April 26 2021

Middle grade picture books

The Lost Child of Chernobyl, and The Rock From The Sky

The Lost Child of Chernobyl, and The Rock From The Sky

Title: The Lost Child of Chernobyl
Author: Helen Bate
Genre/ issues: Historical fiction. Graphic novel.

Title: The Rock From the Sky
Author: Jon Klassen
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Mystery. Friendship.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

A couple of middle grade graphics – and I’m caught up! (For now anyway)
📚The Lost Child of Chernobyl by Helen Bate is a fictional narrative about the impact of the Chernobyl disaster on the families, communities, land and animals in the surrounding areas. It’s beautifully illustrated, and whilst it deals with some potentially confronting content, it portrays this sensitively and appropriately for upper primary or lower secondary readers.
📚I love Jon Klassen’s art style, and The Rock From the Sky is fantastic. Quirky, witty and wryly humorous, it’s a great tale about friendship, things from outer space, and trusting your gut. Loved it!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 43-44/2021

Happy reading,




April 25 2021

Exploring through picture books

Rajah Street, Little Lion, When You Go To Melbourne, and Anisa's Alphabet

Rajah Street, Little Lion, When You Go To Melbourne, and Anisa’s Alphabet

Title: Rajah Street
Author: Myo Yim
Genre/ issues: Picture books. Outside my window.

Title: Little Lion
Author: Saroo Brierley and Bruce Whatley
Genre/ issues: Non fiction. Illustrated narrative. Family. 

Title: When You Go To Melbourne
Author: Maree Coote
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Non fiction. Melbourne life. 

Title: Anisa’s Alphabet
Author: Mike Dumbleton 

Illustrator: Hannah Sommerville
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Refugee stories. 

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

4 more picture books, and 4 very different journeys.
📚 Rajah Street by @myo.yim.drawing tells the story of Junyo, who explores the world outside his window, waiting desperately for Wednesday. Why? Because Wednesday is when the garbage trucks come! Lovely engaging illustrations, and a super sweet story.
📚Little Lion is illustrated by the incredible @whatleybruce, and tells the story of Saroo Brierley that we’re familiar with from the blockbuster movie Lion, for younger readers. I don’t have to tell you how stunning the artwork is, and it reflects perfectly the moving story of finding a new family, then finding your birth family again.
📚Whilst we can’t travel much in real life right now, we can certainly travel on the page, and When You Go To Melbourne took me back to one of my favourite cities! The grungy artwork really echoes the exceptionally cool vibe of Melbourne’s iconic laneways and landmarks. A great find-a-feature book for anyone missing Melbourne.
📚Anisa’s Alphabet. Sigh. My heart aches after reading this book. For many refugees, the alphabet is the first step towards learning a new language and building anew future, but Anisa’s alphabet tells the story of her journey from her war-torn home, fleeing to find safety, boarding a boat to cross the ocean, and her eventual limbo in a refugee camp, dreaming of her new life.
A diverse range of style sand experiences in this bunch- great stories, all.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 39-42/2021

Happy reading,




April 24 2021

Picture books about stories and words

The Lost Library, Dinosaurs In Love, The March Of The Ants, and Poo! And Other Words That Make Me Laugh

The Lost Library, Dinosaurs In Love, The March Of The Ants, and Poo! And Other Words That Make Me Laugh

Title: The Lost Library
Author: Jess McGeachin
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Fantasy. Stories.

Title: Dinosaurs In Love
Author: Fenn Rosenthal
Illustrator: Hannah Jacobs
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Libraries and why they matter.

Title: The March Of The Ants
Author: Ursula Dubosarsky
Illustrator: Tohby Riddle
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Stories.

Title: Poo! And Other Words That Make Me Laugh
Author: Felice Arena
Illustrator: Tom Jellet
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Word fun. 

