Reviews for Other Authors

How Do You Face Your Fears?

As an introverted author I’d rather sit at home in front of my computer and write, but the reality is sometimes we have to help people know about our stories if we hope to sell any books. In life, we all have certain fears.

For kids, it might be fear of the dark, for an adult it might be a fear of huge creepy crawly spiders or slithery snakes. What is your fear? We all have them in one way or another.

But we have a choice :

Zig-Ziglar-F-E-A-R-Quote.jpg

I recently bought and read a beautiful picture book by fellow Canberra author, Mitch Frost, all about helping kids facing their fear of the dark. The Ultimate Survival Guide to Monsters Under The Bed, is superbly written and vibrantly illustrated. With ten ‘scientifically proven,’ reassuring steps to prepare for bedtime, no child will ever be afraid of monsters creeping out of those dark places in their bedroom again. Kids will learn to face their fear in a humours look at the bedtime routine that will even tickle a parent’s funny bone. Kids previously afraid of monsters, and their parents, will have a much better night sleep. I recommend this book for parents of any child 3 and over that is too frightened to turn out that night light or sleep in their own bed.

20190705_152132.jpg

A couple of years ago, I too, wrote a picture book to help kids learn to face their fears. Frazzled Freya was a frill-neck lizard who had to learn to face everything and rise, but not before she continued to forget everything and run. Freya had to make a choice, and step out of her comfort zone if she was ever going to join her friends and play and have fun in the desert sun. She too, was afraid of monsters, but her monsters were very different to those hiding under the bed.

Frazzled Freya_cover_amazon_001.jpg

This year, I have been more determined than ever to take my own advice and stop running, face my fears and rise to each occasion that presents itself. That means showing up at conferences and festivals, mingling in person. Taking more risks to put myself out there, not only with manuscript assessments but talking more about my established body of work. Talking about myself and my books with and to my peers does not come easy for me. that’s why agreeing to talk to a room full of teacher librarians at our recent CBCA ACT meeting was rather daunting. But instead of running from the experience, I took a few deep breaths and faced it head on. Once I started, I relaxed and to my surprise, with my notes in my hand as a safety net, I didn’t need to read them at all. I admit, once I sat down and allowed myself to breath again, I remembered I had forgotten a couple of things, but overall I did a pretty decent talk, I was able to give myself a well earned pat on the back. It wasn’t so scary after all. The best part of doing this, was sharing the experience with five other awesome local Canberra authors, Samantha Tidy, Shelly Unwin, Krys Saclier, Mitch Frost and Cate Whittle.

IMG_1949.JPG

The next step, was to embrace making a short video clip. At first this felt majorly impossible. Take after take, my tongue tied and my throat dried up. I had a brain freeze and forgot my lines so many times. I almost gave up, the flight receptors in my brain were at an all time high. But I had made a promise to myself,, this was the year I was going to fight those fears. I sought an alternative way to make the video. I can’t give away too much just yet, suffice to say, I did it. I still wasn’t completely happy with it, I admit I did stumble a few times, but I did the best I could and sent it off. Keep a lookout on my Facebook page, I’ll be able to reveal it there soon.

My five take home points for facing your fears are:

  1. Find helpful books to read..

  2. Take one small step at a time.

  3. It takes practice to conquer your fears.

  4. Remember to breathe - Deep, slow breaths.

  5. Just have a go, regardless of the outcome, be prepared to put yourself out there.

What are your worst fears?

What are some of the tips or strategies you could share to help others overcome their fears?

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

Planning a Trip to Bali with Kids? You Need This!

Are you planning a holiday in Bali?

Do you have kids?

Whether you are going during school holidays or school term, I have found the ideal way to keep the kids entertained and occupied.

Let’s face it, kids get bored easily. From the minute you are on the plane, the ‘Are we there yet?’ questions begin. You don’t want them to spend the entire holiday on their mobile devices but what else can you do?

I have found the perfect solution. - ‘My Awesome Bali Adventure - A Travel Journal For Kids, written by Eliza McCann and Phillip Gwynne. It has everything you are searching for to keep the kids busy and have a memento of their awesome holiday.

20190404_144603.jpg

From the minute you step onto the plane until you return home, this journal has it all.

There are questions to complete about their flight and information about Bali to get the kids excited. One of the things I love about this journal is that it is suitable for all the family.. Kids will enjoy the word searches, crosswords and puzzles, younger kids have the opportunity to colour and play spot the difference, While there are also plenty of pages for the older kids to write about their experiences.

Bahasa Indonesia is of cause the main language spoken in Bali, and throughout the journal there are plenty of fun ways to learn a little Bahasa by completing fun activities.

