We’re back into regular roundups for 2017 and I’m thrilled to see such wonderful Children’s and Young Adult reviews to launch the year.


rockhopping ballaMichelle at Beauty and Lace looked at two very different picture books, both aimed towards older children. Rockhopping by Trace Balla is a follow up to the author’s 2014 book Rivertime. This time the main characters are setting out on an adventure to find the source of the Glenelg River. Michelle found herself engrossed in the book – which is definitely long for a picture book at 80 pages – and the way the illustrations and text worked together.

“Rockhopping shows us that sometimes when you get lost it’s just a chance to change your perspective and go a different way, and sometimes when you go a different way you get to see and experience a whole range of things you otherwise would have missed.”

Michelle also looked at small things by Mel Tregonning, a wordless picture book aimed at 10-14 year olds, but relevant for readers of many ages. The book, about loneliness and hopelessness, was begun by the author in 2008, however she took her own life before she was able to finish it. Her family asked illustrator and author Shaun Tan to assist in compiling and finishing the book.

“This book is beautifully drawn, hauntingly touching and profound. I think it demonstrates the things that many of us don’t see and often if you are in that dark cloud it stops you seeing the clouds of those around you.”

Jess at the Never Ending Bookshelf explored Family Forest by Kim Kane, a picture book which explains the sometimes complex nature of non-nuclear families. Jess found the combination of gentle humour in the text and the quirky illustrations worked well together to create a very appealing book. (For those wondering why this story feels familiar, it was read by Carrie Bickmore as part of Play School’s 50th Birthday celebrations.)

Young Adult

hating-alison-ashley Louise at A Strong Belief in Wicker reviewed Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein, the story of Erica Yurken, who has her life turned upside down when the perfect Alison Ashley appears in her Year 6 class.

“I’m really glad to have read Hating Alison Ashley at long last. Sure, some of the references may be a little dated now, but it’s really very few, and over thirty years down the track but the characters are timeless- we all went to school with Barry Hollis, the school bully, and with Alison Ashley. We might even have been Erica Yurken.”

The Shark Caller by Dianne Wolfer was reviewed by HM Waugh. It tells the story of Izzy, heading back to Papua New Guinea after the death of her twin brother.

“A clever melding of belief and reality, loss and discovery, fantasy and contemporary, it lured me in and held me”

Ashleigh Meikle undertook a massive read, reading and reviewing the 6 books of the Matilda Saga by Jackie French. (The link will take you to her ‘Matilda Saga’ tag, so you can enjoy all the reviews.) She points out that all of the books deal with political issues which impacted real lives and often gave voices to those who don’t always get a voice in our history books.

“Dates never change but the varied accounts, though fictional, of historical events, ensure that in this series, nobody is ignored. Nobody is silenced. Everyone has a cause and though someone may be questioned about their attitudes, they are given a chance to learn, to explain and share.”

gemina kaufmanThree reviewers – Tsana, Leonie and HM Waugh – reviewed Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This book, the sequel to Illuminae, continues the found documents/footage format with new characters confronting the world painted in the first book. All three reviewers highly recommended it, particularly if you enjoyed the first book. Leonie is planning to buy it in different formats to enjoy it even more, while HM Waugh was very pleased that the book didn’t fall victim to ‘sequel syndrome’:

“There was one particular twist crept up on me and whacked me with its psychoactive venom. Then another one came and sucked out my brainwaves.” 

eagar-summerTracey reviewed Summer Skin, by Kirsty Eager, a book about a university college student looking for good times and possible revenge – not meeting a good looking guy from the detested men’s college.

“There is a good splattering of female empowerment and being in control of your own destiny.  Eagar does not lecture the decisions that characters make but allows you to question the right way to respond by all parties.  Eagar scripts these quandaries out through the text and has you the reader, trying to determine the best action.”

There were a couple of extra reviews I haven’t been able to fit in, but I highly recommend going over to read them as well:



About Melina – Despite others hinting that I am supposed to ‘grow up’ at some point, books for young people continue to play a huge part in my reading life. This has served me well – as a teacher, book recommender, parent and resource designer. I’m currently writing novel studies as teaching resources, enjoying the rich world of picture books with my four-year-old and baby, revisiting some of my favourite authors and reviewing books