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Can you guess what I’ve been reading this week? More picture books!
📚 I’m a sucker for a book about a library – even moreso when the narrative focuses on the journeys that stories can take you on. This one reminded me of a children’s version of The Starless Sea – which I’m sure I don’t need to tell you is a HUGE compliment. The Lost Library by @jessmcgeachin is a delightful trip through a secret library, showing all the things you can learn from the stories around you. And the illustrations inside are as gorgeous as you’d expect from that cover!!!
📚If you’ve not seen the music clip of Dinosaurs In Love, stop reading right now and go and search for it on YouTube. Written by 3 year old Fenn Rosenthal, it is such a joy, and this picture book version of it is super sweet.
📚March of the Ants was written by @ursuladubosarsky as part of her tenure as Australian Children’s Laureate, and has been available online since then, but I love this picture book version of it by @booktrailpress. A fantastic story about an ant who brings a book on a long journey. Initially he’s mocked by his fellow ants, but they soon realise the importance of stories to sustain them on the long march ahead.
📚I love books that give you opportunities to play with words. Poo! And Other Words That Make Me Laugh is an excellent example – lots of words that are fun to wrap your mouth around, and are fun and funny to say. I also love the glossary at the end that gives you the definitions of all those hilarious words. A fab fun book from @fleech and Tom Jellett.
All of these are going straight to the study and into my collection. Super cute and fun to read!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 34-37/2021

Happy reading,




April 23 2021

Picture books about learning something new

The Katha Chest, Courageous Lucy, The Couch Potato, and Florence and Fox

The Katha Chest, Courageous Lucy, The Couch Potato, and Florence and Fox

Title: The Katha Chest
Author: Radhiah Chowdhury
Illustrator: Lavanya Naidu
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Family stories. 

Title: Courageous Lucy
Author: Paul Russell
Illustrator: Cara King
Genre/ issues: Picture book. School stories. Finding Courage. 

Title: The Couch Potato
Author: Jory John
Illustrator: Pete Oswald
Genre/ issues: Picture book. How to spend your free time. 

Title: Florence and  Fox
Author: Zanni Louise
Illustrator: Anna Pignataro
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Friendship. Sharing. 

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Another picture book post.
📚The Katha Chest is a beautiful story about the stories that are woven into the kathas – Bangladeshi quilts made out of cotton saris that have stopped being useful as clothing. I love the intricacies of the illustrations, drawing on both the author and illustrator’s family saris and kathas. Stories passed down through families – this is my kind of picture book!
📚Courageous Lucy is about a little girl who likes to worry, but soon discovers some things are worth being brave for. Can’t relate. I mean, who would worry all the time about every possible thing? “Hi, my name’s Tamara ….” A super cute book for your little (and big) worrier.
📚The Couch Potato feels like another “personal attack” picture book. This tech-savvy spud learns that there’s nothing wrong with finding a balance between screen time and the world outside. Apparently. Super cute!
📚And finally, Florence and Fox tells the story of two friends trying to figure out what the rules of Sharing Day are. Friendships can be tricky!
Picture books. They really are the best. Thought-provoking ideas, presented in super-accessible formats, able to be absorbed while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. For kids of all ages.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 30-33/2021

Happy reading,




April 22 2021

Some Environmental Picture Books

Bee Detectives, The forest in the Tree, and The Tale of the Whale

Bee Detectives, The Forest in the Tree, and The Tale of the Whale

Title: Bee Detectives
Author: Vanessa Ryan-Rendall
Illustrator: Brenna Quinlan
Genre/ issues: Environmental issues. Bee species.

Title: The Forest in the Tree
Authors: Ailsa Wild, Aviva Reed, Briony Barr, Gregory Crocetti
Genre/ issues: Narrative non-fiction. Ecology and nature.

Title: The Tale of the Whale
Author: Karen Swann
Illustrator: Padmacandra
Genre/ issues: Environmental action. Caring for nature. 


Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

A few environmental themed picture books!
📚Bee Detectives is a great book from @csiropublishing, looking at the importance of recognising and preserving the diversity of bees in the Australian environment. Super cute illustrations, with accurate and appropriate scientific detail. A great engaging read for your budding junior bee detectives!
📚 The Forest and the Tree is the fourth book in this series – also from the CSIRO, its safe to say I’m obsessed with them. Stunning illustrations that are both beautifully coloured and filled with scientific detail. This one looks at the partnerships between plants, fungi and bacteria. I love how multilayered these books are – you could read them as a relatively simple scientific narrative, or you could delve deeply into the science behind the story which fills the last few pages of each book. Highly recommended! Usually when I read a picture book, I tend to add it to a box which eventually gets donated to a school. This one isn’t going anywhere!
📚 And, finally, The Tale of a Whale is a sweet and engaging story of a girl chatting to a whale, who tells her about all the wonders of the ocean he inhabits – and the problems, too, as pollution and litter threaten his home. A gentle call for action, with lovely illustrations.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 25-27/2021

Happy reading,




April 21 2021

BIPOC Picture Books

When We Say Black Lives Matter, A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, Main Abija/My Grandad, and Hello and Welcome

When We Say Black Lives Matter, A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, Main Abija/My Grandad, and Hello and Welcome

Title: When We Say Black Lives Matter
Author: Maxine Beneba Clarke
Genre/ issues: Black lives matter. Equality. Racism

Title: A place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Author: Zetta Elliott
Illustrator: Noa Denmon
Genre/ issues: Identity. Strength. Legacy.

Title: Main Abija / My Grandad
Author: Karen Rogers
Genre/ issues: Aboriginal family. 

Title: Hello and Welcome
Author: Gregg Dreise
Genre/ issues: Welcome to country. 

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Another catch-up post for my #2021ReadingChallenge, featuring some fantastic picture books.
📚 @maxinebeneba’s When We Say Black Lives Matter is a fantastic lyrical narrative explaining the BLM movement and aims in language appropriate for younger readers. Whilst there is necessary acknowledgement of the traumas, past and present, of racist treatment of black people and communities, the main focus of this stunning book is on their joy and strength, “as precious as every soul whose story has journeyed the earth.” Wonderful, and a much-loved addition to my collection.
📚 A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart is an illustrated poem by @zettaelliott, with a similar focus on the diversity and strength of Black people throughout history, with a focus on the importance of healing and forgiveness. @noadenmon’s illustrations are vibrant and heartfelt, and capture the soul of the Elliott’s poem beautifully.
📚 I love books which place indigenous languages at the forefront of the narrative, and Main Abija/ My Grandad by Karen Rogers does this so well. The bilingual story in both Kriol and English explores the importance of shared experiences with FB family members, and is a sweet, simple and lovely tale of fishing with Grandad which is a tradition that passes down through generations.
📚 And finally, Hello and Welcome by @greggdreise – a welcome to corroboree which celebrates Indigenous culture, traditions, Elders and future generations, featuring Welcome to Country in the Gamilaraay language of the Kamilaroi people. Dreise’s artwork is always stunning, and this book is no exception – vibrant and engaging. I read this one three times back to back just to stay absorbed in the beauty of it.
I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Stories matter. We need to empower authors to share their stories, and readers to grow a stronger awareness of and engagement with the world around them, and to develop empathy and understanding of the experiences of others. These books are all excellent additions to a personal or library collection, and great reads for all ages.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 20-23/2021

Happy reading,




January 26 2021

The Light Fantastic, and The Sleeper and the Spindle

The Sleeper and the Spindle, and The Light Fantastic

The Light Fantastic, by Terry Pratchett

Title: The Light Fantastic
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Comedy.

Title: The Sleeper and the Spindle
Author: Neil Gaiman

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Books to distract me from “my daughter is moving out” sadness. I’m rereading the #Discworld series this year, and

The Sleeper and the Spindle

The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman

the audiobook of The Light Fantastic was the perfect choice to keep me company on the trip yesterday. Book 2 in the series continues the story of Rincewind, the kind of crap wizard with a single spell trapped in his head, and Twoflower, the Disc’s first tourist with his sapient pear wood luggage.

