Dim’s Christmas Crackers Lists – Bag the Best Kids’ Books

If you are like me, knowing there are only 41 days left until Christmas fills you with silent terror. You know it’s not about the presents. You know you’ll want (have) to give some, anyway. You’ve heard books tick all the enduring, educational, entertaining boxes as far as kids’ gifts go, but how do you choose without going crackers? During the next 41 days, I’ll share a cluster of the best kids’ books of 2017. Hunt them down for your Christmas stockings.  Hold on tight though, we’ll be going faster than a turbo-charged reindeer over black ice.

List # 1 Non-fiction Picture Books

At the Beach I See by Kamsani Bin Salleh

Striking board book series featuring elegant artwork and lyrical text. This one is useful for forging connections between our beautiful seashores and new creatures. Ideal for 2+ year-olds.

Magabala Books August 2017

Amazing Australians in their Flying Machines by Prue & Kerry Mason and Tom Jellet

Jellett’s character-filled illustrations bring this fascinating assortment of historic aviators to spectacular life. From Lawrence Hargrave to John Flynn, ‘Smithy’ to Nancy Bird, numerous significant figures in the history of flight and aviation in Australia are described using first person narrative and fact-based prose. Amazing facts are included along with modern day updates. Perfect for aeroplane enthusiasts from 8 years upwards.

Read Romi’s full review, here.

Walker Books Australia 2017

Fierce Fighters Predators by Paul Beck and Lee Martin

If you love Deadly 60, you’ll be mad for this beefy full-colour collection of some of the world’s most formidable predators. Ridiculously fearsome and astounding photographs accompany an incredible list of hunters from apex predators such as lions and sharks to the less ubiquitous platypus. Scientific facts and stats provide just enough information without obscuring the teeth baring drama and are paired in side-by-side showdowns – anglerfish vs. pelican eel, for example. An awesome addition (with stickers and poster!) for the would-be marine biologists and nature lovers aged 6 – 14.

Becker & Mayer! Kids July 2017

All Aboard the Discovery Express by Emily Hawkins, Tom Adams and Tom Clohoshy-Cole

Move over Orient Express, the Discovery Express has arrived, platform one. This is a glorious pop-up, pull, and flap creation allowing readers to embark on a thrilling journey back in time with Nancy Delaney, geographer, explorer and all-round adventurer. Choco-block with puzzles and fascinating facts, Nancy escorts you from Paris to England, the US and beyond on a spellbinding journey of discovery about trains, planes and yes, automobiles. Even submarines are included in this book, which is more of a code-busting adventure romp through history. Highly recommended and ideal for sleuths and transport spotters from 10 years+.

Quarto Group September 2017

Continue reading Dim’s Christmas Crackers Lists – Bag the Best Kids’ Books

Under the Christmas Tree – Part 1

Okay, with just over a month and a half to go, it’s time to get serious about Christmas. For the next 42 days or so,  I’ll attempt to fill your Christmas lists with some nifty literary ideas for kids to go under the Christmas tree this year. Today we look at some terrific non-fiction titles guaranteed to raise a few oohs and aahs on Christmas Day.

cheeky-animalsCheeky Animals – Shane Morgan

The classic 20-year-old picture book, Look & See, inspired Shane Morgan’s hard cover board book, Cheeky Animals. Clean, smile-inducing text compliments simple yet strong illustrations of some of our most cheeky cherished Aussie animals.  A great stocking stuffer for 2 + year olds.

Magabala Books October 2016

funny-facesFunny Faces – Dr Mark Norman

Just as funny but using expressive real life images of a variety of animals and their amazing anatomy to accompany concise, information-laden narrative is Dr Mark Norman’s, Funny Faces. This soft cover version is a close up, informative, extraordinary (did you know a Dragonfish has teeth on its tongue!)  look at the funny face bits of a planet of animals, birds, invertebrates and reptiles. The fact file and images are sure to keep budding biologists absorbed for years. Super handy and an easy to reference guide book for early primary project makers. Check out other titles in this funny series, here.

