Archives

Zanzibar

Zanzibar

Zanzibar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zanzibar

Catharina Valckx

Gecko Press, 2019 

144pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781776572564

Zanzibar the crow cooks a fine mushroom omelette, but when Achille Le Blah a lizard reporter for the Voices of the Forest knocks at his door wanting to write an article about a remarkable person, Zanzibar begins to think he is very ordinary. The lizard seems to doubt that Zanzibar has any special qualities worth writing about and  Zanzibar thinks that to be remarkable, and be worthy of an article in the newspaper, he must achieve something incredible, an extraordinary feat. So he decides that’s what he’ll do. But first he needs to find a camel…

A quirky story for newly independent readers written by an author who has been nominated four times for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, this tale celebrates both believing in yourself and the support and encouragement of friends. But even though Zanzibar as a crow is unique and that should be enough, he still thinks he needs to be better than he is and so his single-mindedness to achieve the task he sets himself and the co-operation of those he knows and meets to help him combine to create an entertaining story that also helps the reader appreciate the simple, everyday things as well as the exotic. 

Something a bit different to engage those who like their stories to be off the beaten track. 

Dr Seuss’s Horse Museum

Dr Seuss's Horse Museum

Dr Seuss’s Horse Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Seuss’s Horse Museum

Dr Seuss

Andrew Joyner

Puffin, 2019

75pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9780241425725

Throughout history, the horse has been the subject of paintings, sketches, sculptures  and other interpretations and each artist has viewed the same creature through a different lens.  Some have seen its outline, others its bulk; some have seen its lines, others its strength, and each has conveyed their perception in a different way. According to Ted Geisel (aka Dr Seuss), when an artist sees a horse, it is not viewed from a photographic point of view but what the horse means to them as a person, and that depends on their education, experience and the thousands of other influences that shape anyone’s view of the world, not just its horses. 

Twenty-one years after Geisel’s death, his wife found the manuscript that is the basis of this book illustrated by South Australian Andrew Joyner.  The actual timeline of the manuscript is unclear but it does reflect Geisel’s lifetime interest in art with rough pencil sketches and notes for the entire book, and this has now been interpreted by Joyner using his imagination and the actual art works that Geisel planned. Working through a range of art genres including Surrealism, Expressionism, Cubism and Abstraction, the young reader is not only taken on a journey through the interpretation of the horse but through art itself, offering an introduction to the various movements that have swept the world along making this a book for older readers as much as for younger. Accompanied by notes about the manuscript, Geisel’s own art and the featured works, the story is told in prose (as opposed to the usual rhyme) and speaks directly to the reader so it is entertaining as well as educational. 

It’s a great discussion starter as young artists think about what they see when they see a horse, as well as a springboard for getting out the tools and creating a personal interpretation. Something unique to add to the art curriculum.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Little Puggle’s Song

Little Puggle's Song

Little Puggle’s Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Puggle’s Song

Vikki Conley

Hélène Magisson

New Frontier, 2019

32pp,m hbk.  RRP $A24.99

9781925594690

All Little Puggle, the baby echidna, wanted to do was to be able to sing like the birds in his native bushland.  Each bird had its own sound – Little Blue’s was whispery like the wind; Fantail peeped like a bush mouse; Fancy Crest’s voice had a crack like lightning and when Brown Feather laughed the bush stood still – but Little Puggle made no sound at all.

When Brown feather gathered the birds together to begin a bush choir, even Little Grey and Long Tail were allowed to join, but all silent Little Puggle could do was watch from the sidelines.  But when disaster strikes the choir’s special performance for the birth of the emu babies, Little Puggle finds his voice in a very different way!

This is the most charming story, superbly illustrated, that introduces our youngest readers to the creatures that are unique to the Australian bush and to the concept that we, ourselves, are unique, each with their own way of contributing. An opportunity  to take the children outside and have them listen to the birdsong and notice that each species has a different sound, one that is individual to them but each of which contributes to the chorus, and then to have a discussion about each child’s special talents and how they help make the class or their family, a whole.

