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

Wild Heart (#4) by Belinda Williams

Published: 15th April 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
BWrite
Pages: 296
Format: ebook
Genre: Romance
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

IS HOLLYWOOD’S MOST FORMIDABLE ACTRESS A MATCH FOR ONE OF THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST STUNTMEN?

Faith Martin is not having a mid-life crisis. Never mind she’s just turned forty and found a wrinkle. In need of a change from LA, Faith heads to Sonoma Valley in Northern California only to discover the one man she never wanted to see again is living there.

Cole Cooper is more than just a handsome rancher and winemaker. He’s a respected stuntman and Faith knows he’s as dangerous in real life as when he’s diving from cars or throwing punches on-screen.

Then Faith receives the opportunity to star in, as well as direct, a lethal action film that could take her career to new heights. The only problem? The production team want Cole for the job of stunt coordinator, and they’re not prepared to negotiate.

When suspicious accidents start occurring on-set, is Faith prepared to take extreme risks for the most exciting role of her career? And will those risks include endangering her heart?

The final Hollywood Hearts book has arrived and it might just be my favourite one. I’ve enjoyed the other books in the series but there was something about this one and made me realise Faith is my favourite of all four women. Her character has been explored a little in other stories but finally we got a chance to see her flourish and find out what lurks beneath the no filter snark and opinionated woman of Hollywood. As Faith’s story unfolds and we learn more about the events she’s hinted at in previous stories and I felt her fire and passion about her career. I loved that she spoke her mind but still had some vulnerabilities hidden away and Williams draws these out really well.

The narrative had that same mystery and intrigue to it that the rest of the Heart series has had but instead of choosing another stalker route, Williams has gone in a different direction. I enjoyed this move, I was genuinely worried we’d have another stalker but instead we have a great mystery and captivating conclusion that suits not only the final book, but also Faith’s story.

The familiar faces of previous novels pop up and you see more of their own stories progress as well. I liked that Williams has kept them as friends but there is definitely a different type of friendship between the four of them. Faith and Lena have a different friendship than Lena and Ally have, and Faith and Chloe have another kind again.

I enjoyed that Faith was allowed to be experienced in not only film but in relationships and Williams doesn’t make it an issue in anyway. Having characters with life experience is what makes this story work because they know what they want, can be adults about their working relationship, and each of them are secure and settled in their lives. That’s not to say they both don’t make mistakes and refuse to acknowledge their feelings; seeing Faith and Cole dance around one another is wonderful.

I initially thought that her reaction to Cole was an overreaction but when you learn more of their story it made some more sense. Their past is evident but Williams doesn’t throw it in our faces, it becomes a connection between the pair that is a bit adorable and with the drama that happens in the book I was engaged from start to finish. There is a lot of wonderful pockets of information sprinkled throughout and Williams balances the quiet, intimate moments with the dramatic beautifully.

Like all the books this can be a standalone, but there are a lot of references to previous events and characters. One of the reasons why I think this is my favourite out of the four is because the suspense and events in this book felt real, felt plausible. Not that the other stories were fanciful, but there was something real about Faith’s story that I believed in. I was excited to delve further into her character and I am delighted that we have finally been given the chance.

You can purchase Wild Heart via the following

Amazon Aust

That’s Not A Good Idea! by Mo Willems

Published: 23rd April 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Balzer + Bray
Illustrator: Mo Willems
Pages: 42
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Star

One day a very hungry fox meets a very plump goose. A dinner invitation is offered. 

Will dinner go as planned? Or do the dinner plans involve a secret ingredient…?

(Don’t forget to listen to the baby geese!)

This is a creative story that works on nursery rhyme tropes but does so in an interesting way. Willems subverts your expectations and plays with conceived notions, and I loved how there is the little voice of reason from the chick about the dangers and why everything that happens is really Not A Good Idea.

The illustrations cleverly resemble the book version of a silent film, complete with the black screen and decorative border. It affects the way you read it, reading the words then seeing the picture, imagining it playing out as a movie. The text is clear and conversational and Willems makes reading easy and the layout brings the words and the illustrations together.

I can see kids loving this, it’s funny and surprising and a fun read.

You can purchase That is NOT a Good Idea! via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

Angus and Robinson | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Did You Take the B from my _ook? by Beck and Matt Stanton

Published: 21st March 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 ABC Books – AU
Illustrator: Beck and Matt Stanton
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Ok. Two things you need to know. Firstly, your favourite thing in the whole world is the letter B. And secondly, you’re about to sneeze and all the Bs are going to be blown out of the book. So until you can get your favourite letter back, you’re about to sound really, really silly … 

This is ideal to read aloud as it provides a great chance to make silly noises and say silly things. The book certainly lives up to the claim that it will drive kids crazy because it’s interactive and funny and gets sillier as it goes along.

I liked the simplistic format and the changing colours of the pages. I enjoyed as it became more dire with the missing letter than the previous words came into play which makes reading it aloud more of a challenge and certainly funnier to hear.

The chance to let kids yell things out and have input in a story is rewarding and it teaches them about words that start with B at the same time.

I think the Stanton’s have done an excellent job creating an enjoyable story that both kids and adults can love and it’s clever which is always a bonus with picture books.

You can purchase Did You Take the B from my _ook? via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Jacob’s Toys by Claudia Woods

Published: 1st May 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harbour Publishing House
Illustrator: Claudia Woods
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Jacob tells his mother that he is too old for soft toys and he wants to give them away. His mother washes them and hangs them on the line to dry. But wild weather sets the toys free and sends them on an exciting adventure across the garden.

What will become of the toys? Will they make it to their new home safely?

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author

Woods has written a great story not only about the adventure of lost toys, but also one about maybe not being quite as ready to grow up as you might think you are. When Jacob decides to get rid of his toys he doesn’t realise it is about to send them on a dangerous journey through the wilds of the backyard.

It is a story about the various perils the toys face and what they must endure to get back home. The story is told with repetition and rhyme, the toys names being repeated over and over with a few variations as their adventure dictates. This creates a wonderful melody and rhythm as you read that flows from start to finish. The toys are often at the mercy of the weather or their circumstance but there is still a great adventure to be had.

It is not only the narrative that tells the story, the text and font is designed to add emphasis and intent to the words. With colours, drawn out words and various formatting styles it makes reading engaging and fun.

I liked that the toys accepted their move, there wasn’t a deep personification of the toys, but they still were self-aware enough to know what was happening. I can certainly see kids having favourites out of the toys, though they are all given the same standing, described in a collective bunch rather than separating them.

One of the most notable things about this story is the illustrations. They are a creative combination of different materials; Woods uses pencils, paint and a wonderful mix of natural and recycled components to show off the toys’ adventures. The colours are also bright and pop off the page and when you take the time to study each page you realise how detailed and clever they are. The combination of materials is a unique change from typical illustrations and the addition of a “look and find” feature also provides a fun element while you read.

Overall it was an enjoyable story enhanced by the fabulous illustrations and the creative formatting. One that will be fun to read time and time again.

You can purchase Jacob’s Toys via the following

QBDDymocksAngus and Robinson | Fishpond

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