Thursday 19 December 2013

Children's Book Review: My Christmas Crackers, by Bronwen Davies.

My Christmas Crackers is a Christmas joke book for kids. 

Written and illustrated by Bronwen Davies, it has jokes from Santa to snowmen, and just about everything Christmassy in between!

I have to admit that I first thought most of the jokes in this book are a bit lame, but both of my boys laughed their heads off reading it. And, after reading one particular joke, I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself! That my friends, is no joke....pardon the pun!

All in all, I think Scholastic Australia are on a bit of a winner with this one!

Perfect for that last minute gift for a young someone! 

Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Category: Picture book
Title: My Christmas Crackers
Author/Illustrator: Bronwen Davies
Publication Date: November 2013
Format: 173 x 231 mm
Extent: 48pp
Age: Pre-school
Australian RRP: $9.99
Binding: Hardback
Printing: Colour
ISBN: 978 1 74283 958 5

Tracey ♥

Saturday 2 November 2013

Children's Book Review: A Snugglepot and Cuddlepie Christmas, by May Gibbs.

May Gibbs' Gumnut Babies are back, and this time with a Christmas story that is sure to delight!

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are preparing for Christmas. They have only one day left and suddenly Cuddlepie realises he has left something very important off his list. Snugglepot's present!

Does he have time to find something special?

Once again written by Mark MacLeod, May Gibbs' timeless characters come to life in a brand new adventure.

Royalties go to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Northcott Society charities.

Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Category: Picture Book
Title: A Snugglepot and Cuddlepie Christmas
Author: Mark MacLeod
Illustrator: May Gibbs
Publication date: October 2013
Format: 250 x 240 mm
Extent: 24pp
Age: 3+
Australian RRP: $19.99
Binding: Hardback
Printing: Colour
ISBN: 978 1 74283 022 3

Tracey ♥

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Children's Book Review: Where's Santa? Around The World, by Louis Shea

It is that time of year again, when all of the Christmas books start to be released, and the first one is a doozy! 

From the creator of the best-selling Where's Santa? comes a brand new look-and-find book with hundreds of things to find, and this time it also includes comic-strip illustrations that tell Santa'a story!

In Where's Santa? Around the world, Santa is off on a well deserved, relaxing trip after a very busy Christmas period. Unbeknownst to him, he is being followed by the world's naughtiest child, Nat, who is trying to steal Santa's naughty-and-nice list.

Will she succeed?

Follow Santa on his holiday, from Australia to New York City, and other amazing places in between. 

Giggle your way through all the colourful characters as you find the items listed for each individual country, as well as Santa, Mrs Claus, Naughty Nat and others who can be found at every stop.

Where's Santa? Around the World is both written and illustrated by Louis Shea, whose books have sold over 200,000 copies in Australia.

With so many things to find, it will keep children entertained for ages.

Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Category: Picture book
Title: Where's Santa? Around the World
Author/Illustrator: Louis Shea
Publication date: October 2013
Format: 300 x 235 mm
Extent: 24pp
Age: 5+
Australian RRP: $15.99
Binding: Hardcover
Printing: Colour
ISBN: 978 1 74283 685 0

Tracey ♥

Saturday 12 October 2013

Children's Book Review: Snugglepot and Cuddlepie's Sleepover, by May Gibbs

Here is a book I forgot to review back in August, and I feel awful about that as it really does deserve a mention!

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie's Sleepover is a new story in the Gumnut Babies series, from one of Australia's best loved authors and illustrators, May Gibbs.

 I remember reading the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie books back when I was a child, and now the timeless characters are being introduced to a whole new generation.

In this new adventure, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are helping Mrs Koala organise a sleepover. But when Mrs Kookaburra overhears and decides to send her six chicks along as well, they wonder if they're going to fit everyone in! Luckily there's more than enough room and it becomes a case of the more the merrier!

Written by Mark Macleod, with the classic illustrations of May Gibbs, this new tale will delight both adult lovers of the series, as well as children discovering it for the first time.

Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Category: Picture Book
Title: Snugglepot and Cuddlepie's Sleepover
Author: Mark Macleod
Illustrator: May Gibbs
Publication date: August 2013
Format: 250 x 240 mm
Extent: 24pp
Age: 3+
Australian RRP: $19.99
Binding: Hardback
Printing: Colour
ISBN: 978 1 74283 021 6

Tracey ♥

Friday 11 October 2013

Children's Book Review: What do Werewolves do when it's not Halloween?, by Heath McKenzie

If your family is a fan of Halloween, then this new book from Scholastic Press will be right up your spooky, kooky alley!

Have you ever wondered what all the ghouls, ghosts and other scary creatures do for the rest of the year, once Halloween is over?

What do Werewolves do when it's not Halloween? will shed some gloomy light on the subject for you.

Whether it's Vampires, Mummies, Skeletons or Witches, when November 1st comes around they have to find something else to do to occupy their time. 

But what about Werewolves?

Well, they might be doing something you least expect......

Written and illustrated by Heath McKenzie, What do Werewolves do when it's not Halloween? is a funny Halloween treat for the whole family.

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Category: Picture Book
Author/Illustrator: Heath McKenzie
Publication Date: October 2013
Format: 250 x 240 mm
Extent: 24 pages
Age: 4+
Australian RRP: $14.99
Binding: Paperback
Printing: Mono
ISBN: 978 1 74283 879 3

Tracey ♥

Tuesday 20 August 2013


If you enjoy a good Australian story, then The Big Beet is the book for you!

Taken from the traditional Russian tale The Enormous Turnip, this Aussie version shows how the spirit of mateship is alive and well.

Mr McGruff (known as Bertie Magee) heads out into his vegetable garden to pick a nice, fresh, juicy beetroot for his wife Thelma's hamburger, but as hard as he tries he just cannot pull it out of the ground!

Thank goodness for people who don't mind lending a hand!

The Big Beet is the first picture book written by Australian author Lynn Ward, who has previously written stories in School Magazine, as well as other publicationsIt has been cleverly illustrated by Adam Carruthers, who has illustrated such titles as Ruffy and Me, and Losers?, also available through Omnibus Books.

A well rhymed, hilarious, progressive story, The Big Beet shows children how things can be achieved successfully if everyone works together.

Publisher: Omnibus Books for Scholastic Australia
Category: Picture Book
Title: The Big Beet
Author: Lynn Ward
Illustrator: Adam Carruthers
Publication date: August 2013
Format: 270 x 245 mm
Extent: 24 pp
Age: 4+
Australian RRP: $24.99
Binding: Hardback
Printing: Colour
ISBN: 978 1 86291 966 2

Tracey ♥

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Sometimes I Surprise Even Myself.

I'm so happy that I have been able to enjoy a lot of our trip to the Cape.

I didn't expect to, which is why I worried about it for over a year.

It hasn't all been sunshine and lollipops mind you, but I guess that’s to be expected from a girl who hasn't hugely enjoyed the whole camping thing. I'm ok for a weekend, or long weekend even, but when we’re talking extended periods of time-well let’s just say I would rather stick pins in my eyeballs.

I'm a huge what-if-er.

The fear of the unknown and the isolation only adds to my uncertainty.

What if this happens and we’re miles away from anywhere?

What if that happens?

God forbid anything happens.

I hate that about myself.

I wish I could just go with the flow, and wait for there to be something to actually worry about before the fear sets in.

Unfortunately, the fear starts way ahead of time.

In my head.

So, as this trip was going to happen whether I liked it or not, I stocked up on my anti-stress herbal supplements and prepared to take them a handful at a time. Amazingly, although I have taken some, most of them are still in unopened bottles!

And I have to say I'm a little proud of myself.

More than a little.

I think I fricking rock, if truth be told!

My husband is extremely proud of me too.

He was expecting waaay more nervous irritability and anxiety coming from my side of the car than he has received, and mighty glad about it too, I'm sure.

And here we are, more than half way through, and only roughly ninety odd kilometres away from the northern most tip of Australia.

I have to admit it though, I am completely over the dust, dirt and sand.

I'm sure I must have dust in every single crevice.

Especially if what comes out of my nose in a tissue is any indication-uggghh!

I know, too much information. Sorry.

But you catch my drift.

I can’t take much more of it.

That, and the lack of toilets.
(What am I, a fricking bear? I don’t shit in the woods I’m sorry!)

And showers!

