Tag Archives: CBCA shortlisted

The Flywheel by Erin Gough

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flywheelcoverThe Flywheel by Erin Gough, paperback novel, 306 pages, published by Hardie Grant Egmont in 2015.

Del’s life is complicated. After her mother left, Del encouraged her heart-broken father to travel overseas and take time for himself. While he is away, Del is running her father’s café, The Flywheel. She was supposed to just be helping out the manager, but he got deported, and now she’s on her own, trying desperately to keep things going, and she just can’t tell her dad. She also wants to avoid going back to school, where she is supposed to be in year eleven. She’s been copping it for being gay, with the ‘popular’ girls leading the charge with claims of stalking and voyeurism. And she’s got her friend Charlie to worry about; and her crush on Rosa, a girl that dances Flamenco at the Tapas Bar across the road.

A poignant and compelling story of a girl trying to find her place in the world, The Flywheel is about friendship, love, loss, and making the best of any situation. Beautifully written from the stand-point of Delilah, the gay 17 year old protagonist, I found this book to be incredibly hard to put down. I would have finished it in one sitting, but I really needed to sleep!

With excellent description, I could be sitting in The Flywheel now, sipping a triple chocolate milkshake, eating a HAT sandwich and watching the uni students play poker. Or chatting with one of the sunburnt backpackers. Or watching Rosa dance gracefully around the floor at Charada, her red skirt flying. It all felt very true to life. Even the awful bullying that Del faced at school sounded similar to things hurled about in my own school days. I hate that any child should have to endure torture like that, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing Ella (or Georgina) catch a football with her face!

Del is an amazing girl. She is smart, funny, kind, brave, loyal… the list really could go on. I liked her very much. Her life might be in the toilet, but she never really gives up. Determined and independent, she is confident in her sexuality, but expects too much of others. As the story progressed, Del came to know a lot more about herself, and how to live the life she wanted. Charlie also developed quite a lot through the book. He is kind of crazy, yet loveable. He added spice to the story with some of his antics, and his fickleness in love. He is a very good friend to Del. The supporting characters were also well described and easy to picture. I especially liked Misch; she made me laugh.

The Flywheel is a delicious look at contemporary Australian teenage life. It does contains some swearing and sexual references and it is most suitable for middle and upper high school students, through to adults.

The Flywheel is shortlisted for the 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Older Readers category.

 

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Ollie and the Wind by Ronojoy Ghosh

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olliewindcoverOllie and the Wind by Ronojoy Ghosh, hardback picture book, published by Random House Australia in 2015.

The wind blows away Ollie’s hat, and then his scarf. He chases the wind in the hopes of finding his things, but then he realises that the wind wants to play. He just has to find the right toy to share with the wind.

I really like the cover of Ollie and the Wind, I’ve always thought it would be neat to fly on the wind with an umbrella!

This is a sweet story of friendship and sharing. Ollie seems a bit lonely. There aren’t many people around for him to play with, so he spends a lot of time on his own. The ideas he has for catching the wind are a bit funny, especially the butterfly net.

The illustrations are a little different, but lovely. I like how Ollie is drawn; he’s quite cute with a spray of freckles across his nose. The night sky scene with the moon and stars is stunning, and easily my favourite picture in the whole book.

Ollie and the Wind is a nice book for sharing with toddlers, preschoolers and lower primary school students.

 

* Ollie and the Wind is shortlisted for the 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Early Childhood Book category.

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Run, Pip, Run by J. C. Jones

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runpipcoverRun, Pip, Run by J. C. Jones, paperback novel, 193 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2015.

On Pip’s tenth birthday her pseudo-grandfather, Sully, has a stroke and is taken to hospital by ambulance. As Pip has no other family, the police insist that they find her a place to stay while Sully is recovering. Pip is determined not to go to the ‘welfare’ people, so she gives them the slip and sets out on a big adventure that includes disguises, hiding, a psychic cat, a scruffy dog and a friendly but persistent cop on her tail.

A wonderful tale of courage, loyalty and adventure. I really got into this story, and ended up reading it all in one day. The plot moved along quickly, and I found myself completely immersed in Pip’s plight.

I loved the Australian idioms and slang scattered through the story, and Pip’s explanation of them. We use these terms in everyday speech, but they are not often translated into our literature. It made me feel very connected to the story.

I thought Pip was a particularly realistic character. She had been brought up by a grandfather figure with little money and was exposed to gambling and drinking at a young age. It seemed unusual to me that a ten year old would be studying the racing form, but it makes sense with Pip’s background. She may have been savvy with the horses, but she was typically ten in other ways! Misunderstanding the type of rehab that Sully would need, and not wanting to get her teacher in trouble, as well as managing to pick up a stray dog! She was also indignant when the papers reported her as being only nine, which made me smile. She was resourceful and full of determination, a very strong character. Matilda was also a good character. She could have easily given Pip up when she discovered her living in an empty house in her street, but she kept Pip’s secret and helped her, like a good friend should.

