Ballerina Monkey, book review


Title: Ballerina Monkey
by: Nicole Madigan
illustrated by: Joe M Ruiz
Publisher: blOOturtle Publishing

Malik is a typical little monkey – he loves to swing through the jungle trees with his friends. But unlike the other monkeys Malik also wants to dance – if only he knew how! In fact, Malik loves nothing more than watching the beautiful flamingos dance their special ballet dance. But monkeys aren’t supposed to dance – they’re supposed to swing like acrobats through the trees. So when Malik plucks up the courage to ask the flamingos for dancing lessons, the other monkeys laugh and make fun of him. Determined to do what he loves, Malik soon learns the importance of staying true to himself and the joy of following his dreams.

Ballerina Monkey, by author Nicole Madigan, will capture the hearts of children. The story revolves around a monkey named Malik. He loves to roam the jungle on mischievous pursuits like the other monkeys, but he has his heart set on bigger dreams. He wants to dance, just like the flamingos. Malik is ridiculed by the other monkeys who try to break his dream by calling him names and laughing at him. Monkeys just simply don’t dance. But after some imparted wisdom from his mother, Malik doesn’t give up. He digs deep for courage and joins a flamboyance of flamingos to learn to dance with grace and beauty, still to the taunts of the other monkeys.

However, they soon change their tune when the King of the Jungle arrives. The King of the Jungle has never seen a dancing monkey and is most impressed with Malik’s spectacular moves. The troop of monkeys now love Malik’s dancing, and stop teasing him.

Illustrator, Joe Ruiz, has created pictures rich in the colours of the jungle that will have children’s eyes focussed on each of the pages as the story is shared or read independently. Children will easily empathize with Malik’s emotions as they perceive his facial expressions as events occur in the story.

Ballerina Monkey is a wonderful story about never giving up and seeking your dreams, even when your friends don’t support you. It is also a story about the power of the bystander, who, in this story is the King of the Jungle. Just because he approves of Malik’s dancing, the other teasing monkeys then decide that they do too.

Purchase a copy: 

Eco-friendly, Carbon Neutral, Vegan Ink, 100% Recycling paper: trOOblOO

Title: Ballerina Monkey
by: Nicole Madigan
illustrated by: Joe M Ruiz
Publisher: blOOturtle publishing
ISBN: 9780995410640
Category: children 4 – 8
Pages: 32

IMG_0902.jpgcropped.jpgmoidtone.jpg midtones

Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Julieann is a member of:

Meet… Sidney Nolan, book review








Title: Meet … Sidney Nolan
by: Yvonne Mes
illustrated by: Sandra Eterovic
Publisher: Random House Australia

Sidney Nolan is one of Australia’s most admired and recognised visual artists. This is the story of how he developed his iconic Ned Kelly series of paintings, brought modernist art to Australia and took Australian art to an admiring international audience.

Sidney Nolan and Ned Kelly. There’s a connection between the two that may be unknown to some Australians. Fortunately, author Yvonne Mes, has highlighted their association and brought Sir Sidney Robert Nolan, OM. AC. (1917-1992) to life in her book, Meet … Sidney Nolan.

At first glance, the cover of the picture book is striking, calling you closer, inviting you to open the pages and look inside. When you do, you won’t be disappointed. Yvonne Mes retells the life of Sidney Nolan with gentle attention at first, reminding me of being called to sit in a group and wait in anticipation for important information. And it is important. It is the story of Sidney Nolan – one of Australia’s leading artists of the 20th century, his work being among the most diverse and prolific in all of modern art. As the story continues, Yvonne uses her words to paint the story of Sidney’s life in your mind, and it is action packed, urging you to turn the pages to find out more. It soon becomes apparent that Sidney Nolan’s life had many twists and turns. He was daring, brave, and a “rebel on the run”.

Yvonne’s story is also a story about persistence. Sidney was turned down with his paintings numerous times, but he never gave up. He “poured his feelings about war and violence onto the hardboard. He poured the adventures of his youth. He poured his modernist ideas. And he poured his secrets that would forever remain hidden behind the Ned Kelly’s mask”.

