This evening I will be talking on ABC Radio Brisbane with Trevor Jackson about my favourite titles of the last month or so. I’ve listed the titles below – tune in at 8:30pm to 612ABC to hear more.
Click on titles to read more and purchase.
‘Fat Rabbit’ by Wayne Patterson
My parents regularly attend talks at The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane on many and varied topics and the latest one was on Motor Neurone Disease (MND), with Wayne Patterson as a guest speaker. MND or ALS as it is known overseas, has no known cause, no treatment and no cure. Typically patients survive for 2 to 5 years after diagnosis. Wayne Patterson was 58 when he was diagnosed with MND in 2015 and as a legacy for his future grandchildren, he is writing a series of picture books so they can hear his voice through story (his voice is affected at this point and will eventually go) and to raise much needed money for MND research.
All three of the books (more to come hopefully) focus on the character of ‘Fat Rabbit’ who lives on Carrot Top Island. Fat Rabbit is a graffiti style character who Wayne drew on the inside of his wardrobe when he was 15, and he has lived inside Wayne’s imagination ever since. Wayne says: Fat Rabbit is a character I created in my own childhood. He was a simple line drawing who started out on the inside of my wardrobe door at home. At his core he represents a set of family values and a warm loving presence. He lives on Carrot Top Island and in the hearts of those I leave behind. Who better to be my voice?
in purchasing the books (and darned cute plush toy) you are raising much needed funds for MND research and the Fat Rabbit Research Grant. Gifts that give twice are the very best kind and allow opportunities to talk with your children about donating money to causes that you as a family believe strongly in. Purchase the Fat Rabbit Books here.
‘The Patchwork Bike’ by Maxine Beneba-Clarke and Van T. Rudd
SHORTLISTED – 2017 CBCA Book of the Year Awards (Picture Books category AND Critchon category)
When you live in a village at the edge of the No-Go Desert, you need to make your own fun. That’s when you and your brothers get inventive and build a bike from scratch, using everyday items like an old milk pot (maybe mum is still using it, maybe not) and a used flour sack. You can even make a numberplate from bark, if you want. The end result is a spectacular bike, perfect for going bumpity-bump over sandhills, past your fed-up mum and right through your mud-for-walls home.
‘The Patchwork Bike’ is an outstanding publication celebrating the universal childhood joy and freedom of owning and riding a bike. I predicted it would pop up on various literary shortlists around the country and that is starting to happen, the CBCA Shortlisting recently is well deserved. Beneba Clarke’s paired back text is flawless and ‘The Patchwork Bike’ is excellent as a read aloud, with onomatopoeia used to great effect…it just rolls off the tongue. Like the cool kids hooning the streets on their bikes, the text is fast-moving, exuberant and full of spunk and bike riders young and old will appreciate the inventiveness and creativity of the young bike builders and riders in this story.
‘Rock Pool Secrets’ by Narelle Oliver
It is somewhat difficult for me to talk about this book objectively as Narelle Oliver was a dear friend of mine, who passed away in October 2016. This book was a long time coming and was released just this month. She has one more title which was in production when she passed away and it will be published in a few months.
Narelle Oliver was the talented author-illustrator-artist of many award winning children’s picture books, many of which are distributed internationally. My interview with her, from some years ago now, is here. Narelle Oliver’s published works are predominantly children’s picture books which she conceptualised, wrote and illustrated. Her books were often inspired by natural environments and she would undertake many site visits – taking photographs and sketches to ensure accuracy in her depictions of flora and fauna.
‘Rock Pool Secrets’ features the illustrative technique for which she was famed, linocut printing and, as with all her works, it is meticulously crafted and visually stunning. Readers are introduced to many creatures who call a rock pool their home: colourful crabs, tiny shrimp, sea slugs, goby fish and turban snails. With lift-the-flap pages which reveal all wonders that can be found in rock pools this book is just an absolute treasure – and certainly I will treasure it always.
