Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

Published: 25th July 2006
Goodreads badgePublisher: Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes
Pages: 48
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
Genre: Children
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is very particular about rules in the library. No running allowed. And you must be quiet. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library. And, as it turns out, this lion seems very well suited to library visiting. His big feet are quiet on the library floor. He makes a comfy backrest for the children at story hour. And he never roars in the library, at least not anymore. But when something terrible happens, the lion quickly comes to the rescue in the only way he knows how.

I am a sucker for anything with a lion and I knew there was a book called Library Lion I just hadn’t come across it before. I found a copy at work and I sat down and read it right away and it did not disappoint.

I loved this book. It’s adorable and charming and so incredibly sweet. It’s not just a fantastic story, it’s also beautifully illustrated. I’m in love with Hawkes’ illustrations on top of being in love with Knudsen’s storytelling. I definitely need my own Library Lion, right now.

The story is about a lion who wanders into the library, originally causing a little chaos as he navigates his way around, but he then decides to stay for story time. After a rocky start and after given a talk about the rules of the library, he is soon beloved by the staff and the public and is an asset to the library in many ways.

I loved everything about this story. I loved the lion, he’s just gorgeous, and I love the staff for their quirkiness and attitudes. It’s a fun story but it is also filled with heart. Hawkes’ illustrations make it that much more divine; they are gorgeous and emotive. He captures the personality of the lion, the staff, and the public who come across him superbly.

You can use it as a lesson about following rules and breaking them, but it really is a great book on its own. There is no clear Message, but it can be drawn from it easily enough. I would, however, like to live in this world where a library can have a lion hang around. I didn’t know I could envy fictitious children in a picture book until now.

You can purchase Library Lion via the following

Book Depository | QBD

Booktopia | Dymocks

Fishpond | A&R Bookworld

Wordery |

 

 

 

A Soldier, A Dog, and a Boy by Libby Hathorn

Published: 22nd March 2016
Goodreads badgePublisher: Lothian
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
Genre: Children
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A moving story, told completely in dialogue, about a young Australian soldier in the battle of the Somme. Walking through the fields away from the front, he finds what he thinks is a stray dog, and decides to adopt it as a mascot for his company. Then he meets Jacques, the homeless orphan boy who owns the dog. The soldier realises that Jacques needs the dog more – and perhaps needs his help as well.

With stunning illustrations from Phil Lesnie, this is a deeply moving celebration of friendship in times of war.

Look, who doesn’t love a good cry at a picture book. I am usually so worried when there’s a ‘serious’ style picture book with dogs because it’s always going to make me sad and this was no exception, but it was also so beautiful.

I loved this story, and as a note in the back tells you, it’s based off a picture and Hathorn’s own family history. I was so worried when one combines dogs and ANZACs, but Hathorn has told a beautiful story that makes you emotional and feel all the feelings while not being too sad.

Hathorn tells the story about the ANZACs and war without being too detailed for younger audiences. She mentions the ruined towns and orphaned children, but the words are so lyrical and so lovely that it’s almost like a dream reading them. The story follows a soldier who finds a lost dog and who then tells him about coming back to camp, how he’ll make him their mascot and protect his ears from the fireworks at night. Along with the dog he also finds a young boy and their conversations are some of the most beautiful things I’ve read.

I don’t want to ruin the story because it’s so so wonderful and heartwarming, but it is a beautiful tale to read and one that will delight children and adults alike. With so many ANZAC stories out there I think this is one of my favourites. It’s lyrical and honest and beautiful. It brings out the emotional content with respect and with restraint and with joy. A must read.

You can purchase A Soldier, A Dog, and A Boy via the following

Booktopia | Hachette

Kinokuniya | QBD

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson’s Bookworld

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Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

Published: 28th September 2016 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Allen & Unwin
Pages: 294
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Online sensation, fearless feminist heroine and scourge of trolls and misogynists everywhere, Clementine Ford is a beacon of hope and inspiration to thousands of Australian women and girls. Her incendiary debut Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women. Crucially, it is a call to arms for all women to rediscover the fury that has been suppressed by a society that still considers feminism a threat.

Fight Like A Girl will make you laugh, cry and scream. But above all it will make you demand and fight for a world in which women have real equality and not merely the illusion of it.

I had been hearing so much about this book when it was published and I was eager to get my hands on it and experience it for myself. Reading it was all I hoped it would be and more, I filled its pages with Post It’s marking of important and wonderful quotes. I also got to meet Ford at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival which was amazing, as was listening to her in her sessions.

Fight Like A Girl is a book that everyone should read, every girl and every woman, but also every man. So many of my own experiences are laid out in this book. The fact that I can agree with so much of Ford’s words should be worrying, but it’s not. They’re a comfort because it reminds me that I’m not being paranoid or silly when I hold me keys in my fingers walking back to my car late at night, it reminds me I’m not overreacting when I feel uncomfortable having a stranger talk to me at the bus stop when he’s a little drunk, worried what he’ll say and what I’m safe to respond with. It makes me think of all the times I’ve placated a thought to save hurting a man’s feelings and not stood up for something out of fear of personal verbal attack. It’s reminded me that the passion and the fight I feel inside me is one that many women out there are feeling and that it’s ok to feel this way.

