I don't have anything particular to say regarding this particular book about a particular cow going for a particular walk on a particular Saturday mor...moreI don't have anything particular to say regarding this particular book about a particular cow going for a particular walk on a particular Saturday morning.(less)
A fascinating history of skiing in the Brindabella Ranges near Canberra, Australia - the focus is on the peak of skiing activities between the 1930s a...moreA fascinating history of skiing in the Brindabella Ranges near Canberra, Australia - the focus is on the peak of skiing activities between the 1930s and 1960s. Since the 1960s Canberra-based skiiers have increasingly moved to the more reliable snow and longer season of the Snowy Mountains.
Primarily it is a history of the Canberra Alpine Club, with some coverage of the Royal Military College ski club.
I was constantly thinking through this book "how times have changed": * The very-small-town atmosphere of Canberra in the 1920s and 30s (population 15,000 - now its 350,000) * Sitting on the back of a truck (on an open tray) up a slippery narrow mountain road * Clearing trees from what would be a ski run (in what is now a National Park) - with dynamite! * the complete lack of distinction between downhill and cross-country skiing
The black and white illustrations seem stark for what should be a lovely tale of friendship/love. The start of the book made me think of drunken 'scor...moreThe black and white illustrations seem stark for what should be a lovely tale of friendship/love. The start of the book made me think of drunken 'score' - "The came from different worlds, but they like each other's looks. In the park by the lake they got to know each other." - and it was a thought I just couldn't shake through the rest of the book.
I like the use of out-of-line text - graphically illustrating within the text the bubbles in the ocean, and the cat floating...
After reading it I just can't get Paula Abdul's Opposites Attract out of my head, which I'm sure isn't what the authors were aiming for!(less)
Of course now this book is 18 years old some of the information is out of date, here's some info that I know... * Ginninderra Falls is no longer open to the public. * The Woodlands Walk on Black Mountain still exists, however some of the directional signs are missing - the information signs are mostly still there and are very informative. Also the works to upgrade Caswell Drive have modified the access/carparking arrangements. * Similarly the access the the Cork Oak Plantation has been blocked by the construction works to create the Canberra International Arboretum and Gardens - access is now best from the "Black Mountain Reserve" carpark accessed off William Hovell Drive heading towards the city. * The pine forests around Blue Range Camp were all destroyed in the 2003 bushfires - completely changing the atmosphere around the camp. Similarly the ski chalet on Mt Franklin was destroyed - only to be replaced by a beautifully architectually designed shelter, that doesn't actually provide any shelter at all! * Tidbinbilla was also largely destroyed by the fires - significant work has been conducted since to rehabilitate the area - check with the Tidbinbilla vistor's centre on the status of the walk you want to do.(less)
This book is over 20 years old now - so it is it is useful more as a book of suggested walks than a turn-by-turn guide. Also the maps in this book are...moreThis book is over 20 years old now - so it is it is useful more as a book of suggested walks than a turn-by-turn guide. Also the maps in this book are completely shocking - so you will definately need a proper topographic map, even on the shorter walks.
Large numbers of these walks were affected by the 2003 fires, but most if not all are now accessable again.(less)
Some great suggestions for daywalks in and around Canberra. As the title suggests these are a good length for having a baby on your back, or child in...moreSome great suggestions for daywalks in and around Canberra. As the title suggests these are a good length for having a baby on your back, or child in tow.
The pick of the bunch is probably Gibraltar Falls, while I found the Googong Dam Shoreline walk to be pretty boring - the dam levels are currently so low that the walk is now a long way from the shore, and the return journey is boring!
A point to note is that Ginninderra Falls are no longer open to the public.(less)
This is a local "history", with limited appeal to those outside Canberra.
Historians work from a distance - providing as objective view of events with...moreThis is a local "history", with limited appeal to those outside Canberra.
Historians work from a distance - providing as objective view of events with a perspective allowed by the passing of time.
Hancock is a bit-part character in this story - being one of 14 "concerned citizens" who challenged the construction of Black Mountain Tower in court. Thus this story is not told by an objective observer. This book was published prior to any real outcome - the tower was under construction, however the High Court had yet to hear an appeal regarding the case. Thus the passage of time did not provide perspective on events. Thus this is not a "history", although W.K. Hancock claims to be a historian.