In fact there is so much information packed into this journal, I can’t believe someone hasn’t thought of it before. Your kids will treasure this book for years to come. There are even spaces for all sorts of cool stuff that the kids have collected. They can glue in boarding passes from the plane trips, entry tickets to places they have been to in Bali or perhaps even that menu from a favourite restaurant. I was lucky to receive a couple of postcards with mine, maybe you will too.

20190404_144522.jpg

As a former Indonesian teacher and a parent, I can see that this is packed full of value. Worried the kids are missing out on all that learning at school? Worry no more, they will learn so much language, culture, geography, even a little natural science from completing this journal and take home amazing life experiences that they can never learn in the classroom. Best of all they will have had an Awesome Bali Adventure.

To purchase a copy of this fantastic journal head on over to Eliza’s website -

https://www.myawesomeadventure.com/

Connect with Eliza and check out more on this awesome idea -

https://www.facebook.com/MyAwesomeAdventure/

https://twitter.com/@kidstravelbook

https://www.instagram.com/awesomeadventurejournals/

https://www.pinterest.com.au/myawesomebaliad/

Looking for an awesome Bali Adventure to read with the kids while on holiday too?

Don’t forget to check out my own chapter book for kids aged 7-12, ‘Secrets Hidden Below.’ Join the Adamson family in an adventure of secrets, mystery and intrigue. There is pirate treasure to be found, but beware the guardian snake, lots of rotten-egg gas and a volcano spirit you don’t dare to anger.

secrets_hidden_below_covers.jpg

To learn more about ‘Secrets Hidden Below,’ you can find it right here on my website. Simply click on the link at the top of the page to my books.

If you arrive in Bali and still haven’t purchased a copy of these awesome adventures, don’t fret. ‘My Awesome Bali Adventure’ is available in all Periplus bookstores throughout Bali.

‘Secrets Hidden Below’ is available at Ganesha in Ubud, Biku in Seminyak and will soon be arriving on the shelves at Spellbound in Seminyak.

Ganesha Ubud.jpg
Ganesha.jpg

Are you planning a holiday in Bali? What are you looking forward to most of all? Please leave a comment below.

#Gr8t Blogs Winter Road Trip

Check the tyre pressure. Plug in your GPS. Dust off your road maps. We’re off on a family-friendly road trip across Australia, North America and Great Britain in this #Gr8tblogs Winter Road Trip 2018.

My writerly friends and I are sharing insiders touring tips for your wintertime fun. I’m excited to guide you around my part of the world, Canberra, Australia. Then you can pop about the globe for more inspiring road trip ideas from other great bloggers, who are linked at the bottom of this page. 

5 Things I love about Canberra.

1.       Canberra, unlike other Australian Capital cities, actually has four seasons. Our temperature this time of year ranges from -6 Celsius to 12 C. So, if you come here June through August, be prepared to rug up. Even though our Summer can rise as high as 40 C, you can never quite put away your winter woollies, as you never know when a cold front will blow through. It has even snowed in October, our Spring! I love that with the change of seasons comes the change of colour in the trees. The streets are lined with deciduous and evergreen trees making a beautiful display all year round. I love that kids can shuffle through fallen leaves of amber in Autumn and blow wispy petals of white in Spring. In Autumn we have the Hot Air Balloon Festival that rise high above the lake early on chilly mornings, and Enlighten that illuminates the buildings around the Parliamentary circle in the evenings. Both are ideal for those walks around the lake, while in Spring we have Floriade. A festival of tulips that blossom in arranged splendour to the delight of children and parents alike. Not so much happens in the depths of winter. Canberrans tend to either hibernate her head to the snow. Living in the hills just south of Canberra sometimes we are lucky to have a snowfall ourselves. It is one of my favourite times of the year.

 

The photo of Enlighten on Parliament House and the Balloon Festival are courtesy of the Crown Plaza Hotel Canberra  

The photo of Enlighten on Parliament House and the Balloon Festival are courtesy of the Crown Plaza Hotel Canberra  

Balloon festival.jpg
A Royalla Winter Wonderland, rare but beautiful when it does happen.

A Royalla Winter Wonderland, rare but beautiful when it does happen.

Royalla Winte Wonderland.jpg

2.       If you are a nature lover like me, there are plenty of walking and bike riding tracks in and around the city. You can do the bridge to bridge walk around Lake Burley-Griffin or settle for a shorter walk on the foreshore. If you are lucky you might even hear the bells of the Carillon on Aspen Island, chime. Weddings are often held on Aspen Island, including one of my sons and his wife. We watched in awe as she walked across the bridge while the bells rang out across the lake.