Black Dog Books June 2014

animaliumAnimalium – Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

Curated by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom, Animalium is a cloth bound, pocket-sized gem of a book that invites fledging Attenboroughs to enter a literary museum of the animal kingdom. I felt as though I was wondering through the astonishing exhibits of the London Natural History Museum, exploring the world of mammals, invertebrates, fish and more. This is a biologist’s nirvana: insightful, knowledgeable text, and clear, detailed illustrated plates. Excellent go to book that is a work of art unto itself for mid to upper primary.

The Five Mile Press October 2016

amazing-animals-of-australian-national-parksAmazing Animals of Australian’s National Parks – Gina M. Newton

Gina M. Newton’s Amazing Animals is an environmental triumph. This large, soft cover book leaves no leaf or stone unturned as Newton guides inquisitive minds through a plethora of our national parks and their fascinating individual habitats. From the Tropical Rainforests in the north to the Mallee Woodlands of the arid south, Amazing Animals focuses on the species that inhabit these places with detailed Q & A, fast facts, and a ‘did you know’ kind of narrative. Diagrams and close up photos completes this brilliant compendium of who what and where along with a comprehensive ‘how to use this book’ guide that even includes a Conservation Status indicator. Young readers may be familiar with some of the species highlighted; they may have even spotted a few of them in their own neighbourhoods. What is nifty about this guidebook is that they can now actively get out and explore more of the native parklands in their locale and become more wildlife aware by doing so. Superb. Highly recommended for classroom to bedroom bookshelves of primary and above readers.

NLA Publishing October 2016

awesome-animals-horse-fun-factsAwesome Animals – Horses Fun Facts and Amazing Stories – Dianne Bates and Sophie Scahill

I was your typical horsey-obsessed little girl. That kind of passion never real dissipates, merely dims with neglect. Dianne Bates and Sophie Scahill have produced a handy, bookshelf friendly series of Awesome Animal books that present eager young readers with a mindboggling array of facts, figures, trivia, and fun stories for a menagerie of animals. This one, about Horses is incredible. Layered with more information about horses than I have ever encountered, Horse Fun Facts is comprehensive, breezy, easy to navigate and utterly captivating. I guarantee readers will learn something new each time they delve into these books. Horses is an awesome mix of entertainment and information that will fuel those pony club passions forever more. A brilliant, value-laden gift idea if ever there was one.

Big Sky Publishing September 2016

fantastically-great-women-who-changed-the-worldFantastically Great Women Who Changed the World – Kate Pankhurst

History, whilst fascinating can be a tiresome thing to wade through at times. Not so anymore thanks to Kate Pankhurst’s illustrated explorative journey with some of our planets most noted, daring, and incredible women. Great Women Who Changed the World covers such heroines as Jane Austen, Coco Chanel, Marie Curie, and Anne Frank. Others like, Sacagawea and Amelia Earhart are also featured, each with their own two-page spread festooned with detailed trivia type tip bits all gorgeously illustrated to create a visual wonderland of facts and figures. By the time young readers have swam the English Channel with Gertrude Ederle or uncovered the first Pterosaur skeleton with Mary Anning, they will be hundreds of years wiser and no wiser for it! This awesome picture book ends on a note of great inspiration, namely for young misses but the message is universal: never give up, believe in yourself, back yourself, and dare to be different! Truly fantastic and a must have in your Christmas stockings!

Bloomsbury Children’s Publishing October 2016

For more great gift ideas, visit The Kids’ Reading Guide – Information Titles and stay tuned for my next instalment of Under the Christmas Tree.

