Tag Archives: Hachette

The Heartstopper Yearbook – Alice Oseman

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Hachette

OCT 13, 2022 | 9781444968392 | RRP $32.99

When I saw the little piece today that Netflix has announced that Heartstopper Season 2 has wrapped up, I just knew it was the day to share this one! The graphic series that started as a slow burn 2 years ago or soon, with many of us recommending i,t has steadily gained a huge following but the Netflix series not only clinched its popularity but saw it skyrocket like nothing I’ve seen since the frenzy of HP years ago.

This is going to make the ultimate stocking stuffer for any tween or teen in your circle, as Alice Oseman takes her readers through the whole journey of Heartstopper, with profiles on characters (and even pets!), the artwork including ‘how to draw’ activities for fans, backstories and more.

While there is some room for an owner-reader to personalise the book, I don’t believe this precludes it from a library shelf as these pages are few. For the most part this a celebration of the phenomenon that is Heartstopper along with some very pertinent commentary on the Pride movement, diversity and acceptance for all. The allure of this series is that it is genuinely sweet and wholesome, and every kiddo I know who has read it is not only instantly hooked but dragging in their friends to get hold of it next.

It is beautifully presented in this hardback edition, and would make a marvellous gift at any time but perhaps especially for a Christmas surprise. If, like me, you’ve needed four copies of each volume in the series in your collection, you won’t want to miss out on getting this one.

Highly recommended for readers from around 12 upwards.

11 Words for Love – Randa Abdel-Fattah/Maxine Beneba Clarke

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Hachette

September 2022

Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books

ISBN: 9780734421203 

RRP: $24.99

In the Arabic language, there are over 50 words describing the degrees of love. That’s 50 stories, 50 life-worlds. This lyrical and heartwarming book takes you on a journey through 11 of these Arabic expressions for love

While this deceptively simple text focuses on the journey of an Arabic family seeking refuge, it is most definitely a book for all children, regardless of their family history or culture. Each Arabic expression (in Arabic symbols/script as well as words) is accompanied by a lyrical one-sentence definition and both are pinned against the backdrop of glorious double spreads full of life and indeed, love. Maxine’s illustrations are gloriously rendered in watercolour pencil and collage, and vibrantly reflect the liveliness of the child who is offering up the words of love.

The child’s family find friends in their new home, along with much joy with nature, pets, neighbours and school, although they do miss their old home and remember it with love as well.

In a world increasingly beset with ugly hate and conflict, we know we must continually reinforce empathy and compassion in our youngsters and, in my opinion, the most effective strategy in our toolbox is through quality literature which is thoughtful and sensitive. Sharing this book will provide a perfect entrée into rich discussions on refugees, migrants, different cultures and languages, kindnes, and ways to make people welcome.

It is a book full of hope as well as love and I would love to share this with children and have them create their own artworks with their depictions of love in its many forms.

Highly recommended for little people from Kinder upwards.

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures – Sami Bayley

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Hachette

September 2022

Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books

ISBN 9780734421364 

RRP $19.99

A delightful 1/2 class, at a local school which has a special focus on all things ‘ocean’, as it is located right on the very seafront, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the depths of the brine with Sami.

Dive on in and find out about each of the underwater zones and the weird, wonderful creatures who inhabit them, as well as how those creatures have adapted and evolved over time to suit their habitat.

We enjoyed so much rich discussion as we took our time over each double spread. Along the way we interrupted our reading to measure out just how long a giant oarfish is, and to see if we could flatten ourselves like flounders (which was a nice opportunity to talk about alliteration!) and to talk about what the children (and the school) are doing to help preserve the ocean on our doorstep.

The marvellous creatures are shown with great detail and each one is accompanied by neat facts, which add even more to the wealth of information being shared. It is, of course, quite difficult for little humans as young as these to grasp the concept of millions of years or indeed, thousands of metres down below the water’s surface but they can realise the scope and enormity of this part of our natural world.

This is another of Sami’s lavishly visual offerings with her trademark superior illustrations and I, for one, just love her self-representation right down to her distinctive hair and winged eyeliner!

Having stolen just half an hour or so to pore over this and seen the fascination exhibited by my audience, I would love the opportunity to incorporate this into a more extended learning experience.

HIghly recommended for readers from as young as 5 or 6 years old, and naturally, particularly useful if you are exploring a unit of inquiry focused on the Ocean.

