Gleebooks Education 

April 2013

Gleebooks Bookshop - Monday, April 01, 2013

No 42,  April  2013

Greetings from Kate, Mandy and Suzi!

Just like last year we have been having the most beautiful, soft, still and warm, autumn weather in Adelaide.   And it goes on day after day and while we sit on the decking of our house our resident birds entertain us.  One of our kookaburra visitors was sitting quietly up in a tree watching out for geckoes (small lizards) below which would provide a nice snack when two crows sat on each side of the branch and started to peck at him!  We were most indignant but after a few pecks back he flew off.  However our resident black and white magpies saw the marauders and were so indignant at the incursion that they swooped down on the crows, quickly seeing them off their territory.  We are regarded a little like the furniture on the decking.  No threat and the source of an occasional snack. (This is from Kate.)  

Meanwhile, over in Sydney, I have been marooned in my unit as I pulled a calf muscle earlier in the week. Getting up the 49 steps on crutches was such a marathon that I haven’t been out since. Things are improving and I expect to be back in the office (more stairs!) next week. Thankfully, Suzi has been there for her usual two days, and I’ve had the newsletter to get on with and have had remote access to the computer at work so haven’t had to resort to daytime TV…. (this from Mandy). 

The shortlist for the 2013 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Awards has just been announced and you’ll find it attached. We have read most of the books in the Early Childhood, Picture Book and Information Book categories and a few of the novels in the Younger Readers category and you’ll find reviews of those books in the Shortlist attachment. By the time the winners are announced in August, we will have read all of the books and so will review them in our September Book News. These Australian CBC Awards are chosen by one judge from each of the Australian states.  Each judge reads a large number of books and they all come together to discuss the shortlist and also to decide upon the winners. More information about the Awards and also on the CBC Conference is available at their website < >

As you know Austral Ed is now able to provide basic MARC records.  When books are ordered and then invoiced, the gleebooks computer system is able to generate MARC records for each of the invoiced titles.  These MARC records are sent by email at the same time as the Invoice. The records provide basic bibliographical information (Title, Author, ISBN, and Publisher.)  They can be uploaded very easily onto the library system. 

However if more detailed bibliographic information is needed, then SCIS (Schools Cataloguing Information Services) provide an excellent service which is used by most schools in Australia and New Zealand plus many International Schools round the world. Schools can subscribe directly.   If you are interested, check out the website  <> and arrange to get a free trial   The SCIS online database contains  over 1.5 million complete catalogue records for educational resources, including print resources, e-books, website records, sound recordings, video recordings, electronic resources and educational games.   If you would like more detailed information on the service and products offered, then Tricia Nathan at SCIS will be happy to answer any queries.   Write to:

We have recently updated some more lists of recommended books and so Australian Children’s Picture books and Books on Australian Indigenous Peoples are attached.

As the main purpose of this Book News is to send you the 2013 CBC Shortlist we have only a handful of other reviews:


Books published by Tulika in India

We have recently brought in a number of books from the Indian publisher Tulika in India.  They publish a wide range of picture books and other books for children.  Quite a number of their titles are bilingual.  They have a very interesting website which you may wish to check out  If there are books on the website that you wish to order then they can be ordered through Austral Ed.

We especially liked the following three picture book titles:

Stitching Stories: The art of embroidery in Gujerat by Nina Sabnani  pb 9788181489818  $18.00
This is the remarkable story of how two craftswomen, Meghiben and Raniben, have used their traditional needlework to tell stories about their lives while making beautiful narrative art. As Raniben says “Before I used to stitch just to make patterns.  But now I think about what I want to say through my stitches.”   Through photographs of her embroidered narrative panels, we can see the story of how she and her family left their village in Pakistan, crossing the harsh desert to live at first in a refugee camp in the Kutch region in Gujerat and how they later lost everything for a second time in a devastating earthquake.   Meghiben describes how she and Raniben work together and exchange ideas while photographs show the beautiful work they make through embroidery and applique.  The book is based on an award-winning documentary film Tanko Bole Chhe (The Stitches Speak) made by the author Nina Sabnani.  The final four pages of the book describe through text and photographs many examples of embroidery work and some of the many styles from particular regions and how they have influenced each other.  It is fascinating that appliqué has become a way of storytelling, not replacing traditional art but adding to it and extending it.  Fifteen years ago there were about twenty artists from within the village; now there are about one thousand artists from twenty-five villages across Kutch.
This is a beautiful book giving us an insight into a traditional art and the way it has been become narrative art and a new creative way to tell stories.  (10 years up)  KS

