Tuesday, April 30, 2019

12 New Picture Books that are Keepers!

1. 'In the Bush I see' by Kiara Honeychurch

This is another great title from Magabala Books, the Indigenous publishers located in the remote North Western Australian town of Broome. It is a delightful little board book for toddlers aged 1-4 years. A wonderful first book that children will flip through again and again. They will also learn the simple text descriptions of each wonderful creature. Like "a screeching cockatoo", "a waddling echidna" and a "watchful bandicoot". Kiara is inspired by the bush creatures she encounters in her rural home near Hobart. With a bold and sophisticated colour palette, Kiara unleashes the beauty and character of each creature. Well done Kiara, I hope there will be more books.

2. 'The Anzac Billy' by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Mark Jackson & Heather Potter

This is the story of one little boy lovingly selecting, with the help of his mum and grandma, favourite and useful things for his dad's billy – butterscotch, nuts, handkerchiefs, writing paper and more. Then, with a wish that the billy makes it in time for Christmas Day, he sends it on its way... Sail, big ship of billies, sail far across the sea. Until you reach the other side, until you reach my dad...

This wonderful new picture book from successful writer Claire Saxby is a gem. The book will introduce young readers to a little-known aspect of World War I, and a simple way that our troops were supported.

During World War I, Australian soldiers serving on the front were sent Christmas care packages. This was a collection of gifts from home. They were carefully placed in tin billies used for boiling water to make tea or heat some food over an open fire. They billy cans were filled by families and friends. Then collected and sent to the front line.
And what happens if it doesn't make it to the loved one? You'll have to read this special book to find out. A wonderful contribution to the extensive list of great picture books about war. This makes its own special contribution. Beautifully illustrated by Mark Jackson and Heather Potter. Wonderful!

3.  'Up to Something' by Katrina McKelvey & illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan

This new book is from the same author/illustrator team responsible for one of my favourite picture books in 2017 'Dandelion', that reviewed previously on this blog. 

One day, Dad invites Billy into his shed to build something, but Billy soon finds out that he is only allowed to watch. As Dad becomes engrossed in his project, Billy takes Dad’s off-cuts and other items from around the yard and shed and starts to copy what his Dad is building. Dad remains blissfully unaware! At the end of the day, they reveal their creations — two very different racing carts — and Dad discovers that Billy has more skills and abilities than his dad had ever imagined! 

I love this book. It offers a lovely insight into a father-son relationship. The small boy wanting to do things for himself and his Dad not quite trusting him to do more than watch. The outcome is special. The delightful simple text is beautifully complemented by Kirrili Lonergan's soft pencil and water colour illustrations. The style is similar to 'Dandelion' and works beautifully.

4. 'Little Frida' by Anthony Browne

One great artist inspires another, as former Children's Laureate and twice winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal Anthony Browne creates a beautiful story about Frida Kahlo.

There have been many books written about famous artist Frida Kahlo, but Anthony Browne weaves his magic to create a special picture book, that will bring the remarkable story of Frida Kahlo to a new generation.

Anthony Browne is former Children's Laureate and twice winner of the ultimate award for illustrated picture books, the Kate Greenaway Medal. Browne tells the story of Frida Kahlo for a young audience. has inspired. This beautiful and almost surreal work is delightfully illustrated as we would expect. It tells the story of Frida's lonely life, and how she discovered the power of her own imagination to open up new worlds of possibility. It is a lovely book that explores the themes of belonging and hope. A great book for 4-7 year olds. The book has a brief biography of Frida Kahlo at the back that parents and teachers will want to share after they've read Browne's story. 

5. 'The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears', by Alastair Chisholm & illustrated by Jez Tuya

An action-packed storytelling adventure that flips the traditional fairy tale on its head. When it's time for Jamie's bedtime story, his dad begins to tell an age-old fairy tale about a prince in a faraway land full of dragons, wolves and princesses in distress. But inquisitive Jamie can't help but add to his dad's story, and the prince is soon joined by an evil-eyed witch who turns people to jelly, a broccoli-wielding ninja frog and a jewel-thief, lock picking princess. It may not be the story Dad set out to tell, but together, he and Jamie create something much more energetic and hilarious than they could have alone.

This is a zany little book that children will love sharing with other children, as will teachers love sharing it with their students. Any adult who has shared a made up story with a child before, will know how challenging (and yet fun) it is to have to adjust your story to the wishes and suggestions of young listeners. An unusual twist in a market where it's hard to surprise the reader with something different. I've enjoyed sharing the book with some of the children in my life.

6. 'Angry Cookie' by Laura Dockrill & illustrated by Maria Karipidou

Laura Dockrill is a well-known performance poet who has produced the text for a funny book that features a reluctant cookie who resents our attention as readers. As we open the book he cries out:

Oooohhh . . . not you again!
AGGGHH It’s so bright! . . . Close this book this very second, you nosy noodle!

It seems that Cookie has woken in a very bad mood! Why? You'll need to read the book to find out, but watch out! It seems Cookie has a lot that annoys him in life, and yet his flatmate gets out her new recorder. Of course he "HATES THE RECORDER!!" But that's not all, there are so many things that annoy him. But you'll have to read the book yourself to find out how the problem of an angry cookie is resolved.

