Two Bad Teddies by Kilmeny Niland

Published: 27th October 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Simon and Schuster
Illustrator: Taeeun Yoo
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Gruffy Ted and Tilly Ted loved Mollie-Sue. And Mollie-Sue loved her teddies. They did everything together. One day, a present arrived from Grandma. It was Bendy Bill. Mollie-Sue showed Gruffy and Tilly. “Isn’t he handsome? Look at his long stretchy arms,” she said. “And listen . . . ” She pressed Bendy Bill in the middle. “Oo-oo,” he squeaked.

“I don’t like his silly smile,” said Gruffy. “I don’t like his silly arms,” said Tilly. 

“Mollie-Sue still loves us best,” said Gruffy.

Niland’s warm, affectionate story explores a theme familiar to all—sometimes we only get what we want when we stop trying so hard.

My favourite pair of teddies are back! After we left them in Two Tough Teddies I was surprised to find them again because I didn’t know there was a sequel.

Niland brings us back to the teddies to see how they are faring after the end of the last book and all is not well. With the arrival of a new toy, Gruffy Ted and Tilly Ted become jealous and start plotting on how they can rid the house of this intruder.

With a plot similar to Toy Story, the teddies try different ways to get Molly to stop loving the new toy, fearful that she will no longer love them.

The illustrations are as cute as before, the personalities of Gruffy and Tilly wonderfully explored through their faces and their behaviour. I liked that the new toy Bendy Bill doesn’t become animated, he remains silent and ever-staring. This makes the two teddies’ actions even funnier because Bill continues to stare out blankly.

This a great story about accepting changes and making new friends. It shows that love is shared and while there may be new things, it doesn’t push the old things aside, or make them any less loved.

If you have read the original book there are valid reasons why Gruffy and Tilly may worry they are no longer loved, but Niland doesn’t recap any of that, instead focuses on their jealousy.

I am glad I got to see the continuing adventures of the two tough teddies and as much as I enjoyed this one, it doesn’t quite tug at the heartstrings like the first book does.

You can purchase Two Bad Teddies via the following

QBDBook Depository

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid

Published: 9th April 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harry N. Abrams
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Hi my name is Rowley Jefferson and this is my book. Now I have a diary just like my friend Greg… 

Rowley’s best friend Greg Heffley has chronicled his middle-school years in thirteen Diary of a Wimpy Kid journals. Now it’s Rowley’s turn to give his side of the story.

But Rowley has agreed to tell Greg’s story along the way, too. (After all, Grey says one day he will be rich and famous and the world will need to know how he managed it).

But Rowley’s stories about Greg might not be quite what his friend had in mind . . .

I do not feel bad judging Greg having only read 2 books out of 12. I started the third and could not finish it because he annoyed me so much. Kinney made no secrets in those books about Greg consciously doing bad things and being an awful friend by tricking Rowley, blaming Rowley, and bullying him. This book flips those others on its head as it shows what Greg is like on the other side. For those at the receiving end of his schemes and jokes.

This may be from Rowley’s point of view but it still points out how mean Greg is and how he takes advantage of Rowley’s kind nature. It actually made me sad to see how Rowley is treated. He puts up with Greg and still sees him as a best friend. Seeing Greg’s actions on Rowley are an entirely different thing than seeing Rowley react to those actions, I wasn’t angry I was heartbroken.

The language Kinney uses is ideal because it uses feelings kids can relate to and the situations he describes were so familiar: Rowley trying to work on homework and having Greg interrupt him and distract him; Rowley expressing his feelings of wanting to do well in school and admits hating having Greg try to derail that; even just having Rowley try to enjoy the things he likes without Greg coming and stealing them or ruining them. The fact Rowley actually hides in his house to escape Greg is a fantastic example of how much of a terrible kid this is.

I am excited that kids will get to see the other side of Greg’s antics and realise how much of a toxic and abusive kid he is. I hope it sparks conversations about bullying and being taken advantage of, and what a real friend would do. One fantastic thing is that Rowley’s parents also tell him he needs to find a new friend. Multiple times. Even Greg’s mum helps Rowley and makes Greg apologise for his behaviour.

Rowley is a sweet kid. He is a kid who hasn’t got a lot of friends and he has been Greg’s friend for so long he can’t see him not being there. Rowley is not the stupid kid Greg makes him out to be, he is naïve, he is sweet, but he also pities Greg which I found intriguing.

I have made it no secret my dislike for Greg in the other books but I am thrilled that Kinney has made this move because it shines a spotlight on Greg’s behaviour, no hiding behind jokes and fun boyish antics, this story takes Greg out from being portrayed as a victim and a poor kid who is hard done by the world. This shows him to be a bully and a manipulative little brat who every adult around him can see he is a mean person.

The reviews I’ve seen either praise this book or shame it. Those who dislike it often say they didn’t like how Greg was portrayed. They are a variation of “Rowley just points out how awful Greg is! I know he was naughty but the books were funny so it was ok”. Maybe you just needed to have been bullied to see what the effect of those actions really are. But Greg was funny so what did it matter?

