REVIEW: Rocky and Louie by Phil Walleystack, Raweyn Caisley and Dub Leffler

Published: 28th April 2020

Publisher: Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia

Pages:  32

Format: Hardback picture book (courtesy of the publisher for review)

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars

 Louie’s big brother, Rocky, has big dreams and wants to chase them. But Louie doesn’t want him to forget where he belongs . . .

A heartfelt story about the bond between two brothers and their special connection to country. Illustrated by CBCA award-winning picture-book creator Dub Leffler, and written by acclaimed singer/storyteller Phil Walleystack and award-winning children’s author Raewyn Caisley.

 Rocky and Louie is a super sweet picture about family, country and change. Continue reading

REVIEW: Little Puggle’s Song by Vikki Conley & illustrated by Helene Magisson

Published: 15th August 2019

Publisher: New Frontier Publishing

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture book (borrowed from the library)

RRP: $35 AUD

5/5 Stars

A lonely echidna searches for his voice. Every time Puggle tires to make sound nothing comes out. Can Puggle find his voice and join the bush choir?

 

 

 

 

Little Puggle’s Song is one of the beautiful and inspiring picture books I’ve read. There is just something about this adorable books that tugs at your heartstrings and makes you notice it.
Puggle might be small, and not able to sing, but she is mighty and resilient in the face of failure.

Continue reading

REVIEW: Dear Grandpa by Kate Simpson & Illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh

Published: 5th August 2019

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback picture book (borrowed from the library)

RRP:$24.99

5/5 Stars

A picture book about the special relationship between a boy and his grandfather, who stay close even when they are separated by distance.

Grandpa, did you know that if you rub a needle with a magnet, one end will point to the north and the other end to the south? In the south there’s an apartment building 160 metres tall. From the balcony, you can see the entire city. There are cinemas and ice cream shops … and me!

As Henry measures the distance between his new apartment and Grandpa’s wooden house under the mango tree, Grandpa works out how close they really are. A moving story that celebrates the bond between a boy and his grandfather.

 Dear Grandpa by Kate Simpson and illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh is a love letter to the relationships kids share with their Grandparents. It is heartwarming; packed full of so much emotion, love and care that this is bound to be a family feel-good favourite. Continue reading

REVIEW: Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan and illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr

Published: 1st April 2019

Publisher: Magabala Books

Pages: 40

Format: Hardcover Picture book (borrowed from the library)

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars 

SHORTLISTED – 2020 ABIA AWARD SMALL PUBLISHERS’ CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR
SHORTLISTED – 2020 CBCA Award for New Illustrator

NOTABLES – 2020 CBCA Picture Book of the Year Book Award
NOTABLES – 2020 CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood

Inaugural Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award Winner

A simple, universal story of a day in the life of Little Bird as she sings the world alive, flies with Cloud, travels with Wind, nestles with Moon and dreams of flying among the stars. Sally’s beautiful words and Johnny’s sensitive artwork combine to make this a beautiful, distinctive publication with global appeal. Johnny infuses his illustrations with his fine-art aesthetic, his traditional motifs and a quirky sense of humour.

Little Bird’s Day is a beautiful picture book about the day in the life of a bird. Told beautifully through Sally Morgan’s text and Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr’s illustrations, this book is a stunning piece of art celebrating nature and the Indigenous culture. Continue reading

REVIEW: You Might Find Yourself by Tai Snaith

Published: 1st August 2019

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Pages: 36

Format: Hardcover Picture book (borrowed from the library)

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars You Might Find Youself

 You Might Find Yourself follows a small person’s journey as they navigate the world through their imagination. This charming and lovingly handcrafted picture book invites readers to examine notions of resilience and collaboration, while on the winding path that is life.

From eating green beans with a king and a queen to playing a hologram guitar from the future, You Might Find Yourself encourages an exploration of empathy and compassion. In weird and wonderful ways, Tai Snaith unleashes the power of our imagination, and on a journey full of possibilities, all you need to do is imagine where you might find yourself. 

You Might Find Yourself by Tai Snaith is a book about using one’s imagination, not just for creative purposes but in order to create a better world. This picture book is subtle, but surprisingly thought provoking, asking readers of all ages to critically think through some scenarios and what they can do better.

