Tag Archives: Hardie Grant

Peace on Earth, good will toward all

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Emily Gravett: Meerkat Christmas

Whatever, and however you celebrate I wish you all safe and happy holidays, from me and The Kid. Many thanks to all who follow and bother to read my reviews – which are haphazardly posted at best – and I’m thrilled to see that this year the blog has had well over 10 000 views!!!! Wow!! 2023 marks a decade since I decided to start collating the reviews I was doing in one place ,and began Just So Stories, and there have been many, many changes in my life since then. It looks like my full-time teaching days are over but will still need to keep earning somehow for a while to support The Kid so new adventures await.

Not only do I want to thank you all but also the wonderful authors, illustrators, creators and of course the publicists at various publishing houses who let me play in their world. I have a couple of Christmas reviews to write up and post today, and then about twenty more to catch up on (!!) after the festivities are done.

I do hope your own celebrations are filled with joy – The Kid and I will be in our happy place for three days (very like Kev in that illustration!) and ours will be slow and salty.

So long Picture Book Month 2022

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Well it was a bit of a mammoth effort and one I haven’t undertaken for a few years but a new PB review posted each day of the month – whew!! Thanks for anyone who played along with me :-). Hope you discovered some treasures for your collections!! and of course, thanks to the publishers who are kind enough to let me read voraciously for them :-).

Now SO many others to catch up on – about 18 piled up from biographies to MG novels – lucky holidays are imminent!!

Plume [#3]: Festival Seeker -Tania McCartney

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Hardie Grant

October 2022

ISBN: 9781741177909

Publisher: Hardie Grant Explore

RRP: $26.99

My apologies for that delay between the fabulous interview with the lovely Tania and my promised review of the newest Plume title – released yesterday – but there was a rather inconvenient technical hitch.

Welcome back Plume! Our intrepid Antarctic traveller extraordinaire is taking readers on another worldwide adventure, this time exploring some of the world’s most colourful festivals, proving that life is not just black-and-white for all penguins!

Little Plume has many friends from many different countries – as one would expect for such a gregarious little fellow, and when he receives an invitation from his Scottish friend to join in a special event, he tries to tempt his penguin comrades to join him. Alas, they are still very set in their penguin ways but that doesn’t deter Plume. He and Ava, of the Albatross Express, spend a year travelling to various countries each month to celebrate with the locals and enjoy the colourful culture of each.

As with the previous Plume exploits there will be some names with which children connect. There will very likely be children who know of, or indeed celebrate, Diwali, Holi or even the Rio Carnival, but I daresay none (nor adults) who have heard of the Up Helly Aa festival from the Shetland Isles or the Boryeong Mud Festival in South Korea. The inclusion of Easter and Christmas helps even the youngest of readers to relate these lesser known celebrations to those they might encounter in their own lives as a matter of course.

Needless to say Plume’s penguin buddies remain quite obstinate in their reluctance to try anything new – well at least, until it comes to one particular festival that caters exactly to their tastes!

Once again, Tania’s exquisite rendering of sympathetic and engaging text matched with her superlative illustrations will not fail to engage your readers and, as with the earlier Plume books, this is one that sits perfectly not only on personal bookshelves but in classrooms to accompany curriculum units such as those which look at cultural events and festivals (Year 3 HASS) and diversity.

As always, Tania’s work really needs no recommendation, as its superiority speaks volumes for itself, but in any case, I give you my heartiest recommendation for children from Prep upwards (I recently shared Plume: Global Nibbler with a Year 6 and, rather as Plume would with lovely food, they gobbled it up with delight!).

Congratulations Tania on another beautiful creation, and I know I eagerly await Plume’s next outing.

Check out Tania’s Plume Book Birthday post over at Insta – it’s just the cutest!!!

Download Tania’s Plume Festival Seeker colouring page here

Plume [#2]: Global Nibbler – Tania McCartney

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May 2022

Hardie Grant, Hardie Grant Explore, RRP $26.99

ISBN: 9781741177671

My friends are all very aware of my penchant for penguins. Surely, they are one of the cutest creatures in the world? Although, if you have ever participated in the penguin spotting research via live stream, you will appreciate that the little darlings are very hard to distinguish one from another…but now there’s Plume.  And there can be absolutely no doubt at all that Plume is most charming and delightful penguin ever to waddle the pages of a book.

Tania McCartney has a genius for creating picture books that not only engage young readers with their narrative and exquisite illustrations but which also teach, whether about geography or history, people, or places. To my mind she has an absolute gift for her unique style of ‘travelogue’ books and children of my acquaintance return to these over and over, and with Plume she takes this virtual travelling experience to a whole new fun and entertaining level.

Plume made his first appearance as a global traveller in the first book World Explorer and readers fell in love with this quirky little citizen of Antarctica, who is just a bit different to all the other penguins with his love of very non-PC (Penguin Culture) activities such as sky-diving, knitting and cooking. It is Plume’s great interest in cooking that sparks his newest adventure.

The little gourmet with the distinctive yellow feather has tried in vain to interest his fellow penguins in trying out new taste sensations as he savours his latest online purchases gathered from around the globe. Seemingly, his mates are far too set in their plain fishy ways so Plume conceives of an idea to tempt them.

Enlisting the assistance of the lovely Ava, from Albatross Express, after her super suggestion that he should host cooking lessons, Plume takes off for a round-the-world gastronomic experience that is bound to set your tastebuds tingling. From Japan to Italy, Iran to Mexico, Morocco to Sweden, Plume and Ava sample and savour tastes and treats. Some of these your little readers will know such as tacos or kebabs but others will be new words and dishes to roll around their tongues: torshi, kanelbulle, fika, meskouta or flautas are just a few.

As always, Tania’s illustrations are simply divine, and her characters completely charming, especially their facial expressions. Throughout her fun with wordplay, onomatopoeia and descriptive language will provide much rich and fruitful discussion. And – oh my goodness! – the gorgeous endpapers, frontispiece and the scrumptious textured cover elevate this to a work of real art.

I cannot wait to share this with some hungry little readers and would love to follow it up with a virtual trip around the world, concluding with a feast – of course!

This will easily be incorporated into a teaching program focused on geography or cultural awareness but makes for such a superb personal reading time share as well. I would highly recommend anyone to add Plume to their collection for readers as young as Prep right up to later primary, and I am definitely looking forward to Plume’s next adventure.

Bon appetit!

Stay tuned for Plume: Festival Seeker, out 5 October 2022 in Australia/New Zealand.