Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks

Published: 3rd April 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Quercus
Illustrator: Quinton Winter
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Junior Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Prince charming, dragon slayer, mischievous prankster… More often than not, these are the role-models boys encounter in the books they read at home and at school. As a boy, there is an assumption that you will conform to a stereotypical idea of masculinity. But what if you’re the introvert kind? What if you prefer to pick up a book rather than a sword? What if you want to cry when you’re feeling sad or angry? What if you like the idea of wearing a dress?

An extraordinary compilation of 100 stories of famous and not-so-famous men from the past to the present day, every single one of them a rule-breaker and innovator in his own way, and all going on to achieve amazing things. Entries include Frank Ocean, Salvador Dalí, Rimbaud, Beethoven, Barack Obama, Stormzy, Ai Weiwei and Jesse Owens – different sorts of heroes from all walks of life and from all over the world.

This is not connected to Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which is misleading given the cover, format, title, and style. But Brooks has nevertheless made a great book about boys who dared to be different. Alongside Winter’s illustrations the lives of boys and men from around the world and through time are celebrated.

I was surprised by some of the men who were included in this. But I guess the point of it was to tell boys that there is more than one way to be a man, and men are made up of a variety of different types. From Galileo to Louis Armstrong, John Green and Jorge Munoz, Brooks tells the story of men who did it their way and changed the world for the better.

I wasn’t as inspired by it as I was Rebel Girls, fully aware that my own gender is going to inspire me more than another one. But I was still proud of these men, and I was intrigued by their stories that I had not known or knew little about. There were a lot more men I knew, because they’re men, so we know their stories. But their one page bios also provided a few new details about their lives, outside their famous discoveries or achievements. There are also a lot of unsung heroes which is why this book is so wonderful, it shows the men who are out there changing the world and doing things their own way, no matter what people expect of them or tell them they can’t do.

As Brooks writes, “it takes a true hero to go against the grain, to show kindness where others won’t, and to stand up for what’s right when others can’t.”

You can purchase Stories for Boys via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

 Wordery | Audible | Dymocks

Angus & Robertson | Fishpond

QBD | Amazon Aust | Amazon

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Published: 1st December 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Timbuktu Labs
Pages: 212
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Non Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world. This book inspires girls with the stories of great women, from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.

This is a brilliant book. It is a precursor to other great books like She Persisted which tell the stories of history’s most famous and often forgotten women whose achievements have changed the world and inspired those around them.

I loved the format of these stories. The one page biographies for each of these amazing women is a wonderful experience to read. They are told in the same vein of fairytales with the “There once there was a…” style introductions, but these stories are far from fairytales. Each of these incredible women have defied the odds and succeeded in their chosen fields, often when many, including many men, told them they couldn’t or shouldn’t.

It is truly an inspiring read to see what these women have gone through and how they have overcome various obstacles and become stronger for it and achieved their dreams and their goals. Favilli and Cavallo have brought together 100 of history’s greatest women from around the globe, across fields, and throughout history and shared their stories with the world. The list of rebel girls include an A-Z of pioneers from Ada Lovelace all the way down to Zaha Hadid. You can’t help but get a bit emotional as you read these stories, strength and resilience of these women and girls don’t define them, but their passion and determination is admirable and empowering.

“When a woman decides to change, everything changes around her” – Eufrosina Cruz

“We will no longer negotiate for our existence” – Fadumo Dayib

These biographies are told simply but with power. From the very first page the preface lets us know that this is an important book, one that has brought understanding, hope and inspiration to many of the readers. It is a book filled with so many inspirational messages from a variety of fields and backgrounds. Each accompanied by a beautiful illustration by a range of female artists that capture who these fabulous women are and were.

These are the kinds of books we need to keep creating. History has forgotten and pushed aside so many amazing women and their achievements, and there are enough of them throughout history to fill many more books to come. Something I can only hope continues to happen.

“It is important that girls understand the obstacles that lie in front of them. It is just as important that they know these obstacles are not insurmountable. That not only can they find a way to overcome them, but that they can remove those obstacles for those who will come after them, just like these great women did.”

You can purchase Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

Audible | Fishpond

Nose to Tail by Louise Harding

Published: 30th November 2017
Goodreads badgePublisher: Ocean Reeve Publishing
Pages: 207
Format: Book
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

Do you dream of owning a loving, obedient, well-mannered dog? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by your dog’s bad behaviour? Do you want to train your dog and don’t know where to start? Now there is a book for you. Champion trainer Louise Harding will be your own personal expert, coaching you and your dog. 

Imagine if you could unlock the secrets of a master trainer and make training easier and fun for you and your dog. This book will show you how and help you communicate and nurture a strong life-long bond with your dog.

What I liked about this book was that it went beyond being a simple training guide for your dog. Harding also provides really helpful information about matching up the right kind of dog with the right owner. She includes some great information about different breeds of dogs and their bred capabilities and personalities and informs readers that there is more to buying a dog than just finding it cute when it’s a puppy.

The book starts before a dog is even bought as Harding asks the reader to think about why they want a dog, is it the right suit for their home or lifestyle. She then progresses through the stages of helping you find which dog would suit your needs and finding one with a compatible personality. There are personal stories and examples, and Harding includes an interesting history of the different breeding groups of dogs and what they have been bred to do through history.

This is the holistic approach to dog training Harding intended. She makes readers understand that any dog can be trained, but so much of their behaviour connects with their instincts, their breed, and the environment they live in just as much as how often you ask them to sit, stay, or heel. As she says, you can’t change the breed characteristics, but you can control what you want them to do.