Illustrator, Sandra Eterovic, has created vibrant, stunning illustrations, and you can’t help but notice the style is somewhat similar to Sidney Nolan’s painting style which is rich in colour, and striking in composition. I applaud Sandra’s work. She honoured Sidney Nolan with her illustrations.

I highly recommend Meet … Sidney Nolan as a valuable resource for informing, educating and celebrating the life and wondrous achievements of one of Australia’s significant modern artists, Sidney Nolan, as well as introducing students to the concept of modernism in art.







Yvonne Mes referred to Sidney Nolan in the her story as, “he painted many magnificent stories”. I believe Yvonne wrote a magnificent story about Sidney Nolan. This is one of my books to treasure.

The Ned Kelly Series Gallery

Purchase a copy: Meet… Sidney Nolan by Yvonne Mes

Connect with Yvonne Mes at:


Title: Meet … Sidney Nolan
by: Yvonne Mes
illustrated by Sandra Eterovic

Publisher: Random House Australia Children’s

ISBN: 9780857985903
Category: children
pages: 36

Also by Yvonne Mes, illustrated by Giuseppe Poli



Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Julieann is a member of:


Chicken Little, book review


Title: Chicken Little
Adapted by: Oakley Graham
Illustrated by: Kimberley Barnes
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Chicken Little thinks the sky
is falling down and sets off on
a mission to tell the king.

A classic story about learning
to think for yourself.

Author, Oakley Graham, has retold the classic children’s cumulative tale of Chicken Little, with the cast of adorable characters – Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Drakey Lakey, Gooey Loosey, Gander Lander, Turkey Lurkey and the villain … Foxy Loxy.

Chicken Little is walking in the woods when an acorn falls on his head. Chicken Little immediately thinks the sky is falling and decides he must go and tell the king. On his journey to the king, Chicken Little meets as assortment of animals on their way to the woods. He warns them of the impending doom. They immediately believe the sky is falling and join Chicken Little on his quest.

Enter Foxy Loxy. A very clever and hungry fox with delicious plans, until Chicken Little and his friends are saved by the king’s barking dogs.

Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Drakey Lakey, Gooey Loosey, Gander Lander, and Turkey Lurkey run for their lives and stop under the oak tree in the woods. And Plop! Plop! Plop! They look up to see acorns dropping from the tree, and realise acorns are falling, not the sky!

Lesson learnt: Don’t believe everything you are told.

In our current world of abundant media and sensationalism, Photoshop, and sometimes sadly, intentional misinformation, Chicken Little has become a vital story. On a daily basis children are exposed to all sorts of information via the web, television, radio and word of mouth, and they need to be able to discern correct information from incorrect, then make an informed decision.

This classic fun tale is perfect for discussions about thinking and questioning what you hear. Some suitable questions might be:
Is it possible?
Who told you?
What do you know?
Is it true?
What do you think?

chicken little images

Illustrator, Kimberley Barnes, has created bright and colourful pictures that are sure to lure and delight the readers and listeners of this story. But there is a bonus – her illustrations reveal another layer to the story that may not have been discovered in the text. To discerning eyes, children may notice that some of the animals look similar, and when they delve deeper, they will discover that there is a male and female of each animal!

I highly recommend this book as a shared reader for families and educational institutions. It highlights the need to question the truth of what you hear. This is particularly pertinent in our current media climate of stories and images that bombard our lives on a daily basis.

Chicken Little, by Oakley Graham, will be adored by children with the memorable rhyming names, and the cumulative, repetitive story where they can join in the telling and retelling of the story. It will become a favourite, I’m sure.

