Saturday, 28 March 2020

Review: El Deafo by Cece Bell

At age four Cece Bell suffered a bout of meningitis that led to severe hearing loss. Equipped with the latest in 1970s technology hearing aid, she spent a year at a school where everyone in her class was deaf, before her family moved to a new town, and she found herself being the only kid with a hearing aid in her neighbourhood and at her school. El Deafo is her story of how she eventually found acceptance--and a kind of super power--at a school where she was different. And the best bit? This memoir is told as a graphic novel, with all of the characters as rabbits. (And they're pretty darn cute.)

Although intended for primary school aged children, this book can be read and appreciated by a wider audience. It highlights the problems that children with hearing aids encounter on a daily basis: people shouting at them, careless teachers, bullies, muddled attempts at kindness from kids who don't understand, and a sense that they are different from other kids. It's a great reminder (or way to learn) about the differences that exist in our community and what we can do that would genuinely help someone else to fit in.

El Deafo was selected as a Newberry Honor Book and it is not difficult to see why.

Highly recommended.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Curiosity Show: King Solomon's Circles

Another brilliant clip from the Curiosity Show. Check out their brilliant channel on YouTube

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Review: Gulliver's Wife by Lauren Chater

Australian author Lauren Chater takes Gulliver's Travels and gives it a new and interesting twist in Gulliver's Wife. Mary Gulliver and Bess Gulliver take centre stage in a story about what it really means to be a woman in 18th century England, particularly when they have been abandoned by a fanciful husband and father who seems to care more about his supposed adventures than he does for his wife and daughter. Life is tough, particularly when they don't have money and have been let down time and time again by the person who is supposed to care and look out for them--even if Bess doesn't quite understand that yet. Mary is strong and resourceful, and trained as a midwife. But when Lemuel Gulliver returns both Mary and Bess find their world turned upside down. And from there, things only take a turn for the worse.

This is a story of survival, and what it means to be a woman in a time when women had no power--and what little they did have in the world could be so very easily snatched away. After all, a number of young women in the town are being attacked, leaving Mary to fear for Bess. Meanwhile, Mary's own profession is in jeopardy with a push for forceps births and male midwives gaining momentum. And then there is the fact that Lemuel keeps babbling stories about little people that are unbelievable and Mary is doing her best to keep him quiet, lest he threaten her reputation. 

The author highlights the struggles and powerlessness faced by Mary and Bess well, as well as showing the complexities in their mother-daughter relationship. I was also extremely impressed by the level of research by the author. 

Gulliver's Wife is Lauren Chater's second novel and will no doubt be well received by anyone who loved The Lace Weaver. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my ARC of Gulliver's Wife.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2020.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

1990s Nostalgia: Little Miss Can't be Wrong by Spin Doctors

Sharing, because this one is a great song, and such an awesome early 90s clip. And ... paint!

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Review: The Family Law by Benjamin Law

Many Australians will be familiar with The Family Law thanks to the recent SBS TV series. This is the book that inspired the series--a memoir of growing up on the Sunshine Coast as the middle of five children to parents who had emigrated to Australia from Hong Kong. Laced with a little crude humour, this one tells the story of the family's many ups and downs as they navigate their way through life.

This was an enjoyable light read that never takes itself too seriously. Anyone who is easily shocked or offended, or who thinks that people should conform to certain stereotypes, will probably be very upset by this book, in particular, Law's portrayal of his mother whose language is often blunt, though full of some very colourful descriptions of certain facts of life. For the rest of us, it makes for a bloody entertaining read. (At one point, Law describes how his mother decided that the C-word was the perfect word to use to describe anyone she does not like.) Although, quite honestly, the part I enjoyed most was Law's description of the sex education class he had at school--and how he unintentionally ruined the sex ed book his teacher had borrowed from the school library. (That would have been one traumatic trip back to the library.)

An entertaining read about growing up in Australia.


This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2020