Summer Holiday Blogging

I find myself with ‘spare’ time to blog on the summer holidays…and I just heard the baby get woken up from the monopoly excitement.

Never mind. Truth is we aren’t reading many new books at the moment. Between outings, trying to keep my house in some sort of order and demands for screen time, there just doesn’t seem to be time.

More Favourite Illustrators

A little while ago I blogged about 3 of my favourite children’s illustrators, which was very difficult to decide on, so here are more of our favourite illustrators.

Freya Blackwood

Freya’s illustrations are beautifully soulful. I have one daughter (of the same name) who is very sensitive to how her artwork looks, she wants it to look perfect, exactly as she planned it, no mistakes. I love that Freya Blackwood’s artwork looks unrefined, almost unfinished (though I’m positive hours of work go into her pictures). I love the beauty and honesty she expresses in her characters. She is one of Australia’s most accomplished illustrators.


Dan Santat

I absolutely love this guy’s artwork. It seems to stand out as very unique for children’s’ picture books. His images are quirky. They have a darker and edgier side than what might be typically found in the children’s section of the library.  Each of his books stands alone as a fantastic, memorable gift for children 3-8 years old.

Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls

There are many illustrators who provided the portraits used for this book, and each of them has done an amazing job. The colours and images make the life stories of the women in this book come alive. Each page is unique and beautiful showing children that there are a variety of styles and types of artwork. The editors have done an amazing job pairing incredible stories of accomplished women from history with illustrations that are worthy of the match.

Home Alone, illustrated by Kim Smith

We have started a tradition of watching the ‘Home Alone’ movies at Christmas time. The kids love them, but also hate them. The other night as we watched ‘Home Alone 2’ the 5 yr old was literally screaming at the TV as Harry and Marv are tortured, but then laughing hysterically.

So when I saw ‘Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook’, although skeptical, I knew we had to read it. We love the movies so much, and I had really high hopes for the book, so I was concerned about being disappointed.

But my fears have vanished. This book is an awesome adaptation of the classic movie. The illustrations are really appealing: great colours, great layout. The story is much simpler, and it is never scary, perfect for my 3-year-old who has put it on repeat for 2 weeks now (she is at the point of reciting it).

This a such a great gift for a family who love the movies.


The Terrible Two, by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell


We have had another raving success with chapter books. I went to the library determined not to get any books for Jude as he had half a dozen already in his ‘to-be-read’ pile. But when ‘The Terrible Two‘  was flung off the bookshelf by the baby it grabbed my attention. A book about kids who love pranking sounds like a real winner, and it totally was.

We have read a few books by one of the authors, Mac Barnett, my favourite being ‘The Skunk‘. His picture books are a little quirky and make you think a bit more and look a bit deeper.

‘The Terrible Two’ has two main characters, Niles and Miles, who start out as enemies, but their love of pranking brings them together as friends. They start out pulling pranks on each other and end up taking on the challenge to prank the whole school.

The good news for my Grade 1 boy is that there is another book in the series and one about to be released.

A World of Information, by James Brown and Richard Platt

Question: Are you stuck on what to buy a curious mind for Christmas?

Answer: ‘A World of Information’

Firstly at just $22  I consider this to be a steal. It is perfectly priced for a school or family Secret Santa. Plus it will take the kid much longer to read than other popular books you can easily buy at the big department stores.

Each page contains information, which is set out in awesome, easy to read and stylish infographics, plus interesting little facts from history about the topic.  If you are buying a gift for a kid who is really into science, numbers, history, basic physics or how things work they are sure to love the selection of information contained in this book. Some examples include The Anatomy of a Bicycle, Impossible Shapes, Roman Numeral, Flight, The Phases of the Moon, and Knots.

Still not sure if this is a book the kid in your life would use or like, consider: is the kid into lego and other construction toys?, do they do scouts?, do they like puzzles, crosswords, wordsearches etc?, do they like taking things apart and putting them back together? If you answered ‘yes’ then this is the right book.

‘A World of Information’ is a book a child will have with them for years to come. It is a fantastic tome with important information any curious 6-12 year old would want.


Christmas Booking

I think this week lots of mums began ramping up for Christmas – especially those who do most of their gift shopping online.
So what are you giving book-wise this Christmas?
For my younger two, I indulged myself and bought books I have wanted for ages, Mark Pett’s ‘The Girl and the Bicycle‘ and ‘The Boy and the Airplane‘.
The older ones are getting the Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck Project Books. 
I’d love to hear from other book-givers.

