Thursday, July 30, 2015

Seven New Children's Picture Books

I receive many books for review. While I don't review all of them here are some that I've received in recent times. There are some wonderful books here.

1. 'Summer Rain' by Ros Moriarty and illustrated by Balarinji (Allen & Unwin)

This delightful picture book for younger readers is another excellent offering from Ros Moriarty who is well known for her work 'Listening to Country' as well as her creation of leading Indigenous design studio Baralinji. The language is simple and yet lyrical and the illustrations are vibrant and colourful.

First...the land wakes
in the morning light.
Turtles crawl
and lizards creep
Soon...wind scatters
dancing leaves
and splatters dusty ground.

This little book celebrates country, animals and painting. The textual devices used to accentuate key words work well and the evocative language will engage young readers. Language like:

...the "messy, sticky, slippery-slidey, oozy-squidgy, river bank.

The book also comes with a translation in the Aboriginal language of Yanyuwa, spoken by Aboriginal families in Borroloola in the Northern Territory of Australia.

 2. 'Splosh for the Billabong' by Ros Moriarty and illustrated by Balarinji (Allen & Unwin)

This is a second book from Ros Moriarty and Balarinji. Once again, the illustrations are vibrant and the language simple but beautiful. It celebrates the beauty and life of a quiet billabong. Each page begins with a powerful verb:

for the billabong
at shady bend
of river

for the flowers
that burst in
summer heat.

Once again, the simple illustrations are full of colour and life.

Both books are perfect early reading material for 5-year olds or as books to be read out loud to 5-7 year olds.

3. 'Sally Snickers' Knickers' by Lynn Ward & illustrated by Anthea Stead (Walker Books)

There's something very special about little Sally Snickers, for Sally never wears a hat, she'd rather wear her knickers! 

Now with a lead like this, why wouldn't children continue reading? This bright and colourful picture book will delight children aged 4-7 years. The preposterous idea that a child would wear a different pair of undies on their head each day will intrigue and amuse. And of course, there is a twist when Sally's teacher eventually intervenes. Children will be amused by the outcome.

The illustrations of Anthea Stead are bright and a perfect complement to the text. This is a wonderful picture book that children will love. Great to read alone, but better still with other kids.

4. 'Sam & Dave Dig a Hole' by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)

This wonderful picture book was published in 2014 but is reviewed for the first time here.

This is an exceptional picture book. Illustrator Jon Klassen is of course the Kate Greenaway winning creator of 'This is Not My Hat' and 'I Want My Hat Back'. The beautiful book design, soft images and deceptively simple text, combine to produce a wonderful story and clever ending.

Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find ...nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary - and finding it in a manner they'd never expect.

5. 'Good Enough for a Sheep Station' written and illustrated by David Cox (Allen & Unwin)

This is the final book in David Cox's trilogy that began with 'The Road to Goonong' and continued with 'The Fair Dinkum War' (previously reviewed HERE). David Cox tells the story of his dad who is a horseman. The book describes their life on a sheep station in remote rural Australia. This book tells much more than the story of life in the bush, it offers an insight into the relationship between a father and son, and the different life of children in remote locations away from other children, but surrounded by the beauty and complexity and characters of remote Australia.

The line and water colour illustrations are full of action and interest and help to bring the authentic text to life and connect the reader to his life experiences.

6. 'Little Dog and the Christmas Wish' by Corrine Fenton and illustrated by Robin Cowcher (Walker Books)

Little Dog and Jonathan are best friends. They do everything together. But on Christmas Eve Little Dog finds himself lost and alone in a busy city. How will he find his way home? Can Christmas wishes come true?

 Robin Cowcher has a simple line and wash style as an illustrator, but her images help to bring greater depth to a simple tale of a dog that gets lost on Christmas Eve after a storm when he is left alone. He has a string of encounters with people as he battles to find his way home on a night when everyone else was also heading for their homes. And when finally he makes it to his home, 'there was a boy waiting'. This is a book that can be read at any time, as the strongest theme is 'home' not really Christmas. Children aged 5-8 will enjoy reading the book or having it read to them.

7. 'Looking for Tippo' by Sally Rickett (Matador Publishing)

This is an interesting little book. It has been self-published using the Matador imprint controlled by Troubador Publishing in the UK.  The use of a narrative style to present a factual text has been used often in the last decade as a way to present knowledge in engaging ways for younger children. And it works.

Sally has both written and illustrated this picture book about bowerbirds. A small female bower bird is looking for her mate Tipoo. She picks and hops her way through the New Guinea rainforest looking for the tell-tale signs of a bower that Tipoo would have prepared for her. She thinks she has found it only to be disappointed but eventually she finds just what she'd expect Tipoo to prepare.

The illustrations are delightful, a mix of collage, water colour and crayon.  The text has a logical plot and the expected outcome. While it could have been improved with some tight editorial work to shorten and simplify the language, it will be enjoyed by children aged 6-8 (self-read), or could be read to children (4-6) by a skilled reader.

Please Note

I have no connection to the publishers or writers of books reviewed.  I DO NOT accept payment for reviews. 


Ajit kumar Borah said...

Hi! I am amazed to see your innate love for children and children literature. I have been reading your reviews in connection with my studies for M.Phil on promotion of green sensitivity through children literature. Thank you very much for enlightening people like me on diverse issues pertaining to children's environmental literature. Regards.
N.B. Your countenance bears the innocence of a toddler! I am an Assistant professor teaching English literature in a college and father of a three year old boy.

Trevor Cairney said...

Thanks Ajit.