Hello, and a warm welcome to the Children’s Round-Up, featuring book reviews linked to the AWW database during August 2019.
A bumper 19 books were reviewed last month, making it very difficult to select just a few to feature in this round-up.
Jess @ The Never Ending Bookshelf was our star reviewer, contributing 9 children’s book reviews. I’ve included three of her reviews here, however links are provided below should you wish to read more of her reviews.
Jess writes: Red House Blue House Green House Tree House might be a mouthful and a half to say, but the book is a guaranteed fantastic read.
Told through the use of clever rhyme, bold colours, quirky illustrations and a hide and seek with a mouse, this book is a crowd pleaser, educator and just plain old fun.
Jane Godwin’s text is simple, clever and elusive. Told through catchy rhyme, readers will race through this book and want to start all over again before the end of the book.
Jane Reiseger’s illustrations are out of the box, and playfully fun. Her childlike style will leave kids believing they too could be like the two Jane’s and create their own masterpiece of fun!
Jane G and Jane R are on to a winner with this book, and have cemented themselves as a powerful duo with a bright future ahead. I look forward to seeing what comes next!
Red House Blue House Green House Tree House by shortlisted for the 2019 CBCA Award for new illustrator.
(I was very excited to see this book appear because I bought a copy as a gift a few days ago. I must have read dozens of picture books trying to choose just the right one, and was captivated by the illustrations and catchy text. Marie)
Jess writes: The Jacket is the most superb little picture book. It’s like a comforting hug just before bedtime.
The Jacket is a story about a much loved colourful coat that is passed from Amelia to Lilly, to Lilly’s dolls, the cat with her kittens and finally breathed new life into once more as the world’s most fabulous teddy bear for Lilly’s younger brother. It’s a story about adventures, sentimental value and the emotional connections we make with much-loved clothes and treasured toys.
The Jacket is truly one of the most heartfelt and beautiful picture books I’ve held in a long time. Featuring a mix of stunning illustrations, clever collages and layering of images, Thea Baker has done an outstanding job of bringing Sue-Ellen Pashley’s story to life. Featuring double-page illustrations, full of patterns, colours and layered detail, this book’s illustrations are hard to adequately describe, except to say they are lifelike and literally jump off the page. Sue-Ellen Pashely’s story is heartfelt and beautifully presented through simplistic styling. Featuring mainly short, one-line sentences, Pashley’s narrative takes us on a journey of love, creation, adventure and new life. It allows the reader to re-live their own memories and remember that item that we all hold near and dear to our heart. I loved seeing the personal journeys the jacket took with each new owner, the comfort it gave and the warmth it brought into their life. It’s a simple, but elaborately beautiful piece of clothing that keeps on giving – emotionally, mentally and physically.
The Jacket by Sue-Ellen Pashley and illustrated by Thea Baker is a delightful picture book that is sure to warm your heart and fill your bookshelves with love. It’s a picture book that will keep on giving and is a great educational tool as well (for the value of items, the need to pass it on and the way we can repurpose items that we no longer need or use). It’s clever, artistically beautiful, narratively brilliant and just a fantastic book to behold.
Jess writes: Set in a world where the natural world is all but gone, The Feather is an unusually dark picture book filled with hope.
When two young children stumble across a brilliantly white feather, they quickly find themselves in awe of its natural beauty and debate the best way to preserve it for future generations. Living in the aftermath of mass pollution and destruction, the sun no longer shines, the sky is no longer blue and the moon and stars are a thing of the past. Outside of human life, there is nothing natural that grows here. When the children present the feather to the townspeople they are excited but wish to cage its beauty behind walls in a museum or a bank vault, a point that leaves the feather to whither and brown. Disgusted, the townspeople blame the children for their wicked ways, leaving the two children to nurture the feather back to health and let it free.
The Feather is an interesting picture book. There is so much to unpack here, that you could read it a hundred times and find different meanings each time. It’s powerfully poignant, subtle, and hopeful.