I’d been meaning to listen to the BBC4 radio recording of @neilhimself’s The Sleeper and the Spindle since it was first aired on Boxing Day, but had forgotten until Neil posted yesterday that it was only available for a few more hours, so listened to it last night before bed, and oh my goodness what a wonderful production it was. I pulled the book off my shelf this morning to reread it, and immerse myself in the stunning illustrations. Two very different books, but two wonderful texts to revisit on a bittersweet long weekend

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 15-16/2021

Happy reading,




January 4 2021

#2020ReadingChallenge wrap up

2020 books readBuckle in, readers, this is going to be a long one!

I started 2020 with the ambitious goal of reading 52 books throughout the year. but ended up more than doubling that. I read some incredible books – in fact, there’s almost nothing on here that I wouldn’t recommend to someone. There were indeed some stand-outs, and I’ve compiled my top 5 books in a few different categories, as well as a top 5 and top 20 books overall – because it was hard to narrow it down! I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself to read new things this year – I read more non-fiction than I normally do, I got back into reading comics again, and most of my books were written by own voices and/or BIPOC authors, and feature diverse and authentic representation of characters and experiences.

My stats:
📚 Total books read: 111
📚 New-to-me authors: 68
📚 Books featuring significant diverse content/ characters: 84
📚 Books by diverse authors: 73
📚 Rereads: 7
📚 Non-fiction: 11
📚 Comics/ graphics: 36
📚 Picture books: 13
📚 Audiobooks: 16
📚 Main genres: Contemporary (46), Fantasy (31), Sci-fi (27)
📚 Most recommended books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans
📚 Most purchased book: Euphoria Kids.

I focused a lot this year on #diversifyingmybookshelf – consciously reading books by authors of colour, and featuring BIPOC characters that were authentically represented. I’ve always read queer literature pretty extensively, and one of my increasing focuses as the year went on was the representation of mental health and disability in my reading, particularly in YA books. I’ve enjoyed some of these #ownvoices reads most of all, and will be seeking out more fiction that presents these types of issues and characters in authentic and meaningful ways.

2020 was a good reading year for me, and I was surprised to see that I’d read more contemporary than anything else – I think of myself as a sci-fi/fantasy girl! I’m using TheStorygraph to track my #2021readingchallenge, so I’m interested to see how those stats come out at the end of this year – the above info is taken from my highly unscientific excel spreadsheet dump, after I realised that GoodReads wasn’t going to give me the goods.

Top 5 books

Top Books Overall

I’ve been debating how to present my top 10 list of reads from 2020, and figured out that whilst I can do a top 5 easily, narrowing the next 5 down was considerably more difficult. So, here are my top 5 reads of last year, along with a top 20.

Every single book in my top 5 I will read again, and have recommended to multiple people. I’ve also purchased multiple copies of them to give as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and “just because” gifts throughout the year.

In no particular order:

  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria “V.E.” Schwab
  • Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans
  • The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
top 20 booksThe rest of my top 20 are all excellent reads, and all for different reasons. Some made me laugh. Some made me cry. They all made me think, and feel a whole lot of feelz. They all made me proud to be a reader, and inspired me more to strive to be a writer. At least half of them could have made it into my top 5 if one of the aforementioned authors had done a less-than-perfect job on their books. So here are 6-20 on my top 20, in no particular order:
  • How it feels to float, by Helena Fox
  • Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann
  • The Strangeworlds travel agency by LD Lapinski
  • Children of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Long way down by Jason Reynolds
  • The poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Anxious people by Fredrik Backman
  • Future Girl by Asphyxia
  • They both die at the end by Adam Silvera
  • Snow, glass, apples, by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran
  • Wonder Woman rebirth by Greg Rucka
  • Catch and kill by Ronan Farrow
  • Black enough: stories of being young and black in America, Ed by Ibi Zoboi
  • Peta Lyre’s rating normal by Anna Whateley

