Alexa Dretzke

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Alexa Dretzke is a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Hawthorn.

Reviews

Goodnight Already! by Jory John & Benji Davies

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

This is a tale that parents in particular will identify with.

A very tired bear settles down for some serious sleeping but a pesky duck neighbour is very much awake and desirous of company. This is …

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A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

As the wise Mark Twain said: ‘There are two sides to every story and then there is the truth.’

A funny little creature is rescued by an enthusiastic girl who names him Fang, takes him home, cares fo…

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Escape From Mr Limoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

This is one of the standout reads for me this year! It is a celebration of books and all their entertaining and diverse ways, as well as being a ripper read.

Mr Lemoncello is a very successful game …

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My Father The Great Pirate by Davide Cali & Maurizio Quarello (illus.)

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

When you read a Davide Cali book it is always an unforgettable experience. His stories explore universal themes of love, war and belonging with sensitivity and empathy. My Father the Great Pirate is …

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Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Good things come in small packages and Elliot is a cute little elephant who lives in the big city of New York. His tiny stature has its challenges but he is resourceful and has inventive ways to over…

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Little Dog and the Christmas Wish by Corinne Fenton & Robin Cowcher

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

I know it seems a little early to talk about Christmas books, but you may want to catch the overseas Christmas mail and send this to a homesick Victorian – or you may just want to enjoy a charming st…

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Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Rejoice readers, two of children’s literature’s celebrated creators are back together again with their wry humour and unique take on the world.

Sam and Dave are on a mission to find something ‘spect…

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On Sudden Hill by Linda Sarah and Benji Davies

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

A box is a wonderful thing. Of course, it’s useful for transporting things, but its most charming uses are when it’s a robot, house or a spaceship, really anything your imagination wants.

Birt and E…

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Hello from Nowhere by Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Eve and her dad live on the Nullarbor Plain and she loves it ‘in the middle of nowhere’. She loves the wildlife, the ever-changing tourists, the locals and the freedom. However, she misses her nan an…

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One Minute’s Silence by David Metzenthen & Michael Camilleri

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

The clever juxtaposition of placing contemporary young adults in a depiction of Australian troops landing at Gallipoli makes this moving book even more powerful. Sitting through a minute’s silence on…

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Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Margaret Wise Brown was the author of one of the most famous picture books, Goodnight Moon. She was prolific and had many books published, however, the poems (except three) in this book have never ap…

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Jim’s Lion by Russell Hoban & Alexis Decon

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

There are some books where, though you understand the central idea, there are aspects that are only tenuously interpreted and require re-readings. Intriguingly, these are precisely the books that sta…

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Imagine a City by Elise Hurst

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Elise Hurst’s masterful use of pen and ink has created an atmospheric world where mysterious happenings occur while an adult and two children take a trip to town. As they walk through the city, visit…

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Ruby Red Shoes Goes To Paris by Kate Knapp

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Ruby first captivated us in Ruby Red Shoes in which we were introduced to her and her grandmother, Babushka Galina Galushka, and their sweet world of gardening, caring for chickens and enjoying a cos…

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The Three Bears (Sort of) by Yvonne Morrison & Donovan Bixley

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

A cheeky child questioning the validity of the story of The Three Bears makes for a fun read. When the adult in The Three Bears (Sort Of) tries to read this old nursery tale aloud, a precocious audie…

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The ABC of Fabulous Princesses by Willy Puchner

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

The story is not really the point to this book; rather, it is about the deliciousness of words and the magical illustrations. Each of the curious, birdlike princesses, from Anna of Amsterdam to Zenob…

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Toy Stories by Gabriele Galimberti

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Everybody has a favourite toy; some of us still have them. As adults, they are a link to our childhood, imbued with the emotion and nostalgia of the past. Photographer and journalist Gabriele Galimbe…

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The Duck and the Darklings by Glenda Millard & Stephen Michael King

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Glenda Millard’s stories have a poetic sensibility and show a tender, sincere respect for people and animals alike.

In a dark, troubled place, Peterboy wants to bring light and good memories to his …

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Rivertime Trace Balla

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

More graphic novel than picture book, this story for older readers is about tuning in to the rhythms of nature and appreciating the cornucopia of birds and wildlife that can be discovered. When 10-ye…

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Here in the Garden by Briony Stewart

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

As a young boy tends to his garden through the seasons he reminisces about the wonderful times he shared with his rabbit. Briony Stewart evokes a benevolent and simple world of nature and a child’s a…

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What’s Your Favourite Animal? by Eric Carle & friends

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

You would think Lucy Cousins’s favourite animal would be a mouse but surprisingly it isn’t. Eric Carle has asked 14 of the world’s leading children’s book illustrators what their favourite animal is …

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Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

When Chris Haughton arrived on the children’s book scene four years ago with A Bit Lost there was a lot of excitement. His style was original and his palette was superb. His shapes, patterns and colo…

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A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Big in size, A Lion in Paris is also big on imagination with a haunting, surreal sensitivity. You want to re-read it immediately and really explore the mixed media and collage of writer and illustrat…

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The Open Ocean by Francesco Pittau & Bernadette Gervais

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

If you are unaware of this series you are in for a treat. (The previous titles are the gorgeous Out of Sight and Birds of a Feather.) Innovative, surprising and informative they are a visual trove th…

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Waffle Hearts: Lena and me in Mathildewich Cove by Maria Parr

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

They say opposites attract and the two main characters of this charming Norwegian novel couldn’t be more different. Lena and Trille live next door to each other and where Trille is sensitive and stea…

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Fire by Jackie French & illustrated by Bruce Whatley

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Fire, everyone’s nightmare if not contained in a fireplace, is something Australians are all too familiar with, and this moving picture book hauntingly conveys the sheer immensity of bushfire. The su…

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Mr. Rouse Builds His House by Stefan Themerson & illustrated by Franciszka Themerson

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

What this little book lacks in stature it more than makes up for with content. One hundred and forty-four pages, to be exact, with 122 quaint illustrations.

Originally published in Poland in 1938, i…

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The Goods by McSweeney’s

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

The team at McSweeney’s have combined their extensive talents for their latest publication, which is a book of puzzles, games, comics and all manner of fun facts. Strictly speaking, this is not just …

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I Wish I Had by Giovanna Zoboli & Simona Mulazzani

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Can you imagine what it would be like to be a tiger or a whale?

I Wish I Had… describes a character trait for each creature featured and the pictures depict it doing what it does best. There’s fun t…

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Fighting For Freedom by Cassy Liberman & Lucy Desbordes (Illus.)

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Nancy Wake, a true heroine who worked for the French Resistance and Allies in World War II as a courier, was one of the most wanted spies by the German Gestapo. At 16, Nancy ran away from home to tra…

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