The Day the Crayons Came Home (#2) by Drew Daywalt

Published: 18th August 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Philomel Books
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Pages: 36
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

I’m not sure what it is about this kid Duncan, but his crayons sure are a colourful bunch of characters! Having soothed the hurt feelings of one group who threatened to quit, Duncan now faces a whole new group of crayons asking to be rescued. From Maroon Crayon, who was lost beneath the sofa cushions and then broken in two after Dad sat on him; to poor Turquoise, whose head is now stuck to one of Duncan’s stinky socks after they both ended up in the dryer together; to Pea Green, who knows darn well that no kid likes peas and who ran away—each and every crayon has a woeful tale to tell and a plea to be brought home to the crayon box.

The crayons are back and better than ever! This series of books is fast becoming my favourite picture books ever.

This time the crayons that have been abandoned and lost by Duncan are sending him postcards and pleading to come home. They tell tales of being melted in the sun, sat on, bitten, or yearning for adventure.

Drew Daywalt uses the same great style from the first crayon story, with adorable little crayons and their letters of complaint to Duncan. Jeffers’ illustrations are comical and adorable and really bring to life the lives of these crayons. I think this book is as good if not better than the first. It’s cute, it’s clever, very funny, and I loved the creativity of the crayon’s complaints and debacles.

I hadn’t thought about it in the first book, but this could be a great story to get kids to tidy up their messes, add a bit of guilt about the poor items being left behind. If you haven’t already read the Crayon series, then I suggest you do right away. You won’t regret it.

You can purchase The Day the Crayons Quit via the following

Book Depository | QBD

Fishpond | Wordery

BookWorld | Booktopia

 

 

 

Wendy James in Conversation

Last week I attended an event at the library to see crime writer Wendy James in conversation with fellow writer Jaye Ford. It was a great evening, Jaye and Wendy have been friends for years so their conversation was informative and fun, with all the fun banter friendship throws in.

Jaye spoke to Wendy about her new book The Golden Child. James has been dubbed Queen of domestic thrillers, a term both Jaye and Wendy joke about often. What exactly is a domestic thriller? But this is a deserved title though because The Golden Child is incredible, and has already been optioned as a miniseries.

Wendy’s book is about bullying, social media, and parenting, but she is very good at not actually blaming social media or the parents for the events in this book. It’s a brilliantly complicated novel that looks at how issues of bullying can often come from nowhere. She told Jaye that she wanted the mother in the book to be unprepared, to not see where it had come from; that there are often no obvious signs. Social media, Wendy said, is so ubiquitous these days that you don’t notice it.

Wendy was asked whether it was tougher for girls these days and while she said it was harder for young girls, it is also harder to control older kids in regards to technology. One thing I really liked was that Wendy said it wasn’t about the social media or the bullying per se, it was about the women involved. She wanted it to be about how the mothers felt about the situation. Her character does everything she could to raise her kids right and yet still things aren’t perfect. What was also wonderful is there is no one person or thing to blame for everything, Wendy didn’t want to turn it into a book about how to parent or put the blame on a single entity.

The story is set in Newcastle but as Wendy said, it doesn’t mean it is a book about Newcastle. Being a newish resident there herself she wrote her idea of Newcastle, instead of the one that has the weight of someone whose whole life has been there which is something I think she did very well. It has the feel of someone who has just moved there, and not someone who knows everything there is to know about it.

The tail end of the discussion merged into a joint conversation which started with discussing each authors writing history and processes; something which I always find fascinating to hear about. Wendy spoke of her career as a teacher of creative writing and how it made her see things a bit differently, commenting that when you write you stop thinking about the craft after a while. The search and discovery for ideas was also mentioned and the pair joked about the best places to mullover ideas – driving and in the shower being optimal. The comment was made about needing a waterproof notebook in the shower and I forgot to mention it to them on the night, but there is one called Aquanotes if you’re interested, Wendy or Jaye. It’s ridiculously helpful for my own preservation of ideas.

The pair discussed research processes prompted by audience questions as well as their writing routines and styles. It was an interesting way to cap off a wonderful and informative evening. There is something wonderful about going to events like these that bring out your own inspiration and drive.

You can purchase The Golden Child via the following

Publisher | Booktopia | Kobo | Dymocks

 QBD | Angus & Robertson’s Bookworld

or check out Jaye books and Wendy’s other work because it’s amazing!

Jaye Ford

Goodreads | WebsiteTwitter |

Wendy James

Goodreads | Website | Twitter

The Golden Child by Wendy James

Published: 1st February 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Collins
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Genre: Thriller
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Blogger Lizzy’s life is buzzing, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions are simmering with her husband, mother-in-law and even her own mother. Her teenage daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved beyond her grasp and one of them has shown signs of, well, thoughtlessness …

Then a classmate of one daughter is callously bullied and the finger of blame is pointed at Beth’s clever, beautiful child. Shattered, shamed and frightened, two families must negotiate worlds of cruelty they are totally ill-equipped for.
This is a novel that grapples with modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. It plays with our fears of parenting, social media and Queen Bees, and it asks the question: just how well do you know your child?

From the very early pages I was hooked on this story, so much so I sat down in the morning to read it and was finished by the afternoon. I was enamoured by James’ ability to write such a seemingly ordinary story while still giving off the unsettling feeling that everything isn’t as it should be. That unsettling hidden something that makes you wonder about motives and who is telling the whole truth and who are we supposed to believe. Especially when you can’t find a reason for these feelings right away.

James’ storytelling ability is amazing. The level of tension and suspense it balanced wonderfully by the mystery of what is happening alongside the everyday. I am of course not going to mention anything about the plot. This is the kind of book you need to experience for yourself and have everything revealed to you as it’s intended.

I will say that on top of James’ excellent writing, the characters are really what make this story shine. The different and often clashing personalities mix together to create the perfect storm and propel this story into its brilliance.

There are so many things to praise and so much to digest as you read. You’re enthralled by these characters and their lives, and James’ uses emotions, motherhood, love, and friendship to bring this to life. Despite the constant feeling of unease I had while reading it, it remains a chilling and fantastic story.

One thing I loved was the clear differences between Beth and alter ego Lizzy. Beth deals with the real life of everyday; she has a family who have needs of their own and life decisions and adjustments to make. But what makes Lizzy such a great contrast is that there are elements of those same problems in her blog posts, but on such a different tone and level. Lizzy lets her vague words tell a story to her readers, she doesn’t give specifics and her commentary can be interpreted in multiple ways.

I thought James did a wonderful job with the blogging side of the novel. She captures the voice well and it reads quite realistically. I also loved that the comments were included too because not only are they another reflection on what commenting on blogs is often like, but they also help show the comparisons between Beth and Lizzy’s lives.

If you haven’t read anything of James’ before then this is a perfect time to start. It is the kind of book that is not only on topic in terms of issues with social media, but should be read by parents, teens, grandparents; everybody can get something out of this novel. You will be turning the pages none stop and will remember a story like this long after you’ve read that final page.

You can purchase The Golden Child via the following

Publisher | Booktopia

Kobo | Dymocks

 QBD | Angus & Robertson’s Bookworld

aww2017-badge

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

 

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