Children's New Releases 

February 2019

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, February 06, 2019

When an Elephant Falls in Love by Davide Cali (ill) Alice Lotti ($27, HB)
Do you remember all the crazy, funny and romantic things you did when you first fell in love? Such as staring at the clouds for hours and hours? Writing letters that you will never send? Leaving flowers at the doorstep of your beloved… and running away before the door is opened? Well, in this delightful picture book, our romantic Elephant does all these, more. He tries to be healthy, but succumbs to the cheesecake in the fridge every time. He bathes every day (and even washes behind his ears!). He keeps a melancholy vigil on a mountain top—‘If only she knew I existed!’. Alice Lotti’s illustrations had me smiling at every page. She includes a little yellow bird in each one—as a cheery companion to our lovelorn pachyderm. Love Conquers All in the end, to conclude an utterly charming book. Stephen (NB: Regrettably this book is out of print but we can snaffle a couple of copies. LB).

Leonard the Lyrebird by Jodie McLeod (ill) Eloise Short ($25, HB)
Leonard is friends with everyone—and boy can he sing! But will his singing talents impress the one friend he really wants? In a story about friendship, bravery and being yourself, join this charismatic bird as he searches for the song that will change his life… Set in the NSW Blue Mountains, and including a bunyip amongst other characters, this story features local references, and illustrations by artist and textile designer Eloise Short.
Ta da! Featuring the enchanting landscapes of the Blue Mountains, this artful book has also been reimagined as a classical music performance composed by award-winning composer Ian Munro and produced by Mountain Concerts. It will premiere at Scenic World Blue Mountains on Saturday 23 February.  Book tickets at


Catch Me: A Seek-&-Find Book by Anders Arho ($33, HB)
Danish designer Arhoj’s puzzle book has dogs and cats running amok, chasing each other amongst colourfully detailed scenes and providing an engaging challenge for the reader. Cover art reflects the different animals: from one end we embark on the chase from the dog’s perspective; reverse the book and read the cat’s version of the twists and turns. Increasing both the level of difficulty and visual interest, the animals change colour with each hide-and-seek location. Great fun for anyone 5+. Lynndy

The Pre-Raphaelites: An Art Activity Book by Helena Perez Garcia ($13, PB)
Timed nicely for the Love and Desire exhibition at the National Gallery gallery in Canberra, this is a really fun, informative art activity book for children of primary school age. The Pre-Raphaelite wives and girlfriends also feature heavily, which is good to see. There are lots of ideas for artworks, and making things, some more ambitious than others—eg make your own wallpaper! The  Pre-Raphaelite paintings and designs were rich in narrative and imagery, which makes it a perfect subject for this type of activity book. Recommended for 8–12 year olds. Louise


To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer
For  very different reasons from the multi-sensory tensions of D’Ath’s novel (see below) I loved this book. Equally realistic, it sweeps up the reader in a progression of emails and letters between two tremendously likeable girls who are determined to thwart their respective fathers’ plans. Publishers Weekly summarises it perfectly: ‘Peeking at her father’s emails, 12-year-old Californian Bett learns two pieces of upsetting information: her father has fallen in love with a man she’s never met, and the two of them are scheming to send Bett and the man’s 12-year-old daughter, Avery, away to summer camp together. Furious, Bett finds Avery’s email address to break the horrible news. The girls vow not to speak to each other during the summer, but despite their differences (Bett is spontaneous and adventurous; Avery is bookish and fearful), they form a strong bond. When their fathers part ways during a disastrous trip to China, the girls, who had been looking forward to being sisters, are determined to find a way to reunite them. Featuring a dramatic climax and a host of surprising twists, the novel affirms that families conventional and unconventional are families just the same.’ An emotional workout and a sheer delight! 10+. ($17, PB)  Lynndy

The Last: Book 1 Endling Trilogy by Katherine Applegate
Wow! This first instalment of Applegate’s new trilogy exhibits the compelling skill that won her the Newbery Medal for The One and Only Ivan. ‘Byx has always thought of herself as last: last-born sibling, the youngest in her whole family, and least adept at all the skills valued by the caninelike dairnes. But when her family, the last-known group of dairnes in Nedarra, is hunted down and murdered by humans, she believes she is the last—an Endling, the sole survivor of a species. Byx sets out on a desperate but hopeful journey in search of Dairneholm, a mythical settlement of dairnes. Along the way she is joined by an unlikely group including Khala the human, whose true identity and past are masked in secrets; Tobble, the small and fiercely loyal wobbyk whose life Byx saved; and a scholar’s apprentice. Their mission becomes more dangerous as they discover the true machinations behind the dairnes’s eradication.’  In a world where the six governing species—humans, dairnes, felivets, natites, terramants, and raptidons—avoid or prey upon one another, Byx’s quest is unusual in its alliances with other species who distrust humans. The novel sustains a breakneck pace that scoops you up and bundles you along on Byx’s emotional adventure. With humour, magic, loyal friendship, and conservation offset by mystery, betrayal, and sinister machinations by humans, this is truly an epic series opener. I was entranced. Some darker elements might disturb readers younger than age 9. ($17, PB) Lynndy

47 Degrees by Justin D’Ath ($17, PB)
In this breathlessly compelling novel D’Ath—himself a fortunate survivor of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria—writes with terrifying immediacy, allowing us to experience through 12-year-old Zeelie’s eyes the progress of an all too familiar disaster. All her father’s painstaking preparations fall victim to Nature’s ferocity, finally rendering the concept of stay and defend far too hazardous and forcing him and Zeelie to seek refuge in a nearby town. You can almost feel the searing heat, struggle to breathe in the eclipsing smoke and smell the burning countryside—as well as sharing Zeelie’s panic that her mother and younger brother are out of communication range and the family’s animals might not all escape. A realistic glimpse of tragedy, 47 Degrees explores family and survival, the resilient strength of community with a shared fate, and our way of dealing with uncertainty in emergencies. Surely no-one reading this can remain unmoved. Lynndy


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (ill) Mariachiara Di Giorgio ($20, HB)
I am so delighted by Mariachiara Di Giorgio’s illustrations in The Secret Garden—they are full of colour and movement, quite magical and slightly surreal. I see that it has been ‘inspired by the masterpiece by Frances Hodgson Burnett’, which means it has been rewritten. Fiddling around with a perfectly good classic seems a shame to me, but despite nothing being as good as the original, this version certainly makes it accessible to the modern child, and a younger reader. We always have several editions of this classic, so I am going to give this one to a certain six year old, as well as the lovely Bath Treasury of Classics version, with its bright pink cover and bookmark, lime green fore edge, and black and white silhouette illustrations with a few full colour, full page pictures. I know she will enjoy it when she’s a bit older. Louise


... one of the best ever picture book creators, whose gentle and imaginative picture books continue among childhood favourites. When Gleebooks was still in its original location we were fortunate to be blessed with a personal visit, and I have an abiding memory of lanky John folded onto one of the wee chairs, sharing a tea party with some of Australia’s greatest children’s authors and illustrators. His legacy includes generations of readers enriched by his wonderful books.

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