top 5 ya

Top 5 YA reads

I read a lot of YA – most than half the books in my 111 total for the year were young adult, and all of them great, so this was hard to narrow down. I didn’t include Euphoria Kids, which was on my top5 best books overall list, and that gave me room for one more on here, which I desperately needed.
I didn’t realise until taking this photo that this collection has a nice spread of issues and characters – queer, neurodivergence, race, mental health, disability – and it probably more fully captures my reading interests than any of my other top5 lists!
In no particular order (well ok – in the order they appear in the photo, but not in any order to assign preference, because they all freaking rock and you should read them all if you haven’t yet):
  •  How it feels to float by Helena Fox
  •  Future girl by Asphyxia
  •  Peta Lyre’s rating normal by Anna Whateley
  •  Children of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  •  Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
 Reiterating here – read these books. I will say, though, some/ most of them deal with some heavy content at some point. Trigger warnings particularly for mental health issues in HIFTF and PLRN, suicidal ideation in HIFTF, some extreme violence/torture/ racial discrimination in COBAB, dystopian issues around food insecurity in FG, family abandonment in PLRN. I’m not telling you this to discourage you – I just really believe you need to know what you’re getting into sometimes, and if these issues might be particularly triggering for you right now, wait until you’re feeling more able to cope with their fictional representation before you pick up these books. But please, pick them up. Outstanding novels, all.

top 5 poetry

Top 5 Poetry reads

My top 5 poetry reads for 2020 are all verse novels. I love the verse novel form, and I read quite a few last year. My faves, in no particular order, are:
  •  Worse things by @sallymurphyauthor
  •  Long way down by @jasonreynolds83
  •  The poet X by @acevedowrites
  •  Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann
  •  The crossover by @kwamealexander
A couple of these could also have made their way onto some of my other Top 5 lists – Worse Things is an excellent middle grade/ lower secondary novel, and The Poet X is one of the best YA books I’ve read this year. They’re all excellent reads. If you have slightly reluctant readers, or those who struggle to find the time to read a full-length traditional novel, I highly recommend the verse novel format as a way to help bridge that gap for them.
One of the features I love about verse novels is how the form seems to allow us to connect with characters on a deep emotional level, and after reading a few of these earlier in the year I started dabbling in writing in verse for my NaNoWriMo project. I’m really loving it, both as a reader and a writer. If you’ve not read a verse novel before, any of these would be great places to start.

top 5 picture books

Top 5 picture books

My top 5 picture books are all very different. Ranging from sweet easy read-along books suitable for younger children, to something to inspire deeper thought for middle grade readers, to deep and complex examination of capitalism, exploitation of workers, and human rights.
My top 5, in no particular order, are:
  •  How to make a bird, by @megmckinlay and @mattottleyart
  •  Migrants, by Issa Watanabe
  •  Julian at the wedding, by @jesslovedraws
  •  Diamonds, by Armin Greder
  •  Alphabetical Tashi by Anna and Barbara Fienberg
I love picture books. I believe that they offer incredible opportunities to engage with stories for readers of all ages and skill levels. And yet, when it came to including them on my #2020readingchallenge list, I still kind of felt a bit like I was cheating. They don’t take nearly as long as a full-sized prose novel. Could I really justify including a book with no words on a reading list? Turns out, yes. Yes I can. Because the length of time a book takes to consume doesn’t influence its impact. What matters is that you find a world to immerse yourself in that engages you, that entertains, inspires, challenges or comforts you while you read it, and hopefully beyond that. All of these books did that for me, from the nostalgia of Tashi to the inspiration of How to make a bird to the challenge of Diamonds. If you want to read more, but don’t feel like you have time, head into your library and ask them to point you to their collection of picture books for older readers. They aren’t just for little kids until they’re ready to move onto “real” reading. What was your favourite picture book of 2020?

