Click on these links to go direct to the full reviews of Kathryn’s books. (A quote is included where possible, below.)
🐷 REVIEWS 🐺 (Click on the links to read the full review.)
🐺 Rory Mather; In a sea of brilliant books this one stands out. It ties together so many tales and it does it in clever witty rhyme that is paired with great illustrations.
🐺 Hear the Reading with a Chance of Tacos podcast; What’s the Story Rory segment – where Rory says some wonderful things about Miss Understood, like; ‘I judged the book by its cover and I automatically knew I was going to love it – and the cover really lived up to the story… Really clever rhyme. Beautiful illustrations. Absolute joy to read… A brilliant book.’ The discussion includes an explanation of the fractured fairytale genre – and I just love the passion and enthusiasm in Rory’s voice. (About 25:50 mins into the podcast.)
🐺 Escape Hatch Books: We love it – especially all the piggy puns thrown around!
🐺 Megan Daley: I really, really enjoyed ‘Miss Understood’. It’s a fractured fairytale. It’s poetry. It’s full of puns. It’s got this wonderful beat and rhythm to it. It’s fantastic. A really, really clever little book.
🐺 Picture Books I Wish I’d Written: ‘Miss Understood’ is a masterclass in rhythm and rhyme. It romps along, full of puns and funny illustrations… The illustrations have a textural, almost nostalgic quality that is complemented by the matt paper stock… an outstanding reader experience.
🐺 Tania Ingram: I love it! Another brilliant book.
🐺 YKNR Podcast – Fairytales For All Ages: Where Miss Understood is recommended, and bought as a mentor text for students in Year One, looking at perspective in fairytales.
What Snail Knows
💗 Allayne Webster; Just devoured this beautiful junior fiction…And oh my heartstrings.
💗 Megan Daley; ‘What Snail Knows’ is verse novel greatness and is full of such heart and soul that I had to devour it in one sitting.
💗 It scored a 5⭐️ review from Momo; ‘there is a raw emotional edge to this book. Your heart will break for Lucy but it will soar when you read about the kindness she encounters … This book is a perfect package.’
💗 Mr7 from @cec_loves_to_read, when asked if he liked it; ‘Yes, it was really good, I liked it, quite a lot actually, it was very good.’ His mum had some lovely things to say, too, including; ‘Highly, highly recommended.’
💗 Kim Yeoman: I am in awe once again of Kathryn Apel’s skill in weaving together similes, metaphors, alliteration, imagery, rhyme and shape poetry with compassion and creativity to tell Lucy’s story.
💗 Lamont: Lucy is a character that you will fall in love with from the start. This story will be thoroughly enjoyed by junior to middle primary level readers.
💗 Sandy Bigna: This beautifully constructed verse novel for younger readers gently illuminates themes of loneliness, belonging, kindness, friendship and family. It will both break your heart and make you smile. Highly recommended for your 7+ reader.
💗 Barbara Braxton: A most poignant verse novel… a potent story of loneliness, friendship, acceptance, and building and connecting with community.
💗 Carissa – Books Kids Love: This book will tug at your heartstrings. And completely unravel them… It’s thoughtful and so beautifully written and sure to help young readers develop empathy too.
💗 Louise Brooks: An extremely poignant and insightful novel created with such lyrical and masterful word imagery… An uplifting and sensitive story that may just bring a tear and a cheer to the reader.
💗 Tania Ingram: Such a beautifully written book with a heart-filled story.
💗 Two Hoots Reviews: With themes of friendship, community and belonging and the concept of helping others and allowing ourselves to be helped is gentle yet memorable. A powerful text to demonstrate young people taking action, eg. beeswax wraps, sorting rubbish and rounding up introduced species. Highly recommend this moving story.
💗 Read Plus: Highly recommended. Lovely themes of community, environment, bravery and belonging wind throughout this gentle and moving story which gives a real insight into what it’s like to be the disadvantaged new kid who doesn’t fit in, and the enormous difference that kindness and friendship can make.
💗 Reading Opens Doors: A stunning verse novel. The varied layout of the verses and poetic devices elevate the story and will pique readers’ interest. Readers will find themselves invested in Lucy, cheering her on and at times shedding tears for her, but ultimately this is a beautiful, hopeful story about vulnerability, having the courage to be open to possibilities and friendships, connecting to community and being yourself.
