The Shadow Thief (#1) by Alexandra Adornetto

Published: July 1st 2007 (print)/28 January 2011  (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 HarperCollins Australia/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 288 pages/5 dics
Narrator: Alexandra Adornetto
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Millipop Klompet and Ernest Perriclof live in the uneventful town of Drabville, where the cautious Ernest spends his time enlarging his rock collection and Milli dreams of adventure. When the pair are kidnapped from their homes and brought to live in the gothic mansion known as Hog House, they are adopted by the madcap Mr and Mrs Mayor and a series of bizarre encounters follows. Things do not add up and the children find that sinister plans are beginning to emerge. Why has the notorious Lord Aldor stolen the shadows of all of the town’s residents and where are they being held? Assisted by a band of prisoners, the children must venture into the Taboo Territories, and battle the perils dished out by the Lurid Lagoon, in order to outwit Lord Aldor and prevent him from executing his secret master plan.

From very early on I compared this book to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s actually a lot better than that in my opinion. Though, not being a huge fan of Snicket’s famed series I’m not sure what that means.

But if you are a fan of Snicket’s work then I suggest you read this series. Adornetto uses the same whimsical tone and storytelling style that addresses the reader, gives us facts about the characters, bemoans when things unfortunate happen to them, and states matter of factly when things aren’t going their way. I listened to this as an audio book and Adornetto was the narrator which worked really well. Adornetto’s storytelling ability is entertaining and while she doesn’t vary voices that noticably, you really don’t need it and her narration is wonderful.

One thing I absolutely ADORED in this book was Adornetto’s language. She uses big, wonderful, words that are so eloquent, and ones that give the story such a wonderful tone. It suits the strange surreal, British nature of this book (despite Adornetto being Australian) that is absurd and outlandish, that of course there will be beautiful and clever words in it as well.

The story is delightful and innocent, but with the cheekiness that kids love. As I said, very much like Lemony Snicket but with a bit less intense unfortunatenesses and more daring adventures with Milly at the helm and Ernest trailing reluctantly behind her.

Milly is a wonderfully brave and rebellious girl who doesn’t let the rules of Drabville hold back her adventures. When she gets caught breaking these town rules she and her best friend Ernest are imprisoned and discover a whole other world they knew nothing about. She is clever, resourceful, filled with gusto and enthusiasm for adventure and doing the right thing. Ernest is less enthusiastic but he does follow Milly into adventure and while he is wary he does embrace what he finds and loves to work with Milly in thinking up solutions to their problems.

The supernatural element of the story is quite creative, the evil Lord Aldor has stolen shadows off the residents of Drabville and is using them for nefarious purposes. The premise is clever and quite interesting, Adornetto keeps it filled with action and suspense, along with daring characters and wily plans of escape and rescue.

This book (as subsequent series) is classed as young adult at times, but I’d put it in the primary school range, maybe the lower teens. With Milly and Ernest being twelve years old it may not appeal that well to older readers. Having said that, I did love it, so there’s that.

 

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

Published: 27th June 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Philomel Books
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Pages: 36
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Poor Duncan just wants to colour. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: We quit!

Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown. Blue needs a break from colouring all that water, while Pink just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other.

What is Duncan to do?

If you haven’t heard of this book yet you are properly missing out. I love this book. It’s a great story about crayons who quit because they are tired of how their owner Duncan treats them. They write letters of complaints about being overused, colouring outside the lines, and neglect among other things.

I love everything about this book. On one page are these great handwritten notes from the crayons to Duncan, and on the other side are some of the examples of the pictures Duncan has drawn alongside the crayon in question. It’s a fabulous story as well with each crayon complaint unique and often quite funny.

This is a clever story and one that also can teach kids about diversifying their own colour endeavours. Duncan listens to his crayons and it’s a gorgeous story that is sweet and simple for all ages.

You can purchase The Day the Crayons Quit via the following

Book Depository | QBD

Fishpond | Wordery

BookWorld | Booktopia

We’ll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

Published: 1st January 1998Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Woodbine House
Illustrator: Pam Devito
Pages: 28
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

As six-year-old Emma anticipates the birth of her new baby brother or sister, she imagines all of the things they can do together. They’ll go to Grandpa’s farm to feed the calves, ride in the back of the mini-van making faces at the cars that go by, fly on airplanes, and someday, they’ll even go to Africa on a safari.

I will admit I got a little teary at the end of this book because the message is so wonderful. Stube-Bodeen’s story is about a little girl named Emma who has big plans for her new baby brother. Emma tells her dad that when the baby grows up she will play with him, read to him, and take him on plane rides and to the art festival. These plans, however, are suddenly in doubt when she discovers he was born with Down syndrome.

Emma’s dad explains to her what Down syndrome is and what it means for her new baby brother, Isaac. Emma listens and slowly understands, and she asks her dad if she will still be able to do all her big plans with Isaac like she wanted to.