Time of My Life – Myf Warhurst

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Hachette

September 2022

ISBN: 9780733649189

RRP $34.99

I have no doubt that anyone in my personal orbit will confirm that I am a dyed-in-the-wool, fully card-carrying aficionado – nay, devotee! – of Spicks and Specks. Not only would I not miss an episode when is was screening but I regularly watch repeats, specials, have the DVD of the play-at-home game – you get the picture. And by virtue of that, I am also a deadset fan of Myf – the little pocket rocket who might always look teeny next to Adam and Alan but is huge in her knowledge and chutzpah. Myf has always struck me as a kindred spirit (not least of all due to our propensity to a love of the more – let’s say – not so esoteric ‘hits’ in the music world. I can’t honestly say I see her ‘thing’ for Kenny Rogers but we definitely converge on certain points :-).

This absolutely delightful joy of a memoir has been my read over the past four nights. I love that each chapter is headed up by a particular ‘hit’ complete with record reference image. I do think Myf could have shared a few more photos – as there were so many moments in her recounts where I thought – Oh, I’d love to see that!

The anecdotes from Myf’s childhood and early career were so interesting and fun but I actually think, above all, it is her reflections since Covid – the never-ending Melbourne lockdown and more – that resonated most with me. I love that she sees herself as complete without a partner and that she’s got the gumption to get in and do stuff (read, renovations and so on) off her own bat. It took me a long time to get to that sort of point and nowhere near as young as Myf, so I totally admire her.

If you are a fan of bios/memoirs and enjoy reading those that are not full of doom and gloom (like I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that per se, and I’m certainly not making light of tough times in Myf’s life), do yourself a favour and pick this one up. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Agatha Christie: a Very Elusive Woman – Lucy Worsley

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Hachette Australia

September 2022

ISBN: 9781529303889 | RRP $34.99

If, as I am, you are are a fan of historian Lucy Worsley, either in her role as Chief Curator of Royal Historical Palaces and her numerous TV appearances, or in her other guise as a skilled writer of best-selling history books AND you are also an Agatha Christie devotee, you will be one of the many readers who will eagerly take up this newest of Lucy’s books.

I have read quite a bit about Dame Agatha over the years, though admittedly not for some time, but it seemed to me that this volume was in many ways a complete revelation as it peeled the quite complex layers of the woman and celebrity author.

There are clearly many well-known facts about Christie’s life: her mystery disappearance in 1926, her highly publicised marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan, her own experience working in a dispensary during the Great war which informed her writing of her first successful mystery novel and her record-breaking book sales and stage plays. However, there is so much more to discover about this truly remarkable woman and with her access to many personal letters and papers, Lucy Worsley has provided us with this depth of detail. In many ways an enigma, there is also an element of understanding to be had as one unravels the significant episodes in her life from her quite privileged childhood which subsequently disintegrated into near poverty, to her embrace of the modern world in the early 20th century including fast cars, surfing, and pyschology. Throughout her increasingly successful and high profile career, Agatha protested that she was simply a very ordinary ‘housewife’ – nothing could be further from the truth. Long before the celebrity mania modern society seems to indiscriminately bestow on people notorious for five minutes (and the plethora social media exposure etc) this was a woman whose face and work was not only known but highly respected. Despite her Victorian/Edwardian start to life, she became a beacon for women who aspired to a working career in the contemporary setting.

I read this at night over about two weeks, and was so completely entranced with it that I didn’t even ‘book cheat’ during that time *grin*!

I can highly recommend it to you, especially those of you with an interest in well-researched biographies and literary history. Definitely a 10/10 for this one!

The Dangerous Business of Being Trilby Moffat – Kate Temple

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Hachette

September 2022

ISBN: 9780734420909 

RRP: $16.99

Look inside

This is just utterly fantastic from first page to last. So good that I gobbled it up in just two sittings in fact. Why is it so dangerous being Trilby Misso you may wonder? Well, because she finds herself in a unique position – inheriting the singular role of Time Keeper.

A truly strange illness has befallen much of the general population, causing people to do some very bizaare things such as bake ancient cakes or speak dead languages, but it is when these give way to just continued and unceasing sleep that situations become dire. When Trilby’s mother becomes ill she knows it won’t be long before she will also become one of the never-ending sleepers so she decides that she and Trilby must seek out their only living relative, an elderly great-aunt of some kind. Whatever Trilby expected, it was not the incredibly ancient and eccentric Thumbelina, who lives in an intriguing antique shop, full of curiosities, at the edge of a lake which appears to more of an inland sea. And she certainly didn’t expect her lively aunt to just drop down dead and leave her in what turns out to be, a hugely overwhelming and dangerous role – that of Time Keeper on the very edge of Time.

As Trilby tries desperately to make sense of who, what and where she is, the situation becomes even more fraught and definitely more dangerous when the villain of the piece, the Night Manager, Mr Colin. Evil personified, and the relentless pursuer of Trilby, Mr Colin, has been thwarting the members of the Time Guild at every turn. Now that Thumbelina has passed the Time Keeper’s responsbilities to Trilby, he is determined to rid himself of what he thinks is merely an annoying young girl. Little does he know that Trilby is both resourceful and courageous.

