Athina Clarke

Athina Clarke works as a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Malvern.

Reviews

The King and The Sea by Heinz Janisch & Wolf Erlbruch (illus.)

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

On one level The King and the Sea is a collection of pithy short stories about a little king who sets out to explore ‘his’ kingdom. His endeavours meet with varying degrees of success. The little kin…

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The Story of Life by Catherine Barr, Steve Williams and Amy Husband

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

For some, evolution conjures up images of bones and fossils – the old, the dry and the dead. But for the creators of The Story of Life, evolution evokes a vibrant, colourful, joyous world very much a…

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A Year in the Life of A Total and Complete Genius by Stacey Matson

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Arthur Bean is no shrinking violet. The exceptionally bright 13-year-old boastfully broadcasts his extraordinary abilities, especially his outstanding literary talents. If you think he sounds like a …

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The Jolley Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

The small town of Dull-on-Sea is ransacked by pirates every full moon, baffling the police force and throwing its inhabitants into panic. Matilda enlists the assistance of her best friend, Jim Lad, a…

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Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Husen

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Leroy dreams of being a cowboy; he’s got a hat, a lasso and boots – everything except something to ride! So when Maybelline, an old horse with few, yet specific, needs (lots of love, compliments and …

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The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan & John Parke Davis

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Carrie Ryan is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy. In collaboration with John Parke Davis, The Map to Everywhere is their first title …

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Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret by D.D. Everest

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Archie Greene longs for adventures but foresees a lonely, boring holiday stuck at home with his Gran. But when a mysterious old book arrives on his twelfth birthday, Archie’s world transforms from mu…

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Laurinda by Alice Pung

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Let me first declare that this novel was like a time machine that shot me straight back to my own years in middle secondary school. On one level Laurinda is about a young girl’s struggle for identity…

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Spud & Charli by Samantha Wheeler

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Charli dreams of owning a horse; if she could only learn to ride and win the gymkhana she might convince her parents to buy her one. It’s a big challenge but Charli has determination in spades – espe…

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The Year It All Ended by Kirsty Murray

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

1918 should have been the ‘year it all ended’ for 17-year-old Tiney Flynn and her family, as the Great War finally comes to an end and family and friends eagerly await the return of loved ones. But T…

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Plenty by Ananda Braxton-Smith

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Ten-year-old Maddie is confused and extremely angry when her parents reveal they’re moving from their inner-city Melbourne home to a small regional town. Her sense of dislocation is profound as all t…

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Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Imagine an idyllic island paradise where life is beautiful but challenging. If you’re not willing or able to hunt, fish, forage for food and build shelter from the elements, you won’t last long in th…

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Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

It’s 1914 and 16-year-old Frank and his dad volunteer for war; Frank’s excitement is palpable as the pair set sail for a great adventure in Egypt. But father and son are swiftly parted as Dad is depl…

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My Heart is Laughing by Rose Lagercrantz & Eva Eriksson

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

My Heart is Laughing is irresistible and just like in its predecessor, My Happy Life, there’s so much for children to experience within this realistic depiction of being a kid. The story explores how…

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Dappled Annie and the Tigrish by Mary McCallum & Annie Hayward

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

On a remote stretch of New Zealand coastline, the daughter of the local lighthouse keeper is left to her own devices. The beauty of Annie’s surroundings, combined with the power of her imagination, c…

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Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes by Nicola Davies & Emily Sutton

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

To fully convey the true wonder of the scientific world to younger children requires great skill. To make it informative yet entertaining demands art. This beautifully produced picture book has both,…

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Squishy McFluff: The Invisible Cat! by Pip Jones & Ella Okstad

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

I’m unsure as to who is the cutest character in this story. Is it the wonderfully mischievous Ava, artfully dodging responsibility for minor misdemeanours, or the soft, furry Squishy McFluff, Ava’s n…

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The Simple Things by Bill Condon & Beth Norling

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Steven’s first meeting with his great aunt Lola doesn’t win him any points. She seems a bit scary and grumpy, and what on earth are they going to talk about, given she’s ‘really really old’? But the …

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The Cunning Plan by Caryl Hart & Alex T. Smith

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Young readers will have lots of fun reading this crazy, laugh-out-loud adventure starring Foxy Dubois (the fox) and Alphonso (the alligator) and the outlandish population of the bustling town of Vaud…

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Ophelia And The Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy has it all: a magical realm embroiled in a battle between good and evil; a council of wizards pitted against an evil Snow Queen; a 300-year-old boy and a pragmatic, rat…

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A Book is a Book Jenny Bornholdt & illustrated by Sarah Wilkins

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

I gasped with delight on my first encounter with this whimsical marriage of words and pictures, and I reverently turned the cream-coloured pages with their delightful illustrations. Obviously talente…

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These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

This first book in the Starbound trilogy – aptly described by the publisher as Titanic in space – reads like a star-crossed lovers’ tale but it’s so much more: a compelling, richly imagined adventure…

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Jump by Sean Williams

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Clair’s world is remarkable; technology has completely transformed people’s lives. All requirements are reproduced instantly by ‘fabbers’, eliminating the need for money. Most importantly the creatio…

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Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Boy could be a typical seventeen-year-old geek. He’s happiest holed up in his room, an ingenious hacker, creating code or chatting to his online buddies at all hours. Yet Boy isn’t typical. He’s the …

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Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell (Illus.)

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

When Dad returns late from a simple trip to the corner shop, the children demand an explanation. What follows is a fantastic tale of globby aliens, monsters, pirates, time-travel and even a run-in wi…

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Vango by Timothée de Fombelle

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

I’ll admit it, I had misgivings about this book; I couldn’t see how the story of a novice priest’s ordination would be relevant to a young adult. But from the moment our hero nimbly scales the height…

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Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up The World by Elizabeth Rusch & Oliver Dominguez

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Successfully distilling an incredible life’s work into an informative and inspiring picture book is no mean feat. Yet this biography of revolutionary thinker and inventor Nikola Tesla does just that.…

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The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Due to an unfortunate accident, 11-year-old Lucy spends her Christmas holidays with her ancient ‘Aunty Big’ in a rambling old bush homestead. Lucy’s sense of isolation and uncertainty is compounded b…

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Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

In 1840s London, the star attraction of a travelling freak show is Wild Boy, whose unfortunate appearance has condemned him to a miserable life of rejection and ridicule.

As Wild Boy plots his escap…

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My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz & Eva Eriksson

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

My Happy Life is a gorgeous little book and the perfect next step for children ready to move on from the first readers at school.

Originally published in Swedish before being translated into English…

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