Pepsi the Problem Puppy by Sandi Parsons and Aska


Every child wants one!

Every parent thinks twice!

…….and then somehow, in one way or another they arrive!

This book is all about the ‘settling-in’ phase and how that is viewed very differently by each member of the family.

Rosie is the protagonist who has long wished for a puppy.

Her little brother Jacob always seems to say the wrong thing – especially when Mum’s around.

Dad is the parent who finally gives in and finds the puppy, although his research about the most suitable dog for their particular family wasn’t so good.

Mum is the reluctant parent who is not impressed with all the upset and happenings that Pepsi the puppy is causing.

Granny can see the funny side of everything Pepsi does and it is ultimately because of her that the dog gets to stay.

Children will laugh at the funny scenarios presented in this early independent reader novel.

And as an added bonus – the author has a real dog called Pepsi with his own webpage that you can look up here:  Pepsi

… looks like he can read too! What a clever doggo!!


Message in a Sock by Kaye Baillee and Narelda Joy

This very touching and true war story is special.

It doesn’t just depict a time in history – it actually transports you right there.

Unlike most war stories, this story focuses on the women left at home during WW1 and hones in on one aspect of how they supported their men – the soldiers.

Kaye Baillie tells the story of a little girl placing messages into the toes of socks that her mother has knitted during a war appeal to assist Australian soldiers serving in France. She includes other features in her story, including a poetic ‘Knitter’s Song’ that encapsulates the whole premise of this tale and the words of the original letter that sparked this book into being. Her story is underpinned by excellent historical research that makes this tale even more touching.

Narelda Joy’s collage illustrations perfectly compliment not only the story but the era of war. The colours and materials used have very vintage muted tones in hues of brown, green and blue. Another interesting aspect is that all the people in this story, including the child protagonist, Tammy, are always looking down, but the soldier looks you straight in the eye – a very open for interpretation move on the part of the illustrator.

This beautiful book and it’s unusual perspective will be treasured for not only it’s uniqueness but also for it’s truthful historical interpretation.

I feel very special to have known about this book for quite a long time. Kaye Baillee told me about it on the first day I met her and I have been anticipating it’s release since 2016! Congratulations Kaye – it was worth the wait!

There is a very special Book Launch happening for ‘Message in a Sock’ for those who would like to attend on Anzac Day, 25th April, 2pm – 3pm at The National Wool Museum, 26 Moorabool Street, Geelong, Victoria.

 Here are the details:

MidnightSun Publishing together with author Kaye Baillie and illustrator Narelda Joy are proud to launch their picture book, MESSAGE IN A SOCK at the National Wool Museum with FREE ENTRY to the Museum all day.

Join Sue Lawson, writing teacher and young adult author of books including FREEDOM RIDE and PROTEST IN AUSTRALIA as she discusses MESSAGE IN A SOCK with Kaye Baillie and Narelda Joy. Listen to a reading from the book then handle replica World War 1 socks knitted by a talented Red Cross volunteer. Enjoy a hot drink and Anzac biscuit then view the Museum’s sock knitting machines and the collection displaying the full story of wool.  National Wool Museum volunteers will demonstrate ‘casting on’ and signed copies of MESSAGE IN A SOCK will be available for purchase.

Whose Pants? Whose Hat? Whose Shoes? Whose Bag? (Series) by Kylie Orr and Spike Maguire

Whose Pants? 

Whose Hat?

Whose Shoes?

Whose Bag?

What is better than a board book?   A whole set of them!


What can be even better than that?  Funny and clever board books!

This set of board books with an array of characters is written in verse that flows with a tinge of humour throughout. The illustrations are consistent, simple, bright and informative.

I can see them being read over and over again.

You couldn’t buy just one!

You would have to buy the set!

 They’re gorgeous!

In the City I See by Tori-Jay Mordley

This simple board book has captivating and colourful illustrations of things that are seen in major cities around the World: diverse people, dogs, pigeons, buses, buskers, signs, buildings and markets. There are, however, gentle references to Australia’s indigenous culture that make this book homely and distinct.

This is Tory-Jay’s first book as an author-illustrator. Her first book, Bakir and Bi, she illustrated in collaboration with Jillian Boyd’s words.


Molly the Pirate by Lorraine Teece and Paul Seden

This story will float you into the seven seas of pirate life from the pure role-playing perspective of a child. This book is full of imagination from all angles.

Molly lives on a farm and in this story she becomes a pirate and her crew are the chickens, her dog and her cat. This story is pure childhood pretending fun and I love that this pirate protagonist is a girl and that the plot has been kept at a realistic and believable level that all readers will relate to.

Paul Seden really brings the text alive – watching the characters’ antics, expressions and outfits are humorously delightful.

He adds leveled dimensions of imagination right throughout the story. A hat, a stick, and an eye-patch turn very quickly into full pirate regalia. The way he amalgamates the desert setting into the rolling seas is enchanting and clever.

The more I read this book, the more I love it! This is a definite ‘read it again’ book that neither children or adult readers will tire of and it is one of those amazing books where you will notice something new every time you read it.

I will even say that it is one of my favourite picture books of the year.


Free Diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston

This historical based picture book is founded on a song written by the author. (words and sheet music included.) You can watch the beautiful book / song collaboration here:


I have decided to transcribe Magabala’s information about this book and will then say what I think :

” ‘Free Diving’ is a poignant tribute to the Indigenous men and women who worked in Western Australia’s pearling industry as ‘free divers’ in the late nineteenth century.  In a practice known as ‘blackbirding’ (forced unpaid labour), European pearl lugger owners used Indigenous people to dive for pearl shell.  With no protective suits, the divers faced threats such as decompression sickness known as the ‘bends’, shark attack or of being swept away by huge tides.  At sea for weeks at a time, there was also the risk of the luggers being shipwrecked in cyclones that formed off the coast. ”

Firstly, the story and illustrations carry a deep darkness and sadness throughout – how could they not! However I feel that although extremely well done that this story is not well suited to the picture book form.  I struggle to find who the audience might be and longed for more depth whilst reading it.  I would prefer to see this story extended, to delve deeper into the issues and emotions presented, to let the audience really know and feel the protagonist, his family, his struggles and his comparative interactions with the Japanese and Malay men who were also involved in this greedy, money hungry exploit.

Bronwyn Houston must be commended for her evocative illustrations.  This is a style I have not seen her do before and the depth of maturity in her work resonates well with the subject matter.

Ballerina Monkey by Nicole Madigan

This story begins with Malik the monkey’s dilemma – he wants to be a ballerina. He watches curiously as the pink flamingoes dance in the river every morning and longs to be able to dance in the same way.

His other monkey friends don’t understand his obsession and tease him but when he goes and talks about it with his Mum, she assures him that he can do anything he wants to do and can be anyone he wants to be.

He decides to get lessons from the flamingoes, which he loves, but again he wears the wrath of the other monkey’s jeers – that is until the King of the Jungle and his pride of lions pay a visit and love his dancing so much that he gets to deliver a special performance and his friends now clap and cheer for him. In the end Malik has fulfilled his wish and his friends are happy for his accomplishments too.


This book will entice conversation and discussion about all the above scenarios and issues.  It is suitable for 3 – 7 year olds and I am sure they will also enjoy the bright illustrations.