Archives

The Princess and the Frogs

The Princess and the Frogs

The Princess and the Frogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess and the Frogs

Veronica Bartles

Sara Palacios

Balzer + Bray, 2017

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

9780062365910

Princess Cassandra had everything she could possibly want  – hundreds of dresses, thousands of books and servants to bring her anything she wanted.  She should have been the happiest princess in the world.  

But there was one thing she didn’t have – she was lonely playing by herself and desperately wanted a best friend.  In particular, she wanted a pet – one that would match her best dress, swim and jump and play all day and at night sit on her pillow and sing to her.  So the Royal Pet Handler set off on a quest to find the perfect pet, but nothing was quite right.  The mouse was too squeaky, the kitten refused to swim, the hippo wouldn’t jump and none of them were green.  The task seemed impossible until one day the Royal Pet Handler arrived with a frog.  It seemed just perfect.  It was able to swim, jump and play, AND it was green.  But when Princess Cassandra put it on her pillow and kissed it goodnight, it turned into a prince!  

“Princes aren’t pets,” she declared and banished it to the royal kitchens.  So the Pet Handler went in search of another frog and the same thing happened.  Again and again and again, until there were princes everywhere.  Then one day, the princess found her own frog but the same thing happened, except this time the prince wanted to stay a frog.  Will she ever get the perfect pet?

This is an hilarious take on the traditional Princess and the Frog story made even moreso by the terrific pictures of Palacios who brings the characters to life through their facial expressions. Who would have thought there were so many different frogs?

A playful bedtime read that might make little ones think twice about kissing things goodnight!

Charlotte and the Rock

Charlotte and the Rock

Charlotte and the Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte and the Rock

Stephen W. Martin

Samantha Catterill

Random House, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143785309

Like many young children, Charlotte wanted a pet. She didn’t care what sort of pet, even a pig would do, so she was very surprised to see what her parents bought her for her 6th birthday,  It wasn’t a dog, or a cat, or a hamster or even a pig – it was a rock! A large rock.  

Even though it wasn’t quite what she expected, nevertheless she tried to remain positive and look for its good points.  It was a good listener, quiet, easy to train, and hypoallergenic.  But it was tricky to take it for walks, and wouldn’t eat her broccoli and the teacher didn’t believe her homework excuse.  But being resourceful she soon learned to make the best of her pet and learned to love it.  She would just like it if it could love her back.  And then one night…

Even though the rock appears to be an inanimate object, both Martin’s text and Catterill’s illustrations give it a life through Charlotte’s interactions with it.  There is subtle humour in this story that will appeal to young readers, especially as Charlotte attempts to take her rock for a walk and for a swim, and there is more to discover with each reading.  

This is a story about dealing with the unexpected, looking on the bright side and being careful what you wish for.  It is positive and uplifting and will bring a lot of joy to young readers. 

Our Dog Benji

Our Dog Benji

Our Dog Benji

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Dog Benji

Pete Carter

James Henderson

EK Books, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781925335330

Benji is a dog that eats anything and everything – no matter what, he has a go at it and even sits in front of the fridge each morning in the hope that it has exploded overnight.  Hus young master is not so adventurous – like many of his age he takes his time with new tastes and flavours and can be quite a fussy eater.  But he decides to follow Benji’s example and be a little more adventurous as he sees that these foods don’t kill Benji – although they might make his tummy rumble and cause a smell that no one can stand, not even Benji.  But there is one thing neither of them will eat…

Told with humour and colourful detailed pictures, this is a charming story for under-5s who aren’t quite sure when something unfamiliar appears on their plate.  But it is also an opportunity to talk to them about the things a dog should never eat and should never be given particularly pig products, milk, onions and chocolate because they are toxic to them.   Taking care of a pet is more than a daily walk and a brush every now and then.

Given the new research that shows the food that toddlers eat has a profound effect on their lives long-term particularly their likelihood of being overweight or obese, any books that start conversations with them about nutrition  and what they and their pets need to be healthy and active has to be a winner.  Thumbs up for this one.