Matilda’s cat was an interesting addition to the cast. She helped Pip when she needed it the most, but otherwise remained rather aloof in typical cat fashion. Her psychic abilities were quite useful to Pip. I wouldn’t mind a cat like this, especially if she could help me locate my lost keys, phone, glasses, book…

Run, Pip, Run is suitable for middle primary through to lower high school students. It is a fantastic and enjoyable story, great for a range of young readers. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

* Run, Pip, Run is shortlisted for the 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Younger Readers category.

 

 

The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood

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cleo1coverThe Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood, hardback chapter book, 57 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2014.

Cleo is an average six year old living with her parents, having fun with her friends and learning about her world. In the first story, several of her friends have pretty new necklaces, and she wants one too. In the second story, it is her mum’s birthday, and Cleo wants to get her a really great present.

This is the first book in The Cleo Stories series. It contains two fun short stories, and is illustrated throughout. The illustrations are very distinctive and just lovely. They feel soft and gentle, and complement the story well. The stories are simple yet engaging, which is brilliant for young readers.

Cleo is a sweet little girl. I like her imagination and her sense of style. I love that she often wears animal ear head bands, as it reminds me of my own little girl. I enjoyed reading about her everyday adventures, and so did my first grader. We already have the next Cleo book to read!

The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present is suitable for preschool and lower primary school children. It is good for early independent readers, but is also lovely to share.

 

*The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present was the winner of the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Young Readers category.

My Dog Bigsy by Alison Lester

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mydogbigsycoverMy Dog Bigsy by Alison Lester, hardback picture book, published by Penguin Group in 2015.

Bigsy is an energetic dog that gets up early and runs about the farm visiting all of the animals and making a lot of noise.

My Dog Bigsy is one of my favourite Alison Lester books. It is a delightful and noisy romp about the farm. Bigsy disturbs the cockatoos, Squawk!, chases the sheep, Baa! and says hello to the cat, Flip! Flap! What a loud way to start the day! This is a great story to introduce and have fun with the sounds of different words. My toddlers particularly like it when Bigsy slurps his water and crunches his breakfast.

The illustrations on every page are simple, bold and cute. I like that the background grass and bedspread appear to have been made using some fabric. Bigsy is a pretty cute dog, though Patchy Pig and her piglets are my favourite with their mud splattered tummies.

My Dog Bigsy is suitable for toddlers, preschoolers and lower primary school children. It is best read out loud to make the most of all the sounds that can be heard on the farm.

 

* My Dog Bigsy is shortlisted for the 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Early Childhood Book category.

 

CBCA Shortlist for 2016

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The Children’s Book Council of Australia announced their Book of the Year shortlist for 2016 on Friday. I get so excited waiting for this every year!

Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators of these wonderful books!

I am looking forward to reading as many as I can. Unfortunately there never seems enough time to get through all of them.

 

In the early childhood category;

  • Piranha’s Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
  • The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood
  • My Dog Bigsy by Alison Lester
  • Mr Huff by Anna Walker
  • Perfect by Danny Parker and illustrated by Freya Blackwood
  • Ollie and the Wind by Ghosh Ronojoy

 

In the picture book category;

  • My Dead Bunny by James Foley with text by Sigi Cohen

 

In the younger readers category;

  • The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

 

In the older readers category;

 

Information books;

 

I am quite keen to read The Flywheel, it sounds interesting. I’m also looking forward to sharing the early childhood and picture books with my kids, they are always worth a read. We already love The Cow Tripped Over the Moon and Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, so now I am excited to discover the others.

Which of these books have you read? Which ones do you think will be Book of the Year?

 

Scary Night by Lesley Gibbes and Stephen Michael King

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IMG_5022Scary Night by Lesley Gibbes and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, hardback picture book, published by Working Title Press in 2014.

On a dark and scary night, Pig, Cat and Hare set out on a mysterious journey. Through a dark forest, up hills, over a creek and past a deep, dark cave. Do they get frightened? And where are they going in the middle of the night anyway?

With its lyrical text and distinct illustrations, Scary Night is a fun and engaging picture book for pre-schoolers and lower primary school children. There was some repetition within the text, and a few questions that can help to involve kids in the story. My toddlers and kindergartner enjoyed having this book read aloud to them. My kids really got involved in the story, tracing the stars, and making various night noises, such as hooting when they spotted an owl. They all screamed at the appropriate spot too!

The illustrations matched the story perfectly, and provided just the right atmosphere. The use of colour to depict the creepiness of the night is magnificent. I liked the contrast of colours between their journey and their destination. I thought that Cat was particularly cute and my toddlers liked the bats.

Scary Night was an Honour Book in the 2015 The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards in 2015.

