Weird Weirder Weirdest – a book review

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Title: Weird Weirder Weirdest
written & illustrated by: Martii Maclean
Publisher: Kooky Cat Books

Children’s Chapter Book author, Martii Maclean will have you turning the pages with her collection of short stories in ‘Weird Weirder Weirdest’. The seven stories, suitable for children aged 8+, will have both kids and parents giggling, sniggering and laughing out loud.

But beware, behind some of the most hilarious parts are pieces of truth that every child and adult alike will see, and some may even recognise pieces of themselves in the characters or situations.

Besides being an entertaining read, ‘Weird Weirder Weirdest’ has some main characters as bullies, in relatable real life situations, and all children and grown-ups will delight when they receive their “just desserts”.

‘Weird Weirder Weirdest’ is a perfect book of short stories that can be read independently, or as a book to read together at home. It contains pertinent concepts that every child will experience or witness at school, and Martii Maclean’s writing opens the incidents up for discussion.

In educational settings, ‘Weird Weirder Weirdest’ would be ideal to read a short story a day, and to encourage students to write their own ‘weird’ story. It would also to suitable to open the discussion topic of bullying, and the power of the bystander.

P_work_girl-2-232x300Comprehensive teaching notes (26 pages) for schools (with Australian Curriculum links), homeschooling and home, can be found at: http://www.martiimaclean.com/wp-content/uploads/Weird_Teaching-Notes.pdf well as a colouring page http://www.martiimaclean.com/wp-content/uploads/Weird-colouring-booklet.pdf for each short story – making it the perfect teaching resource.

‘Weird Weirder Weirdest’, written and illustrated by Martii Maclean has something for everyone. If you love Paul Jennings short stories, you will love this book too.

Purchase a copy: Weird Weirder Weirdest

Connect with Martii Maclean at:
website: www.martiimaclean.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MartiiMacleanAuthor/

Title: Weird Weirder Weirdest
Author: Martii Maclean
ISBN: 978-0-9945408-2-9 (print book)
ISBN:978-0-9945408-3-6 (eBook)
Publisher: Kooky Cat Books
First Published in Australia: 2017
Page Count: 102 pages

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
https://www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

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Little Witch Book 3, Plots and Potions, a book review

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Title: Plots & Potions (Little Witch book 3)
by: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Drama, magic – and a miniature cat – abound in the latest Little Witch.

Plots & Potions is the 3rd book in the Little Witch book series by author, Aleesah Darlison. The main character, Courtney, is off to Bromlow Forest Adventure Camp with school, on her mother’s insistence, to work on fledging relationships, being new to the school.

School camp is everything Courtney dislikes – hikes, abseiling, bungee jumping and white-water rafting, but it’s made more bearable when she uses a shrinking spell on her cat, Inky, and takes him along to camp with her, safely nestled away in her pocket.

However, the mean and nasty Camp Director, Miss Maude Mouseheart, starts sneezing when she is close to Courtney. She suffers from a cat allergy and is highly suspicious of Courtney, who does well at hiding Inky, until disaster strikes.

As the story continues, Courtney discovers bits and pieces of information, that all point to something unsavoury going on at the camp grounds. As Courtney investigates, she uncovers a secret plot, and must take action, or forever be left with regret and grief.

Plots & Potions will have the reader turning the pages as fast as they can digest them, needing to know what will happen next. There’s good balance of friendship niggles and resolutions, camp fun, and added magical spells that will be thoroughly enjoyed by fans of the Little Witch Series.

Purchase a copy: Little Witch Book 3 – Plots & Potions

Title: Plots & Potions (Little Witch book 3)
by: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925675252
Category: children’s
Subject: Magic, Spells
Pages: 176

This book was given to Julieann by Big Sky Publishing for review.

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
https://www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

Julieann is a member of:

 

Little Witch Book 2 – Hauntings & Hexes, a book review

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Title: Hauntings & Hexes (Little Witch Book 2)
by: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

New home. New school. New friends. And new enemies… The summer holidays are over. It’s time for Courtney to start at her new school and settle into life in Mixton Bay. No problem. Right? Except for the fact that Courtney is a witch-in-training so `fitting in’ isn’t the easiest thing to do. When a malevolent spirit bent on revenge is released into the world, things get dangerous for Courtney and those closest to her. Will she be able to save the day and keep her growing powers a secret?