Upside Down  Story and pictures by T R Rajesh  pb 9788181466723  $10.00 (Bilingual in English and Hindi)
This simply written picture book was originally written in Malayalam, the language of the state of Kerala in south east India.  The brightly coloured illustrations show lush trees, animals, water and the way of life in rural Kerala.  The text is very simple (in English and in Hindi) and describes each illustration.  “An elephant near the temple.”  “A cow in the street.”  “Children going to school.”  However it is a little puzzling as each illustration is upside down.   The reason is shown in the final illustration showing a small bat hanging upside down in a tree.  This is how the bat sees the world.   Lots to discuss about the different view of the world as well as the lush rural life of Kerala.  The book is available in English with one each of seven different Indian languages.    (3 – 6 years)  KS

Out of the Way by Uma Krishnaswami  pictures by Uma Krishnaswamy  pb 9788181467928  $14.95
A simple lively story about a mango tree that grew in a small village and how people and animals made their way around it.  As the tree grew bigger, birds nested in its branches as the road around the tree got busier with riders, wagons and cars. Riders called “Out of the Way Out of the way” as they rushed past.  But as life rushed around the tree and the road got bigger so did the tree and it became a meeting place for people and animals under its spreading canopy.  The illustrations are bright and lively, showing life in an Indian village and later, as there is more development, showing a busy road with cars, buses and trucks. The illustrations are colourful but are all the more striking through the occasional scattering of back and white line drawings.   The book can be read as an allegory on the environment and development; showing how even though development rushes by there is still room for the natural world, or the welcoming canopy of a mango tree.  (5 – 8 years)  KS

The Fair Dinkum War by David Cox hardback  978174330825  $24.99
This picture book gives us David Cox’s unique view of the war years in Australia as recalled in narrative and through his lively, expressive illustrations.  David Cox was just in Grade 2 when he and his family moved to the city leaving his father working in the country on a cattle station.  It shows us how the children had their own war heroes, played war games, and helped in the war effort.  There were blackouts, ration cards and American soldiers.   The book vividly brings to life Cox’s memories of his childhood from Grade 2 to Grade 5.  Much of   this would appear so foreign to children of today.   This picture book continues on from The Road to Goononghardback 9781742375212  $29.95 which showed his life in a small country town during the Depression years.    (6 – 9 years)  KS

Jandamarra by Mark Greenwood & Terry Denton (ill.) hardback  9781742375700 $29.99
This is a very important picture book telling the remarkable story of the Aboriginal warrior Jandamarra who led his people against the station owners and police who were encroaching further and further on the land of the Bunuba people in the rugged Kimberley region of north-west Australia.   In the late 1890s, Jandamarra worked for some time for white settlers and also the Police but then as more and more of his people were captured and held in chains, he turned and led his people in a guerrilla-like resistance against the intruders. His ability to disappear into the many caves and crevices of the country round Windjana Gorge became legendary and even when wounded he managed to escape numerous times, leading to the belief that he had magical powers. When he was killed he was only 24. Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton have worked closely with the Elders of the Bunuba people in telling this story. We are very used to seeing Terry Denton’s distinctive illustrations used for comic effect and so it is fascinating to see how effectively his illustrations tell this tragic story of Jandamara’s life and give us a vivid picture of the rugged Kimberley country.  It is very pleasing that this story about a legendary Indigenous hero, so well known in the Kimberley and in Western Australia, will now be known by children and adults throughout Australia (7 – 12 years).  KS

If you would like more background information about Jandamarra, then following are two excellent non-fiction titles.


Kimberley Warrior: The Story of Jandamarra. pb   9781863738613  $18.99   The story of this remarkable Aboriginal warrior has also been told for children in the True Stories series. In the late 1890s, Jandamarra led the resistance of the Bunuba people against the invasion of their lands by white pastoralists.  It is a gripping but also tragic story of an Aboriginal warrior caught between two worlds.  Beautifully illustrated in black and white by John Nicholson.    (9 – 14 years)  KS

Banjo Woorunmurra and Howard Peterson
Jandamarra and the Bunubu Resistance pb  9781921248320   $24.95
The remarkable story of the resistance of Jandamarra and the Bunubu people to the invasion of their lands by white settlers in the north west Kimberley region of Western Australia. Set in the late 1890s, Jandamara at first worked as a black tracker with the Police against his own Aboriginal people the Bunuba people.  However as he saw more and more of his own people captured, he fought against the police and at the age of 21 he led a guerrilla-like resistance against the pastoralists who were steadily taking over Bunuba lands.  He is believed to have spiritual powers because of his ability to survive grievous wounds and disappear like a bird, but by the age of 24 he had been killed. Banjo Woorunmurra is the Aboriginal custodian of the story.  Well illustrated with many photos of the region.   (14 years up)  KS

Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind & Changed Their World by Allan Drummond hardback 9780374321840 $25.00 
An inspiring narrative non-fiction picture book about the Danish island of Samso, in the North Sea. It’s really windy there and the Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy chose Samso to become independent of non-renewable energy. Teacher Soren Hermansen headed the project to do away with the need for petrol, coal and natural gas, using wind turbines to make the island energy independent. The community worked together over several years to achieve this goal, showing how small changes can make a big difference. The simple text is accompanied by denser information panels about the problem with non-renewable energy sources, global warming and the advantages of energy independence through the use of renewable energy (6-9 years) MC


Christine Harris
Audrey of the Outback Bk1 pb 9781921272189 $14.95
Audrey is determined, inquisitive, and has a vivid imagination. She and her family lead an isolated life in the outback and her Dad, a dingo trapper, is away for weeks at a time. In her search for identity and independence, Audrey tries being a swaggie, a teacher and a man. She also ponders loss as she contemplates life without Stumpy, her invisible friend. And what if her Dad never comes back?  An exuberant and engaging story with a very Australian flavour. (thoughtful 8-10 years) MC
Audrey Goes to Town Bk2 pb 9781921272677 $14.95
With Dad away and Mum unwell, the family goes to stay in town so Mum can get treatment. Audrey's exuberance is somewhat dampened by crotchety old Mrs Paterson, who is accommodating them. But you can't keep a good girl down! In her inimitable style, Audrey sets about finding the old lady's good side. (thoughtful 8-10 years) MC
Audrey’s Big Secret Bk3 pb 9781921272530 $14.95
Audrey’s big secret is Janet, an aboriginal girl about the same age, who ran away from the men who were taking her to the mission in Queensland. Audrey hides her and brings her food, whilst wrestling with the dilemma of whether to tell her Mum and Dad or not. (thoughtful 8-10 years)

Louis Beside Himself by Anna Fienberg pb 9781742379944 $15.99
Set in Sydney, this is the story of a very eventful summer in the life of thirteen-year-old Louis. Louis loves words. His over-enthusiastic wrestling-mad Dad is a little disappointed at Louis’s complete lack of interest in mastering any of the wrestling moves he constantly springs on him, and while his best friends, Singo and Hassan, carry around a basketball and a skateboard, Louis carries a notebook everywhere, recording new words and their meanings and waiting for an opportunity to use them. He is, however, curiously tongue-tied in the presence of  Elena, who just wants to be part of the gang. When runaway Cordelia crashes into their lives it kick-starts a chain of events that ultimately reveal the courage within Louis that he never knew he had. From the Australian author of the much-loved Tashi series comes this fast-paced, funny novel for older readers about friendship, family and standing up for what is right. You’ll find lots of interesting words and their meanings in Louis Montgomery’s Word Bank at the end of the book (11-13 years) MC

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang hardback 9780545162159 $26.99 
pb 9780545162166 $9.99
Eleven-year-old American-Chinese Lucy Wu thinks she’s in for the best year of her life: she’s just starting sixth grade with hopes of becoming captain of the basketball team, and her older sister Regina is moving away to go to college which means Lucy will finally have her own room. Lucy’s plans are crushed when she learns her beloved grandmother’s sister Yi-Po is visiting from China for a few months and will be sharing her room, and instead of basketball practice on Saturday mornings her parents force her to attend Chinese school with the goody-two-shoes Talent Chang. Her life is ruined! But no-one is more surprised than Lucy when Yi-Po turns out to be her biggest supporter in her quest to pursue her passion for basketball, and Talent is instrumental in the humiliation of the bullying Sloane Connors. Themes of tolerance, communication, friendship and family (10-12 years) MC

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente pb 9781780339818 $16.99
This modern-day fairytale is every bit as intriguing and delightful as its title. Twelve-year-old September, bored with her hum-drum daily routine in Omaha, Nebraska, can hardly believe her luck when the Green Wind and the Leopard of Little Breezes invite her to Fairyland. She breathlessly accepts, climbs out of the kitchen window, and the adventure begins. She soon meets three witches, Hello, Goodbye and Manythanks and is given the task of finding and returning their spoon, stolen by Fairyland's evil queen The Marquess. She is aided in her quest by a word-obsessed wyvern named A-through-L, a marid (or genie) named Saturday and a 112-year-old paper lantern called Gleam. Along the way she meets all manner of strange and wonderful creatures, not all with her best interests at heart, and must dig deep to find the courage and resourcefulness to survive in this confusing and dangerous land. With its wonderful use of language, this is a thoroughly entertaining read reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast. Neil Gaiman described it as a glorious balancing act between modernism and the Victorian Fairy Tale (sophisticated 12 year olds through to adults!) MC

Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke

KS Kate Shepherd
MC Mandy Clarke

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