 

A Curious Menagerie: Of Herds, Flocks, Leaps, Gaggles, Scurries, and More!

A Curious Menagerie

A Curious Menagerie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Curious Menagerie: Of Herds, Flocks, Leaps, Gaggles, Scurries, and More!

Carin Berger

Greenwillow Books, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780062644572

We’ve all heard of a herd of cows and a flock of sheep, but what is a group of giraffes called?  A murder of crows is a common trivia answer, but what about a mischief of mice?  Exploring collective nouns is always fun and in this book the ringmaster and the monkey investigate 64 of them opening up a menagerie of creatures for little ones to learn and perhaps wonder about and perhaps research their validity.  A parliament of owls?  Really?  That could either be flattering to some parliaments or insulting to some owls!

Berger has used her skills of making cut-paper collages to create fascinating illustrations and tying the collection together with the ringmaster and the monkey makes it a bit more engaging than the usual word book, especially the final pages!  One that will encourage small groups to share and delight in, and perhaps try to make up their own.  Would a group of koalas be called a cuddle?  Or a group of cockatoos a squawk?

 

Noodle Bear

Noodle Bear

Noodle Bear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noodle Bear

Mark Gravas

Walker Books, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760651022

Throughout the winter, instead of sleeping like other bears, Bear has been watching Noodle Knockout, a television game show that now has him addicted to noodles.  When Fox has a Welcome Spring party, and Bear finally turns up he is not interested in the food the other animals have brought – all he wants is noodles, particularly as he has eaten his entire supply.

When no one can help him he decides to travel to the city to be on the game show himself in the hope of winning a lifetime’s supply but ends up beginning to understand that too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing.

Written and illustrated by the creator/director of television favourites such as Yakkity Yak, Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie  and Caspar’s Scare School, this is an engaging read for young children that explores what we gradually understand to be the most important things in life – family, friends and home.

While young readers might like to share their favourite foods that they would like to eat for a lifetime (offering an opportunity for data collection and mapping), others might like to look at the way the cover has been designed and explore what they can do with the various noodles and other pastas available.  Cooking might also be an option so they start to be able to prepare themselves a simple meal and there is also the not-so-simple task of learning how to eat noodles in public! There are lots of ways to make this fun story come alive!

 

Searching for Cicadas

Searching for Cicadas

Searching for Cicadas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for Cicadas

Lesley Gibbes

Judy Watson

Walker Books, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781922244420

It is one of the distinctive sounds of summer in Australia and Grandpa and Child are going in search of its creator – the cicada.  Packing up their tent and other supplies in the little wagon, they head off to Apex Reserve to wait and watch with the other families. At sunset the noise starts  – the male calling for a mate – and the hunt begins.  Last year they saw Green Grocers, Yellow Monday sand a Floury Baker.  Will they be lucky this year and find the elusive Black Prince?

Packed with facts both in the story and in the accompanying  information paragraphs, this is another in the stunning Nature Storybooks collection that teaches our young readers about our unique fauna within the context of a picture book story.  In this case it highlights one of those special relationships children have with adults, that when they themselves are an adult, they will look back on with fond memories and perhaps try to replicate them with their own offspring.  I know my memories of time spent with my grandfather have shaped my relationships with my granddaughters. 

As well as the information within the story, there is also a summary about the cicada and an index to take the reader back to the relevant pages so that even from a very young age, little ones can begin to understand the structure of non fiction and how to use it to learn more.

Fact or fiction? This is a line-crosser that is quite simply, brilliant.  Loved it (even though I’m not a fan of anything with more than four legs.)