Margaret Wild’s narrative is pared back almost, giving only the barest of glimpses of the world they live in and the strangeness of this pure white feather. Freya Blackwood has used this to her full advantage, filling in the narrative gaps with visual aids and vector lines, pointing the reader to the heart of the story. Her images are dark, varying shades of sepia, greys and blacks with the exception of the two children who are in colour, and the bright white feather. Despite the dull colour pallet and dark colour scheme, Blackwood’s images are full of detail, allowing the eye to roam the page endlessly finding new elements and meaning.
The Feather is a one of a kind picture book. Openly dark in illustration style and climate, the story is one of hope and trust. It’s an optimistic look at the promise future generations can hold despite the damage already caused.
Other books reveied by Jess @ The Never Ending Bookshelf this month include:
Chalk Boy by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Mandy Ord. (Ages 5 – 8)
How (Not) To Annoy Dad by Holly Ife & Dave Hughes, illustrated by Heath McKenzie. (Ages 3+)
The Greatest Father’s Day of All by Anne Mangan, illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie. (Ages 3+)
Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood. (Ages 9+)
The Great $20 Adventure by Effie Zahos, illustrated by Ilona Tar. (Age Preschool)
Ashleigh Meikle @ The Book Muse reviewed three books this month:
A Lighthouse in Time (The Adamson Adventures #2) by Sandra Bennet. (Ages 8-12)
Whilst camping, Clare, Luke and Zac stumble upon a ghost in the caves by the beach they are staying at whilst lost. The ghost leads them to safety, but soon disappears – starting a mystery that takes the siblings to an old, crumbling lighthouse, and exploring the local history of the area where they are staying.
As the mystery unfolds when they find the manifest and talk to a local historian, the siblings start to put the pieces of the puzzle together and find a way to solve the mystery. But will they get there before it’s too late?
What Ashleigh loved about this book is that it is a really good continuation from the first book, and mentions what happened, but doesn’t dwell on it and gets on with the story. It is fast-paced and keeps the reader’s attention beautifully. She loved seeing how Clare and her brothers have evolved since the first book, and learning new things about them with each story.
Ashleigh also reviewed:
Escape from Wolfhaven Castle (Impossible Quest #1) by Kate Forsyth. (Ages 9 -12)
Kensy and Max: Out of Sight by Jacqueline Harvey. (Ages 9 – 12)
The Peacock Detectives is the first novel by prize-winning Australian author, Carly Nugent. When William Shakespeare and Virginia go missing, Mr and Mrs Hudson engage the services of eleven-going-on-twelve-year-old Cassie Andersen to find them. William Shakespeare and Virginia are ornamental peacocks and Cassie has a reputation for being able to find lost things. She notes down all her observations in her Notebook for Noticing, but the birds are proving difficult to track down.
This is a book some quirky characters and some very ordinary ones (a bit like life, really) who deal with the everyday challenges that make up life. Cassie is a truly likeable character with a genuinely good heart who manages to mature and gain some insight over the months it takes her to finally catch those elusive peacocks. Cassie’s eleven-year-old voice feels authentic: at times, childishly naïve, at times, incredibly perceptive.
Aimed at a reading age of 9+, this story covers themes of mental illness, adoption, marriage breakdown, terminal illness, bullying and friendship in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner. It is easy to see why this little book won the Readings Children’s Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Text Prize. The illustrations by Sophie Beer are a charming enhancement to this warm and heartfelt tale that need not be limited to children.
Other books reviewed this month include:
In case you’re trying to track down that perfect read, here are some books that have featured in previous round-ups, but continue to attract reviews:
Thank you for continuing to link your reviews to the AWW database (please click on this link if you haven’t already signed up to our 2019 challenge.)
I look forward to bringing you the next children’s round-up on 15 October 2019. Until then – happy reading!
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.