Sorry Day by Coral Vass

Published: 1st May 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
National Library of Australia
Illustrator: Dub Leffler
Pages: 34
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Sorry Day acknowledges the past and shows a willingness to make things right. The story commemorates both the momentous speech made by the Prime Minister of Australia to say sorry to the indigenous people for past abuse and to also recognise the decades of abuse suffered by the Stolen Generation. Told through the eyes of a young girl participating in the ceremony today and, in sepia colours, the eyes of the stolen children in the past.

The anniversary of the apology is actually in February but it is recognised in May as part of National Sorry Day, a day first held on 26 May, 1998. In 2008 then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave the apology that indigenous people had been rightly asking for for years, the one that apologised to the stolen generation for the way they had been treated by the government for decades.

I remember vividly watching this on TV, I cried then and I cried now. This is a remarkable book as it celebrates the momentous speech by Kevin Rudd but it also shows the past and the horrors indigenous people had to endure. Vass uses Rudd’s real words and she weaves it into this young girl’s story, not quite understanding the impact, but we see it through her mum and the adults around her.

As one story unfolds about that wonderful February day, it is shadowed by the realities of the history those words represent. The contrast from page to page is a stark reminder and a beautifully heartbreaking juxtaposition about the two eras, and what the importance of the speech means. In the present a young girl loses the hand of her mother and is lost momentarily in the crowd, in the past, young children lose their parents forever.

I loved that each page threw up into a different time in history. From the lawns of Canberra, to the creeks where children hide in terror, then back to watching the speech. It is such a powerful move to bring the voices of the past into the present.

Leffler uses colour to show the differences between eras, colours for the present, with sepia depicting the past. The images are vivid and emotive and coupled with Vass’ words and my own understanding of history, it is incredibly clever to see these two moments side by side.

What I found interesting was the information included at the back about the history from the stolen generation to Prime Minster Keating in the 90s to Rudd in 2008. As I said, Sorry Day is recognised every single year and it is important that people acknowledge and understand what it means.

More people need to remember this speech, remember the impact it had, but also remember why it needed to be said in the first place and wonder just why it took so long to be said. This is the ideal book to tell the story in an impactful yet gentle way and it is certainly one that can spark great discussions.

You can purchase Sorry Day via the following

BooktopiaDymocks

 WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev

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

Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend.

This book is a combination of adorable and heart-warming and will totally break your heart before putting it back together with sticky tape. It is an incredibly sweet book about being excluded and finding a place to belong.

The story is filled with morals and lessons about being a good friend and a good person told through an engaging narrative. It is a wonderful comparison to the beginning of the book where the young boy and his pet elephant are discriminated against. As you read you see how not to behave and then Mantchev reinforces the correct behaviour all in a wonderful story about a boy and his love and friendship for his pet tiny elephant.

Yoo’s illustrations are so adorable. The colours are bright and realistic and they fill most of the page, leaving just enough room for the text. Seeing the tiny elephant go for walks is the cutest thing and I loved the illustrations how they matched the text adding that extra bit of storytelling. Yoo’s use of colours is also fantastic because different tones are used to highlight things and single things out on the page, drawing your eye to their significance.

The ending of the book promotes kindness and acceptance and makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s also humorous because the pets the other children have are not your typical pets but they are all welcome nonetheless. This is also where Yoo shines because seeing his illustrations of these unique animals is a fantastic ending to the book.

You can purchase Strictly No Elephants via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Thanks, Mum by Matt Cosgrove

Published: 1st April 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Matt Cosgrove
Pages: 23
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Snuggling up for a bedtime story. Kissing a sore knee to make it better. Pushing the swing as high as the sky. 
There are a million different reasons to say… thanks, mum!

This Sunday is Mother’s Day here in Australia and to celebrate I am looking at Matt Cosgrove’s new book all about the wonderful things mum’s do for us.

What I love about this story is it goes a bit beyond the simple “I Love You Mum” kind of stories you see around Mother’s Day. I love this one because it is funny, relatable, and one that shows off just how much mum does for you all with humour, rhyme, and adorable illustrations. It is sweet without getting sappy and shows appreciation without being too serious.

In true Cosgrove style the illustrations are bright and colourful, with absolutely adorable characters. There is a mix of Australian and other animals and there is even a sneaky cameo of our friend Macca the Alpaca.

The story is lyrical with fantastic and creative rhymes and whether reading out loud or to yourself it’s hard not to get swept up in the melodic tone.

This is a must for all Macca and Cosgrove fans and it is an ideal book for everyone because it’s a great story and one that is easily read and appreciated every day of the year but especially around Mother’s Day.

You can purchase Thanks, Mum! via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

Wilt (#2) by Nikki Rae

Published: 30th June 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Self-Published
Pages: 233
Format: ebook
Genre: Dark romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

When she was sold to Master Elliot Lyon of House Chimera, Fawn could have never imagined he was the same person as Elliot, the man beneath a well-placed mask. A victim. Just like her. She would have never thought he was grooming her for the Wolf she’d already escaped once. That he planned to deliver her to the beast’s jaws in exchange for his wife.