Across each double-page spread Snaith gives the reader a scenario – such as finding yourself in a garden – and asks the reader to imagine what THEY could do to help. In the garden example, Snaith proposes the concept as a friend’s garden, and gives the reader a collage of an ocean bed with an Octopus. Here she asks “imagine what you do to help keep it beautiful”. At first glance, I didn’t notice the plastic bottles littering the  ocean bed and caught up with the Octopus, but once you spot them, they are cleverly hidden everywhere. Thus Snaith is encouraging readers to think of the environment, recycling and looking after our friends both human and non-human. She is actively encouraging readers to become more empathic, compassionate and tolerant about the world around us and the people and animals we encounter along the way.

Snaith’s text is short and to the point, and yet the text is ambiguous enough that there are a variety of meanings that can be easily interpreted. Across each double-page spread, Snaith uses no more than two sentences (one per page) to propose the scenario and guide the reader’s imagination on each topic. This when combined with her clever use of collage creates a picture book that is duly aimed at the very young (the books age recommendation is four to six years of age) and the not so young (i.e adults reading). All of which makes this one hell of a powerful picture book.

You Might Find Yourself was long-listed/noteables for the CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood award 2020.

 

To purchase a copy of, visit the following online retailers:

THAMES & HUDSON | AMAZON AUS | ANGUS & ROBERTSON | BOOKTOPIA | BOOK DEPOSITORY | DYMOCKS | QBD

To learn more about Tai Snaith, visit the following social media pages:

Author Website | INSTAGRAM | Goodreads

 

REVIEW: ‘Spinning’ by Tillie Walden

Published: 12th Septemeber 2017

Publisher: First Second

Pages: 395

Format: Paperback Graphic novel (purchased)

RRP: $33.99 aud

4/5 Stars

It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion—and she finally needed to find her own voice.

Spinning by Tillie Walden is a graphic novel memoir about Walden’s childhood.

Spinning looks at the often glossed over moments of competitive skating and mid-level sport. The early mornings, late nights, the hours spent tracking back and forth to rink and further abroad to competitions. The cost of giving up your ‘life’ to spend endless hours in sparse hotel rooms, often alone, and the personal cost of pulling yourself into regulation tights, dresses and making yourself up to be someone who at the heart you just aren’t. Not to mention the strain financially, and personally, it puts on your relationship with your friends and family members. Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘Upright Women Wanted’ by Sarah Gailey

Published: 4th February 2020

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 176

Format: Hardback (purchased)

RRP: $32.99

3/5 Stars

In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Woah … where to start.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey is a futurist, pulp-western, with bad-ass, queer-identifying librarians novella. It’s a wild ride.

How to like the person who she was instead of fighting it.

To be honest, I can’t recall ever having read a true pulp-western novel before. So I was relying on the movies I’d seen to familiarise myself with the general style of the western aspects of the novella. I was intrigued by the futuristic dystopian aspects, and so looking forward to reading about some bad-ass, outlaw, queer librarians.  The cover was quirky, the premise was fun and the hardback with its deckled pages were beautiful.  I dived right in with high expectations.

As it turns out, I think my expectations might have been a bit too high for this one.

Don’t get me wrong Upright Women Wantedhas some amazing moments of pure gold commentary, that leaves you both awed and hits you right in the chest.

When there’s people around that we don’t trust, we let them think we’re the kinds of people who are allowed to exist. And the only kind of Librarian that’s allowed to exist is one who answers to ‘she’.

Set during a war-torn not-so-distant future, where all the money has gone to fighting wars and left the world in a state of disrepair, the Librarians travelled the country in their wagons delivering approved reading material to each outpost.

Or so that’s what the general public presume they do.

After watching her best friend, and sometimes lover, be executed for having ‘unapproved reading materials’ on her person, Esther knows she needs to leave town before she faces a similar future. As fate would have it, the Librarians are leaving town, and Esther tows away in their wagons hoping that the moral upstanding Librarians can ‘fix’ her.

‘You think you don’t get anything good, because you feel the wrong way about the wrong people’.

Naive, sheltered, and somewhat small-minded, Esther quickly learns that she has no idea about the world around her or the true identity and purpose of the Librarians. Nor does she understand that there are other ways to be.

“Everywhere,” Esther whispered to herself. “There are people like us everywhere.”

I really enjoyed the Queer representation in this short, action-packed novella. There are a number of sapphic romances represented, as well as polyamorous partners, non-binary characters and allusions to other queer identities.

