Just the Way We Are by Jessica Shirvington

Published: 22nd June 2015 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harper Collins
Illustrator: Claire Robertson
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

A celebration of families of every kind!

Meet Anna, Chiara, Henry, Izzy and Jack.

Their families might not look like your family, but that’s okay … they’re perfect, just the way they are!

Just the Way We Are is a wonderful book that demonstrates that every family is different and many different types of family exists. There’s diversity between the families and between the cultures and generations presented which was great to see. There’s representation for same sex parents, single parent families, divorced households, fostered and adopted families, and grandparents living in the same house kind of families.

Robertson backs this up with wonderfully diverse illustrations filled with colour. They are cartoonish but not over the top or comical, and help celebrate this cultural diversity ever further with her creations and helps celebrate what makes each family special.

The narration alternates between each child of the five separate families, telling readers about the activities they do with their family and a simple but clear explanation about the type of family they are a part of. The message repeated throughout is that each family is perfect just the way they are and each one is celebrated with happy moments and positive attitudes. The formatting is clear, each child is given a different coloured font for their story, and over a few pages tells the reader why their family is perfect just the way it is.

Shirvington has created a great story that helps celebrate the uniqueness of families, not only in their make up, but in the activities each family does together as well. I really loved this story because it is perfect to show that different families exist outside the reader’s own and each family is unique in their own special way.

You can purchase Just the Way We Are via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Shout Out to the Girls: A Celebration of Awesome Australian Women

Published: 26th February 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Random House Australia
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Let’s give a shout-out to 50 awesome Australian women with these easy-to-read biographies of their incredible achievements. From Cathy Freeman to Turia Pitt, Edith Cowan to Julia Gillard, Cate Blanchett to Olivia Newton-John, plus rally car drivers, molecular biologists, and more, this book is a celebration of women in all fields, from all walks of life, and from Australia’s past and present. Brought to life by colourful illustrations from female artists, Shout Out to the Girls is the ultimate inspirational read for young and old.

This really is an amazing book because it shows kids and adults alike the hard work Aussie women have put into doing what they love and changing the world for the better. There are different career paths and starting points, as well as cultural background to gain inspiration from and to show that anything is achievable with passion and determination and being true to yourself.

I learnt a lot too which was great. I discovered a woman and former convict named Mary Reibey founded Westpac (something which is not mentioned in their history or on their website by the way), I also discovered the amazing work our women have done in the past to help the poor, sick, and injured, and fight for rights and better conditions of those around them – people like Mum Shirl, Jessie Street, and Edith Cowan. There’s also pages filled with women who are doing what they love and breaking boundaries and glass ceilings, not to mention there are so many fabulous young women and girls changing the world today which is incredible to see.

Each woman has a one page biography about their lives and their contributions to their field or the world. Even with this brief snippet you get a great sense of the work these women have done and the challenges they have faced to get there. Some of the entries I felt were simplified which was curious and left out key pieces of information but I understand this is not the point of this collection and not everything can be included, but it was an interesting omission for some. Alongside these biographies are an accompanying illustration drawn by different artists that captures the essence of these accomplished women and brings to life some recognisable faces and some that may not be as well known.

This is a great book to celebrate the amazing women Australia has given the world and the recognition is something that will no doubt inspire others who read this and show that women can and have changed the world and no one should let anything stand in the way of their dreams.

You can purchase Shout Out to the Girls via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Clancy the Quokka by Lili Wilkinson

Published: 1st October 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Allen & Unwin
Illustrator: Alison Mutton
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Here’s Clancy the quokka. So friendly and charming.
His innocent face is truly disarming.

Clancy the Quokka is super cute, but also has a super cheeky habit of raiding picnic food, so when he spots a magnificent birthday cake, how can he resist? After the mayhem he creates, will Clancy learn his lesson?

Clancy is a tiny adorable quokka and his thieving proclivities are the main focus on this book but Wilkinson also manages to highlight his charming and adorable nature. I liked the direction this story took, we’re introduced to Clancy and his world initially but as the story goes on we see the wider world and the bigger picture and his role within it. There’s humour and laughs from both story and illustrations, not to mention a recognition about many traditional Australian party pastimes that Clancy inadvertently takes part in.

I enjoyed this story because it makes Clancy a little villain which is hilarious and so enjoyable to read about. The rhymes are lovely and flow really well as you read them, plus the devilishly adorable illustrations show exactly what is going on alongside the words.

Mutton’s illustrations take up the entire page and are realistic but have a fun cartoonish quality as well. The colours are natural and depict the real world, the Australian bush as well as people and other surroundings. They are beautiful addition and they help bring our Clancy’s personality and his expressions show us how he’s feeling.

This is an absolutely adorable story that is filled with fun and cheekiness, with a few lessons learnt along the way. It is simple but fun and it’s a great celebration of one of amazing native animals.

You can purchase Clancy the Quokka via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

 

Meerkat Choir by Nicki Greenberg

Published: 27th September 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Allen and Unwin
Illustrator: Nicki Greenberg
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

The meerkats are excited. They’re ready for their very first rehearsal with their meerkat choirmaster. But just as they’re about to sing their very first note, they’re interrupted by a steady stream of other animals who want to join in.

The meerkat choirmaster insists his choir is only for meerkats. And he gets grumpier and grumpier at each interruption.

There is a lot of humour throughout this story which is a marvellous feat considering how few words there are. There is a lot of enjoyment to be gotten from the illustrations and the reactions of those involved too.

The story starts as the meerkat conductor is about to begin rehearsals only to be interrupted by others who wish to join. After rejecting a few animals who ask, the conductor starts sending away animals that come and start singing unprompted. I thought this was incredibly clever because it breaks up the monotony of “Can I join” “No” through the whole book, and demonstrates how different animals make sound.

Seeing the conductor get crankier with each interruption is delightful. Greenburg’s illustrations add a lot of emotion and frustration when there are few words to the story. The traumatised faces of the meerkats as each animal joins in is funny, especially when they are of the more dangerous kind.

There is a wonderful message to be learnt too that excluding others is not only mean and discriminatory but may also be detrimental to your ambitions.

You can purchase Meerkat Choir via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon

AWW 2020 Challenge

Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

A new year brings another chance to participate in the Australian Women Writers Challenge. Riding my high from my win last year I am starting my goal strong; to read 40 books and review 35. I think this is a huge challenge because I think I got lucky last year but I am also hopeful I could use this opportunity to read more Aussie women in a bid to hit this mark.

If you have always wanted to try this challenge or are looking for a new reading challenge to partake in, then head to the Australian Women Writers website and sign up. You do not have to dive in to reading 40 books if that’s daunting, the set levels start as low as reading four books by Aussie women, or if you like you can set your own goal. The AWW community is wonderful and filled with support and if you are ever in need of ideas or new titles to find then it is a wonderful place to start.

The challenge runs from 1st January to 31st December so there is plenty of time to complete your goal whatever number you pick, and you can sign up at any time during the year until the end of November.

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