The National Carillon on Aspen Island in the middle of Lake Burley-Griffin, playing a little something you may recognise. 

A wonderful place for a winter walk on a sunny day.

A wonderful place for a winter walk on a sunny day.

The Carrillon is lit up this week for #Donatelife week

The Carrillon is lit up this week for #Donatelife week

1.       Nature reserves on the outskirts of the city provide ample opportunity for hiking and discovering native flora and fauna. Tidbinbilla and Namadgi National Parks are ideal spots for picnics, day walks and even a bit of sight-seeing historical sites like the remains of the old space tracking station at the end of Apollo Road. Honeysuckle Creek Tracking station played a major role in many of NASA’s space missions including the 1969 landing on the moon. If your kids are interested in space they will love the drive out to explore this place. There is a beautiful picnic area, walking tracks and plenty of kangaroos to see as an added attraction. After that you can also take them on a tour of Tidbinbilla Space Tracking Station where they still hold all the memorabilia from the space race days.

Remains of Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park.

Remains of Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park.

Orroral Space Tracking Station also in Namadgi National Park, both perfect for a picnic, walk and kangaroo spotting.

Orroral Space Tracking Station also in Namadgi National Park, both perfect for a picnic, walk and kangaroo spotting.

4.       I love science and here in the middle of Canberra we have Questacon, the greatest hands-on science museum for kids I have ever seen. There is much to see and do in here. Plenty of experiments for the kids to take part in, ask questions, learn and explore. In fact, Canberra has so many places to immerse yourself in learning, there are too many choices. My favourites after Questacon, would have to be the National Gallery of Australia which features outstanding touring exhibitions such as the Cartier Exhibition, Turner, Monet, and many other brilliant Impressionists, just to name a few, and the National War memorial. Be prepared to spend hours wondering around the war memorial, it covers every possible conflict Australia has been involved in.

Questacon The National Science and Technology Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley-Griffin.

Questacon The National Science and Technology Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley-Griffin.

Floriade, held every September, (Spring) in Commonwealth Park on the foreshores of Lake Burley-Griifin.

Floriade, held every September, (Spring) in Commonwealth Park on the foreshores of Lake Burley-Griifin.

5.       One of Canberra’s best attributes to me, is its location. We are only a couple of hours drive south to the Snowy Mountains, east to coastal beaches and north to Sydney. This means ample opportunity for country drives on long winding roads discovering old country towns, with quirky gift shops, creative art & craft shops, antique shops and amazing little cafes. One of our favourite little restaurants is only an hour drive east of Canberra towards the coast in the old majestic country town of Braidwood. TorPeas is quaint and quirky, all gluten free and so welcoming it is like eating in someone’s home. On reaching the coast, my favourite beach to take visitors from overseas is one that is possibly the best kept secret. Pebbly Beach is part of Murramarang National Park just a 20 minute drive north up the Princes Highway from Bateman’s Bay. It is a quiet little beach, very clean, plenty of soft white sand, waves gently roll in, I’ve never seen the waves big enough to surf there, so it is safe for kids to swim, but the best draw card of all, is the kangaroos you will find grazing on the grass. They are so used to people they will let you pat them. To pat a kangaroo in the wild is not common, most will hop away, they are usually wary of humans, these fellows appear quite tame. The kangaroos on our property will not let us anywhere near them. Naturally, I would still caution anyone, to move slowly not to frighten them and do not feed them.

TorPeas Restaurant in Braidwood.

TorPeas Restaurant in Braidwood.

Me patting a kangaroo at Pebbly Beach, South Coast NSW

Me patting a kangaroo at Pebbly Beach, South Coast NSW

Thanks for your company. Hope you enjoyed your tour around Canberra and the surrounding region. What are favourite road trip must sees in your corner of the world? Please share in the comments section below. We would love to virtual visit you too! If you blog and want to hop with us add a live hyperlink to your family-friendly road trip in the comment section We'll swing by and give you some blog love!

As I am the only blogger in the Southern hemisphere, the other road trips are all Summer road trips. Click over to the next fun and inspirational road trip destination of your choice at any #Gr8tblogs below.

Other Blogs

Carmela Dutra - California

Julie Gorges - California

K. Lamb - California

Rebecca Lindsey - West Virginia

Cat Michaels - North Carolina

Rosie Russell  - Kansas City, Missouri

Rhonda Paglia - Pennsylvania

A Fun and Educational Journey.

