Book review: Good Night, Sleep Tight

17 12 2012

good night sleep tight (cover)

Good Night, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox, ill. Judy Horacek, ISBN 9781742832579, Scholastic Australia, RRP $19.99 Published October 2012

Here’s the perfect nursery rhyme book for bedtime.

Bonnie and Ben are being put to bed by their favourite babysitter, Skinny Doug. (Unrelated tangent: Horacek’s Skinny Doug reminds me a lot of a babysitter my brothers and I once had. One night when my brothers kept popping out of the bedroom, he lay flat on his back on the bedroom floor—on a sea of lego—and stayed there until the boys fell asleep. We thought he was the Best Babysitter Ever. Anyway, back to Skinny Doug … )

He shares some nursery rhymes he learnt from his mother, including:

  • Good night, sleep tight
  • It’s raining, it’s pouring
  • This Little Piggy
  • Pat-a-cake
  • Round and round the garden
  • This is the way the ladies ride
  • Star light, star bright

In between each rhyme, Bonnie and Ben cry a catchy refrain—

‘We love it, we love it!’ said Bonnie and Ben.

‘How does it go? Will you say it again?’

A keen illustration-studier will notice that Bonnie, Ben and Skinny Doug become part of the illustration for each rhyme—they are in there riding horses and ‘tickling under there’ with the rest of the cast of characters from each nursery rhyme.

A rollicking and fun take on a bedtime picture book—and a calm ending to send the readers off to bed ready for sleep.

I received a review copy of Good Night, Sleep Tight from the publisher but receive no payment for reviewing it. (I do get to keep the book though. Lucky me!)

© Rebecca Newman December 2012. Review of Good Night, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek.…ht-sleep-tight/

The Hidden Alphabet (A Brilliant Book Trailer)

30 11 2012

Readers of this blog (hello to all five of you!) will know that I am a curmudgeon when it comes to book trailers. And yet—HERE I AM! With book trailer #2 making it to the Boobook Brilliant Book Trailer Hall Of Fame. (You will find the first book trailer in the Hall of Fame if you read this earlier post.)

I haven’t read this book. Yet. I like the trailer so much that I am going to track it down immediately and find a small child to read it with me. Why does this trailer make the cut? The music in the trailer is done well (in my—rather biased—opinion), the trailer itself is quirky and visually appealing. I think it does a good job of advertising an alphabet book and is enjoyable to watch just for its own sake. And this book trailer is for:

The Hidden Alphabet by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.

What do you think, would it make it to your Hall of Fame?

In the Lion (a Brilliant Book Trailer)

20 07 2012

I have a confession—I’m not really taken with book trailers. I want to get excited about them, I really do … but it seems I expect a lot from a book trailer, and most are quite bland.

It’s the National Year of Reading and I think good book trailers are a great way to promote books. So when I come across them, I’ll post the book trailers that do grab me.

Today’s trailer is for is an upcoming picture book by Perth author-illustrator James Foley—In the Lion will be out in August.

Put me out of my misery—can you recommend any other ‘must see’ trailers for children’s/YA titles?

School holiday ideas

7 07 2012

It’s the start of the school holidays here in WA. I thought I’d throw out a few links to cool things I’ve seen around the internet—things to do during the school holidays.

Ten Tiny Things

Ten tiny things (cover)This is a new blog, to go with a new picture book coming out by Meg McKinlay and Kyle Hughes-Odgers. The blog features photos of tiny things that kids (and big ‘kids’) spot while walking about in the streets of their neighbourhoods. There are some amazingly fabulous tiny things photographed and I can’t wait to take my kids walking with a camera sometime over the break. (You can send in photos of your own tiny things in your neighbourhood. Do it! Do it!)

Printable Paper Rockets (Picklebums)

I know my kids will LOVE this activity and the making will be as much fun as the rocketing. To make these low-tech rockets, all you need is glue, bendy straws, scissors, pencil, tape and download the printable (or improvise your own design on paper.)

Glow Jars

Planning with Kids has a make-your-own glow jar activity outlined step-by-step. It gets dark quite early here at the moment, and glow jars at the end of the day sounds perfect.

Online comic creators

The Book Chook has shared heaps of links about sites where kids can create their own comics. I have two kids who are keen on comic creating and I’ve been meaning to check out some of the Book Chook’s recommended sites. This seems like a good time to get around to it …

Kids’ Short story comp/Design-a-cover comp (a shameless plug)

Alphabet Soup magazine is running a story writing comp, closing 12 July. There are $20 book vouchers to win in three age categories—under 7s, under 9s and under 12s. (My kids won’t be entering because, you know, immediate family can’t enter etc etc but they do love time to write over the school holidays so we’ll be getting their notebooks out often.)