The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas, by David Almond

After picture books and early readers, kids are ready for more meaty books that are much less reliant on pictures. We’ve tried a few and ‘The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas‘ has been a huge hit with my oldest, Jude. So today, for the first time he has provided a short review of why he liked the book. Then I’ll let you know why I liked it. 

Why did Jude like this book? (as typed by the boy himself – no edits)

The boy who swam with piranhas was a very good book.It told you all about being what YOU want to be.Don’t copy any body because it probably won’t be what you want to do.A boy went through a hard life.If you copy somebody that somebody might not like it either.

Why did I like ‘The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas’?

Because it took my kid longer that one sitting to read.

Jude has tasted a fair few of the popular series and authors for a kid his age: The Bad Guys, WeirDo, The Treehouse series, How To Train your Dragon, Billie B Brown and Hey Jack, Geronimo Stilton, Captain Underpants, Tom Gates, Wimpy Kid…you get it. While he has loved all of these he can whip through a graphic novel quite quickly. He once brought home a WeirDo from school and finished it before bedtime. He also read an entire episode of The Bad Guys in the 13 mins it took to drop his sister at kinder and then take him to school. This is why I have stopped buying him novels. All of these books are readily available at the school or public library, and I can’t be spending $40 a week buying him books.

Seeing him hooked on a book that took him more than a day to finish was awesome. He took on it car trips and netball games because he wanted to keep reading and finish it.

It’s also really nice to see that he understood the moral lesson of the storyline – to always be yourself- without help. As I only got to read a couple of pages of the book myself, I had no ability to help him think about the characters and story. It’s lovely to know he can pick up the overall themes.


Jane Foster’s Colors, by Jane Foster

I have come across a great series of books for very young children. They are by UK illustrator Jane Foster. Jane’s retro style is very simple for young readers but also very trendy and pleasing for adults. We have now read three of them: ‘123′, ‘ABC’ and, my favourite, ‘Colors’.

Jane’s fantastic creations are board books and have a great layout for very young children. Each page usually has one picture and one or two words, which allows children to focus on the picture. The colours are fun and the pictures themselves are wonderfully designed.

These books are a great first book for a baby shower gift or first Christmas gift. Because the design is such high-quality, parents will love them too, so they are guaranteed to be well used!

Jane is very active on Instagram and Facebook, but beware once you follow her you might get seriously envious of the beautiful life she appears to lead.

Favourite Illustrators

One of the reasons I love reading picture books with my kids is the pictures. I’m not a hugely artsy person. I don’t think of myself as having any artistic talent, yet. Maybe this is why I am blown away at the level of artistry that some books contain. Sometimes I think this illustrator is so talented that they could be doing so many other things with their skill besides producing books for children. But then I think, what better use of a fantastic talent than sharing it with non-judgmental, impressionable, eager to learn kids.

Here are 3 of my favourite children’s illustrators (at the moment).

David Roberts

His distinctive style is so cool. His pictures contain imagery from various eras that captivate kids and make the book more interesting for adults. I also love that his illustrations have so much detail. There is so much visual information packed into every page.

Also, he illustrates the must-read for 5-9 year old girls, Rosie Revere.

Leo Timmers


I absolutely adore this man’s artwork. I am so glad a person with his taste, style, and talent turned their hand to children’s books. He often has anthropomorphic animals as characters in his books, which is perfect for young children. His images contain colours that draw the reader in, and whimsical proportions that give your imagination an education.

Not sure how else to make it clear how much I love this illustrator’s work.


Cheryl Orsini

Probably my favourite Aussie Illustrator at the moment. Many children’s books are full of bright colours, so Cheryl’s soft tones feel really unique.

Sometimes I feel items (be they books, clothes, shoes, bags, lunch boxes or any other everyday item) designed for and targeted towards young girls to be saccharine, overly perfected and much too pink, which worries me.  I would say Cheryl’s pictures have a feminine quality that is sweet without being over the top, and refined, yet still relaxed.

Never Touch a Monster, Rosie Greening and Stuart Lynch

A quick one today.

We got a great baby/toddler book at the library this week. I don’t usually go looking at the board books because I figure we have enough of them at home, so I’m glad Miss 3 had a little peruse. If you need a break from the “That’s Not My…” series, keep reading, this is your answer.

‘Never Touch a Monster‘ has everything 1-3 year olds want in a book. Firstly, it is a board book, that is a key feature for this age group. It also has fun, vibrant pictures, plus each page has a tactile element for them to feel, plus the words have rhyme and rhythm.

I have done a quick search online and have discovered that there are two other titles in this series: ‘Never Touch a Dinosaur‘, and ‘Never Touch a Dragon‘.

They would make terrific presents for either a boy or girl under 2 yrs.