Through non-binary characters like Cye, lesbian characters like Bet and Leda, and polyamorous lovers like Genevieve and Tracy, Esther’s naivety gives the reader a safe place to learn about other sexualities and identifies. To ask questions, make comments, and leave behind preconceived notions and expectations of what makes a person. It’s a safe space to learn about the use of ‘they’ instead of ‘he or she’, when the misuse of a pronoun can inexplicitly hurt the individual your talking to. It’s about eliminating the harm caused by careless words within the queer and larger community, and growing awareness for some of these common mistakes.

Keep fighting. It will be hard, and it will be awful, and it will be worth it. Don’t give up, even when it feels like dying. Don’t give up. This is only the beginning.

However, I wish the story had been extended beyond the scope of a novella, as so much of the action happens in a matter of pages, leaving the story falling short in execution for me personally. I would have preferred for Gailey to have extended the story into a slightly longer tale, where the characters and situations are perhaps more developed and explored. As it is, you read a lot of what is happening between the lines of the dialogue, as Esther’s naivety shrowds a lot of the novel.

While I enjoyed Upright Women Wanted, the narrative itself isn’t exactly memorable. I read this on the first day of the Queer Lit Readathon (round five was held 31st May – 6th June), and its already hard to summarise and remember. However, the feelings, thoughts and emotions relating to gender and sexuality have stayed with me quite strongly.

Upright Women Wanted is a story of self-discovery and self-exploration. It’s about what it means to be a person, and who and how you let those around you shape, or taint, your own expectations and perspectives of yourself.  It’s short, punchy, and rolling read.

Lastly, I want to leave you with a quote from the authors note, to inspire YOU to pick up this book:

I owe this book […] to every queer person out there who thinks they don’t have a future, who thinks there’s no place for them in this world, who thinks that all is lost if they can’t find a way to bury the person who they are:

This is for you. This is for all of you. There’s a place for you in the future, and its better than you can possibly imagine.

 

To purchase a copy of, visit the following online retailers:

TOR.COM | AMAZON AUS | AMAZON USA | ANGUS & ROBERTSON | BARNES & NOBLE |  BOOKTOPIA | BOOK DEPOSITORY | DYMOCKS | QBD

To learn more about Sarah Gailey, visit the following social media pages:

SARAH GAILEY’S WEBSITE | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

REVIEW: ‘Bossy Bastard’ by J.L. Perry (Cocky Hero Club)

Published: 14th June 2020

Publisher: Cocky Hero Club

Pages: 424

Format: ebook (ARC courtesy of the author)

RRP:  $43.99 and (ebook)

5/5 Stars

ASHTON BARCLAY, or as I like to call him, Mr. B. for Bossy, is fast becoming the bane of my existence.

After running into him, literally, he’s now popping up everywhere, and somehow managing to weave his way into my life.

He’s egotistical, smug, and so ridiculously good-looking it should be illegal—he’s way too hot to handle. I don’t do hot, those type of guys are more trouble than they’re worth.

Although, I’d secretly love to do him.

We’ve kissed once—it was smokin’, and led to me dry humping his leg in front of the entire club like a shameless hussy. Oh, and did I mention I deep throated his thumb within seconds of meeting him? I didn’t even know his name yet.

I have issues, big ones.

He makes me do things I never imagined myself doing.

He makes me feel things I’m not comfortable feeling.

It just wouldn’t work, even if I wanted it to. Between us we have more baggage than a carousel at LAX airport.

He’s everything I want, but can never have.

Or so I thought.

Bossy Bastard is one hell of addictive, page-turning, feel-good, alpha-loving, romance by best selling author J.L. Perry. If that didn’t give it away, I loved this book, and highly recommend it to everyone looking for a feel-good romance. Continue reading

REVIEW: When Billy was a Dog by Kirsty Murray and illustrated by Karen Blair

Published: 3rd June 2019

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback (borrowed from the library)

RRP: $24.99

5/5 Stars If you can’t have a puppy, maybe the next best thing is to be a puppy.


‘Can I please, please, please have a dog?’ asked Billy. ‘Would you walk it every day and wash it if it got dirty?’ ‘I would, I promise!’ said Billy. Billy wants a dog. He really really really wants one. Billy’s parents aren’t so sure. So one morning, Billy takes matters into his own paws.
When Billy Was A Dog is THE picture book for any dog lover out there.  It has also been shortlisted for this year’s CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood book week award for 2020.