Archives for category: Book Review

Hands up if you LOVE Andy Griffiths? Yep, we think he’s pretty terrific too. Andy has been flying around Australia promoting the latest in his ‘Treehouse’ series. He kindly took some time out to answer a few questions we conjured up. Actually that’s not true. Some fabulous Ferrets came up with these pearlers. We think he answered them rather well… Thanks HEAPS Andy and THANK YOU kids!

Why do you like writing childrens books?     

Some of my earliest and most intense reading experiences were the books I read as a child. Books like The Cat in the Hat, A Fish Out of Water, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh and The Magic Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair went in very deep and a large part of the fun I get out of writing is attempting to capture the magical, intense feelings I experienced when reading them in my own writing.

How many rejections did you have before you got published? How did this make you feel?

I had plenty of rejections for my early attempts to write a book but this did not discourage me overly much. I knew I still had a lot to learn about writing and humour and I also knew that the only way to learn was to give it my best shot and send it out. Every now and again a publisher would make a helpful comment or say something enouraging so even though they didn’t publish my book I still felt that I was making progress.

Do you give the illustrator a basic sketch of your ideas before he does his own sketches for your books?

I give Terry a good idea about what I want but I don’t give him too much detail as it’s always a better and funnier drawing if he re-invents the ideas in his own unique mad way. The drawings always surprise me and often inspire me to change or extend the story to do them justice. By this method we come up with a book that neither of us could have created by ourselves.

Are all your books funny fiction?

Yes, pretty much. Something happens when I pick up the pen and, even when I’m trying to be serious, something funny starts happening. I’ve learned to just give in and go with it.

How long have you been writing books for?

I’ve been writing stories, drawing cartoons and having fun with words since I was old enough to pick up a pen. My first book, a creative writing textbook for teachers, was published in 1993. We republished a completely rewritten and re imagined version of this book earlier this year called ‘Once upon a Slime: 45 fun ways to get writing fast!’

How do you think of, imagine and create the books you do?  

By reading lots of books, watching lots of movies, staying fit and healthy and keeping my eyes and ears open to the funny (and not so funny) things that happen to all of us every day!

Andy Griffiths is one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors. He has written more than 20 books, including nonsense verse, short stories, comic novels and plays. Over the last 15 years Andy’s books have been New York Times bestsellers, won more than 50 children’s choice awards, been adapted as a television cartoon series and sold more than 5 million copies worldwide


That Is Not a Good Idea! is hilarious. Plain and simple. Created by bestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems (remember Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus?), his latest picture book is inspired by the evil villains and innocent damsels of silent movies. Willems tells the tale of a hungry fox who invites a plump goose to dinner. As with the beloved Pigeon books, kids will be calling out the signature refrain and begging for repeated readings. The funny details in the full-color illustrations by three-time Caldecott Honoree Mo Willems will bring nonstop laughter to story time.

From the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of “A Monster Calls” and the bestselling “Chaos Walking” trilogy comes this enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life, or perhaps afterlife, of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world. Seth can remember dying so how is it that he finds himself waking up in the suburban English town where he grew up? A highly original and incredibly page-turning new YA novel.

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but NO ONE knows it.

Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows. But she can’t. She can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.

Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you’ll never, ever forget.

If you enjoyed Wonder by A.J. Palacio, then this new release is sure to resonate. Suitable for ages 9+. There’s a great interview on Draper’s website that I think would work well in a class environment too!


It’s interesting what is deemed appropriate for YA fiction. I fought between hesitancy and intense curiosity when award winning author Lucy Christopher’s The Killing Woods was passed to me by a book rep. Post traumatic stress disorder, peer pressure, sexual provocation and drug use all bundled into a thrilling psychological drama. Are the themes a little unsettling for a parent to read? As one, I might say, yes possibly, but only with my protective coat on. As a reader, I say it’s an absorbing read that I polished off in one indulgent sitting.

Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child?  Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

The Killing Woods is out in October.


New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other. This follow-up to the bestselling Every Day showcases David’s trademark sharp-witted, warm-hearted tales of teenage love, and serves as a perfect thematic bookend to David’s YA debut and breakthrough, Boy Meets Boy, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013. Due for release end August..

From the Hardcover edition

Hey Lego fans, did you hear about the two Canadian high schoolers who launched a Lego Man into the stratosphere? Ok maybe I’m totally slow on the uptake, but all the same it’s a pretty cool story! Well we’ve just received the book that tells the amazing tale.  The book also includes a teachers resource guide, science activities, classroom craft, games and more!

If you could live a different version of your life, would you take the chance? From the award-winning author Margaret Wild, The Vanishing Moment is a spellbinding story placing two young women at the turning point in their lives, and each must choose to accept the life she has, or to leap into one she might yet live. Due for release in September, The Vanishing Moment is a brilliant and bittersweet story of loss and courage, with a surprising twist.

While you wait, why not pick up a copy of One Night,  a tough, yet tender and life-affirming story about four young people on a journey towards love and meaning.

Margaret Wild is one of Australia’s most highly respected and best-loved authors for children and teenagers. Most popular in our bookshop for her picture books, her previous novel Jinx was shortlisted for the CBCA awards and for the Queensland, NSW and Victorian Premier’s Awards. Margaret is the recipient of many awards, including the Nan Chauncy Award.

The Vanishing Moment     One Night

Emmy nominated Disney screenwriter and director Drew Daywalt (apparently he’s into horror films now…eeep!)  has teamed up with everyone’s favourite illustrator Oliver Jeffers to create The Day the Crayons Quit. For anyone who loved The Incredible Book Eating Boy, this will be right up your alley…

Poor Duncan just wants to colour in. But when he opens his box of crayons, he only finds letters, all saying the same thing: We quit!

Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown, Blue needs a break from colouring in all that water, while Pink just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other.

The battle lines have been drawn. What is Duncan to do?

You’ll just have to wait til August to find out….

Our Penguin rep has been harping on about this new title for the past while now. Every week she has a little squeal about it, so I thought it time to take note. With Penguin in the States spending $750,00 on its marketing campaign, clearly there’s merit in its pages. Yes it’s another dystopian, apocalytpic survival tale, but it’s the characters, tone and drama that will have you completely sucked in. Just a few pages in and my goosebumps were on edge. The next Hunger Games? Hmmm only time will tell.

Sometimes you are introduced to an author who is so completely in love with their work that they show no bounds when it comes to their enthusiasm. Julie Hunt is one such person and not only did she create a spellbinding piece of fiction Song for a Scarlet Runner for the 8-12 year age group, but her recreation of the coat so prevalent within the pages was brought to vivid life by local artist and actor Faridah Cameron (seen below retelling the tale of ‘Blot’).

Combine that with the charmingly modest illustrator Dale Newman, who recreated some of her warm and evocative illustrations in front of a delightful crowd,  Faridah took on the guise of the Swamp Aunty and had us all completely encapsulated. Allen & Unwin editor Sue Flockhart and local super author Lian Tanner joined Julie in the retelling of one enthralling swamp scene while one plucky fan took the microphone and shared her joy after reading the story of Peat.  Needless to say the books have flown off the shelves and we wait with baited breath for the next installment…please Julie!

So for anyone wanting to launch their book with us, watch out! The bar has well and truly been lifted….

Photos from top: Faridah Cameron takes on the role of Swamp Aunty. Dale Newman recreates Blot and Sue Flockhart, Lian Tanner and Julie Hunt have fun retelling a scene