In the lead up to Book Week next week, I was thrilled to see so many fabulous Children’s books reviewed over the past two months. I’m going to try my very best to highlight all the fabulous books and thoughtful reviews, so let’s jump straight into it!
A lot of our reviews are of books which were shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards. There were two reviews for Trace Balla’s Rivertime, the story of a boy and his uncle on a kayaking journey. Brona found herself pulled into ‘rivertime’ as she read it, slowing down to take in all the details:
“Balla has infused the story with respect. From the relationships of the main characters with each other, to respect for the environment and the local Indigenous tribes. This is a book full of heart and wonder and care.”
Louise also thoroughly enjoyed this book, calling it “a gentle meandering of a story about taking time to notice the beauty of the world around us.”
Louise also looked at CBCA shortlistee My Two Blankets written by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood, which she describes as a “wonderful, gentle exploration of the refugee experience”, and Brona examined Scary Night by Lesley Gibbes, described as “a wonderfully creepy tale with just the right amount of scare factor for 3-6 year olds.”
Moving away from the picture books, Lisa reviewed Figgy in the World by Tamsin Janu about a girl living in Ghana who is determined to get to the USA to get medicine for her sick Grandma:
“The voice of Figgy captured me from page 1. She was a delightful character to read with such an innocent and wonderfully fresh outlook on the world. Figgy, who is the only Figgy in her village in Ghana, or the World she thinks, heads off with her beloved goat Kwame to make her way to the United States of America for medicine for her Grandma Ama. It doesn’t even occur to her that she can’t do it. Figgy wants to go to the United States to help her Grandma – so she sets out to do it!”
Moving away from the CBCA awards, Jess brought us a review of Just the Way We Are by Jessica Shirvington, a book which reinforces that all families are ‘normal’ no matter how they’re put together. Jess points out that many easily available children’s books are focused around Anglo-Saxon children in a ‘nuclear-family’ mould, where this book moves into exploring families and homes which are more diverse.
“As a whole I really loved this picture book and the message it brings to young children who are unaware of the world, and often family dynamics, outside of their own immediate family. It’s a happy, encouraging, friendly look at society that both showcases and praises the unique qualities and diversities of all different types of families.”
Glaiza shares one of her favourite books from her childhood, Who am I? The Diary of Mary Talence by Anita Heiss. This book was a treasured possession when she was younger, both as one of the few books she owned and as one of the few books which she really identified with. It’s Glaiza’s hope that more children discover this book, to explore part of our history and to embrace books which bring us diverse characters and stories.
Finally there’s another review from Louise: Coco Banjo is Having a Yay Day by N.J. Gemmell. Coco Banjo is another addition to the graphic story style which has become incredibly popular with children and tells the story of a seemingly normal Australian school girl, who just happens to have a world-famous fashion stylist mother. Oh, and she lives on her own on an island on Sydney Harbour.
“Coco’s Yay Day involves not going to school, staying home painting her toe nails, eating lollies and riding her dolphin. As you do. I could do with a Yay Day myself. “
On that wonderful joyful note, I wish all the readers a happy Book Week – may your costumes all come out right, your author talks inspire new readers and writers and you get to enjoy all the fabulous children’s books there are out there!
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 all the books’. I’m currently exploring the incredibly rich world of picture books with my toddler and blogging my book reviews over at Subversive Reader