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5 Books for LEGO Lovers

Are you an Adult Fan of Lego (AFOL)? I recently finished reading Brick History – Amazing Historical Scenes to Build from Lego by Warren Elsmore and thought I’d put together a short list of books for LEGO lovers, or AFOL (Adult Fans of LEGO) as I now know them.Brick History Lego Warren Elsmore

  1. Brick History – Amazing Historical Scenes to Build from Lego by Warren Elsmore
    Brick History contains detailed scenes from history made entirely from LEGO bricks. Beginning with the birth of civilisation itself in the Big Bang, Brick History takes us through the ages to the year 2011 with the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. There is a short description of each historical scene, which is accompanied by photographs and a scattering of model projects to try.
  2. Brick Flicks – 60 Cult Movie Scenes & Posters Made from Lego by Warren ElsmoreBrick Flicks Warren Elsmore
    Brick Flicks is a collection of iconic film moments and movie characters of all time, all built from LEGO.
    It includes a variety of movies, including Ghost Busters and The Godfather and contains more than 60 recreations of favourite movie scenes and classic poster designs. There are also instructions on how to replicate many of the scenes at home from your own LEGO collection.
  3. The LEGO Ideas Book by Daniel LipkowitzLego Ideas Book
    If you have a pile of LEGO and you want to make something, then The LEGO Ideas Book is for you.
    Written by Daniel Lipkowitz, this book is broken down into six themed chapters – transport, buildings, space, kingdoms, adventure and useful makes and contains more than 500 models and ideas so there’s bound to be something in here for every AFOL.
  4. Beautiful LEGO & 5. Beautiful Lego 2: Dark by Mike DoyleBeautiful LEGO Mike Doyle
    Beautiful LEGO is the stunning result of talented artists using their creativity and letting their imaginations run wild with thousands of LEGO bricks to create something truly special. This is a compendium of LEGO artwork showcasing an impressive array of pieces including lifelike replicas of everyday objects, famous monuments and more. The author has included interviews with the artists to give the reader an insight into the creative process behind the work.Beautiful Lego DarkFans of gothic fantasy and sci-fi should check out Beautiful Lego 2: Dark by Mike Doyle. It’s full of dark and mysterious creations and shadowy nightmares. Perhaps not one for the kids.

    I hope you’ve been inspired by this collection of 5 LEGO books for AFOL. Winter is the perfect time of year to sit inside and create a masterpiece or two, or just play with your kids, cousins, nieces and nephews. Just remember to pick up all the pieces up off the floor when you’ve finished.

Christmas Books For The YA Reader

I’m utterly horrible at reading books in the right season (how do I manage to read beachy books in winter and frigid books in summer? Who can know. It just happens) but I do make an effort around Christmas to swallow a few festive reads! Although most come with a sprinkling of snow, thanks to the bulk of YA authors coming from America — but you can’t have everything.

If you’re in the mood for some Christmasy stories — LOOK NO FURTHER! I have a list for you.

 

 YA   C H R I S T M A S   B O O K S

9780141349176 9780375859557 9781250059307

  • LET IT SNOW: This naturally rises to the top of YA Christmasy reads because — JOHN GREEN. He’s basically a YA superstar author, and rightly deserved. His quirky characters are always a highlight. In Let it Snow, there are 3 short stories that all tie together. Each is written by a different author. They’re a bit zany and involve a whole heap of snow and copious waffles and — of course — CHRISTMAS.
  • DASH AND LILY’S BOOK OF DARES: This is also co-written! By David Leviathan and Rachel Cohn, no less, and this one definitely fits the “quirky” category too. Lily and Dash haven’t even ever met. They just keep passing back and forth this book of “dares” and writing letters to each other. It’s pretty zany and involves Dash (the grinch) and Lily (the Christmas partier) which makes for a hilarious contrast.
  • MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: I actually haven’t read this one yet, so I’m mildly cheating on my own list (#rebelbookworm)…but it’s still a Christmas story! By a TON of authors, no less. Including: Stephanie Perkins, Laini Taylor, and Rainbow Rowell. So basically I need this book in my life ASAP. I have on good authority that there’s a crazy mixture of stories, from contemporary squishy adorable ones to dark fantasy.