To me Black Mountain Tower has always been there - we still always have a competition to see who will see it first driving into Canberra (to the point where my wife and I know the exact corner or hill crest!). Thus the idea that it was controversial when planned and constructed never really occured to me. Reading Graeme Barrow's books about walking around Canberra first introduced me to the vitriol some held towards the tower, and The Monster That Ate Canberra illustrated what existed there before. This struck me as an element of Canberra history I should learn more about - and thus I found this book.
Not only does it suffer from not having a satisfactory conclusion, and having a completely one-eyed writer - this book is simply boring. The writer is a historian, not a lawyer - yet most of the book is spent labouring through our narrator's layman understanding of the intricate legal arguments of both sides. Yawn! From my layman's understanding of the author's layman's understanding it seems at the conclusion of the book their only hope lay in the fact that the 1,000,000 tourists a year driving up Black Mountain Drive might prevent access to those hoping for a nice walk through nature - thus creating a "public nuisance". Well 30 years after construction they are still managing only 400,000 visitors - and I've never seen a proper traffic jam that blocks access anywhere in Canberra - let alone on this minor back road. It seems ironic that the anti-development side was relying on a road slashed through a nature park to save their case!
At the end of the day the simple clean lines of Black Mountain Tower are eminently preferrable to the alternative proposed by Hancock - a tower of the same height as Black Mountain Tower, on the same site - but a guyed steel lattice tower, one of the ugliest and utilitarian constructions ever devised!(less)
Dr. Seuss uses his pen name Theo Le Sieg for this book. This allowed him to use a different illustrator Art Cumings (who appears to have given the cop...moreDr. Seuss uses his pen name Theo Le Sieg for this book. This allowed him to use a different illustrator Art Cumings (who appears to have given the copyright to Random House publishers - I'm thinking Art Cumings is a pseudonym for an in-house illustrator?). Anyway I'm not a fan of the illustrations as a whole, the only real highlights are the suess-ian influenced complex machines! Seuss also moves away from his traditional anapestic tetrameter, to a much simplier (and easier to write) poetic form.
I just couldn't get into the rhythm of this book, the illustrations didn't appeal and the story was only so-so. Overall a bit of a disapointment.(less)
This story is currently way beyond my son's capabilities - but I'm looking forward to when he'll really enjoy it.
This would be a great group read-alou...moreThis story is currently way beyond my son's capabilities - but I'm looking forward to when he'll really enjoy it.
This would be a great group read-aloud book. Allan Ahlberg has done a great job at providing a suspenseful story (how is he going to work a hippopotamus into the story?). Jessica Ahlberg does a great job in illustrating - I particularly like the chase scene map.(less)
Vet waiting rooms appear to be dangerous places! Fortunately our wonderful vet never makes us wait. I usually give Hairy Maclary books 4 stars - this b...moreVet waiting rooms appear to be dangerous places! Fortunately our wonderful vet never makes us wait. I usually give Hairy Maclary books 4 stars - this book was a little off the normal quality. I just felt the story was a little predictable, and rhythm wasn't up to the usual standard. (less)
Hairy Maclary returns - this time making a ruckus at a cat show. Being a cat person I like that the cats aren't the "bad guys" in this book (unlike man...moreHairy Maclary returns - this time making a ruckus at a cat show. Being a cat person I like that the cats aren't the "bad guys" in this book (unlike many other Hairy Maclary books).(less)
John Marsden and Matt Ottley have produced a powerful and emotive story that will leave you in tears. Thought that you, sitting in your safe and comfo...moreJohn Marsden and Matt Ottley have produced a powerful and emotive story that will leave you in tears. Thought that you, sitting in your safe and comfortable Western country, could never become a refugee... think again...
While this book may be in the children's picture book section you'd have to be mad to give this to anyone aged under ten.
The rhyme and rhythm are just perfect, with the right amount of repetition. X-man is right in the Peek-A-Boo phase now and loves gripping the hole and turning the page (maybe the board book version would have been a better idea!).