Purchase a copy: bigskypublishingChicken-Little

Title: Chicken Little
by: Oakley Graham
Illustrated by: Kimberley Barnes
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925520026
Category: Children’s book fiction
Pages: 32

IMG_0902.jpgcropped.jpgmoidtone.jpg midtones

Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, tea drinker, Cadbury chocolate annihilator)

lily's lollies 2017 cover


The Chocolate Tin by Fiona McIntosh, book review









Title: The Chocolate Tin
by: Fiona McIntosh
Publisher: Penguin


Alexandra Frobisher is a modern-thinking woman with hopes of a career in England’s famous chocolate-making town of York. She has received several proposals of marriage, although none of them promises that elusive extra – love.
Matthew Britten-Jones is a man of charm and strong social standing. He impresses Alex and her parents with his wit and intelligence, but would an amicable union be enough for a fulfilling life together?
At the end of the war, Captain Harry Blakeney discovers a dead soldier in a trench in France. In the man’s possession is a secret love note, tucked inside a tin of chocolate that had been sent to the soldiers as a gift from the people back home.
In pursuit of the author of this mysterious message, Harry travels to Rowntree’s chocolate factory in England’s north, where his life becomes inextricably bound with Alexandra and Matthew’s. Only together will they be able to unlock secrets of the past and offer each other the greatest gift for the future.
From the battlefields of northern France to the medieval city of York, this is a heartbreaking tale about a triangle of love in all its forms and a story about the bittersweet taste of life . . . and of chocolate.

“What about love, Mother?’ was Alexandra Frobisher’s question. She wanted to do  more than have the sum of her life being organised into a sound marriage. According to her mother, every daughter was a wife in training. But Alexandra Frobisher was ambitious, and wanted to pursue a career. In chocolate.

Author, Fiona McIntosh, has penned a compelling romance set in 1915 in the famous chocolate making town of York, in England’s north. Alexandra Frobisher has dreams of owning her own chocolate business, but is trapped by society’s expectations and by the necessity of an arranged marriage to approved suitable men, without any spark of love, least of all attraction. But then she meets Matthew Britten-Jones. He is the answer to her means to an end, and to escape a life of compliance; a mundane existence. They get along exceptionally well and their arrangement gives them both the freedom they desire. So they enter a marriage of convenience under the guise of love, where both of their families are well pleased.

Matthew supports Alexandra’s plan to learn about the making of chocolate and becomes the connection for her to enter the Rowntree chocolate factory where she volunteers to work during the war, donating her wage to charity. It is there that she learns the intricacies and refinement of making chocolate. It is there that she slips a love note into a Chocolate Tin destined for a soldier, and signs it as ‘Kitty’. It is also there that she has an unexpected encounter with a dashing figure of a man, Captain Harry Blakeney, their mutual attraction undeniable.

As Alexandra and Harry spend precious time together, Alex discovers what it feels like to be in love, and becomes painfully aware that in her amicable marriage to Matthew, there seems to be something  amiss that is more than just love and affection. Purely by accident, Harry stumbles upon a secret: Matthew’s. One that will turn Alexandra’s world up-side-down…

I must admit, I proudly chose Fiona McIntosh’s novel, The Chocolate Tin, from the bookshelf at a quirky and wonderfully magical bookstore called The Mad Hatters Bookshop, simply because I absolutely adore chocolate, particularly Cadbury. But as I read the pages, Fiona McIntosh’s words weaved the magic of love through the characters, leaving me turning the pages and hungry for the story to unfold. There are plenty of twists and turns in this beautiful historical love story that will have you wanting to read the tale of forbidden love once again.

Title: The Chocolate Tin
ISBN: 9780143797067
Category: Contemporary fiction
Format: Paperback / softback
Publication Date: 31-10-2016
Publisher: Penguin Australia Pty Ltd
Country of origin: Australia
Edition: 1st Edition
Pages: 432

IMG_0902.jpgcropped.jpgmoidtone.jpg midtonesbw​​

Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, tea drinker, chocolate annihilator)

Member of:
Queensland Writers Centre
Write Links
Share Your Story


Wombat Warriors – a book review




Wombat Warriors
by: Samantha Wheeler
Publisher: University of Queensland Press




Mouse by name, mouse by nature. Mouse is not prepared for her last-minute stay at Aunt Evie’s. How will she cope at a new school without her parents around?
But before Mouse has even unpacked her suitcase, she makes a new friend – a wombat called Miss Pearl! Suddenly, being in a strange cottage doesn’t seem so bad, especially when she can snuggle up with a wombat.

Mouse soon learns that not everyone in the area loves wombats, including Aunt Evie’s landlord, a sheep farmer who destroys them on sight.

