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.

Dec 27, 2015

Books reviewed 8.10.15

There are many books that help children to develop insight into our traditions of reading and writing. They belong in family collections to be shared and to enrich our cultural experience.
The Arabian Nights

Retold by Robert Leeson, illustrated by Christina Balit
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
ISBN: 9781847807151
RRP: $27.95

This collection samples 10 tales from One Thousand and One Nights, the tales of Scheherazade to Shahryar the King. They include the best-loved Aladdin and his Lamp and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves amongst other lesser known tales, all giving an entrancing taste of their exotic origins. The writing is clear and elegant, filled with poetic rhythms and mystical conundrum. The illustrations are reminiscent of murals of the old Mediterranean, with rich colours that reflect the drama of the stories. It is one of a timeless series being reissued called The Classics; don’t miss this new chance to collect them.
Queen Guinevere

Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Christina Balit
Francis Lincoln Children’s Books
ISBN: 9781847807168
RRP: $27.95

This is another title in the reissued The Classics series. These tales from Arthurian legend are about female characters, not all of them nice. They reveal a different Arthur to the chivalrous king of yore – more ruthless and proud, but no less tragic. The writing is in the style of a wandering minstrel with an essence of recollection rather than in-the-moment action. The illustrations are drawn with signature stylised elegance, having the character of coloured glass. Colours are subdued but bold in a palette that reflects regality and Camelot fields. The legend lives on.
The Hush Treasure Book

Various Australian authors and illustrators
Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781760112790
RRP: $29.99

Commissioned by the Hush Foundation which produces healing music for use in children’s hospitals, this collection contains the writing and illustration of 31 talented contributors from Australian children’s literature. They are shown in a photo-gallery at the end of the book. There’s something to suit every taste: stories, poems, carton strips, even a maze; illustrations in every technique and style you could imagine, from full page pictures to exquisite vignettes. It’s the kind of book where you don’t have to read every story, certainly not in one sitting or in order; it’s designed to be dipped into and shared. Eclectic and entertaining.

Dec 18, 2015

Australian picture books for Christmas


Nadia Wheatley, illustrated by Armin Greder
Windy Hollow Books

The soldiers are coming; the family must flee. Narrowly they avoid the dangers to find humble refuge in another land. An ancient story; yet a story of our times. [Mature readers: 8+ yrs]
The Nutcracker

retold by Margrete Lamond, illustrated by Ritva Voutila
Little Hare [Hardie Grant Egmont]

An elegant retelling of the battle between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince, lavishly illustrated in Victorian style. [5+ yrs]
What do you wish for?

Jane Godwin, illustrated by Anna Walker
Penguin Viking

Ruby takes a little longer than the other children to decide what her Christmas wish will be – in order to make it worthwhile. [4-8 yrs]
The Christmas peg

Cameron Williams, illustrated by Matthew Martin
Penguin Viking

Three times in a row on Santa’s naughty list and Wal’s presents just get worse. Will he ever learn? [3-8 yrs]
Santa's tight squeeze

Alex Field, illustrated by Karen Erasmus
New Frontier Publishing

Ever wondered how Santa can keep eating all that delicious milk and cookies and still fit down those chimneys? Well actually, he doesn’t! [3-6 yrs]
Reindeer's Christmas surprise

Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Sue DeGennaro
Allen & Unwin

Reindeer loves to give gifts to his Australian friends; readers are encouraged to guess what they are. Can you guess the surprise in store for him! [3-6 yrs]
The naughtiest reindeer at the zoo

Nicki Greenberg
Allen & Unwin

Sequel to The naughtiest reindeer (2013) and this time Ruby is staying at the zoo for Christmas. Knowing Ruby, is that such a good idea? [4-8 yrs]
Christmas at Grandma's beach house

Claire Saxby, illustrated by Janine Dawson
The Five Mile Press

All the fun of an Australian Christmas sung to the tune of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Companion to Christmas at Grandad's farm (2013). [4-8 yrs]

Dec 12, 2015

Books reviewed 27.08.15.

Oh dear! Almost forgot to gender balance...

Some great books for girls!
The fairiest fairy

Anne Booth, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
Nosy Crow [Allen & Unwin]
ISBN: 9780857633156
RRP: $22.99

The cover is a giveaway, let alone the title. Betty the little fairy muddles up all her spells. She actually has to resort to practical measures to help out her forest friends with their problems. Then comes the day that Betty has to prove her own fairy-ness and her friends return to give her confidence. The text has a bouncing rhythm in rhyming verse and the mixed-media illustrations are brightly coloured and breezily humorous. It is a lovely story about helping, having courage, gaining confidence and the value of friendship.
I’m a girl!

Yasmeen Ismail
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
ISBN: 9781408857007
RRP: $15.99

Never judge a book by its cover – or its title at least. Here it is a protest rather than a statement of fact. The energetic and feisty protagonist loves to get into the action. She is messy, impulsive, noisy and fast – on the running track and the skateboard. She is also being mistaken for a boy all the time. Her loud protests turn a few stereotypes on their heads and of course she is destined to meet a boy – not to meet her match, but to become best friends. The brief but boisterous text is assertively emphatic. Splashy wet watercolour illustrations are spontaneous and lively. The story is nothing about gender but being able to be yourself and enjoying it. All children realise this in this tale.
Go to sleep, Jessie!

Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Little Hare Books [Hardie Grant Egmont]
ISBN: 9781742977805
RRP: $24.95

Big Sister gets annoyed when screaming Little Sister won’t go to sleep; what does Family do? But, the realisation of this simple plot is something magical. The words are just enough, almost ordinary, but in an authentic, family kind of way. They beg to be read aloud. The illustrations engage from the start, vignetting familiar family strategies to get Jessie to sleep. Finally, Big Sister stumbles across the endearing solution, one that all families will recognise – big brothers too. More than a bedtime story, this is the story of bedtime in most family households.

Dec 6, 2015

Books reviewed 17.09.15

To keep books alive young children need engaging, memorable reading experiences from a very early age. Novelty books are a great source of fun.

Donald Lemke, illustrated by Bob Lentz
Capstone Books [Hardie Grant Egmont]
ISBN: 9781623701833
RRP: $14.95

With colourful graphic images and punchy rhymes this book is a silly game which even the youngest of readers will enjoy – infectious chuckling from a baby in the cot as the faces change; entertainment of the toddler trying to make the sounds that fit the bearded character; the antics of the adult doing the same – arrg! from the pirate, ho, ho, ho! from Santa. Books can be fun and here’s one to prove it. (Also Hats, Masks and Teeth; all in board format.)

Shanti Sparrow
Chirpy Bird Books [Hardie Grant Egmont]
ISBN: 9781760123307
RRP: $16.95

Occupy toddlers in quiet times with magical colours and beautiful patterns in these illustrations of animals rendered in subtle monochrome – from pink flamingos to a grey wolf shaded blue in the moonlight. While the colours are subtle, the outlines and shapes are bold to catch the eye of the curious child. The name of the colour is in large type, with a name for the animal in small type below that. Leave it in their cots for them to wake up to and browse. (Also Shapes; board books.)
The big book of happy

Natalie Marshall
The Five Mile Press
ISBN: 9781760066895
RRP: $14.95

This vibrant and cheerful large board book shows a collection of scenarios for happiness – on one side there are animals, on the other is a child enjoying a similar activity. Readers are invited to talk about what makes them happy in this way. The illustrations are stylised, busy with bright, bold colours and lots of patterns to find – from the plumage of owls, to musical notes and carrots growing underground. It’s a playful book with a simple rhythmic text that contains lots of action verbs. (Companion to The big book of silly.)