You can purchase What If? via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Long Lost Review: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

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: 1968Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Lancer Books
Pages: 287
Format: Paperback
Genre: Classic/Adventure
★   ★  ★  ★ – 4 Stars

Phileas Fogg rashly bets fellow members of the Reform Club £20,000 that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days, and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompanied by his hot-blooded French manservant, Passepartout. Travelling by train, steamship, sailboat, sledge, and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks, and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard to win the extraordinary wager.

This is a classic story and one that I enjoyed a lot. I won’t say it isn’t without its problems, but there is a good adventure story that is fascinating to read about. I finally read this a couple years ago. I knew this story existed, seen it referenced, I had also seen the Mickey Mouse version of it as a kid and loved it. Naturally the book has more in it than the 10 minute short, but the essential story was the same.

Being written more than a century ago of course some consideration must be given for the writing style and the racial slurs, but I think it is important to both acknowledge that they are bad, but also know the time in which the story is written to understand their use. The Britishness of the characters is otherwise charming and proper and it is a delight to travel with these characters, especially as you get to see various parts of the world at the same time, even if it is only briefly. Without actually looking it up, I am interested to know how Verne knew about these routes/places. Whether it was based on some research or he made it up. I have seen some criticism saying he doesn’t go to Australia or Africa (he does go to Egypt), but the point is to go around the world, not visit every continent/country.

Passepartout was a great character. He was entertaining and long suffering. Phileas Fogg and Inspector Fix are also great characters. Aside from the wager I am trying remember if there was any additional plot. The drama comes from the outrageous of the bet, the suspense if they will reach their ports and meet their trains on time, not to mention any interruptions.

I recall this being an interesting read. It is engaging and there is intrigue as they meet their various modes of transport. One thing that I was waiting for was the hot air balloon. I was under the impression that at some point he ends up on a balloon which is not the case, not sure how that came to be common belief. One thing I love are stories that use technicalities and word play to trick and outwit and I love that this uses that to a degree. Depending how much people know about the story I won’t go into it, but there are some great surprises.

There’s something fulfilling about reading the story and then seeing the interpretation on screen. I think the charm remains with the book over the movies, there’s a seriousness but a whimsy about it that never crosses over to the farcical which a few movies have. Definitely give it a go if you want some good classic literature that isn’t boring.

 

 

There’s a Koala in My Kitchen by Sean Farrar

Published: 5th April 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Big Sky Publishing
Illustrator: Pat Kan
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Have you ever found a furry Koala kidding around in your kitchen?

Or been hassled by a great white shark at your park? Giggled at a Kookaburra causing chaos with Dad’s cooking?

There’s a Koala in my Kitchen takes children and parents on a rollicking, rhyming journey with plenty of funny, feisty Aussie animals.

I was expecting the entire book to be about the hassles one has having a koala in their kitchen but I was pleasantly surprised to find it filled with fun limericks about Australian animals and their antics.

Farrar’s book is a clever and poetic as it tells a great Aussie story about a host of great Aussie animals. The rhyming nature promotes great pace as the story can be told slowly but with style.

The animals include the well-known favourites like koala’s and platypuses, but also eagles, flatheads, and a pobblebonk! The humour is light hearted and nothing too sinister, it is a great book to read before going to bed, aided by the narrative, but works anytime.

The illustrations by Kan are quirky; each animal given a personality in their representation. They are cartoonish but not unrecognisable, and Kan’s painted drawings are colourful and whimsical and match Farrar’s limericks well.

I’m glad this was a fun read, especially after my initial disappointment. It’s a good story to learn about some Australian animals but also a great use of limerick too. It’s quirky and light hearted and Farrar’s tone is perfectly placed starting high and working down into a satisfying conclusion.

You can purchase There’s a Koala in My Kitchen via the following

QBD | Booktopia

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon

Purple Snow by Eric Lobbecke

Published: October 1st 2009Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Penguin Random House Australia
Illustrator: Adam Stower
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Star

Cockatoo has traveled all the way from Australia to Polar Bear’s home to see the white snow. But it’s not what he expects. When he invites his friends to see the purple snow that falls in Australia in summer each year, they laugh and laugh. Only Polar Bear is willing to make the trip. But at the end of an exhausting journey he is too tired to look for the purple snow. He falls asleep—and wakes up to a big surprise!

Under the premise of visiting his friends in the North Pole to see snow, Cockatoo visits and meets all of Polar Bear’s friends the penguins and the walrus. Cockatoo then invites everyone back to see the purple snow of Australia.

This is a simple story, nothing overly complicated and there is no explanation about the environment or Australian nature. Whether I was expecting a full story filled with conversations about Australia’s ‘snow’ and even just extra narration about where they had actually gone instead of picking up clues from the illustrations. Perhaps this is to keep it an ‘anywhere in Australia” feel, but having Grafton on the train station sign is a tad giveaway.

There is an environmental message about climate change but it isn’t a focus of the story. Instead Lobbecke shows the magic of snow and how the animals wish to see it again and the journey Cockatoo takes with his friend all the way to Australia and then through the harbour and on the train to see the purple snow.

It was a charming read but I do wish it was a bit more complicated, it has the potential to have a great Australian environment aspect, though the surprise and mystery has its appeal as well.

You can purchase Purple Snow via the following

QBD

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