Children's New Releases 

March 2019

Gleebooks Bookshop - Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Yahoo Creek, an Australian Mystery by Tohby Riddle ($30, HB)

We think this latest book by Tohby Riddle is something very special indeed. It's a collection of extracts from colonial newspapers, each one describing sightings of a mysterious hairy man, a yeti, a bigfoot, or in Australian parlance, a Yahoo. These sightings were real, sometimes quite overt but more often shadowy, and mysterious. This is a picture book that draws one in, not only by the intriguing subject, but by the shadowy, sensitive illustrations; exquisite landscapes, delicate foliage and birdlife, surrounding a large, hairy, and mainly undefined Yahoo. There are human beings too, also foggy and undefined, beings that seem as ghostly as the Yahoo who is watching them. Despite the undeniable mystery and eeriness in this book, it’s been created with a light touch, and a sensitivity not often found books about legendary beings. A beautiful book, for 5-adults. Louise


 To Australian-born illustrator Sophie Blackall for winning the 2019 Caldecott Medal for Hello Lighthouse. A tall thin book, much like a lighthouse, with glorious illustrations and touching story of a way of life now vanished, that of a lighthouse keeper. The stories and pictures are perfectly combined to create a memorable book.


Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail
As much an activity book as a nature book, On the Nature Trail has lots of information about flora and fauna, and plenty of activities to do in the great outdoors. Really nicely illustrated with photography and illustrations, spiral bound and with an accompanying magnifying glass, this would be the perfect companion for anyone who likes a ramble or a nature table. For 5-10 year olds. Louise ($18, HB)

Grow, Baby, Grow! Watch Baby Grow Month by Month by Mertixell Marti (ill) Xavier Salomo
Although we saw only a few pages of this pop-up book, Tania and I were very impressed by both concept and presentation. Nine actual life-sized pop-ups by Spanish paper engineer Salomo show the development of an embryo in an accessible picture book format, with each stage of growth compared with relatable objects such as a pearl, a cherry... Ideal for families awaiting a new baby, this gives real perspective to the new little one’s development. Lynndy ($30, HB)

When the Stars Come Out by Nicola Edwards (ill) Lucy Rose Cartwright
Gorgeously illustrated, and with text equally suitable for younger readers or adults, this explores many aspects of night: through history, nature, animal behaviour and habitats, as well as astronomical phenomena such as the aurora borealis and shooting stars. Readers of 8+ will find plenty to absorb them as they pore over the wide-ranging information within. Lynndy ($35, HB)

Wee Hee Hee: A Collection of Pretty Funny Jokes & Pictures, by the Wee Society
This is a very handsome volume of punning jokes, and nice pictures. There’s a joke to a page, with the answer, and a really attractive, colourful picture behind it. The book is reminiscent of 60s and 70s modernist graphic design, and has a really high impact, extending the humour of the jokes. Simple enough as an introduction to the art of punning, but sophisticated enough for (young) old hands at joking. This would be excellent for reading to a class, as it is large format, or a nice gift for a young family. Louise ($35, HB)


Boris series by Andrew Joyner ($9, PB)
With the start of a new school year it seems apposite to promote one of my favourite series of chapter books for readers of up to 8 years old who are gaining reading competency. Originally published locally, Australian author Joyner’s Boris books are now available from the US in a slightly different style, but none of the charm has been altered. Boris is... ‘a lot like you. He lives with his mom and dad. He goes to school. He likes to spend time with his friends. And he likes to dream.’ Unlike you, Boris is a warthog, but any situation he navigates is easy for youngsters to identify with—eg a sleepover, sports carnival day, getting a pet. In a mix of text, dialogue in speech balloons, and full-colour illustrations Joyner has created an oh-so-endearing and relatable character in these humorous stories. At the end of each book there is a bonus activity incorporating elements of the story. Lynndy

