Kids will easily and enjoyably learn the basics about Australian life and culture.

If you were me and lived in... Australia


In the latest installment of Roman’s (The Crew Goes Coconuts!, 2014, etc.) series—which previously examined India, France, Mexico and elsewhere—elementary age readers learn about the culture, geography and everyday lives of children in Australia.

This entry in Roman’s series opens with a map showing the shape of the country, an explanation of how it got its name, its location on the globe and the location of its capital city. Roman then mentions the major cities. From there, readers learn about things important to kids, e.g., what Australian kids call their parents—“You would call your mommy, ‘mummy’ (m-uh-mee) and your dad would answer to ‘daddy’ (Da-dee), just like in America.”—and what games they play: “cricket (crick-it), an outdoor game played on a large grass field with balls, bats, and two wickets (wick-its), which are posts that serve as goals.” Roman also describes tourist attractions, such as the Great Barrier Reef, and mentions that Australia’s currency is called the dollar, just like in the U.S. She even explains what a vegemite sandwich is—“dark brown vegetable paste [spread] onto white bread with some Western Star butter.” The story is lively and engaging, with pages of bright, colorful illustrations to help explain the text and make it more educational and appealing to kids. For instance, the page about Dad grilling on the “barbie” shows a father cooking shrimp and steaks. In past volumes, the glossary/pronunciation guide was located at the back of the book, but in this one, phonetic spellings are also sprinkled throughout the text—a distracting change, especially since some words, such as “daddy (Da-dee)” and “Jack (J-ae-k),” aren’t dramatically different in American English. Despite that, as with the other books in this enlightening and approachable series, this entry will help kids see the similarities and differences between their own lives and those of their peers around the world.

Kids will easily and enjoyably learn the basics about Australian life and culture.

Pub Date: March 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1490522395

Page Count: 28

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...


In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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