Ford addresses many issues and “societal norms” I suppose we could call them through her chapters and she is unapologetic in her words and opinions. Mixed in with her own experiences it’s actually a humorous and enlightening book at times that looks at how society has been constructed to see women as the lesser and the weaker, the one in need of defending and the one who is not only walked over and shut down by the patriarchy, but happy to have it happen.

It’s not all agreement and scoffs at how men are and how childish they can be when their ways of life are challenged. Parts of this book made me sick to my stomach and it makes me angry and sad, but more importantly, it flames the fire I’ve been stoking for the past few years. The feminist I’ve been since my second year of uni and the one who’s gradually doing a little more than fuming internally and sharing Tumblr posts, cheering in the tags.

This is a book for everyone. To quote Ford, it “is a love letter to the girls”. There are some tough topics being discussed in here, but they’re important, and this book is important because if someone doesn’t want to listen to (or believe) a women’s experience from her own mouth, you can always throw this book at them instead.

You can purchase Fight Like A Girl via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Dymocks | Allen & Unwin

Angus and Robinson’s Bookworld | Fishpond

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Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Published: 14th June 2011 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Collins
Pages: 359
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Thriller
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child, thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me… 

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love–all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. 

Welcome to Christine’s life. 

I have wanted to read this for years and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING! Again, I have seen it compared to 50 First Dates (like all memory books are these days it seems), but it is much better than that and totally not even the same thing.

Christine’s memory resets every morning and she reverts back to thinking she is in her twenties. It’s a phenomenal read seeing how she adjusts and copes with this realisation every morning. Her husband’s patience, their coping mechanisms are all wonderful.

The routine Christine and her husband had is changed when she starts to see a doctor without her husband knowing. Christine starts keeping a diary which she reads each day, but she still only knows what she is told every morning and what she’s learnt from herself the day before. The emotions you experience are similar to Christine’s – can you trust the doctor? Is the husband keeping secrets? Who is telling the truth? It’s an intense and incredible reading experience.

There were so many little things I loved about this book. I loved that Christine was middle aged and not younger. I loved that she is able to do what she does even when she has no idea about what she has done in the past. I love that Watson lulls me into a false security and then shatters my expectations. I love that when you think you know what is happening you could not be more wrong. I also love the structure of the novel. The before, the after, the fact we get to see her daily diary and it becomes part of the story.

Having a character who needs to be reintroduced to herself each morning has to possibility of being repetitive, but Watson never makes the repetition annoying or ironically, too repetitive. The exploration of Christine’s day to day life, her discoveries, and her conversations with her husband are approached slightly differently each day. And as Christine knows more, is shapes her conversations. And her mind focuses on different things each day.
The underlying mystery of Christine’s memory loss is always there and as it grows and takes hold your own suspense and tension and excitement builds. But without ruining anything, Watson plays with you remarkably well with this. There are twists upon surprises with secrets and things unsaid. It’s a roller coaster ride and when you think you know what is about the happen, something even better happens instead.

I implore that if you love thrillers, and love to be surprised and enthralled, that you should read this book.  And, I will say, that there is a film adaptation of this and it is actually very close to the book so if you were uncertain about checking it out, you totally should. But of course, the book is a more fulfilling experience on all fronts and you should read it first.

You can purchase Before I Go to Sleep via the following

Booktopia | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson Bookworld

Book Depository | Fishpond | QBD | Wordery

 

The Gentle Lion and the Little Owlet by Alice Shirley

Published: 1st March 2012Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Pavilion Children’s
Illustrator: Alice Shirley
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A plucky young owlet decides to try and find his own dinner one day and so flies from the safety of his nest into the unknown world surrounding him. Little does he know that his nest is in a tree in the middle of a zoo – and he quickly finds himself face-to-face with a lion. Yet, instead of being eaten, the owlet and lion become friends.

The art in this book is stunning! I chose this book because of the lion on the cover and I fell in love with it because of the artwork (and the story, but mainly the art).

This fictionalisation is based on an actual event that happened in Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in 2010. While the actual incident was much briefer than those depicted in the book, it is still a wonderful story.

In Shirley’s version, a young owlet, impatient to see the world falls from his nest into the paws on a lion below. Instead of being in danger, the lion and the young owl start an unlikely friendship which is the basis of this story.

I loved the relationship between these two. I loved the owlet’s ambition to fly the world and his friendship to the lion that he would take him to Africa, back where he remembers growing up. The illustrations make this story to much more meaningful I think because you can see the beauty in the detail and it enhances the story.

I think if Shirley has chosen to do a more comical, or casual style illustration, then the sentiment and beauty of this story wouldn’t have the same impact that it does. It is a short story, but I’m so surprised at just how beautiful Shirley has managed to make it.

You can purchase The Gentle Lion via the following

Booktopia | Bookworld

Book Depository | QBD

Dymocks | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon

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