The entire lively adventure is peppered with the author’s trademark humour and the completely off-the-wall interjections and asides are hilarious. Middle school readers are going to love it – for both the suspenseful adventure and the wacky wit – as well as the extremely nasty baddies.

Highly recommended for your kiddos from around Year 4 upwards.

Windswept & Interesting: my autobiography – Sir Billy Connolly

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Hachette Australia

OCT 12, 2021 | 9781529318265 | RRP $49.99

What an absolute privilege to be able to review this! I’ve been a fan for more years than I can remember and have eagerly watched his comedy, travel shows and documentaries as well as the books written by Pamela Stephenson. His own description of ‘windswept and interesting’ is one I’ve used often and many times in my own conversations – it really has, to my mind, become part of the vernacular.

One might think that after so much has been written and shared about hi, that the man himself would not have much more to add, but not so. Because aside from the recollections and anecdotes, it is Billy’s innate gleeful humour that lifts this beyond straight autobiography to become a literary stand-up delivery 🙂 and a laugh-out-loud reading experience.

What truly amazes me is that when one looks at the bald facts: losing his mother before he was 4, the crowded and haphazard tenement life in Glasgow and the terrible abuse from not just one by two members of his close family, it could be reasonably expected that this man would be one of these archetypal comics – morose, bitter, depressed. Not Billy. This is a man whose warmth, joy in life and generosity of spirit is so evident, that one cannot help but smile at the least but mostly guffaw as he rambles his way through his memories.

We find out much about his childhood, the good and the bad, his teens (and really, couldn’t such an upbringing easily result in a kid going off the rails?), and his start, in a working life, as a welder in the shipyard where he found, seemingly much to his own surprise, that he could make people laugh. It was his love of music, in particular the banjo, that provided his first entrée into entertainment though. His ability as a banjo player should not be under-estimated (and I’m extremely envious of my ex, who remembers going to see The Humblebums many years ago). Along the way in his early forays into performing, his patter became part of each show and, little by little, began to eclipse the musical side. In the mid 1970s his appearance on the Michael Parkinson show (anyone else remember that?) catapulted him from ‘cult hero’ to not only a national star but international as comedy shows, TV programs, documentaries and movie roles followed.

It took the dual diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson’s to slow down his incredible life as a performer of live shows, though TV and film work has continued, as has his art (a talented creator), fishing, farting and writing.

For those of you who are fans of the Big Yin, I don’t need to recommend it but for those who may not be (seriously? you’re kidding, right?) but enjoy to learn about the rise of someone from less than ideal beginnings to a much-respected, be-knighted (who’d ever have guessed that back in the start?) and dearly loved icon, I heartily give this my highest accolade: this is one review book that is remaining on my own shelves as I know it will give me the greatest pleasure to re-read it – and laugh aloud again as I do so.

Thursdays at Orange Blossom House – Sophie Green

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Hachette

JUL 28, 2021 | 9780733646126 | RRP $32.99

Sophie Green has once again crafted a beautiful and resonant narrative that will capture the hearts of readers, just as her first two books did, with its exploration of the ‘circle of women’ always so evident in her work and, to my mind, so very important to so many. Indeed, as we all face these uncertain and increasingly anxious circumstances which threaten to engulf us, there are many (and, of course, not just women) who are feeling increasingly isolated and Sophie’s books remind us that making connections, forging bonds and the solidarity of sisterhood are such vital concepts for us all.

There is so much to love about this. First for me, it’s set in Cairns. Ok, so I know that Cairns is not right next door to Redcliffe, but it is Queensland and I have at least been there several times – the first when I was six (all the way from Sydney). Secondly, it’s set in the ’90s and I love the preface to each new episodic time frame with the movie releases, top songs etc – very clever device that instantly takes all of us back to a moment in time.

So, it’s 1993 (which incidentally was the year I started teaching, mature-age graduate, in a little Queensland country town) and Grace Maud (always known by both names) has retired from cane farming and the farm established by her grandfather, having handed over the management to her son and daughter-in-law. She’s 74 and knows that it’s time to take that step back but the move into town and her feeling of isolation and creeping old age has her feeling very down. High school teacher Patricia has resigned herself to being the ‘bunny’ of her siblings, caring for her aging parents particularly her mother with dementia, having given up her dreams of travel and a more exciting life. In her early 40s and reckoned quite beautiful, Patricia has condemned herself to a solitary and resentful existence, alone and unappreciated. Youngest of the three is Dorothy, daughter of German immigrants who feels she has always taken a back seat as she has helped her parents with her profoundly deaf sister. Now she is married to a warm and loving German man and desperate to have a baby and the repeated disappointments and trauma are threatening to completely overwhelm her.