💗 One More Page – Kate Simpson: What Snail Knows is a gorgeous verse novel about shy, lonely Lucy who moves a lot with her Dad in search of work. Some tough themes, handled in a sensitive and super child-centric way. Recommended!
💗 CBCSA: Calling all readers 8 and above! Get your hands on ‘What Snail Knows’. It is gentle, beautifully illustrated and written in short verses. It explores what a community can do together, includes important info about the environment, and encourages bravery and kindness.
💗 Aussie Reviews: Told using free verse, with occasional shape poems, this a poetic delight, well supported by the gentle illustrations by Mandy Foot.
💗 Tawa Books & Post: So much heart from the verse to the illustrations. The verse is so gorgeously told, it makes me remember the 5/6 year old I once was.
🐌 Interview with Ross Kay, ABC WideBay (Audio)
The Bird in the Herd
- The Bottom Shelf: “This is a clever and quirky read which mainly relies on rhyme, rhythm and repetition to carry it along but central, and most importantly, there is a charming story at its core. If only all that we asked our beginning readers to read were as good as this…”
- ReadPlus: “The soft watercolour and coloured pencil illustrations reflect the farm in which a herd of cows quietly munch the grass. Readers will love trying out the verses, predicting then remembering the rhyming words, practising the sounds. They will be intrigued by the pleasant day being had by all … until an interloper stirs everything up. Highly Recommended.”
- Jackie Hosking: “The bird in the herd is hilarious.”
- Mike Lucas: “Great rhyming and repetition with wonderful illustrations. Kids are going to have so much fun with it.”
- Marissa Caluzzi – CBCA Vic: “Farm animals and fun feature in this charming picture book. A fabulous read aloud story. Perfectly pitched for preschool and lower primary readers and one that will be read again and again.”
- Wild About Books: “Skilful rhyming makes this a fun story to read aloud … (with) an ending that will have you laughing out loud. Warm water colour illustrations capture lots of little details to explore on each page.”
- Allayne Webster: “Children will love the bright words and clean illustrations, and teachers will relish the building repetitive prose. (Teaching opportunities abound!) Nailed it, Kat and Renee.”
- Louise Brooks: “Come and join a procession of fun, beautifully captured by @kat.apel and delightfully illustrated by @reneetreml. A window of opportunity for city dwelling children to experience the sights, smells, sounds and essence of Aussie farm life.”
- Reading Opens Doors: “A delightful picture book that will captivate readers as they are transported to a farm with a cast of animals. The astute reader will delight in the bright, lively sun-soaked illustrations as they observe additional information about life on the land.” (Includes some great ideas to extend the read.)
- Great Escape Books: “A wonderful book to read together! This beautiful rhyming book will have all readers following along with excitement and curiosity.”
- Linda Baie (USA): “one of the bigger challenges in creating a picture book is not only to tell a good story for children but to do it while rhyming, too! Kat has managed to do that with expertise in this new book, finding marvelous rhymes for this funny and entertaining cumulative story. It’s such a rhythmic read-aloud.”
UP and DOWN on a RAINY DAY
- CBCA Reading Time: “It is quite clear to the reader that a rainy day is a most welcome and celebrated event for this farming family… An excellent text for building independent reading confidence. It could also be good for engaging active toddlers.”
TOO MANY FRIENDS
2018 CBCA Book of the Year, Younger Readers, NOTABLE BOOK.
- Lamont Books: “This is a delightful verse novel, with a very positive feel, that many younger students will thoroughly relate to.”
- Be a Fun Mum: “A delightful book to both read aloud to children and to encourage independent reading … about managing relationships, accepting new people, and kindness; these are relevant topics for everyone.”
- Gleebooks: “A finely nuanced story that gently reminds us of the positive effects of openhearted kindness and compassion. A welcome addition to our Australian fiction, it is credible and uplifting with nary a trace of didacticism.”
- Today’s Little Ditty (American review): “I can so easily see this book being read aloud in the classroom to help navigate playground dramas, learn what it means to be a good friend, and discover how to get along with others regardless of whether or not they are friends.”
