Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – a book review


Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
By: Gail Honeyman
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers


Panic set in when I realised I didn’t have a novel to read before bed. Thankfully, my daughter came to the rescue with a book she had just finished, ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’.

‘Thanks,’ I said, and turned the book over this way and that, checking out the cover design. Used matches. There must be fire involved. It’s a natural assumption, based on predicting a story by the cover.

Once I began reading, it was obvious that Eleanor Oliphant was not completely fine, and from that moment, I knew I was in for a treat. Life experience has taught me that everybody has a reason for they way they behave. We are living and breathing stories, shaped by our experiences.

A couple of days later my daughter said, ‘Have you met Raymond yet?’
‘Yes.’ Then I frowned. ‘Eleanor’s mother is not so nice, is she?’ I said.
Strangely, my comment was met with silence from my daughter. Which she did on a couple more occasions when I asked her about other parts of the story. She is very good at not giving storylines away. Frustratingly!

As I continued to read ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’, the authentic voice of Eleanor was a delight to hear in my mind, endearing me to her. As odd as she was, I really liked the character. All I wanted was for good things to happen for her.

Thank you, Gail Honeyman– I totally looked forward to reading your novel each night when I went to bed, enjoying the humour, the highs and the lows, and turning the pages, manically reading to find out the reason for Eleanor being the way she was.

Like my daughter, I can’t give anything away in the story, but one thing is for sure, Eleanor Oliphant is a survivor.

If you enjoyed reading ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’, you will love ‘The Colour of Broken’ by Amelia Grace, as sent to Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Huey Lewis, Nicole Kidman – available at Amazon and other online bookstores.


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

Julieann is a published author and illustrator who is continually inspired by the gift of imagination and the power of words. When she is not disappearing into her imaginary worlds as a children’s author, or as a fiction novelist, she is working as an editor, book designer, and book magician for other authors, and as secondary visual arts and drama teacher at a private school. Julieann is a self-confessed tea ninja and Cadbury chocoholic, has a passion for music and art, and tries not to scare her cat, Claude Monet, with her terrible cello playing. 

In 2018, Julieann was honoured to have her #8wordstory printed on the back of the Queensland Writer’s Centre business cards: 

(and yes, her name was spelt incorrectly – the story of her life – you just have to laugh! )

Julieann is a member of:


7 Absolute Musts of Writing a Picture Book


Picture books play an absolute vital and pivotal role in the lives of children. There are numerous studies that show children who are read picture books from birth up to, and including while still going to school, are smarter and have more empathy for others – yes – they are kinder! And thankfully, there is never a shortage of authors who are passionate about writing picture books. As an experienced teacher of 25 years, I have personally observed the power of books. By 8 years of age, there is a notable difference between children who have been read to at home, and those who have not.

Importance of reading to children
Children prefer real books rather than screens
Why reading the same book repeatedly is good for kids

After 5 years of working as a publisher and book designer with picture book authors, I’d like to share 7 points that will help authors along in their journey:

1. Writing a picture book is not as easy as it seems. You need to read lots and lots of picture books so you can internalize what writing a children picture book story is about. And there is a certain knack to writing a successful picture book. You will also develop your own individual style and voice.

2. Your story must have a beginning, middle and end – also known as a story arc.

3. There must be a problem that needs to be solved. If there’s no problem, there’s no story!

4. Don’t tell kids what to think with your writing. It’s the biggest turn off for children. Kids are clever, and feel a great sense of achievement when they understand the gist of the story without you telling them. You want kids to make an emotional feel good connection to your book, so they want to read it again and again.

5. Don’t talk down to kids. Build them up. Use those interesting words that will inspire!

6. Less words can often have more impact.

7. Illustrations are vitally important – they also tell the story – are there words in your writing you can leave out that can be shown in the illustration?


Traditionally Published vs Independently Published. Which to Choose?

If you’re not quite sure about the difference between traditionally published and independently published, read this article by Joanna Penn. It provides a good description of both.


Preparing Your Picture Book to Traditionally Publish

• Write your story. Edit, rewrite, read it out loud, rewrite.
• Put it away for a while. When you return to it, you will see it with new eyes. You will find bits of it that you love, and others that simply don’t work.
• Write a final version of your story, then send it to an editor. This is a vital step for you to have the best version of your story. Don’t be surprised if you need to do some adjustments and rewrites. All authors, no matter how experienced or famous they are, always have to rewrite to make their work shine.
• Polish your final version …
• Research which traditional publishers you would like to send your manuscript to before you send it off, and ensure that you follow their guidelines (do you need an agent or not? Are they closed for submissions? Do they publish picture books?) Make sure you format your manuscript to their specifications.