Hauntings and Hexes is the 2nd book in the Little Witch book series by author, Aleesah Darlison. The main character, Courtney, starts at a new school, and has all the usual social uncomfortableness with trying to make new friends. She also creates some accidental, and not so accidental disasters with her new found white witch powers.

In one such incident in science class, Courtney is asked to hold a bald rat. Filled with fear, she unleashes a spell that calls every cat in the town of Mixton Bay to rescue her. Hence, the typical boring science lesson becomes phenomenal in the eyes of the students. However, Mr Zenebar, the science teacher recognises Courtney’s magic and tells her to visit the cemetery, where she meets a ghost, who requests her to find a grey book.

As the story continues, we meet Eleanor, a flying tricycle which is at Courtney’s beck and call, and the evil grimoire—a talking and flying black magic book that belongs to the ghost in the crypt at the cemetery. However, the reunion of the ghost and the grimoire unleashes black magic in the town, and it’s up to Courtney to banish the evil ghost by returning it to the Soul Tree forever, or until she can mend her ways.

Hauntings and Hexes is a fast-paced chapter book packed with action, humour and a few surprises. It is well-written and will have Little Witch fans turning the pages as they absorb the magical story.

Purchase a copy: Little Witch Book 2 – Hauntings & Hexes

Title: Little Witch Book 2  – Hauntings & Hexes
Author: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-925520-57-6
Category: Children’s/Children’s Fiction 8+
Subject: Children, Magic, Witches, Humour
Pages: 176

This book was given to Julieann by Big Sky Publishing for review.

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords
www.julieannwallaceauthor.com

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7 Absolute Musts of Writing a Picture Book

 

Picture books play an absolute vital and pivotal role in the lives of children. There are numerous studies that show children who are read picture books from birth up to, and including while still going to school, are smarter and have more empathy for others – yes – they are kinder! And thankfully, there is never a shortage of authors who are passionate about writing picture books. As an experienced teacher of 25 years, I have personally observed the power of books. By 8 years of age, there is a notable difference between children who have been read to at home, and those who have not.

Importance of reading to children
Children prefer real books rather than screens
Why reading the same book repeatedly is good for kids

After 5 years of working as a publisher and book designer with picture book authors, I’d like to share 7 points that will help authors along in their journey:

1. Writing a picture book is not as easy as it seems. You need to read lots and lots of picture books so you can internalize what writing a children picture book story is about. And there is a certain knack to writing a successful picture book. You will also develop your own individual style and voice.

2. Your story must have a beginning, middle and end – also known as a story arc.

3. There must be a problem that needs to be solved. If there’s no problem, there’s no story!

4. Don’t tell kids what to think with your writing. It’s the biggest turn off for children. Kids are clever, and feel a great sense of achievement when they understand the gist of the story without you telling them. You want kids to make an emotional feel good connection to your book, so they want to read it again and again.

5. Don’t talk down to kids. Build them up. Use those interesting words that will inspire!

6. Less words can often have more impact.

7. Illustrations are vitally important – they also tell the story – are there words in your writing you can leave out that can be shown in the illustration?

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Traditionally Published vs Independently Published. Which to Choose?

If you’re not quite sure about the difference between traditionally published and independently published, read this article by Joanna Penn. It provides a good description of both.

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Preparing Your Picture Book to Traditionally Publish

• Write your story. Edit, rewrite, read it out loud, rewrite.
• Put it away for a while. When you return to it, you will see it with new eyes. You will find bits of it that you love, and others that simply don’t work.
• Write a final version of your story, then send it to an editor. This is a vital step for you to have the best version of your story. Don’t be surprised if you need to do some adjustments and rewrites. All authors, no matter how experienced or famous they are, always have to rewrite to make their work shine.
• Polish your final version …
• Research which traditional publishers you would like to send your manuscript to before you send it off, and ensure that you follow their guidelines (do you need an agent or not? Are they closed for submissions? Do they publish picture books?) Make sure you format your manuscript to their specifications.

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Preparing Your Picture Book to Indie Publish 

Authors have a bubbling enthusiasm about their story. And rightly so. However, there is a series of steps to follow, even with the self-publishing of your book. If you are investing in publishing a book that the eyes of the world will read, it makes sense to educate yourself about how to go about it. This is what it looks like:

1. Story
Writing your story is exactly the same as writing it with the intention of securing a traditional publishing contract. Independent publishing does not mean lesser quality stories, and it never, ever should be.