Each by some quirk of fate end up at Orange Blossom House where vivacious and exotic Sandrine teaches yoga each week. This in itself is quite the novelty for the time and place, given that most Cairns residents view yoga as the province of vegetarians and weirdos. But the quirky and lively Sandrine is far from a weirdo and her excellent teaching and, more importantly, her leading each woman to release the negativities they hold is a catalyst for the trio who over time bond with such tenderness and support that it is supremely engaging for the reader.

I have absolutely reveled in each one of Sophie’s books and this was no exception. That I read it over two nights is testament to my complete capitulation to her wonderful character driven narratives and the sense of connectedness I feel each time I read her books. I have already recommended verbally this to so many of my friends but now I’m fully endorsing it here.

Get hold of it!! And give yourself the pleasure for a few hours of an escape to the tropics and some thoroughly enjoyable company.

Backyard Birdies – Andy Geppert

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Hachette

JUL 28, 2021 | 9780734420695 | RRP $19.99

Imprint: Lothian Books

Well, you know, I’m a secret bird geek. I love spotting them. I take part in the annual backyard bird survey every year and, even going way way back to my first year of teaching, had my class keeping tally of the birds they saw in the backyards and on their properties. The bird gardens at Maleny are a favourite day trip. We throw our food scraps out onto the grass to feed the neighbourhood bin chickens and crows (mostly). So yes, all in all, a friend of the feathery ones…

And then this book arrived – and I laughed and laughed with the absolute hilarious joy of it. I pretty much expected that I was getting a serious little beginners’ book of bird identification albeit with cutesie illustrations. What I didn’t antipicate was this gloriously uproarious slant on the birds we might most expect to find in our backyards (and here I’m thinking Brisbane backyards as author/illustrator Andy also hails from Bris Vegas).

To whit (but not, in this case, to whoo):

This is a common pigeon. Common because it’s almost identical to every other pigeon.
You’ll sometimes see a white one. That’s because it’s just had a bath. I made that last bit up.

Other avian facts you will discover include:

Seagulls can’t talk.

They can only shout.

and

Kookaburras love hearing jokes from everyone except dads.

Even kookaburras know that dad jokes are terrible.

Along with the fascinating facts… and near-facts… are the delightful and quirky illustrations with each bird depicted next to a common (or dare I say, garden variety) plastic bucket for reference to size and a feather, ostensibly, sticky-taped to the page. Each bird is accompanied by a map for distribution and it’s scientific name so there is some semblance of real information *wink*. The glossary that concludes the book refers not so much words of scientific or technical definition as much as the more random ones chosen by the author.

Most of my friends know that I donate my review books regularly – to a variety of sources – but I found this so amusing and so well-suited to my own sense of humour that it is very likely destined to live on my own bookshelves.

Do not hang about – get thee to your bookseller immediately and order this one. You will definitely not regret it!

Highly recommended for your readers from around six years upwards – I can well picture having a lot of fun with junior classes!

The StrangeWorlds Travel Agency : The Edge of the Ocean Book #2 – L. D. Lapinski

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Hachette Australia

APR 13, 2021 | 9781510105959 | RRP $16.99

Now that Flick is officially a member of the StrangeWorlds Travel Agency, and with one exciting adventure already under her belt, in which she demonstrated some unexpected and remarkable powers, she and Jonathan Mercator are summoned to help another world. This time they are joined by Jonathan’s distant cousin, Avery, to whom Flick takes a strange instant dislike.

The urgent request for help has come from Queen Nyfe, who rules as a pirate chief over a motley crew of almost skeletal ships, in a world called The Break. This strange watery flat world is used to ships disappearing over the edge but in recent times, it’s become apparent that the world is breaking up and so the dangers have increased exponentially for Nyfe, her crew as well as the other mariners and the mer-people who also inhabit the once vast ocean.

Flick, Jonathan and Avery face more than just the pressure of saving The Break’s peoples. The various inhabitants are fighting amongst themselves and navigating the subterfuge on all sides is tricky indeed. Added to this is the shocking realisation that Jonathan’s lost father appears to be indeed dead and his grief renders him almost helpless in the struggle to work out how to transport ships, gigantic mer-people and pirates through a suitcase to a new and suitable world – even if they can actually find one that will fit the bill. And then there is the (to Flick’s mind, weird) way her feelings towards Avery and what seems to be a reciprocal feeling change as the quest unfolds.

Once again, this series delivers amazingly rich narrative with characters with whom readers will fall in love. I, for one, will eagerly anticipate the next instalment and your readers from around middle primary upwards will adore this new instalment.