Category Archives: Children’s Books

My Favorite Pet: Hamsters by Victoria Marcos

My Favorite Pet Hamsters by Victoria Marcos

In My Favorite Pet: Hamsters, students will learn about having hamsters as pets. Each My Favorite Pet book includes information on where pets live, how they play, and what they eat.

Sample Text:
Hamsters’ teeth never stop growing. They chew on things all day so their teeth don’t grow too long.
Hamsters can carry food in their cheeks and eat it later.

My Favorite Pet: Hamsters by Victoria Marcos

Growing up, I’d read books and watch shows and movies where American kids had pet hamsters, and they were like mythical creatures to me. Here in Australia, hamsters (and other similar animals) have been made illegal in order to protect our unique wildlife (we do live on the world’s biggest island!).

The My Favorite Pet series is clearly for US children – apart from anything else the books are in American English with American spelling.

That said, I think this is a fun series for very young readers, and the layout is interesting, with questions throughout for readers to discuss with adults. I can see these books being good for families thinking about getting a pet.

Naturally, this would work much better as a paperback than the greyish pages I saw on my Kindle screen.


Review copy from NetGalley.


The Tribe: the Birth of the Mall Rats by Harry Duffin

The Tribe the Birth of the Mall Rats by Harry Duffin

The world began without the human race. Now, after a mysterious pandemic decimates the entire adult population, it looks as if it will end exactly the same way. Unless the young survivors – who band together in warring Tribes – overcome the power struggles, dangers and unexpected challenges in a lawless dystopian society to unite and build a new world from the ashes of the old. The Birth of The Mall Rats is the first story in a compelling series of novelisations of the global cult television phenomenon, The Tribe. Creating a new world in their own image – whatever that image might be…

The Tribe: the Birth of the Mall Rats by Harry Duffin

In the late 1990s and early 2000s a New Zealand-made show about a world where the adults were wiped out by a virus became a cult hit. Running for five seasons (before the producers thought the actors were getting too old for their roles and cancelled it), The Tribe centred on the Mall Rats living in a previously abandoned shopping mall in the middle of an abandoned city, and featured other tribes of kids and teens trying to survive in this new world.

Since the show’s cancellation the cult following has continued, including a spinoff show about younger kids, soundtracks, DVDs – and books.

The Tribe: the Birth of the Mall Rats is not the best introduction to this phenomenon. It is a for-fans-only type of book, and is more or less the first season of the show in written form. The problem with this is that the book is basically the scenes from the television on the page, which means they’re all too short (there are 181 chapters!).

The show had large ensemble cast (with some standouts – go Amber and Bray!), which means we’re jumping around a lot. It works on the screen, and the author has tried his best to make it work here, but it really is a book for people who already know these characters.

There’s another book – The Tribe: A New Dawn – which reads more like a proper novel. A New Dawn has taken the scripts and storylines for the planned but never made sixth season and turns them into something that works on the page.

For all its drama, crazy costumes, and occasionally weird acting, The Tribe was an addictive post-apocalyptic-type soap opera that was loved by at least one generation.

New Release: Melody’s Unicorn by Richard Swan

Melody's Unicorn A Story of Here and There by Richard Swan

A fantasy book with an interesting premise is coming out now:

Melody’s Unicorn: A Story of Here and There by Richard Swan

I love the London theme! Here is the blurb:

Melody is on a quest to discover her real identity and purpose when she encounters a dryad on Ealing Common! After hearing the dryad’s prophecy, Melody’s day becomes even stranger when she spots a unicorn in Oxford Street, and follows it into the mysterious Otherworld. Returning to the human world, further adventures finally lead Melody to Tower Bridge and a confrontation with a dragon… Melody’s Unicorn is the first volume in a new children’s fantasy trilogy which continues with Melody’s Dragon and Melody’s World.

This Is a Taco! by Andrew Cangelose and Josh Shipley

This is a squirrel . . . “Hey, I may be a squirrel, but my name is Taco! And I don’t eat nuts and tree bark—blech—I prefer tacos!” The natural predator of squirrels is . . . “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Who is writing this book? I do not like where this is going.” This hilarious send-up of a children’s nature primer teaches kids that the most important story is the one you write yourself.

This Is a Taco! by Andrew Cangelose and Josh Shipley

I’m always drawn to the ridiculous, and this sort of book can be just as entertaining for adult readers as for younger readers. This Is a Taco! is a fun book about making your own story.


Review copy from NetGalley.