Join author Rosie Russell and Sherman the Shopping Cart on a fun and educational adventurous journey through a supermarket. In this delightful new picture book Ms Russell has incorporated a cute little story with bright, enticing illustrations and packed it full of educational learning opportunities.   https://www.amazon.com/Sherman-Shopping-Cart-Search-Find-ebook/dp/B076VZVW3G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509588811&sr=8-1&keywords=sherman+the+shopping+cart Kids enjoy books that encourage participation, this search and find story provides ample occasions on nearly every page  for children to be involved. Whether your little ones are just beginner readers or not yet reading, there is something for all to find. Early readers look for simple words while non-readers are able to find shapes and colours. This is a wonderful idea as it includes the whole family in the read aloud experience. The book is filled with language learning and vocabulary building, it is sure to be a winner in homes and pre-schools.

The story itself is brief but teaches children all the basics of each department category in the store as well as basic shopping etiquette, for example returning trolleys instead of leaving them in the car park. It allows for discussion topics on various food items, general household items and even pet food.

Provided in the final pages are extra learning activities for parents to extend their children's education opportunities by taking the search and find experience into the real world of a supermarket. Rosie includes games and suggestions again for both the early reader and non-reader. She also takes it one step further by incorporating maths activities along with the literacy based ideas.

All round this book has been thoroughly well thought through to provide as many learning experiences for young children as possible. While it is recommended for children 4-8 years, I believe Sherman could be used as a read aloud search and find from as young as 2 years as it is rich in colour and everyday vocabulary.

Sherman the Shopping Cart, a Search and Find deserves 5 out of 5 sparkling stars.

Rosie Russell has brought her many years experience as an Elementary school teacher into producing a series of educational books for young learners, "Engaging young readers one book at a time." You can learn more about Rosie and her books by visiting her website http://booksbyrose.com/index.html or meet her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BooksbyRose/

Imagination and Realism Combine for a Fabulous Learning Opportunity.

One of the great advantages of becoming a children's author, other than the obvious, which is kids reading my stories, is that I get the opportunity to meet other amazing authors from all around the world. I feel I am so lucky to be asked to read and review their stories and help spread the word about their wonderful children's books too. Last week I brought you 'Sweet T and the Turtle Team' by Cat Michaels. This week, I am pleased to tell you all about 'Doonsey Returns - The Great Rescue, Part 2' written and illustrated by Rhonda Paglia. It is summer in America and both authors have timed their new release perfectly for summer holiday fun reading at the beach. Down Under we can at least dream of lazy warm days at the beach and reading these stories with our children or classroom students to help keep those memories alive.

Doonsey Returns is perfect for the little ones in your family. We have all made sandcastles while at the beach, but have you made other sand sculptures? Rhonda Paglia takes this fun and creative idea to make "Beach Buddies" that are decorated with items that children find all along the beach. Seaweed, shells, even fishing bobbers (we call them fishing floats) are just a few decorations that enhance the buddies and help them come to life. While reading this cute and creative story children come to realise the importance of keeping the beach clean.

There are two basic problems to be solved. The first in finding the sand made beach buddies, the second in helping a very real, very different kind of beach buddy. I read this story with a neighbour's son who was delighted to find what arose out of the sand. No spoilers here! Suffice to say his face lit up when he realised what had been buried and then came crawling out of the sand. Keeping these little creatures safe is the second issue that needs solving. This idea brought a wonderful discussion of possibilities and a writing exercise during our tutoring session on what he would have done in the same situation. He was fascinated by the facts in the back pages, the glossary and the photos of sand sculptures.

The illustrations are simplistic but adorably cute for little ones. I thought the inclusion of realism along with the cartoon-like characters made for a fabulous way of relating the story with children's knowledge of beach settings. It opens up even more opportunities for discussion as children can relate their own memories of holidays at the beach. 

Another awesome story from author "Grammy Pags." Packed full of fun, imagination, creativity and learning. Teachers and parents couldn't ask for anything more. I recommend this book for children 3-8 years, as there is so much you can take away from it.

I give Doonsey and her Beach Buddies 5 out of 5 star(fish).

 Doonsey Returns, The Great Rescue, Part 2 is available on Amazon: Doonsey Returns

Summer Fun, Adventure and Learning.

Come dip your toes into the warm North Carolina coastal waters, smell the fresh salty sea air and taste a bit of southern hospitality in the new release by Cat Michaels, "Sweet T and The Turtle Team." It is summertime in the States and author Cat Michaels has timed her new beach book perfectly for lazy days in the sun. This is a great story for kids to read at the beach or to transport them there. Written for children ages 6 to 11 years this story is sure to engage both curious and reluctant readers.

