Monthly Archives: December 2018

Ho! Ho! Ho! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake – Hazel Edwards/Deborah Niland




Penguin Australia


October 1, 2018

Picture Puffin

RRP $19.99

For almost forty years the Hippopotamus has entertained children with its antics and now there’s a super new Christmas book to kick off another generation of young fans.

The family of the house in question are busy preparing for Christmas with many activities with which young readers will readily identify – decorating, baking, dancing and general frivolity. All the while the Hippopotamus continues its own preparations – with a few mishaps such as sitting on its Xmas tree inadvertently!

Watch little eyes light up as they explore the details of each illustration and enjoy the chortles of the Hippo’s Christmas. And they will just love the Hippo’s sparkly appearance on the front cover!

Hazel Edwards and Deborah Niland have given Australian children (and adults) an iconic character who has provided all with some memorable adventures over the years. Let’s hope they continue to do so for many more to come!

Highly recommended for little readers from around 2 years upwards!

Harry Potter – Creatures: a paper scene book




November 2018

ISBN: 9781526605849
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP:  $45.00

It is quite difficult to describe this book – except of course to say I’m in love with it and being the dedicated Potterhead that I am it’s NOT leaving my shelves!

However I will attempt to convey the sheer delight of it by saying that if you think of something very visual in the books – let’s say the dragons in the forest – you will find a magical 3D paper image of that scene followed by a glorious double spread with loads of information about these amazing animals. Others you will relish are the The Black Lake, the Forbidden Forest and Dark Creatures.

Rather than try to elaborate further take a look at this clip and you will soon get the idea –and the glory of it 😊

Naturally I cannot recommend this highly enough for your own HP devotee…….it’s brilliant!

Illustrated Ballet Stories: by Various, illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert Nanos



Harper Collins Australia

November 2018

ISBN: 9781474922050

ISBN 10: 1474922058

Imprint: Usborne – GB

RRP: $29.99

When I was pretty small – probably around my 6th birthday I was given the very beautiful The Splendour Book of Ballet and loved it. I was a little dancer but it was more than that. It was the beautiful narratives and the gorgeous illustrations which made me re-read it over and over. I still have it along with other treasured books and so, I found out quite recently, do many of my contemporaries.


So I hope that any young dancer who might receive this beautiful edition of ballet stories might also glean as much pleasure as I and my friends did. Twelve classic ballets including Giselle, Coppelia, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and The Firebird are included, each stunningly illustrated and retold in a more contemporary style than such as my book, but still delightful.

As we always expect from Usborne, this a gorgeously presented book with its silvered highlights on the cover foretelling the beauty within.

If you have a dancer in your circle, or indeed, those who are keen in the library and borrow every dance book, this would be a welcome addition to any collection

Have a look at it in this clip……





How to Raise Your Grown Ups (Hubert Horatio #1) – Lauren Child



Harper Collins

October 2018

ISBN: 9780008264086

ISBN 10: 0008264082

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

RRP:  $19.99


Sometimes I surprise myself. When I started reading this two nights ago I got halfway through and thought how enjoyable it is and that it reminds me so much of the marvellous Ronald Searle and his Nigel Molesworth books (albeit with far less anarchy), which I absolutely adored as a kid. Then lo and behold I finish the book last night and find two pages where Lauren Child thanks the friend who introduced her to the aforementioned and how they inspired the style of the book!

Hubert Horatio is one of the most highly intelligent children you will ever come across. He is also extremely gifted in many skills (let’s ignore such as tree-climbing and ikebana) but he is not in the least precocious. He is well-mannered, thoughtful, caring and above all, responsible which is extremely fortunate because his fabulously wealthy parents are complete twits who wouldn’t know responsible behaviour if they fell over it.

This first in the series comprehensively introduces us not only to HH but his extended family (on both sides) and also his secret place –the almost vacant lot next door where he is building a magnificent tree-house and having currant bun fights with his nemesis. But disaster is about to befall – the long-standing ‘For Sale’ sign on the collapsed house and yard has been replaced with a bold ‘Sold’. What will happen to Horatio’s special place now? Especially as he not yet save the wherewithal to buy the place himself – drama could be in store!

This is great fun and beautifully presented with, of course Lauren Child’s distinctive illustrations – busy woman!

