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Kathryn Apel has written a story that that will slide straight into your heart.

Lucy and her dad move a lot so it’s hard to make friends. They don’t have much money, but they have each other. 

‘It's just
you and me, Lucy. We
don't need nobody else.'

When Lucy discovers Snail while looking for treasure in the park she finds a friend to keep her company and share her secrets. Snail knows Lucy doesn’t like being a new kid at school wearing someone else’s faded, smelly uniform and shoes. It’s hard when you’re shy and don’t feel confident and Lucy often wants to crawl inside a shell and hide.

This place is different. Miss Darling her new teacher 'looks nice, smells nice and acts nice' and makes learning fun. The class Inquiry unit ‘How Can I Help?’ sparks great excitement as Lucy's classmates are challenged to help at home, find ways to reduce rubbish in the community and become daring Toad Busters.

Lucy grows in confidence as she feels included and gets to know her classmates, but it’s popular Tahnee, who encourages and listens to her and squeezes inside Lucy’s shell to become her friend. When Lucy's dad has an accident, it's the people in the community who reach out with kindness to care for them. This place feels like home. But can Lucy convince her dad to stay?

“I don’t want to go, Snail,”
I whisper,
feeling like a stodgy glob
of squidgy putty – with all my
happiness squished       out.

I am in awe once again of Kathryn Apel’s skill in weaving together similes, metaphors, alliteration, imagery, rhyme and shape poetry with compassion and creativity to tell Lucy’s story in What Snail Knows.  

The gorgeous front cover by Mandy Foot, beautifully captures Lucy and Snail’s friendship along with the delicate black and white sketches throughout the book featuring snail and special moments in the story.

If you enjoyed What Snail Knows then you might like to read Kathryn's other verse novels Bully on the Bus and Too Many Friends. In fact, Tahnee was a character in Too Many Friends.

Verse novels are the best!

Thank you for the copy of this book to review University of Queensland Press.

Happy reading!





Teacher notes

How strange it all was. A bird in his hands, a balloon on his roof.
Yet things felt more real here, than less.

Matthew is about to have the adventure of his life when he meets Lewis Carmichael, a black crow with a broken wing who can talk. Lewis invites Matthew on a trip to the North Pole and together they ride Boreas the North Wind in a colourful hot air balloon for six thousand, nine hundred and twenty-two nautical miles all the way to the Arctic.

Matthew is a quiet boy, lacking in confidence, slow at school and without friends. He thinks his parents need another child, someone who was more what they wanted. Matthew escapes his worries reading books about the Arctic, a frozen land of polar bears, reindeer, snow geese and Arctic Wolves. A place full of space; secret and wild.

Visiting the North Pole is Matthew’s dream and for the first time Matthew has a friend with Lewis.

Throughout their journey Lewis is by Matthew’s side encouraging, challenging and believing in him as Matthew learns to fly the balloon, treks across the ice and climbs a snowy peak to see the icy white world of his dreams. As they face challenges along the way, Matthew’s confidence, courage and resourcefulness grow alongside the reassuring soundtrack of Lewis’ song.

In all the world, in all the world,
Never did I see, never did I see.
In all the lands, in all the lands
Just one boy, one boy.
This boy. This boy.

The Song of Lewis Carmichael by Sophie Laguna with its intriguing title and magical front cover, is a heartwarming voyage of discovery and a joy to read. Marc McBride’s realistic line drawings in Arctic blue immerse you in the story and vividly bring it to to life. Marc's double page illustration of Aurora Borealis is breathtaking! A story of many layers that will linger with you beyond the last page.

Everyone deserves a friend like Lewis Carmichael.

Read Chapter One HERE

Happy reading!





Teacher notes

The Ballad of Melodie Rose is a quiet story of connectedness filled with magic, memories and mystery, wrapped in the warm glow of sunrise and sprinkled with stardust.

Melodie Rose is abandoned on the doorstep of Direleafe Hall with a note pinned to her coat, a broken heart and no memory. When Melodie meets the school’s resident ghosts, Lucy, Florence and Nell, she thinks she must be a ghost too.

As Direleafe Hall begins to feel like home, Melodie learns of the mysterious Lady in White who plans to buy and flatten the boarding school to build a resort. Even though it is dilapidated, Direleafe Hall is filled with joy and history and memories and Melodie knows she must save the school for her grandmother and the girls both real and ghostly, but also in case her mother returns. Will she be brave enough to stand up to the Lady in White?

Melodie, Hollowbeak Crow and the girls devise a list of plans to show the Lady in White the true beauty of Direleafe Hall beyond its dust and cobwebs and cracks in walls like sorrows. But in the end it will take someone with courage, empathy and kindness to unlock the Lady in White's hardened heart.

The Ballad of Melodie Rose is about belonging, being brave and being seen and about knowing when to hold on and when to let go. It follows The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn. Both of these heartfelt books need to be read slowly to savour Kate Gordon’s poetic writing and the exquisite imagery she creates.

I’m excited that Kate is writing the third book The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow to be published in March 2022. I hope it reveals even more about my favourite character, the mysterious Hollowbeak.

Thank you for the copy of this book to review UQP.