(However, speaking of showers, one of the wonderful families in our group has a gas powered shower that they offered me the use of one night after it had been particularly hot and I was feeling really sticky after being covered in sunscreen and bug spray all day. It would seriously have to have been one of the best showers I have ever had! The gas powered unit (called an Aqua Cube) heated the river water that was collected (being very careful to watch out for crocodiles) to a gorgeous 29 degrees Celsius, and as it was a lovely mild night, I stood out in the dark in all my glory and showered all the stickiness away. It was such a good feeling to climb into bed all nice and clean. I'm pretty sure I will remember that shower until the day I die!)

It’s funny how things can change.

Now I just wish our trip didn't feel so rushed.

It actually makes me laugh to say that, considering when we left home I wanted to blink and be back there!

Back when I was trying to talk myself into the positives of this trip, I kept telling myself there would be numerous photo and writing opportunities. That maybe I would be finally able to start putting down on paper (or computer) one of the books I have lurking around in my head. Or learn the specifics about my camera and how to use it properly in manual mode.

But I have rarely had the time!

Don’t get me wrong, I have taken plenty of photos.

Hopefully great photos!

And done heaps of reading too, on how to take said great photos, amongst other stuff.

But we are spending most days, all day, in the car, moving from one camp site to the next. Packing up every day and setting up again somewhere else. There has only been twice that we have stayed in the same place for more than one night.

I'm over that too.

I have seen some of the most gorgeous scenery, in some of the remotest places our beautiful country has to offer, but I haven’t had much time to revel in it.

To draw inspiration from it.

And I think it’s a real shame, because it will be a long time before we take another trip like this.

But unfortunately, when you’re on a time limit as we are and have a long way to travel, you have to keep moving.

Rollin, rollin, rollin… the song goes.

And shortly we’re about to start heading home.

You would be as surprised as I am by the pout on my face, thinking about that.

So in the meantime, I'm going to sit here writing while I can.

And look out at this beautiful vista I have before me.

And smile.




Some Frangipani at Loyalty Beach.

One of our camps along the Hay River Track.

A sunrise further along the Hay River Track.

My 'office,' at Cape Flattery.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Book Review: Omar The Strongman, by Gregory Rogers.

Today’s book review is coming to you from Policeman’s Waterhole, which is basically an oasis in the middle of the desert! It is a totally gorgeous spot with lots of shady trees, and a large area which, at this particular time of the year, is relatively full of water. The boys have had a wonderful time splashing, and I have even managed quite a bit of reading. Bonus!

Omar The Strongman is a delightful story about a man named Omar who is new in town. He goes to the local circus looking for a job and becomes the odd jobs man, which sees him doing anything and everything. He is flat out working every day, but he stops to have his lunch and watch the stars practice their performances, dreaming of starring in the circus himself. After an incident on centre stage, he just might get his wish!

Written and illustrated by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Gregory Rogers, this lovely story shows children that dreams really can come true.

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Category: Picture book
Title: Omar The Strongman
Author/Illustrator: Gregory Rogers
Publication date: July 2013
Format: 250 x 240 mm
Extent: 32pp
Age: 4+
Australian RRP: $24.99
Binding: Hardback
Printing: Colour
ISBN: 978 1 74283 436 8


Book Review: The Very Brave Bear, by Nick Bland.

This time I’m coming to you live from Boxhole Meteor Crater, in southern Northern Territory. Ok, so maybe not live, but you get the idea. No Australian animal book this time, but one of Australia’s most loved children’s authors instead.

The Very Brave Bear, written and illustrated by Nick Bland, is the fourth in the ‘bear’ series, and I have to admit, my favourite since the original, The Very Cranky Bear.

Our bear engages in bravery competitions with Boris Buffalo, but a very surprising opponent at the end, allows Boris and Bear to discover that they are both as brave as each other.

A wonderful story which includes a tiny frog hidden in the pages for children to find, Nick Bland has created a story children will love.

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Category: Picture book
Title: The Very Brave Bear
Author/Illustrator: Nick Bland
Publication date: July 2013
Format: 250 x 240 mm
Extent: 24pp
Age: 4+
Australian RRP: $16.99
Binding: Hardback
Printing: Colour
ISBN: 978 1 74283 800 7


Book Review: Koalas, Kites and Kangaroos: An Australian Alphabet Book, by David Ridyard.