The Lotterys More or Less by Emma Donoghue ($15, PB)
Lynndy and I both enjoyed Emma Donoghue’s first book, The Lotterys, so we were awaiting the sequel with some anticipation. It hasn’t disappointed. In the first book there was quite a bit of explanation needed to set up the characters and their relationships in this very intentional, politically correct, blended family. In The Lotterys More or Less, there is less emphasis on the complicated family structure and more action within it. It’s winter and a huge ice storm has affected the family as well as the wider community; some of the family can’t get home, and the power is out. Hilarity does not ensue, these books are not humorous, but they’re not overly dramatic either, they are quite realistic, and completely believable, despite the modern Cheaper by the Dozen domestic set up. Highly recommended for 8-12 year olds.  Louise

Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf by Catherine Storr (ill) Marjorie Ann Watts ($17, PB)
One day Polly answers the doorbell and finds a large, black wolf standing there. ‘I’m going to eat you up’ he says. ‘But first tell me, what is that delicious smell?’ Polly leads him to the kitchen and offers the wolf a large slice of freshly baked pie: The wolf’s mouth watered…When he had eaten it, the wolf asked for another, and then for another. ‘Now’, said Polly after the third helping, ‘what about me?’ ‘Sorry’ said the wolf, ‘I’m too full of pie. I’ll come back another day to deal with you.’ The wolf does come back… several times, but each time is tempted by either chocolate cake or slices of hot toffee (which burn his mouth). He always leaves the house too full of food to devour Polly. The opening story of this collection sets the tone—Polly escaping the wolf by calmness and distraction. All the following stories show the wolf’s elaborate schemes comically foiled by Polly’s common sense. In one, the wolf plants a grape seed and settles down to wait for a giant grape vine to grow, so he can climb it to reach Polly’s room. When told by Polly a grapevine will take ‘years and years’ to grow, the wolf trots off and returns with a ladder rung which he plants, hoping to grow a ladder overnight. In another  the wolf uses the original tale of Red Riding Hood as a how-to guide to capture Polly. He is thwarted at each turn by Polly and her equally quick-witted Grandmother. The wolf finds Polly at the post box and threatens to bite off her arm—until she tells him she is posting a letter to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and that they will ‘fetch you away and lock you up forever’. The wolf is ever changing—often in the space of a sentence—from a threatening beast to sounding like a rather annoying sibling, to finally an (almost) grateful wolf who often needs Polly’s help, especially when Polly finds the wolf captured in a cage at the zoo. Even though it was published in 1955, this slyly funny classic, with Marjorie Ann Watts’ delightful illustrations, does not feel dated at all.  Stephen


Love Lie Repeat by Catherine Greer
A friendship triangle, betrayal, secrets, privilege, manipulation... When loyalties within the supposedly unshakable triad of friends Annie, Ruby and Ash shatter, insecurities are exposed and power plays are revealed. This is utterly gripping, at times almost voyeuristic, and rightly described as ‘Intoxicating and intense, lush and chilling’. An outstanding Australian debut, highly recommended for teens who love realistic contemporary fiction. Lynndy ($20, PB)

Internment by Samira Ahmed ($17, PB)
A powerful novel of xenophobia and social injustice, Internment plays on fears and intolerance, reflecting a society that is perilously close to that in the world right now. Borrowing from the Booklist review: ‘In a xenophobic America led by the hateful rhetoric of a populist leader,  17-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are rounded up and transported to an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. While most people quietly comply, Layla is determined to fight back for the freedom that is rightfully hers. She finds allies both inside and outside the camp, and before long, she herself is at the centre of a rebellion. Emphasizing that the oppressed have a voice and the power to speak up and fight back, the book also remind us that all citizens have the obligation, responsibility, and power to raise their voices and defend their fellow citizens.’ Symptomatic of the novel, and the toxicity of prejudice, is the camp director’s pronouncement that people are more than happy to do what they’re told. Give them an Other to hate, and they will do what they’re told. That’s what keeps our nation safe. Unsettlingly realistic and—one hopes—a stimulus to action. Lynndy


Winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for lasting contribution to children’s literature, French-born Jean-Thomas ‘Tomi’ Ungerer was also known for his satirical adult literature, and as a sculptor, printmaker, painter and caricaturist. Rarely have his children’s classics been out of print, and many of us count among childhood favourites books such as The Three Robbers and The Mellops series which are distinguished by his absurdist bent.  Maurice Sendak’s tribute ‘Tomi influenced everybody’ was an apt testament to Ungerer’s creations.

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