• Write your story. Edit, rewrite, read it out loud, rewrite.
• Put it away for a while. When you return to it, you will see it with new eyes. You will find bits of it that you love, and others that simply don’t work.
• Write a final version of your story, then send it to an editor. This is a vital step for you to have the best version of your story. Don’t be surprised if you need to do some adjustments and rewrites. All authors, no matter how experienced or famous they are, always have to rewrite to make their work shine.
• Polish your final version …

2. Storyboard

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storyboard by inkygirl.com

The storyboard is a pivotal stage of development of your book. The impact of your story hinges on your storyboard, and the placement of the page turn in keeping the attention of your readers so they are invested in your story. The storyboard is also the magic key for your illustrator to bring your story to life through the gift of their creative artwork. Have you nailed the timing of your page turn? If you’re not sure, you can find out here.

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3. Illustrations

The final and important part of the journey of a book is the illustrations. Before your illustrator begins the final illustrations – it is imperative they know the size of your book (you’ll need to discuss these major details with your publisher, or the printer you have chosen). Your illustrator also needs to know:

• About page bleed
• Not to place major components of illustrations in the middle of a page spread, where parts may be lost in the spine binding of the book, or the image doesn’t align correctly due to variables during the printing process.

If you decide to independently publish, send your manuscript to your chosen indie publisher/self-publishing company, and they should guide you from there.

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And remember, whatever your journey is with your story – don’t go it alone. Connect with other authors, or join a writing group, network. Authors love to help each other out.

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Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Multi-Published Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator, CEO of Lilly Pilly Publishing)

www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
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A Wrinkle in Time, book review

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Title: A Wrinkle in Time
by: Madeleine L’Engle
Publisher: Penguin

Meg always felt she was different and when her little brother Charles Murry go searching for their lost father, they find themselves travelling on a dangerous journey through a ‘wrinkle in time’. As the cosmic evil forces of darkness threaten to swallow the universe, Meg must overcome her insecurities and channel all her inner strengths – her stubbornness, anger and ultimately her love – to save her family. An exciting mixture of fantasy and science fiction, which all the way through is dominated by the funny and mysterious trio of guardian angels known as Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which, A Wrinkle in Time is an empowering story about the battle between good and evil and the power of love.

A Wrinkle in Time was released in 1962, after twenty-six rejections by publishers, and has withstood the test of time.

It begins with, “It was a dark and stormy night”. How often had I used those words as a story starter for creative writing as a teacher. And so, I laughed when I read the opening words of Chapter 1, Mrs Whatsit.

As I continued to read, I was sucked into the plot and amazed by the science embedded into the novel. The deeper I went into the story, more of it seemed to make sense in today’s world, 50 years after it was published.

There are many things I enjoyed about A Wrinkle in Time. I loved the tesseract, the time travel, and the characters who didn’t fit into the society norm, plus their journey of discovery and growth that enabled them to rescue Mr. Murry, the father of Meg and Charles Wallace. I loved the imagined built worlds and the challenges Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin encountered.

As I look back at pages I have dog-eared, it still blows me away with the science and physics embedded into the story. Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful!

If your middle school child or teenager likes to read sci-fi novels, this is book is well suited, with a perfect dose of physics. Plus, there’s pearls of wisdom throughout the book. My favourite: “Qui plus sait, plus se tait”, French for “The more a man knows, the less he talks.”

And now to see the movie …

 

Literature Study Guide at SparkNotes http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/wrinkle/characters/

Purchase a copy: https://www.penguin.com.au/books/a-wrinkle-in-time-9780241331163

Title: A Wrinkle in Time
by: Madeleine L’Engle
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9780241331163
Category: Children and teenagers
Pages: 288

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords
www.julieannwallaceauthor.com

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We of the Between, a book review

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Title: We of the Between
by: Martii Maclean
Publisher: Kooky Cat Books

The world is changed, poisoned. The seas have warmed and risen to flood the land. Trin is part of a team that defy the stormy seas at the new coastline to help heal the oceans. But now Trin is hearing voices from the stormy sea. Is she sick or crazy?

Rilla has lived hidden deep in the ocean all her life. Challenging her father’s rulings, she will take the catalyst to transform and ascend, leaving the world of the Abrax forever so she can help the walkers heal Mother Ocean. When two strangers arrive on the high tide, Trin and Rilla’s lives will change forever. Their fates will be intertwined in the place between two worlds.

