Children's New Releases 

September 2015

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, September 02, 2015


Capyboppy by Bill Peet ($18, PB)
What a truly charming book is Capyboppy. Written and first published by American illustrator Bill Peet in 1966, it is the true story of the author’s son, and his pet capybara. Bill Junior was always fascinated by animals, and had an ever-changing menagerie at home. One fateful day he brought home a capybara, the world’s largest existing rodent, quite similar to a guinea pig, but much larger. What happens next is intriguing, unpredictable and quite fascinating. Illustrated in the humorous style of the time, in black and white, with a fair amount of text, Capyboppy (the capy’s nickname) is a fine example of a real life story that has been turned into an engaging book. As all adults know, animals brought in from the wild nearly always end badly after they have been domesticated. Although the family ultimately can’t keep Capyboppy, there’s a resolution that’s not only happy, but very heart warming. Bill Peet’s illustrations are detailed and engaging, and while they are slightly cartoonlike (which gives them fabulous dynamism) they are very true to life, and brilliantly capture the unexpectedly affectionate, playful nature of Capyboppy (and his human family). Louise
(I developed an unexpected obsession with capybaras after reading the children’s novel Woundabout by Lev Rosen, which features a highly intelligent, endearing capybara that is the beloved companion of orphaned siblings sent to live with their aunt in a strangely unchanging community. Capyboppy was the next logical acquisition for the shop. LB)

The Crocodolly by Martin McKenna ($25, HB)
In a household where pets are forbidden, young Adelaide is delighted to discover a baby crocodile tumbling from an egg into the cake mix she’s baking. Disguising the crocodile is easy: a dress, wig, bow and nail polish transform her new friend into a charming doll. As her crocodolly Ozzy persists in growing, Adelaide’s resourcefulness is repeatedly tested, and the story writhes around upon itself, building on the humour through references to Ozzy and Adelaide’s previous actions. The bold illustrations bring animation to this comical story celebrating determination. Charmingly reminiscent of the difficulties dog-crazy Edgar encounters with Jarvis the octopus in his earlier picture book The Octopuppy, McKenna’s The Crocodolly will surely win him an even wider fanbase. Lynndy

Pool by JiHyeon Lee ($27.95, HB)
I’ve been looking forward to seeing a copy of JiHyeon Lee’s Pool since I read about it in a children’s lit blog that was most enthusiastic about it. Pool is a wordless picture book, portrait shaped & illustrated by hand (as opposed to digitally) with colour pencils & oil pastels. Basically it tells the story of an apparently shy and retiring little boy going for a dip in a crowded pool. It is of course far more than that, the little boy dives deep and finds another lone swimmer in the depths of the pool, and together they embark on a marvellous adventure, with extraordinary creatures and benign monsters and finally an space is used in a most effective way. The early pictures are rather quiet and restrained, evolving into an imaginative riot of colour and detail, and then returning to a quiet, nearly empty pool (but we now know what awaits beneath the surface). This is Lee’s first book, which is remarkable: it’s a standout in a genre (the wordless picture book) that already has many examples of beautiful illustration. Louise


Bella & the Wandering House
by Meg McKinlay (ill) Nicholas Shafer ($13, PB)

Daughter of two very busy, although not very observant parents, Bella has a close relationship with her Grandad, so it’s with him that Bella discusses her concerns the day her house seems to be oriented differently. Grandad loves strange. He invents. He listens, and he doesn’t dismiss Bella’s ‘wild imagination’. With the aid of one of Grandad’s contraptions Bella is able to keep close watch on the house, especially when it sets out on its nightly perambulations. When even her parents can no longer ignore these unexpected journeys, Bella and Grandad solve the mystery. Poignant and full of heart, this is exactly the kind of winsomely quirky story I can imagine a future adult enquiring about in a bookshop or library: 'Do you know this book? I loved it as a child, and I remember it was about a family, and a house that moved…' Lynndy

