Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid

Published: 9th April 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harry N. Abrams
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Hi my name is Rowley Jefferson and this is my book. Now I have a diary just like my friend Greg… 

Rowley’s best friend Greg Heffley has chronicled his middle-school years in thirteen Diary of a Wimpy Kid journals. Now it’s Rowley’s turn to give his side of the story.

But Rowley has agreed to tell Greg’s story along the way, too. (After all, Grey says one day he will be rich and famous and the world will need to know how he managed it).

But Rowley’s stories about Greg might not be quite what his friend had in mind . . .

I do not feel bad judging Greg having only read 2 books out of 12. I started the third and could not finish it because he annoyed me so much. Kinney made no secrets in those books about Greg consciously doing bad things and being an awful friend by tricking Rowley, blaming Rowley, and bullying him. This book flips those others on its head as it shows what Greg is like on the other side. For those at the receiving end of his schemes and jokes.

This may be from Rowley’s point of view but it still points out how mean Greg is and how he takes advantage of Rowley’s kind nature. It actually made me sad to see how Rowley is treated. He puts up with Greg and still sees him as a best friend. Seeing Greg’s actions on Rowley are an entirely different thing than seeing Rowley react to those actions, I wasn’t angry I was heartbroken.

The language Kinney uses is ideal because it uses feelings kids can relate to and the situations he describes were so familiar: Rowley trying to work on homework and having Greg interrupt him and distract him; Rowley expressing his feelings of wanting to do well in school and admits hating having Greg try to derail that; even just having Rowley try to enjoy the things he likes without Greg coming and stealing them or ruining them. The fact Rowley actually hides in his house to escape Greg is a fantastic example of how much of a terrible kid this is.

I am excited that kids will get to see the other side of Greg’s antics and realise how much of a toxic and abusive kid he is. I hope it sparks conversations about bullying and being taken advantage of, and what a real friend would do. One fantastic thing is that Rowley’s parents also tell him he needs to find a new friend. Multiple times. Even Greg’s mum helps Rowley and makes Greg apologise for his behaviour.

Rowley is a sweet kid. He is a kid who hasn’t got a lot of friends and he has been Greg’s friend for so long he can’t see him not being there. Rowley is not the stupid kid Greg makes him out to be, he is naïve, he is sweet, but he also pities Greg which I found intriguing.

I have made it no secret my dislike for Greg in the other books but I am thrilled that Kinney has made this move because it shines a spotlight on Greg’s behaviour, no hiding behind jokes and fun boyish antics, this story takes Greg out from being portrayed as a victim and a poor kid who is hard done by the world. This shows him to be a bully and a manipulative little brat who every adult around him can see he is a mean person.

The reviews I’ve seen either praise this book or shame it. Those who dislike it often say they didn’t like how Greg was portrayed. They are a variation of “Rowley just points out how awful Greg is! I know he was naughty but the books were funny so it was ok”. Maybe you just needed to have been bullied to see what the effect of those actions really are. But Greg was funny so what did it matter?

You can purchase Diary of a Friendly Kid via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

There’s a Koala in My Kitchen by Sean Farrar

Published: 5th April 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Big Sky Publishing
Illustrator: Pat Kan
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Have you ever found a furry Koala kidding around in your kitchen?

Or been hassled by a great white shark at your park? Giggled at a Kookaburra causing chaos with Dad’s cooking?

There’s a Koala in my Kitchen takes children and parents on a rollicking, rhyming journey with plenty of funny, feisty Aussie animals.

I was expecting the entire book to be about the hassles one has having a koala in their kitchen but I was pleasantly surprised to find it filled with fun limericks about Australian animals and their antics.

Farrar’s book is a clever and poetic as it tells a great Aussie story about a host of great Aussie animals. The rhyming nature promotes great pace as the story can be told slowly but with style.

The animals include the well-known favourites like koala’s and platypuses, but also eagles, flatheads, and a pobblebonk! The humour is light hearted and nothing too sinister, it is a great book to read before going to bed, aided by the narrative, but works anytime.

The illustrations by Kan are quirky; each animal given a personality in their representation. They are cartoonish but not unrecognisable, and Kan’s painted drawings are colourful and whimsical and match Farrar’s limericks well.

I’m glad this was a fun read, especially after my initial disappointment. It’s a good story to learn about some Australian animals but also a great use of limerick too. It’s quirky and light hearted and Farrar’s tone is perfectly placed starting high and working down into a satisfying conclusion.

You can purchase There’s a Koala in My Kitchen via the following

QBD | Booktopia

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon

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

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