The Beatryce Prophecy – Kate DiCamillo

Illustrations – Sophie Blackall

How to make me fall in love with your book in 5 easy steps

Step 1: Begin with a quote that makes me cheer on the girl before I’ve even met her. 

It is written in the Chronicles of Sorrowing that one day there will come a child who will unseat a king.

The prophecy states that this child will be a girl.

Because of this, the prophecy has long been ignored. 

Step 2: Make your main character someone who loves to read, who is imaginative and brave and resilient and adorable. 

“There are twenty-six letters in all,” she said. “You will learn each of them, and once you know them, you can mix them as you will, and then use them to form the words of the world and the things of the world. You can write of everything – what is and what was and what might yet be.” 

Step 3: Introduce me to characters who will live in my heart long after I finish reading. People like…

* A monk who sees beauty everywhere and whose words are true
* A boy with a brilliant memory who talks to bees
* A man who remembers how wonderful it is to laugh.

Step 4: Impart wisdom and, in doing so, make me highlight an absurd amount of sentences. 

He said, “The world is not always a kind place.”

“No,” she agreed.

“But there are sweet things to be had,” he said.

“Nothing is more terrifying to evil than joy.” 

She felt as though the darkness were trying to swallow her up.

She must not allow that to happen. She must stay herself. 

To be brave is to not turn away.

To be brave is to go forward.

To be brave is to love. 

Seemingly, the heart could hold an untold amount of things – letters and people and goats and bees.

Seemingly, there was no limit to what it could contain. 

We shall all, in the end,

be led to where we belong.

We shall all, in the end,

find our way home. 

Step 5: Include gorgeous illustrations.

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Bonus points if there’s a goat called Answelica who has attitude and a very hard head. 

“I do believe the best and wisest thing we can do is to follow the goat.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong. We shall all, in the end, find our way home.

In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all – for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.

And so it is that a girl with a head full of stories – powerful tales – within the tale of queens and kings, mermaids and wolves – ventures into a dark wood in search of the castle of one who wishes her dead. But Beatryce knows that, should she lose her way, those who love her – a wild-eyed monk, a man who had once been king, a boy with a terrible sword, and a goat with a head as hard as stone – will never give up searching for her, and to know this is to know everything. With its timeless themes, unforgettable cast, and magical medieval setting, Kate DiCamillo’s lyrical tale, paired with resonant black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall, is a true collaboration between masters.

Theodora Hendrix #1: Theodora Hendrix and the Monstrous League of Monsters – Jordan Kopy

Illustrations – Chris Jevons

That howling you hear at night? It’s not the wind, but a werewolf moaning at the moon. That tapping at your window? It’s not a branch, but a vampire inviting himself in for a snack of your blood. That creaking in the hallway? It’s not just “the house settling”, but a hag creeping towards your bedroom – they keep children as pets, you know.

You probably didn’t know monsters were real because of the Monster Secrecy Act but Theodora Hendrix knows about all of these monsters, and many more. She was adopted by a whole bunch of them when she was a baby.

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But no one can ever know that she’s at the Monstrous League of Monsters mansion (it’s haunted, of course) or else there will be consequences for her monster kin.

“Harbouring a human is punishable by death”

Okay, really serious consequences.

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Theodora goes to Appleton Primary School, where Ms Frumple has obviously been taking lessons in being a head teacher from the Trunchbull. We don’t like Ms Frumple. At all.

There’s also been someone delivering threatening letters to the Monstrous League of Monsters, someone who knows they’ve broken one of the rules of the Monstrous League of Monsters Charter.

1. Keep monsters hidden from humans

2. Protect humans from bad monsters

3. Help bad monsters become good monsters

But it’s not all bad news. Theodora has a new friend, a human friend, Dexter. And there’s a seemingly never ending supply of leftover pizza.

Theodora is a wonderful character. She’s strong, courageous and isn’t afraid of standing up for herself. Dexter, who compliments Theodora really well, is more reserved and much more concerned about following rules than his new friend.

This story was so imaginative and engaging. There was a fun mystery with some red herrings, great locations and enough quirkiness to hold my attention throughout the book.

Naturally, I want to live in the haunted mansion. There’s a secret passageway to explore, a squishy blue eyeball doorbell and I love Theodora’s bedroom.

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There are also plenty of friendly monsters to hang out with, like Mummy the mummy, Georgie Hendrix the zombie, Bandit the masked vampire-cat, Helter-Skelter the skeleton butler, Hamlet the skull, Mousetrap the raven and Figaro the operatic ghost.

My personal favourite, though, was Sherman the tarantula, Theodora’s friend who’s “the cheese to her pizza”. He wears a top hat and monocles, and believes there isn’t a food that can’t be improved with strawberry jam.

