Out Now: A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories by Angela McAllister (author) and Alice Lindstrom (illustrator)

A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories By (author) Angela McAllister Illustrated by Alice Lindstrom

Step on to a stage full of stories with this beautiful anthology of stories from Shakespeare, rewritten to be accessible to children aged 5+. Including favourites such as The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Othello, each story is introduced by a cast list of characters, and stunningly illustrated by collage artist Alice Lindstrom. This lavish follow-up to A Year Full of Stories and A World Full of Animal Stories is the perfect gift for book lovers young and old.

A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories by Angela McAllister (author) and Alice Lindstrom (illustrator)

A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories

The first time I ever appeared in a Shakespeare production (a double bill of Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) I was eight, and by the time I was eleven I’d been made to read full Shakespeare plays to prepare for performances. I’m not sure how much of it I actually understood at the time, but I’m happy to see so many “Shakespeare for younger readers” titles coming out these days!

A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories is another good addition to the genre, and the illustrations are atmospheric and help to bring the stories alive.

Recommended as an introduction to The Bard’s work for younger readers.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 15th – 21st October

The gorgeous Friday we had in Canberra!

1 Currawong Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 15th october 2018 Australian Birds Nature

2 Currawong Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 15th october 2018 Australian Birds Nature

We had some beautiful spring weather in Canberra this week, but every time I tried to work outside, this currawong would steal my chair the second I stepped away from it!

What a stunning by-election result in Sydney last night. Maybe a message to the Federal Government to remind them Australia didn’t vote for the far-right government we were handed behind closed doors a few weeks ago…? May we please have an election NOW?!

Also, what stunning news out of Queensland. I didn’t expect it.

So many terrible things in the world this week. A question: when a Russian guy goes on a shooting rampage in Ukraine’s Crimea, killing more people than in high-profile Parkland, Florida, why does nobody seem to care? Why do we treat lives in one country as so much more important than lives in any other?

In fact, I was taught in *first semester* journalism at university that the media DOES consider people of different countries to matter more. We were taught (in one of the top two journalism courses in Australia) to start thinking of different countries as holding different levels of importance. It disgusted me back then, and it disgusts me more with each year.

Judy Blume on the Big Screen

My review of The Makings of a Lady by Catherine Tinley

Want to Read: Dominion by Peter Ackroyd

Royal Wedding

12 October 2018 Newlyweds Princess Eugenie of York and Mr. Jack Brooksbank leave following their wedding at St George_s Chapel in Windsor, England. © Getty Images +

Coming Up for Madeline Hunter

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

Judy Blume on the Big Screen

Are You There God It's Me Mrgaret by Judy Blume

It was announced a couple of days ago that Judy Blume’s 1970 book Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is finally being turned into a movie.

You can read more about it HERE.

Here’s what the book is about:

“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” No one ever told Margaret Simon that eleven-going-on- twelve would be such a hard age. When her family moves to New Jersey, she has to adjust to life in the suburbs, a different school, and a whole new group of friends. Margaret knows she needs someone to talk to about growing up-and it’s not long before she’s found a solution.

“Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. I can’t wait until two o’clock God. That’s when our dance starts. Do you think I’ll get Philip Leroy for a partner? It’s not so much that I like him as a person God, but as a boy he’s very handsome. And I’d love to dance with him… just once or twice. Thank you God.

 

 

Time School by Nikki Young

Time School by Nikki Young

A power cut and a series of mini disasters means friends, Jess, Nadia, Tomma and Ash barely make it to the station to catch their train to school. What they find is a far cry from the usual packed commuter train they’re expecting…

When they arrive at Hickley School, the children are surprised to find some of the buildings missing and they don’t recognise any of the other pupils, who are all dressed in a different style of uniform. The only person who takes the time to help them is Martha, despite being preoccupied by her own worries about her family being hungry and not hearing from brother, Henry whom she says is away fighting.

The children soon realise this is no normal day and it’s not until they return home that they’re able to figure out what happened. What they don’t know is whether it was a one-off day, or if they will get to see Martha and the other pupils again. Jess hopes so. She has something she needs to tell Martha. Not knowing how or why, she feels a connection and an obligation to this girl she can’t explain.

Time School by Nikki Young

I’ve been liking seeing the First World War-themed books for younger readers that have been appearing in recent months. At the centenary of the of the end of the war, it’s a good way to engage another generation with one of the most significant events in human history.

As with other books I’ve seen with similar themes, Time School does a good job of connecting modern-day children with the past by introducing us to characters both past and present, characters who find a direct connection over time. We learn through the characters’ eyes how life was, and how things have changed.

Recommended both for the target age group and anyone else who enjoys a creative children’s book.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 20th – 26th August

U.S. Senator John McCain @SenJohnMcCain , Ukraine's friend and greatest US supporter.

