Hi there! Welcome to the first round up of Children’s books for 2014. Since the beginning of the year there’s been five books for younger readers reviewed – taking us from Cherry Tree Lane, to a weird and wonderful museum, and through to 19th Century Sydney.
Sean the Bookonaut kicked us off with a review of Mary Poppins by PL Travers. He points out that there’s some noticeable differences between the well-known movie and the book on which it was based, finding the novel to be more like a collection of short stories. He also found some differences with Mary herself:
I found the Mary of the novel more enigmatic, than anything. She is stern and cross at times and uses withering stares that had the misfortune of making me think of Julie Bishop. She is also a little vain, as Travers mentions her stopping a number of times to admire herself and her clothing in shop windows.
Helen at High Fantasy Addict knew she had to read Kin Seeker (by N.R. Eccles-Smith) when she discovered that the main protagonist was a dragon. She discovered that Kin Seeker was a tale that was part mystery, part quest with a developed world and language – creating a read which can be enjoyed by all ages.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy (by Karen Foxlee) was highly recommended by Shannon from Giraffe Days who was struck by the rich imagination and detail of the book. It’s the story of Ophelia, who comes across a strange boy while exploring the museum her father is working at. Shannon was particularly impressed with Foxlee’s writing, noting that
Any apparent plot holes – a never-ending winter somehow sustaining a human population, never mind the trees, is hardly believable – simply don’t get in the way of the story. Such is the strength of Foxlee’s writing, that it all comes together and works, much like a fairy tale still carries the strength of its own conviction despite the fact that the details don’t really make sense.
I reviewed the other two books for young readers as part of my attempt to read (or reread) ‘classic’ Australian books. I started with The Min Min by Mavis Thorpe Clarke, a much loved book from my childhood, which turned out to be bleaker and have more themes of gender and growing up than I remembered. I then turned to Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park, which I hadn’t read until now. I discovered a book which mixed genres beautifully, while bringing many rich characters to life – I thoroughly understand why it is so beloved by so many people.
We really do have a treasure of wonderful children’s books – classic, modern and in-between – written by Australian women. It’s worth picking up an old favourite to see if it reads differently through adult eyes, or checking out some of the wonderful new books our younger readers get to enjoy today. I really look forward to returning in April with lots of new children’s book reviews to round up!
I’ve had a strong interest in children’s fiction since Grade 1 when a fabulous teacher bribed me with Famous Five novels. I continued reading children’s and YA books long after I was supposed to ‘grow up’ – something which served me very well when I became a teacher and was known all over the school as ‘the teacher with the books’. I’m currently on maternity leave, enjoying the rich world of picture books with my toddler and sporadically blogging over at Adventures of a Subversive Reader