Children’s & Middle Grade Fiction

The Underground Princess

The Underground Princess
Illustrator: Luke Spooner
Published: November 29, 2014
Author's Twitter: @jwzulauf
Princess Scarlet is on a journey to find true love, but a malevolent force, Maleer, is in the process of dethroning her father, King Hurlock. Maleer intends to rule the underground kingdom of Balderdash, build an army, and break through the ground to invade the land of the living. As Scarlet runs out of options to save those that matter most, she is forced to make decisions that will determine the fate of her entire kingdom. Meet many friends, and a couple foes, on your visit to Balderdash. Whether you’re searching for true love with Princess Scarlet, or fighting for honor with Roland, the pirate knight, there is something for every reader within this coffin tale.









The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas
Illustrator: Darren Geers
Published: November 3, 2014
At Santa’s workshop, the night before the night before Christmas is hardly a time to rest. The elves work tirelessly to get the final toys made before Christmas Eve, but Elfie just can’t keep pace. He spends too much time making his toys perfect, and when Santa comes to check on production, everyone is surprised by his reaction.

December 17, 2014

Adorable and Heartwarming

The night before the night before Christmas is an adorable heart-warming tale that I would recommend to everyone, young and old. It tells the story of Elfie, one of Santa’s elves who spends the whole day working on one toy, while his comrades rush to complete all the presents for the children of the world.

It holds a sweet message, that sometimes speed and volume of productivity isn’t the best thing. That it’s okay to spend a lot of time on one thing if you make it perfect. This is something that people can forget in this modern age and it’s important to remember this and teach to children.
The story ties together two Christmas traditions in a beautifully understated way. I think linking them like this is a great way of introducing them to children.

The illustrations enhance and complement the story, making you fall in love with the characters immediately. Not to mention how incredibly skilled the artwork is. The entire production of the book is of a highly professional standard. It is a good, large size and comfortable to hold while lying in bed reading to your child, which is just what you want from this kind of children’s book.

I recommend this book for the AIA Seal of Excellence.


Tahlia Newland

This children’s picture book is quite simply beautiful. The story is beautiful, written by Jay Dee in simple but elegant and evocative prose, and the illustrations by Darren Geers are beautiful, colourful without being garish and with a truly lovely light quality. The book has also been beautifully produced, nicely printed and well laid out.
The illustrations create a large part of the book’s charm. The artist has imbued the drawings of Elfie, the other elves and Santa Clause with a great deal of expression. They beam off the page.
But the story itself does something wonderful; it merges the story of Santa Clause with the birth of Jesus, and also makes a clear statement on the kind of dedication required to achieve perfection. Santa Clause and his role as gift bringer to the good, and Christmas as the story of Jesus Christ’s birth can easily seem like two unrelated ideas of Christmas, but this story shows that it doesn’t have to be like that.
I love this story so much that I will read it to my family on Christmas day—and my child is twenty one!




Fizz & Peppers at the Bottom of the World

Fizz & Peppers at the Bottom of the World
Published: November 14, 2013
Author's Twitter: @mimking
Ancient trolls have woken up and are living under suburbia! When Colin Colbeck's grandmother goes missing, it's up to him to find her. Followed by a reckless little brother and his ex-best friend, Colin stumbles into an ancient city of trolls trying to catch up to the 21st century. But old grudges die hard and an out-of-date troll war is about to pick up where it left off two hundred years ago. It's a contest of brains against brawn in this perilous adventure of friendship, courage, and bringing home the ones you love.


You’ll Be Left Feeling Warm In Your Heart

5 stars.

You know what you get when you mix carbonated soda with a lump of rock? Sometimes you end up with a slobbering, six-eyed beast that’ll eat practically everything. Sometimes you think your little brother is trying to mess with you (on exactly the same day you’re humiliated in a contest of who can tolerate more habanero peppers), and then other times there really is a hole under his bed, leading down to a cave full of trolls.
Troll Fizz and Peppers is nonstop fun. From the initial adolescent teasing, the dares, the habanero-eating contest, and all the hilarity that came next, the book started off at a nice run and never really let up. What’s even better is when you think you know how the book’s progressing, you’re pretty sure of where the next plot twist might end up taking you, or you figure you have the ending pretty much nailed. In this book, you don’t. Troll Fizz has some of that great, adolescent, darts-in-the-dark, oddball twistiness that really needs to be seen more in Young Adult books.
Everyone in the book is pure genius. As in they’re well-written, with the same quirky goodness that helps propel the story through its bizarre and endless (endlessly fun) tunnel-like plot. Favorites were Sid with his Super Spy Guy utility gear and guide, and Grand with her rambling cleverness, flakiness and bravery.
If you’re a fan of well-written and very cleanly edited books, and if you prefer the color lavender, popping popcorn, delicious cupcakes, thrum bogs, dangerous daycare centers, and a good moral about why people fight each other (and why it’s pretty much pointless), this book will most likely give you a few good chuckles. After that, you’ll be left feeling warm in your heart, and in need of some really good homemade baked goods.
If there’s one tiny bone to pick with the book, it’s that the trolls don’t seem too menacing or dangerous until the very end (around 85% of the way through, when it’s about time for a war), when they suddenly seem very, very dangerous indeed. Perhaps I wanted it all to be sort of fun child’s play, but it took an awfully quick turn for the dark. In the end it turns out just peachy, but for just a few minutes there, the tone of the book changed.