- Live Your Poem (American review): “Tahnee comes up with a course of action that is inspiring! Her kindness creates ripples that transform this community of friends.”
- Children’s Books Daily: “Warm, funny and insightful, it explores all the complex intricacies of schoolyard friendships. There are so many ‘quotable quotes’ throughout that I’d love to plaster across the walls of classrooms.”
- 612ABC Radio Bookworms (Megan Daley): “Kat Apel just does the most outstanding job of verse novels. It’s absolutely beautiful and eminently suitable right through the primary school. The whole book is a series of quotes about the importance of friendship.”
- DeeScribe Writing: “As well as introducing common dilemmas for kids, ‘Too Many Friends’ introduces a whole range of fabulous classroom activities for teachers both within the book, and inspired by it. Lyrical and sensitive. A beautifully crafted story that will warm your heart.”
- Goodreads Review: “A super fun read. A lovely, real tale of friendships in the classroom.”
- Book Curator: “A sweet story told in verse from the perspective of a little girl with a kind heart who sees what others often don’t, and does what she can to make the world a little brighter. Suitable class novel.”
- Kids’ Book Review: “Another stunning read. Kathryn Apel has mastered the art of word selection and uses dialogue sparsely to successfully sculpt images and capture emotions.”
- ReadPlus: “Recommended. Kathryn Apel lets her protagonists work through their problems… Tahnee’s solution is both inventive and kind… This novel would be a great read aloud and discussion point for classes. Apel’s prose flows beautifully.”
- Boomerang Books (Dimity Powell): “Apel reaches deep into the playground psyche of Grade 2s and extracts genuine emotion with the feather touch of verse. Too Many Friends positively celebrates mindfulness and friendship for lower primary aged readers, demonstrating the power and beauty of these two concepts through the discerning use of verse. Highly recommended.”
- Momo: “Tahnee has lots of friends and enjoys school but she is also keenly aware of the different personalities in her class and is especially sensitive to the feelings of outsiders like Lucy. You will read about class relationships, projects, team work and a wonderful whole class writing idea. I rarely give ratings but I give this book five stars out of five.”
- CBCA Reading Time (Rachel Le Rossignol): “There is an effervescence in the writing that makes it a joy to read. It allows for exploration of ideas around force and motion, and sustainability, as well as teamwork and valuing the contributions of everyone in the group. Tahnee is a great role model for how to be a good friend in a book that offers a celebration of friendship.”
- Aussie Reviews (Sally Murphy): “A delightful, warm-hearted verse novel about friendship. This is Kat Apel’s third verse novel, and shows the same tender touch as her previous work. Lovely.”
- Tanya Gretchen Welden (Goodreads): “Apel draws her readers into the world of the playground… where harsh words are often spoken and hearts are broken. Too Many Friends captures the purity of our first friendships that are, so often, tarnished with bullying.”
- Laura Purdie Salas (American Review): “Tahnee’s struggles feel real, and I was rooting for her to solve things – which she does, in a realistic manner. Great insight into the friendship issues kids face, and I love that a group project is part of the crucible for these issues… It never feels sappy, thanks to the humor, the dialog, and the imperfections of all involved.”
- kidlitcove_: “An utterly charming book written in verse about friendship in Year 2. Apel captures the personalities, emotions and friendship wars of this age group perfectly.”
Book Curator – Kathryn’s 3-page feature interview on ‘The Power of Verse’.
Selected for New Zealand Listener’s Top 50 Children’s Books for 2015.
- Lamont Books: “This is a fantastic novel, mostly about sibling rivalry. A really easy read that will be best appreciated by Year 5 & 6 students and would be ideal as a class group reader and discussion starter.”
- Alphabet Soup (by 11yo Joseph) “Eleven and twelve-year-olds will like this book, especially athletic readers and fans of verse novels.”
- Oz Books 4 Teachers (Tanya Gretch Welden) “A highly immersive and fast paced verse novel that is guaranteed to have middle-school students cheering as they turn each page.”
- TJ Withers: “Kat Apel has put herself inside a kid’s head to express how it feels to know you’re different … and finding help to achieve your potential. The emotional tone is spot-on, and so, so moving.”
- Sydney Morning Herald: “Though she deals with sensitive topics about body image and capabilities, Kathryn Apel’s verse narrative is lively and punchy and will appeal to reluctant readers.”