Three Little Monkeys

Three Little Monkeys

Three Little Monkeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Little Monkeys

Quentin Blake

Emma Chichester Clark

HarperCollins, 2016

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

9780008164478

Hilda Snibbs is not like other people.  She doesn’t have a dog or a cat or even a goldfish – she has three little monkeys.  Their names are Tim and Sam and Lulu and they are very lively.  Every time she leaves the house and leaves them on their own, they trash it.  Nothing is safe – not her hat, her knitting, her favourite shampoo, the toilet paper…

She tells them she is disappointed in them, she asks what she has done to deserve such wretched little monkeys; she wonders how long she can put up with them – and each time Tim and Sam and Lulu look at her with their big round eye and say nothing.  One day after they had been into everything in her bathroom, she cries, “Oh, for a peaceful life without these wicked little monkeys!”  But when she comes home the next day and they are gone, she realises how much she misses them until…

This is a funny, lovable story that will become a favourite of little ones as they recognise some of the mischief they themselves might have created over time. Quentin Blake’s words marry so well with Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations – little vignettes that are full of action and fun as they show the monkeys at work – that this is a masterful collaboration.  Even though the monkeys are so naughty they remain lovable and it’s Hilda Snibbs who becomes the “villain”.  As Miss 5 said, “Why did she keep leaving them on their own?  She’s stupid!”

Three Little Monkeys is the perfect bedtime read-aloud as the children delight in the antics and naughtiness of the monkeys and see that they are loved regardless of what they do, while Hilda Snibbs will resonate with exasperated parents who sometimes long for the quiet life they had before their own little monkeys were born., even though they know they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Joyful. 

 

A Dog Called Bear

A Dog Called Bear

A Dog Called Bear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Dog Called Bear

Diane & Christyan Fox

Faber, 2016

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

9780571329434

Lucy has always wanted a dog and has red all the books about them and saved her pocket money to buy all the stuff that a dog needs.  And so she begins her search … not at a pet shop but in her neighbourhood.  First she encounters a frog who pleads his case but he does not meet Lucy’s requirements.  Neither does the fox.  But Bear seems to and because it’s late she decides he will be fine.  

It’s an unlikely partnership but it works until Bear did what bears do in winter – hibernate.  Lucy was not pleased.  She not only wanted a full-time dog but also one that lived up to her expectations. not one that was messy, dug a lot and and ate so much porridge.  Bear wasn’t happy either – carrying sticks, repeatedly fetching a ball and being woken up were not his ideals.   And so he runs away…

This is  a charming story about what it means to have a pet and what our expectations of them are.  It would be ideal for starting a discussion with very young children about the sorts of creatures that make a suitable pet and what is required to take care of them – it’s more than lots of cuddles and snuggles.

One for the little ones in our lives.

 

 

Oh, Albert

Oh, Albert

Oh, Albert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, Albert

Davina Bell

Sara Acton

Penguin Viking 2016

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

9780670078608

Albert is one of those dogs – a lovable golden labrador puppy with a voracious appetite for everything, regardless of whether it is ‘official’ dog food or not.  Each day, when no one is around he finds something that grabs his attention and as is the manner of dogs, explores it by eating it.  Taste is not an issue – pink ribbons, red flags, white cords, green swim goggles, a black bike helmet – they are all part of Albert’s diet, much to the family’s frustration and threats.  Until on Saturday he eats something dogs should NEVER  eat – chocolate!