Beyond the Kingdoms: Book 4—Land of Stories
by Chris Colfer ($25, HB)

In our universe there are two dimensions: our world and the fairy-tale world. When the Grand Armee attacks the fairy-tale world everyone is trying to recover, but the masked man is out there recruiting a new army more powerful than any other. Join Alex and Conner as they enter the magical Land of Oz, the world of Neverland and the craziness of Wonderland to stop the masked man. Will they succeed or will their world crumble before them? This book is the fourth book in Chris Colfer’s amazing series The Land of Stories. I highly recommend these books for anyone who loves fantasy and adventure.
Ryan O’Dempsey (10)


Pierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone by Chihiro Maruyama (ill) IC4Design
(trs.) Emma Sakamiya & Elizabeth Jenner ($30, HB)

Although I’ve yet to explore the entire story, I am captivated by the concept, the art, and the complexity of this oversized puzzle book. Opposite the page listing instructions and contents we embark on the story, which introduces Pierre, Opera City’s specialist maze detective, nonchalantly sipping his tea and waiting for a new challenge. Each turn of the page launches us into an intricate new scene with more of the story, mysterious letters, clues, mazes, objects to find, location-specific challenges, and snippets from the Opera City Times – the newspaper reporting on Pierre’s case. Take time out from the urgency of the storyline to pore over the subplots within the highly detailed pictures. The title hints at more Pierre adventures to follow: I can’t wait! Utterly engrossing for anyone aged 6 to adult. Lynndy


On the holidays my Mum made me come into her work at Gleebooks. In the end she tore me away from reading books and made me hop onto the computer to type this review. The book that I am reading is called Message to Adolf by Osamu Tezuka. (HB, $49) It is a Japanese graphic novel set in wartime Japan. There are three Adolfs: Adolf Hitler the German Fuhrer, Adolf Kaufman and Adolf the Baker’s Son. The story is based around Adolf Kaufman who isn’t necessarily the main character but almost intertwines throughout book one and two. Adolf K is eventually sent off to a German training facility in, as you guessed, Germany. He leaves Japan and says goodbye to his Jewish friend Adolf the Baker’s Son. The Baker’s Son is handed documents containing Hitler’s birth certificate and there is a twist that if found out could destroy the whole of Germany and save many innocent lives, but what is this secret? Find out in Message to Adolf! Taj (14)


Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon ($20, PB)
This compelling debut will undoubtedly be consigned to the ‘sicklit’ genre, but don’t expect any heartrending descriptions of teens fading heroically from the lives of everyone who encounters them. With Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, allergic to the world, Maddy is kept in sterile isolation, her every vital sign monitored by her mother, a doctor, and Carla, her nurse and sole personal friend. A new family moving in next door disrupts Maddy’s vanilla life, at first providing a new focus other than online schoolwork, and then complicating it as their intriguing parkour-lithe and very attractive son Olly refuses to be discouraged by Maddy’s inability to engage face to face. Through a series of emails, absurd 3-D jokes, IMs and inventive pantomimes from his bedroom window, Olly becomes the first real obsession of Maddy’s life. Her interest in him grows to a longing that prompts risks defying her 18 years of insularity, and her life crumbles in a mess of betrayals. Intelligent, engaging characters, humour and plot twists combine in a lively compassionate novel. Recommended. Lynndy


# If your impression of classic science fiction is that it’s a male-dominated genre with stalwart protagonists saving the worlds, this article might persuade you that dauntless females have been entrenched long before the recent crop of heroines, thanks to Madeleine L’Engle: how-wrinkle-time-changed-sci-fi-forever.
# Saturday 10th August was National Bookshop Day, and we were astounded at the response to our dragon-themed celebrations. Thanks to Duncan Ball and bard Allen, our storytellers du jour. If you weren’t here for the festivities, food, lucky dips, and Louise’s cleverly imaginative treasure hunt, here’s a sample of what you missed.

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