Friday, October 10, 2014

Princess Super Kitty - Antoinette Portis (book review)

Welcome! Regular readers may have noticed something a little off last month - I didn't do a children's book review.

Fear not, dear readers! They are still here. But they are changing. Instead of reviewing four titles in bulk each month, I will now post a new short sharp review every Friday.

A new children's book every Friday! Hip hip hooray!

I'm kicking off the new format with my four-year-old daughter's current favourite, Princess Super Kitty*.


Princess Super Kitty / Antoinette Portis

(HarperCollins Children's Books, 2011)

Image source*
Maggie isn't a Maggie today. She's a kitty. But she doesn't like to nap. So she's a Super Kitty! But she doesn't like to do every single thing that's asked of her. So she's a...

Princess Super Kitty* is adorable. I have to admit that when my daughter brought it over to me at the library, I groaned inwardly. Ashleigh loves nothing more than pink, frills and fairies, and this book threatened an overload of all of this and more.

It delivers an overload of all of this and more. And more again! But it also perfectly captures her imaginative, playful yet ultimately girly personality. Ashleigh identifies with the book, and happily for me, she identifies with the 'super' part as much as the 'princess' part.

Although this princess behaviour certainly rings true!

And it's funny. The continual addition of attributes to Maggie's character has inspired Ashleigh to create compound characters of her own.

Meet Princess Fairy Rabbit!

So if you have a girly girl with budding superhero powers, I definitely recommend this book.

*affiliate links

Have you or your children read Princess Super Kitty? What did you think?

And do you have any book recommendations for future reviews?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Playing hide-and-seek in the library - a toddler's guide

  • Run away from mum. At this stage, make sure you stay in sight of mum.

Ta-da! The game starts in plain sight.

  • Turn back to check that mum is watching.
  • When she looks, display your cheekiest grin.

Something like this.

  • Run down the nearest aisle. (Bonus points if you manage to knock down every book you pass.)

Run, run, run!

  • Stop, and turn around. Wait until you see mum peek around the corner.
  • When she does, display your cheekiest grin. Accompanying cheeky chuckle optional.
  • Run across to the next aisle. (Bonus points if you manage to knock down every book you pass. Additional bonus points if you manage to kick any of them back into the other aisle.)
  • Stop, and turn around. Wait until you see mum peek around the corner.
  • If mum doesn't peek, check on her.

Mum's coming! Run!

  • When she sees you, display your cheekiest grin.
  • Run into the next aisle.
  • Stop, and turn around. Wait until you see mum peek around the corner.
  • If mum doesn't peek, check on her through the books.

Found you, mum! Why aren't you chasing me?

  • Run into the next aisle. If you really want to spice things up, run across a few before ducking down a random aisle.
  • Stop, and turn around. Wait until you see mum peek around the corner.
  • This time, do not check on her. When you hear her cries escalate in panic, chuckle to yourself. Mum makes this game so much fun when she pretends to be worried about you!
  • When mum sees you, display your cheekiest grin. Accompanying cheeky maniacal laugh mandatory.

I was here the whole time! HAHAHA!

  • Scream when mum grabs you and carries you back to the pram.
  • Thrash around as she attempts to clip you into the pram. Continue the screaming you started before.
  • Next time you go to the library, do it all again.

Does your child like to play hide and seek in the library? Or elsewhere?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride - review

Welcome to October! It's book review time, and I'm again reviewing the book of the month for the Pink Fibro Book Club, hosted by Allison Tait on facebook.

This month, it's We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride.


We are Called to Rise / Laura McBride

Image source
Beyond the bright lights and casinos lies the real Las Vegas where four lives will be brought together by one split-second choice.

In the predawn hours, a woman's marriage crumbles with a single confession. Across town, an immigrant family struggles to get by in the land of opportunity. Three thousand miles away, a soldier wakes up in hospital with a vague feeling he's done something awful. In a single moment, these disparate lives intersect. Faced with seemingly insurmountable loss, each person must decide whether to give in to despair, or to find the courage and resilience to rise.
Wow. I LOVE this book with a capital L-O-V-E.

It is not without faults. It made me grrrrr and wonder why certain things happened. And I'm torn about about the ending. Torn.

But the stories are compelling and the writing beautiful. Whatever my feelings about the ending, when I closed this book for the last time, I couldn't help but be glad that I'd read it.

The story is told from four different viewpoints. It begins with Avis, as her marriage ends in a single moment. With a single sound, in fact. We then meet Roberta. To begin with, we're introduced to her views on growing up in Las Vegas, then we meet her 'properly' in a later chapter.

Next we hear from Bashkim, the child whose fate will be determined by the stories unfolding. And, further into the book, we discover Luis, as he comes to in a hospital, and comes to the realisation he's done something awful.