Highly recommended for readers from around seven years upwards.


Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill – Heather L. Montgomery




November 2018

ISBN 9781681199009
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books


RRP: $22.99

Yep, you did read that title correctly! It’s not for the ‘squeamish or faint-hearted) but it is completely and utterly engrossing (haha grossing!) and often rather humorous. Wildlife researcher Montgomery passes a tyre-treaded rattlesnake as she is jogging one day and on the impulse of all good scientists – why?-  goes back to pick it up so that she can investigate the mystery of how rattlers can retract their fangs without biting themselves.

After dissecting that first snake and satisfying some of her curiosity about these remarkable animals and, indeed, finding out more than she had ever known, Montgomery sets off on a ‘roadkill’ journey. She met with researchers and collectors, she helped with dissections and examinations, she found out there is a wide, wide world of biologists who are just as interested in dead animals as live ones.

These are the folks who are helping save animals from diseases and impacts from introduced species and human activity.  There is the scientist who identified a new species of bird just from one wing, a boy who rebuilds animals from the bones up, the researchers trying to find a cure for the cancer that is threatening the Tasmanian Devils and more.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste but I’m pretty sure that will only apply to adults. I think there will be many readers both boys and girls who will not only appreciate the science of it but the gruesome-ness and the irreverence.

Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbit




December 2018



Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $16.99

In 1975 Tuck Everlasting was first published to great acclaim garnering accolades and awards. It has since been twice adapted to film and once to stage, and been voted repeatedly as being amongst the top 100 children’s books. Particularly, I would say from my observation it is a very much-loved and oft read book with American children. That, of course, does not preclude the readership of Australian kids but it seems to me that very often it has been a book on American school reading lists.

That could be about to change with this beautifully presented gift edition with a cover that demands for the book to be picked up, perused and savoured. (Oh my gosh the gold on that cover!)

Winnie Foster is determined to run away from the strictness of her home life and escapes into the family wood early one morning, where she sees a handsome young man drinking from a hidden spring. When she asks for a drink as well there is instant agitation and shortly thereafter the boy’s mother and brother also appear whereupon Winnie is whisked away into the chaotic but cozy home of the Tucks. It seems that the hidden spring is magical and bestows immortal life and it is not just Winnie who is intrigued by this revelation. The group has been followed by a sinister man in a yellow suit, who is revealed to be a villain of the first order intent on selling the magical water to the highest bidders. The drama that follows puts the Tucks in great danger particularly Mae (Mrs) Tuck but Winnie is determined to save her new friends.

By the end of the narrative not only are the Tucks safe and doomed to continue their unending existences but Winnie understands the inherent dangers of true immortality.

It is a beautiful and pensive story which requires some serious reflection and leads to many productive discussions about the concept of immortal life and also ‘being careful what you wish for’.

Astute and thoughtful readers from around ten years upwards would truly enjoy this wonderful book.

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Provence (The Girl, the Dog and the Writer, Book 2) – Katrina Nannestad



Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780733338182

ISBN 10: 0733338186

Imprint: ABC Books – AU

October 2018

RRP: 16.99 AUD

Young Freja, sensitive and intelligent, along with the hairy hound Finnegan and eccentric crime writer Tobby have left Rome to go to the picturesque village of Claviers in Provence, where it just happens their beautiful friend Vivi has also moved to further her pastry-making career.

Freja discovers that not only can she make friends of the grown-up variety but that she can also have the happy companionship of other children – precocious little Pippin, the twins Cossette and Edith and Christophe, the perpetually hungry would-be priest.  Altogether it is an idyllic time, although Freja still misses her mother Clementine so much, until that is a spate of nasty crimes begins to cause grief for many of the villagers.  As Freja determines to uncover the villain of the piece, she not only longs to see her mother but also begins to seriously wonder about her relationship to Tobby. Is her uncle? Could he be her father? It is all quite a muddle and though there are some clues (as Freja perceives them) not quite enough to draw a conclusion.

I just love this series. It is so fresh and original and feel-good. Of course visiting such beautiful places vicariously is also a plus! But reading these reminds me of my favourite chai from my lovely coffee shop. First there is the delicious light froth, both sweet and spicy simultaneously followed by the warmth of the milk, satisfying and leaving one with a feeling of well-being. The stories are funny and often ridiculous with Tobby’s antics but permeating them is the wonder of love, friendship, trust, discovery and happiness.