Discover Dogs (Level 2 Reader) by Amanda Trane

Discover Dogs (Level 2 Reader) by Amanda Trane

Discover Dogs in this Beginning Reader

Do you like dogs? There are lots of different dog breeds and each dog has different things to know about it. Beginning readers will learn all about dogs in this short, leveled reader.

Here is an example of the text level:
The world is full of dogs. Some dogs make great pets. This pug wants to go on a walk.

Discover Reading series books from Xist Publishing are created with digital and print reading in mind. Each page features a photograph with descriptive text leveled for early readers.


Discover Dogs (Level 2 Reader) by Amanda Trane

I must admit: I downloaded this review book to look at pictures of dogs!

This is a reader for younger kids, helping with vocabulary.

Two points:

* The book is written in American English. For example, a handbag is referred to as a “purse” (a purse means something different to the rest of us). Also, the troublesome “off of” makes an appearance.

* I would have liked a reference to a guide dog, as other working dogs are mentioned.

A quick read.


Review copy from NetGalley.

Read off your library debt?

Want to read off your debt for late fees at the library? If you’re under twenty-one and in Los Angeles, you’re in luck. For one hour of reading you can eliminate $5 of fees.

Libraries in Los Angeles are letting kids read off their debt.

R.I.P. Barbara Bush

Barbara_Bush_portrait First Lady Barabara Bush United States of America 8 January 1989


No matter what your politics are (and I’m not even American!), every reader should hold a level of respect for former US First Lady Barbara Bush, who died this week.

As First Lady, Bush chose literacy as her cause, and spent the rest of her life working hard for readers of all ages, particularly children. An author herself, she raised well over one hundred million dollars for her organisation. How things have changed in the White House now.

The Cat Who Ate Christmas by Lil Chase and Thomas Docherty (Illustrations)

The Cat Who Ate Christmas by Lil Chase and Thomas Docherty (Illustrations)

The Cat Who Ate Christmas by Lil Chase and Thomas Docherty (Illustrations)

A funny, heart-warming Christmas story about one little kitten and a very big turkey!

It’s Christmas, and everyone in the Hudson family is very excited – including their kitten. First he knocks the Christmas tree over, then he shreds the presents, and finally he eats the entire Christmas turkey! Mum gets cross, and the kitten runs away. But when he doesn’t come back, the Hudson family have to venture out on Christmas Day to find their naughty kitten. Can they have a merry Christmas after all?

This gorgeous book is illustrated in two-colour throughout, with a special section at the back for Christmas facts, jokes, craft activities and recipes.

The Cat Who Ate Christmas by Lil Chase and Thomas Docherty (Illustrations)

This is a sweet little book about a family at Christmas – and the kitten who destroys everything. It is very much a book for the festive season.


The Cat Who Ate Christmas comes with illustrations (highlighting an interracial family without ever feeling the pressure to make a fuss about it), as well as recipes, activities and jokes related to the story.


It is a little longer than I expected it to be, which means the youngest readers might need some parental assistance.


I was confused for a while where the story was set (my copy was in American English). There was a reference to time zones that made *no* sense if the setting was America. It turns out the author is from London, making this a British-set book with American language!


One thought: this family needs to read up on cats! They do everything wrong and neither train nor restrict the kitten from all the things he does wrong. I know it’s just a book, but what terrible pet owners!


However, it’s a solid entry for younger readers.


Review copy from NetGalley.

Irish Dance Books

World Irish Dancing Championship 2018


The 2018 World Irish Dancing Championships – held in Glasgow this year – are drawing to an end this week.

Irish dance became popular around the world in the mid-1990s, with Riverdance, and thousands of people compete at Worlds every year (and they are just the dancers who qualified and could afford to go!).

You can look at some pictures HERE. It’s a very shiny discipline these days, and this year there’s a fashion for towering wigs, but if you watch them dance (that is a video from a competition in America), you can appreciate the hard work that goes into it.

There are very few fiction books about Irish dance, compared to – say – ballet. However, you can find some HERE.

How Do Cats Do That?: Discover How Cats Do The Amazing Things They Do by Peter Scottsdale

How Do Cats Do That Discover How Cats Do The Amazing Things They Do by Peter Scottsdale

How Do Cats Do That?: Discover How Cats Do The Amazing Things They Do by Peter Scottsdale

This is a good, fast read that explains everything you would want to know about a cat’s behaviour. The language is easy enough for younger readers, but not so simple that it won’t appeal to adults.

Recommended for people who have or who are thinking of getting a new cat.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.