Rusty by Chrissy McYoung

Published: March 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Hairy Phish Publications
Illustrator: Chrissy McYoung
Pages: 56
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Rusty is a dog that is going through the foster care system. Rusty is struggling to cope with all the rules and controls in his life and as such – keeps behaving in ways which cause his carers to leave. Rusty wants to give up and disappear, until things change. Rusty meets Rose.

I had the chance to hear McYoung talk at the Write Here! Festival a few weeks ago and hearing her talk about this book was fantastic and getting to chat with her a little bit afterwards as I bought her book was a delightful experience.Rusty’s story is about fostering and McYoung uses Rusty’s story to talk about how he can’t live with his mum and dad, and the troubles he has as he moves from home to home. This is such a powerful story because McYoung doesn’t hide from harsh truths, and she doesn’t sugar coat the experience of being cared for by multiple strangers and how scary that can be.

Through Rusty’s experience we see him go to multiple homes and be looked after by lots of people. Rusty’s feelings and thoughts are told and we see how he feels confused and unsure about his situation. There’s also a wonderful exploration about how when Rusty feels scared and trapped he will lash out. As a metaphor for a struggling foster child, as well as for an actual dog, this is a powerful message. Making people understand that there are real feelings and thoughts for those in Rusty’s situation and that everything feels too big, and out of control.

Even though Rusty is portrayed as a dog, his actions fit those of a child. He attends school, wants to phone his parents, and wants to play with friends but he’s confined by strict rules he doesn’t understand.

Through amazing illustrations we see Rusty’s thoughts and confusion about why people go away and not understanding why his carers act the way they act. So much is said in them and the way McYoung conveys Rusty’s feelings are impactful. There is humour as well, McYoung adds funny scenes and moments in pictures to bring up the mood like Rusty living under the sea or in a castle guarded by a knight, but the heart of the story and the emotional impact remains true.

What makes this story wonderful is that while there isn’t a perfect ending – there is hope. And hope and imperfection is important especially for children who see their own lives reflected in Rusty’s story.

There are eight additional pages of amazing facts and helpful resources at the back of the book to explain that Rusty’s story is based on real people McYoung has worked with (with some creative licence). She provides information about the various out of home care that kids are placed into in Australia as well as the variety of guides in how to help people who experience some of the intense emotions and reactions that Rusty experiences

This is an important story about an important subject and one that is explored well through this medium. Rusty’s story is one that needs to be told not only because it educates everyone but it might help someone find comfort in a similar situation.

You can purchase Rusty via the following

Publisher

AWW Update Jan – Mar

While I have read a lot so far this year (she says when she’s actually three books behind schedule), it seems almost none have been Australian. With the first quarter of the year gone I need to step up my game because I will be very behind soon on my projected goal of reading 40 and reviewing 35 books for this year’s AWW.The fact I have only read one book is abysmal and even the fact I reviewed four they were all read in previous years so it’s not a good start.

I have so many physical books I want to read but I am still on the audiobook path so my options are sparse unless they are picture books I stumble across. I have a few novellas I’ve been wanting to read so I might ease my way back into physical books and see how I go. I am a lot better than last year at reading physical books so I am going to take the slow and steady approach, a lot of it this time round is the time to sit and read too so it will be a delicate balancing act.

All is not lost though, I have read or reviewed some books by Aussie women so that’s something at least. I am now hoping to use the shock that I’ve read so few spur me on for the next three months and get my numbers up — in the meantime I’ll be glad it’s not zero.

 

AWW21 BOOKS Jan-Mar

Theodore the Unsure by Pip Smith – Review

Darkest Place by Jaye Ford – Review

Meet Me at the Intersection ed. Rebecca Lim and Ambelin Kwaymullina – Review

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil – Review

The Fire Wombat by Jackie French

AWW21 TOTAL

Read: 1/40

Reviewed: 4/30

 

Archibald the Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson

Published: 1st March 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Elephant Tree Publishing
Illustrator: Skye Davidson
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★  – 2 Stars

It’s Easter time and Archibald’s good friend Basil’s first year as the Official Easter Bunny. What could possibly go wrong? Be enchanted as you join Archibald, Basil, a blue-haired pixie, a flying pig and hundreds of little bunnies in an adventure somewhere over the rainbow, amongst the stars.

This a cross over book as Archibald the Naughtiest Elf moves on from Christmas and into other holidays. This time it involves Easter and Archibald only wants to help his friend Basil on his big important job of being the Easter Bunny.