 

9780141195858 9780064402750 9780007586325

  • A CHRISTMAS CAROL: “Well, duh and obviously,” you say…but have you actually read this book in a while?! Because it’s worth the reread! (Plus this cover is just about my favourite thing ever, despite not having snow at Christmas in Australia…it’s just pretty.) And I always enjoy the opening sentence of “Marley was dead, to begin with.” That has to be one of the best openings in literature. (Yes, I like creepy! Don’t judge!)
  • THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER: This is barely 100-pages, so perfect for a Christmas Eve snack. It’s so incredibly adorable. It’s about the evil Herdman family who plague the lives of the “good” children…particularly when the Herdmans invade the local church’s Christmas play. It’s hilarious! And seriously heartwarming at the end. When I was a small bookworm, I actually read this twice while curled up under the Christmas tree. Yes, TWICE. I finished it and started again directly. It’s just that good!
  • THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE: And of course we can’t forget the classic masterpiece that involves a fantasy world were Christmas is banned. The HORROR. (Some authors are truly cruel.) Granted this book is about more than Christmas, but it does feature a jolly Claus and presents and fighting and talking lions and Turkish Delight. Ergo it makes the perfect Christmas feast. I mean, read. (But feast…read….same thing)

 

What are you reading this Christmas?

Aussie Kids Love Stickers

Aussie kids love stickers, and I’ve pulled together a collection of sticker books to delight all ages. And the best thing? They’ve all been selected from the Boomerang Books Australia’s Top 1000 Bestselling Books list, which means you save 20% off the RRP. Great stuff, hey?Peppa Pig Summer Fun Sticker Activity Book

First up is from the increasingly popular character, Peppa Pig in Peppa Pig: Summer Fun! Sticker Activity Book, which contains lots of puzzles and activities.

For early learners, we have Colours by Roger Priddy, which has over 100 early learning stickers. Author Roger Priddy also has another sticker book in the Top 1000 list called Animals, which contains another 100 early learning stickers to help young children learn about animals.

Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom Elf School Shiny Sticker Book features elves and fairies in a story where kids use the stickers to complete puzzles and games.

Ultimate Sticker Book- FrozenFor fans of all things Disney, we have two sticker books bound to please, Ultimate Sticker Book: Frozen, which contains more than 60 reusable stickers and Ultimate Sticker Collection: Disney Princess which contains an astounding 1000 reusable stickers and includes the following movies: Aladdin, Cinderella, Tangled and Brave.

For kids a little older, The LEGO Movie Ultimate Sticker Collection, contains over 1,000 colourful and reusable stickers of your favourite characters from the movie, and will be sure to get you humming everything is awesome.

Finally, published in Australia, the Star Wars Sticker Activity Book is sure to excite fans. In this book, readers will race and win the epic podracer game, and then use the stickers (and the force) to repair droids, battle Sith Lords and defeat the evil Empire. Sounds like fun.Star Wars Sticker Book

I remember loving stickers as a child, and it’s one thing that hasn’t changed over time. Despite all of the advances in technology, kids still love to peel and stick stickers on stuff. My wardrobe and dressing table mirror were covered in stickers, some selected with care and some hastily applied. I hope the love of stickers continues on with each generation, and with new books like those I’ve selected above, I’ve no doubt it will.

For those that remain unconvinced, here are some home remedies for removing stickers:
– Eucalyptus or tea tree oil
– Vinegar
– Rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, usually purchased from the chemist
– Heating the sticker with a hairdryer and then peeling it off.

These remedies should put your mind at ease in the event any stickers end up where they shouldn’t. With prices for these sticker books varying from $3.19 to $11.99, there should be a sticker book to suit every taste and budget.

Five Faves for the Festive Season

Make that, FIVE SIX FAVES FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON

It’s that time of the year when making wise gift choices can be as bewildering as wiring up your home with fairy lights. Nearly every title I review for kids is deserving of a place on the book shelf. Here are some extras worth stocking up on (pardon the pun).

