Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

Author: The Book Monitor team Page 1 of 30

Landing with Wings by Trace Balla

Beautiful illustrations…

A story of hope- a way forward, beyond boundaries and fences towards belonging, community and country, welcome and home.’ Trace Balla

A spectacular book! Children will just love this way of recording stories, with pictures, annotations, and conversations. It has so much meaning and misses all those extra words which can detract from the events.

Finding roots where you can call a place home is important. Landing with Wings does just that as it follows the story of Miri Miri and her Mum, as they set up home in a place in the country in Dja Dja Wurrung Country in Australia. Finding friends in the world outside is the first thing, like the frog in the creek, the spotted pardalote and the silver eyes birds.  Miri Miri goes to school and starts meeting other children and people, being part of the community and the place.

But her Mum, who has stayed at home making the house feel like home, is sad and thinking about moving away. Until that is, Miri Miri introduces her to Swee and Laylah, and it just all starts to work out.

There is so much in this book, which records life in Australia, providing the wings to fly, finding somewhere new, and the roots to make the place your own. The annotations and descriptions of wildlife, nature and the earth are amazing. The First Nations people of  Dja Dja Wurrung, the Elders and especially Uncle Rick(in the illustrations!)are key to this book as well as the young Aboriginal leaders of the future.

Trace Balla talks about her book…

Trace Balla is author and illustrator is an award winning Australian children’s author and illustrator. Her book Rivertime won the 2015 Readings Children’s Book Prize and the Wilderness Society Picture Book Award in the same year. Trace is often found sketching in nature, riding her bike with her son, dancing, and growing vegies in her garden in central Victoria. She works as an illustrator, community artist, art therapist, animator, and writer of songs and stories.

Don’t we all need more ‘rivertime’?

As you can tell,, Landing with Wings has touched my soul and I hope one day sometime soon I can be back in Australia and out there in the countryside(bush!)

Sue Martin

Stories across the world…

Girl From the Sea by Margaret Wild and Jane Tanner

A haunting quality…

A shipwreck, a house by the sea and a family. This is a beautiful story, a book with incredibly spiritual illustrations and just a few words, and yet it says so much. I read it and looked at it many times picking  up a subtle undertext through the illustrations. It is a book to have when times are hard and maybe we are all lost for words.

Margaret Wild is an Australian author and her thoughtful, award-winning children’s books have been published with great success in many countries. They include Old Pig (shortlisted, CBCA Picture Book of the Year), Fox (winner, CBCA Picture Book of the Year), The Dream of the Thylacine (honour book, CBCA Picture Book of the Year), and On the Day You Were Born, all illustrated by Ron Brooks. Margaret has been the recipient of the Nan Chauncy Award and the Lady Cutler Award for her contributions to Australian Literature.

Jane Tanner began illustrating picture books in 1984 with Margaret Wild’s There’s a Sea in my Bedroom (shortlisted, Kate Greenaway Medal. Her many awards and shortlisted books include Drac and the Gremlin by Allan Baillie (joint winner, CBCA Picture Book of the Year. In 2017 Jane illustrated Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan (nominated, Kate Greenaway Medal; shortlisted, Prime Minister’s Literary Award; shortlisted, Queensland Literary Awards).

Allen and Unwin are the Australian publishers Girl from the Sea joins an incredibly powerful list of beautifully published books with meaning and power to touch people and bring changes to our world.

There is a haunting quality to Girl From the Sea and it fits a perfect place for thoughtful and evocative life experiences.

Sue Martin

Wonderful words and pictures, everywhere

Shoestring The boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt and Dale Newman

But trouble is brewing…

A gripping illustrated adventure about a travelling circus troupe, a future-telling macaw and a cursed pair of gloves that Shoestring must conquer once and for all. A companion to the award-winning KidGlovz.


Twelve-year-old Shoestring is leaving behind his life of crime and starting a new career with the Troupe of Marvels. Their lead performer, he has an invisible tightrope and an act to die for. But trouble is brewing – the magical gloves that caused so much turmoil for KidGlovz are back.

