Thursday, May 1, 2014

6 Picture Books Not to be Missed!

I thought I'd share six wonderful picture books that have just landed on my desk. As with all of my posts I receive no payments for reviews and only feature books that I believe are worth reading and sharing.

'My mum says the strangest things' by Katrina Germein and illustrated by Tom Jellet (Walker Books)

This delightful book is all about language play and picks up on how our metaphorical use of words and imagery must seem confusing and ambiguous for very young children.

Will children really 'get square eyes' from watching too much television?
Am I really 'away with the pixies' when I'm daydreaming?
Could mum really 'land an aeroplane on my bottom lip' when I'm grumpy?
And can I believe the things my mum says? Does spinach make me strong?
But of course every child knows that their mother's love them 'all the way to the stars and back.'

Beautifully and cleverly written and delightfully complemented by Tom Jellet's line and wash drawings with perfect expressions on every bemused face. Readers might remember the previous book 'My Dad thinks he's funny' from the same writer/illustrator team.

The book will be a great bedtime story, classroom shared read, or perfect springboard for a language unit in the classroom. Ideal for readers aged 3-7 years.

'Tom and Tilly Fly Away' written and illustrated by Jedda Robaard (Walker Books)

This is a wonderful piece of fantasy for preschool readers.

'Tilly and I went on an adventure.
We flew over the sea of lost things
and down into a field of roaring lions.
We woke some terrifying creatures
but quickly spread away over a well-guarded fort....'

A little boy (Tom) heads off on an adventure with his teddy (Tilly). This imaginative child heads off on amazing adventure in a paper plane (made from a map) Tilly. They pass over roaring lions and sunflowers (or are they?). Terrifying creatures (bats?). A fort (but is it a hen house?). Surely the dragon IS a dragon.... But as with many good stories Tilly ends up back home safe.

Complete with a plan for making a paper aeroplane, this simple book will be a favourite with readers aged 2-5 (and their parents and preschool teachers). A delightful and simple fantasy tale that will stretch the imagination.

It is of course a follow on from Jedda Robaard's previous book 'Tom and Tilly'.

'Alphabetical Sydney' by Antonia Pesenti & Hilary Bell (Newsouth Books)

This alphabetic picture book is a fine example in the long tradition of books that introduce readers to words, places, animals, places, things, in fact anything can be an excuse for a good picture book that is structured around the alphabet.

However, this is a little different to most and is a little more complex because it uses a combination of a poetic form and the alphabet. The poem centres on the many sites and landmarks of my hometown of Sydney and incorporates them within the poem in alphabetic order. It begins with a poem, let me share a little.
This is our Sydney. We'll show you the sights.
From Allawah over Bonnyrigg Heights,
Through Cattai to Dee Why and on to East Ryde,
Past Five Dock and Glebe, Hurlstone Park, Ingleside.
And so..... 
The poem is then followed by a double page based on each letter and a focus on a topic that has a relationship to Sydney. On the first double page the reader learns about the Luna Park Amusement centre, on the second double page we meet the flying foxes (Bats) of Centennial Park, and so on.

The images that are used are also stunning and combine drawn line and colour wash with photographs of iconic places and sites in Sydney. This is very much collage-like and is a wonderful complement to the wonderful text.

An added bonus for me is that the book has been published by my own University's press (Newsouth Books). This is a great book for children aged 4-8 years.

'I Have A DOG (an inconvenient dog)' written and illustrated by Charlotte Lance (Allen & Unwin)

I have interviewed Charlotte before on this blog as well as reviewing what was her first authored and illustrated book, 'A Very Super Hero'. Once again, she has produced a delightful picture book for readers aged 3-6 years.

As the title suggests, this is no ordinary dog!

"When I wake up,
my dog is inconvenient.
When I have breakfast,
my dog is inconvenient.
When I put my socks on,
my dog is inconvenient."

But of course even an 'inconvenient' dog can be adorable, and warm and cuddly. While a puppy can be a great friend and playmate, it can always cause challenges as well. This warm and delightfully illustrated new picture book will resonate with any reader who has had a pet, especially a dog.

'Waiting for Later' written and illustrated by Tina Matthews (Walker Books)

I love this book! What child hasn't been frustrated by a parent or teacher's comment, 'Later'? 'I'll do it later', 'you can do it later', 'maybe later'. Tina Matthews plays with the idea of the concept of time 'later'. What do we mean when we use it and how is it heard.
Nancy asked her mother;
"Will you rock me back and forth on your lap? I like that."
"Not now," said her mother.
"When, then?" said Nancy.
"Later," said her mother.
 Tina Matthews' text covers numerous examples of life's use of the term 'later' and the illustrations help to bring the contexts to life. Children will love sitting on your lap and listening to this book.

Surely this will be a book that no parents will dare fob off with the words, "I'll read it later". This will be a great read for children aged 2-5 years.

'A House for Donfinkle' by Choechoe Brereton and illustrated by Wayne Harris (Walker Books)

"Up high in the grasslands
where Wooble Beasts roam,
Donfinkle Vonkrinkle
is building his home."

This tale about some mythical fantasy creatures will stretch the imaginations of young readers. The language and rhyme is wonderful, twisting the tongue and delighting the ears. We are drawn along by the words and the image. Children want to look closely at each page to drink in the wonderful images of strange creatures and the sound of the tale. Donfinkle's house emerges from his labours. "The mud walls are perfect, the door just divine, the windows are beech, the porch is all pine." But the Flooble comes with troublesome talk of design flaws, poor material choices. Donfinkle is 'fuddled' as the Flooble's whine, " changes the roof, and the walls and the pine. 

This is a special book that children aged 2-6 will want read again and again and again.

All my posts on picture books HERE

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