Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tale as old as time

There's a reason fairytales have been around for so long. Not only are they great tales, they also contain morals about humanity. They feature knights, princesses, ogres, swordfights and magic. These stories have endured because they tell us about the darker side of humanity as well as the good. Fairytales are often retold, and the best ones might change the setting, or tell the story from a different perspective. Here are some of the best retellings.
(I know Ophelia is Shakespeare but the book is too awesome not to include)


Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Ophelia lost her mother at a young age and lives with her father and brother at Elsinore castle. She is the queen's most trusted lady-in-waiting and while she may not be good at sewing, she is very observant and has a sharp wit. She catches the eye of Prince Hamlet, and the two fall in love. The two are happy for a time but Ophelia feels like a prisoner in the castle. As Hamlet descends into madness, Ophelia must decide if her love for Hamlet is stronger than her need to survive.

A great retelling of a classic story. Ophelia is such a fantastic character and it is wonderful to hear her side of the story.

Tennyson's Lady of Shallot

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

Sixteen year old Elaine of Ascolat is the daughter of one of King Arthur's supporters. She lives with her father on Arthur's military base and is the only girl apart from Morgan, Arthur's sister. Elaine has grown up learning how to heal the wounds of soldiers and to mend clothing and chain-mail. Elaine and Morgan are friends but she cannot confess her biggest secret - she is in love with Lancelot, the King's second in command. When a woman, Gwynivere arrives on the scene, things become a lot more complicated.

Avalon High by Meg Cabot 

Ellie's parents are professors obsessed with medieval legends. She is used to being moved around a lot, so when she transfers to Avalon High everything seems normal at first. There's Jennifer, the bubbly cheerleader. Lance, the athlete and his friend Will, the class president. When Ellie finds out that Jennifer is cheating on Will with Lance, strange things start to happen. Ellie starts seeing weird parallels between her life and the story of King Arthur. What is going on? Is tragedy about to strike?

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty may not be as pretty as her two sisters but she is certainly the most intelligent. When her father's business goes under, the family are forced to move to a small house in the country. Beauty hears incredible stories of a Beast living in a castle in the woods. She is uncertain if these stories are true, until her father returns from a trip claiming he has met the Beast, and angered him. Now there is a price to pay. One of the daughters must go to the castle to live with the Beast. Only Beauty is brave enough...

Beastly by Alex Flinn

New York City. Present Day. There is a beast, not quite a wolf or bear but a horrid new creature. One who walks upright with fangs and claws and is covered in fur. The Beast became this way when a young witch in his English class cast a spell on him. Beastly invites you to look at the classic tale from the Beast's point of view. Do you dare take a look?


Ash by Malinda Lo

After her father dies, Ash is left in the care of her cruel stepmother. She is consumed with grief and her only solace is in the fairy tales her mother used to tell her. In the forest one day she stumbles upon a real fairy, the handsome but dangerous Sidhean. She thinks he might take her away from her harsh reality and into a world where anything is possible. When Ash meets the King's Huntress Kaisa, her thoughts of fairies are forgotten. As she learns to track and hunt, Ash forms a strong bond with Kaisa and for a while, things don't seem quite so bad. She must make a choice between the magic of fairies and the magic of love.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

You've probably seen the recent movie of this with Anne Hathaway. I think the book is better (it usually is). At her birth, Ella of Frell was given the gift of obedience by a rather foolish fairy. Whatever order she is given, Ella must obey. This "gift" seems to be more like a curse to Ella, how can she possibly like it when someone orders her to hop on one foot all day? She is determined to find out how to break the curse, and on the way meets ogres, giants, elves and a prince.


A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C Bunce

Charlotte Miller hasn't had an easy life. Her mother and baby brother died and now with her father gone, she must take charge of running the family mill Stirwaters. Charlotte needs to keep the mill going, so when a man called Jack Spinner offers her a deal that could change her luck, she is excited but cautious. Jack proves to be reliable but his help comes with a price. Will Charlotte be willing to pay it?

Alice in Wonderland

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

An interesting take on the Alice tale. Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne of Wonderland. She was forced to flee through the Pool of Tears because the murderous Redd overthrew the government. Alyss ends up in Victorian London and is lost and alone until she meets Lewis Carroll, an aspiring author. Alyss told him the terrible story of her childhood, only to see it twisted into the nonsensical Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. She had hoped someone would see the story and take her back home. But her royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan is persistent and will not rest until her finds her. Can Alyss find her way back to Wonderland to fight Redd for the throne?


Tales From the Tower (Volumes One and Two) edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab.

Featuring stories from Margo Lanagan, Richard Harland, Martine Murray, Victor Kelleher, Margaret Mahy, Cate Kennedy and Maureen McCarthy. These are dark retelling of traditional fairytales - some well-known and some obscure. The stories are set in the past, present, future and alternate worlds. Some particularly good stories were Moth's Tale (a version of Rumplestiltskin), A Catastrophic Disruption of the Head (Hans Christian Anderson's The Tinderbox) and Learning the Tango (The Little Mermaid).

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Monday, June 11, 2012


Bart King's Big Book of Spy Stuff gives super-sleuthy explanations on what a spy is, does and how to be one!

From how to crack codes, to getting yourself out of a tight-spot, and how to be 'ethical' in a profession that requires lies and deceit, this book has everything you need to set you on the path to becoming a secret-agent. Filled with stories about real-life spies, this book is also a great read even if you don't want to be a spy, and just want an adventurous read. 
A sneaky look into the most evasive profession you can imagine. 

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Greetings Book clubbers!

We had such a fantastic time in May, thank you for being so nice to us! We really enjoyed your insightful comments on the books we read.
So we are now really looking forward to seeing you all again! 

Our next meeting is for the Young Adult book club on Saturday, 30th of June, 3pm.

Due to difficulties getting Floors in on time, kids book club is now on Saturday, 17th of July at 2pm.

We’ve picked two awesome books to read:

For the younger book-clubbers (9-12) we’ve got Floors by Patrick Carman

For the older book-clubbers (13+) we’ve picked the creepy Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Happy Reading!

Lana and Isabella

Please email back ( or call 9689 0661 to let us know if you are coming. 

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Have you ever wondered how much a woolly mammoth weighed?

Or if there might be giant creatures hidden so deeply in the Amazon rainforest that they haven't been discovered by contemporary humans?
Or how entire species become extinct in the first place?
And what the heck is a Tratratratra? (apart from the noise your dad makes when he's trying to sing).

Then this is the book for you! 

Continent by continent, this book tells the stories of how species, both ancient and modern lived, how they are and have been imagined by humans at different times in history. It tells us how they were discovered by modern science; and most of all how they came to be extinct. This book uses quick and funny cartoons, beautiful illustrations and quick-read statistics (great for kids who love to crunch numbers!) to talk about biodiversity, climate change, mythology, eco-systems and the direct and indirect impact of humans on the environment. 

Perfect for curious kids who love animals, science and great stories!

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