Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca

Book review – Saurus Street 2: A Pterodactyl Stole my Homework

A Pterodactyl Stole my Homework by Nick Falk, ill. Tony Flowers, ISBN 9781742756561, Random House Australia

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

a pterodactyl stole my homework (cover)

Sam and his older brother, Nathan, are Team Dinosaur. Nathan is the Captain and he knows everything about dinosaurs. Sam is Second-in-Charge.

But Team Dinosaur might be broken up—Sam’s mum is so mad when his fifth lot of homework goes missing (stolen by a pterodactyl, but she doesn’t believe that) that she threatens to send Sam to a school for naughty boys instead.

Sam and Nathan have to find a way to get that homework back. They have to find a way to get up Saurus Hill to find the homework-stealing pterodactyl.

This is a funny chapter book for younger readers who love dinosaurs—and who doesn’t love dinosaurs? There are also cool black and white illustrations on almost every page and the adventures are chock-a-block full of pterosaur facts.

You can download the first few pages of the book for free on the Random House Australia website. And best of all, this is book two in the Saurus Street series—there are more Saurus Street adventures to read. Excellent!

© January 2013 “Review of A Pterodactyl Stole my Homework by Nick Falk & Tony Flowers” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)
Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca

Book review: Once There Was a Boy

Once There Was a Boy written & illustrated by Dub Leffler. Published by Magabala Books, ISBN 978 1 921248 37 5.

A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.

Once there was a boy (cover)

A boy lives all alone in a boat, on an island. One day, suddenly, there is someone else on the island. She eats all his sapotes. She sleeps in the hammock. He asks her not to look under the bed while he is away collecting more sapotes—but she is too curious and she does look under the bed …

This is a picture book about friendship and sharing, and how strange it is that friendship can mean happiness and also disappointments sometimes.

The illustrations really show the beauty of the island, and the stillness and sadness of the boy. I especially love the colours of the ocean and the way shadows appear in many of the illustrations. There is sense of peace at the end—and a feeling of hope.

Dub Leffler says:

“I wrote Once There Was a Boy to show kids that boys have feelings too … ”

© July 2012 “Review of Once There Was a Boy by Dub Leffler” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)
Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca

Book Review: Jake’s Concert Horror

Jake’s Concert Horror by Ken Spillman and illustrated Chris Nixon. Published by Fremantle Press ISBN 9781921888755.

A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.

Jake's Concert Horror (cover)

When Mrs Paul announces that the class will be putting on a musical play, Jake imagines himself in all sorts of cool roles—a pirate, a monkey, a robot with a silver-painted box over his head.

But when he hears what the play will be, he’s not impressed.

 

Yuk, Jake thought. Why couldn’t she choose something about pirates?

 

But it’s even worse when he finds out what his part is in the play. As the date of the performance gets closer he gets more and more worried.

This is another book in the Jake series—and, as usual, you’ll find Chris Nixon’s fun illustrations on every page. These books are great for kids who are just starting to read chapter books. If you’re already a fan, you’ll love this next book in the series (but you don’t have to read the other books in the series before reading this one. It’s great on its own.)

Everyone worries about something. Jake’s Concert Horror is a book about overcoming your fears.

© May 2012 “Review of Jake’s Concert Horror by Ken Spillman & Chris Nixon” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)

Look here for a review of an earlier Jake book, Jake’s Great Game.

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca, National Year of Reading

Featured Book: Lightning Jack

Lightning Jack by Glenda Millard and illustrated Patricia Mullins. Published by Scholastic Australia, ISBN 9781741693911.
(A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.)

Lightning Jack by Glenda Millard and Patricia Mullins

Sam Tully dares to ride the midnight horse, Lightning Jack—a stockman’s horse, a flying horse, a daring horse, a dancing horse. On the back of such a horse, magnificent feats are accomplished.

This tale is a modern-day bush ballad. The rhythm of the words keep the story moving along, like the galloping horse and—along with the poetic language—this makes Lightning Jack a fantastic book for reading out loud.

The illustrations feature the colours and scenes of the outback and capture the adventurous spirit of horse and rider. (The imprint page states that the illustrations are ‘created entirely from paper, meticulously blending coloured tissue, Japanese and Indian papers.’ Perhaps you could have a go at creating your own outback scene using torn papers.)

Like many good bush ballads, this tale has an unexpected ending. A great Australian picture book—add this one to your ‘must read’ list!

© March 2012 “Review of Lightning Jack by Glenda Millard & Patricia Mullins” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)
Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca

Book Review: Australian Story

Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline by Tania McCartney.

Published by National Library of Australia, ISBN 9780642277459.
(A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.)

Australian Story cover

Follow Australia’s history on a timeline from Earth’s beginnings until 2010.

Every page of Australian Story is packed full of facts, dates and interesting bits of information—everything you ever wanted to know about Australia from long, long ago until today. Read this book and everyone will be begging you to join the quiz night team as the Expert on Australia. (Only agree if someone on the table brings lamingtons … )

The timeline is illustrated with artwork, photos and maps from the National Library of Australia. There are images of postage stamps, old magazine covers, Australian money (see what the $1 note looked like!), old posters, flags and an image of Captain Cook’s handwritten list of Indigenous words. And there’s lots more, too.

Do you know the answers to these questions?* (See if your mum and dad know.)

What is the name of the last volcano to erupt on the Australian mainland?

Who designed the Aboriginal flag?

What was the name of the first recorded European to land on Australian soil?

When was the first Melbourne Cup horse race held?

Who was Australia’s first Prime Minister?

Which Australian creature featured on the two-cent coin?

*You’ll find all the answers to these questions in Australian Story.

This is a book that we highly recommend for Aussies of all ages.

