Amazing Babes by Eliza Sarlos

Published: 1st November 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Scribble Kids Books
Illustrator: Grace Lee
Pages: 56
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Star

A unique picture book for young and old that celebrates inspirational women from around the world and across generations. You will recognise some and be delighted to meet others.

Amazing Babes was originally written as a gift from a mother to her son. It introduces women such as Gloria Steinem, pioneer of the American women’s movement; Kathleen Hanna, lead singer from 1990s seminal punk-rock act Bikini Kill; Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s pro-democracy leader; Miles Franklin, 20th-century Australian writer and feminist; and Malala Yousafzai, a passionate advocate of worldwide access to education. All the women in this book had the ideas, determination, and creativity to bring about change in the world, and in learning about their stories we honour their achievements. 

This is a beautifully simple but empowering book that is an ideal start for children to discover history’s greatest women as well as start them on a path to strive and be the best people they can be.

The women in this book include Hedy Lamarr, Bertha Lutz, Leymah Gbowee, Edith Cowan and Mum Shirl. The 20 women highlighted are from around the world and from a range of eras. The words are simple and the illustrations from Lee are beautiful painted portraits. Sarlos does not provide a page long biography of these women like other books of this kind, instead the focus is on their attributes like determination, bravery, dedication and curiosity. At the end there is a mini biography of each of these amazing women which highlight their achievements but the inspiration initially comes from the main story.

The cover says “for kids and adults” which is important because there are lessons and goals for everyone to take with them and live their life by. The story starts with a simple prompt “As I grow…” which has much more impact than “As I grow up…”, limiting this to a child’s aspiration. Sarlos reminds us that we are always growing and there is always time to start striving to be better people.

What I loved about this book was it wasn’t just a focus on these women and their achievements, because that doesn’t come until the end. Sarlos wants the reader to aspire to be wonderful just like those in the book. Their commitment and fortitude that made them change their world and the world around them and it’s letting the reader know that they can do the same too.

You can purchase Amazing Babes via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

Long Lost Review: Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology edited by Danielle Binks

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 24th April 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins Australia
Pages: 322
Format: Paperback
Genre: Anthology/ Young Adult
★   ★  ★  ★  ★ – 5 Stars

With Anthology August underway I was fortunate to even have an anthology in my “read but not reviewed” pile. Begin, End, Begin is a fantastic example of Australia’s talent and YA capabilities. I loved all of these stories which is so rare with anthologies and I found some great new authors that I may never have discovered.

With a theme “Begin, End, Begin” there are so many ways it can be interpreted and I was astounded by the creativity of these authors. I think I loved almost every single one of these stories which is so rare with an anthology but with this calibre of talent who can really be surprised. I knew of, but had not read, a lot of these authors when this was first released and it was a great chance to see their writing style in small snippets, with a fabulous and engaging story. I still think about a lot of these stories two years later and is a testament to the quality and imagination of these writers. I’ve definitely read a lot more of their works since and it was a real benefit getting a chance to see their styles and fall in love with them first.

Some of my favourites would have to be ‘One Small Step’ by Amie Kaufman and ‘I Can See the Ending’ by Will Kostakis; both are amazing and certainly ones I have thought about often since. They aren’t the only great ones as there are some beautiful stories in here filled with heart and imagination.

There’s only ten contributors so there is a chance at a longer story from them all, but even so with a few short pages you are brought into these worlds or science fiction, contemporary, romance and diversity. If you are new to the #LoveOzYA phenomenon this is a fantastic way to get introduced to some great authors and see their talent in small, entertaining snippets.

Speaking Out!: An LGBT Anthology edited by Steve Berman

Published: 20th September 2011Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Bold Strokes Books
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Genre: Anthology/Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Speaking Out features stories for and about LGBT and Q teens by fresh voices and noted authors in the field of young adult literature. These are inspiring stories of overcoming adversity (against intolerance and homophobia) and experiencing life after “coming out.” Queer teens need tales of what might happen next in their lives, and editor Steve Berman showcases a diversity of events, challenges, and, especially, triumphs.

This collection of thirteen stories tell a variety of stories from a variety of own voices. These are fictional stories but each author has a small bio at the start of their story which lets you see a little into their lives and their own experience being part of the LGBTQTIA community. These small paragraphs are an extra inspiration for readers who may be experiencing their own hardships and having these authors of all sexualities put their own experiences down are real life references outside of these fictionalised stories. The authors are American but a lot of the stories have a focus on the people rather than setting. There is a lot to gain from reading these stories even if you are from outside the States.

I found myself becoming quite invested in some of these stories. When they ended I wanted to know more, I wanted to see the scene after, the scene where they tell, where they act. I had to remind myself not only are these short stories, but they are short stories that capture the moment of speaking out, the events that lead them to have the confidence to do so. This is a testament to the power of these stories, and certainly some were better than others as all anthology readers will attest to. I found myself enraptured by the strength of these characters against homophobia by friends and family, and the danger that that homophobia can have.