top 5 comics

Top 5 Comic/ Graphic reads

2020 was the year of rediscovering my love of comics. I used to read them a bit when I was a kid, but stopped when I was around 12 – I don’t remember why. For the past few years I’ve wanted to get back into reading them, but there always seemed to be such a big barrier to entry and I didn’t know where to start. After a discussion with Jacob, though, I did a bit of research, asked some comic nerd friends for advice, and bit the bullet. I’ve read 36 comics and graphic novels this year, and I’ve loved the diversity of the worlds and characters I’ve discovered. One of Jacob’s friends recommended “anything by Greg Rucka”, and that has proven to be useful advice indeed. My top 5 comic/ graphic reads for 2020 are:

  •  Ms Marvel, vol1
  •  Wonder Woman Rebirth, vol1, by @ruckawriter et al
  •  The old guard, another Rucka masterpiece.
  •  Heartstopper, by Alice Oseman
  •  Lumberjanes, by @gingerhazing et al
If you don’t read comics but would like to, here are my tried and true tips for getting started!
Pick a character from pop culture you like and do some googling. Comic fans somewhere will have debated the best entry point to get into their story!
Have you loved a tv show that’s based on a comic or graphic? Get that! You already know you’ll enjoy the story and characters, no matter how weirdly different they may be in comic form (I’m looking at you, Umbrella Academy).
There are plenty of graphic novels adapted from traditional novels – check to see if there are any made of books you like.
If you find the prospect of a whole comic series daunting, try a shorter arc. I’m currently reading Marvel 1602 and I think it’s be a great comic entry point for MCU fans who want to start reading comics (plus, it’s written by @neilhimself!)
And finally, do some research to find your most helpful local comic store. I’ve loved the service at @kingscomics, and they’ve really helped me develop my comics collection this year. I tend to do most of my inquiries online, because whilst they all seem great in person, I still have some “middle aged woman in a comic store” hang ups when it comes to asking for advice in store. The staff are great, though, and know their stuff.

top 5 middle grade reads

Top 5 middle grade reads

One more top5 for today- my fave middle grade reads of my #2020readingchallenge. Some are solid middle grade books, others are transitional middle grade/ YA – all are excellent reads.
  • George, by @alexginoofficial
  • The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, by @ldlapinski
  • Ghost, by @jasonreynolds83
  • Bindi, by @kirli.saunders and @dubleffler
  • Hollowpox: the hunt for Morrigan Crow, by @digressica
There’s some diversity here. An illustrated verse novel about Indigenous family and community. A black kid finding his place on a track team. A trans girl dealing with coming out to her family and friends. And a couple of cracker middle grade/ YAish fantasy books with fantastic complex characters. I think Hollowpox is the pick of the Morrigan Crow series, for what it’s worth, and I have high hopes for what comes next in the Strangeworlds series. Younger readers can deal with deeper and more complex issues than we give them credit for, especially when those issues are presented with such beautiful, sensitive and thoughtful writing as it is by these authors.
Have you read any of these? What do you think?

top 5 non fiction

Top 5 Non-fiction reads

My top 5 non-fiction for 2020 is an eclectic bunch. I don’t tend to read a lot of non-fiction, so the fact that I had enough for a top 5 was a surprise to me – in fact, 10% of my #2020readingchallenge was non-fiction books.
The best of them for me were:
  •  Stamped from the beginning: a history of racist ideas in America, by @ibramxk (YA version pictured – I listened to the audiobook on Spotify)
  •  Dragon Hoops, by @geneluenyang
  •  Astronauts: Women on the final frontier, by @gtlabsrat and @mariswicks
  •  Living on stolen land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina
  •  Catch and Kill: lies, spies, and a conspiracy to protect predators, by @ronanfarrow
It’s an eclectic mix. A detailed historical examination of racist ideas in the US. A graphic novel memoir of the author’s life in parallel with his portrayal of the championship basketball team at his school. A graphic novel history of women’s involvement in the space program. A verse novel manifesto about the importance of acknowledging Indigenous custodianship of the land. And, finally, and expose on one of the key cases of the #metoo movement. I’ve enjoyed consciously reading a bit more non-fiction this year, and will be looking for more, particularly those in non-prose form. I’ve enjoyed the graphic novel format for non-fiction, and it allows for some deeper reflections on the nature of memory and recreating history on the page.
So, that’s my 2020 in books. At the time of posting this, I’m already about 8 books into my 2021 reading challenge – I’ve not set myself a number target this year, but I am hoping read a similar amount of diverse and interesting stories. I’m starting a reread of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, which I’m really looking forward to, and I’m going to read more middle grade books – it’s an area that I don’t read widely from. I hope you read something great last year – if you didn’t that’s ok too. Start now! If you want any recommendations, hit me up – it’d be an honour to help you find your next favourite read.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 111/111