Take a summer holiday to Gull Island and experience the wind in your hair and sand in your toes as you make friends with Tara, (Sweet T) her little sister, Jenna and Fuzzy, a blue stuffed rabbit that has a tendency to get lost. I'm sure most families can relate to this concept. Who hasn't lost a favourite stuffed animal at one time or another? It makes the characters so relatable as we read about their desperate search for Fuzzy.

Most kids on holidays seek to make new friends and T is no different. She is not happy to settle to play with her little sister (and Fuzzy if they ever find him), but why is the boy next door being so difficult? Cat Michaels was rather clever to bring into the story an issue that provides a learning opportunity for discussion of different needs. While the other children on the island are being bullies, it is Sweet T who finds a way to resolve the problem, demonstrating to the reader that there is always a way to help and make things right if you are willing to think about alternatives.

 

The story is also a delightful way to learn about Loggerhead turtles and their hatchlings. Included at the end of the book are quizzes, questions and even a few gorgeous photographs of these turtles, but first, you have to read the adventure and see if Sweet T and her turtle team can save them before the big storm threatens to devastate their survival.

The other unique learning tool Cat Michaels has included in the story is the way T and her older sister keep in contact throughout the summer. Like most kids these days they are allowed to text, (with supervision). Each interaction between the two is a short chapter that appears in the form of texting on a mobile device. I found this a rather clever way to move the story along, keep the pace interesting and link with today's younger generation. A glossary of texting terms is also included at the back just in case anyone needs to look them up.

Feel hungry? Aunt Mae, who Sweet T and her family are visiting, is always cooking up something yummy. I admit this Aussie girl has never tasted most of the treats Aunt Mae prepares, however Cat Michaels certainly makes them sound quite delightful. You'll have to read the story to see what I mean.

I recommend this short chapter summer adventure to all kids who love the beach, sea creatures and fuzzy stuffed animals. The story is not only entertaining, it provides ample opportunity to learn and discover through social interactions and environmental awareness.

I give this gorgeous new release 5 out of 5 star (fish)

 

 

Note: I received a PDF copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Cat Michaels :-

Author, blogger CAT MICHAELS, M.S., Ed., has more than two decades of experience helping students from kindergarten to college with learning disabilities and Asperger’s syndrome.

Her chapter books and Sweet T Tales series for beginning readers tell of every day life with a twist of magic and mischief.  Cat’s books encourage young and reluctant readers to use their imagination and solve kid-sized dilemmas as they enjoy reading.

Cat lives in North Carolina with her family, where she enjoys digital photography and graphic design, creates pocket gardens, works out as often as she can, and writes.  

Website/Blog  |  Facebook |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram

Find Cat’s books on Amazon and iTunes 

I'd like to take a moment to give a big thank you to Stacie Theis at BeachBoundBooks who put together the materials to add to this post and coordinated the blog tour for Sweet T and the Turtle Team. I’m so happy to join the fun and to present my Sweet T and the Turtle Team book reviewThis children’s book written by Cat Michaels and beautifully illustrated by Irene A. Johns was a pleasure to read and review. Both the story and the learning included in this book made it easy for this review to be written. The tour will run from July 12 – August 9, 2017.

 

Blog Tour Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a $75 Amazon gift card or $75 PayPal cash prize, winner’s choice Giveaway ends: August 9, 11:59 pm, 2017 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.

This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Cat Michaels and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to stacie@BeachBoundBooks.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Cute New Story for the Little Ones

I am a huge advocate for reading from birth. There is nothing like the value of words in stories and reading from as early as possible to develop not only an awesome reader but provide the opportunity for your little ones to grow a huge vocabulary and comprehension skills. Not to mention it is an awesome time to spend together bonding and creating memories. This week I was asked if I would read and review "Where Can I have the Party" just released by Deb Hockenberry. To my delight it is a perfect read aloud picture book for you and your little ones. It is an ideal story for engaging toddlers and preschoolers in basic concepts like empathy and co-operation as well as simple problem solving strategies.

Children of this young age group adore animals, and Deb Hockenberry has used this to her advantage to tell a wonderful little story that any child can relate to, through the eyes of animals in the jungle.

It is chimpanzees birthday and her lovely friend giraffe, wants to give her a party, but she is concerned about finding the best, most suitable place to hold it. After helpful suggestions from elephant, monkey and snake, giraffe finally makes a wise decision so that all the friends can join in all the fun of a great party.

It is a simple, sweet tale that is fun for all the family. The illustrations by Emily Dimov-Gottshall are adorable watercolours that lend themselves to the jungle party atmosphere.

I believe this young children's book would be a delight to add to any bed-time or kindergarten collection.

