Welcome to Children's Corner book reviews from 4MBS Classic Radio FM in Brisbane. Here you will find short annotations of the children's books reviewed by Kerry Neary in Children's Corner on 4MBS, together with the details you need to find them at your favourite bookstore. Any prices shown are the publisher's Australian recommended price and may vary depending on where you shop. You are welcome to use these reviews for newsletters and the like with appropriate acknowledgement.

May 26, 2014

Books reviewed for 10.04.14

War is an uncommon theme for stories for the under 8s but with important centenaries coming up this year and next, authors and publishers appear to have decided that our youngest readers should be told something of our military heritage first hand. Significantly, these stories emphasise the futility of war as much as the adventure.

Gus Haydon and his beloved mare Midnight enlist in the Light Horse Brigade. A brief separation sees Gus fighting in Gallipoli; then it is on to Beersheba and into one of the last great cavalry charges in history. As the Brigade charges in, the images gallop across the page, unstoppable, inevitable, to a sudden, breathtaking and poignant end. The gouache illustrations, in strong colours and naïve style, are arresting and detailed, providing a dramatic backdrop to the story.

Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Frane Lessac

Walker Books Australia          ISBN: 9781921977718           RRP: $27.95

Books reviewed 24.04.14

The poppy

In this version of the story Australians at the French village of Villers-Bretonneux, an unknown narrator visits the district of modern times. Using the device of a poppy flower floating on the wind, the reader visits significant sites in the village, recounting the events that occurred at each. Over 70 evocative illustrations help to tell a tale we should never forget - and the villagers never do.

Andrew Plant

Ford Street Publishing         
ISBN: 9781925000313 (hc) RRP: $26.95          ISBN: 9781925000320 (pbk) RRP: $16.95

Along the road to Gundagai

Revealing an inner meaning to an iconic Australian folk tune, the setting is moved to WW1 and the song presented as the reflections of Diggers about returning home; and though the setting may be WW1, in time for this year's centenary recognition, the ethos is every war, every tour of duty, for every Australian soldier pondering home. Rich contrasts in the colours of Australia and overseas war scenes sharpen the emotion of this book.

Jack O'Hagan, illustrated by Andrew McLean

Omnibus Books (Scholastic)          ISBN: 9781862919792           RRP: $24.99

I was only nineteen

This classic modern Australian song is credited with helping to heal the rift between the Australian community and the Vietnam veterans. The story tells of one soldier’s experience, yet many soldiers’ experiences, of that war with illustrations showing its unpredictability, isolation and dramatically changing face, as well as the innocence in the faces of the boys sent to fight it. The endpapers add a poignant and moving touch that sounds the depth of the heart wrenching essence of the song. Lest we forget.

John Schumann, illustrated by Craig Smith         

Allen & Unwin          ISBN: 9781743317235           RRP: $24.99

May 3, 2014

Books reviewed 3.04.14

One of the most appealing features of children’s picture books is their wit - not just the laugh out loud humour, but the cleverness by which their creators make us laugh out loud.
Shh! We have a plan

Chris Haughton
Walker Books
ISBN: 9781406342321           RRP: $24.95

Four intrepid bird-hunters are out a-hunting with their nets when they come upon the most beautiful of birds. The smallest calls out a greeting but the others quickly silence him. They have a plan! Turn the page and we see a tangle of hunters and nets while the bird is flying away. And so it keeps happening. The problem seems to be that no one knows the plan. Then the smallest hunter gets the chance to use the direct approach, with fluttering success! Both text and illustrations are heavily understated. Have the hunters learnt a lesson? Enter a squirrel.