We of the Between is a fascinating and thought-provoking story with multiple gripping layers:

The Above 
The Below 
The Between 
The Walkers 
Double-tailed Mermaids and Mermen 
The Warming 
The Choosing Ceremony 
The Hall of Colours 
The Terrifying Deep 

It’s a stunning book that will whisk you away into an imagined world, where author, Martii Maclean, cleverly paints pictures in your mind of The Above and The Below.

The Above is on the earth—land. The Warming has taken place with dire consequences and the Walkers are trying to heal Mother Ocean. But one walker is different. Trin. Fish talk to her, and she communicates with them. She first hears the fish as a frittering, musical jangle as they signal to each other. The signals were mostly emotional: curiosity, hunger, joy, fear, all smashing together.

The Below is in an underwater kingdom, at the City Cavern of Lemuria, where there is a glowing Hall of Colours. The Below is filled with double-tailed mermaids and mermen. They communicate by neumes (mind communication). There we meet Rilla. She wonders what it would be like to walk; to have legs instead of two tails.

Rilla has a life changing decision to make at the Choosing Ceremony – to become a Walker forever in The Above, or to stay with her family in The Below.

We of the Between is an intriguing tale that will have you captured. Martii’s words flow like a melody, singing gently, compellingly, pushing you up to the Above, and pulling you down to the Below. You will be completely immersed in the story.

If you had a Choosing Ceremony, what would you choose to do? Would you be a Walker on The Above, or a Mermaid or Merman of The Below?

Purchase a copy:  http://www.martiimaclean.com/shop/ or online bookstores

Title: We of the Between
by: Martii Maclean
Publisher: Kooky Cat Books
ISBN: 978-0994540843
Category: sci-fi/fantasy
Pages: 288

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Published Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

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Nevermoor – the Trials of Morrigan Crow, a book review

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Title: Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow
by: Jessica Townsend
Publisher: A Lothian Children’s Book by Hatchette Australia

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks – and worst of all, the curse mean that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away to a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to pass four difficult and dangerous trials – or she’ll have to leave the city and confront her deadly fate.

Nevermoor has me celebrating for children, everywhere!
Firstly because of two words:

Step Boldly . . .

These two words speak loudly, and are a call to courage. They are two words that will stay with you for all the right reasons.

And secondly, because author, Jessica Townsend, has a “knack” with words and characters and world building.

Jessica took me on a visual and literary journey of delight with magic, wonder, fantasy and suspense. She had me turning the pages of Nevermoor, the Trials of Morrigan Crow with impatience, as she led me deeper into the town of Jackalfax, and then the magical city of Nevermoor.

Nevermoor begins with the prologue titled ‘Spring of One’, and we learn of the death of Morrigan Crow. When we turn to Chapter One – ‘Winter of Eleven’, we are taken back in time – three days earlier in fact. There, we meet the most feared child in Jackalfax, Morrigan Crow, destined to die on the night of Eventide. And this is where we make our strong emotional connection to her.

There is a lot at stake for Morrigan Crow. In fact, everything is at stake – her life.

As the brilliant story continues, we meet a unique character named Jupiter North. He takes Morrigan away from Jackalfax and into the safety of Nevermoor. But she can’t stay there, unless, she enters the Wundrous Society, but this can only be achieved by passing the four trials:

The Book Trial
The Chase Trial
The Fright Trial 
The Show Trial.

Meanwhile, a dark presence is watching, and waiting, for an opportunity. And  Morrigan Crow is in his sights…

Nevermoor – the Trials of Morrigan Crow, is filled with many A-HA! moments while you read, as pieces of the puzzle connect, leaving you feeling a sense of awe and wunder. It’s a magnificently clever, incredibly magical and beautifully heartwarming story that you will want “more” of.

Thankfully to Jessica Townsend, Morrigan’s next Wundrous Adventure is coming in 2018.

Purchase a copy: https://www.hachette.com.au/jessica-townsend/nevermoor-the-trials-of-morrigan-crow

Title: Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow
by: Jessica Townsend
Publisher: A Lothian Children’s Book by Hatchette Australia
ISBN: 9780734418074 (paperback)
Category: primary school age
Pages: 448

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Published Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

new quad titles

bk fr   embodiment front cover

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