and lovely that all the royals of the world come to visit. There are banquets and balls and tournaments, a greenhouse for cacti, a staircase for skateboarding, and ice cream around the clock. Everyone seems to be having fun, until they discover sand in the royal almond strudel . . . and the fig milk bath . . . and everywhere! With a keen eye for the absurd, author-illustrator Einat Tsarfati invites readers beyond the crocodile moat to explore the intricately detailed, increasingly wild festivities that echo the arc of a day at the beach, from euphoria to gritty discomfort. The diverse cast of regal guests, from a Rapunzel-esque princess in pj’s and unicorn slippers to a pair of knights playing badminton, is just as inspired.

My thoughts

Sandcastle is a feast for the imagination. Our main character is a young girl, who while at the beach, builds a sandcastle. But it is not just any sandcastle. Her sandcastle is a castle, with hundreds of rooms and a kitchen that serves ice cream all the time. Kings and queens from around the world come to visit. But there are some problems with living in a castle made of sand, as the guests soon discover.

I love the cover of this book. Bright and colourful, the sandcastle has a rough texture that stands out from the rest of the smooth cover. It will be a shame to cover this library book.

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Book Review: The Crayons’ Christmas

The Crayons’ Christmas – Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers (illustrator) – Penguin Workshop – Published 15 October 2019

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Synopsis

‘Tis the season for all of us to write our holiday wishlists. But everyone–even the crayons–know the best presents are the ones that you give. In this unique book, readers get to see how Duncan, the crayons, and their families celebrate the holidays.

My thoughts

If you have read The Day The Crayons Quit and The Return of the Crayons you will know how utterly delightful these books are. The colours are bright, the illustrations fun and the stories lots of fun. There is now a whole collection of Crayon books, including a Valentines Day special, a book of colours and a book of numbers.

This book is perfect as a gift, but it also works as a library book – you’ll just have to keep an eye on the special things in the book pockets. If you or your little readers enjoy the Jolly Postman books, you’ll love this book. Each page has a pocket with something special inside. The pockets are very clever – some made to look like letters or parcels that have arrived and others with a very realistic photo of a box that some clever page design seems to pop from the page.

The format of letters to and from the crayons continues, with a few extra special surprises. There are old character who return, familiar reader favourites and some new characters to meet.

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Book Review: The Worrying Worries

The Worrying Worries – Rachel Rooney and Zehra Hicks (illustrator) – Affirm Press – Published September 2020

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Synopsis

Do you ever worry about your Worries?
They can be awful pests, and they hate to see you happy.
But if you follow some simple steps you can banish those worries for good!

My thoughts

The Worrying Worries is a wonderful story about what to do about those worries that seem to follow you around, the ones you just can’t shake.

The Worrying Worries is Rachel Rooney’s second similar picture book, following The Problem with Problems. Both are brightly illustrated by Zehra Hicks. I love how the illustrations resemble a child’s colourful drawings, especially the crayon circle worry creatures. This would be a great book to follow up with a craft and drawing activity, where students try to create their own similar illustrations.

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Book Review: The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon – Edwina Wyatt – Walker Books – Published 1 November 2019

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Synopsis

Magnolia Moon is very good at keeping secrets.

She knows just what to do with them, and has a way of talking to the jumpy ones to stop them causing trouble.

Which is why people are always leaning in and whispering:

“Can I tell you a secret?”

My thoughts

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon is a lyrical and whimsical story about growing up, becoming a big sister and dealing with secrets. Full of metaphors, repetitive sequences that bring a smile to your face and a writing style that uses lots of imagery, this feels like realistic fiction that borders on the fantastical, or at least magical realism.

Magnolia Moon is good at keeping secrets. She’s even better at knowing the exact right thing to do with a secret. In this book Magnolia must learn to let a friend go, start a new friendship and decide how she feels about welcoming a new baby into the house.

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Book Review: A Whale of the Wild

A Whale of the Wild – Rosanne Parry – Illustrated by Lindsay Moore – Greenwillow Books – Published 1 September 2020

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Synopsis

For Vega and her family, salmon is life. And Vega is learning to be a salmon finder, preparing for the day when she will be her family’s matriarch. But then she and her brother Deneb are separated from their pod when a devastating earthquake and tsunami render the seascape unrecognizable. Vega must use every skill she has to lead her brother back to their family. The young orcas face a shark attack, hunger, the deep ocean, and polluted waters on their journey. Will Vega become the leader she’s destined to be?

