A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker

Published: July 22nd 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Kady MacDonald Denton
Pages: 40
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Bear does not want to go to the library. He is quite sure he already has all the books he will ever need. Yet the relentlessly cheery Mouse, small and grey and bright-eyed, thinks different. When Bear reluctantly agrees to go with his friend to the big library, neither rocket ships nor wooden canoes are enough for Bear’s picky tastes. How will Mouse ever find the perfect book for Bear?

“The librarian smiled, but a mother squirrel squished an angry finger against her lips, and an old raccoon said sternly, ‘Quiet in the library.’” Oh that sounds familiar. It’s never the librarian shushing anyone.

I love this book, Becker’s narrative is hilarious and I love Bear’s logic that he doesn’t need any more books because he has seven already. It’s not a nonsense book, but it is a bit silly in a serious way. Bear’s obstinate and Mouse is patient and despite Bear’s grumblings he goes along with Mouse to the library because he had agreed to go. A great case of ‘don’t knock it till you try it’, Bear’s experience of the library is wonderful, and showcases all the wonderful books a library has to offer.

Denton’s illustrations are beautiful accompaniments. She puts a lot of expression into Bear and Mouse, capturing the stubbornness and exasperation. I love the small details like Bear’s roller skates and his grumpy expressions, even when the wind is blowing majestically through his fur.

There is a great use of text and formatting to help tell the story, with different size fonts to convey tone and style. The story is simple with short amounts of words on each page, Denton’s illustrations taking up most of the page, but Becker’s story still says a lot and tells a full story that is engaging, enlightening, and entertaining.

You can purchase A Library Book for Bear via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

Angus and Robinson | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon

The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams

Published: 1st April 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Allen & Unwin
Pages: 247
Format: Book 
Genre:
 Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

A rock chick.

An artist with attitude.

A girl with a past.

A party animal.

Four lives collide when one of the world’s most famous paintings is stolen. It’s a mystery that has the nation talking, but while Picasso’s Weeping Woman might be absent from the walls of the National Gallery, in other parts of Melbourne the controversial painting’s presence is being felt by Guy, Rafi, Luke and Penny for four very different reasons.

Life, love, art and one giant party intersect in this offbeat comedy about good intentions, unexpected consequences and the irresistible force of true love. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this story. It was a great story already and Williams tells it in a way that engages you and intrigues you, especially with so many characters and their agendas to work around. It was a different story than the kind I had been reading and it definitely stood out.

Set in the 80s and based on true events, there is a great history woven into this narrative. It brings the story and characters to life as Williams puts us inside her character’s minds. I’m not sure whether it was because I knew this was based off true events, or whether Williams created such unique and fleshed out characters, but each of them felt real. We’re inside their heads, we see so many different points of view we get to know them all individually, not through the eyes of one character. I could picture them so easily, I was there with them, I understood their motives and I loved it. Different voices also contribute to the different points of view, Williams making them each stand out and distinctive.

I could not put this down once I had started, I was engaged and invested in these characters and even though it was history it felt like it could have been fictional. One thing I found clever was how Williams has overlapped events, the same moment through the eyes of different characters. It adds another layer of style and creativity, plus form a storytelling aspect gives you another point of view to the same moment.

The fact that you don’t know what is happening is good, and the fact you are trying to piece it all together is great, especially as you are unaware if there even is anything to understand.

The theft takes place in the 80s, but Williams has thankfully not shoved the 80s into our faces. Enough to set a place and a time but not overloaded so nostalgia and a need to remind people of the era takes away from the story.

I was impressed by the ending and I think Williams has wrapped up this story allowing the real events to play out, but also round out each of the characters we have come to know.

You can purchase The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and the Ex via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon

Just Be You by M. E. Parker

Published: 15th June 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Recorded Books
Pages: 293
Format: ebook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

When Scott Cohen got word that he’d been nominated for a Grammy, he wondered if the universe was playing some cruel trick on him. Of all the songs he’d written, why did it have to be that song? 

Over ten years had passed since he’d written the song and even more since Scott had become obsessed with Marshall Donavan, his brother’s best friend. It didn’t matter that Scott hadn’t seen Marshall in years. Nor did it matter that Marshall never belonged to him or even that Marshall was straight. Scott never managed to stop thinking about him. 

When Scott got a call from his manager asking him to submit a song for a movie and a call from his brother Abe informing him of Marshall’s engagement to Julia Sterling on the same day, Scott took it as a sign. It was time to say goodbye and forget Marshall Donavan forever. 

Submitting ‘Just Be You’ to the movie executives was supposed to be Scott’s way of letting go—of forgetting, of saying goodbye. But his plan backfired when the movie became a box office success overnight and his song was nominated for a Grammy. There was no way he’d ever be able to forget. The song would follow him for the rest of his life and so would his unhealthy obsession with Marshall Donavan. 

It didn’t help things when he found himself face to face again with the man who had consumed his thoughts for years. No, it didn’t help at all when he saw the still very sexy and very straight Marshall Donavan for the first time in eight years. It didn’t matter what would happen between them. As soon as he saw Marshall again, he knew that giving up his obsession wasn’t an option… 

Taking a chance on sweet sounding LGBT romances has turned into a good bet for me because I have found some highly adorable books. This book may not be perfect in terms of writing or characters, nor may it be perfect plot wise, but it is fun and has a happy ending while still making you invested in the characters and their journeys.