Narelle was also the master of narrative non-fiction, an increasinly popular genre and a wonderful way to introduce non-fiction works to young children. I knew this book would have non-fiction elements and had seen all the orignals of the artwork before they went to the publisher (a child of mine who shall remain unnamed drew on one of her rock pool prints, fortunately not one of the ones going to the publisher!). I did not know however that she had included information about all the creatures at the conclusion of the book. This sort of added extra makes a teacher librarians heart sing as we can use the book in multiple ways and as a teaching tool. Thank you, as always, Narelle, for thinking of the teachers! Miss you lovely lady.
‘Aquatica’ by Lance Balchin
Welcome to future Earth. Despite repeated warnings, the environment has become polluted to such an extent that many areas of the globe have become uninhabitable and wildlife is now extinct.
From the ashes, a new style of ‘wildlife’ is created. Wildlife that will not remain harnessed by humankind.
So many, many books come across my desk that it takes something pretty special to wow me these days. ‘Aquatica’ has wowed me and more. It is innovative in a way I have not seen in a long time, from its entire concept to its breathtakingly beautiful illustrations and design, to the large, hardcover format; this really is one very impressive publication. This is a book which will engage many and varied readers: young bookworms and artists will pour over it; innovators and lovers of droids, drones and robots will be fascinated by the creatures (and set about creating their own); steampunk enthusiasts will need to add it to their collections; eco-warriors will applaud ‘Aquatica’ as a cautionary tale, and picture book collectors young and old will purchase it as a coffee table book.
‘Mrs Whitlam’ by Bruce Pascoe
SHORTLISTED – 2017 CBCA Book of the Year Awards (Younger Readers category)
Marnie Clark of Curdie Vale can ride but she doesn’t have a horse. She dreams of owning one and having the whole world to ride it in. Before too long Marnie is gifted Mrs Margaret ‘Maggie’ Whitlam, a beautiful, big Clydesdale – bold, fearless and able to jump anything. From the very first ride, Marnie and Maggie get more adventure than they bargained for. Soon Marnie is learning to negotiate newfound friendships, pony club and how to stand up for what she believes in. Will her friendship with George Costa, another outsider, make being accepted harder? Or will being true to yourself be the hardest decision Marnie makes?
‘The Mapmaker Chronicles‘ by A.L. Tait
The Mapmaker Chronicles are about a young hero named Quinn Freeman who races against the greedy and the cruel to create a map of the world. Quinn has battled pirates, dragons, sea monsters and more.
In the fourth novel of the series, Quinn has returned home and is living an uneventful life with his large family. But not for long. He is kidnapped and flees the mysterious King Ivo’s henchmen. He must return to the seas to live life on the run and complete the map for King Orel. And no longer would he be under the safe wing of his trainer, the feared Zain; this time his only travel companions are two of his inexperienced brothers, Jed and Allyn. Quinn has a gift: He has a phenomenal memory which served him well in the Great Race, but now people want to exploit it as he hurries to find the missing part of the map. Quinn meets lions, a monster shark and an old enemy while battling starvation and thirst.
Jazzy’s full review for me is here.
‘Freedom Swimmers’ by Wai Chim
This incredible tale about two boys’ swim from mainland China to Hong Kong in search of freedom from poverty and oppression is inspired by a true story.
Ming survived the famine that killed his parents during China’s ‘Great Leap Forward’, and lives a hard but adequate life, working in the fields.
When a group of city boys comes to the village as part of a Communist Party re-education program, Ming and his friends aren’t sure what to make of the new arrivals. They’re not used to hard labour and village life. But despite his reservations, Ming befriends a charming city boy called Li. The two couldn’t be more different, but slowly they form a bond over evening swims and shared dreams.
But as the bitterness of life under the Party begins to take its toll on both boys, they begin to imagine the impossible: freedom.
‘Hotaka’ by John Heffernan
A powerful and moving story about one boy caught up in the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011. When the tsunami strikes the Japanese seaside town of Omori-wan, the effects are utterly devastating. Three years later, much of what happened on that day is still a mystery. As Hotaka sets about convincing local performers to appear at the town’s upcoming Memorial Concert, he finds himself increasingly haunted by memories of best friend, Takeshi, who perished without trace in the tsunami. Then his friend Sakura becomes involved in an anti-seawall movement, and all too quickly the protest gets serious. As the town and its people struggle to rebuild their lives, can Hotaka piece together what happened that day – and let go of the past?