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

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IMG_4940 (1)Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey, hardback picture book, published by Scholastic Australia in 2014.

Pig is a pug, a very greedy pug. He lives with a sausage dog called Trevor, who is sweet and kind. Pig never shares anything with Trevor, claiming everything for himself. He really should share, but will he learn his lesson?

Pig the Pug is a funny book with a message discouraging selfishness and greediness. The lyrical text flows nicely, and is accompanied by clear and simple illustrations. I love the look on Pig’s face when he is standing on top of his pile of toys, it is perfectly maniacal! And I can’t imagine a more perfect ending for this story. I hope Pig learns from his experience, but I have a funny feeling he may need a few more lessons on sharing.

My kids enjoyed this book, and demanded re-reads straight away. They also went away and read the book themselves (3rd grader and kindergartner). They both laughed at Pig’s greedy ways, especially when he was yelling “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!”, which is something their toddler brothers do a lot!

This cute rhyming book is suitable for pre-schoolers and lower primary school children, and is great for reading aloud. Pig the Pug is a shortlisted book for The Children’s Book of the Year Awards in 2015, and has been followed up with a second book, Pig the Fibber.

 

You may also enjoy reviews of Pig the Elf and Pig the Fibber.

The Very Best of Friends by Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas

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IMG_3948The Very Best of Friends by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Julie Vivas, paperback picture book, first published by Margaret Hamilton Books in 1989, this edition published by Scholastic Australia Pty Limited in 2004.

James and Jessie live on a farm with lots of animals, but only one cat, William. As James goes about his jobs on the farm, William goes with him, he curls up on his lap in the evenings and on the bed at night. And then James dies suddenly and Jessie falls deep into grief, shutting William out, letting him run wild and become mean, something he never was with James. To move forwards, Jessie must work on her friendship with William and regain his trust.

A poignant tale of friendship and loss, beautifully spun for younger children, The Very Best of Friends will touch your heart. It is a reminder that all relationships need work, and if you fail to tend them, they will wither, but with a little love, kindness and attention they might thrive again.

While the story is beautiful, the illustrations are distinctive and just gorgeous. I love the way that William is depicted, and how he changes from the well-tended cat to the wild thing he becomes after James dies.

The Very Best of Friends is suitable for primary school children. It is a book I read as a young child,  and I am now sharing it with my own children. This wonderful picture book can be used to start a discussion on the complicated issues of loss and grief, and that life must go on. Though something sad happens, the friendship that blooms between Jessie and William is lovely and inspiring. It is important to keep living your life even when you have lost someone, and I found this book to be helpful in explaining that to my children.

 

* The Very Best of Friends won the 1990 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Picture Book category.

 

The Barrumbi Kids by Leonie Norrington

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IMG_2443The Barrumbi Kids by Leonie Norrington, paperback novel, 196 pages, first published by Omnibus Books in 2002, this edition published by Omnibus Books in 2014.

Dale and Tomias are best friends living in a remote village in the Northern Territory of Australia. Long Hole and surrounds is Tomias’ ancestral land, and Dale’s ancestors were the first white family to settle in the area. They are part of the land, as the land is part of them, though they are still learning to use and respect it, and all the creatures within it. The boys attend the only school in town, along with their siblings and cousins. The boys spend their last year of schooling in Long Hole learning about themselves, their cultures,  overcoming the school bully and getting into plenty of scrapes along the way.

The Barrumbi Kids is a story of friendship and cultural interaction between aborigines and white people. It is also an insightful view of remote communities, and the people that live there. The realities of bush fires and crocodiles, snakes and floods, rural schooling and harsh weather conditions is a constant theme through the story, which also explores the theme of growing up in, what is, for many, a very different environment to their own.

The speech of the characters and the construction of their sentences has been written to imitate the actual language of the area. I found the small glossary of Mayali language and commonly used words at the back of the book useful, though most of it was explained within the story itself. This use of language definitely gave the story a more authentic and unique feel.

An interesting and different read, The Barrumbi Kids is well written, and suitable for middle to upper primary school children and older. The story was funny at times, especially when the kids explored the chook shed, though also slightly scary when Lizzie was being chased by a crocodile, a highlight of the daily dangers faced by the kids in remote Australia. I liked the relationships between the characters, especially that between Tomias and Dale, who are so different, yet so similar. The elders were portrayed well, and I quite liked old Caroleena. I could picture Mrs Armstrong’s sour face so clearly, and her fit of terror over the snake. That had me laughing too.

I’m happy for my second grader to read this book. I expect plenty of questions as she reads it, since the lives of the children in the story are quite different to her experiences. It is good to read something outside our own little sense of the world, I think reading The Barrumbi Kids will encourage her to want to know more about the outback of Australia and about the first settlers to this beautiful land.

 

* The Barrumbi Kids was an honours books for the 2003 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Younger Readers category.