Archive | April 2, 2015

Run, Pip, Run

Run, Pip, Run

Run, Pip, Run









Run, Pip, Run

J.C. Jones

Allen & Unwin, 2015

pbk., 200pp., RRP $A12.99


Pip’s origins are very unclear, even to her.  She was left in an apple crate on Sully’s doorstep as a newborn and so he named her Pip and raised her as his granddaughter.  All goes well until Pip’s 10th birthday when just as he is presenting her birthday cake, Sully has a stroke and falls, ending up in hospital.  And suddenly the police want to know about Pip’s family so she can be cared for while Sully is recuperating. 

But Sully has filled Pip’s head with stories of the sorts of people who take in foster kids so there is no way she is going to let them take her.  And so begins an engaging story of how Pip lives on her wits to keep herself out of their clutches, starting with finding an empty house that is for sale where she can live in the luxury that she has never experienced before.  Living with Sully means she knows her way around the local racetracks so she is able to get some money – she’s desperately trying to raise enough for Sully to go to rehab, thinking it’s one of those expensive places where famous people go to dry out – and the story cracks along as she dodges the ever-encroaching arms of Senior Constable Molly Dunlop. And then Sully dies…

This is a story that I would put in the pile of the good, solid read for those looking for something a little different, an appealing heroine (who is more like a boy) and a fast-paced but realistic adventure.  It’s about love, loyalty, friendship and courage as a little girl tries desperately to cling onto what she knows and believes.  It is cleverly written so that the reader can understand Pip’s perspective of being independent and invincible but also appreciate that the adults are trying to do what they know is best for her- her current life is not sustainable.

If you’re looking for a great read-aloud to kickstart Term 2, this would be it.

Red A Crayon’s Story

Red A Crayon's Story

  Red A Crayon’s Story











Red A Crayon’s Story

Michael Hall

HarperCollins, 2015

hbk., 40pp., $A24.99


His label clearly states he is Red.  But sadly, he wasn’t very good at being red.  In fact, whenever he was asked to be red as in a fire truck or a strawberry he was the exact opposite – he was very blue.  His mother Olive thought he should mix more with others so she introduced him to Yellow and suggested they make an orange – but instead it was greenish.  His grandmother Silver gave him a warm red scarf for the school portraits – but that didn’t help.  The other crayons begin to gossip thinking Red just needs to try harder, although Sunshine suggests he just needs more time.  But no matter what, even the interventions of the other art supplies, Red just didn’t.  Until one day Red meets Berry…

This is one of the most amazing picture books I’ve encountered in a long time.  It is superficially simple but there are so many layers to it that every read reveals something new.  The narrator is depicted as a simple, everyday lead pencil and the other characters are the crayons in their coloured wrappers whose comments not only bring them alive but also match who they are – for example Army Green suggest Red has “to press harder” while Fuchsia thinks  red is “not very bright”  Set against a black background with white text, the colours pop from the page and on those pages where Red and the others draw, the pictures are very reminiscent of the drawings of the very young.  But there is so much more to this than a picture book that has visual appeal that introduces children to colours.

It has a message about celebrating difference, not judging things by their appearance and the danger of labelling that we can all learn from. It celebrates diversity and difference.  Building on a recent experience, my first thought was that this could be perfect for a transgender child.  It’s most powerful message is “be yourself” and be happy about being different, a message emphasised by Angelina Jolie at the Nickelodeon Awards  Knowing who you are and being true to yourself is so much more important than the opinions of others, such a basic foundation of strong mental health for all ages.

If this were an Australian book, I’d expect to see it shortlisted for the CBCA Picture Book of the Year – it is brilliant.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…