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September 2015

Secrets of the Rainforest by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner

Secrets of the RainforestThe Ivy Press, Lewes, 2015

Paperback, 36 pages

ISBN: 978-1-7824-0183-4

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

Another story in the Shine a Light Series of books.  Secrets of the Rainforest takes the reader on a journey through the rainforest where we meet the various animals and insects that call it home.  At the end of the book there is more information about the different levels of the forest and the plants that also call it home.

Other Titles in this series: Secrets of the Apple Tree, Secrets of the Sea Shore


Loula is Leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve

Loula is Leaving for AfricaKids Can Press, Ontario, 2014

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-5545-3941-3

Suggested reading age: 4+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

A story about running away from home - and your three annoying brothers - in style!  Loula's mother is an opera singer, her father a moustache creator and her three brothers are mean, horrible and stinky.  Loula packs her bag and decides to run away to Africa.  She's ably assisted by Gilbert, the family chauffeur.  If only we could all have someone so kind to aid and abet our escape plans.  This story captures a child's imagination with the African savannah (the local park) and it's wildlife (children on monkey bars).


Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

Happy Birthday Madame ChapeauAbrams, New York, 2014

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1219-7

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

This is a sweet story about a lonely hat maker who celebrates her birthday each year by dressing in her most elegant dress (the one with the frills and froufrou upon it), putting on her best birthday bonnet and strolling through town to dine - alone - at the best place in town.  What happens to Madame Chapeau when she trips on a root and a bird steals her bonnet?  Does she still dine alone at the best place in town?  This elegant story about a lonesome hat maker brings joy to young children.


What's Your Story? by Rose Giannone and Bern Emmerichs

What's Your Story?Berbay Publishing, Vic, 2013

Hardback, 40 pages

ISBN: 978-0-9806-7-1155

Suggested reading age: 6+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

I seem to be on a bit of an Australian history kick with the picture books lately.  Not sure if it's luck or by choice but I am enjoying these books that bring Australian history to younger readers.  This one especially with it's theme of everyone having a story and the explanation that even countries have stories.

What's Your Story? introduces young readers to the idea and importance of story and retells the story of Leonard, an orphaned English boy and a young girl, Milba, from the Eora tribe.  I really liked Bern Emmerich's illustrations.  I'm not sure what the style is called but they were fresh and appealing.  My only complaint about this book is that there wasn't a page at the end telling us more about the two main characters and their lives.


The Dreamkeeper by Robert Ingpen

The DreamkeeperPutnam Publishing Group, US, 2006

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-6984-0036-8

Suggested reading age: 6+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Robert Ingpen is a supremely talented Australian illustrator.  The Dreamkeeper is a tale he has written especially for his granddaughter, Alice Elisabeth.  Luckily for those of us without artistic grandfathers, the story has been published for everyone to read!

Nobody has seen the Dreamkeeper but we do know that he wears old fashioned clothes hung with charms and lures for catching mischievous creatures that have escaped from The Great Dreamtree.  Once he captures the creatures, he returns them to the tree so they can't do any harm in the space between what is really happening and what you imagine might happen.  Gorgeous!


My favourite place in the whole world

ALB - library

I have done a lot of travelling around the world and in Australia. To the Galapagos Islands, Amazon rainforest and .  To Delhi, London and New York.  To the pyramids, Macchu Picchu and the Taj Mahal.  Today I was thinking about all the places I have been and wondering which one was my favourite.  With such a great list, it's hard to choose.   When I really sat down and thought about it, the surprising answer was the library.

For someone who loves to explore new places, meet new people and have new experiences, the library is the ultimate travel destination.  In every book there is a world waiting to be discovered.  A world that I can pick up and explore at whim.  A world that I can carry with me wherever I go. The library is the best place in all the world to find all those wonderful books which I love.  When I was a kid I wanted to own all the books I read.  Now I am content to borrow them from the library.  

At the library I can travel in time throughout history. I can experience what it is like to be a male slave in the Roman Empire. I can travel through space and visit other planets.  I can go wherever imagination can take me and that is pretty much everywhere and anywhere thanks to the millions of authors who have published books. All I need is my trusty library card and some free time.

Luckily for me, I have the most enlightened library filled with wonderfully helpful librarians who are unfailingly polite and helpful to me and my kids. There are no late fees at my library.  I can get any book I want either from my own library service or from any public library in the state.  My wonderful library even does fortnightly or month visits for elder residents who cannot make it to the library.

Free books! What's not to love about a library? And if, like me, you are lucky enough to live near a fabulous library, you even get free talks, concerts and plays for you and your family.

Go check out your library and start borrowing!


Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck by Michelle Gillespie and Sonia Martinez

Sam, Grace and the ShipwreckFreemantle Press, Freemantle WA, 2011

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-9216-9600-8

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

I'm loving the great children's books I'm finding at our local library that celebrate Australian history.  I don't remember books like these from when I was growing up and they're a welcome addition to the great pantheon of children's literature.  Australian children deserve to have stories that tell of their unique history and culture.

This book is based on a true story of a shipwreck off the south coast of Western Australia in 1876. Michelle Gillespie has managed to make this tale come alive with a beautiful retelling of events and portrayal of the two main characters - 16 year old Grace and stockman Sam.  The story is ably illustrated by the talented Sonia Martinez.


Mrs Peperpot in the Magic Wood by Alf Proysen

Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic WoodRandom House, London, 2013

Paperback, 144 pages

ISBN: 978-1-8494-1803-4

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

These tales from Norwegian author Alf Proysen are hilarious and funny (according to my nine year old daughter).  Mrs Pepperpot is an old woman who can shrink to the size of a pepper pot at any moment. Each chapter in this book is a complete story, making this a perfect bedtime book for younger readers. They may ask for more as her adventures are very entertaining and unexpected but they won't be left with a cliff hanger of an ending.

Other titles in this series: Mrs Pepperpot Stories, Little Old Mrs Pepperpot, Mrs Pepperpot to the Rescue, Mrs Pepperpot's Year, Mrs Pepperpot's Outing, Mrs Pepperpot Again.


The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo illustrated by Yoko Tanaka

The Magician's ElephantCandlewick Press, Massachusetts, 2009

Hardback, 208 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4410-9

Suggested reading age: 10+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

This is a gorgeous modern fable by well known children's author Kate DiCamillo.  Peter Augustus Duchene is an orphan living in an attic room with a retired soldier named Vilna Lutz.  Vilna is training Peter to become a soldier but Peter is filled with thoughts about his baby sister. Peter believes that his baby sister died until the fateful day he steps into the fortune teller's tent that has magically sprung up in the market square. 

A beautiful story filled with wonder, hope, love and magic.


Jane on Her Own: A Catwings Tale by Ursula K Le Guin and S.D. Schindler

Jane on her ownOrchard Books, NY, 1999

Hardback, 42 pages

ISBN: 978-0-5313-3133-0

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

The queen of fantasy, Ursula K Le Guin has written a gorgeous tale for younger readers.  Complete with colour illustrations by S.D. Schindler, this is a lovely tale about being different and finding your place in spite of the difficulties and dangers that being different can create.  Jane, the heroine of the story is a cat with wings who longs to venture out into the wider world, in spite of all the dangers.  She longs for adventure and new friends.

Other titles in this series: Catwings, Catwings Return, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings