Alexa Dretzke

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

Reviews

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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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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