My thoughts

If you follow my blog or reviews you’ll notice that I cannot resist books about orcas. I love these amazing creatures. I hate their captivity. I have read about orcas from the perspective of scientists. I have read about orcas from the point of view of people who have worked with them in captivity. I have read about orcas from the work of researchers and historians, indigenous perspectives, artists and more. I have never read about orcas from the perspective of orcas themselves. Until now.

Vega is an orca, descendent of the wayfinding grandmother orca of her family. Vega knows that someday it will be her job to lead her family, to find food and follow the patterns and stories that have guided her family for many generations. But she doubts her right to lead, especially when decisions she makes puts her family or danger, or no matter how far they hunt, food is scarce. When she and her brother Deneb are separated from their family, Vega must do everything to protect him and find their way back to their family.

I give full credit to Rosanne Parry. She has done a fantastic job of not only researching orcas, but capturing their heart and soul. While we mere humans will never know the wonders of the orca mind and heart, I think, from what we know of orcas, Parry has expressed their love of family, their matriarchal society, the hurt, pain and grief from loss of family and food sources, their sense of fun and adventure and their amazing intelligence, especially emotional intelligence.

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Book Review: The January Stars

The January Stars – Kate Constable – Allen & Unwin – Published 31 March 2020

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Synopsis

When twelve-year old Clancy and her fourteen-year-old sister, Tash, visit their Pa at his aged-care facility, they have no idea that the three of them will soon set out on an intrepid adventure.

Along the way there are many challenges for Tash and Clancy to overcome and in the process, they discover their own resourcefulness and resilience and demonstrate their heartfelt love for their grandfather.

My thoughts

A delightful Australian middle-grade fiction, The January Stars combines a heist (sort of) with a magical (maybe?) journey across Melbourne, that results in a extraordinary story about family, listening and the stars.

When 12-year-old Clancy’s parents leave on an emergency family trip to New Zealand, she and her older sister Tash convince their parents they will be fine to stay with their aunt. But when their aunt also leaves on a trip, the girls find themselves alone. They decide to visit their grandfather in his aged-care facility and thanks to a slight incident with a cat, an open door, runaway residents and an angry nurse, the girls find themselves on the run with their Pa. The girls must pool their resources and shelve their constant fighting if they are going to outrun the growing amount of adults that seem to be chasing them, including an irate real estate agent and the police.

I was totally hooked by the idea of a story in which two young girls steal their grandfather from a nursing home. It was utterly delightful from start to finish. Clancy and Tash manage to accidentally break their Pa out and he couldn’t be happier. After suffering a stroke, Godfrey can’t speak much and relies on a wheelchair to get around but he is plenty able to communicate his happiness to run away with the girls. They start by visiting their old family home and venture from there as various adults challenge them.

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Book Review: We’re Stuck

We’re Stuck – Sue deGennaro – Scholastic Australia – Published 1 April 2019

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Synopsis

When Turtle races into the lift of Building 24, there is a nod and a blink and a step to the side. A grunt and a sigh and a lean to the right. But what happens when the lift stops moving?

Crocodile has a meeting to get to. And Giraffe has a doctors appointment. And Turtle really, really needs to get to the shop.

My thoughts

A beautiful story about community and connections in a busy, moving world. We’re Stuck forces its characters to stop and connect. Together, they must work through their problems and they discover they actually have everything they need. They also join forces to brighten someone else’s day.


Werestuck

Do you know your neighbours? Many of us, especially those living in crowded cities and multi-storey apartment buildings pass one another each day without stopping to say hello or share names or stories.

In We’re Stuck, one day, Turtle is racing to the lift. He has a very important list and he needs to get to the shops and back to his mum. In Building 24, the residents often meet in the lift. They shuffle and move over to let in Crocodile, who needs to get to a meeting, Giraffe who is on the way to the doctors, Lion is due for a haircut and Hippo needs to get the cafe open. But then, suddenly the lift stops. The residents of Building of 24 are STUCK! Much commotion ensues. They are busy and important people with important places to go to and people to meet. But Turtle sits quietly and sadly says it’s his birthday. The others in the lift quickly rally. Balloons made from rubber gloves and fishing line are stung and paper hats are made. But the group also discover that, if they work together, they can solve the others’ problems. Doctor Crocodile takes a look at Giraffe, and whale offers to cut Lion’s hair.

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