Here is another Australian book review from the middle of the Aussie outback. This time I come to you from The Blaze Tree, or Maddigan’s Camp 16, in the south east corner of the Northern Territory.
As I’m sitting here, the sun has just gone down over the sand dune ahead of me, and the air temperature has fallen considerably. It’s definitely time for my jacket and perhaps a nice glass of red before dinner.

Koalas, Kites and Kangaroos is a much loved picture book, originally printed in 1985, that is now back in print. Gorgeous (predominately) Australian animals introduce the alphabet, showing the uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as some words that start with that particular letter. All of the words used are of things included in the pictures and are fun for children to find. There is also a list of words at the back, of other things in the pictures that weren't listed on each page.

Written by David Ridyard, and illustrated by Doreen Gristwood, Koalas, Kites and Kangaroos is a charming educational book for pre-schoolers.

Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Category: Picture book
Title: Koalas, Kites and Kangaroos
Author: David Ridyard
Illustrator: Doreen Gristwood
Publication Date: July 2013
 Format: 280 x 210 mm
Extent: 32 pp
Age: 4+
Australian RRP: $15.99
Binding: Paperback
Printing: Mono
ISBN: 978 1 74283 872 4


Book Review: Possum Magic Animals, by Mem Fox.

As I’m out in the Australian outback at the moment, I can’t think of a more perfect time to talk about Mem Fox’s new book Possum Magic Animals.

A beautifully bound board book, Possum Magic Animals is a gorgeous first book for your special baby, or as a gift.

Introduce your child to our unique Aussie wildlife, and the characters in the timeless classic Possum Magic, with this sturdy companion to Possum Magic Numbers.

Mem Fox has become one of Australia’s best loved children’s authors since the release of Possum Magic in 1983, writing many other much loved titles.

The Possum Magic artwork by Julie Vivas has once again been brought to life, with the stunning illustrations of the possum, kangaroo and dingo, to name a few.

Thanks to Omnibus Books for Scholastic Australia, this book is available to purchase from all good book stores as of this month, so keep a look out for it!

Publisher: Omnibus Books
Category: Board book
Title: Possum Magic Animals
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Julie Vivas
Extent: 16 pages + cover
Format: 160 x 160 mm
Publication Date: July 2013
Age: 1+
Australian RRP: $9.99
ISBN: 978 1 86291 973 0


Thursday 4 July 2013

Starry, Starry Night.

On a freezing cold night, in the town common of Innaminca, I am sitting here typing away on my laptop. The silence is interrupted only by the road works up on the main road, and the peaceful snores of those around me.

I am on my first family holiday in seven years.

When my husband first suggested this trip, I was petrified. And I have worried about it for over a year. But now that we’re actually on our way, it’s not as bad as my mind would have had me believe.

So far.

We’re on our way to Cape York, and I have been told it’s the trip of a lifetime.

But for me it didn't feel that way.

I thought taking someone with panic disorder into the complete isolation of the Aussie bush was sure to be a recipe for disaster.

Someone like me.

But I’m coping.


I didn't expect to.

 I expected to have raging panic attacks, leaving me with shortened breath and wide, crazy eyes, desperate to be anywhere but here.

Yet here I am.

Calmly typing away.

It’s almost kind of a miracle.

But the trip isn't over yet.

I'm sure normality will return at any time.

My kind of normal.

Until then, I'm happy to look at the stars.

They are amazing out here.


See you soon for some more book reviews, and more about our trip.

There's a bit of time in between internet connection, so bear with me!

Sunday 16 June 2013

Children's Book Review: King Pig.

King Pig is the story of a not so nice king who doesn't understand why his royal subjects don't like him!
He quite literally walks all over his sheep, and tries to get their attention by dropping eggs on them from the top of his castle! Finally, he decides that the reason he can't make them like him must be because his clothes aren't fancy enough!

This funny tale of a pig who has a big lesson to learn, is the latest title out from Nick Bland, one of Australia's best selling authors and illustrators. His hugely popular picture books include such titles as The Very Cranky Bear and Twinkle. Last year, his book The Runaway Hug (illustrated by Freya Blackwood) was named the winner of the CBCA Book of the Year, Early Childhood, and in 2010 The Wrong Book was shortlisted for the same category.

