What Happened to You? by James Catchpole

Published: 6 April 2021Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Faber & Faber
Illustrator: Karen George
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

This is the experience of one-legged Joe, a child who just wants to have fun in the playground. Constantly seen first for his disability, Joe is fed up of only ever being asked about his leg. All he wants to do is play Pirates.

But as usual, one after the other, all the children ask him the same question they always ask, “What happened to you?”

Understandably Joe gets increasingly angry until finally the penny drops and the children realise that it’s a question Joe just doesn’t want to answer…and that Joe is playing a rather good game…one that they can join in with if they can stop fixating on his missing leg.

Because children are children, after all.

I really liked this book, more than I thought I would. I picked it up based solely on the front cover and my curiosity of the story, but by the end I was surprised of the story direction. I thought it might have been a simple plotless book about understanding people were different but instead it’s a great story that demonstrates people are different but also have no obligation to tell you about it.

Immediately we’re told of Joe’s discomfort at having to meet other kids. Even as a young kid Joe is tired of people asking about his leg, interrupting his playtime. I loved that we start by seeing Joe playing, using his imagination and enjoying himself then show the trepidation as someone joins him. Catchpole doesn’t let us off easy though as page after page drives home Joe’s discomfort at the intrusive questions by the kids.

The illustrations and the text work well together as you can’t escape the visual of the kids ganging up on Joe, badgering him with questions and demanding an answer to their own curiosity. George keeps them simple but relevant and they are a great expression of Joe’s imagination.

I also liked how Joe turns the kids questions back on them, to ask their opinions. It’s great to show a young kid already have agency to make people understand how rude their questions can be, even if they are only curious. Catchpole also makes a great point of asking the question why people need to know. No one owes you an explanation. Of course everyone learns their lesson at the end, but what was great was that Joe isn’t the one to initiate it. Catchpole has told a great story about being yourself, using your words to push back against conversations you don’t want to have and it’s a great example that could be used in a myriad of other situations and circumstances.

You can purchase What Happened to You? via the following

 Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

My Decennium (aka my 10th blogiversary) + Giveaway

I spent a long time online looking up words relating to ten because aside from decahedron and decade I couldn’t think of anything fancy. A decade sounds like a lot but I do like the idea of celebrating a decennium. Rolls off the tongue better than tenth anniversary. If only I’d thought of it earlier I could have cooler sounding titles for each anniversary.

The “official” tenth anniversary present is tin. Not very exciting. But branching out the anniversary colour is silver and the anniversary flower is the daffodil. So that’s nice. I might gift myself something encompassing all three and see what I find. Very much like the Peter, Paul and Mary song about the thing that went zip when it moved and bop when it stopped. No one will know what it is but it will be The Most Suitable Present of the occasion.

I bring you all these facts because once again I am astounded, astounded by the passing of lineal time and each year January arrives and I’m left to face the fact another year has passed. I had a skim through previous blogiversary posts and there’s been a few years where I’ve been caught unaware of time. My fifth anniversary was mind boggling, I started to have a crisis for my seventh and eighth about this one and it wasn’t even time yet.

This might be the longest thing I’ve ever done, especially online. The time, effort, commitment, the fact I am still happily doing it is baffling to say the least. I can’t explain it but I’ve chosen not to look at it too closely. It was even a fluke that it happened in January, I’d been thinking about it on and off for months and I finally bit the bullet and it happened to be the start of a new year. So little of everything this past decade has been planned.

I’d like to say a lot has changed in the past ten years, and it has of course, generally speaking. The internet has stayed relatively the same in my little corner though. No major developments or losses on the blogging front after the first move back in the early days. No new social media, no losses of social media. Goodreads stuck around through all of it (though I have made the move to The Storygraph and giving that a whirl). No, looking back its all changes in my writing, my reading a little bit, but I’m fascinated by the sameness. It’s reliable. Having said that who knows what things I’ve put in motion writing that down and next year I’ll be eating my words.