As they sit at the vet hoping he will pull through, the family begin to realise what Albert means to them and regret their hasty comments.  But whether Albert pulls through and whether he learns his lesson is an ending for the reader to discover…

This is a captivating story that is so full of riches, not the least of which is how Albert would feel if he were human and all he heard were negative remarks.  Because each double spread only shows the times when Albert’s appetite has got him into trouble you wonder if that is the only time this busy family with their pilates, ballet, swimming, school, bike-riding and so on notice him.  Is he doing this stuff for the attention he craves? Do we only notice and attend to the things our children,our students or our pets do wrong, rather than acknowledging the 99% of the time they bring us love and joy? are we so busy being busy that we forget why we had the children or got the pet in the first place? Do we only stop to reflect when there is a crisis? Hmmm…

Davina Bell’s text is perfect for engaging the young reader in early-reading behaviours.  It has a repetitive refrain that encourages the child to join in (and consolidate their knowledge of the days of the week) and Sara Acton’s pictures invite prediction of not only what Albert will eat but how that will impact on the ‘victim’.  Focusing on the essential storyline with white space instead of extraneous detail, little people will be able to read this to themselves easily, able to work out what happens as they turn each page – but hearing the words will add so much more to the experience that they will want it over and over.  It will move from first-read to familiar to favourite very quickly. It is a cumulative story so each episode leads into the next in a way that is really cohesive so there is also the opportunity to talk about cause and effect.  If you leave your swimming goggles where Albert can eat them, how will you cope at swimming the next day?

But mostly this is a story of the unconditional love we have for our pets and readers, adult and child, will be able to put themselves into the story sparking memories that can be shared and drawn. . Maybe everyone and everything will get an extra hug today.

Miss 5 is going through a ‘dog phase’ and this is one she is going to adore.

 

The Big Flood

The Big Flood

The Big Flood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juliet Nearly a Vet: The Big Flood

Rebecca Johnson

Kyla May

Puffin, 2016

84pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

9780143507031

Juliet and her best friend Chelsea love animals, and Juliet KNOWS she will be a vet.  Problem is, she’s only ten years old so she has a bit of time before she can go to university and start the study.  But she’s getting a head start by helping her mum in her veterinary practice, keeping her vet diary meticulously and making sure her emergency kit is always on hand. Chelsea is also an animal fanatic but her dream is to be a world famous trainer and groomer. 

In this, the 11th in this series, Juliet and Chelsea are involved in rescuing a variety of creatures after rain has deluged the land and left it flooded.  The first task is to get their neighbours’ alpacas to higher ground and while the cria goes willingly on the boat, its hembre (mother) is a little more hesitant.  Once that task is complete, they head for home but Juliet is sure she spots movement on an island and wants to stop. However, her mother is anxious to get back to the surgery in case neighbours have brought in any emergencies and so Juliet is left frustrated.

She is determined to confirm what she saw and so with the help of Chelsea and her dad (who is afraid of animals, particularly mice) she sets off in Chelsea’s brother’s canoe to investigate.  And sure enough, there is a whole menagerie there including mice, lizards, stick insects and an echidna who is struggling to breathe.

This is a series that is loved by young girls who love animals and who are independent readers. The combination of strong, independent girls who are “clever, almost grownups” and animals mixed with a touch of humour is  unbeatable. It’s written by Rebecca Johnson who is the author of so many of those delightful junior non-fiction titles photographed and published by Steve Parish, and illustrated with cute pictures by Kyla May.  Interspersed throughout are excerpts from Juliet’s vet diary which actually include some interesting facts such as those about the alpacas and which could be a model for the other Juliets in the offing.  There’s also a quiz at the end of the book that enhances the learning.

All the books in the series are listed here. If your library doesn’t have them they are a worthwhile investment because they tick so many boxes for the Year 2-4 reader.

My Dog Dash

My Dog Dash

  My Dog Dash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dog Dash

Nicki Greenberg

Allen & Unwin, 2016

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

9781760110673

“My dog Dash wasn’t very well behaved at puppy school…”  But even though it took a while he got the hang of the commands especially “Sit” and Stay!” “Fetch” is problematic though.  Just like every dog, Dash loves to explore the wonders and beauty of the park – each leaf, every flower, every stick – so a walk can be slow-going.  He steals food, wrecks the garden and even chews through books! And like most puppies, he slobbers a bit, leaves puddles and makes a mess which makes mum cranky so he hides for a while until he thinks he’s forgiven.. But when he goes missing one dark night, the whole family is involved in the search… Perhaps he’s not such a nuisance after all.