Happy reading,




December 23 2020

Nerdy babies: rocks, by Emmy Kastner

Nerdy kids

Nerdy babies: rocks! by Emmy Kastner

Title: Nerdy babies: Rocks
Author: Emmy Kastner
Genre/ issues: Picture books. Rocks/ geology. Non-fiction. Science.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

A lovely picture book, from what looks like a great series, Nerdy Babies: Rocks delves into the complex world of rocks around us! With language that is accessible for younger readers, it also features a great sampling of scientific language and explores the paths that a fascination with rocks can lead you on. I love a good non-fiction picture book, and whilst this isn’t up there with the CSIRO ones for me, it’s super cute and a lovely addition on a shelf for your early readers, or as a readaloud.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 99/100

Happy reading,




November 28 2020

A pile of picture books

Picture books

A pile of picture books

Title: Alphabetical Tashi
Author: Anna and Barbara Fienberg
Illustrator: Kim Gamble, Arielle and Greer Gamble

Title: Old man Emu
Author: John Williamson
Illustrator: Simon McLean

Title: A walk like no other
Author: Lara Bury
Illustrator: Anahit Aleksanyan

Title: The great realisation
Author: Tomos Roberts
Illustrator: Nomoco

Title: What we’ll build
Author: Oliver Jeffers

Title: The Tree
Author: Graeme Base

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I’ve been reading a bunch of picture books today –  all lovely for different reasons!
I’ve always loved Tashi by Anna Fienberg, and this exploration of the alphabet provides some beautifully illustrated glimpses of some beloved Tashi characters. A wonderful way to reinforce alphabetical knowledge, with a lovely narrative tour of the Tashi universe. An utter joy.
I’m sure most Australians are familiar with Old Man Emu, and this illustrated version is super fun – I couldn’t help but sing along as I was reading through it! I genuinely laughed out loud at the kangaroo with a tan line once he loses his pants. Super cute.
My friend Lara has just had her first picture book published. I know it’s been something she’s wanted to do for ages, and I’m so proud of her! A Walk Like No Other follows Sapphire as she races home, wanting to be first but also getting distracted by all the exciting things happening in her neighbourhood. Cute and colourful illustrations, and a lovely message about running your own race.

I love Oliver Jeffers’ work, and What We’ll Build is a beautiful story of a parent and child building their future together. As is common with Jeffers’ work, it’s deceptively simple but speaks deeply and powerfully to the kind of world we want to live in – nurturing, accepting, protective and forgiving. So wonderful.

The Great Realisation started life as a poem on YouTube about what we can learn from a time of crisis. A response to Covid, and a call to reflect on what truly matters to us as individuals and as a society. The illustrations are stunning – this one is definitely going into my permanent collection.
And finally, The Tree by Graeme Base. It goes without saying that the illustrations in this are photorealistic magnificence. The story ties nicely with the themes of the other two books in this post – Cow and Duck both live in the same tree, one in the roots and the other up high in the canopy. When a big storm comes, they try to protect their home, but are suspicious of each other. Can they find a way to live together in peace?
If you’re after some great fun read-aloud books, the first three are for you. If you are looking for some picture books to add to a collection which reflects the positive benefits of a diverse and harmonious society, accepting of differences and nurturing the world around us, then the last three would all be great additions.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 80-85/100

Happy reading,