The main problems I have with this book is that it’s long. There are A LOT of words per page and the story itself is long and drawn out which doesn’t suit the picture book format; it is more suited to being a chapter book with a few pictures.

With such a long story the narrative text fills an entire page which on a picture book is a lot of writing. Despite all the words, the illustrations are pretty; Davidson has used strong, bright colours and the vibrancy adds a wonderful magical feel to the page.

There’re moments of friendship and helping, as well as fun and magic. Archibald is still naughty per his nature but not in a malicious way, more like a rule breaker but for a good cause. If you have kids who can sit and listen to such a long story then it is a fun adventure filled with mischief and holiday spirit. The story is not complicated per se, it is just busy and wordy.

You can purchase Archibald the Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny via the following

BooktopiaDymocks

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

The Easter Bunnyroo by Susannah Chambers

Published: 1st June 2020Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Allen and Unwin Children
Illustrator: Laura Wood
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

When Dad rescues Ruby the joey, Charlie begins to suspect she is really the Easter Bunny. After all:
Ruby has long ears and big feet.
Ruby is very good at jumping.
Ruby has a built-in basket for carrying Easter eggs.

Although, there could be a problem – how will Ruby know what to do? Luckily, Charlie can teach her what she needs to know. 

I found this story really cute and it is a perfect Easter story with an Australian twist. Charlie’s family rescue and care for native Australian wildlife and I loved the mix up when it’s thought that the real Easter bunny has come to their home. Charlie helps the “Easter bunny” with egg duties and teaches them how to do their important job. There are fun jokes with pop references throughout like Winnie the Roo and R2DRoo which were delightful and the mistaken identity antics are humorous and enjoyable.

Wood’s illustrations are full of bright colours but are not over the top or overbearing. The full page pictures capture the scene and help tell the story quite well. There are a lot of close ups and Wood draws the joey so there is a slight bunny resemblance which I thought was fabulously cheeky but it does still look like a roo and it’s fun how Charlie keeps getting them mixed up.

This is a cute story about finding things and hiding things as well as the celebration of Easter. I loved the Australian focus and Chambers has created a fun story about an understandable misunderstanding that brings the magic of Easter to life.

You can purchase The Easter Bunnyroo via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

Published: 1 September 2014 (print)/ 9 May 2016 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Hardie Grant Egmont /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 295/7 hrs and 55 mins
Narrator: Roshelle Fong
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.

The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:

Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared.
And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.
And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.

As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems. 

I loved this book so much and yet writing this review has been so hard because I never feel like I am doing my complete love and adoration of this story the justice it deserves.

The story takes place during that timeless period over Christmas and New Year where you don’t know what day it is and there’s a strangeness in the air. Alba and all the characters are wonderful and I love how Keil has developed them and expressed them on the page. They felt so real, so alive, and the complexity of their emotions and their lives comes through even with the smallest of interactions.

There are so many little things I adored about this book: the atmosphere of the small town and the impending Doomsday, the exploration of friendships and growing up and making choices. There is no love triangle which was fantastic and there is a wonderful exploration about friendships and how old friends as kids don’t always mean friendships as adults. Keil demonstrates that sometimes these relationships can end up better, but at the same time you can also outgrow one another.

Alba not wanting to leave her small town is a nice change from the desperate need characters have to get out of their small town and never return. The sense of belonging and the attachment she has to her town is sweet and I loved that she enjoyed her home and the people in it. She doesn’t have a hatred towards it, but the understanding that you can’t really have the life you want staying where you are is a profound theme to explore.

As a character Alba is so wonderful. Her love of baking and being an artist was so wholesome and seeing her express herself through both her passions was refreshing and comforting. She is comfortable in herself and her bubbly and chatting nature was never a bad thing. She had such a depth to her personality it was amazing to see it revealed.

While there is a plotline of Doomsday and the end of the world on New Years Eve, the weirdness takes a backseat. There is a focus instead on Alba, Sarah and her friends, their journeys and their friendships take centre stage and I loved that their connections was what the story was about, the other stuff is all secondary.

Through the whole thing I felt so content. Reading it was such an enjoyable experience and it was so great to read an Australia YA that felt Australian without having reference after reference thrown in your face to really remind you it was set in Australia.

I could listen to this book over and over. There was such a loveliness to it but also so many details to get wonderfully lost in and with a slow but never stale plot I relished this journey with all these beautiful characters.

You can purchase The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

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