Friday, October 2, 2015

9 New Picture Books Worth Sharing

The latest batch of kids' books across my desk for review includes the following great examples.

1. 'Footpath Flowers' by JonArno Lawson & Sydney Smith (Walker Books)

This wordless picture book is a visual delight. The ink and watercolour illustrations of Sydney Smith are incredible. The 'story' told by the illustrations is subtle and multi layered. Your journey through the full page and comic-sized multi-framed pages is through the eyes of a small girl with red hooded top who sees a world of flowers in a dense urban landscape. She collects them on her walk with her Dad (largely unnoticed by him), and distributes them in the most delightful way.

Award winning poet JonArno Lawson and illustrator Sydney Smith is a gem!

2. 'Remarkably Rexy' written & illustrated by Craig Smith

Everybody seems to love Rex. He dazzles everyone on Serengeti Street for years. He waits for the kids to come home each day, does his usual dance steps and flaunts his looks. Then one day Pamela arrives! The children are now spellbound by this French miss. Rex tries to be cool about it then Towser the street bulldog complicates everything. A delightful story from well-know Australian author and illustrator Craig Smith that will be excellent for read alouds as well as early reading material for 5-7 year olds. There is a QR code that allows a link to an audio version of the story as well.

3. 'How the Sun Got to Coco's House' by Bob Graham (Walker Books)

Bob Graham is a legendary author and illustrator and this latest offering won't disappoint. His beautifully simple line and watercolour illustrations always draw us in. As Coco is tucked into bed, the sun moves on. But where does it go while Coco sleeps? To light the day for polar bears, warm some early fisherman, twinkle in the eye of a whale, cast shadows for Jung Fu tramping through the snow, stir a plane load of passengers, make a rainbow in the Middle East, peak above the roof tops and then... finally, shine a light into Coco's room as a new day starts. Remarkably simple, but wonderfully executed.

4. 'Dandelions' by Katrina McKelvey & Kirrili Lonergan (EK Books)

As a little girl hears her Dad starting the lawn mower, she knows this means one thing; he will be cutting all her beloved dandelions. But in a tender exchange her Dad comes up with a solution. As she tells her Dad of her love for dandelions he finds a survivor and they talk about the places that dandelions go when we blow them. This is a sweet tale with a 'softness' of text and illustrations that are well matched. This will be enjoyed by children aged 3-7. Good for read alouds or independent reading for the older ones.

5. 'Platypus' by Sue Whiting & illustrated by Mark Jackson (Walker Books)

Readers of this blog know that I love animal books. I especially love the platypus and count among my most memorable experiences seeing platypuses at play in the early morning waters of creeks and streams. Mark Jackson's illustrations in watercolour and pastel have a richness that seems so well suited to the colour pallet of the world of the platypus. The soft light of dusk or dawn, the deep green of fresh water streams, the thick bush that hides their burrows and shadows their playgrounds are all captured well.

Sue Whiting has written this non-fiction picture book with parallel texts. One is more narrative in style that is foregrounded and the other factual and scientific and sitting towards the bottom of each page. This is a beautiful book that children will enjoy as a read aloud (aged 5 to 8 years) or to read themselves to find out about this fascinating creature (ages 6-9 years).

6. Twelve Months in the Life of.....

This series of three picture books by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling offer a snapshot of a year in the life of children from varied countries. The books are beautifully illustrated and designed, right down to the inside covers! The books are published by a small publisher Exisle Publishing so the might be a little harder to find. Make the effort!

a) 'An Aussie Year: Twelve months in the life of Australian Kids' by Tania McCartney & illustrated by Tania Sterling (Exisle Publishing)

This is such a delightful book that offers snapshots of five children as they lead their daily lives. Tapping into the multicultural richness of Australia and the varied lives across the nations, they take us on a journey across the months as the children in parallel lead different but related lives. Sharing some things and doing others that relate to their family and cultural traditions. The book weaves a trail through myriad events illustrated on every page - play activities, cultural traditions, celebrations, holidays, changing weather and wildlife, games, traditions. A country of differences but also rich complexity and unity. There is an Aussie Kids website for book with background and classroom ideas.

b) 'An English Year: Twelve months in the life of Australian Kids' by Tania McCartney & illustrated by Tania Sterling (Exisle Publishing)

Once again we trace the lives of five children also culturally and ethnically diverse. The places and traditions might be different, the seasons might seem to be at the 'wrong' time, and the customs aren't quite the same, but there are many parallels as well. Children have fun with one another; they learn and play, have families, celebrate and learn.

c) 'A Scottish Year: Twelve months in the life of Australian Kids' by Tania McCartney & illustrated by Tania Sterling (Exisle Publishing)

In this book we trace the life of Scottish children. Young readers will see the difference in dress, customs, language, history, games, wildlife culture, sport. But again, they will see in the life of these children much common ground. The book like the others trace five lives and end with a pictorial map showing spatially what this wonderful country looks like.   

7. 'Quest' by Aaron Becker (Walker)

This wordless picture book is a sequel to the book 'Journey' that was an honour book in the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 2014 that I reviewed previously on this site (HERE).

On a wet and dull day two children find themselves presented with a quest from a strange man who emerges from a strange door under a bridge where they have sheltered from the rain. It seems they need to rescue a captured king. This is a visually intriguing and delightful book that will captivate children's imaginations. Like his last work this is an ambitious piece of fantasy without words. The watercolour images have depth, detail and enchanting qualities.

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