Welcome to the first Children’s Round-up for 2018, and my first post on behalf of the Australian Women Writers Challenge. I’ve enjoyed reading the linked reviews and wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to choose just a few to highlight in this month’s round-up.
Quality children’s literature is vital to the development of language and critical thinking skills. As many households prepare for a new school year – including reinforcing good reading habits, I encourage you to explore the wealth of talent Australian women writers bring to this important genre.
Please link your reviews to our blog to help showcase this talent. If you haven’t already signed up to the AWW 2018 challenge, you can sign up here.
And now onto the round-up of children’s book reviews for January:
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend continues to garner favourable reviews on the AWW database. A fantasy novel for middle grade readers (aged 8-12), the protagonist is a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world where she is tested beyond her wildest imagination. Angharad Lodwick – Tinted Edges writes: ‘If I look at this book through the eyes of my younger self, it’s easy to read, it doesn’t shy away from heavy themes, yet it has a strong sense of wonder about it. It’s a fast-paced story and Morrigan has a sense of integrity that really resonated with me’. Tracey @ Carpe Librum was a little put off by the cover, but says her suspicions were swiftly allayed and not to jump to the same inaccurate conclusions she did – ‘sometimes judging a book by its cover can be a mistake’. Children’s fantasy is one of Kate Forsyth’s favourite genres to both read and to write and she was interested to see if the book lived up to all the hype. She writes that the book is brimming over with imagination and fun, that the story gallops along, and the setting is wonderfully vivid. Tessa Wooldridge (Thoughts from an Idle Hour) said her Nevermoor reading experience was entirely delightful.
Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews reviewed two picture books with an Australiana theme: Echnidas Can’t Cuddle by Nieta Manser, and The Cassowary’s Gift by Pam Skadins. Both books are aimed at children aged 3-6. Amanda says Echidnas Can’t Cuddle is told in catchy rhyming verse, and has a gentle beat, perfect for bedtime story time read aloud opportunities. Not only does the book showcase the natural beauty of our country’s unique flora and fauna, but Amanda believes that the book also manages to combine some important life lessons relevant to children, including self confidence, self acceptance, growth, jealousy, difference, fear, friendship and love.
The Cassowary’s Gift also has an important environmental message to share. Amanda says that the book asks the reader to consider what is so special about the cassowary. The answer is a humorous but important one, as the animals, as well as the reader, discovers it is all down to the cassowary’s poo! It is a book that subtly weaves essential environmental and conservation work, within an engaging text.
Brenda gave five stars to Slowly! Slowly! by T. M. Clark. ‘What an absolutely delightful story,’ she says. ‘I remember the saying “softly softly, catchee monkey” from when I was a child, and this story is adapted from that. If you have young children or grandchildren, Slowly! Slowly! is perfect for them’.
On my own blog (mariemclean.com), I reviewed The Book of Secrets: The Ateban Cipher by A. L. Tait. This is a children’s middle grade fantasy, reminiscent of medieval times when Kings, Lords and Sheriffs ruled the land. With fast-paced action, this book will appeal to both boys and girls.
Another title for middle grade readers, The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty, came highly recommended by Brona’s Books. Light fantasy for readers aged ten plus, Brona says that ‘Moriarty writes with a lightness of touch and a great deal of charm. Kelly Canby’s quirky line drawings are scattered throughout the book. They highlight the sense of fun that permeates the whole story as well as giving this lovely hardback edition a dash of style’.
And lastly, a picture book using toilet humour to get across important messages about self-worth, respect and acceptance. (This is the Children’s Round up, after all!) Jess @ The Never Ending Bookshelf loved the book, No One Likes A Fart by Zoe Foster Blake. Jess says here is a story about fitting in, learning to love and accept yourself for who you are and the often painful realisation that the world isn’t the nicest of places sometimes. It’s a book perfect for young and old and filled with some typically gross toilet humour (it is a book about farts after all). It is sure to leave readers of all ages laughing.
If you are interested in finding a wide selection of books by Australian women writers across all genres, please have a look at our Books Reviewed page.
In awe of words from an early age, reading, writing and banter have become an obsession of mine. As a mother of two (who are growing up faster than I’d like), I am passionate about instilling a long-lasting love of reading in children. I am excited about joining the AWW team and sharing my love of children’s literature with you.