When he’s wearing the gloves, the world is at Shoestring’s fingertips. It’s so easy to help himself to whatever he likes – even other people’s hopes and dreams. But when he steals his best friend’s mind, he’s at risk of losing all he values most.

Julie Hunt is the author to this amazingly intriguing and, like nothing else you will ever read book! It is a compelling sequel to KidGlovz, winner of the 2016 Queensland Literary Award and named as one of Booktrust UK’s 100 best books for middle readers.

Dale Newman has captured the imagery of Shoestring perfectly and she
has been engaged in creative life for many years.and now works as a freelance illustrator. KidGlovz was her very first-ever epic graphic novel. Dale lives on the New South Wales coast of Australia with her partner and son, who kindly agreed to model for the book. Her artwork also appears on the cover of Julie’s award-winning novel Song for a Scarlet.

Obsession, revenge and the threads that bind us…

Allen and Unwin are the publishers,they have created wonderful materials to go with this book. You can download a free set of Teacher’s Resources to go with Shoestring which will create some excellent writing skills.

Every so often a book lands on my desk in Cambridge, UK which grabs me! After ten minutes on the sofa, Shoestring is coming home with me to read tonight. Definitely one to read.

Sue Martin

Books and authors from around the world

Dear Ugly Sisters, poems by Laura Mucha and illustrated by Tania Rex

Great poetry!

An outstanding new voice in children’s poetry with her debut collection full of varied, effervescent and thought provoking poems.

Laura has already achieved much through literacy events, poetry workshops and blog writing and this brand new venture into a book of her poems is a great way for us all to find her poems at our finger tips.

Read the poem Dear Ugly Sisters below,

Laura Mucha is an award winning poet, author and speaker. She has won two international poetry prizes, the Caterpillar {poetry Prize, 2016 and the inaugural YorkMix Poems for Children 2019. She also writes for adults too with her debut book, Love Factually/We Need to Talk About Love published in 2019.

Tania Rex was born and raised in Bilnius, Lithuania, where she still lives and graduated from Vilnius Academy of Art.

Otter-Barry Books publishes four poetry collections a year and is an imprint which pushes the boundaries for publication in the world of children’s book publishing.

Sue Martin

Belonging Street – Poems by Mandy Coe

At a time when we definitely need poems to lighten our load, to find some of our hidden feelings and to express joy and laughter, Belonging Street brings a wonderful collection of poems from a popular poet, encompassing the natural world, city life and family belonging.

Much needed poetry….

Two of the poems especially appealed to me; My Name is Grey , with a verse

I am the owl’s wing and winter sky,

I leap in the mad March hare.

I hide in the hedgehog’s prickles,

And sleep in the wolf’s thick fur.

And My Name is Blue,

I am the kingfisher’s pride

and the boat’s wide sail.

Belonging Street includes poems to encourage empathy, a sense of belonging and care for our planet- an important collection for our time.

Mandy Coe, the poet, performs in schools and workshops in the UK and you can listen to Mandy read her poems on the BBC Teach School Radio.

Otter Barry have a great range of poetry books in their collection , which they publish four times a year. They are an exciting children’s imprint aiming to make a difference, push boundaries and publish books that children will love.

At Books Go walkabout we are passionate about empowering young voices and never has their been a time when this is more needed, so welcome and enjoy Belonging Street.

Sue Martin

The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This book is a delight…compassionate, hopeful and ultimately redemptive

A remarkable book following a young girl through separation, disease and loss through remarkable courage and determination to make things right. It was shortlisted for the Costa Children’ s Book Award 2017

Ami lives with her sick mother on an island where the sea is as blue as the sky. It’s all she knows and loves, but the arrival of a cruel government official, Mr Zamora, changes her world for ever. Her island is to become a leprosy colony. Ami is banished to an orphanage across the water, where she meets a girl whose name means butterflies, and together they set out to find a way home to the island at the end of everything.