As he grows up the details of the illustrations will become more important - so hopefully it can end up being a whole-family-book. With the youngest enjoying the Peek-A-Boo, X-man enjoying the detailed illustrations, and the parents enjoying the World War II British setting and speculating on the fate of the father...
There are two versions of this book the British (Peepo!) and the American (Peek-a-Boo!). Here in Australia the publishers believe we are British - meaning Peepo, pushchairs and cots. I use the terms Peek-a-Boo, stroller and cot - so I suppose that's 1/2 American, 1/2 British - highlighting our linguistic heritage!
I found the illustration on the back of the book bittersweet. The picture is a portrait of the Ahlberg family circa 1981 - with Mum (Janet), Dad (Allan) and a baby Jessica. Janet sadly passed away in 1994, leaving Allan without his long-time collaborator. Now Jessica Ahlberg, the baby, has become a children's book illustrator just like her Mum - and has even collaborated with her dad on a number of book (Half a Pig and The Boy, the Wolf, the Sheep and the Lettuce).(less)
It's just way too weird for me... Maybe X-man will be able to explain it too me when he can talk!
Children have fantastic imaginations, and they'll nee...moreIt's just way too weird for me... Maybe X-man will be able to explain it too me when he can talk!
Children have fantastic imaginations, and they'll need them to understand this book.
Why are the three bakers clones - and why do they look like Hardy (from Laurel and Hardy)? How can you confuse milk with a small child? Why is the oven called a "Mickey Oven" if they didn't mean to bake him? Who eats cake for breakfast? Well, I suppose children in their dreams!
I'm also reading Dr. Seuss Goes to War The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel. His treatment of the Japanese prior and during World War II really shocked me, given his political cartoons were published in a left-leaning PM newspaper - and the man himself even at the time was pointing out the human rights of "People of Colour" and Jews. This book forms his mea culpa - you'll note the dedication to "My Great Friend, Mitsugi Nakamura of Kyoto, Japan".(less)
Neil Gaiman's text was hard to follow, and would be completely inexplicable without the accompanying illustrations. I a...moreI love the idea of this book...
Neil Gaiman's text was hard to follow, and would be completely inexplicable without the accompanying illustrations. I also found some of the rhymes a little too smart - and the on-purpose mistake a little too convenient.
The illustrations on the other hand were ghoulishly interesting. Gris Grimly has done a fantastic job at creating a setting and doing most of the heavy-lifting in carrying the plot. These same illustrations probably put this book outside the realm of alphabet-learning children (certainly nightmare-inducing).
The small chair Grandpa gives Sam for his birthday allows him to do numerous everyday tasks (getting d...moreA story about the joys of gaining independence.
The small chair Grandpa gives Sam for his birthday allows him to do numerous everyday tasks (getting dressed, turning the lights on, etc) without calling for help. I expect that many parents would distinctly remember a similar feeling after getting their driving licence!
The one thing I don't get is why did Grandpa send the chair via the post when he was going to turn up later that day for the birthday party?(less)
This is the first Lynley Dodd I've read that isn't part of the Hairy Maclary series. The illustrations in...moreThere are hedgehogs hibernating everywhere!
This is the first Lynley Dodd I've read that isn't part of the Hairy Maclary series. The illustrations in this book are similar to those of the series. The text however has lost much of the rhyming that characterised the series - it has been replaced by a more narrative-driven text.
I like counting books that are not in-your-face, counting is merely part of the story.
I suppose I find cute hedgehogs hibernating in the garden amusing because I don't have to put up with them - particularly because they are an introduced pest in Lynley Dodd's New Zealand. (less)
Parents - don't do it to yourself, avoid this book if at all possible.
Mindnumbingly boring text - the same question and answer 12 times over.
The illu...moreParents - don't do it to yourself, avoid this book if at all possible.
Mindnumbingly boring text - the same question and answer 12 times over.
The illustrations are typical Eric Carle - I'm not a fan of his illustrative style, but many other people love it.