The stand out stories to me were Sparks of Change by Dia Pannes which was a powerful read about family and changing the small mindedness of small towns; another one was the beautiful and mystical imagery of Steve Berman’s Only Lost Boys Are Found. One story I particularly adored was Forever is Composed of Nows by Will Ludwigsen; a story about returning back to the place where you had bullying and trauma as a teen, only to return as an adult. It was incredibly well done and insightful to read.

As I said, there are a range of identities and sexualities represented in this anthology and each one is explored in so many different ways. Seeing these characters discover who they are, who they are publically prepared to be was uplifting and something I can imagine teens and young readers would find not only empowering but comforting. Personal stories and essays about experiences by the LGBTQIA are important literature to have, but having fictional worlds to escape to and relate to are also important. This is a great collection of stories and one I found an absolute delight to fall into.

You can purchase Speaking Out! via the following

Book DepositoryDymocksAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Schnitzel Von Krumm’s Basketwork by Lynley Dodd

Published: 3rd December 1996Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Puffin
Illustrator: Lynley Dodd
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Sausage dog, Schnitzel von Krumm, is outraged when his family decides to replace his worn out, beaten up old basket. The new bed doesn’t look right, feel right – or smell right! Something must be done.

This might be my favourite of the Hairy Maclary and Co. books that Dodd has put out. I love Schnitzel von Krumm and not only is he adorable, I love how Dodd describes him. I think why I also love this one story in particular is because I have experienced the exact same situation with my own puppy. She loved her first bed so much it was a whole thing trying to get her to use the new, bigger one.

One particular joy of this story is of course Dodd’s illustrations. She captures Schnitzel von Krumm’s adoration of his bed and his loss when it is taken from him in humorous ways. His expressions are excellent too at expressing his mood and displeasure at his predicaments as he hunts for the ideal cosy spot.

In true Dodd style it’s not just the pictures that shine through because the story and rhymes are fantastic. Dodd’s use of repetition give a wonderful lyrical and melodic read whether aloud or to yourself. I loved how Schnitzel von Krumm’s bed is described and how the same description works for his love of it and the family’s displeasure.

I love this book so much, I have gotten emotional reading it in the past because I read too much into everything and become invested in picture book dogs but it is so sweet it’s hard not to. Plus, having my own experience behind it I am now very conscious that maybe my dog is happy with her too small bed and seeing her squished in there might just be the highlight of her day.

You can purchase Schnitzel Von Krumm’s Basketwork via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Jack Jones: The Lost Temple (#3) by Zander Bingham

Published: 19th September 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Green Rhino Media
Pages: 106
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction/Adventure
★   ★   ★  ★ – 4 Stars

While exploring deep in the jungle, Jack Jones, his sister Emma and best buddy Albert uncover a hidden temple inside a cave that has been lost for centuries. To learn its secrets, they’ll have to cross piranha-filled rivers, creep past an ancient crypt, resolve a slithery situation, and find their way through a temple maze. 

But as the cave starts to crumble around them, will they track down the ancient Book of the Gods and figure out a way to leave before they’re trapped forever? 

Join Jack, his sister Emma and best buddy Albert as they work together to decode symbols to identify the newly-discovered temple, find a way inside, seek to locate an ancient relic that archaeologists have been searching for hundreds of years to find, and escape before the cave collapses around them. 

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

Jack Jones and his friends are back for another exciting adventure. There is no real necessity to read these in any particular order, but there is slightly more detail and background given in The Pirate Treasure that may give some more indication of who these kids are. That’s not to say you aren’t given clues and context here either, but this story jumps straight into an adventure without much history.

I enjoyed this story. The Jack Jones books are classic adventure stories of finding lost temples and secret cities, hidden treasure and all the adventures reminiscent of the classic tales. Ideal for kids to go on the adventures alongside and something which brings out the adventurous spirit. The same sensibilities are evident for the kids and how and why they are allowed to explore. I felt the language was a bit more natural this time around regarding the manners and politeness. There is friendship and helping one another which is endearing, and Bingham demonstrates what kids are capable of achieving and the discovering on their own. He gives them an adventure of being independent and the freedom of taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy.

The technology is there once again with Jack’s tablet, but that isn’t always there to help them, something which adds to the overall narrative. Despite the inclusion of technology, it also shows the kinds of adventures kids can have without technology. Even if we won’t all discover ancient temples, the act of exploring with friends is often an adventure in itself.

While Jack is the central character, I wanted a bit more from the other two like I’d seen in other stories. Albert and Emma have roles to play but in this story it felt like they were often there to push Jack along, Emma even more so than Albert. While there is not a lot of story to give time to extra information, seeing a bit more of these secondary characters would be great.

The stories all end with the kids succeeding and no one getting injured but there are still challenges on the way the kids must overcome. Seeing them be challenged and having to use logic and their minds are good examples for readers, especially for the younger kids.

You can purchase The Lost Temple via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Wordery | Angus & RobertsonFishpond

 Amazon | Amazon Aust | Publisher

Book Face Pacific Fair | Readings Kids

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