Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Book with No Pictures – B. J. Novak



Penguin Australia


Format: Hardback, 48 pages

price: AUD $19.99



Publisher: Penguin UK

Imprint: Puffin

Well, you all know it goes. You hear so much hype about a book (or a movie, or a theatrical show blah blah blah) that you almost convince yourself that either you won’t like it or it will be completely lame.

And, to be honest, that’s pretty much how it was with this book. I’d had posts on FaceBook and seen comments in email lists but it was all so full on that I kind of let it wash over me.

Then I got this in the post last week to review. Read it – hmmmm, laughing to myself – that was unexpected. Tonight, I read it to Small who giggled so much I was a little concerned she would give herself indigestion.

This is a very clever though seemingly simple book. Hands up, all of you who love to read aloud – with expression, with verve, with silly voices, with laughter – with engagement.  You will not…cannot go wrong with this one.

I believe this read-aloud is not confined to younger children. I think I could read this to Upper Primary and have them still get the giggles.

I have a favourite fridge magnet (friends stand and ‘read’ my fridge because of the magnets)……it say’s ‘Take time every day to be silly’. This book will prove the easiest way to be silly ever and the kids with whom you share it will relish every single bit of kookiness.

If you have not yet encountered it – do yourself a favour – and most definitely put it on your shelves, in the library or at home, for children and those who relish humour, from around 4 upwards.

See for yourself here

Five Children on the Western Front – Kate Saunders



Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9780571310951
Australian Pub.: November 2014
Publisher: Faber
Imprint: Faber Child Trade
Subject: Children’s fiction
Suitable for ages: 9-12

If you, like me, love E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It stories, then this new book will thoroughly delight you.

Time has passed and the children are grown up – well the four ‘Bigguns’ are grown up. Lamb is no longer the baby of the family. Little sister Edie takes on that role.  To their great surprise, Lamb and Edie discover the Psammead in the gravel pit at the bottom of their garden and realise that all the marvellous stories told to them by the Bigguns are true!

No one, least of all It, knows why or how he has reappeared but as the Great War begins its dreadful havoc, both the older and younger Pembertons begin to see that the return of the Psammead has been for real purpose for themselves and for the strange magical sand fairy.

Beautifully written and echoing the style of the originals, retaining their flavour of time and place but still extremely appealing to modern readers, this novel would make a fine addition to your collection for the upcoming centenary commemoration of the ANZACs. It is both humorous and poignant, and while there are certainly tragic events they are couched in such a way that readers will not be left distraught. Young readers will gain a deeper understanding of what the Great War was like, not just for soldiers but for those who were nursing or working in other capacities, as well as for children and family at home.

Your more adventurous readers of around 12-14 looking for something different will enjoy this.

Highly recommended for your collection.

RealReads: All Quiet on the Western Front & The 39 Steps


I am not sure how others may be using these retold classics from RealReads but they have now published dozens of titles across a wide range of authors and genres, and have sales in excess of 280,000 in many different countries.

There is certainly an argument that these condensed retellings with their illustrations, notes and additional information could well engage readers of lower ability to begin exploring classic stories. To my mind they resemble basal readers for older children in both appearance and appeal and for that reason I am doubtful as to their potential for firing imaginations or encouraging readers to go further.

John Buchan’s thrilling adventure was one of the first of its genre I read as a very young teen many years ago (and then of course followed up by the wonderful movie with Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll) and I loved it for its intrigue and excitement. Reading this version it seemed all the life had been sucked out of it but for a newcomer perhaps it would suffice. If you have English staff looking for alternatives for struggling students, these could well be the answer.Available in Australia via Tom Danby at INT books.


The 39 Steps

by John Buchan

Retold by Tony Evans

Illustrated by Sarah Wimperis

ISBN 978-1-906230-67-8


All Quiet on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

Retold by Tony Evans

Illustrated by Sarah Wimperis

ISBN 978-1-906230-66-1



Can you help Wondai State School – children’s book fire appeal



WondaiSSfire Photo credit

Over the recent school holidays, Wondai State School, in South Burnett, Queensland, lost their entire library in a fire.

The fire on January 10 devastated the library that had been one of the school’s major projects and the focus of fundraising efforts by the P&C.

Wondai State School principal Ruth Miller said it was a scene of “total devastation.  I got there in the middle of the night. It was just horrible. Nothing could be done,” she said.

The library was a much loved resource to students and teachers alike.

Wondai is a small town, in between Kingaroy and Gympie, with only 2000 residents. It is located on the Bunya Highway approximately 230kilometres north-west of Brisbane.

BooksTo help them start the school year they are asking for donations of childrens books that are in good condition. Any books you can spare will be gratefully accepted. They can be…

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