This is a book full of intriguing decisions , and cunning looks into the people who have made them, without little thought of the effect on others. It brings together the need for understanding and compassion. It shows how young people can so often break through rules that are plainly wrong.

I loved reading the book , recommended to me by the librarian at Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong, and will now find further books by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Published by Chicken House Books, The Island at the End of Everything is part of a great collection of books in a huge range of genres. Their list for Summer Reading 2020 looks fantastic, about to start on the next exciting read.

Sue Martin

Amazing Women of the Middle East – 25 Stories to inspire girls everywhere by Wafa’ Tarnowska

Truly amazing women

This is a book you will enjoy from cover to cover!

From Nefertititi, a beautiful and powerful Queen,to Zahra Lari, incredible ice skater, this book brings a huge dimension to the creative and powerful influence of women in the Middle East.

Discover Sheherazade, the famous storyteller, dive into the musical world of singer Fairuz, and meet Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Here in one unique volume are twenty-five outstanding women from the Middle East, who have created a legacy through strength of vision, leadership, courage and sheer determination.

Written by award-winning children’s author and trailblazer, Wafa’ Tarnowska, this unique collection of short biographies is illustrated with stunning, contemporary art by five internationally recognised artists.

There is so much amazing information in this book which will provide a further valuable insight into the world of the Middle East. Whichever era may interest you, there will be a remarkable story about a woman with insight and vision.

Amal looney – Human Rights lawyer

Maybe my favourites are Sheherazade in 9th Century BCE, the daughter of the vizier, and a storyteller, writing about tales on the Silk Road from China to Arabia; and Amal Clooney, a modern-day Human Rights lawyer, whose quote is, “ Giving up is not an option!

Wafa’ Tarnowska is the award-winning author of Arabian Nights, published by Barefoot Books. Wafa’ has a large repertoire of work including several children’s books, many translated into numerous languages. She also translates plays and books including Victoria and Abdul, which was then made into a film. In 2018, Wafa’ performed Palestinian stories with Jumana Emile Abboud at the Tate Modern in London.

The illustrations in the book are beautiful with an amazing use of colour and different styles throughout.

Pikku Publishers produce the most beautiful books and Amazing Women from the Middle East is a special book in their collection. The hardback book is a joy to have and each page has its own individual colour and shade. Pikku Publishers produce quality books for children in schools and at home and they reach far across the globe in sales and achievements.

If I could step outside my door today and buy one book, this is the one that I would choose. such a good book.

Sue Martin

Joanna Grochowicz, Antarctic Explorer author, Zooms to Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong

Joanna and statue of Amundsen

Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong have been working with Books Go Walkabout for some years. We had planned a wonderful author visit to the school in October 2019, by Joanna Grochowicz, New Zealand author of Polar Explorers. But then the Hong Kong protests meant it was no longer safe.

With children still working from home, due to Covid 19, in the spring of 2020, Beth McNeilly, school librarian and a passionate believer in the benefit of direct contact with authors, helped us to find a way. So, along with three quarters of the world in June 2020 we used Zoom. And hey it was fantastic!

A great school…

We had over 300 children, staff and parents joining the Zoom presentation with Joanna. We found our way to the Antarctic; where Joanna had visited in February this year, we reached the South Pole, and saw the photographer Ponting taking a photo of killer whales, we heard that the ice block he was standing on was upended by the whales, but he managed to escape, which was good as they would have eaten him.

Joanna in disguise as Herbert Ponting

There was so much fascinating detail of the journeys of both R.F Scott from the UK, and R. Amundsen from Norway in the early 1900’s, that the stories of adventure, courage, determination, skill and expertise were incredible. All the stories which brought the presentation and the books to life had been meticulously researched by Joanna with visits to many places to gather the story behind the journey. Joanna visited Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, UK, where she also came to Books Go Walkabout office.

