Welcome to the Children’s Round-Up for August, 2018.
August is an exciting month for children’s books, with Book Week currently in full swing around the country. Sadly, it will be the last for my family as my youngest prepares for the move to high school next year. Book Week has always been a highlight on the school calendar, and I will certainly miss it.
The CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) awards were announced on Friday, 17 August. It was fantastic to see Australian women writers and illustrators featured heavily among the winning entries. A complete list of CBCA’s 2018 Book of the Year Award Winners can be found here.
It has been a cracking month for children’s book reviews, with fifteen reviews linked to the AWW blog. Please click on the highlighted links for further information.
Jess @ The Never Ending Bookshelf reviewed Girl On Wire by Lucy Estela & Elise Hurst. For Ages: 8/9+, it is the tale of a young girl as she crosses the wire – loaded with self doubt, anxiety and battling the pressure of heavy winds and dark skies. The child must learn to overcome all obstacles, and rise above the difficulties thrown her way. Jess says that Lucy Estela’s text is uplifting, and all about confidence and finding your own way and voice in the shaky world we live in. Hurst’s illustrations capture the reader’s attention and stay with you long after the book has been closed. Colour is used to heighten emotion. The beginning of the book is dark and claustrophobic in many ways, slowly transitioning into lighter and more airier colours as the girl regains her sense of balance, confidence and self. This is a stunning picture book for older readers.
I reviewed The Book of Answers: The Ateban Cipher #2, by A. L. Tait. For ages: 8+. Set in medieval times, the story opens with a sense of urgency. The race is on to deliver an ancient manuscript to Sir Lucien before it falls into the wrong hands. Time is against Gabe, Eddie, Gwyn and her friends as Winterfest approaches – and with it, the certainty that Gwyn and Merry’s father will be hanged for a crime he did not commit. Eddie’s father, the King, is becoming increasingly ill, diminishing the likelihood that Eddie will regain his crown. The action throughout is fast-paced, and there are many touching, and often comical, moments. Crammed full of intricate detail – immense forests, stone castles, secluded abbeys, archery and falconry, noblemen and peasants – it is a read sure to fire the imagination, and one that will appeal to both boys and girls.
Cass Moriarty reviewed Sweet Adversity by Sheryl Gwyther. For Ages: 10+, it is a story about identity and belonging, about finding your place and finding your voice, about fighting for what’s important and claiming what is yours. And it’s also a story about a valiant young woman following her heart and chasing her dreams. Set in Australia during the Great Depression, 12 year old Addie is abandoned at an orphanage after her parents have apparently drowned. She risks escape, and a journey of dangerous adventure follows as Addie tries to outwit her pursuers at every turn. Cass says it was a joy to read a children’s novel with such a daring and determined young female protagonist. Addie is whip-smart, empathetic, brave, kind and persistent, standing up to bullies and respecting those who earn her trust, rather than those in authority.
Ashleigh Meikle @ The Book Muse reviewed Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon #1), by Rebecca Lim. For Ages: 9+, it is an immersive and mesmerising story about thirteen-year-old Harley Spark, who accidentally releases Qing (one of five dragon sisters) from the ancient vase she’s been trapped in for centuries. Harley is soon on a dangerous international mission with Qing to find, and free, her four sisters. Ashleigh says she was quickly caught up in Harley’s life, and the peppering of Chinese language, tradition, and culture ensures an authenticity that encapsulates the characters wonderfully – and sparks an interest in the culture, mythologies, and the history of China.
Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews reviewed His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda. For Ages: 8+, it is a magical mystery tour; encompassing touches of yesteryear, folklore, fantasy, love and history. A handwritten book, with strangely vivid illustrations, has been hidden in an old house for a long, long time. It is found by four students and their teacher after their bus breaks down outside the abandoned mansion. As the strange book is read, readers are given an active role alongside the school excursion children to solve Walter’s beguiling mystery. His Name is Walter is an enjoyable book within a book, with the power to bewitch young readers with its fantasy and mystery based elements.
Georgina Ballantine reviewed the Ragnor Trilogy by Leah Swann, for Ages: 8+. The three novels are titled, Irina the Wolf Queen, Irina and the White Wolf, and Irina and the Lost Book. Irena is kidnapped at birth and raised by a she-wolf. When she discovers she is the long lost daughter of the King and Queen of Ragnor, she returns to the kingdom and faces a wicked magician intent on revenge. Georgina says that with a wealth of magical creatures, a world ripe for exploration, plenty of tension and a feisty teenaged heroine, both she and her daughter recommend this middle-grade fantasy series.
Jennifer Cameron-smith reviewed a children’s classic, The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. For Ages: 7+, this book was first published in 1958, and was Highly Commended in the 1959 CBCA awards (it was great to see an old CBCA title coincide with this month’s reviews). Depicting the lives of horses in the Australian alpine country, it is the first of a series of 13 books, written over a period of six decades. In this, the first book of the Silver Brumby Series, we follow the life of Thowra from birth to legend. He grows from colt to a magnificent stallion, using the mountains to look after his herd and to escape from man. Jennifer first read this book over fifty years ago and said that the magic of the novel had not evaporated over time.
For younger readers:
Sue @ Whispering Gums reviewed The Gum Family Finds Home by Tania McCartney & Christina Booth. For Ages: 4+, this book introduces concepts of geology to a young audience, and is a charming story about home and family that celebrates the stunning Australian landscape, and its flora and fauna. The narrative is straightforward, befitting the child audience it is geared to. It is about a family of koalas, the Gum Family, who decide that they need a safer, more “rock solid” home than their gum tree. It’s a book that doesn’t end when you finish reading it – providing a lovely value-add of eight pages of basic facts about Australia’s unique geology.
Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews reviewed Maureen Eppen’s book, Every Family is Different. For Ages: up to 5+, the book poses the question: who is in your family? The answer, when we delve beneath the surface, is expansive. Every Family is Different explores not just the nuclear family (mum, dad and two kids) but all types of families – from families with just one dad or mum, to those living with grandparents or foster carers. Regardless of varied household arrangements, from big houses to tiny apartments, the message remains the same: love is the gel that binds us together as a family. I also read this book recently, and agree wholeheartedly with Amanda – it’s delightful.
Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews also reviewed Birthday Baby by Jane Godwin and Davina Bell. For Ages: 0 – 3 years, this charming and bright picture book captures the true essence of a first birthday party – an important event in a child’s early life. The prose and the illustrations have a strong sense of realism, depicting the joy and the pandemonium that goes hand in hand with the all important first birthday party. The text is simple, but relatable, it is touched with plenty of humour and a good dose of understanding.
Michelle @ Beauty and Lace reviewed The Penguins Are Coming by Meg McKinlay. For Ages: 3 up – and Michelle emphasis the UP, as it is quite humorous, as well as informative and cute. It was a massive hit in her house. The Penguins Are Coming takes place in a zoo, where all the animals are super excited about their new neighbours, even though none of them are quite sure what a penguin actually is, but that doesn’t stop them having an opinion. The illustrations by Mark Jackson are bright and interesting, and Michelle thinks even her older two children will get a kick out of reading it aloud to her little one.
Thank you to our reviewers for linking such interesting books to the AWW blog this month. It was enjoyable learning about these books while preparing the Children’s Round-up. The September round-up will be posted on Tuesday, 18 September, 2018. I can’t wait to see what books will be reviewed in the meantime!
It’s not too late to join the AWW challenge and link your book reviews – children’s or otherwise. You can sign up here for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge at any time.
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.