I loved Scottie, he was adorable without being naïve, and he knows who he is and what he wants. I felt Marshall lost some of himself midway, his character becomes more singularly focused and less complex than he presents at the start but it didn’t affect my enjoyment. The focus is mainly on these two though supporting characters get a look in too, albeit briefly.

The biggest surprise was finding myself getting giddy with adorableness over these two. I did not see that coming but Parker has written a charming book that uses emotions remarkably well and it draws you in. Admittedly it took a while to fully get into the story, some parts felt comfortable other parts I felt disconnected when the writing took me out of the story, but there is a delightful sweetness about this book. There is charm and compassion, and the tensions and obstacles are solid, not manufactured miscommunication and I believed it was possible. Some things did move a bit quickly, but others managed to feel drawn out.

I grinned and squirmed and gasped in all the right places and I was surprised at the events that played out. Parker’s narrative has twists and surprises alongside the expected and I was impressed that there were multiple facets to this story. I honestly didn’t think I was going to get so caught up in these boys and their lives and yet I did. It had promised a happy ending and at times plays out like all the dreams coming true perfect world, but there is heart and conflict which brings depth and emotion.

Something to mention is there are a lot of sex scenes and descriptions of m/m sexual acts. In context they make sense, but there are a lot. While some parts are brushed over, other parts have more detailed descriptions.

Overall I really enjoyed this story. The range of emotions I felt reading this increased my enjoyment because it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops; I had minor second hand anxiety, I had shock, and there were times I had to stop reading because I was in a public place and couldn’t cope having gushing emotions in view of other people. If that doesn’t say enjoyment I don’t know what does.

You can purchase Just Be You via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

It’s Hard to Love A Tiger by Anna Pignataro

Published: 1st June 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Anna Pignataro
Pages: 24
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

I wish I had a tiger, a tiger from the zoo. 

A tiger of my own to love-a tiger just like you. 

A funny rhyming story about a little girl and a troublesome (but lovable) tiger.

Once more I have picked up a picture book because the front cover was too cute to ignore. I wasn’t disappointed either because this is a fun story told through rhyme, coupled with creative illustrations. Pignataro’s illustrations are a mixture of drawn and painted, and vary from full page detail to simple images on white.

I loved the poetic verse the story is written in. It flows wonderfully if you read it as a whole, and nothing is lost if the story is read at a slower pace either, each stanza matches the picture which is spread across a double page. Pignataro’s rhymes are clever and make sense in context, nothing too fanciful happens to make a rhyme work which makes the reading flow naturally and seamlessly. The formatting of the words also play into how you read the story and it helps with tone and pacing, especially when reading it aloud.

It’s one of those wonderfully absurd books that never explain why the young girl has the tiger, just that loving a tiger is hard because of all the mischief they get up to. I loved how the girl treats the tiger. Her complaints start just because he growls when you put a ribbon in his hair, and he takes up all the room on the bed. But then it gets more fun as he also is bad at ballet, and slurps when he eats, and huffs and pouts when he’s in the naughty chair.

I had not read any of Pignataro’s books before this but I may just have to track down some more because this one was just all kinds of adorable.

You can purchase I Wish I Had A Tiger via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus & Robertson | Fishpond | Dymocks

QBD | Amazon Aust | Amazon

Two Tough Teddies by Kilmeny Niland

Published: 29th June 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Puffin
Illustrator: Kilmeny Niland
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

When two teddies, Tilly and Gruffy, are abandoned in a box of unwanted toys, they decide to face the world and find someone else to love them. Kilmeny Niland’s warm, affectionate story explores a theme familiar to all—sometimes we get what we want only when we stop trying so hard.

The saddest and sweetest and most beautiful book ever!

This is a book that sends you on an emotional roller coaster. Two darling teddies are abandoned in a park and on the hunt for someone to love them. They try to be loud so people can hear them, and try to be brave despite their scruffy appearance. This is the kind of situation that got me bawling in Toy Story 2 and 3 and I think having it in book form is just as heartbreaking.

“They can see us and hear us but still no one wants us.”

Just crush my heart, Niland. Crush. My. Heart.

They realise they do have someone to love them because they have each other and that was the end of me because that was the sweetest thing possible and my heart broke for these teddies. I wanted to love them. I wanted to take them home because it was so adorable that they were trying so hard to be tough and brave for people but that scared them away instead.

What makes it sweeter/sadder is that Niland’s illustrations portray these teddies in a way that you can’t help but love them. They are scruffy but they also look lost and unsure. They try their hardest and seeing their crestfallen faces only adds to the narrative. The illustrations are both full page colour and single images on a blank background, both of which help express how big a world the teddies have become lost in, and how out of their depth they are. Niland also cleverly uses the teddies perspective in the use of angles and point of view regarding the nature that surrounds them and the animals they attempt to interact with.

There is a happy ending so it isn’t all bad news, and Niland reinflates my heart and by soul because there is a beautiful ending and goes to show you can be loved even if you aren’t always brave and loud and tough.

You can purchase Two Tough Teddies via the following

Book Depository | Amazon

Amazon Aust | Wordery

Fishpond | QBD | Dymocks

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