Glenda Millard

For All Creatures

by Glenda Millard illustrated by Rebecca Cool

This second collaboration from the creators of the award-winning picture book Isabella’s Garden is a winner in my book. It reads like a prayer of thankfulness, straight from the pages of Glenda Millard’s award-winning ‘Kingdom of Silk’ books, with her trademark lyrical language drawing the reader in with its rhythm and alliteration. The book pays homage to all creatures great and small, to love and life, to kindness and gentleness and to the marvel of being alive. The language is imbued with tenderness and warmth.

It is varied, evocative and thought-provoking, yet playful and imaginative. It doesn’t shy away from complex words like metamorphosis or new phrases like ‘haughtiness and humpiness’ and ‘scribbled silver secrets’.

Rebecca Cool’s mixed-media illustrations are superb: dramatic and varied. The rich colours leap from the page as a procession of animals stride through the book.

Every double-page spread is a surprise and a wonder that will enthrall young readers, whether they are reading independently or listening and sharing with an adult. In this fast-paced world it is the kind of book that will slow us down in order to savour the language and enjoy the illustrations again and again.

« Back to all books

Isabella’s Garden

by Glenda Millard illustrated by Rebecca Cool

The Book Chook has a new favourite picture book. Isabella’s Garden has pushed its way into my heart and mind with beautiful, poetic writing, and eye-popping illustrations. Written by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Rebecca Cool, and published by Walker Books Australia (2009), Isabella’s Garden is a stunning example of a cumulative story beautifully told by two master craftspeople.

It tells the story of the progress of seeds planted in dark deep soil in Isabella’s garden. Changes in the garden are lyrically described while the visual text shows children working and playing happily nearby. Millard is a poet who gifts us with words carefully chosen to evoke an emotional response:

These are the flowers that waltz with the wind that ruffles the buds, all velvety-skinned that swelled the shoots that sought the sun that kissed the clouds that cried the rain that soaked the seeds that slept in the soil all dark and deep, in Isabella’s garden.

Rebecca Cool’s artwork is magical. The Book Chook has a penchant for folk art, and Cool is a master of this style. Her use of colour and pattern makes her illustrations fascinating, and kids will enjoy exploring and re-exploring all the visual details. As I write this review, I am actually in Margaret River, Western Australia. Rebecca Cool lives nearby, and I was lucky enough to see more of her work in the Margaret River Gallery.

Cumulative stories like The House that Jack Built and There Was an Old Lady are great for beginning readers because their repeated text facilitates prediction. There IS repetition in Isabella’s Garden, but Glenda Millard also innovates as the seasons change, so youngsters will find the challenge of new and interesting vocabulary too. I am not familiar with Millard’s books, but will definitely be on the lookout for more by this talented Australian writer.

Isabella’s Garden would make a wonderful springboard to doing some gardening activities with your kids. Ask them to use the book to discover what seeds need to grow into plants. Can children notice any of the book’s details in their own garden? Kids might enjoy designing their own garden patch, choosing seeds, and then digging, planting and tending until their seeds germinate. If you don’t have a patch of soil available, consider a container garden, or an experiment on seed germination. Encouraging kids to be observant and responsive to changes in the garden is a useful skill to develop, and can lead to a lifelong interest in the outdoors.

« Back to all books

The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk

by Glenda Millard illustrated by Stephen Michael King

“the skill of capturing a tender moment is the most wonderful thing…. It is more like magic than almost anything else in the universe, except perhaps reading hearts or books or seeing things that other people cannot.” Nell, grandmother of the Silk family has this gift – the skill of capturing tender moments.

At the naming ceremony for Saffron everyone hopes the pages of her book will be filled with tiny tender moments “those that make the soul tipsy with ordinary happiness.”

From the first pages of this next installment in the lives of the Silk family, Glenda Millard gently weaves her magic reminding her readers about the hopes and wishes of each member of the Silk family as we have come to know them through five previous books. Saffron is the fifth rainbow girl. She is a lover of history and individuality. Each of the children in this family have special talents. In The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk Glenda Millard gives us a close look at Saffron but something has gone wrong. She has been seeing firebirds but has not yet told anyone. Then one day, as they are all gathered together baking apple pies, Saffron collapses.