This book reinforced and reassured me that I’d trained my dog correctly, which is always a comfort, but I was also interested in the histories and the personality checklists to understand the kind of dog I had (food fiend and a busybody, no real surprises there). This is a very helpful book whether you have a new puppy, or have brought home an older dog. Harding covers everything from first dogs, second dogs, or even how to manage a rescue dog that may be having trouble adjusting. There’re guides to sleeping arrangements and toilet training, plus step by step instructions on teaching the sit, stay, come etc commands, with advice on how to get your dog to pull them off successfully. Harding mimics what the trainer said when I took my own puppy to training class; you need to set your dog up for success. Put them in environments where they will succeed and don’t make things harder for them with distractions or confusing commands. If you do that you will be on the way to a well-trained dog.

There are also wonderful resources that can help with your research into the best breed for you, there are also questions to ask breeders or shelters about the dogs they’re selling, as well as guides to picking the best dog walking service or kennel if you should need to use them. Harding insists it’s never a bad thing to ask questions of a seller because it’s all about making sure you get the best for your dog and for you.

This book is not all about just buying the right breed and correct training procedures; Harding includes all the fun stuff as well like giving treats, playing with toys, and taking dogs out to explore the big wide world. If you’re looking at getting a dog or need help reining in one you already have, this is a great book to help guide you. It’s easy to understand, simple and with clear instructions but also covers a range of topics and scenarios you will encounter when you own a dog.

You can purchase Nose to Tail via the following

Nose to Tail website | A&R Bookworld

Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Internet is Like A Puddle by Shona Innes

Published: January 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Five Mile Press
Illustrator: Irisz Agocs
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The Internet is Like a Puddle attends to the wonderful aspects of electronic communication as well as gently discusses some of the possible pitfalls of sharing, chatting and using data. There is a need to be mindful of those who are naive to the potential problems without denying them the wonderful opportunities. The Internet is Like a Puddle describes ways to stay safe and enjoy learning and chatting time on the Internet and to keep life balanced.

In an age where toddlers can be more proficient navigating the internet than a lot of 40-year-olds, this book is a great introduction to the joys and pitfalls of using the internet. Innes looks at how the internet lets us do great things and we can access these things in many different ways whether it is on the computer or on phones. She compares the internet it to a puddle, fun to play in, can be used to play games and have fun, but puddle can be deceptive and tricky. This is a great analogy which works in teaching about water safety as a side benefit.

It’s a great educational book that clearly and simply explains how it’s easy to get in too deep when using the internet and how the deeper we go the more dangerous it can become. Innes always compares it back to stepping in puddles, and how that too can be dangerous without an adult there with help and guidance.

Agocs illustrations are cute animals playing in nature and with technology, with pictures matching with words for easy comprehension. This is a nonfiction book that reads like a story. It’s a great book for kids teaching them about using the internet for fun and in moderation. Innes never wants to deter children from playing on the internet, it’s impossible to avoid and can have many benefits; instead, she is trying to teach about safety in terms kids can understand. This is a must-read for all parents in this day and age where children have such easy access to the internet and when it’s so easy to get into trouble.

You can purchase The Internet is a Puddle via the following

Booktopia |  Amazon

Book Depository

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Published: 1st September 2005 (print)/28th September (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Little Brown and Company/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 310 pages/8 discs
Narrator: Julie Powell
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Non Fiction
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Trapped in a boring job and living in a tiny apartment in New York, Julie Powell regularly finds herself weeping on the way home from work. Then one night, through her mascara-smudged eyes, Julie notices that the few items she’s grabbed from the Korean grocery store are the very ingredients for Potage Parmentier, as described in Julia Childs’ legendary cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And The Project is born. Julie begins to cook – every one of the 524 recipes in the book, in the space of just one year. This is Julie’s story, as gradually, from oeufs en cocotte to bifstek sauté au beurre, from ‘Bitch Rice’ to preparing live lobsters, she realises that this deranged Project is changing her life. The richness of the thousands of sauces she slaves over is beginning to spread into her life, and she begins to find the joie de vivre that has been missing for too many years.

The complete title of this book is Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living which is a nice fun mouthful. I’ve also seen it more commonly be called Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I chose to read this because I love reading the books movies are based on, and I enjoyed the movie so I thought I would give this a go, even if it was nonfiction. I have to say, the movie was, not better, I guess, but certainly more interesting.

The odd thing is I didn’t dislike this book, I liked the premise, it is told well. I listened to the audio book which was narrated by Julie Powell herself so that was good. The issue I had was that I wasn’t invested, nothing really happened. I had to keep reminding myself this was a nonfiction book based on a blog so that explains the lack of story, because life doesn’t have key moments planned out and an arc that propels you along. But Julie’s told her story well, there is a rise and fall of events, you follow her journey and are meant to celebrate with her and mourn her mistakes. And I did for the most part.

The problem was, I realised that I could tune out for a time and come back and not have missed anything, not be lost or need to rewind. There are a lot of detailed instructions about the cooking Julie does, understandably, and the lives of her friends and herself. Understandable as I say, it isn’t a memoir really, it’s a book based on a blog about cooking, there will be a lot of cooking mentioned. This is why I am confused. I didn’t dislike it, it just…was. Pleasant enough but it felt like it dragged on. Again, it’s nonfiction it is what it is, but towards the end I was losing interest in her journey.

I was intrigued by the parts about Julia Child. There aren’t many but it was interesting to have snippets of her life included, as a story and not as facts. It was a true side by side of their lives.

I actually watched the move afterwards and realised a lot of what was in the book had been included, save a few changes here and there. So that was nice, seeing it told in almost truth.

You can purchase Julie and Julia via the following

Booktopia | Wordery

Fishpond | A&R BookWorld

Amazon | Dymocks

Book Depository

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