Often in books told from different viewpoints, the voices start to sound similar and you forget who's narrating. Roberta and Avis become more difficult to distinguish between as the book progresses, but I always knew when I was hearing the thoughts of Bashkim or Luis. I found their voices mesmerising. 

There are other things I want to say about this book. But I don't do spoilers. You can find reviews with spoilers if you're into that (or you can come on over to the facebook discussion where we usually go into more detail). But I'll just say that even though I saw the 'single moment' in which 'these disparate lives intersect' coming, it didn't diminish the impact at all.

It is powerful. It hurts.

And I cried.
Standout lines/phrases:
  • I like the way Mr. Ernie talks, and I like the way Mrs. Monaghan talks, but I think it's funny how grown-ups speak with their accents at school. At home I speak Albanian, or sometimes American that sounds Albanian, but at school I just speak regular American.
  • If we left this house, then the few memories we had, the trailing decrescendo of images left to us, might be gone altogether.
  • But failing isn't proof that nothing matters or that we were fools to care. We fail even though things matter very much; it's the possibility of failure that makes them matter even more.
  • I've been practicing in my mind, trying to find some words, but they've all been taken, all used for ordinary considerations that mean nothing in comparison to what he has meant.
  • And when the street is dark, when not a single car passes me for minutes on end, I turn and I walk my crooked uncoordinated brain-fucked-up walk back to the house I grew up in - the one with the big rock in front.

Last month, after reading Big Little Lies, I was relieved that I didn't have star-rating for books. I wrote, 'When I finished Big Little Lies, I would have recommended it. Now I've sat with the book for a week or so, I'm not sure. I think it depends on how real you want your characters to be.'

I almost feel the opposite about this book. When I finished it, the (few) disappointments were all I could think about. Now that I've sat with the book for a week, it's the strength and beauty of the other parts of the book that have stayed with me.

Capital L-O-V-E.


Have you read We are Called to Rise? What did you think?

Previous book reviews:

Big Little Lies
The Best Feeling of All and Your Best Year Yet
The Headmaster's Wife (my guest post at Allison Tait's blog)
The Night Guest
The Thirteenth Tale
The Shadow Year and Barracuda
The Paris Wife
Mister Pip and The Light Between Oceans
Big Brother and We Need to Talk About Kevin
The Shining Girls and The Fault in Our Stars

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top web reads of September

Welcome to the last day of September! And welcome to my list of top web reads for the month.



Family and life

Children's drawing stages - 6 Things to Look For

This post from Nicole at Planning With Kids is an old one, but one that I sought out this month. It resonates with me as people, tummies, rainbows and butterflies start to appear in my four-year-old's drawings, and my 18-month-old is still scribbling away.


Language and writing

Yes, men are better writers

A very interesting read about why 'women are underrepresented in major publications'. It's brutal about the reasons men are better able to use their time on 'selfish' pursuits, and also about the little value given by most people to the art of crafting the written word. I don't agree with every word, but it's certainly worth a read.

5 surprising writing tips from top Aussie authors

A great post from perennial fave Allison Tait, who shares these tips from her weekly podcast with Valerie Khoo. LOVE this one: 'It seems to me that probably the best way to begin writing would be to sit down in front of a computer, open a file and then to do the best to like fill it.'


Food for thought

9 Things You Need to Stop Apologising For Immediately

Brilliance from Smaggle. If you haven't yet read this, do it. Now. And I'm not going to apologise for being bossy about it!

To Belong

I haven't stopped thinking about this post from Sonia Styling. I've been having a hard time trying to make friends with the other kinder mums, and trying to break into what felt like a 'clique'. Now I realise that these mums just already knew each other. They have older kids who have already been through kinder, and they gravitate towards familiar faces.

Harnessing the Power of We

One of the highlights of last month's ProBlogger conference was a panel session I attended called 'Harnessing Social Media for Social Good'. Stephen Ellis from World Vision was on the panel, and it was refreshing to hear from someone (and therefore the organisation they represented) who saw the importance of blogging. Stephen wrote this post before the event, but I've read it since and think it's important for both bloggers and those who want to work them to read.

Give it up for We at ProBlogger Training Event 2014

The host of the 'Harnessing Social Media for Social Good' panel, Emma Stirling, also shared her thoughts and invited bloggers to link posts that showcase social media for social good.

Men, domestic violence is a choice, not an instinct

This article is in response to VicHealth's third National Community Attitudes to Violence against Women Survey. Warning: the statistics are confronting. Best line: 'To ask a woman to justify the reasons she endured violence is akin to asking a cancer sufferer why they let themselves get sick.'

Emma Watson HeForShe Speech at the United Nations

Enough said. Click above to go to YouTube, or watch it here:



Seven Rookie Errors I Made as a First-Time Parent

Hilarity from the ever-hilarious Hugzilla. I've said it before and I'll say it again; follow this blog. Now.


That's what I enjoyed reading on the interweb in September. What caught your eye?