Read it tonight to your little monkey's. I give it 5 bananas, and so will they. I'm sure they will want to read it over and over again!

https://www.amazon.com/Where-Can-We-Have-Party/dp/1537077120/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490322336&sr=8-1&keywords=where+can+we+have+the+party

 

An Enchanting Underwater Adventure!

Kids love magic and sea creatures! Put them together and you have "The Magical Aquarium" by Cat Michaels.  An enchanting underwater magical sea adventure that is delightful, imaginative and inspiring.

I was lucky to win a copy of this wonderful ebook during a giveaway Cat ran during the launch of this latest short chapter book.

I don't want to give too much away, suffice to say, the characters are charming, the story telling is perfect for the intended age group and the illustrations are rather cute.

My first impression was this was a story that only girls would find interesting. So I decided to test my theory. I tutor a neighbour's  ten year old son after school and asked him to read the first chapter to gauge his opinion. After all, the best reviews always come direct from a child. He enjoyed that first chapter but no surprise, agreed he thought it was more suitable for the girls in his class, so I didn't press him to read further. The following week when given the choice to go back to "Zac Power, Frozen Fear" by H. I. Larry or continue with the "Magical Aquarium," to my surprise he chose .....drum roll please...... (you guessed it!) "The Magical Aquarium!" A second chapter in, we wrote a couple of sentences about the story so far, then he asked if he could download it himself so that he could finish it this week. He didn't want to wait until I returned next week with my tablet to be able to continue reading. You can't get a better reaction than that! I was very impressed. Cat's story had drawn my reader into her imaginative world and piqued his curiosity.

My theory fell flat. This is a book for all kids. They will love meeting the sea creatures in it. Some are a bit quirky, there's a vegetarian shark and a sea turtle with an itchy nose that needs to be scratched. Kids learn all about touch tanks where they can have the hands-on experience of feeling unusual creatures and walk through underwater tunnels to view all kinds of amazing underwater friends. Of course there is something quite magical that happens while the children visit this particular aquarium, but you are going to have to read the story to find out. No spoilers here!

You can tell Cat Michaels is a former school teacher like myself, at the end of the book she has included  a glossary of what she terms "Challenge Words" for young readers to check their understanding of meaning. Included with these are gorgeous photographs to further visually demonstrate comprehension. This is a perfect conclusion to a magical underwater adventure.

My only concern is that Cat has a stingray in the touch tank. I know they are generally considered docile animals and will only attack when frightened, mainly when stepped on in shallow waters when they are skimming through sand unseen. However, I think as an Australian, seeing them lurking off our shores quite frequently, I am a little more wary. The "Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin taught us an invaluable lesson about how dangerous a stingray can actually be if we are not careful. If you read this enchanting book with your children, maybe it is worthwhile having the discussion, a touch tank where children can feel animals under supervision is one thing, but some things are best left alone when discovered in their natural environment.

That being said, I still believe this book is worthy of 5 star(fish) for it's imagination, creativity and environmental awareness. A great way to start a discussion with the kids at home or in your classroom about looking after the world's oceans.

https://www.amazon.com/Magical-Aquarium-Cat-Michaels-ebook/dp/B01MY98FX2

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-magical-aquarium/id1173085945?ls=1&mt=11

 

My Favourite Books for all ages.

February has been all about spreading the love of books. Did you enter our Giveaway? A HUGE thank you to everyone that did. The response was amazing!

Congratulations Mary and Stephanie who both won a copy of Emma the Eager Emu. I hope she has arrived safely on your doorstep.

I thought I would continue the love of books for one last blog, (even though most of my posts are about books in one way or another).

Below are my all time favourite books that I have loved to read and share. They are all well worth considering adding to your collection if you don't already own them.

Picture Books

I can't go past the "Diary of a Wombat" series by Jackie French. I know I've said it many times before but these are simply adorable and can be read to all ages, from birth to adults! I have used them in the classroom from Kindergarten to year 6. Everyone loves them!  Packed full of fun, mischief and a massive dose of cuteness!

Diary of a Wombat

Baby Wombat's Week

Christmas Wombat

The Secret World of Wombats

Chapter Books for Middle Grade and Tweens.

Harry Potter. What can I say, I am a huge fan! J.K. Rowling brought reading  (and magic) back to a whole new generation when she released these. They will always be popular, in the classroom as well as on my shelf at home. I loved reading these aloud each night as my boys and I snuggled in bed together. They were so keen to hear the next absorbing chapter (or three).