I am going big for this decennium occasion. I am going to have more giveaways through the year, I am mixing up my blogiversary one, partly to share some of my all-time favourite reads and partly because my Top Five is a hard one to work with this time around, and I feel like this needs to be An Event. I want to thank people who have been following my blog from day one as well as those who have only joined the club recently. I have all year to think of new fun things to do and even if they aren’t huge things, a little gift here and there is always fun.

I was initially going to pick one from each year but of course trying to pick one from every past Top Five was hard enough and too much choice is a bad thing. Instead I’ve chosen some books that really spoke to me over the years. That have stayed with me and I still think about. There is a mix of YA, adult and a bit of everything for everyone across genres.

You know the rules but I’m adding generosity this year. I am giving away THREE books to THREE lucky people. I am opening it internationally on the basis of The Book Depository shipping to your country, and there will be multiple ways to enter as per usual.

The Selection

Boys R’ Us by Scott Monk

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Once and Future (#1) by A. R Capetta

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Looking For Alaska by John Green

The Martian by Andy Weir

Northern Lights (#1) by Phillip Pullman

There were so many I wanted to add but I couldn’t find a place where they could be bought which is a shame. So many of the self-published or small publisher books I’ve loved over the years have disappeared. Thankfully I snagged a copy when I could because it’s incredibly depressing they’re now impossible to track down. having said that this is by no means my reject list. But I really wanted to highlight some amazing books and having to choose between amazing books and fantastic books was incredibly hard. I had to pick books that are my go to faves when I think about. That live in my mind and I think about often. But please have a look through past Top Fives and blogiversary posts and even random posts to find some gems and see if you can track them down. It will be worth it.

 

To enter: For a chance to win one of the listed books simply enter here and complete the Rafflecopter form.

Please note: This giveaway is international on the basis the Book Depository ships to your country. To see if you are eligible you can check their website.

Thank you for helping me celebrate and if you entered the draw I wish you the best of luck!

Giveaway runs until midnight AEDT on Friday 24th February 2023

Wait! by Beck and Matt Stanton

Published: 19 March 2018 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
ABC Books
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

‘Wait! Just wait!’ You find yourself saying this all the time, right?

Well, we’re sorry, but you’re gonna hate this book!

This book is going to make you wait too. Once you and the kids start reading it, you can’t do anything else until it’s finished.

You’ll just have to … wait.

And the kids will love it!

I love the Stanton Drive Kids Crazy books and this is another to add to the list. While it wasn’t as funny as the others to read to yourself, I can see how reading this out loud would be a fun activity, and one that certainly plays up to the words in the book.

The creative use of the text to infer and influence speech is amazing and when you have wiggler and impatient people then this is a great torturous read. There are multiple activities to do while you ‘wait’ with each page, humming, patting your head, wriggling your toes. It’s also makes you stay by saying you aren’t allowed to leave until you finish, which also brings in great grown up involvement as well.

Beck and Matt have definitely tapped into a great formula with these books and it goes against usual reading conventions by making you very aware you’re reading a book and lets you interact with it in innovative ways.

You can purchase Wait! via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Top Five of 2022

I did not realise until writing this I had so many rereads in my five star category. I thought there’d be more but clearly I was not that generous last year. I thought about adding some four stars but that is not the rules here. I had 25 to choose from and most of them were in a series or rereads. On the flipside, if I had read the pile of picture books I had gotten from work last year when I borrowed them instead of early in the new year I would have a few more options for that category, but those will have to wait for next time. Like last year where I only had four main reads, this time I only have four in my picture books. I will definitely have to up my reading game this year and try and find some magnificent reads that are stand alone books.

But that’s a later problem. These are my top five reads of 2022.

Animorphs by K. A. Applegate

The highlight of the whole entire year was finally reading the masterpiece that is Animorphs. As a whole I have to give the entire series five stars. A lot of the individual books rated five stars, but I have to acknowledge the absolute way this series took over my life for two months and continues to live in my head as one of the most impactful things I’ve ever read.

 

 

The Martian by Andy Weir

This was a reread but it was amazing once again. I love the humour and the amazing science behind it. Mark is a great narrator and Weir tells the story in creative ways that are impactful and clever. There are enough little surprises that each time I am amazed by a plot twist because there’s tiny details I forget while other favouritess stick firmly in my mind.

