Children's New Releases 

July 2019

 - Tuesday, June 25, 2019

PICTURE BOOKS


Goodbye House, Hello House by Margaret Wild (ill) Ann James ($25, HB)
A new book by either of these luminaries of children’s literature is always welcome; this collaboration even more so, as it addresses a common life experience in a way that portrays the difficulty of change in a positive way. A non-gendered child farewells the family’s country home in a series of ‘lasts’: ‘This is the last time I’ll run through these trees. This is the last time I’ll eat at this table. Goodbye, old house. Goodbye.’ By contrast, the new city home provides opportunity to start again, to revel in different surroundings and pursuits: ‘Hello, new house. Hello!’ In a mixed medium variation on her usual style Ann excels again in fulfilling her mission ‘It’s my responsibility to draw out the emotion behind the words on the page’, and combined with Margaret Wild’s masterful simplicity, this story for 3-6 year-olds is yet another award contender from these two Australian favourites. Lynndy

Fashionista by Maxine Beneba Clarke ($20, HB)
Clarke, the multi-award winning Afro-Caribbean Australian author renowned for writing beautifully about ugly things, here celebrates self-expression in a paean to individuality. ‘Wear it! Flaunt it!’ Above all, don’t be afraid to believe in yourself. This is truly a picture book for all ages. Lynndy

The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature by Pierre-Jacques Ober (ills) Jules Ober & Felicity Goonan  What an extraordinary book this is! Illustrated with tableaux made in miniature, it is a story of a young man who ‘deserted’ the French army, to visit his mother at Christmas. He wanted to be a good son, but he wanted to be a good soldier too, so he returned to the army after two days. All materials used to make the story come from hobby shops, and are painted by hand. The photography used to create the scenes is spectacular, moody lighting, life-like shadows and incredible depth of field make this a book you can fall into. The very deliberate use of little soldiers is also used as a metaphor, the senseless loss of life in this particular war is very well illustrated by using the little plastic people. Based on a true story, this poignant telling will no doubt spawn many imitators, as works of originality usually do these days. ($35, HB)  Louise

ACTIVITIES

Playing With Collage by Jeannie Baker
For anyone who has been intrigued and beguiled by Jeannie Baker’s exquisite collages, this is the book for you! Playing with Collage is a marvellous introduction into the possibilities of collage. It’s not overly directive or instructive, but the author generously shares her knowledge and enthusiasm for the art, and inspires the reader to go out and look, and collect, and most importantly to PLAY. This is a fabulous book for children, for teachers, and generally anyone who would like to have a go—the artist author makes it look really easy!! ($28, PB) Louise

The Mysterious Mansion by Daria Song ($30, PB)
Celebrated Korean illustrator Song has created a new highly interactive story with a twist. Featuring gorgeous art, it is the tale of a young girl who discovers a mansion in the countryside; on entering it, she must solve puzzles to escape. Along with the reader, she navigates mazes, riddles, optical illusions, intricate colouring challenges and an assortment of other obstacles before emerging again. Described as ‘a mind-bending book stranger than a fairy tale’, this is an immersive activity book to enchant and mesmerise anyone from 7 to adult. Lynndy

NON FICTION


Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born by Miranda Paul (ill) Jason Chin ($30, HB)
This excellent guide to the growth of a baby, from a fertilised egg to fully formed, is far more than the usual nonfiction book, it is also a really delightful picture book. The left hand pages show carefully painted anatomically accurate pictures, while the opposite pages are richly illustrated pictures of a family of three, slowly but surely about to become four. Full of humour and detail, these very inclusive pictures extend the minimal but dynamic text, mirroring an ideal but reasonable journey towards birth. The illustrative style is realistic, with the baby in utero becoming larger and more recognisably human with every page, as the family prepares for its new member on the opposite pages. There is more information at the end of the book, appropriate for the age of the child reader, and quite illuminating for an adult—babies dream! Who knew? Louise
(Nine Months is a co-winner, 2019 Boston Horn-Globe Honor Book for Nonfiction. LB)

PRIMARY LEVEL READERS

Wombat, Mudlark & Other Stories by Helen Milroy ($15, PB)
In her collection of eight sympathetically told Dreamtime-like stories, Australian native animals encounter natural elements, highlighting the strengths of each and the universality of their situations. With illustrations by the author, this book of indigenous teaching stories is extra special because of her short attribution with every story of the positive traits shared by children and the featured animal, such as enthusiasm for life, loyal friendship, patience, thirst for knowledge or tendency to spread joy. Recommended for adults to read with and reassure the children in their life, and for young readers who enjoy traditional tales. Lynndy

FICTION


The First: 2 Endling series by Katherine Applegate ($20, PB)
Regular readers of this page might recall how effusively I lauded the first book in this epic fantasy series, and although I’ve not yet read this volume I am confident it will prove just as alluring. Accompanied by allies from other hybrid beast clans and two human children, Byx, a doglike hybrid animal is on a quest to discover whether she really is the last of the dairne species. Around this focal theme are wound other strands of story: escape from a dictator enslaving sentient animal species, human trafficking, war and conservation, and most importantly, trust and friendship. Astute readers will recognise the human parallels alluded to in both books. I can’t wait to read of Byx’s journey and transformation into a leader, in this second instalment of Applegate’s powerful series. Lynndy

Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis ($15, PB)
If you fell under the spell of The War That Saved My Life—the Newbery Honor Book we so loved—or Australian triumph Lenny’s Book of Everything, I’m sure you’ll be equally beguiled by the vulnerability of ornithology-obsessed December, who is yet to find a true home or connection. ‘Eleven-year-old December knows everything about birds, and everything about getting kicked out of foster homes. All she has of her biological mum is the book she left behind, The Complete Guide to Birds, Volume One, and a photo with a message: ‘In flight is where you’ll find me.’ December knows she’s truly a bird, just waiting for the day she transforms and flies away to reunite with her mum. The scar on her back must be where her wings have started to blossom—she just needs to practise and to find the right tree. 
When she’s placed with Eleanor, a new foster mum who runs a taxidermy business and volunteers at a wildlife rescue, December begins to see herself and what home means in a new light. But the story she tells herself about her past is what’s kept December going this long, and she doesn’t know if she can let go of it ... even if changing her story might mean that she can finally find a place where she belongs.’ Tender and moving, Extraordinary Birds—with its details about bird characteristics, the gradual development of trust, December’s unquestioning acceptance of transgender school friend Cheryllynn although both are reviled by bullies, and her autobiographical book-within-a-book Bird Girl: An Extraordinary Tale, is a saga that will linger with you. Highly recommended. Lynndy

BOOK TO SCREEN NEWS


An eight-part TV adaptation of His Dark Materials, the award-winning series by Philip Pullman, is due for release later this year. It is a co-production by the BBC and HBO, who have committed already to a second season. Check out the star-crammed film trailer!

Under way is a film of the classic One Thousand Paper Cranes, the story of Hiroshima survivor Sadako Sasaki and author Eleanor Coerr, who wrote the bestselling children’s book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.The film will tell the true story of Sasaki, who was a 2-year-old in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city in 1945. She was later diagnosed with leukemia caused by exposure to radiation from the blast. She drew strength from a Japanese legend that, if she folded 1,000 paper cranes, she would be granted a wish, which in her case
was to live. Lynndy