withering by sea launch flyer

The Lost Girl by Ambelin Kwaymullina, ill. Leanne Tobin, ISBN 9781921529634, Walker Books Aust

the lost girl


A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

This is a story about an Aboriginal girl who wandered away from her big family one day. She called and called and then she found she’d lost her way and she needed to find her own way home.

I love the illustrations because they make me feel sad for the girl. I also liked that on every page the pictures show lots of Australian plants and animals in the Australian bush. Even though she is lost, she’s a very clever and sensible girl not to panic. She looks for Mother Nature’s help to find her way back to her family.

I think kids aged 5+ will enjoy this picture book.


Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  Meet Daisy. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book review: Plenty

Plenty by Ananda Braxton-Smith, ISBN 9781742032429, Black Dog Books



A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

10-year-old Maddy has always lived on Jermyn Street, but now her mum and dad are making her move to a town called Plenty. She has to leave behind her best friend Sophie-Rose, her school, and the fairy wall in her house.

At the new school everything is different and she has no friends. The teachers are called by their first names. No-one understands how Maddy feels. Grace Wek (a refugee) seems to be different from everyone else though — could she and Maddy have something in common?

I enjoyed this book because it explored Maddy’s sense of identity and what it means to call a place ‘home’. When I read it, it reminded me of my own experience moving house and schools a few years ago.

I think this book is aimed at a younger audience than me, and 9 to 12 year olds would enjoy reading Plenty. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

Pippa is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one!) was Crooked Leg Road.  If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

What time is it? It’s time for our team of keen readers to share their TOP READS for the month — the best book each of them read during September 2014. If you need just the right book to read in the school holidays, these books come highly recommended:

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Two of our Young Readers are away on holidays and out of contact — we look forward to sharing their October reads with you in a month!


by Bailey, 8, QLD

One day Gary the camel was going to the River Nile for a bath.

“I hate grit. It’s in my ears, my fur, my mouth and in my hair. It’s everywhere!” complained Gary as he trudged down to the river. Just as he was stepping in to take a bath, his glasses slipped off! “Oh dear! Now I’ll have to get a new pair of glasses”, said Gary. So off he went to the shops at Cairo to get some new glasses.

Without his glasses, Gary had a lot of trouble seeing clearly. Not before long Gary came to a Hairdresser.

“Can I buy some glasses please?” asked Gary.
“Sorry”, said Kerri the Hairdresser.  “We don’t sell glasses but I can give you a haircut”.
“Okay” said Gary, feeling disappointed.

BUUZZZZ! In no time at all he had a new haircut. Then he thanked Kerri the hairdresser and off he went to find some glasses.

After a while Gary found a Beauty Parlour.

“Can I buy some glasses please?” asked Gary.
“Sorry”, said Tina the Beautician. “We don’t sell glasses but I can shampoo and perfume your fur for you”.
“Okay” said Gary disappointed.

SCRUB, SCRUB, SQUIRT!!! In no time at all he had his fur washed and perfumed. Gary thanked Tina the Beautician, and then off he went to buy some new glasses.

Ten minutes later, he came to a hat shop.

“Can I buy some glasses please?” he asked Terry the Hatter.
“Sorry” said Terry. “We don’t sell glasses but I can make you a hat?” offered Terry.
“Okay” said Gary disappointed. TAP! TAP! TAP! In no time at all, Gary had a new hat. He thanked Terry the Hatter, and then off he went to find some new glasses.

As he entered the next shop, he was sure he’d found the glasses shop.

“Can I buy some glasses please?” asked Gary.
“Sorry”, said Bronwyn the Tailor. “We don’t sell glasses but I can give you some clothes”.
“Okay”, said Gary still feeling disappointed. Suddenly the sweet smell of lollies wafted up his nose. So he thanked Bronwyn the Tailor and off he went following that sweet smell.

In the lolly shop Gary bought a Gobstopper.

“Be very careful with it”, said Chris the Candy Man. “You don’t want to break a … ” But it was too late; Gary had already broken his tooth.

“Ouch! That hurts!” Gary howled to Chris the Candy Man as he left the shop.

When he finally got over the pain of his broken tooth, Gary came to another shop.

“Can I buy some glasses please?” Gary whimpered to the receptionist behind the counter.
“Sorry”, said Dali the receptionist. “We don’t sell glasses but I can get Cameron the Dentist to fix and clean your teeth”.
“Yes, please,” said Gary, feeling relieved. Not before long Gary had sparkling clean teeth.

He thanked Cameron the Dentist who said, “I know an Optometrist called Peter, he’s a friend of mine. I’ll take you to see him”. And with that, they headed off to meet Peter the Optometrist.

