Children's New Releases 

Competition and more!

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, July 17, 2013


The Word Hunters Trilogy (The Curious Dictionary; The Lost Hunters; War of the Word) by Nick Earls, illustrated by Terry Whidbourne (PB, $14.95 each) is a compelling series for readers of 8 onwards. Have you experienced these time travel adventures into the history of our language yet?
Thanks to the generosity of the University of Queensland Press we are offering the chance to win the entire series, signed by both Nick and Terry. Just email, or drop your written answers to these three questions, including your name and age, into our Glebe shop. Competition closes 1st September 2013.

Q1 How many books are in the Word Hunters series?
Q2 Exactly what are the twins hunting?
Q3 Which book initiates their searches?


As well as sharing some of our favourite books, we have extra temptations to offer you this month.
We’re promoting one of the world’s best-loved and revered illustrators, Sir Quentin Blake. Based on Roald Dahl’s children’s classics is a selection of mugs adorned inside and out by Blake’s illustrations and a quotation from the relevant story. The Enormous Crocodile, The Twits, Matilda… which will you choose? $17.95 each. We also have a few lampshades left. Custom-made for Gleebooks, these fabric shades are printed with Quentin Blake’s illustrations and fit any standard lamp. In a limited offer they’ve been reduced from $120 to $80 each.



Louise Pfanner Little is known of Etty Hillesum's life before the year that these diaries start. We do know she was a well educated, intellectual young Dutch woman, from an assimilated Jewish family. She wanted to become a writer, and was both acutely aware of the world around her, and extremely engaged with her own inner life. This volume of her diaries ends in letters from a transit prison camp, from which she was sent to Auschwitz and we know that she did not survive. But this is unlike any other book I have ever read. Reading it is like being inside another's head,  Etty is engaged in a 'continuous, animated conversation with herself'. In the first part of the diaries, Etty is involved in sorting out her inner struggles—she becomes involved with a spiritual movement lead by a charismatic German, Julius Spier. Spier was a Jungian psychoanalyst and  the founder of psychochirology, the study and classification of palms. He must have been a very charismatic man, because to study with Spier meant a certain amount of physical compromise—he used to wrestle with his patients, and occasionally bite them. Of course it does take a certain amount of sangfroid not to peal with laughter at some of Etty's entries about her guru; they verge on the melodramatic, to say the least. But Spier's practices helped her find meaning in her existence, and clearly heightened her latent religious sensibilities. Her writing is instantly engaging, her acute observations about nature are luminous, and she captures the small nuances of daily domestic life with great  clarity.
Etty took a job with the Jewish Council in Amsterdam, where she voluntarily accompanied arrested Jews to Westerbork, a transit camp near the German border. She also volunteered to work in the hospital there and travelled to and from the camp at least twelve times, carrying medicines, letters, and messages to the prisoners. She continued to write her diary, never descending to hatred, and despite many offers of escape from her fate, she calmly went towards it. The diary ends when she is interned in Westerbork, but many of her letters survive from the camp, and they are also published here. Despite all the horrors, Etty remained cheerful, helping her parents and brother who were also in the camp, and nursing the sick in the barracks. It must have been an extraordinary act of will and imagination to write 'Despite everything, life is full of beauty and meaning'. It's almost impossible to believe that, even reading these diaries at the distance of seventy years.
There is a preface by Eva Hoffman and an introduction by Jan G. Gaarlandt. They are important elements of the book, giving both a context and meaning to some of the stranger parts of this story. The diaries and the letters have been sensitively annotated—they are not intrusive, and only appear when adding relevance. But it is the black and white photograph of Etty that really resonated with me—not pretty, not smiling, with a cigarette in her fingers, and her chin cupped in her palm, Etty Hillesum radiates a questing intelligence, and is very much alive. 

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