This book has stolen my heart! I enjoyed reading it so much.
I loved it on the first read, when I was captivated by the friendship, humour and exciting world filled with unknowns that I just wanted to know.
I loved it on the second read, as I discovered some of the tricks author Rhiannon Williams used to make it so super-duper awesomesauce.
YES! And then!
AND THEN!!!! I went out and bought it because my library only had an e-book and I love paper books. And I loved it on the third read with its beautiful cover and fabulous messages for kids.
‘Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt’ by Rhiannon Williams is a delight for middle-grade readers. It won the Ampersand Prize. I can see why. If I’d been judging, I would have hugged the manuscript after I’d finished it.
(I may have hugged the book) (I do that sometimes)
Why did I enjoy so much?
Because it has action and suspense and camaraderie with this deep underlying theme of challenging gender stereotyping and being true to who you are.
AND I enjoyed it because I felt like I was in safe hands with the author – the reason why came apparent in my second read because Williams follows a pretty standard structure for the book. This isn’t a bad thing at all – it’s standard because it works for the reader, keeps them hooked and reading to the end.
So, a quick summary (and careful if you haven’t read it, because I can’t explain without a few spoilers!!): Continue reading
If you, like me, have a voracious young reader who loves learning, then you probably also love it when you find a series you can trust to entertain your child and feed their love of knowledge. Educational books don’t need to be non-fiction, sometimes when the facts are hidden by the fun children learn even more!
Here are three of my favourite Junior Fiction series for making those synapses spark…
- The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta
- Juliet Nearly a Vet
- Sage Cookson Continue reading
I’ve been writing and editing these last few months, but now I’ve freed up some time to cover some of the awesome reads I’ve enjoyed recently.
Let’s start with ‘A Semi-definitive List of Worst Nightmares’ by Krystal Sutherland, which has such a fab cover and takes out my personal award for one of the best titles EVER, as well as picking up a CBCA Notables sticker.
This is clever writing, FUNNY writing – I absolutely devour books with humour! I love laughing to myself in the middle of the night. I love finishing a book and feeling empowered and happy and like I want to read the whole thing again.
What’s more awesome than your kid not wanting to go to sleep because they’re reading a great book?
Having them wake up the next morning and keep reading! And almost be late for school because they love the book so much! And then talk about it all the way to school!
‘Olivia’s Secret Scribbles: My New Best Friend’ by Meredith Costain and Danielle McDonald is the first “big kid” book my daughter read by herself, cover to cover. In less than 24 hours, too.
That’s not reading, people, that’s devouring.
So, what was so inviting in this book?
- Easy to read font with lots of enticing illustrations
- A couple of mysteries to solve
- Some hidden lessons
I used to work up in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Red dirt, indomitable spinifex and awe-inspiring mountain ranges.
I’m miffed that I never got to experience a cyclone, though. (‘You don’t want to,’ said everyone who ever had.) Still, I would’ve loved to really feel WHY. The wind and the pressure and the bunkering down…
Now, thanks to modern storytelling, I’m halfway there :). ‘Cyclones and Shadows’ is a collection of four fab stories all based around the north of Australia, including one in a cyclone.
I’m in love with them all. I’d love a Shadow of my very own!
And his mango tree too, please!
What made me grin reading this book?
These stories, by Laura Dudgeon, Pat Dudgeon, Sabrina Dudgeon-Swift and Darlene Oxenham, are full of humour, empathy, insight and adventure. There are strong female main characters, zero gender stereotypes (when was the last time you read about a girl fixing up a car in Junior Fiction? Yeah, I thought so…), and vibrant themes of family and friendship. Continue reading
When you’ve shimmied through as many windows as I have, you develop a strong appreciation for why doors were invented. This one’s a prime example. Clearly not designed for ease of entry.
To be honest, I’m kind of wedged.
My butt is stuck out in no-man’s-land, legs dangling Humpty-style. It’s starting to rain back there. If this wasn’t so serious it’d be funny. If it was funny I could laugh. If I laughed it might just help me wriggle all the way through.
I brace my arms against the chill inner wall, empty my lungs, and push. Eyes bulge with pressure, fabric rips, then I slither headfirst to the floor with a boom that resounds through the whole damn place. I hate floorboards.
As I groan to my feet lights are appearing out in the hallway, voices raised and alert. But there’s no way I’m heading back out that curse of a window.
No. I’m going to get what I came here for.
Because it’s fun (and seriously, who needs a better reason?) I’ve instigated a Fiction Friday post, where I pop up something short and (not always) sweet from my recent writing efforts.
This one is from the #scbwiwestchallenge, which encourages us SCBWI West Aussies to #createeveryday. The prompt for this piece was ‘window’.
Check out Instagram to see other creations of awesome from myself and SCBWI Aus West!
When you hear of a children’s book exploding onto the scene like those whizz-bang fireworks that keep on sparkling (complete with everyone going ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’) what you absolutely want to find out is HOW DID THEY DO IT?
‘Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow’ by Jessica Townsend is one such delightful explosion. It’s surrounded by stories of bidding wars and movie rights that make me happy-sigh, because stuff like that is still possible, and books are still awesome and kids still love reading, and more will love it after reading this book.
And that’s all awesome!
So, how did Townsend do it?
What is so delightfully scrumptious about her book?
- A huggable world you get immersed in
- The laughs and clever whimsy
- The intricate extras in the story.
Hello beautiful cover. I think I’ll read you…
It started with the gorgeous cover, but this is a clever and crisp novel that followed through on expectations. ‘These Broken Stars’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner was a fab accompaniment to a great holiday.
And it only got better on my second read, because it was so crafty I didn’t notice some of the cool things the authors were weaving into it until I started analysing.
‘These Broken Stars’ is the first in the successful The Starbound Trilogy. We have society girl, Lilac, and low-born army hero Tarver. Sparks fly, their spaceship fails to, and they find themselves stranded together on a planet with too many mysteries.
I loved the clues and suspense, and the gentle beauty that came from two people hiking and learning about themselves as they went. I also love hiking, but I don’t think that’s a prerequisite to enjoying this fab book.
So, what was great about it?
Let’s do some deconstruction… and beware the occasional (read: frequent) blatant spoiler… Here are three areas I’m going to focus on for this novel.
- Multiple plot themes = ongoing interest
- Characters and POV (I know, I sound like a broken record…)
- Subtle introduction of ideas so you don’t even notice you’re noticing them
When I finished reading this book, I hugged it. Arms. Book. Chest. Smile.
‘Take Three Girls’ by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood is a raw and sometimes confronting book that is also funny, heartfelt and inspiring.
The friendship is fab, the character arcs super, the characters themselves so realistic. I ache for them, I cheer for them, I worry for them.
The book is chock-full of positive ways for teens (especially girls) to learn to feel good about who they are, but without that terrible feeling you’re getting a super-side-serve of preaching with your fiction. It’s simply a beautifully masterful, exciting and enlightening book.
I find I don’t want to dissect ‘Take Three Girls’ like I normally would.
No. I want to hug it.
I think it’s because I’m now a teacher, and I’ve seen both ends of these character arcs, and that’s why this book hit me so deep. I’ve seen the terrible sadness and missed opportunity of kids who can only deal with hate by hating on others. A dreadful spiral.
‘Dragonkeeper’ p 264… made by me using pablo
This super book has won heaps of awards and admirers since it was published. ‘Dragonkeeper’ by Carole Wilkinson is the first in a series that splices history and fantasy.
I enjoyed this book on many levels. It is intricate, reserved, rich, and beautiful.
And I had to chuckle at Ping’s utter belief that there is no need for bathing more that once every summer or so…