Shearing Time, book review

shearing time

Shearing Time
by: Allison Paterson
illustrated by: Shane McGrath
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing


As the sun peeks over the horizon we are ready to start the working day all over again… I love shearing time!


Shearing Time, written by Allison Paterson, is full of energy from the first page turn to the last. It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the shearing of the sheep, as told through the eyes of a girl who lives and breathes life on the farm, from the hard work to the fun parts to the yucky sheep droppings.

As children engage in this story, they will learn about the many jobs to be done at shearing time; like the mustering of the sheep and herding them to the shearing shed, the shearing team and the machines that make the shed rumble with the racket. But there is no time to rest. There’s the grading and baling of the wool where the young girl feels like she is floating on a cloud as she stomps the wool into the wool press. And of course is the clean up!

Illustrator, Shane McGrath, has created a real life sheep farm atmosphere on each page which captures the all the liveliness with detailed illustrations that convey the very essence of the story, making you feel like the farm is your home, too.

Another facet I enjoyed about Shearing Time, is the information page at the end of the story. It tells of when the first sheep arrived in Australia and lists some curious words and sayings used in shearing – ‘Ducks on the Pond’ made me laugh.

Children will enjoy this fast paced story about Australia’s sheep shearers, learning the process about our wool, from sheep to shop, acknowledging the hard work and dedication of our wool farmers and shearers.

Purchase a copy:

Title: Shearing Time
Written by: Allison Paterson
Illustrated by: Shane McGrath
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925520088
RRP $24.99


Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Julieann is a member of:
Queensland Writers Centre
Write Links
Share Your Story Australia


Ella Saw the Tree, book review


Title: Ella Saw the Tree
by: Robert Vescio
illustrated by: Cheri Hughes
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

“One windy day, as Ella plays in her backyard, she is showered by leaves.
When she looks up, Ella sees a tree in her backyard … has it always been there?
And why is the tree crying?”

1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
“their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Author, Robert Vescio, has explored the concept of mindfulness and nailed it in his flowing, charming story, Ella Saw the Tree. All too often parents and children are caught up in the busy-ness of life while the simplest, yet most inspiring moments zoom past, unnoticed.

Ella is no different. She is  always busy in her backyard. She has an amazing imagination. It takes her to the ocean, then guides her to soar above, before she visits the distant lands to explore with her wonderful four legged friend. But one day it started to rain. Not ordinary rain that comes from the clouds. It was an extraordinary rain that came from above. That’s when Ella looked up and saw the tree. Ella was sure the tree was crying. So she tried her best to cheer it up. But the leaves still fell like tears. Ella was terribly worried. It was then that her mum told her to notice the special things around her. So she watched and listened all around, and felt and smelled the air. Using her senses to be mindful of everything around her filled her head with the ‘right now’. Ella smiled. Her heart was full.


 Of course no picture book is complete without illustrations. Illustrator, Cheri Hughes, has given us a visual feast with her inspiring illustrations. The detail in each double page spread carries the reader deep into Ella’s world where you feel what Ella feels.

I highly recommend Ella Saw the Tree, not only for young children, but for middle and upper primary children as well. The story is a gift sent to remind us to pause and take a moment to notice the here and now. It’s a stop, look, listen and feel book that will connect children to themselves and nature, and any environment they find themselves in. This is the type of book that will open your senses to appreciate nature with a thankful heart.

Have you noticed the beautiful trees?

Purchase a copy:

Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925520361
Format: Hardback
Category: General fiction (Children’s / Teenage)
Pages: 32

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Julieann is a member of:
Queensland Writers Centre
Write Links
Share Your Story Australia


The Mozzie with a Sharp Snozzie, book review


Title: The Mozzie with a Sharp Snozzie
Written & illustrated by: Irina Goundortseva
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

The story of a mosquito who wants to be a butterfly.

 Watch the fabulous Book trailer:​​

From one of the not so visually appealing minibeasts to one of the most beautiful…
From one of the most annoying minibeasts to one of the most welcome…
From one of the itchiest of minibeasts to one of the most ticklish…
This is the story of a mozzie with a sharp snozzie who dreams of being a butterfly.