From the creator of The Naughtiest Reindeer  comes this delightful, whimsical, hilarious story that is not what you would expect!  If you were ever looking for a need for children to look at the detail in the illustrations or trying to persuade parents that pictures can tell more than the text, then this is it.   If you read this interview with Nicki Greenberg  you will be treated to her quirky sense of humour and understand how she can create such perfect books for children that will engage them again and again and again.

This is such a fun book to be shared for the joy of sharing and hearing, and could be the answer for all those children who want puppies.

Out for the Count

Out for the Count

Out for the Count

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out for the Count

Anne Fine

Vicki Gausden

Barrington Stoke, 2016

96pp., pbk.,  RRP $A13.99

9781781125076

Like many children, Hugo would really like a pet – in his case, a gerbil.  He raises the issue again with his dad just as he is finishing the repainting of Hugo’s room.  Even though his father acknowledges that Hugo would probably look after it very well, he is not a fan of keeping things in cages and so the answer continues to be no.  However, there may be a compromise.  Hugo works out that the gerbil would only be in the cage for seven hours during the time he is at school, so his father suggests that Hugo experiences that by staying alone in his now-empty room for the same time.

Hugo accepts the challenge and at midday with just the newspaper already spread on the floor, a snack, three chosen toys (a ghost puppet, a bucket of bricks and a monkey on a stick) and his watch he enters the room to stay alone for seven hours.  And even though he also has what gerbils don’t – an imagination – the time creeps by so slowly it seems like it stands still.  Will Hugo last the seven hours?   

This is an entertaining short story for emerging readers written some time ago but repackaged for the Little Gems series which is deliberately designed to support students with dyslexia. The font is “dyslexia-friendly” helping those who confuse letter shapes to see them more clearly and spaced to minimise confusion; the pages are tinted and the paper thicker so illustrations are not “shadowed” on previous pages; the stories short but engaging; and the book is just right for small hands to hold and read alone.  Plots are linear and the language and its structure less complex than in other stories for a similar age group. “This process was developed by dyslexia and speech and language experts in response to research and feedback from thousands of readers on hundreds of Barrington Stoke manuscripts over the years.’ 

Dyslexic or not, Out for the Count is entertaining, witty and wise and will spark lots of conversations about people’s need to confine animals to cages and the “rightness” of this.

The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet

The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet

The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet

Libby Gleeson

Freya Blackwood

Allen & Unwin, 2015

64pp. hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781743315286

It’s a rainy day and the gloom matches Cleo’s mood. She’s lonely and bored and is amusing herself by counting the raindrops sliding down the window pane.  Intent on counting to a zillion, she only interrupts her task when it is lunchtime.  By the time she has finished the rain has almost stopped so that puts an end to that and with all her friends otherwise occupied it looks like it is going to be a l-o-n-g afternoon.  Her mother suggests she clean her room and although that doesn’t appeal, something she spies on her way to do it, does.  But once again Cleo gets into strife.  However every cloud has a silver lining and while Cleo is scrubbing her hands to get the mascara off she sees her reflection in a puddle and that gives her an idea… and she finds a friend!

In the second story in the book, Cleo has fallen in love with her friend Nick’s new puppy, Peanut.  She would desperately like a puppy too but dad is adamant that that won’t be happening because of the cost and the amount of looking after they need.  Even when the puppy pees on her dress her determination remains and she tries the age-old art of pester power, but still to no avail.  Even Uncle Tom can’t help her this time and she is even more despondent when the children at school talk about their pets and she has nothing to say. But after an altercation with her dad about the snails in the garden, she has an idea… and gets a pet that costs nothing and is easy to look after.

Readers first met free-spirited Cleopatra Miranda McCann in the first book The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present which won the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers in 2015 so they will be delighted that she is back with all her imagination and determination to seek solutions to her problems.  Gleeson has a knack of writing about events that will resonate with her target audience and Blackwood’s illustrations, based on her own daughter, contain much to explore while complementing the text perfectly. Newly independent readers, particularly girls, will be very happy to make Cleo’s acquaintance again and learn from her.