Thursday, September 25, 2014

10 Great New Picture Books for Younger Readers

It has been about four months since I did a review of the latest picture books to land on my desk. I have so many wonderful books piling up I thought it was time to give the first of several updates. In this post I've chosen 10 books that have been published in 2014 that are worth reading to and with children.

1. 'Vanilla Ice Cream' written and illustrated by Bob Graham (Walker Books)

Bob Graham is one of Australia's finest authors and illustrators of picture books. With the familiar sharp lines, watercolour and simple yet very expressive characters he follows a wild sparrow’s journey. A single sparrow stows away in a truck and then a ship that crosses the sea and sets in motion a toddler’s latest experience of vanilla ice cream!

The sparrow journeys south from the lush rice paddies of India, across the rough sea, and all the way into a dazzling new city. As the sun rises, he finds Edie Irvine at a Café Botanica with her grandma and granddad. Their worlds meet in an unusual way.

Readers aged 0-5 will love this delightful book.

2. 'Emus Under the Bed' written and illustrated by Leann J. Edwards (Allen & Unwin)

This book is beautifully and uniquely illustrated, and tells an authentic story about a little Indigenous girl and the fun she has at her Auntie Dollo's house. This is a story that celebrates and honours culture and the experiences of family.

The author and illustrator Leann J Edwards, was born in 1962 at Robinvale, Victoria, She is a descendant of the Mara tribe from the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the Wiradjuri tribe from central New South Wales. The book was produced through the Emerging Indigenous Picture Book Mentoring Project, which is a joint initiative between 'The Little Big Book Club' and Allen & Unwin, assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Children aged 0-6 will enjoy the story and the vibrant images that help to tell the tale.

3. 'So Many Wonderfuls' written and illustrated by Tina Matthews (Walker Books)

This simple story is told in rhyming verse takes you on a journey through a single town, and the many wonderful experiences the people who live there, experience. It is a celebration of the simple things of life.
Wonderful town 
It's a good place to stay 
So don t hurry by Hold your horses - Slow down! 
Tina Matthews is a wonderful illustrator and author who has used varied artistic styles. Previously I have reviewed 'Waiting For Later' (here).  In this book Tina combines sepia ink and digital media to create some stunning images. Children aged 2-6 will enjoy this book.

4. 'Our Village in the Sky' by Janeen Brian and illustrated by Anne Spudvilas (Allen & Unwin)

This is a wonderful book that tells a simple yet a lyrical story of the daily life of children during a typical day in a remote Himalayan village. It is a day or work and play as children seek fun, adventure and excitement in the midst of the mundane and difficult tasks that are essential to family life in this place.

Janeen Brian's evocative poetic narrative is beautifully illustrated by Anne Spudvilas. Together they reveal how the vital work of children in a remote village can be transformed through the imagination into joyful play. The children are vital to the running of the village, but like children everywhere, if given a job to do, they can still manage to turn it into fun.

Children aged 3-7 will enjoy this excellent book that offers a unique insight into the universality of childhood.

5. 'What Happens Next?' written and illustrated by Tull Suwannakit (Walker Books)

This is a delightful tale of imagination, storytelling and play between a grandmother and a small child Ellie. Grandma and Ellie head out for the day and the toddler asks, "Can you tell me a story, Granny?" She immediately launches her tale:

"Deep in the woods, not far from here, lives Grandma Bear. Whenever Little Bear visits her, they go on a fun trip together". Any parent or grandparent will immediately recognise the context and the imaginative wonder of co-creating stories with young children in the 'everdayness' of life.

The gorgeous pen and watercolour drawings and the simple and warm text will be enjoyed again and again by children aged 1-5. This would be a great read aloud book.

Tull Suwannakit is relatively new author and illustrator who is originally from Thailand and now lives in Australia. He received a Bachelor in Fine Arts specializing in animation from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2004, He has worked as an animation studio sculptor and set designer in New York. He has been writing and illustrating children's picture books since 2006, first in Thailand and now in Australia through this his first book in English. He teaches at a preschool when not writing and illustrating.