Finally Gary had found the right place to buy a new pair of glasses. Without delay, he chose a smart and shiny new pair, and looked in the mirror. He was surprised to see the camel staring back at him. His hair was trimmed, his ears were clipped, his fur was washed and perfumed. He had a new hat, a brown and blue shawl and his teeth were clean and sparkling. He was no longer a spitty, nitty, gritty camel. Now he was Gary the spunky, funky, hunky camel! He wasn’t disappointed anymore, he was delightedly distinguished!

The End

The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, ill. Terry Denton, ISBN 9781742614212, Pan Australia

The 52-Storey Treehouse



Joseph is reviewing his own copy of this book.

I had to wait a whole year for this book. When it finally came out I read it from cover to cover in one sitting and I’ve read it many more times since.

This is the fourth book in the Treehouse series and once again 13 new storeys have been added, including a watermelon smashing room. But Andy and Terry soon remember something important — Mr Big Nose has forgotten to remind them about the deadline for the new book and he has gone missing. Could it be related to that book Fun with Vegetables by Vegetable Patty? They take off on an advegetable story (an adventure with vegetables) with the help of a little caterpillar with a surprising secret. And what has happened to Jill? Why won’t she wake up when Andy and Terry explode in?

I liked lots of things about this book. Firstly, the unexpected plot. My little sister kept wrongly guessing the next step of the plot. I liked the characters — some minor characters from earlier Treehouse books are back, and there are some new ones as well. My favourite part was the craziness of everything in the book, especially Terry’s ninja snails.

My special tip for reading this book is that you should read the other books in the series (like The 26-Storey Treehouse) first because then the jokes are funnier and they make more sense.

The illustrations in this book are by Terry Denton (like in the earlier books). They are just perfect for the Treehouse series because there are lots and lots of them and they’re the sort that you don’t get bored with. His drawings are like first drafts, it’s like you’re seeing them when he’s just finished drawing them. I like that.

I would recommend this book for 7 to 13 year olds and all adults who like a bit of humour. My special warning: if you’re scared of spiders, skip over Terry’s spider pictures — they are pretty scary. Both boys and girls will enjoy reading this book.

I rate this book 9.5/10 and it’s my favourite book in the series.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Our Village in the Sky. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Tottie and Dot cover

Tina Snerling is an Australian illustrator with a brand new picture book — Tottie and Dot. Today Tina is visiting us to talk about how she starts illustrating a new book project.

When the publisher gives you a picture book text, what’s the very first thing you do?

I start to think about the colour palette, style of drawing, characters and the actual scenes to be illustrated. This can take days, weeks or months, depending of the depth of the book. For Tottie and Dot, the colour palette was very important to the storyline given the intensity of the scenes. They needed to be completely contrasting in every way.

Once you had the story text for Tottie and Dot, how long did it take you to complete all the illustrations?

This is a little difficult to answer as the process is quite long! I usually start developing the characters first, like this:

Tina's sketches for Tottie and Dot


Tina snerling sketches 2

I created around 10 different ideas and ‘girls’ in this case before I came up with the ‘final’ Tottie and Dot! Then once the girls are drawn, I work on different poses and facial expressions I might need. Then comes the fun part of illustrating each page! This took around 6 months full-time illustrating to complete the book ready for printing. Some days I can work 15+ hours illustrating — it depends how creative I am feeling!

Can you draw whatever you like?

I get given an illustration guideline from the author. They usually have a general idea of what image will be illustrated, then I get to the fun part and add my own personality and humour to the illustrations! Working with Tania is amazing, as I get to go crazy with my imagination, and add my own quirky details. In Tottie and Dot I loved the incorporation of the cats — it was so enjoyable creating crazy things for them to do in each scene.

Did Tania (the author) see any of your illustrations before the whole book was finished?

Tania and I work very closely on our books. We are a little bit different to most illustrator/authors where we work as a team. We are in constant daily contact (sometimes until all hours of the night) and bounce ideas off each other.

Do you decide where and how much text goes on each page, or does the publisher decide that?

The text is already set out on each page when I receive the manuscript. This was part of the author’s role and is important especially in picture books as we are usually limited to 32 pages. As the book designer, I do get to decide the font, size and position of the words though!

Did you do the cover first, or last, or somewhere in the middle of all the illustrating?

Our publisher usually likes to see the cover fairly close to the beginning of the book. Once the characters have been decided and the scene is set, the cover then usually comes next! I still tweak a few things later on once the book is coming to an end though! With Tottie and Dot, we actually had another cover:

Alternative Cover for Tottie and Dot

… which we stuck with for some time, but at the final hour I changed it to be the current cover you see today:

Tottie and Dot cover

Tottie and Dot is published by EK Books. You can find out more about the book (and the author and illustrator) on the Tottie and Dot website. This blog post is part of a Blog Blast — for more interviews, giveaways, book reviews and news on Tottie and Dot, check out the participating blogs


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