Fly

Fly

Fly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fly

Jess McGeachin

Puffin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760892562

Lucy had always been good at fixing things, and Dad needed a bit of help. It was just the two of them after all. So when Lucy finds a bird with a broken wing, she’s sure she can fix him too…

Even though Dad diagnoses a broken wing and doubts that Flap will ever fly again, Lucy is determined that he will soar again like all the other birds.  So she thinks and draws and works until she has the perfect plan.  Flap does fly again, but not in the way we imagine, and Lucy learns that not all things that are broken can be fixed.

This is a beautiful story of resilience, determination and imagination that, on the surface, appears to be about a little girl, her dad and a bird with a broken wing, and given the creator’s full-time job at the Melbourne Museum and the final pages featuring birds of all countries and continents coming together, that is enough in itself. It shows the strong relationship between Lucy and her dad, which is not unique, but there is no mention of her mum and what might have happened to her. So perhaps this is an allegory for a broken relationship, a split family, a marriage that can’t be mended no matter how hard the child tries, whether the cause is death or divorce, and that together, those who are left have to cope, adapt and go forward in a different direction. Regardless of Flap’s undisclosed fate, there is a strong message of healing that may well offer a sense of hope to the other Lucys and their dads.

 

I Am So Clever

I Am So Clever

I Am So Clever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am So Clever

Marcos Ramos

Gecko Press, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781776572489

Little Red Riding Hood is on her way through the woods to Grandma’s house when she encounters the wolf.  Thinking that his dinner will be delightful with Grandmother for the main course and a little raspberry for dessert, he persuades Little Red Riding Hood to pick some flowers while he races off to Grandma’s house.  But she is not there – all he finds is her pink frilly nightie and nightcap.  

So he decides to change his plans – and that’s where the story goes off-piste into a well-fractured fairytale that features a whole cast of characters from the Land of Fairytales. Readers who are familiar with the original tale will appreciate the twists in this one and its unlikely ending. 

Written by respected Belgian author Mario Ramos, this is a companion to I am so Strong and I am so Handsome, both featuring the hapless wolf in encounters with favourite fairytale characters.

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

Judith Kerr

HarperCollins, 2019

80pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9780008351847

Ever since it peed on him in Miss Bennett’s Year 2 class, Tommy has hated Snowflake the school rabbit.  And now it has come to stay because his sister Angie is in Miss Bennett’s class and Snowflake needs a home while Miss Bennett goes to look after her mother.But because Angie is so little, Tommy has the task of looking after Snowflake and while the extra pocket money will be handy because he thinks if he wants a new bike he will have to buy it, this is not a task he is savouring.  And so the trouble starts… dangerous dogs bale him up in the park when he is walking the rabbit; his out-of-work-actor father misses out on a job because Snowflake pees on someone important, Angie gets really sick, Snowflake goes missing… There really is a curse!

Written and illustrated during the final year of her life – Kerr died in May 2019 aged 95 – this is an engaging story for the newly-independent reader from the author of classics such as the Mog the Forgetful Cat series andWhen Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit,  It shows she still had all the imagination and wit that she had when she first wrote The Tiger Who Came to Tea in 1968 and will probably gain her a whole new legion of fans.

You can read more about her work in this obituary

That’s Not My Koala

That's Not My Koala

That’s Not My Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Koala

Fiona Watt

Rachel Wells

Usborne, 2019

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9781474945561

For 20 years Usborne have been supporting the literacy development of the very young with their series of touchy-feely books That’s Not My… in which familiar, and not-so, objects are explored through a series of cutouts filled with textural surfaces, with the final page offering confirmation that this is indeed the object. 

That’s Not My Koala is the latest in the collection, celebrating this milestone birthday. Shiny noses, fuzzy tummies and rough tongues are designed to help develop sensory and language awareness, by engaging the youngest reader in the reading experience and encouraging them to predict and retell the sequences for themselves. Being about an Australian animal they are probably familiar with is an added bonus.

The perfect counterpoint to handing the toddler a screen device to keep them amused, and help them discover the joy of books. Let them catch the reading bug early!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…