Friday, March 27, 2009

Guest Reviewer - Von Gobstopper's Arcade

Today's guest reviewer is Brenton Cullen. You can read more from Brenton at . Also, catch his recent blog tour, beginning at

VON GOBSTOPPER’S ARCADE by Alexandra Adornetto (HarperCollins, 2009, RRP: $19.99)
Reviewed by Brenton Cullen

17 year old whiz author, Alexandra Adornetto, makes a wonderful and enchanting impression with her latest novel, the third and last book in her highly-acclaimed series, The Strangest Adventures. Yet again we meet our main protagonists, Milli and Ernest, who are very excited, along with the rest of the children of Drabville, after a toy arcade is opened by acclaimed toy maker, Gustav Von Gobstopper, in their very honor. Milli and Ernest and the rest of their class at their new school St Erudite visit there on an excursion and soon find themselves becoming allies with several amazing talking toys.

There, they learn of a macabre plot to destroy Christmas for the town, led by the, yet again, Lord Aldor, now transformed and going by the title of Dr Illustrious. Will the two children finally defeat Lord Aldor, or, will this be their final showdown …. ?

Adornetto’s book is amusing, enchanting, and quite original. The plotlines and characters are very quirky, which is a good thing. However, some of the too-big language used in the door and narrative rambling leads the reader out of the story.

Nonetheless, highly recommended!
5 stars

Thanks, Brenton! And remember, readers, guest reviewers are welcome at Read and Reviewed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Connie and the Pigeons, by Mabel Jean Kaplan

Connie and the Pigeons, by Mabel Jean Kaplan, illustrated by Kelli Hainke (Stories for the Telling).

"Connie and the Pigeons" is a small, handy-sized picturebook illustrated in soft tones of blue-grey, sepia, and muted browns. It has accents of bright colour here and there which "lift" the drawings. I am reminded of a long-ago favourite picturebook of my son's, with similarly soft drawings. The illustrations repay examination, as children will love looking for the peripatetic lizard character that appears from time to time.

"Connie" is considerably longer than most picturebook texts. In many ways, it is more like a short, chapterless children's novel. This length and style of story was popular when I was young, and I have always liked it. The extra word count gives a more relaxed feeling to the telling.

The Connie of the story is the first Qantas plane to take Australian passengers to the UK. Connie loves her work, and is unhappy when she is retired and sent to an aeroplane graveyard for possible recycling. Her lonely days improve when some pigeons set up housekeeping in her interior. The friendly pigeons are indirectly responsible for Connie's second chance at life.

Connie is a sweet character, and her story is told in a friendly and readable manner. Connie is a "person", but remains a plane in capabilities. She cannot move unless assisted by a human pilot. The text is simply written, but, like the illustrations, is brightened with touches of verbal and adjectival colour. I can heartily recommend Connie's story for children (and adults) with a love of planes, aviation history, museums, and stories of renewal and triumph.

To read how Mabel account of how she came to write "Connie and the Pigeons", visit her guest-blogger appearance at .
Connie and the Pigeons is available through Westbooks in Victoria Park WA (08) 9361 4211

Email:; online through or direct from the publisher Stories for the Telling 54 Hudson Avenue Girrawheen WA 6064 Tel. (08) 9342 7150 Email:
For those on the Eastern coast it is also available from
HARS Souvenirs
cnr Airport and Boomerang Roads
Albion Park Rails, New South Wales 2527
Qantas Founder Outback Museum
PO Box 737
Longreach Qld 4730