- Squiggle Books – with Cath’s tips for teachers: “The two voices represented in the poems (Toby and Shaun) provide a wonderful opportunity to discuss perspective in texts.”
- ReadPlus by Rhyllis Bignell (Highly recommended): “This is an emotionally powerful narrative, great for a class novel.”
- The Book Curator:
- Kids’ Book Review (Anastasia Gonis): “This is an excellent and well-written verse novel. The minimal words are powerful and expressive. Their message is strong and immediate.”
- Tristan Bancks hosts bookseller Ella Sharpe (The Younger Sun): “This is a fast-paced story that every Australian kid can relate to on some level. Whether or not you like poetry this book will capture your heart and imagination, leaving you with two new friends, Shaun and Toby.”
- Boomerang Blog (Dimity Powell): “Each word reverberates with emotion, yielding characters of tremendous depth whose flaws are presented as poetically as their triumphs.”
- Children’s Books Daily (Megan Daley): “Only a skilled writer can craft so few words into free verse poems which, when sequenced, form a narrative which is engaging, heartwarming and inspiring all at once. On Track ticks all the right boxes for me in terms of a class novel study.”
- New Zealand Listener (50 Best Books for Children – 2015): “A second verse story by talented Queenslander Kathryn Apel (Bully on the Bus), which finely balances both brothers’ points of view.”
- Aussie Reviews: “A wonderful verse novel about sibling rivalry, self identity and self confidence. Told through the dual first person narratives, the story allows readers to see both brothers’ struggles and motivations, allowing empathy for both. Readers will care about the boys and what happens to them. The inclusion of sport in the plot will add interest for many readers.”
- Younger Sun: “This book will ring true for anyone who has ever participated in an Australian sports carnival. The poetry is so well crafted and the story is heart breaking, heart warming and accessible to anyone, whether or not they like sports.”
- Goodreads: “Loved this book! Very clever, very readable. I was quite impressed at how expressive the writing was. Well worth five stars!”
Boomerang Books Q&A – Title Talk and more
DeeScribewriting Blog – Writing outside your comfort zone.
Kids Book Review – Talking about creativity and reading… and school holidays!
I answered 10 Quirky Qs for Kids’ Book Review.
Middle Shelf Magazine (Two poems from On Track featured on Pg 52/53)
Methinks Dimity’s Qs reveal more of me as a writer than anything else I’ve written.
Alphabet Soup – Pass the Book Baton, where I was asked, “Why did you decide to write those two books (‘Bully on the Bus’ and ‘On Track’) as verse novels?’
ABC WideBay Sound Cloud – Chatting with Wayne Shearman. Includes a reading by Toby Lamond – & flashback to 2009.
BULLY on the BUS
Selected for New Zealand Listener’s Top 50 Children’s Books for 2014.
Winner of the 2015 Australian Family Therapists’ Awards for Children’s Literature – Younger Readers/Picture Book Category.
- New Zealand Listener: “Kathryn Apel’s eloquent blank-verse tale.”
- NSW Teacher’s Federation (Includes discussion Qs & activities.)
- Alphabet Soup (by 10yo Joseph): I forgot it was a verse novel halfway through and I was very worried for Leroy and couldn’t stop reading. I will definitely read it again. I would recommend this book to kids in years 1 to 4 and their teachers — especially the kids because it teaches them about bullying.”
- SquiggleBooks: “I can’t recommend Bully on the Bus highly enough. As a teacher, a mother and a writer this one gets my tick of approval.”
- & SquiggleKid: “When I read it I could feel what it’s like to be bullied. I felt like the main character was me… Once I started I had to finish the whole story.”
- Herald Sun (Melbourne): “A lovely story and a great way to tackle bullying.”
- DeeScribewriting Blog Review and Interview: “There are so many things I love about this book. The language is lyrical and beautiful and this topic is dealt with in a sensitive way that also offers real solutions to bullying that kids will relate to. With hidden treasures for kids, parents and teachers alike, Bully on the Bus gives courage to anyone who might feel small.”
- Daily Telegraph (Sydney): “‘This beautifully written verse novel ticks a lot of boxes. It is entertaining as well as educational and it captures perfectly the emotions of a bullied child.”