The Philosopher's Stone   

The Chamber of Secrets

The Prisoner of Azkaban

The Goblet of Fire

The Order of the Phoenex

The Half-Blood Prince

The Deathly Hallows

Adult Books

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. It took a couple of years to read through this marvelous series. Gotta love a Highlander in a kilt! Add history and romance and you have an unputdownable series. When I finished the final book it was like saying goodbye to two well known friends. I missed Jamie and Claire Fraser. It took me sometime to feel I could enjoy another series as much.

Outlander     

Dragonfly in Amber

Voyager

Drums of Autumn

The Fiery Cross

A Breath of Snow and Ashes

An Echo in the Bone

Written in my Own Hearts Blood

Then I stumbled across a local Australian Author, Liane Moriarty. Her novels are contemporary mysteries set in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Since I grew up Sydney, I  really enjoyed reading these as the scenes are very familiar. They depict everyday suburban life with a twist. My favourite was Big Little Lies, (I couldn't predict the ending it was a real wow moment for me!) I wrote a review on it, if you are interested the link is here -

Great characters amazing plot fabulous setting

By the way it is now being shown as a mini series on Foxtel. My only disappointment is they made it in California not Sydney, however having seen the first episode, I'd say, so far, so good.

Liane has also written children's books however they are still on my "to read" list.

The Last Anniversary    

What Alice Forgot

The Hypnotist's Love Story

The Husband's Secret

Three Wishes

Big Little Lies

Truely Madly Guilty

Before I go, one last recommendation, if you like a story with environmental issues along with adventure and romance in a unique Australian setting Annie Seaton has it all in her recent series with -

Kakadu Sunset      

Daintree

My review for Kakadu Sunset is here -

Hold onto your akubra and take a wild ride around the top end

Some books mentioned are missing from my photos, I have leant them to friends and family.

I could of course, mention many others, but then we would be here for a very long time. I enjoy reading many genres including autobiographies.

Anh Do's "The Happiest Refugee" was particularly moving, insightful and funny. He takes you on a  memorable journey from war torn Vietnam, escaping in a leaking boat to be raised in the Western suburbs of Sydney and finally becoming a successful comedian. I have now just started "Mao's Last Dancer" by Li Cunxin. It is a memoir I have wanted to read for a long time. My husband and I saw one of his productions of The Nutcracker over Christmas by the Queensland Ballet Company. Li was sitting only a few seats in front of us. The ballet was superb! I was even more determined then to read his life story.

What are you reading at the moment? What would be on your all time favourite list of suggestions? I am always looking for more books to read and welcome any ideas.

Three Last Minute Children's Book Ideas for Christmas

It's that time of year again. Christmas is almost here! I've trimmed the tree and hung the lights, but still have a few Christmas gifts to gather.

If you are anything like me, you had every intention of being organised this year, just this once! Would have been nice, but it never seems to happen. December rolls around too quickly and Christmas day is sneaking up so fast!

So here are my suggestions for that last minute gift to grab for the kids. Based on some fantastic children's books I have reviewed this year, here are three of my favourites you can download or purchase from Amazon and still have them in time to add to your little ones Christmas stocking.

After all, by giving the gift of reading you are giving a gift that can be opened over and over again. Seems like a winner to me!

My three picks (in no particular order) are :-

Three Little Gnomes and the One Bite Mystery by Rhonda "Grammy Pags" Paglia 

With Christmas being in the middle of the summer holidays here in Australia, this story is a great way to motivate the kids to get outside and start a vegetable patch. I adored this story and the wonderful illustrations that supported it.

Format: Kindle Edition

Loved this little gnome tale! I absolutely adored "Three Little Gnomes and the One Bite Mystery." The illustrations were simply charming and Nibbles McGibbles was a fabulous character! I could easily see kids really enjoying this story. It helps develop imagination while encouraging healthy eating habits without explicit instruction. Children are also encouraged to share in a meaningful manner. It could be a useful springboard for a school vegetable garden or one at home so that children can learn first hand how to grow and nurture their own food. They also learn the value of patience while waiting for the vegetables to grow and ripen, and that their patience and caring pays off in the end.The extras at the end were fantastic. I always feel an opportunity to learn is so valuable. Rhonda Paglia adds information in a light and entertaining manner that kids are sure to enjoy
https://www.amazon.com/Three-Little-Gnomes-One-Bite-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01HOWCOZA
One Hot Mess by Jeanne E Rogers 
Along with rather cute caricatures of our native fauna, One Hot Mess reminds us all of the importance of looking after our environment. There has been an ad campaign here lately reminding everyone not to "be a tosser" but to place your rubbish in a bin. This short tale demonstrates just how important that message is for people and animals alike. It is a wonderful read aloud story for the whole family.