No wonder the first was a best-seller! Readers will eagerly pounce on this one as well and will all, as I will, be waiting for the next episode in Lucerne, where we will learn more about Clementine’s illness and perhaps the kinship between Freja, her mother and Tobby.

In the meantime I highly recommend a sojourn in beautiful Provence for readers from around eight years upwards.

Mary Poppins –  P. L. Travers. Illustrated by Lauren Child



Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780008289362

ISBN 10: 0008289360

November 2018

List Price: 39.99 AUD

On a similar note to the previous post about re-invigorating classics for today’s children, what about this absolutely stunning edition of Mary Poppins which will tie in beautifully with the upcoming movie.


Lauren Child’s instantly recognisable style gives this glorious and magical story exactly the right lift needed to engage today’s readers. The story endures of course, as is witnessed by the large number of children who love the original movie, but to read it themselves with the joy of these lively drawings will make it practically perfect in every way. And it is astonishing to realise just how long ago the first book was published – 1934!! – with the last in the series released in 1988.


It is one of those glamorous quarto sized books which seem even more special as a gift and naturally with Christmas coming up it would delight any child receiving it as a present.


For us Queenslanders, who can claim Pamela Travers (born Helen Lyndon Goff) as our very own, this is even more special and with both the new movie plus the recent Saving Mr Banks interest in this extraordinary woman has been renewed.


What more is there to say about such a superb book? My copy has gone to a very special little girl whom I hope will treasure it and love its world of magic.


Highly recommended for all who want their children to grow up with a sense of true magic.


Just So Stories for Little Children: Rudyard Kipling’s stories retold. Illustrated by John Joven.



Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781474938051

ISBN 10: 1474938051

Imprint: Usborne – GB

October 2019

RRP $24.99

Astute readers of this blog may have suspected that I have affection for the writing of Rudyard Kipling – yes, very old-fashioned I know – but it is what it is.

Therefore I was rather delighted to have this lovely new revamp of his stories arrive and to note that they are intended for younger children. The simplified narrative and colourful illustrations will be well-received by little people, who are invariably very engaged with animal stories.

This collection presents six of Kipling’s best: How the Camel got his HumpHow the Whale got his ThroatHow the Elephant got his TrunkHow the Rhino got his SkinHow the Leopard got his Spots and Why the Kangaroo Jumps.

The pages are alive with the simplistically styled illustrations with minimal text on each, allowing for plenty of perusal time for little ones as each story unfolds. With loads of onomatopoeia there will also be much fun to be had with joining in a read-aloud. I love that the various writers have retained Kipling’s device of authorial intrusion speaking directly to the ‘dear reader’ (albeit in different terminology to those he used himself).

All in all, it is always wonderful to see timeless classic stories being introduced to contemporary children with modifications that appeal to today’s child without losing any of the flavour of the originals.

I can highly recommend this to you for either your Junior shelves or your own.


Wakestone Hall (Stella Montgomery #3) – Judith Rossell



Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780733338205

ISBN 10: 0733338208

Imprint: ABC Books – AU

On Sale: 22/10/2018

List Price: 24.99 AUD


I’m so very sad – not because the book was disappointing you understand but because I am going to miss Stella a lot *sad face*. I suspect I won’t be the only one. I know many young, and not so young, readers who have followed Stella’s journey avidly.

From book one we’ve watched as Stella has grown from a sad and beleaguered young orphan rigidly ruled over by the ‘aunts’ to a brave girl discovering her own story – one that is filled with love and magic and the support of friends.

Now the aunts have packed her off to Wakestone Hall, their old school (and her mother’s) which is cheerless and inhospitable and where it is expected her wilful disobedience will be curtailed. Little do they know that Stella will bond with two other abandoned girls and, ignoring such stupidity as cruel rules, together they will squash a nasty plot and thwart some dark magical forces. For Stella, it will lead to so much more but that would be telling.

More than anything, Stella – like everyone else – wants to belong, to a family, to ones who love her for herself and it is through her own daring that she finds her heart’s desire.

Thank you Judith Rossell for the pleasure of Stella. It has been a little harrowing at times but all is well with her world – and that’s what we wanted.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.