6. 'Hey Dad, You're Great' written and illustrated by Corinne Fenton (Black Dog Books)

This is a simple and wonderful story about the confidence that comes from knowing that your Dad 'is always there'. The wonderfully simply and warm verse is supported by photographs of animal fathers and their young. Children aged 0-4 will love the images and enjoy being read this simple book that speaks of security, love and confidence in your Dad.

Corinne Fenton is the author of 25 books for children but her passion is picture books about social history. Her classic picture book 'Queenie: One Elephant's Story', illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe, which I have reviewed previously HERE, was an Honour Book in the 2007 Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards. Corinne has also published many educational books, some translated into other languages.

7. 'The Skunk With No Funk' by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Leila Rudge (Walker Books)

Woody the skunk has a problem; he is born without the ability to make a smell. Well, it wasn't his problem but his parents. How will he survive the swoop of the Great Horned Owls with no stink?! This is a funny picture book from Rebecca Young with the quirky art of illustrator Leila Rudge. Leila's uses cartoon-like images with fine line and pastel, with a dash of pattern, text used as a creative way to render parts of the images.

While Woody isn't quite what the family (especially his mother) expected, he surprises them all with a wonderful twist at the tale end of the story (pun intended!).

Children aged 2-6 will enjoy immensely this very funny story.

8. 'The Swap' by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (Little Hare)

This wonderful picture book from Jan Ormerod and Andrew Joyner, won the Children's Book Council of Australia's award for an early childhood book in 2014 (see my review HERE).

When Caroline Crocodile's baby brother is born, he's smelly and dribbles. He's no fun at all, but he manages to capture Mum's attention. Caroline decides to swap him for another baby. The Baby Shop assistant provides her with varied babies, but none turn out to be suitable! This funny story, reflecting the real life experiences of many big brothers and sisters, will be enjoyed by all.

Children aged 3-6 years will love this book.

9. 'The Croc and the Platypus' by Jackie Hosking and illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall (Walker Books)

This is an Australian reinterpretation of Edward Lear's nonsense poem 'The Owl and the Pussycat'. In this version a croc and the platypus trundle " in a rusty old Holden ute." They take some damper and "...tea in a hamper and bundled it up in the boot" (US readers think 'trunk'). Join Croc and Platypus for an Australian outback hullabaloo!

This is a wonderful Aussie larrikin twist on a well-loved poem. It would be perfect to read aloud for and with children. Teacher will have fun with this one in any country. An ideal book for children aged 3-6.

10. 'The Lost Girl' by Ambelin Kwaymullina and illustrated by Leanne Tobin (Walker Books)

This is a wonderful story about an Aboriginal girl who has lost her way. She has wandered away from the Mothers, the Aunties and the Grandmothers, from the Fathers, Uncles and the Grandfathers. Who will show her the way home? This is a story that works at the simple narrative level as the lost girl wanders through the beautiful outback countryside, but there is a deeper metaphor here that speaks to those Indigenous children who disconnect from their elders who give them wisdom, sustenance, love and guidance.

The simple but lovely story is given richness by the gorgeous pastel illustrations from Leanne Tobin with the full richness of the outback colour palette.
Ambelin Kwaymullina comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. When not writing or reading, she works in cultural heritage, illustrates picture books and hangs out with her dogs. She has previously written a number of children's books, both alone and with other members of her family.

Leanne Tobin has worked as an artist for more than three decades. She is of Dharug descent, the traditional Aboriginal people of Greater Western Sydney. Leanne is a primary teacher but works as an educator within the community and runs creative workshops with a range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations, teaching local Dharug histories, stories and land care to the public.

Children aged 3-7 years will enjoy this wonderful book.

You can find some of my other posts on picture books HERE

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