Joanna in disguise as Amundsen

Her books are just made for reading, the first in the series is, Into the White, Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey and her second book is, Amundsen’s Way, with her third book about Shackleton being published later this year. They are some incredible stories and immensely well written, good for ages above 9 years and including all adults.

Into the White

We are indebted to Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong for their perseverance in enabling the visit for Joanna to take place and especially to Beth McNeilly and staff for their commitment to the project and of course, to all the children who joined into the presentation. It must have been as hard for them to sit still for an hour without asking direct questions as it was for Joanna to present her stories to many, many black screens.

Amundsen's Way - The Race to the South Pole

We hope that one day all will be well and international travel will enable Joanna to make a direct visit to Hong Kong. But there is also so much scope now for children to have virtual visits with authors who have so much to bring to learning and adventure.

At Books Go Walkabout, we are committed to an international dimension to with books, and authors; stories across the world and knowledge transfer through reading and sharing.

Sue Martin

Creating Poetry during Lockdown

In this global pandemic we have been thinking of just how to reach out to others across the world.  Poetry is a way of finding and releasing feelings.  

And do you know what, children are so good at it! 

Cheryl is a profoundly interesting, engaging and empathetic poet – with children or adults…we think so!

Cheryl Moskowitz is a poet, narrator and writer who works with us at Books Go Walkabout . Since March 2020, when school closures were announced in the UK, Cheryl has been talking to children, their parents and staff at schools. What is life like in this Covid19 world?

Shrewsbury School, Hong Kong is an International School and have experienced huge amount of lock-down time at school. Beth McNeilly, the school librarian talked about a plan with Books Go Walkabout to get children writing. A poem from Wilfred is shown on the page in the link above, what a star!

A great school, committed to poetry and creativity…

At Books Go Walkabout we put the two together and Cheryl and Beth worked on a poetry plan for children in Years 1 and 2. We Zoomed across the world and heard the most amazing poems, and it all started with a poem of Cheryl’s that begins…

Just supposing…

you woke up tomorrow

and there weren’t all these rules

like: YOU HAVE TO STAY HOME!

and: YOU CAN’T GO TO SCHOOL!

The children wrote and they wrote, and they came up with the most amazing collections of thoughts, poems and words( vocabulary was awesome!)

Parents and teachers and librarians were part of the video, the writing and the Zoom session. It was a BRILLIANT session. Releasing fears and worries, turning them into creative and imaginative pieces of written work.

Great job Shrewsbury and Cheryl!! At Books Go Walkabout we loved it! You can read more on Books Go Walkabout.

Sue Martin


The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

A story of friendship, love, care and challenge.

I  discovered this book whilst browsing in my favourite bookshop in London. I was on a training course at the time and was delighted to have found this inspirational, beautiful and emotive book I showed it to my colleagues. 

To my surprise, most of the people in the room had already bought the book and were overwhelmed with it. And so, as I journeyed home that evening I slowly went through all the pages, the drawings, the meaning in the text said so much, and the inspiration on life was wonderful.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a story of friendship, love, care and challenge. The characters are brought together gradually, with the boy first, who is lonely until he meets the mole, who loves cake. They meet the fox, not easy if you are a mole, but fox has been hurt by life and is mainly silent. The horse is the largest and the gentlest of characters and carries them through a lot.

The format of the book is water-colour illustrations with hand written text on creamy tactile paper  and feels such a precious book. The author, Charlie Mackesy, hopes that the book will be well used and I’m sure he is right, although I am not sure I could also make notes on it as he suggests. It is still sitting by my chair looking new, although well read. It is a book for quiet moments and for sharing with others too.

Charlie Mackesy is an artist, a thinker and a creator of inspirational ‘stuff’ about life.  

Penguin Publishers are a huge publishers, and full of creative and new authors, and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is in a beautiful format which highlights the inspirational text and illustration.

What a joy!

Sue Martin

Books from around the world

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