Category Archives: Gift Ideas

“Dear Quentin: Letters of a Governor General”

Quentin Bryce, Australia’s former (and first female) governor-general, wrote over 50 letters a week as part of her official role, to and from school children, prime ministers, sheep (yes, sheep), retired servicepeople, doctors, bus drivers and friends.

This book compiles facsimile letters, transcripts, photographs, and Ms Bryce’s commentaries on the people and correspondents she met. Her tone is warm, and the tone of the letters ranges from sensitive (discussing military history) to hilarious. One child wrote to suggest a lucky dip for prime minister, another wrote to say that their new bull calf had been named after her.

It’s a beautiful hardback edition, with colour photos and facsimiles throughout, and makes a beautiful gift.

Dear Quentin: Letters of a Governor-General – Quentin Bryce – Miegunyah Press – HB – $45


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Banana Splitz: Mix and Match Stackers

Green Start, the maker of this cool Banana Splitz toy, is one of our favourite toy manufacturers. Always in great colours, made from sustainable materials, well designed and of good educational quality to boot, what’s not to like? This fun toy lets little ones (aged 1 to 3 years) put the different parts of an ice-cream sundae together by sliding them onto wooden poles set in the base. Each piece is sturdy and reversible, perfect for little hands to play with!

Banana Splitz – Green Start – $33

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Indie Book Awards: Winners announced!

And the winner of the Indie Book of the Year is… Jane Harper’s The Dry: for the best Australian writing of 2016, as chosen by Australian independent booksellers. Our congratulations to Jane — we’ve barely been able to keep her book in stock since it came out!

Other prize winners this year:

* Fiction: The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
* Debut fiction: The Dry by Jane Harper
* Non-fiction: Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner
* Children’s: Circle by Jeannie Baker
* Young Adult: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

All titles in-store now, or on order in desperate haste if we’ve sold out! Let us know if you want any of the prize-winners put aside for you, and come enjoy some great Australian writing.

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Filed under Australian Women Writers Challenge (AWW), Book Group titles, Crime Fiction, Gift Ideas, Memoir, Picture books (0-5 years), Teen Fiction, Young Adult (14+)

“Locomotion” concertina book for young and old


This little paperback looks like a decorative history of trains and locomotive engineering, but it’s much more interesting than that! The entire book spreads out to be 139cm long, and each panel has a picture of a train in its historical context: look!



As the book unfolds, it shows you a visual history of trains all the way up to today’s high-speed networks, plus it has key facts on the key stages of locomotive development. A gorgeous item that can be used as a wall display or ordinary book; it’s a great gift for train lovers young and old.

Locomotion: A History of Locomotives – Golden Cosmos – concertina book – Nobrow – $20

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The Travel Book: Updated, and as beautiful as ever

lonely-planet-travel-bookLonely Planet’s Travel Book is now available in its third gorgeous edition. For those of you not familiar with the Travel Book-phenomenon, the book dedicates a double-page spread to every country in the world (yes, including the world’s newest country South Sudan). For each country, as in Albania (below), you’ll see a map, description, ‘vital statistics’ (like size and population), then hints on best time to visit, what to see, what music conjures the place up, and so on. Plus, beautiful images of each place and/or people.

In other words, The Travel Book gives you an illustrated introduction to the world, all in one splendid coffee-table book. An excellent gift choice for birthdays and other Grand Occasions.

The Travel Book – Lonely Planet – HB – $80


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How to build with gaffa tape & rubber bands

Lance Akiyama is clearly a person you want on your team when the (zombie) apocalypse comes: his ability to construct life’s basics with gaffa (or duct) tape, and life’s mini-entertainments with rubber bands, is truly astonishing.

duct-tape-engineerHis new book, Duct Tape Engineer (PB, $28), uses duct/gaffa tape to build:

  • chairs & tables
  • kayaks
  • tool kits
  • geodesic domes
  • messenger bags


Rubber Band Engineer (PB, $30), Akiyama’s older rubber-band-engineerbook, shows how to make:

  • magic box
  • catapults
  • robots
  • helicopters
  • cars

If you don’t believe me, you can see some of his creations, from both books, in action here on his website. He also runs the Workshop for Young Engineers: check out that website, where you can also download some sample plans.

Both books make great gifts for creators young and old. Enjoy!

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Emily’s back-of-the-envelope poems

envelope-poems-layoutThese odd shapes look like finds from an archaeological dig, which I guess they are: in her later years, Emily Dickinson wrote much of her poetry on scraps and the backs of envelopes – then hid it all away. These were never meant to be made public, but well, her sister-in-law published anyway. What could a dead poet do to her?

So, the interesting thing about these snippets dickinson-gorgeous-nothings-5-e1403725439367now is that New  Directions has published two facsimile books of them, the aptly named Gorgeous Nothings (HB, $63.95) which came out a couple of years back, and this newer sampling, called Envelope Poems (HB, $22.95). Each poem is presented with both a high-resolution image and a transcription in the original shape (like this transcription).

The envelope poems make an interesting read, and puzzling them out is the only way through. I wish my Dickinson had included the printed editions of her poems so I could have read them more fluently, but as it was you clearly saw how she used her ‘page’ to help create the poem. There’s an interesting article which talks about symbols Emily used that were never translated into print, like the plus sign.

The little hardback edition makes a lovely gift (thanks, Steph, for my Christmas present). It’s great for those arty types in your life, poets, designers, writing buffs. One customer was inspired by Gorgeous Nothings and showed me her photographs afterwards, so do share your Emily-inspired art with us!



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