February was an exciting month for Australian children’s literature with the announcement of the 2018-2019 Children’s Laureate, Morris Gleitzman, who said:
Young people need stories more than ever. Stories to delight, stories to beguile, stories to inspire, stories to move deeply. And through these experiences, stories that equip young readers to embrace an often dark and uncertain world with optimism, resolve and creativity.
We all have treasured memories of books read in childhood. Stories that sparked our imaginations, or allowed us to escape from the world. Stories that helped make sense of the things around us. As an adult, I love that I can share reviews of the children’s stories you are enjoying right now – whether the book is old, or new.
Below are the children’s books reviewed for February. Please click on the links provided if you’d like to read more about a particular book:
The Endsister by Penni Russon was reviewed by Ashleigh Meikle @ The Book Muse. A new release for middle-grade readers, this book is ‘part mystery, part ghost story and partly a story about finding yourself and staying true to who you are and where you belong in the world’. An inheritance sees the Outhwaite family uprooted from their little cottage surrounded by rolling hills and kangaroos, to an old family home in London. Outhwaite House is full of old shadows and new possibilities. The boys quickly find their feet in London, and Else is hoping to reinvent herself. But Sibbi is misbehaving, growing thinner and paler by the day, and she won’t stop talking about the mysterious endsister. Meanwhile, Almost Annie and Hardly Alice, the resident ghosts, are tied to the house for reasons they have long forgotten, watching the world around them change, but never leaving. The one thing they all agree on – the living and the dead – is never, ever to open the attic door… Ashleigh says it was such fun meeting the characters and exploring London and Outhwaite House with them, and that it ended in a positive and lovely way that brought a smile to her face.
Danny Best: Me First! by Jen Storer was reviewed by Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews. A new release for ages 7+, it is the third book in the Danny Best series, and in Amanda’s opinion, is ‘Australia’s answer to Diary of a Wimpy Kid’. She says Danny Best is an extremely well formed character who is larger than life with energy exuding from every single page of the book. The type of boy every six to ten year old would like to be. Danny Best: Me First! is a high octane and wild adventure ride that rolls along at a relentless pace, and is perfect for reluctant readers. It has a four ‘short story’ format, with quiz challenges following each one. Much of the book is set in the typical Australian backyard, with adventures around the local neighbourhood, pier and school. Amanda says it is a very busy and visually stimulating book to read.
Rebecca Bowyer @ seeingthelighterside.com reviewed two books in the successful D-Bot Squad series: Mega Hatch and Dino Corp (books 7 & 8). Aimed at boys who are starting to read on their own, Rebecca says her own boys were riveted. With plenty of illustrations, simple concepts and words, and story lines involving robots, dinosaurs and farts – Rebecca asks, ‘What’s not to love?’, adding that the books gained hysterical laughter from her five year old.
I was intrigued to learn from Rebecca’s review that the author, Mac Park, is in fact the joint pen name of Australian women writers, Susannah McFarlane (Mac) and Louise Park (Park); authors of Zac Power, Boy vs Beast, Go Girl!, among others. Their partnership has sold over 10 million books to date. They obviously understand their readership well!
And lastly, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend continues to be the most widely reviewed children’s book on the AWW database. This made me curious enough to check the Goodreads statistics, and I found that since its release in October 2017, it’s had a whopping 3,563 ratings and 959 reviews, earning an average of 4.46 out of 5 stars (as at 19 Feb 2018). My next click was to reserve a copy from my local library for my own children to read! Although I included this book in last month’s round-up (which you can read here), due to its popularity I thought I’d include some brief comments from this month’s reviewers:
Brenda said, ‘Nevermoor … is absolutely, breathtakingly brilliant! Fantastical, clever, imaginative, magical – I was riveted, unable to put it down.’
Jennifer Cameron-Smith said, ‘I loved this novel. I’m recommending it to all of my friends and family members with children, or with an inner child who’d enjoy Morrigan’s journey.’
Claire Holderness said, ‘I totally enjoyed this, it took me back to my childhood favourites the Magic Faraway Tree and the Enchanted Woods by Enid Blyton, but with more adventure.’
Calzean wrote, ‘The cover says “Readers will feel as though Harry Potter is meeting Alice in Wonderland.” This about sums up this rollicking tale of Morrigan Crow, Jupiter North and Ezra Squall.’
The next children’s round-up will be published on Tues, 20 March 2018. I would love to see more children’s books reviewed by you before then! Books don’t need to be new releases – just written by an Australian woman! Too easy. 😊
If you’re not already signed up but you’d like to help showcase the excellent talent of Australia’s women authors (across any genre), you can sign up here.
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.
I blog about books and my own fledgling writing journey at mariemclean.com. You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Goodreads