Amazing Babes by Eliza Sarlos

Published: 1st November 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Scribble Kids Books
Illustrator: Grace Lee
Pages: 56
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Star

A unique picture book for young and old that celebrates inspirational women from around the world and across generations. You will recognise some and be delighted to meet others.

Amazing Babes was originally written as a gift from a mother to her son. It introduces women such as Gloria Steinem, pioneer of the American women’s movement; Kathleen Hanna, lead singer from 1990s seminal punk-rock act Bikini Kill; Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s pro-democracy leader; Miles Franklin, 20th-century Australian writer and feminist; and Malala Yousafzai, a passionate advocate of worldwide access to education. All the women in this book had the ideas, determination, and creativity to bring about change in the world, and in learning about their stories we honour their achievements. 

This is a beautifully simple but empowering book that is an ideal start for children to discover history’s greatest women as well as start them on a path to strive and be the best people they can be.

The women in this book include Hedy Lamarr, Bertha Lutz, Leymah Gbowee, Edith Cowan and Mum Shirl. The 20 women highlighted are from around the world and from a range of eras. The words are simple and the illustrations from Lee are beautiful painted portraits. Sarlos does not provide a page long biography of these women like other books of this kind, instead the focus is on their attributes like determination, bravery, dedication and curiosity. At the end there is a mini biography of each of these amazing women which highlight their achievements but the inspiration initially comes from the main story.

The cover says “for kids and adults” which is important because there are lessons and goals for everyone to take with them and live their life by. The story starts with a simple prompt “As I grow…” which has much more impact than “As I grow up…”, limiting this to a child’s aspiration. Sarlos reminds us that we are always growing and there is always time to start striving to be better people.

What I loved about this book was it wasn’t just a focus on these women and their achievements, because that doesn’t come until the end. Sarlos wants the reader to aspire to be wonderful just like those in the book. Their commitment and fortitude that made them change their world and the world around them and it’s letting the reader know that they can do the same too.

You can purchase Amazing Babes via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

Schnitzel Von Krumm’s Basketwork by Lynley Dodd

Published: 3rd December 1996Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Puffin
Illustrator: Lynley Dodd
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Sausage dog, Schnitzel von Krumm, is outraged when his family decides to replace his worn out, beaten up old basket. The new bed doesn’t look right, feel right – or smell right! Something must be done.

This might be my favourite of the Hairy Maclary and Co. books that Dodd has put out. I love Schnitzel von Krumm and not only is he adorable, I love how Dodd describes him. I think why I also love this one story in particular is because I have experienced the exact same situation with my own puppy. She loved her first bed so much it was a whole thing trying to get her to use the new, bigger one.

One particular joy of this story is of course Dodd’s illustrations. She captures Schnitzel von Krumm’s adoration of his bed and his loss when it is taken from him in humorous ways. His expressions are excellent too at expressing his mood and displeasure at his predicaments as he hunts for the ideal cosy spot.

In true Dodd style it’s not just the pictures that shine through because the story and rhymes are fantastic. Dodd’s use of repetition give a wonderful lyrical and melodic read whether aloud or to yourself. I loved how Schnitzel von Krumm’s bed is described and how the same description works for his love of it and the family’s displeasure.

I love this book so much, I have gotten emotional reading it in the past because I read too much into everything and become invested in picture book dogs but it is so sweet it’s hard not to. Plus, having my own experience behind it I am now very conscious that maybe my dog is happy with her too small bed and seeing her squished in there might just be the highlight of her day.

You can purchase Schnitzel Von Krumm’s Basketwork via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Jack Jones: The Lost Temple (#3) by Zander Bingham

Published: 19th September 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Green Rhino Media
Pages: 106
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction/Adventure
★   ★   ★  ★ – 4 Stars

While exploring deep in the jungle, Jack Jones, his sister Emma and best buddy Albert uncover a hidden temple inside a cave that has been lost for centuries. To learn its secrets, they’ll have to cross piranha-filled rivers, creep past an ancient crypt, resolve a slithery situation, and find their way through a temple maze. 

But as the cave starts to crumble around them, will they track down the ancient Book of the Gods and figure out a way to leave before they’re trapped forever? 

Join Jack, his sister Emma and best buddy Albert as they work together to decode symbols to identify the newly-discovered temple, find a way inside, seek to locate an ancient relic that archaeologists have been searching for hundreds of years to find, and escape before the cave collapses around them. 

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

Jack Jones and his friends are back for another exciting adventure. There is no real necessity to read these in any particular order, but there is slightly more detail and background given in The Pirate Treasure that may give some more indication of who these kids are. That’s not to say you aren’t given clues and context here either, but this story jumps straight into an adventure without much history.

I enjoyed this story. The Jack Jones books are classic adventure stories of finding lost temples and secret cities, hidden treasure and all the adventures reminiscent of the classic tales. Ideal for kids to go on the adventures alongside and something which brings out the adventurous spirit. The same sensibilities are evident for the kids and how and why they are allowed to explore. I felt the language was a bit more natural this time around regarding the manners and politeness. There is friendship and helping one another which is endearing, and Bingham demonstrates what kids are capable of achieving and the discovering on their own. He gives them an adventure of being independent and the freedom of taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy.

The technology is there once again with Jack’s tablet, but that isn’t always there to help them, something which adds to the overall narrative. Despite the inclusion of technology, it also shows the kinds of adventures kids can have without technology. Even if we won’t all discover ancient temples, the act of exploring with friends is often an adventure in itself.