How to make small things with VMFirst off the rank – a personal favourite because it does what it sets out to do – inspire, educate and entertain, How to Make small things with Violet Mackerel, Walker Books Australia. You might be familiar with a young girl named Violet Mackerel. She is the delectable creation of Anna Branford and Sarah Davis and an ardent lover of small things. Complementing the

Violet Mackerals small things by Gypsee Powell Dec 2013 (5)

heavenly Violet Mackerel series, How to make small things includes some of Violet’s favourite and most adorable small things with step-by-easy-step instructions, photographs and more of Davis’s gorgeous illustrations. Overflowing with exquisite detail and categorised into small things to wear, use and to give, young missies in particular will simply adore these crafty projects. As proof they really are doable, my Miss 8 recently road-tested a few projects for herself and her friends with triumphant success. I especially love the ‘thinking outside the square’ notations which encourage wonderful, unlimited creativity.

Clementine's Walk Clementine’s Walk by Annie White, one of two recent releases from New Frontier Publishing, October 2013.This is a fun, free-following story in verse about a dog named Clementine who is desperate to go on a walk with someone. But her family are too busy to pay her any attention, a common demise for 3 – 6 year olds. Beguiling pictures and a big-hearted storyline will make you smile.

Matilda saves Santa Claus Matilda Saves Santa Claus by Alex Field and Sophie Norsa, New Frontier Publishing, November 2013. It wouldn’t be Christmas without some sort of Christmas mystery and dilemma (insert wink). Matilda Saves Santa Claus awakens the magic of the season with endearing water colour illustrations and a warm tale about Matilda mouse who faces a lonely, treeless Christmas until she meets Rudolf who has caught himself in a spot of bother. With Matilda’s help, Santa is able to push through and deliver Matilda, her Christmas wish. Charming for the very young and lovers of Santa, like me.

 Fortunately, the milk…by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell, Bloomsbury Books, September 2013. What happens when Mum’s away, Dad’s in charge and there’s no milk left for breakfast? Sounds like a potentially perilous adventure waiting to happen. And that’s exactly what takes place when Dad ventures out to replenish supplies. This page turning, illustrated chapter book will have 6 – 10 year olds laughing all the way to the corner shop and back. But will Dad ever make it back home with the milk? Slightly ridiculous. Instantly likeable.

Australia's Greatest People and their Achievements Australia’s Greatest People and their Achievements, by Linsay Knight, Random House Australia Children’s November 2013. Ever wonder about the people who make our nation great? Who they are? Or what have they achieved and why it is so important? Author Linsay Knight says, ‘Greatness…is about achievements and success, but it’s also about characters, perseverance and uniqueness.’ Knight offers us an enticing, colourful compilation of Aussie greats. Aimed for primary aged readers, this comprehensive collection of notable Australians covers a multitude of fields including science, sport, business, art, literature and social justice. Most are people you’ll recognise. Some will be vague names and memories come to new life. Even Phar Lap is mentioned. The clear, concise, colour-coded layout promotes ease of use and is packed with interesting facts and figures making it a reference book the whole family can visit repeatedly, because ‘every country needs its heroes and we must follow them.’ – Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop.

Dear Father ChristmasMore Christmas sparkle for 4 – 8 year olds from Walker Books UK in a neat picture book package is Dear Father Christmas by Alan Derant and Vanessa Cabban. This epistolary styled story reveals Holly’s pre-Christmas conversation with Father Christmas or someone she believes to be him and is best cherished with younger children through shared reading. Swimming in charm, it tackles all the big questions about Father Christmas including; what the elves actually do; how FC gets down chimneys with a stomach that size, and what Erol the Lead Elf really looks like. Festive fun with pop-up letters from Santa , and a special little keepsake surprise that is sure to generate glitter smiles.

So whether it’s fact or fiction you’re after this Christmas, big kids or little kids you are trying to please, look no further than between the pages of a good book like these to satisfy. I just wish I had time to list more and bigger stockings to stuff them in.

Apple sauce imagesBefore I depart on a short silly season sabbatical I suddenly realise that it’s been almost a year since I began banging on about books here at Boomerang. And what a year it’s been! Hope you all made it through somehow and had more moments to treasure than despise. I think I did. I am thus reminded of one of the first reviews I posted. Here it is again. If you haven’t read this Christmas picture book, Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle before, delay no longer. For the love of Christmas – Enjoy!