(You can WIN a copy of Australian Story. In fact, you have two chances. Chance 1: Head over to the Kids Book Review blog. Chance 2: Head over to the Alphabet Street site. Good luck!)

© March 2012 “Review of Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline by Tania McCartney” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)
Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca, teachers' resources

Book Review: Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck

Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck by Michelle Gillespie and illustrated Sonia Martinez. Published by Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781921696008.
(A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.)

Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck (cover)

A ship—the Georgette—runs aground in Calgardup Bay WA in December 1876. This is the true story of a shipwreck and the daring rescue of the survivors by stockman Sam Isaacs and sixteen-year-old Grace Bussell, both on horseback.

This picture book tells an exciting story and it’s great to read aloud. Here are the opening words:

There is something about this morning—a quiet in the hills, a shiver in the air—something that prickles the nose of the stockman’s horse.

The illustrations show the drama as it unfolds and have the feel of long-ago adventure—with sepia coloured backgrounds framing lots of the artwork. We also love books with interesting endpapers, and the endpapers in this book are paintings showing scenes before and after the events in the story.

At the end of the book you’ll find a summary of the events of that day and a brief biography of the author and illustrator (apparently the illustrator drew lots of horses when she was growing up, and it came in handy for illustrating this story!).

Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck has adventure, bravery, history … and horses. You’ll love it!

© November 2011 “Review of Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck by Michelle Gillespie & Sonia Martinez” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)
Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca

Book review: Jake’s Great Game

Jake’s Great Game by Ken Spillman, ill. Chris Nixon, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781921888502

A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.

Jake's Great Game (cover)We are already fans of the Jake books, so we were excited to see the next book in the series, Jake’s Great Game.

Jake decides he wants to start playing soccer and his dad takes him to buy some boots—Jake likes the silver ones, and he’s sure he’ll be a soccer star. Then he finds soccer is not as easy as he thought it would be. Dribbling the ball is tricky … and everyone else seems to have the hang of it. The team has a game coming up. How can Jake be a soccer star if he can’t even dribble the ball?

Jake’s Great Game is a fun story for kids who are starting to read books with chapters. Chris Nixon’s black-and-white illustrations are on every page. You don’t have to have read the other Jake books to enjoy this one but if you have read the others, you’ll probably want to read this one, too—especially if you like books about sport.

A fun read!

Find out more about the Jake series on the dedicated website. Check out our January 2011 interview with the author and another with the illustrator. And check out what the illustrator used to read after ‘lights out’ when he was growing up!

© October 2011 “Review of Jake’s Great Game by Ken Spillman, ill. Chris Nixon”, reviewed by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)
Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca

Book review: Flood by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

Flood by Jackie French, ill. Bruce Whatley, Scholastic Press, ISBN 9781742830728

Flood (cover)A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.

This book was written after the recent floods in Queensland. It tells the story of a flood—what happens before, during and afterwards—the power of a river and the people who are affected, and the kindness of strangers and volunteers.

Bruce Whatley notes at the end of the book that he did the artwork ‘vertically on an easel to get the paint running, enhancing the idea of wetness.’ The illustrations do seem to be still wet with paint dripping down the page—the reader follows the dog (shown on the cover) through the events of a flood as the people around him band together to save people and houses.

Scholastic advises that a copy of this book has been donated to every Australian primary school, and profits from sales will go to the QLD Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal. At the end of the book there is some information about resources explaining what to do before, during and after a flood.

This is a book with a simple story and gentle illustrations that really help you imagine the landscape in a flood. It shows the danger and destruction of a flood—with a positive, hopeful ending.

Recommended.

© September 2011 “Review of Flood by Jackie French, ill. Bruce Whatley”, reviewed by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)
Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca

Pirate Peter and the Pig (International Talk Like a Pirate Day)

Arrr!  International Talk Like a Pirate Day be on 19 September—and that be today! So be practising yer best pirate-speak and don’t be swabbing any decks, me hearties!

Here be a pirate book for ye to enjoy.

Pirate Peter and the Pig by Simon Grant, ill. Jenny Cooper, Scholastic NZ, ISBN 9781869439408

A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.

Pirate Peter and the Pig (cover)Peter is a pirate who goes into a pet shop to buy a parrot. The pet shop owner doesn’t have any parrots—she offers him a pig instead. Peter is not sure a pirate should be walking about with a pig on his shoulder. And then the pet shop owner suggests Peter would look more like a pirate with an eye patch. She doesn’t have an eye patch, but she suggests he try something else from her shop …

This is a very funny picture book. The story gets sillier and sillier and poor Pirate Peter can’t escape from the enthusiastic and helpful pet shop owner.The illustrations show Peter getting more and more frustrated. But the pig is really enjoying himself!

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day! (Do you have any favourite pirate-y books?)

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Rebecca

Book review: The Pup’s Tale

The Pup’s Tale by Darrel and Sally Odgers, ill. Janine Dawson, Scholastic Press ISBN 9781741697254"The Pup's Tale (cover)"
A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.

Trump is an animal liaison officer at Pet Vet clinic. (He’s a Jack Russell terrier.) This is book 6 in the Pet Vet series.

When Dr Jeanie (the vet) checks on a mother labrador and her 15 newborn puppies, she discovers that the mother dog isn’t able to look after the smallest puppy, Tiny. Trump and Dr Jeanie have to try to find a foster-mother for Tiny, and keep an eye on him.

Before you get into the story, there are some sketches of the important people in the book. Throughout the book there are grey info boxes to help with interesting words (like ‘Runt—the smallest pup or piglet in a litter.’)

If you like books about animals (and especially dogs!), you’ll love The Pup’s Tale.

© July  2011 “Review of The Pup’s Tale by Darrel and Sally Odgers, ill. Janine Dawson”, reviewed by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)