The final page gives a list of the names of babies, parents and groups of the animals featured in the book. I remember loving these factoids when I was a child, but who can be bothered learning all the terms of venery when your an adult (the only exception being if they are particularly amusing, and even then, lets face it, they aren't a particularly good joke). If you read this you will forever have to call a female kangaroo a "flyer" in front of your children... Who uses these terms? Noone!
Your child, if given the opportunity, will invariably love it - requesting it be read every night before bed. Oh, the humanity!(less)
Terry Denton may have read Where the Wild Things Are one too many times before creating the cat-suit for Leonie - the similarity is remarkable. (you can stop thinking about Michelle Pfeiffer in 1992's Batman Returns - Catwoman is a whole 'nother character.)
I love the little paw calling card Leonie leaves at each crime scene - a lovely illustrative touch.
A really fun book, reminiscent of the Robin Hood stories.
The hype surrounding this book is huge, so it would have been difficult for it to live up to expectations.
The Arrival did a spectacular job at puttin...moreThe hype surrounding this book is huge, so it would have been difficult for it to live up to expectations.
The Arrival did a spectacular job at putting a mirror up to the everyday and showing that much of it would be incomprehensible without our background understanding of culture and language.
In The ArrivalShaun Tan was completely reliant on the illustrations to maintain the narrative. In Tales Tan has added text into the mix. Text allows Tan to develop more complex and abstract narratives. The challenge that comes with text is that it is an additional artform to master - followed by the additonal challenge of matching the text with the illustrations. I don't feel that Tan's mastery of writing matches his skillful illustration, and I found this mis-match in skills distracting.
I was also really disappointed with the formatting and layout of the book. The majority of the book uses the pre-1930's picturebook fomats of a block of text (with a pretty boring font) matched with an illustration. There was little effort to merge the text with the illustrations (as most modern picture books do), or even to use an interesting font! The major exception to this are two stories - Distant Rain and the Amnesia Machine, along with the contents and acknowlegement pages. Distant Rain was the stand-out story for me - an interesting (bizarre) idea, a layout that attracts and retains attention, with a smattering of Tan's fantastic illustrations.
Overall I didn't finish this book and have a long hard think about suburban life, in the same way I did about immigration following The Arrival. (less)
**spoiler alert** This book is about a quest by Louis Pasteur (of pasteurization fame) to win a lucrative prize finding an effective biological contro...more**spoiler alert** This book is about a quest by Louis Pasteur (of pasteurization fame) to win a lucrative prize finding an effective biological control to Australia's rabbit plague in 1888.
The first half of the book takes an incredibly long time to explain a pretty simple concept - Pasteur critically needed the money from the prize to fund his Institut Pasteur which was in its formative stages. The commission set up to judge the prize displayed significant conflict of interest and bias. The second half of the book seemed less laboured and was a significantly easier read.
In the interests of maintaining the Pasteur camp as the "good guys" in the story Stephen Dando-Collins seems to excessively play down some seemingly ligitimate concerns of the commission. Since the Rabbit Commission Australia has had a checkered history with biological control, so stringent (unbiased) testing and the use of the precautionary principle seem justified to me.
It is interesting to contemplate the alternate history if Pasteur had won the Rabbit Prize and the chicken cholera microbe had been introduced in th 1890s. The first biological control for rabbits was introduced in 1950 (Myxomatosis), which was highly successful at the time with an estimated 90% of rabbits destroyed. Resistance has developed over time and rabbits continue to be a problem in Australia.
This book is certainly beyond X-man at this stage. It is really a puzzle book introducing the concept of "if" and the power of correctly applied logic...moreThis book is certainly beyond X-man at this stage. It is really a puzzle book introducing the concept of "if" and the power of correctly applied logic.
It is a little disingenuous to call this "Anno's Hat Tricks". Really the power of this book is in Akihiro Nozaki text and concept. Anno's name would certainly have got this book more read. His illustrations do provide a point of interest in what could otherwise be a pretty dry book - but I think the majority of illustrators would have been able to achieve this result.
The initial puzzles are relatively easy and even relatively young children will be able to work them out. The puzzles get increasingly difficult, until the last puzzle would be extremely difficult for a young child. (less)