Happy reading!


Hello Jimmy! by Anna Walker is a gentle story about Jack and his dad as they find a new way of being a family together.

When Jack visits his dad's house it's quiet and his dad doesn't tell funny jokes any more. Jack wonders if his dad is lonely. Then Jimmy a loud and cheeky parrot unexpectedly arrives on dad's doorstep. Jimmy's big personality fills the house and dad is laughing again with his new friend who helps with the dishes, entertains with his witty chatter and is full of surprises. Jack feels left out. What happens when Jack accidentally lets Jimmy out the window? 

Anna has used pencil, collage, paint and mono-printing to create her delicate illustrations filled with tiny details of every day life that invite you to look closely at each page. She has captured Jimmy's larger than life personality with his cheeky antics and vibrant green feathers that can also be found floating gently across the endpapers. 

Read HERE to learn more about Anna's ideas behind creating Hello Jimmy!

On her Twiglet website, Anna shares 'tiny ideas' to inspire creativity. Click on the links below to explore three ways you can make your own Jimmy and bring him to life.

Jimmy Parrot 

Jimmy split pin 

Flying Jimmy 

Anna has made Jimmy using felt and he is being very cheeky in the Hello Jimmy! book trailer...

Happy reading!


The Aussie Kids series takes you on adventures with kids from a variety of backgrounds to the unique places they live in Australia. They include Eve who lives at a roadhouse in outback Australia, Zoe and Zac live at a zoo in New South Wales and Taj lives next to a lighthouse in Victoria.

8 characters, 8 stories, 8 authors and illustrators from all 8 states and territories!

Meet Taj at the Lighthouse

Taj's family has travelled a long way to Australia from their sun-hot village, by the big blue sea in search of a safe home. It's not easy settling into life in a new country. Taj misses his old home, his favourite food and playing with his cousins. He wonders if he will ever fit in as he tries to learn English and make friends. Not even wearing his lucky lightning t-shirt helps, but his mum reminds him to 'believe' and encourages Taj to keep trying.

When Taj’s dad finds a job as a lighthouse guide, the family moves to a town along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. At his new school Taj makes lots of new friends, he joins the surf lifesaving club and everyone calls him Taj Lightning. These days Taj's family has settled into their little Aussie town that now feels like home.

At the end of the book find out more about lighthouses and Maxine Beneba Clarke and Niki Greenberg who created Taj’s story.

There is a fun Aussie Kids activity pack to download HERE

Photo: Kim Yeomans

Last year I visited the Split Point Lighthouse at Airey’s Inlet. The lighthouse was built in 1891. It is 34 metres tall, with the most amazing views! It still operates at night with an automated system to guide the ships in the Southern Ocean. Take a tour of the lighthouse while you're there! 

Have you visited a place in Australia where you would like to live?

Happy reading!

Squish Rabbit's Pet was a big hit with the Early Learning classes in our library! 

Squish Rabbit dreams of many things, but most of all Squish wants a puppy of his own to play with and cuddle. His friend Twitch tries to help him find his dream puppy.

One day Squish finds an egg and takes it home. We liked the way Squish cared for his egg by keeping it warm and dry and laughed when he dressed it as a pirate! Squish gets a big surprise when Twitch explains that a puppy won't hatch out of the egg. Squish has to make a big decision and we liked the choice he made. We had fun guessing what would hatch out of Squish's egg. We think Squish's new pet would be fun to play with, especially on the ceiling! 

We liked the squishy front cover and it's happy yellow colour. At first we thought the egg might be an Easter egg - yum! We liked the colourful endpapers that someone said looked like a 'crumpled paper rainbow' and we noticed that there was a little clue about the egg in the endpapers. We think Katherine Battersby is clever the way she draws Squish Rabbit and adds real pictures to her illustrations. We liked the autumn leaf and the feathers. 

This is Squish Rabbit's third book and we hope he has more adventures for us to have fun reading.

Happy reading! 

Teacher notes

Leave taking: (noun) the act of saying goodbye.

Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood is a gentle and heart-squeezing verse novel about saying goodbye, cherishing memories and new beginnings. Toby and his mum and dad are leaving their family farm after the death of Toby’s younger sister Leah. ‘Deep Well Farm’ is the only place Toby has called home and it’s hard to understand why his parents want to leave.

Toby’s dad gives him a map of the farm he’d drawn as a boy and marked with his special places. Toby creates his own version of the map that he calls 'Leave taking'. Armed with his map, a tent and sleeping bag and his trusty best friend,Trigger by his side, Toby uses his map to say goodbye to the chook house, Pa’s truck, the machinery shed and other places and things that hold a special meaning for both he and Leah. Toby’s map is on the back endpaper so you can follow along as he recalls precious memories and says his goodbyes.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

Toby reminds us that saying goodbye isn’t always easy, but the people and places we have loved will always be with us in our hearts and our memories.

Lorraine Marwood's carefully crafted words in Leave Taking leave you feeling as though you have been wrapped in a warm and comforting hug.

(You might need some tissues as you read).

Leaving Taking is on the 2019 CBCA Short List: Books For Younger Readers

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

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