- Emily Gale on Readings: “Bully on the Bus had me choked up. Apel has a real talent for conveying realistic scenes in very few words.”
- Lamont Standing Orders: “Ideal for lower to middle primary students who will feel for Leroy’s problem and cheer his positive actions at the end.”
- Townsville Bulletin (child reviewer Lauren Aitkenson): “A fun story … captivating and impossible to put down.”
- Kids’ Book Review (Anouska Jones): “Each carefully chosen word in this verse novel has been precisely placed on the page, providing children with a wonderful example of how poetry can evoke emotion. This is an important book as well as a brilliantly creative one. Highly recommended.”
- Magpies (Rebecca Kemble): “This is a verse novel, well paced and neatly done. All the characters are believable and authentic.”
- ABC Radio Central West (Deb Abela): “With poetic turns of phrase on every page, this is a simple book with a powerful message and an upbeat finale that is warm and touching.”
- Aussie Reviews (Sally Murphy): “A gorgeous new verse novel for younger readers. This is Apel‘s first foray into the verse novel form, but hopefully it won’t be her last. She handles it deftly and with sensitivity.”
- CBCA Reading Time (Sharon Seymour): “This verse novel is a delight to read. Its clever construction where the arrangement of the words make it a visual treat, adds to the emotive language. Highly recommended for lower primary aged children and above.”
- Marlborough District Libraries (NZ): “‘Provides a great launching pad for discussion around this very serious topic.”
- BabyMac (Guest Post by Megan Daley) – Make your 8 year old fall in love with reading (again).
- Boomerang Blog (Dimity Powell): “There is plenty to cry over and love. Apel explores both the external extremes and internal conflict Leroy endures until he finally finds the courage to be a ‘bully-tamer’.”
- A Year of Reading (American review): “It’s hard to know what to do when a bully is making your life miserable. Kathryn Apel captures the emotional upheaval and the unwillingness to tell trusted adults perfectly in her verse novel for younger readers.”
- Momo: “‘Bully on the Bus’ will take you on an emotional journey figuratively and literally. There were times I just had to stop and take a breath and reassure myself that because this is a children’s book, aimed at middle primary, everything would be okay for Leroy… This book is an important one to share with Middle Grade students.”
- Kirkus “Simply written in verse, this is a story many children will find familiar. An optimistic ending… Simple, hopeful, and positive.”
- School Library Journal “The honesty and rawness of Leroy’s emotions expressed throughout each verse will stir compassion in young readers. For readers experiencing or witnessing bullying themselves, it will hopefully inspire and empower. VERDICT A short yet poignant title on a timely topic; a valuable addition to elementary school and public library collections.”
- My Reading Rug “A beautiful book that I read in one sitting, with tears in my eyes … A wonderful book to introduce your children to poetry, and the idea that there are different styles of writing … Not a hard read – but definitely one that I’d encourage you to read with your kids. Can’t recommend it highly enough.”
- Goodreads (assorted reviewers): “I’m still thinking about Bully on the Bus by Kathryn Apel… This is the perfect topic for a verse novel – the format sits well with the thought processes of primary school student Leroy. An excellent example of how to teach children to deal with bullies… Love love love this book!! Read it, then give it to your kids. Absolutely loved this book! Kathryn chooses exactly the right words to describe feelings and situations and her writing is inspirational! … I feel like it’s the perfect book to partner with ‘Wonder’ to look at the broader issue of how we treat each other and how it’s important to forgive too.”
Feature Article in Illawarra Mercury
Interview on femail.com.au about inspiration for writing
I answered 12 Curly Question for Kids’ Book Review
Shaping a Verse Novels on Lorraine Marwood’s blog
Talking verse novels with Alphabet Soup‘s Rebecca Newman
Recommended resource for Mental Health Week (4th-10th October)
Recommended resource for World Poetry Day, 21 March: “A wonderful verse novel for students experiencing bullying.”
THIS is the MUD!
FENCING with FEAR
Pearson Reader Reviews (Curtis Costa): “I did not want to stop reading this book because there was so much action you never knew what might happen next! When Dad told me, ‘Lights out!’ I hid the book, turned on the lamp and kept reading. 10/10”