Preparing Your Picture Book to Indie Publish 

Authors have a bubbling enthusiasm about their story. And rightly so. However, there is a series of steps to follow, even with the self-publishing of your book. If you are investing in publishing a book that the eyes of the world will read, it makes sense to educate yourself about how to go about it. This is what it looks like:

1. Story
Writing your story is exactly the same as writing it with the intention of securing a traditional publishing contract. Independent publishing does not mean lesser quality stories, and it never, ever should be.

• Write your story. Edit, rewrite, read it out loud, rewrite.
• Put it away for a while. When you return to it, you will see it with new eyes. You will find bits of it that you love, and others that simply don’t work.
• Write a final version of your story, then send it to an editor. This is a vital step for you to have the best version of your story. Don’t be surprised if you need to do some adjustments and rewrites. All authors, no matter how experienced or famous they are, always have to rewrite to make their work shine.
• Polish your final version …

2. Storyboard

32page-TitleDedication-DebbieOhi-2-300 inkygirl credit
storyboard by inkygirl.com

The storyboard is a pivotal stage of development of your book. The impact of your story hinges on your storyboard, and the placement of the page turn in keeping the attention of your readers so they are invested in your story. The storyboard is also the magic key for your illustrator to bring your story to life through the gift of their creative artwork. Have you nailed the timing of your page turn? If you’re not sure, you can find out here.


3. Illustrations

The final and important part of the journey of a book is the illustrations. Before your illustrator begins the final illustrations – it is imperative they know the size of your book (you’ll need to discuss these major details with your publisher, or the printer you have chosen). Your illustrator also needs to know:

• About page bleed
• Not to place major components of illustrations in the middle of a page spread, where parts may be lost in the spine binding of the book, or the image doesn’t align correctly due to variables during the printing process.

If you decide to independently publish, send your manuscript to your chosen indie publisher/self-publishing company, and they should guide you from there.


And remember, whatever your journey is with your story – don’t go it alone. Connect with other authors, or join a writing group, network. Authors love to help each other out.

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Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Multi-Published Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator, CEO of Lilly Pilly Publishing)


Julieann is a member of:

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: https://youtu.be/BAlmjjzggig​​

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: http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/Books/Children/The-Mozzie-with-a-Sharp-Snozzie-HB/1150/productview.aspx

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


Wombat Warriors – a book review




Wombat Warriors
by: Samantha Wheeler
Publisher: University of Queensland Press




Mouse by name, mouse by nature. Mouse is not prepared for her last-minute stay at Aunt Evie’s. How will she cope at a new school without her parents around?
But before Mouse has even unpacked her suitcase, she makes a new friend – a wombat called Miss Pearl! Suddenly, being in a strange cottage doesn’t seem so bad, especially when she can snuggle up with a wombat.

Mouse soon learns that not everyone in the area loves wombats, including Aunt Evie’s landlord, a sheep farmer who destroys them on sight.

Can Mouse find her voice in time to keep her furry friends safe?

You have a wombat for a pet? I don’t, but Aunt Evie does in Samantha Wheeler’s chapter book, Wombat Warriors.

Action packed from the first words, we follow a girl named Mouse as she comes to live with her Aunt Evie for six weeks, by necessity. The Brisbane city girl is thrown into a South Australian country setting, and has to quickly learn to adapt to the farm way of life, good and bad, happy and heartbreaking, challenging and rewarding.

Wombats are incredibly adorable creatures. And there is no doubt that you will love them even more when you meet Miss Pearl and read about her cheeky antics. Intrigue sets in however, after we meet farm boy, Harry. He has a secret he keeps close to his heart. Meanwhile, the main character, Mouse, who has a small voice but a very big heart, finds that her love for wombats helps her to break through her introverted nature to become a true wombat warrior.

This primary school age chapter book will have you turning the pages as you read the inspiring tale that has wildlife conservation at the heart. You will fall in love with three wombats: Miss Pearl, Willow and Fatticake, and their cute wombat-edness will find an extra-special place in your heart. Readers will be rolling their eyes at Aunt Evie and the way she always gets the end of clichés wrong. Plus there’s the cranky Mrs Campbell, who will keep you guessing about her behaviour until the end.

Author, Samantha Wheeler has cleverly woven wombat facts into her story, as well as adding a section at the back of the book called “WOMBAT-OLOGY”. Wombat Warriors is most definitely an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable book for all children, especially those who are animal lovers with a passion for conservation. I highly recommend this book for independent readers, shared reading, and for use in educational settings.

Purchase a copy of Wombat Warriors at: http://www.uqp.uq.edu.au/book.aspx/1425/Wombat%20Warriors
Connect with Samantha Wheeler at:

Title: Wombat Warriors
by: Samantha Wheeler
Publisher: UQP
ISBN: 978 0 7022 5958 6
Category: Children’s & Young Adult
Pages: 192

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

Member of:
QLD Writers Centre
Write Links
Share Your Story