Master Jäger will stop at nothing to have her—even if that means using others as collateral. With more than just their lives on the line, Fawn must become someone else, and Master Lyon distances himself further from Elliot as her transfer looms. 

The roots of the Order run deep within them, but Fawn is beginning to realize another bond has formed between her and her Owner, a man she vowed to destroy along with the rest of their tangled branches. 

In a world where trust is just a tool and love isn’t meant for people like them, Fawn is determined to beat the powerful at their own elaborate games of make-believe. Even the man who Owns her. 

Wilt is the second book in The Order series and Rae draws us back into this dark, dystopian underworld of control and passion with Fawn and Elliot not long after we left them in Bloom. Bloom was such an emotional, conflicting experience I was eager and excited to see where the story went and thankfully I was not disappointed.

The narrative is an intense, captivating read that even when things aren’t necessarily happening, you feel drawn in by Rae’s words and the layers of meaning and emotion behind them. The language implies a lot but there is also descriptions, some more vivid than others. The promise of a dark romance rings true and while there are occasional moments of brutality as a demonstration of control and power, there is purpose to them and are not there just for show.

I love Rae’s writing style because it pulls you in and you feel like you are being sucked into the book. I found myself subconsciously trying to get closer and closer to the pages as if I was going to fall directly into the book. The writing is amazing at creating mood. Her words have the power to control a moment, you can tell slow, sensual, intimate things are happening with her words. Even if nothing explicit is mentioned. She doesn’t rush and it makes it captivating. This never affects the pace of the story at all. It has these moments where time slows down but the story never does. We are taken on this journey alongside Fawn as we take this next stage with her, following along the aftermath of her actions in book one, trepidation over what will happen to her in book two.

With the introductions and establishments out of the way in the first book, Wilt allows us to explore more the relationship between Elliot and Fawn as well as her plans for the next stage. With a complicated emotional and romance style plot you aren’t left unsatisfied as Rae is clever in moving the story forward while still giving us the passion and romance and conflict we love from this series. Seeing the personalities of Fawn and Elliot develop was fascinating as each tried to mold the other to their desires. It was also an emotional ride as each plot twist emerged and you realise to never assume anything in this household.

This is not a subject or genre I generally read but there is something about Rae’s words that are wonderful. They are restrained but brutal and her imagination is fascinating. I don’t ever think I would have thought I’d enjoy this type of story but it certainly fascinates me and as I get deeper into the lives of these characters and the complexity of the world I find myself unwilling to pull away. I have grown to love this series more through this book and while I loved the first one because it was shocking and totally different, and even because it was uncomfortable at times, I adored this one further because I was captivated by Fawn and could see her growth and strength, even if it hid behind her fear.

Even though the cliff hanger lets us know partially where the story will go, I have no idea where Rae is going to take this story for the next book because I cannot even fathom how she plans to follow this. It’s fantastic.

You can purchase Wilt via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Digger by Mike Dumbleton

Published: March 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Allen & Unwin
Illustrator: Robin Cowcher
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The poignant story of a toy kangaroo that goes to war with a young man who doesn’t come back.

When her brother, James, went to war, Annie stitched the name Digger onto her toy kangaroo and gave him to James as a farewell present.
‘A Digger for a digger,’ she said, hugging her brother.
‘I’ll keep him safe,’ James promised.

Digger is the story of one toy kangaroo, one Australian soldier and two girls, in two countries on opposite sides of a world at war. It’s a quiet reminder of the casualties of war, and a tribute to the French schoolchildren who once tended the graves of Australian soldiers who died on the Western Front in the heroic battle for Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918.

I think these kinds of picture books are absolutely fantastic. Based off true stories, photographs, or personal family histories are beautifully pure and honest, even if they are a bit heartbreaking. From reading the dedication alone I teared up.

Crowcher’s illustrations are roughly sketched but beautiful watercolours that match the tone of this story incredibly well. The subdued colours and the outlines capture the story without needing to be finely detailed. They express beauty and peace, and show the chaos of the battlefront without ever needing to show anything traumatic.

Digger’s point of view conveys a lot of the actual conflict, his experience of the noises and the sensations. But Dumpleton doesn’t stick with this perspective as it shifts from Annie, the James, to Collette on the other side of the world. This was incredibly clever because it flows seamlessly and fits in not only with history, but with engaging storytelling.

Even though you may know the outcome, it remains a touching story because it is based on truth. It is based on these boys who went to fight in a war, who were far from home, found care in unexpected places, and the importance memories of home were.

There is nothing explicitly mentioned about injury or death, but the implications are there through other characters. I really liked this approach because it actually felt more impactful to have a different soldier bring Digger to be sent home, to have a simple sentence saying James had given instructions that had to be passed on. It felt real, it felt suitable, and it was heartbreaking.

This is a timeless book because while it focuses on WWI, it still is about soldiers who fought for this country and who are still fighting, as well as those who never got to come home.

You can purchase Digger via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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