Alexa Dretzke

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

Reviews

Pierre the Maze Detective by Chihiro Maruyama, Hiro Kamigaki & IC4Design

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Oh man, my eyeballs nearly popped out and my brain almost exploded, so I found a friend and together we tried to solve the mind-blowingly detailed mazes in this fantastic book.

As well as finding y…

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The Day The Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

It’s been over a year since the crayons quit (The Day the Crayons Quit) and postcards are starting to arrive for the neglectful Duncan. As we know, the crayons were living sad and disgruntled existen…

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Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

This extremely enjoyable story introduces us to 16-year-old Sam’s summer internship at the local newspaper. Her chief duty is compiling and writing obituaries and even though she anticipated more gla…

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Bob the Railway Dog by Corinne Fenton

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

This is not Corinne Fenton’s first picture book about a dog and like the one in The Dog on the Tuckerbox, Bob is a loyal dog, but his faithfulness is more to the trains that travelled throughout sout…

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Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

One night a little girl is taken to see her first ballet concert and as her heart sings with the joy of it a dream is born.

The time was the 1800s, the place Russia and the girl was Anna Pavlova. To…

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Little Houses by Helen Musselwhite

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Little Houses is a counting book that is a delicious smorgasbord of different houses from around the world all created by gifted paper artist, Helen Musselwhite. From a simple crofter’s cottage in Sc…

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Grandma’s House by Alice Melvin

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Alice Melvin’s previous book, the highly acclaimed and bestselling The High Street, was a charming evocation of a more genteel, less hurried time when shopkeepers displayed their wares with pride and…

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Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

There is a mystery within Grandad’s Island and it is up to each reader to decide for themselves what lies at the heart of this lovely, gentle book by Benji Davies, who gave us the wonderful Storm Wha

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My Name is Lizzie Flynn: A Story of the Rajah Quilt by Claire Saxby & Lizzy Newcomb

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

In 1841 Lizzie Flynn is being transported on the ship The Rajah from England to Australia. Her punishment for stealing a shawl is to serve seven years as a convict in the penal colony of Van Diemen’s…

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The Most Wonderful Thing in The World by Vivian French and Angela Barrett

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Oh my, this book is so pretty and the detail in the pictures so exquisitely delightful, I didn’t want it to end. In the way of so many fairytales, a suitable husband must be found for the princess an…

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I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Surprising and funny things can happen when a literary classic enters the brave new world of social media. Lucy and her two best friends begin their summer holidays with an uninspiring reading list f…

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Caravan Fran by Cheryl Orsini

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Caravan Fran is a dinky, retro mobile home that is about to embark on a vacation to the sea. Packed fulsomely and lovingly by Dave, Joe and Sam, off they go but a bumpy road sees the door fly open, R…

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How Big is Too Small? by Jane Godwin

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Size is mostly a measurement but it is also a relative notion too. What’s big to a small child is not necessarily so to an adult. In Sam’s case he’s too small to play with his older brother and his f…

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The Island of Dr Libris by Chris Grabenstein

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library was one of Readings’ bestselling kids’ books for 2014. It was wonderfully puzzling and compellingly un-put-downable. The Island of Dr Libris is not a sequel but is…

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A River by Marc Martin

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Reading A River is like being in someone else’s dream. As the languid waterway meanders through city, fields, forests and waterfalls you succumb to the rich patterns and serpentine serenity that feel…

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Why I Love Footy by Michael Wagner and Tom Jellett

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Why I Love Footy perfectly reflects the experience of going to an Australian Rules match. For kids who love to go to the footy it mirrors their experience and for those who haven’t been it’s a great …

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Home by Carson Ellis

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

The notion of home is beautifully and imaginatively explored in Carson Ellis’s first picture book. She is known for her ethereal illustrations in the Wildwood novels and here her talent shines on its…

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Thunderstorm Dancing by Katrina Germein and Judy Watson

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

A good, robust thunderstorm is a fine thing. The world goes dark, ominous and kind of thrilling. A young girl’s holidaying family embraces the storm as it rolls in from the sea. They scurry inside an…

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The Day No One Was Angry by Toon Tellegen and Marc Boutavant

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Lobster understands different types of anger and can supply just the right sort for every occasion and situation. Sound weird to you? Well, this is an unusual book and it examines different animals i…

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My Pop is a Pirate by Damon Young and Peter Carnavas

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Following on from the fun and deservedly very successful My Nanna is a Ninja comes this companion volume which is just as playful and energetic. The poetry is sheer joy and the rhythm flawless, but f…

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The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

This gorgeous picture book doesn’t whack you over the head with its exploration of social anxiety, but considers a sensitive boy’s feelings with empathy and subtlety. Faced with the fancy-dress parad…

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Beyond The Laughing Sky by Michelle Cuevas & Julie Morstad (illus.)

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

This is a small gem of a novel which, with graceful, sensitive prose, opens up the possibilities that come with difference. It champions being true to yourself and learning to live your one precious …

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As An Oak Tree Grows by G. Brian Karas

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

The 200 year history of a tree may seem a little dull, but believe me this picture book is a gorgeous introduction to history and nature. From a seedling planted in 1775 by a little boy, every 25 yea…

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Migloo’s Day by William Bee

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

A cast of many is introduced in this very busy ‘find it’ book and children with patience and a keen eye will have plenty of fun with it. Migloo is a little dog who goes exploring in Sunnytown, visiti…

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The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

Sally Gardner’s stories step right into to your imagination and don’t leave until long after the final page and The Door That Led to Where is no exception.

Sixteen-year-old AJ Flynn is given an old …

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Beyond the Laughing Sky by Michelle Cuevas & Julie Morstad

Reviewed by Alexa Dretzke

This is a small gem of a novel which, with graceful, sensitive prose, opens up the possibilities that come with difference. It champions being true to yourself and learning to live your one precious …

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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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