Good Reading : May 2016
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING MAY 2016 68 Barney and the Secret of the Whales Jackie French Barney Bean, an orphan living in the brand-new colony in New South Wales, wants to have his own farm one day. To fulfil his dream, he needs to earn some serious money. He’s not going to get it helping the vicar, even though he’s grateful for the home he’s been given. When the captain of a whaling ship comes to the house for dinner, he makes the life of a whaler sound exciting, free and potentially lucrative. Barney, with his excellent eyesight and his quick reflexes, would be a welcome addition to the crew. Barney’s friends don’t think it’s a good idea – in fact, it could even be dangerous – but he decides it’s too good an opportunity to earn his ‘future far m’ money. But is it possible that the captain has given Barney a false picture of life at sea? Not many people know that the early Australian colony survived financially mainly due to whaling. These days it’s not a part of our history of which we can be proud. However, the 18th century was a different world from that of today. Whalers were brave adventurers who faced the perils of the deep, chasing after untold wealth and excitement. Barney’s story gives an insight into the life and times of the first Europeans in Australia’s history, and Mark Wilson’s excellent illustrations add to the drama. ★★★ HarperCollins $12.99 Reviewed by Wendy Noble Age guide 8+ Lafcadio: The lion who shot back Shel Silverstein Lafcadio is a most unusual lion. Instead of running from a hunter, he engages him in conversation. When the hunter still threatens to shoot him, Lafcadio eats him and takes his gun. He practises and practises until he becomes the world’s greatest sharpshooter. One thing leads to another and Lafcadio ends up in New York, working for a circus. One of the perks is that he can eat as many marshmallows as he wants. Lafcadio loves marshmallows. The trouble is, as time goes by, things become a little blurry. Is he still a lion or has he changed into something else? Shel Silverstein (1930–99) was renowned for his quirky sense of humour and his ability to celebrate the ridiculous things in life. However, hidden under all the fun was his sharp insight into humanity. Lafcadio: The lion who shot back was his first children’s book and shows the promise that Silverstein later fulfilled. He was a fun storyteller and a brilliant illustrator. It’s a delight to see this book in print again. ★★★ Pushkin $22.99 Reviewed by Wendy Noble Age guide 9+ YOUNGER READERS WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR Barney and the Secret of the Whales Jackie French Bthe brand-new colony in New South Wales, wants to have his own farm one day. To fulfil his dream, he needs to earn some serious money. He’s not going to get it helping the greatest sharpshooter. One thing leads to sharp insight into humanity. Lafcadio: The lion who shot back book and shows the promise that Silverstein later fulfilled. He was a fun storyteller and a br illiant illustrator. It’s a delight to see this book in print again. ★★★ Reviewed by Wendy Noble Age guide 9+ About Shel Silverstein Born in 1930, Sheldon Allan Silverstein was expelled from the University of Illinois due to poor grades. He then joined the School of Art Institute in Chicago but dropped out. In 1955, after being discharged from the army, he returned to Chicago, where he created cartoons for Playboy.