Format: Paperback

What a compelling read for children and the adults who read to and/or with them! We learn that our stewardship of the earth begins with how we care for our own space in order to keep our environment free of contamination and pollution. The text flows with lively dialogue and descriptive passages. The illustrations are eye-catching and colorful. In keeping with the educational value of this text, a glossary at the end of the book presents the Australian flora and fauna specific to this story. The author's photographs are vivid examples of the characters and their outback homeland. This clever, non-preachy fable that teaches the precious lesson of caring for our environment makes a perfect gift for a very lucky child. I think I'll read it once more before I gift-wrap it for my granddaughter!
https://www.amazon.com/One-Hot-Mess-Environmental-Australian-ebook/dp/B01IDI4EYS/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481860987&sr=1-6&keywords=one+hot+mess
Amazing Matilda -A Monarch's Tale by Bette A Stevens 
This award winning picture book presents the life cycle of a butterfly. From the tiniest of eggs to crawling out of a cocoon and becoming a beautiful butterfly. It also teaches the important lesson of persistence and patience, to never give up and follow your dreams. Sound familiar? Emma the Eager Emu teaches a similar significant lesson. It's no wonder I love this book so much.

Format: Paperback

Amazing Matilda, A Monarch's Tale, is a beautiful tale about a monarch butterfly during the stages of her metamorphosis. Catepillar is eager to grow up and fly but the wise words from other animal friends encourages her to be patient, one day it will come. Not knowing what her fate will be, she listens to her friends and hears of their youthful life trials and the lessons they have learned. As time passes her instincts take over and soon she begins to physically change.

Children of all ages will be able to relate to monarchs plight in some way. The tale will also inspire readers to not only follow their dreams, but to encourage others to do the same. Ones dreams are never too big, but with the support of friends and family, as well as with patience and determination, anyone can reach their goal. Ths sky is the limit.

This story is a true gem and one that will inspire children for years to come.

https://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Matilda-Childrens-Literature-Butterfly-ebook/dp/B00AU9ZISA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481861751&sr=1-1&keywords=Amazing+matilda
A few extras ;- My own books are always available here on my website. If you purchase directly from me I can personally sign any copies before posting. They are also available on Amazon.

Emma the Eager Emu

By Erika on January 18, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

This story with colorful, bright illustrations delivers a very important message to children the fun way. Emma, the emu is very eager to fit in and be like other birds, but she can't fly like others. She believes that it's her fault and it makes her very sad until Rosie encourages her to run instead of trying to fly. Emma discovers that running, which she can do better than others, gives her the sensation of flying and it makes her happy. The story prompts children to learn to recognize their limitations as well as their abilities and potentials. Just because we can't do something, it doesn't mean we can't do something else well.

Frazzled Freya

Format: Kindle Edition

Poor Freya, the frill-necked lizard, is so frazzled by the heat, the spooky shadows, and the terrifying (but imaginary) monsters, that she’s too scared to play with her friends. Children’s author, Sandra Bennett has tucked a lot of little lessons into this delightful rhyming story. Illustrator, Dianna Budd has done an outstanding job with her color palette choices. The reds, yellows, oranges, and browns help the reader get a sense of the hot, dry, dusty Australian outback that Freya is feeling. In addition to experiencing the Australian environment, kids meet some of the creatures that live in the outback, and they learn along with Freya, that sometimes, stepping out of your “comfort zone,” will help you overcome fears. Ms. Bennett, who is from Australia, has added extra enrichment pages at the end of the book. Kids will learn more facts about each of the REAL creatures found among the pages of this charming book. I learned a lot too!!

Gingerbread Aliens

Format: Kindle Edition

We gave a hard copy of this delightful book to our 5 year old niece who loved it. I don't know what it is about snot and exploding slime that intrigues little people so, but Sandra Bennett has managed to capture the secret to bring this delightful story to life from a child's point of view. We (and our niece) are eagerly awaiting the sequel. Recommended reading.
Aliens Shenanigans
I have never released this one on Amazon as yet, perhaps it should be on my "to do" list for 2017. Consequently I don't have any reviews. I can say however, that those children that loved the first in the series, loved this one too! So much so, because of their humour and entertaining manner of delivering kitchen and classroom science to kids, they are both now available at Questacon, Ausrtralia's National Science and Technology Museum.
 My best wishes to everyone for a wonderful Christmas. I hope you are able to spend the season with your loved ones. Don't forget to Read a aloud a good children's book (picture, early reader or middle grade) with the family. It will give you all great pleasure and precious memories to share.