A hard cover which is once again beautifully illustrated, King Pig teaches children the importance of being nice.

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Category: Picture book
Author/Illustrator: Nick Bland
Publication Date: June, 2013
Format: 250 x 240 mm
Extent: 32 pp
Age: 4+
Australian RRP: $24.99
Binding: Hardback
Printing: Colour
ISBN: 978 1 74283 495 5

Tracey ♥

Friday 14 June 2013

Hold On Tight: A Book Review.

Hold On Tight would have to be one of the most stunning children's books I have seen in a while.

A beautifully illustrated hardback, it is a gorgeous tale of a little girl going walking with her mother on a blistery, blustery day and the adventures she might have if she was to be blown away.

My children loved imagining flying through the air with her and her teddy bear, seeing the world from a completely different viewpoint.

This is the second book for the incredibly talented illustrator Sara Acton. Sara won the CBC Crichton Award for New Illustrators in 2012 with her first book Ben and Duck, which is one of my youngest's favourite books. She has also illustrated other stories such as The Unexpected Crocodile (written by Kim Kane), and Daisy and the Puppy (written by Lisa Shanahan).

Hold On Tight would definitely make a wonderful addition to any child's book collection.

*Available through Scholastic Press.

*Suitable for children aged 4+ (but I believe younger children would enjoy it too).

*RRP - $24.99.



*Available this month - June 2013.

Tracey ♥

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Naughty Dogs, Monsters and Hooting Owls: Three Children's Book Reviews.


Yes, I know. It's been a bit quiet in my neck of the woods.

Nothing to worry about, it's just been this little thing called life, and my choice to actually be living it instead of writing about it for a while!

But I have missed you, I promise!

During this living of life, I was lucky enough to be sent some gorgeous children's books to review and I am very overdue in doing so.

I'd best get started.

Here we go!


 This book is available through Scholastic NZ, and I am delighted to add it to our collection.
Written and illustrated by Ruth Paul, Bad Dog Flash is a story about a very naughty little dog named Flash, who gets himself into all sorts of trouble! I'm sure that anyone who has ever owned a dog will be able to relate to at least one of Flash's antics! In fact I am dealing with two of them right now with our foster dog Saffron!
With beautiful illustrations and short phrasing, Bad Dog Flash is sure to become a favourite with any child.

*Best suited to younger children, although all ages will enjoy.


*RRP - $15.99

*Available now at all good book stores.


This charming story from Scholastic Australia is about a young boy named Lucas who has a monster that visits him every night. Tired of being afraid, he decides to try and catch it!
Written and illustrated by Christina Bollenbach, How To Catch A Monster is a tale of courage about facing a childhood fear, and exploring a friendship with differing views of the world.
My boys really enjoyed reading this book, and had a good giggle at some of the brilliantly drawn pictures.

*Suitable for children aged 4+


*RRP - $24.99

*Available now at all good book stores.


This book was the favourite out of the three for my two boys. I wasn't actually that much of a fan to be honest, but both of my kids laughed their heads off at the story, and as it is an animal version of the song 'Ten Green Bottles,' I had to sing it to them over and over again!
It's a fun way to help children learn about counting and there are also hidden numbers on every page, which we enjoyed trying to find.
Written by Ed Allen and illustrated by Simon Williams, this book from Scholastic Press is sure to put a smile on children's faces everywhere.

*Suitable for children aged 3+


*RRP - $13.99

*Available now at all good book stores.


Well that's it for now! 
It actually feels really good to write again. It's funny how sometimes it's not until you do something that you haven't done for a while, that you realise you've been missing it!

Anyway, I have more reviews to write so I'll be back again shortly.

See you then!

Tracey ♥

Saturday 6 April 2013

365 Days Of Grateful - Day 96.

Yay, it's up!

My wonderful new wildlife enclosure is almost ready to go!

My husband spent the whole afternoon putting it up for me, and I'm just wrapt!

A lovely friend has put aside some big logs and branches for me, and once I get those in, it's ready for its first occupant, which will be a possum I'm preparing for release.

So today I'm grateful for all of my hubby's hard work in putting my new enclosure up.

Tracey ♥

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