Author & illustrator, Irina Goundortseva, has imposed the human trait of comparing ourselves to those around us, and then trying to fit in with those who we may aspire to be, onto a little blood sucking, annoying creature, Mozzie, who learns that sometimes we get it wrong.

If you ever wanted to feel compassion for a mosquito, I suggest that this is the picture book where that may happen.

There’s a cute little Mozzie. She adores the butterflies, the most beautiful of creatures who flutter all day long down near the pond we she lives. And although Mozzie loves being a mosquito, she doesn’t always feel that way. She would love to be like the butterflies who are adored because of their beauty…

Finding her courage, Mozzie approaches the butterflies and asks if she can join them. She is met with a laugh and rejection. Not being a quitter, Mozzie asks them why she can’t fly with them … and then comes the soul destroying, heart scarring words that too many children and adults hear: “You are ugly and boring.”

Crushed by the devastating words and hating on herself, Mozzie stops under some plants. When she looks up she discovers a flower as beautiful as a butterfly. Not being a quitter, Mozzie disguises herself as a butterfly and with renewed energy, she flies towards the butterflies and flutters around them. And lo and behold! Mozzie is totally accepted because of her beauty.

But disaster strikes. They are captured in a net only to become a decoration on the wall with a grand collection of colourful butterflies that have pins piercing their delicate bodies. Mozzie gets real then and sheds her disguise to show her true self like a superhero. She zooms to the finger of the human and inserts her sharp snozzie into the skin and BAM! The minibeasts are released.

It just so happens then, that the beautiful butterflies have decided they like Mozzie, and want to talk about how pretty they all are (no surprises there!). But Mozzie feels awkward mixing with the butterflies. It is not who she really is, deep down inside. She’s a mosquito, and that’s what she loves the most!

The Mozzie with the Sharp Snozzie is a book about looking inside of yourself to discover your true identity. It’s about accepting yourself, and being okay with it.

It may be easy to overlook the significance of the species of minibeasts chosen to star in this picture book that Irina Goundortseva has illustrated with flair. But the author has chosen the characters with precision. The contrast between the two species with their colour and demeanour are at opposite ends of the spectrum, emphasizing the desperate need Mozzie has to feel acceptance …  maximum impact is felt.

The powerful message of The Mozzie with the Sharp Snozzie is a reminder that children (& adults) need to hear more often than not – This is me and I am okay! I like me and I don’t have to change to fit in. 

Acceptance of oneself is a powerful, and empowering place to arrive at…


Purchase a copy:

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
Country: Australia
Published: 5 July 2016
Pages: 32
ISBN: 9781925275964
Category: children’s


Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Julieann is a member of:
Queensland Writers Centre
Write Links
Share Your Story Australia


To the Moon and Back, book review

to the moon and back

Title: To the Moon and Back
by: Dianne Bates
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Claire’s mum has been keeping secrets … and now she’s left Claire’s dad and dragged her to live in a run-down shack in the country!

Claire is definitely not happy. Not only has she had to leave her dad, her friends and her perfectly good life in the city, but now she has to deal with her mum’s new boyfriend, ‘Mac’.

With Claire’s mum apparently in love the Mac and their new life, it looks like it’s up to Claire to bring her ‘real’ family back together again.


Claire is an eight year old girl whose life is turned up-side-down. Her seemingly happy life changes in an instant, when one night, while Claire’s dad is at work, Claire’s mum leaves the house with her and they never return.

Claire is devastated. She loves her father more than anything.

But her mother keeps insisting that Claire knows why they must leave…

Then to Claire’s dismay, she discovers her mother has a new man in her life. Mac. He is kind and gentle, but Claire has trouble liking him because she just wants her dad back, and he will never take the place of her real father.

Claire’s life takes a turn for the worse when her new family moves to live in a run-down shack in the country at Dr Harry Mountain. There is no electricity and no toilet—just the hole in the ground way down the path through the long grass. And there is no door to the toilet!
Claire’s new life is everything she hates.