While Jack is the central character, I wanted a bit more from the other two like I’d seen in other stories. Albert and Emma have roles to play but in this story it felt like they were often there to push Jack along, Emma even more so than Albert. While there is not a lot of story to give time to extra information, seeing a bit more of these secondary characters would be great.

The stories all end with the kids succeeding and no one getting injured but there are still challenges on the way the kids must overcome. Seeing them be challenged and having to use logic and their minds are good examples for readers, especially for the younger kids.

You can purchase The Lost Temple via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Wordery | Angus & RobertsonFishpond

 Amazon | Amazon Aust | Publisher

Book Face Pacific Fair | Readings Kids

47 Degrees by Justin D’Ath

Published: 8th January 8th 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Penguin Random House Australia
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Zeelie wonders if they’re in danger. 

When temperatures soar to 47 degrees one hot summer day, 12-year-old Zeelie hopes the neraby bushfires everyone’s talking about aren’t heading towards her family’s new home. What will they do if the wind changes direction? What about their belongings and their beloved pets? And why hasn’t her mum and brother returned from Melbourne? 
Nothing can prepare Zeelie for what’s to come.

I will be 100% honest and say I read the first quarter and then I was experiencing so much anxiety about this book I skimmed the rest of it, reading a few full pages here and there to get to the end. I could not handle this story. I’m trying to work out if now I know how it plays out I could go back and read it again but I’m not sure.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but it is so stressful to read. Whether it is because I’m Australian and have seen the damage fires have done I was imagining the worst anytime anyone got in a car, on a road, near a fire; it just set off Worst Case Scenarios in my head. But despite that, I thought it was such a wonderful way to discuss the events of what happened on Black Saturday and through the eyes of Zeelie who is at the cusp of childhood and being a teenager; she is growing up but still has trouble handling the scope of what is happening around her.

Having the experience through Zeelie’s eyes shows the rapid nature of fires, how quickly plans change and go awry. Black Saturday was Victoria’s worst fire and seeing the trouble Zeelie and her dad get into are important experiences to understand, even if this story is fictional, it rings true to so many real life situations that people have experienced. We get to see how other communities and families are affected and Zeelie’s own worries about her family that she can’t contact adds an extra level of suspense. These are all real situations though as phone lines and power limit communication, closed roads and no news can add to the already stressful situations. D’Ath never makes it too overly dramatic, but the realities are there – well, as much as they can be for a children’s book.

D’Ath captures Zeelie’s voice beautifully. I saw her naivety but her confusion, but also her bravery, and when she is asked to pack up things to take with them I understood the trouble she had in deciding what was important to take for people. Her character is the epitome of someone her age. She expresses her love for her family but also her frustration about her brother and their relationship. I understood her uncertainty when she has moments where she first starts to doubt her dad, doubt his decisions; that unwavering trust of childhood starting to falter as she witnesses the things around her. I think it gives great power in allowing a kid of Zeelie’s age show anger at her parents, and frustration at their decisions and her own lack of power in a lot of cases.

Let it be noted that all the dogs are ok by the end of it. I actually texted a friend who’d read it the second I thought it could go otherwise because I was not prepared to read that so you don’t have to worry about anything happening to them. There is other animal death but it is unseen or has limited detail.

One thing I found impressive was how D’Arth captures the experience of a bushfire in its entirety. From start to finish you see the early warnings, the evacuations, the road closures and the devastation. D’Arth makes sure not to leave it there as you also see the healing and the community support of this kind of disaster. Even if I didn’t already know, this story helps you understand how fast bushfires can start and spread, as well as the damage they can cause. I am glad I pushed through my anxiety to finish the story because it was good to see the full circle and Zeelie’s story is one that covers a lot of important situations and experiences.

You can purchase 47 Degrees via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Two Bad Teddies by Kilmeny Niland

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

Gruffy Ted and Tilly Ted loved Mollie-Sue. And Mollie-Sue loved her teddies. They did everything together. One day, a present arrived from Grandma. It was Bendy Bill. Mollie-Sue showed Gruffy and Tilly. “Isn’t he handsome? Look at his long stretchy arms,” she said. “And listen . . . ” She pressed Bendy Bill in the middle. “Oo-oo,” he squeaked.

“I don’t like his silly smile,” said Gruffy. “I don’t like his silly arms,” said Tilly. 

“Mollie-Sue still loves us best,” said Gruffy.

Niland’s warm, affectionate story explores a theme familiar to all—sometimes we only get what we want when we stop trying so hard.

My favourite pair of teddies are back! After we left them in Two Tough Teddies I was surprised to find them again because I didn’t know there was a sequel.

Niland brings us back to the teddies to see how they are faring after the end of the last book and all is not well. With the arrival of a new toy, Gruffy Ted and Tilly Ted become jealous and start plotting on how they can rid the house of this intruder.

With a plot similar to Toy Story, the teddies try different ways to get Molly to stop loving the new toy, fearful that she will no longer love them.

The illustrations are as cute as before, the personalities of Gruffy and Tilly wonderfully explored through their faces and their behaviour. I liked that the new toy Bendy Bill doesn’t become animated, he remains silent and ever-staring. This makes the two teddies’ actions even funnier because Bill continues to stare out blankly.

This a great story about accepting changes and making new friends. It shows that love is shared and while there may be new things, it doesn’t push the old things aside, or make them any less loved.

If you have read the original book there are valid reasons why Gruffy and Tilly may worry they are no longer loved, but Niland doesn’t recap any of that, instead focuses on their jealousy.

I am glad I got to see the continuing adventures of the two tough teddies and as much as I enjoyed this one, it doesn’t quite tug at the heartstrings like the first book does.

You can purchase Two Bad Teddies via the following

QBDBook Depository

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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