Each family member expresses concern in his or her own unique way as Saffron is taken to the Doctor Larsson – the wise local GP. Griffin confides his fears to Layla and as usual she is able to reassure him. Layla is good at asking questions and as Griffin reflects “questions are tools for discovering the truth. They can be used like a sledgehammer to smash things open, or like a candle to lighten the dark.”

Saffron needs to go into the city for tests at a hospital. It is Perry who gives the two most precious gifts of all along with something truly magical from Nell.

If you have not yet met the Silk family you should walk quietly into your nearest library and seek them out. Begin with The naming of Tishkin Silk, and follow this with Layla Queen of Hearts, Perry Angel’s suitcase, All the colours of Paradise and finally Plum Puddings and Paper Moons.

As I jumped off a city bus yesterday I spied a bookshop across the street. I quickly crossed the road, headed down to the children’s section, scanned the shelves and pulled out a copy of The Tender moments of Saffron Silk. because I had discovered there was a new title in this series. I began reading over lunch, read all the way home on the bus and then sat up late into the night. The writing of Glenda Millard is so special it feels like nourishment for my soul.

Posted by Momo

« Back to all books

Lightning Jack

by Glenda Millard

Click here to view the review

« Back to all books

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark

by Glenda Millard

I went into reading A Small Free Kiss in the Dark with no expectations as I’d heard very little about it in the blogosphere. And it blew my socks off.

Skip tells his story, and I mean he literally writes his story and mentions the craft of his doing so, in a hauntingly beautiful way. Reading A Small Free Kiss in the Dark I noticed the artistic nature of Glenda Millard’s prose. Skip’s narration is poetic and stunningly beautiful. He has a way of looking at the world that intrigues me to no end. It’s like he sees the world through a foggy, dreamlike lens that distorts reality into a huge image of art and words.

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark is largely set in an abandoned fairground called Dreamland that is evoked so vividly that I felt if I just opened the book wide enough I’d be able to step through the words and take a ride on Skip’s pinto carousel horse. Glenda Millard uses metaphors, similes and imagery so, so artfully that I felt my bedroom walls dissolve around me as I read. Just astonishing.

As you may have guessed from my review so far, Skip was by far my favourite character in A Small Free Kiss in the Dark and was what made me furiously turn the pages. Some of the things that he said made me smile and my heart break simultaneously. He’s incredibly wise and perceptive for a young boy, and yet still so innocent and willing to give his all for those he cares for.

I adored this novel and if by reading this review one more person picks it up I’ll have done my job. Go read it now!

« Back to all books

The Stars at October Bend – 1st Reviews


Alice is 15 years old and broken. After an assault, Alice is left with acquired brain injury which leaves her unable to talk. Her words stumble out slow and awkward, so she hardly talks to anyone except her brother Joey and her Gram. Joey is a wonderful supporting younger brother taking on responsibilities beyond his age. Their Gram is old and in very poor health and the rest of the family are gone. Alice also suffers from seizures – her electrics are broken, as she says so she doesn’t go to school. She stays home and writes the words she struggles to say. Alice writes beautiful poems that say so much more than she is capable of with speech. She leaves her poems in different places about town, hoping they might be found.

Manny is 16 years old and runs at night trying to block out the pain from when he was a boy soldier, before he came to this safe country. It is Manny who finds one of Alice’s poems and seeks to find out about the writer.

This book is both tender and terrifying. Alice and Manny hold secrets and truths from each other. Secrets so awful that I was moved to tears. Almost all of the characters are flawed but that is the reality of life. Their pain and grief is raw. I just wanted to hug them both and tell them things will be okay.

Alice’s poems flow with such ease when she writes but Manny can see beyond the poems and her brain injury. Theirs is a love story about hurt and hate but ultimately about healing. It is an incredibly powerful book.

The novel is written without capital letters and while it might seem strange at first, it works perfectly and as you read not only do you become accustomed to the style but you get to know Alice as she really is and bit by bit you see her change.

Seriously, when this comes out in February do look out for it. It deals with some tough issues but is beautifully written and it will leave an impact.