I loved how this introduces Down syndrome to kids. It normalises it, makes it ok, but also makes it clear that there will be some challenges along the way both for Isaac and his family. I think this book would be great at teaching kids about the disability and helps them understand exactly what it means and how it relates to activities that they understand.

There is also an excellent information page at the end of the story that provides all sorts of information on Down syndrome and normalises it for kids and helps them understand. It’s a fantastic little book and one that can help kids understand if they know someone with this condition.

You can purchase We’ll Paint the Octopus Red via the following

Amazon | Book Depository

Booktopia | Wordery

Dymocks

 

Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books by Frances Watts

Published: 2007Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 ABC Books
Illustrator: David Legge
Pages: 16
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

514kfq15sal-_sx218_bo1204203200_ql40_Celebrate the joy of reading and begin a lifelong love of books with the delightful Parsley Rabbit and his pesky little brother, Basil. Lively and entertaining, it features a remarkably clever and handsome rabbit and is full of fun, flaps to flip and questions to share.

This is a fun, quirky book that is exactly what the title suggests: a book about books. From the very first page of the book Parsley Rabbit explains with little notes what each part of the book is called and how you read it; including end page to title page and the publisher’s details. When you get to the main story the theme continues and the story is Parsley talking about books. He talks about what makes up the format of a book like page numbers and how the words are read from left to right and the different shapes and sizes books can come in. Each page is different, some talking about how books can be funny or sad, or have information in them, or even how some books have flaps that open that can hide things behind them.

It’s definitely interactive with the reader, Parsley addresses you and instructs you to do certain things as well so it engages with kids and shows them how to interact with the book and how it often connects with reading the story. This isn’t a book for toddlers teaching them to read, it’s a book teaching kids all the different parts of a book and how reading works. It’s quite clever, and Parsley Rabbit makes it fun and interesting even before the story has started to let you know this book isn’t like other books.

What also makes this book great is that Legge has used Watts’ words and made great illustrations to match. They are simplistic and often don’t feature anyone other than Parsley. But Legge’s drawings, Watts’ words, and the layout of the book all work together wonderfully to not need anything other than Parsley Rabbit to illustrate the story.

This book was the winner of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Award for Children’s Fiction, and the 2008 Children’s Book Council of Australia and while the story isn’t really a story, it is very clever and interesting and a great way to learn how books and reading works.

You can purchase Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Book via the following

Publisher | Dymocks

Booktopia | Amazon

Book Depository | Wordery

 

12 Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Published: 6th October 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Electric Monkey
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Dash and Lily have had a tough year since they first fell in love among the shelves of their favourite bookstore. Lily’s beloved grandfather suffered a heart attack, and his difficult road to recovery has taken a major toll on her typically sunny disposition.

With only twelve days left until Christmas—Lily’s favourite time of the year—Dash, Lily’s brother Langston, and their closest friends must take Manhattan by storm to help Lily recapture the unique holiday magic of a glittering, snow-covered New York City in December.

I’m pretty sure I loved this book as much as I did the first one. This time we know the characters but we get to go on so many more journeys with them. The red notebook returns, Lily and Dash are as adorable as ever, there are emotions and feelings and humour and all the things that made the first Dash and Lily book so wonderful.

The influences of each other are evident in the sequel. Dash is softening his edges and becoming more relaxed about his life and things around him. Lily grows up a little and struggles as her idealistic world view gets shaken but Dash is at her side to help her recover. All the quirky family and friends are there to support them and be their own kind of wonderful as well.

I’m not doing very well in the way of actual reviewing because I just adored this so much it’s all just happiness and synonyms right now, but I will say that Cohn and Levithan really did a great job with this sequel. It has a purpose, it is set one year after the events of book one and that is important. It is also a great chance to see how the pair have grown up in that year, how life has affected them and they’ve affected the world.

I loved this book so much because one of my new favourite quotes came out of it and I did something wild and actually made a picture out of it (see below). Dash and Lily’s love of books is aspiring and Dash has such a way with words it’s lovely without being pretentious, it’s passionate. I’ve always loved Dash’s Dashness from the first time I read his voice in Book of Dares, but he is even better in this one because we get to know so much more about him and what makes him who he is. The same goes for Lily, and in a way this is a book for Lily, or at least with a focus on Lily, but this is also so much about Dash as well.

quote-fbLily gets a lot of my sympathy because she has a rough year that really shakes her idealistic view of the world. But her courage and commitment is commendable and seeing her persevere is wonderful.

There is more of a Christmas focus in this book, but it all still comes down to Dash and Lily and their relationship and lives. It’s gorgeous and heart warming and heartbreaking and so sweet! I really do think you need to read Book of Dares before this otherwise it is all lost on you. Well, maybe not, but you really should read book one first because it’s an experience on its own and is the groundwork for this book that needs to be laid.

You can purchase 12 Days of Dash and Lily via the following

Booktopia | Bookworld

QBD | Dymocks

Amazon | Wordery

Fishpond | Book Depository

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