But slowly, things change. There’s a dog, a goat, a new school, new friends and new adventures, and the sun starts to shine a little brighter for Claire.

Author, Dianne Bates has woven the topic of domestic violence into her chapter book, To the Moon and Back with gentleness. Lurking in the background of the story are memory flashes of Claire’s father hitting her mum with little detail, but enough to understand that physical violence is happening. Claire would then remember her father being overly apologetic and super nice afterwards lavishing them with flowers and gifts and whatnot.

However, over-riding the issue of violence which is lightly touched upon in the story, is the never ending love Grace has for her daughter. Claire is loved to the moon and back, even when she is bombarded with emotions of guilt and hate and anger and says unkind things to Mac out of disappointed and rejection by her father. The upheaval in Claire’s life is absolutely an emotional rollercoaster ride. Up-ending a life to start another is fraught with uncertainties and apprehension, with anxiety high on the list, not to mention starting a new school and making new friends. Claire’s reaction to her new situation is understandable.

To the Moon and Back is a journey of emotions of an eight year old girl, named Claire. It is also a story of hope, of new beginnings and happiness that returns in leaps and bounds.

Purchase a copy:

Title: To the Moon and Back
by: Dianne Bates
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781+25520293
Category: children’s fiction
Pages: 291

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Drinker, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Member of:
Queensland Writers Centre
Write Links
Share Your Story

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Chicken Little, book review


Title: Chicken Little
Adapted by: Oakley Graham
Illustrated by: Kimberley Barnes
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Chicken Little thinks the sky
is falling down and sets off on
a mission to tell the king.

A classic story about learning
to think for yourself.

Author, Oakley Graham, has retold the classic children’s cumulative tale of Chicken Little, with the cast of adorable characters – Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Drakey Lakey, Gooey Loosey, Gander Lander, Turkey Lurkey and the villain … Foxy Loxy.

Chicken Little is walking in the woods when an acorn falls on his head. Chicken Little immediately thinks the sky is falling and decides he must go and tell the king. On his journey to the king, Chicken Little meets as assortment of animals on their way to the woods. He warns them of the impending doom. They immediately believe the sky is falling and join Chicken Little on his quest.

Enter Foxy Loxy. A very clever and hungry fox with delicious plans, until Chicken Little and his friends are saved by the king’s barking dogs.

Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Drakey Lakey, Gooey Loosey, Gander Lander, and Turkey Lurkey run for their lives and stop under the oak tree in the woods. And Plop! Plop! Plop! They look up to see acorns dropping from the tree, and realise acorns are falling, not the sky!

Lesson learnt: Don’t believe everything you are told.

In our current world of abundant media and sensationalism, Photoshop, and sometimes sadly, intentional misinformation, Chicken Little has become a vital story. On a daily basis children are exposed to all sorts of information via the web, television, radio and word of mouth, and they need to be able to discern correct information from incorrect, then make an informed decision.

This classic fun tale is perfect for discussions about thinking and questioning what you hear. Some suitable questions might be:
Is it possible?
Who told you?
What do you know?
Is it true?
What do you think?

chicken little images

Illustrator, Kimberley Barnes, has created bright and colourful pictures that are sure to lure and delight the readers and listeners of this story. But there is a bonus – her illustrations reveal another layer to the story that may not have been discovered in the text. To discerning eyes, children may notice that some of the animals look similar, and when they delve deeper, they will discover that there is a male and female of each animal!

I highly recommend this book as a shared reader for families and educational institutions. It highlights the need to question the truth of what you hear. This is particularly pertinent in our current media climate of stories and images that bombard our lives on a daily basis.

Chicken Little, by Oakley Graham, will be adored by children with the memorable rhyming names, and the cumulative, repetitive story where they can join in the telling and retelling of the story. It will become a favourite, I’m sure.

Purchase a copy: bigskypublishingChicken-Little

Title: Chicken Little
by: Oakley Graham
Illustrated by: Kimberley Barnes
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925520026
Category: Children’s book fiction
Pages: 32

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, tea drinker, Cadbury chocolate annihilator)

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