Edit: R.I.P. to John McCain.

What an absolutely stupid week in Australian politics. We seem to change Prime Ministers faster than Donald Trump changes staff!

Weirdly, on Thursday afternoon, right after some of the worst drama in Parliament here in Canberra unfolded, I stepped outside and a group of fighter jets flew straight over me. (I’ve been around them many times before, but GOD, those things are loud). People in Canberra were joking that a military coup had begun.

Maybe we need one!

One Week

My review of Watchmaker’s Heart by Juli D. Revezzo

Children’s Book Week

This Is Not My Hat (I Want My Hat Back) by Jon Klassen

Curious Zelda in a Book!

Curious Zelda The Cat

On this day: Human Rights in Canada

Ukrainian Independence Day

National Dog Day

How Do Cats Do That?: Discover How Cats Do The Amazing Things They Do by Peter Scottsdale

How Do Cats Do That Discover How Cats Do The Amazing Things They Do by Peter Scottsdale

How Do Cats Do That?: Discover How Cats Do The Amazing Things They Do by Peter Scottsdale

It was 1am. I was looking for a book to read. Instead of something in the realm of fiction for grownups, I saw the crazy cat on the cover of How Do Cats Do That? and downloaded this book instead.

Written in simple language in order to appeal to all ages, the book does exactly what you’d expect: it explains everything you would want to know about cats and their behaviour.

After having a gazillion stray cats turn up in my life in recent years, I’ve already read everything I could find about this particular topic, but this is a good summary for people who need to know a lot about cats in a hurry.

A quick, easy read.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 5th – 11th February

Friday sunset in Canberra

Australian Parliament all wrapped up in scaffolding for refurbishment yesterday afternoon.

2018 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

2018 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

Kim Yuna lighting the Olympic torch.

Misty – and the end she didn’t deserve

Blind Calico Cat Canberra Australia 26th May 2017 Sonya Heaney Cute 1

We’re not a country??

Flags across the country have been lowered to honour one of Australia's former governors-general, Sir Ninian Stephen, who died on October 29. Parliament House Canberra 8th November 2017

My review of The Marquess Tames His Bride by Annie Burrows

The Marquess Tames His Bride (Brides for Bachelors) by Annie Burrows

My review of Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare for Children Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Must monsters always be male?

Cinderella Disney.

Cover Love

Carrying the Gentleman's Secret by Helen Dickson

Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare for Children Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet needs no introduction. Younger readers with be suitably introduced to one the greatest love stories ever to be written. Romeo and Juliet is the tragic love story of the “star-crossed lovers,” Romeo and Juliet. Set in the city of Verona, Italy, the play revolves around the feud between two affluent families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Despite the enmity, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet fall passionately in love and wed in secret. However, the enmity between both disapproving families overpowers and leads everything to go terribly wrong.

Shakespeare for Children: Romeo and Juliet

I was interested to see how someone could possibly tackle Romeo and Juliet to make it into something palatable for readers even younger than Juliet herself.

This highly condensed version of Shakespeare’s dramatic play focuses mostly on the title characters and devotes more time to the developing relationship than the death-fest that comes afterwards. There are some illustrations throughout.

In order to simplify things, some characters are changed a little. Paris is no longer some titled guy looking for a well-bred baby-maker, but is now a man who comes to the Capulet ball already knowing Juliet and in love with her. The nurse becomes some random servant in the background of the story.

I think the violent aspects of the story were explained as briefly and best as they could be for the target readers.

Still, it’s an extraordinary choice of story for a middle grade book!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Must monsters always be male?

Cinderella Disney.

“No” evil women in fiction!

The Guardian recently ran what I consider to be a misguided article:

Must monsters always be male? Huge gender bias revealed in children’s books

Perhaps Donna Ferguson, the article’s author, has missed the fact the “evil stepmother” is a trope, but there’s no “evil stepfather”. Or that “evil, jealous sisters” feature in everything from ancient literature to children’s fairy tales.

How about all those young adult and new adult books where the mothers are all evil drunkards, the villains are always villainesses in the form of jealous blonde “popular girls”, and the most common heroine trope is the one who’s “not like other girls” and therefore has no female friends?

When I think of monsters, I think of Stalin and Hitler and Putin and Trump. I think of doctors who spend twenty years freely molesting hundreds of young gymnasts. I think of a man filling a hotel room with guns and mowing down a crowd in the space of minutes. Of all the gender biases in books, how can needing more female monsters possibly be the one that matters?

Adding more evil women to fiction, when what we need is to stop demonising women, is a step in the wrong – not the right – direction.

While the other points in the article – about the lack of female characters in starring roles, and the lack of female characters who speak – are important to address, I would say fiction is already misogynistic enough.