Friday, 25 September 2015

Kids Books Reviewed: Alice Miranda and Exploding Endings!

Good news stories in book publishing land can be rare these days - which is why I was so thrilled to discover that one of my favourite South Coast bookshops has launched a publishing house that in just two years already has a dozen titles to boast about! 
Exploding Ending Bk 1 Painted Dogs and Doom Cakes
Founded in 2012 by local South Coast Bookshop owners, Michelle and Garry Evans, the Harbour Publishing House is producing some great looking books that are making their mark, explosively!

Their range of titles is imaginative and diverse - already including a luscious children's picture book by well known author, Di Morrisey. 

Joining the current colouring craze, they are soon to publish an illustrated for colouring version (complete with the FULL TEXT!) of Alice in Wonderland. Garry assures me that more titles in this format are planned. I can't wait to get my hands on them! Stay tuned. 
Another of their titles, already in its second print run, is Exploding Endings Book One: Painted Dogs & Doom Cakes (the first in an oncoming trilogy). I read it before my kids managed to wrestle it from me. They devoured it with gusto! From raining lemonade and mass detentions to terrorising dentists and marauding kids doing what they love best (marauding!) this book is laugh-out-loud fun! 

If your kids aren't particularly keen readers and the semi-graphic based style of wimpy kids and Big Nate have appealed to them in the past, then they might just love this collection of short stories and amusing scribbles. Surely the faintest possibility that it might provide you with a rare quiet moment in the school hols as they curl up in a corner to read will make it worth the purchase price? 

The author, primary school teacher, Tim Harris, showcases a good mix of kid's mischief and mayhem to cause if not explosive chuckling under the covers, then definitely a snort or two! I have visions of him writing his stories (during class) with his expert insight in to exactly what makes kids laugh. 

Home grown publishers and risk takers dedicated to producing quality books deserve our support. Check out Harbour Publishing online to buy from them today. 

Next, for all the girls (and boys) hanging out for the latest instalment of Alice-Miranda adventures, Alice-Miranda in the Alps does not disappoint (not sure Jacqueline Harvey could disappoint her loyal fans even if she tried!). 

Alice-Miranda in the Alps 12, Jacqueline Harvey

Here's my ten-year-olds reaction to the book. 

Eleanore's Review:

When A-M and her friends venture to the Swiss Alps to ski, sightsee and experience the white turf racing event, not everything goes as planned. 
For instance, when the Baron - a friend of the Highton-Smith Pennington Joneses, shows up unexpectedly after being uncontactable for months on end, it seems their establishment, the Grand Hotel Von Zurchy will need to be closed. Not only that but why does the new skiing group wear backpacks as heavy as themselves and refuse to teach any lessons? Can A-M work out the culprits before disaster strikes? 
I thought that A-M in the Alps was a book packed full of suspense. It kept me guessing and every time I thought I'd identified the baddies, another lot would take their place. 
I especially liked the eccentric Otto Fanger and his dog, Gertie, and all of their matching diamonds. A-M and her friends learning to ski and snowboard was hilarious. The bruises - ouch!
I rate this book 9 out of 10 stars because it is awesome in every way. I'm already hanging out for the next adventure! Oh and I've asked Mum for the 2106 A-M Diary for my birthday. Fingers crossed!!

Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

From the Mundane to the Magnificent

We're enjoying a few weeks down the South Coast. The weather has been a crazy mix of days that feel like summer followed by days that feel like winter. On one of the summery days we headed to the beach and had a few fun hours in the sun. By noon clouds had started to blow in and we were happy we had got in the best part of the day.
Except it didn't turn out to be the BEST part of the day, as that was still to come.

By late afternoon the troops were getting restless - so much of school holidays becomes a delicate balancing act of yay we're having fun moments through to who are these people and how can I get away from them??!  

So we hopped in the car for a drive. Because as every parent knows, whinging kids are so much more fun to be with in confined spaces... We drove aimlessly until deciding to head to an inlet and beach a bit further down the coast. It has big rock platforms, great for foraging for shells and for spotting crabs. It would delay working out what to have for dinner. It would provide distraction from petty arguments and the "I'm bored's!" 

The sun was starting to set and a storm looked to be on it's way. 

It was only when we pulled in to the carpark at the inlet and hopped out in to the balmy night air that the vast expanse of the whirling and churning skies above us took our breath away. Literally. 

Suddenly the kids were silent. I could have wept.

I only wrote about clouds a little while ago - mostly of the fluffy and cute kind. Maybe I made the clouds sound a bit mundane. These weren't so much of that. Instead, try awe-inspiring, massively amazing and magnificent, and even just a tad scary... 

The colours around us went from deep blue blacks to soft pastel flurries. The way the fading light (actually it was more like a fireball behind us) reflected in the rock pools caused gasps of delight. My phone photos hardly did justice to the magical land sky and sea scapes. 

I kept thinking, we just came here by chance and look what we're seeing!! But of course it wasn't by chance really. 

As the sky colours morphed from dark to light, we stood marvelling at the beauty. At least we did when we weren't yelling at the kids not to push each other, to roll their jeans up and: Not too close to the edge!!!!

I couldn't even get Arch to stand with the others here. Oh well. 

Everyone agreed it was an awesome sight and as the sun disappeared behind the trees we knew we'd been privileged to have seen a great ending to a day that had glimpses of great amongst the every day stuff.

Kind of a miracle in itself. 
Mkes you appreciate the normal more, and the moments that make you happy that both can exist side by side.
Definitely a day to remember! 

Friday, 11 September 2015


Couldn't be happier that SPRING is finally here!
Term 3 has been mired for us by weeks and weeks of colds and flu as the kids passed it around to each other, spent days coughing, listless, feverish and overwrought (or maybe that was just me?), and then returned to school for brief periods before succumbing to the next bug. I meanwhile stayed sick the entire time and only made it to the doctors when I realised I was just not getting better and coughing was making sleep impossible..

Antibiotics have never been so welcome!

So, spring. There are blossoms abounding, the days are crisp and warm(ish) and things are definitely looking up all round.

We made it to the Kings School Fair, where fairy floss was bigger than our heads!

And now the school term is almost over we are packing for some weeks by the sea (where the weather could go either way, but a change of scene will be a tonic in itself!). The kids are beside themselves with excitement and have been writing hotly discussed TO DO lists of favourite activities:
  • Eat Ice cream
  • Build Sandcastles
  • Climb a mountain
  • Visit a lighthouse
  • Catch a crab
  • Sleep a lot (yep, that's my one)
And this is the first year of packing for a beach holiday where the car will not be STUFFED FULL with piles of books. We have officially reached the era of the e-book. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating. I'm still taking a hefty bag of fiction and decorating titles - all to read, some to review, some just for the pictures... Some just because I can't face finding myself somewhere without a Jane Austen close to hand. The kids have carefully downloaded a number of library books and other classics they say will replace their usual hefty load. Then there is the local library we visit while away. And numerous secondhand shops where we usually find a few treasures as well.

Here are some of my blossom and flower pics, to make your heart sing for spring too.

This tree is the last of three that originally stood outside our house. (Pics from previous years.)

Poppies I bought from the fair:

A potted gerbera plant that cost $6 from the fruit shop and just keeps on flowering!

Camellia petals. Just as lovely on the ground as on the tree!

Hope you're enjoying this blooming time of year and can take heart from today's inspirational poster ($7 from Kmart!)