The wonderful crayon and watercolour illustrations are delightful, and the graphic design is perfect for this quirky book. I can see only one thing that must annoy writer and illustrator just as much, the colour choices for the cover have rendered their names almost invisible on the cover.

A wonderful book that teachers and parents will love reading to children aged 3-7 years, and of course young readers will love reading for themselves, or each other.

7. 'Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale' by Robie Harris & illustrated by Chris Chatterton

Elephant has a bucket of blocks and wants to build something tall. Something as tall as Elephant. But will it stay up? CRASH! BOOM! Not this time. Build it again? One block. Two blocks? Four blocks? It’s still not as tall as Elephant. More blocks! Now will it stay up? Now will it be as tall as Elephant? Build, balance, count — question, estimate, measure — predict, crash, and build again! Young children will happily follow along as Elephant goes through the ups and downs of creating something new and finally celebrates the joy and pride of success.

This is a delightful new mathematical concepts picture book that preschool teachers will find fun to share. This cute little elephant will be well-loved by readers. Appropriate for listeners and readers aged 1-5 years. Beautifully illustrated by Chris Chatterton

8. 'The Jacket' by Sue-Ellen Pashley & illustrated by Thea Baker

I love this book! Now any parent will not miss the deep sentiment in the story about a favourite jacket that is worn and worn and past down to other children, but then is seemingly to be discarded. This is a jacket that becomes 'woven into the lives of one ordinary family'.

"The jacket was no ordinary jacket. It was soft, like dandelion fluff. It was comforting, like a hug from your favourite teddy. And it had four dazzling buttons down the front..."

Amelia wears her favourite jacket everywhere. She wears it to nursery. And to Aunty Kath's house. And to the shops. Even to bed! But, one day, she can't fit into it any more. So Mum suggests she give it to her little sister, Lily. And so, that way, the jacket lives on...

A beautiful story that is also wonderfully illustrated with a wonderful book design that helps to make this a special book. Like Amelia's jacket, it's what we call in our house "a keeper!"

9. 'Maple the Brave' by Chloe Jasmine Harris

Chloe Jasmine Harris is a debut author/illustrator. This is a well-crafted story about a little girl called Maple who has to face her fears and find strength and skills she didn't know she could have.  

Maple lives in a tree house in the woods. She’s scared of most things, especially the animals who live below. But one day, when she bravely steps out of her comfort zone, she finds that the animals are really quite kind. With their help, she awakens a sense of bravery she never knew she had. This is a gentle, Jungle Book-like adventure, where our doll-like heroine ultimately returns to her tree house stronger, more confident, and with a whole forest of friends.

The delightful story is well supported by Chloe's detailed and colourful line and watercolour illustrations. These will delight young readers as they look deep into each page to follow Maple's encounters with her new friends in the forest who help her to grow.

10. 'Lucky and Spike' by Norma MacDonald

This is another wonderful picture book from Magabala Books. This is a spin-off from the first book about Lucky and Spike. I reviewed Spinifex Mouse in a previous post. These two endearing mice leave their burrow each night to search the barren remote inland plains of Australia. This is dangerous! There are many predators to avoid, including a feral cat and a ravenous owl. They race to the people’s camp to forage for spinifex seeds and come face-to-face with a prowling cat. The chase is on! They race past people dancing near a camp fire. But will they avoid the camp dog and the ravenous owl?

I hope that they live to appear in another Lucky and Spike tale. A fast moving tale beautifully illustrated by Norma MacDonald. 

 11. 'Little Bird's Day' by Sally Morgan & illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr

A simple, universal story of a day in the life of Little Bird as she sings the world alive, flies with Cloud, travels with Wind, nestles with Moon and dreams of flying among the stars.

This is a gorgeous book! From the deep earth colours of the cover, the inside covers with stunning images of the night sky, to the wonderful more traditional images of the creatures that punctuate Little Bird's day, it is beautiful. And, as you'd expect Sally Morgan's beautifully crafted text makes for a memorable picture book. Is there any wonder it was the winner of the Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award. 

As with many Magabala books some excellent Teacher's notes can be found on the Magabala Books website.

12. 'Wilam: A Birrarung Story' by Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly, illustrated by Lisa Kennedy

This is another stunning Indigenous picture book, this time from Black Dog books. Talented Indigenous artist Lisa Kennedy, respected Elder Aunty Joy Murphy and Yarra River keeper Andrew Kelly combine to create a special book. It tells the Indigenous and geographical story of Melbourne’s beautiful Yarra river, from its source to its mouth, and from its pre-history to the present day.

Lisa Kennedy is a descendant of the Trawlwoolway People on the north-east coast of Tasmania. She was born in Melbourne and as a child lived close to the Maribyrnong River. Here she experienced the gradual restoration of the natural river environment alongside cultural regeneration and reclamation. The experience of loss and reclamation is embedded in her work. The illustrations are richly coloured with a bright palette of green, red, blue, yellow and brown. Many of the plates would be stunning works of art on their own. But in combination with the text from Aunty Joy and Andrew Kelly, we have a special book to share with children aged 3-8 years of age.


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