 

 

 

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

This is number two in the series but it was an amazing read. Wayward Children is a brilliant series and tells the story of children who have found other worlds and then returned to their original world often against their wishes. Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the backstory of two characters we met in book one and is an incredible insight into their characters and the imagination of McGuire. It’s a tad morbid and maybe lightly gruesome in context with mad scientists and paranormal figures but highly enjoyable with a fabulous narrative voice and dry humour.

Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden

Another reread but the entire series holds up really well. My favourite book is still number five Burning for Revenge but going on the whole journey with Ellie, Homer and everyone else after so many years was so much fun and it’s truly a classic Aussie YA series everyone should read. It goes through the realities of war, of growing up, of being teenagers, and enduring the unexpected and unfathomable.

 

 

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Even though I gave this five stars when I read it, it feels weird adding to my Top Five. It feels too obvious. Too…I dunno, weird. But it certainly a five star read. Douglas Adams is a genius with his words, his ideas, his ability to loop everything back together and weave the strings together where what seems nonsensical suddenly had greater meaning. And then of course at the same time make you realise nothing has meaning. It’s a fantastic book and a great introduction to the five book trilogy and even though it seems a clear choice, you can’t ignore it is still all these years later an amazing read.

 

 

Picture Books

The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen

Jon Klassen is one of my all-time favourite picture book authors and this is a new addition to his spectacular catalogue. The humour found in all his books is there, there’s drama and beauty, suspense and jealousy. The use of the page in terms of illustrations and text narration is amazing and I love the unexpectedness of the story.

 

Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion by Stephen W. Martin

I was crying with laughter by the end of this book which is a solid review in itself. The illustrations are also fantastically cute, filled with colour and great character designs. The humour is great, it’s engaging for kids and adults, and the absurdity adds a whole other level of enjoyment.

 

The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser

Once again drawn in by a cute cover and rewarded with a great story. The illustrations aren’t only adorable but there is a great story about wanting to big and grown up only to realise there is something wonderfully special about being yourself and not rushing to change who you are.

 

Mini Rabbit Must Help by John Bond

I was surprised how much I adored this book. Mini Rabbit is adorable and her desire to help and her curiosity and enthusiasm for everything is lovely. The illustrations are charming and really pull you into the story and make you invested in the story.

 

I’m Sticking with You Too by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Published: 7th September 2022Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Simon Schuster Children’s UK
Illustrator: Sam Small
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Much-loved characters Bear and Squirrel are back! And they’ve found the perfect rhythm for their friendship. Until, that is, Chicken turns up… She wants in! But how will Bear and Squirrel feel about accepting a new friend? Will they come to see that some things work out when we do them together. That two can be good…but three can be BETTER?

This beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated follow-up to the bestselling I’m Sticking with You is the perfect book for examining how, even if new friends might disrupt the rhythm at first, the sense of belonging that friendship can bring has the potential to make your heart sing!

It’s a sweet story, one that is enjoyable but I felt may have been a smidge too drawn out. I can see what Prasadam-Halls was doing though, and in terms of the musical nature of the text and the story being told, there is justification to the length.

Chicken wants to join the rhythmic duo of Bear and Squirrel but they are a tight-knit duo who don’t want to ruin their good thing. Prasadam-Halls acknowledges that they aren’t being mean, but to them it wouldn’t work out and it’d throw off their groove.

The story is told in rhyme which makes it a quick read as you get caught up in the rhythm. Something that is a plus because there’s a few pages, though few words on each page. The illustration layout and the position of the text helps you get the beat right as well as enhances the story being told.

Small’s illustrations are great accompaniment and I liked the expressions and activities each character was doing. Minimal facial manipulation doesn’t stop there being great expressions and feelings of the characters.

There is very much a troubadour or minstrel group singing through the forest vibe from the story. Bear and Squirrel playing their instruments and sing along, then the three of them at the end is like a pictorial musical number. I liked how at the end it turns out they still don’t have a rhythm together, Bear and Squirrel were right, but they learn it doesn’t matter.

You can purchase I’m Sticking with You Too via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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