Chris Jevons’ illustrations are absolutely adorable, with an Addams Family vibe. They bring the characters to life so well and although the details occasionally don’t line up perfectly with the text, the majority of the time they do. I particularly loved the cute little bats in the text breaks.

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I can’t wait to continue this delightful series.

Oh, the password is “Coconut-fried cockroaches” but, shh! You didn’t hear it from me!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Monstrous League of Monsters Charter

  1. Keep monsters hidden from humans
  2. Protect humans from bad monsters
  3. Help bad monsters become good monsters

Orphaned and raised by an … unconventional family, Theodora knows the importance of these rules more than most. And so far, it’s not been too hard to keep her monstrous home life a secret.

UNTIL NOW.

Someone is about to reveal everything, and it’s up to Theodora to save her family – fast!

Judy Moody #15: Judy Moody, Super Book Whiz – Megan McDonald

Illustrations – Peter H. Reynolds

“The Bookworms rule!”

Judy and her brother Stink are reading up a storm.

They, along with Frank, Sophie and Jessica, are the Virginia Dare Bookworms. The Bookworms are preparing to beat Braintree Academy’s team, the Bloodsucking Fake-Mustache Defenders, to the buzzer when they compete in the Book Quiz Blowout.

The winning team will not just earn bookish bragging rights. The Book Quiz Wizard’s Cup will be proudly displayed in their school’s library. This is no ordinary trophy – it lights up!

She, Judy Moody, was a book quiz whiz. A book wizard. A quizzard!

Judy is frantically practising her speed reading and Stink has his Cape of Good Answers, but when they learn of the other team’s secret weapon the Bookworms’ confidence is shaken.

“Will the Bookworms take a bite out of the Bloodsuckers? Or will the Bloodsuckers sink their fangs into the Bookworms on their way to the finish and take home the trophy?”

I always enjoy Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations, in particular how expressive the children are.

In preparation for the upcoming competition, the Bookworms talk about oodles of children’s books, both classics and more recent bestsellers. As someone who has always sought out potential future reads in my current read, I was delighted to find a list of everything the Bookworms read at the end of the book. All six pages of them, with titles and authors, in alphabetical order! Some of my own childhood favourites are there as well – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

N.B. The title of the copy I read is Judy Moody, Super Book Whiz. On Goodreads this is listed as Judy Moody, Book Quiz Whiz.

I won a copy of this book in a giveaway, which was hosted by Tracey at Carpe Librum. Thank you so much to Carpe Librum, Walker Books and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Books, books, books! Judy’s got books on the brain as she prepares for a totally RARE trivia competition. Has reading always been this exciting?

Judy Moody is in it to win it. Win the Book Quiz Blowout, that is. Judy and her brother, Stink, are two-fifths of the Virginia Dare Bookworms, and they’ve been reading up a storm to prepare for Saturday’s face-off against second- and third-grade readers from the next town. Judy’s trying out all kinds of tactics, from hanging upside down like Pippi Longstocking to teaching herself to speed read The Princess in Black, and Stink has fashioned a cape of book trivia sticky notes to help him remember all the penguins in Mr. Popper’s Penguins. But when Judy, Stink, and their fellow teammates discover the other group has a fourth-grader (no lie!), they get a bit nervous. Are the Bookworms up to the challenge?

Queen Celine – Matt Shanks

Celine is an ordinary girl but when she goes to the sea she becomes Queen of her kingdom. After chasing away its current rulers (a flock of seagulls) Celine decides to build a fortress to protect her subjects. She wants things to remain the same but when the tide cannot enter her kingdom it loses “its sparkle”. Now Celine needs to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

Celine’s royal attire includes a very cool duck inflatable float ring. I loved the illustrations, all of which include plenty of detail to appreciate. All of the sea life are very expressive. My favourite background detail shows a seagull making a fish walk the plank.

This is a sweet picture book that is told quite simply but covers a lot of ground. Celine admits she was wrong, learns from her mistake and takes the steps she needs to to fix the problem. Celine’s story shows that everyone is happier and there’s more capacity for fun when everyone is included. There’s also an ecological message.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Celine Beaufort was an ordinary girl. 
She did ordinary things, 
On ordinary days, 
In ordinary ways. 
But every now and then, Celine was a Queen, Of a kingdom by the sea. 

Celine Beaufort is queen of what she is quite certain is the most beautiful rock pool in the world. It’s perfect. And to make sure nothing ever changes, she decides to build a wall around it. Unfortunately, that turns out to be a royal mistake. As self-proclaimed ruler, it’s up to Celine to right her wrong and restore her rock pool to its former glory, this time with everyone welcome.