The Week in Bentos

OK. So this is not a school holiday activity but a blog I love visiting because I normally spend a good deal of my time packing school lunch boxes, and this is what I wished they looked like … in some parallel universe, I’m sure I am making lunches just like this.

What are you doing/what did you do for the winter holidays?

Book Review: The Bear With the Sword

14 05 2012

Today’s book review is part of a blog tour for Davide Cali—a children’s book writer and illustrator who was born in Northern Switzerland and grew up in Italy. Davide speaks French, Italian and English and he is currently on a blog tour before travelling to Australia to celebrate his new comic book/graphic novel, 10 Little Insects. (Kids Book Review has a sneak peek inside 10 Little Insects … check it out here. )

Davide Cali has created more than forty illustrated books for publishers in Austria, France, Italy, Argentina and Portugal. His books have been translated for 25 countries.

The bear with the sword (cover)

The Bear With the Sword by David Cali, ill. by Gianluca Foli, ISBN 9780980607048, Wilkins Farago

In this modern-day fable, we meet a bear with a sword that can cut through anything. He starts cutting all sorts of things to prove it and ends up cutting down an entire forest.

Our bear lives in a fortress and one morning it is destroyed by flooding. The bear is furious—

I’ll find out who did this and cut him in two with my sword.

And so he sets off. He starts by accusing the keepers of the dam, who claim they are not responsible and pass him along to the pigdeer (who charged at them and scared them). But the pigdeer blames the fox, and so on along a line of animals—until the bear discovers the real culprit.

Gianluca Foli’s illustrations reflect the bear’s state of mind. At the start of the book the backgrounds are chaotic and messy. The bear is depicted as a massive hulk of a beast, especially in the first two thirds of the book. (If you look closely, there are hints to his gentler side, though. When his fortress is being flooded, he clutches a small teddy.) Towards the end—when he discovers what caused the flood—he starts to change, and the last illustrations show his gentler side.

This picture book would be wonderful for discussions on a variety of topics, such as:

  • environmental issues
  • actions and consequences
  • anger management
  • body language
  • bullying
  • conflict resolution

There are extensive teachers’ notes available from the Wilkins Farago website.

Check out the complete blog tour schedule (and reviews of Davide Cali’s books) on the Wilkins Farago blog.

© May 2012 “Book Review: The Bear with the Sword”  Reviewed by Rebecca Newman

Books on writing

26 03 2012

Sometimes I need an energy boost for my writing and this week I came away from the library with these books to inspire me.

Reading about writing is not procrastinating about writing. Right?

Reading about writing is not really procrastinating. Right?

I’m really enjoying all of them, but particularly Brigid Lowry’s Juicy Writing. I was fickle and picked these ones because something about the covers leapt out at me.

I’d ask if you know any inspiring books for writers … but once I’ve finished these I will be putting the books aside and getting on with more writing.  Really.

The blog jar: Purple Frog

21 03 2012

So, a looong time ago you might remember I came up with the brilliant idea of The Blog Jar.

Unfortunately the jar got buried under a pile of paperwork and has been collecting dust for quite some time. Anyway, tonight it offered up Katrina Germein‘s gift of a Purple Frog. What a weird little guy.

I don’t know much about Purple Frogs, (nothing at all actually, except what I’ve just re-read on the link Katrina sent. And I had a good chuckle). But I do have a soft spot for frogs in general. Frogs just seem like friendly creatures. (Unlike Cane Toads. Ugh.)

We live quite close to a lake, three streets back in fact. And so we have heaps of frogs visiting our garden. (Not Purple Frogs. Our froggie visitors are Motorbike Frogs.) They particularly like to visit in summer when their croaking is so loud we cannot hear the tv over the noise. And the cool thing about the Motorbike Frogs in our garden is that they are invisible.


We have often gone out at night into the chorus of a thousand motorbikes changing gear and shone a torch about and we cannot spot a single one. Even if we can hear almost exactly where the sound is coming from—Shine it on that spot there! Nothing. Invisible. Which leads me to conclude that Motorbike Frogs are not only loud, they are also smart.

You can check out Motorbike Frogs here. (Click on the speaker symbol above the main photo to hear their croaking.)

Even the word ‘frog’ sounds friendly, don’t you think?

© 2012 Rebecca Newman