Can Mouse find her voice in time to keep her furry friends safe?

You have a wombat for a pet? I don’t, but Aunt Evie does in Samantha Wheeler’s chapter book, Wombat Warriors.

Action packed from the first words, we follow a girl named Mouse as she comes to live with her Aunt Evie for six weeks, by necessity. The Brisbane city girl is thrown into a South Australian country setting, and has to quickly learn to adapt to the farm way of life, good and bad, happy and heartbreaking, challenging and rewarding.

Wombats are incredibly adorable creatures. And there is no doubt that you will love them even more when you meet Miss Pearl and read about her cheeky antics. Intrigue sets in however, after we meet farm boy, Harry. He has a secret he keeps close to his heart. Meanwhile, the main character, Mouse, who has a small voice but a very big heart, finds that her love for wombats helps her to break through her introverted nature to become a true wombat warrior.

This primary school age chapter book will have you turning the pages as you read the inspiring tale that has wildlife conservation at the heart. You will fall in love with three wombats: Miss Pearl, Willow and Fatticake, and their cute wombat-edness will find an extra-special place in your heart. Readers will be rolling their eyes at Aunt Evie and the way she always gets the end of clichés wrong. Plus there’s the cranky Mrs Campbell, who will keep you guessing about her behaviour until the end.

Author, Samantha Wheeler has cleverly woven wombat facts into her story, as well as adding a section at the back of the book called “WOMBAT-OLOGY”. Wombat Warriors is most definitely an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable book for all children, especially those who are animal lovers with a passion for conservation. I highly recommend this book for independent readers, shared reading, and for use in educational settings.

Purchase a copy of Wombat Warriors at:
Connect with Samantha Wheeler at:

Title: Wombat Warriors
by: Samantha Wheeler
Publisher: UQP
ISBN: 978 0 7022 5958 6
Category: Children’s & Young Adult
Pages: 192

​​IMG_0902.jpgcropped.jpgmoidtone.jpg midtones

Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Editor, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Member of:
QLD Writers Centre
Write Links
Share Your Story


The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru – a book review

3 legged uluru



The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru
By Michelle Worthington
Illustrated by Dave Atze
Published by Big Sky Publishing



The three legged kangaroo from Uluru is different. But when a man with a tan in a funny red van stumbles into the outback, this little kangaroo sets off on an amazing journey from the red rock to the blue waves. He discovers that belonging to a family is about celebrating what makes us unique.

The magnificent Uluru, sun, surf, beach and a Kombi van, plus Australian animals—it’s all in The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru, written  by multi-published, international award winning author Michelle Worthington, and wonderfully illustrated by Dave Atze.

A young kangaroo is laughed at by others, as his kinked tail makes him look like he has three legs instead of two. When a red rickety, ticket Kombi van comes looking for the beach but accidentally rocks up in the middle of Australia at Uluru, the three legged kangaroo greets the tourists with kindness, and hears about ‘waves’ in W.A. The three legged kangaroo joins his new friends and goes in search of the famous waves. With a new found love of surfing, the kangaroo masters riding the waves with an incredibly perfect balance, and discovers a new tribe of people who celebrate his success and uniqueness, and accept him as he is.

Illustrator, Dave Atze, has created an adorable kangaroo with varying facial expressions that give the character an instant likeable status. The colours throughout the book are vibrant, inviting and fun, and you will find yourself smiling due to the huge dose of cuteness that oozes from the kangaroo on every page.

Children will enjoy this feel good story. They will join in with the chanting of the kangaroo’s name as the new friends celebrate the new member of their beach family. The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru is a wonderful tale highly recommended for discussion about choosing to look at ability, instead of focusing on disability.

Purchase a copy:
Connect with Michelle Worthington at:
Connect with Dave Atze at:

title: The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru
author: Michelle Worthington
illustrator: Dave Atze
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925520392 (PB)
ISBN: 9781925520415 (HB)
Category: Children
Pages: 32

IMG_0902.jpgcropped.jpgmoidtone.jpg midtonesbw

Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Editor, tea ninja, Cadbury chocolate annihilator)

Member of:
QLD Writers Centre
Write Links
Share Your Story