Showing posts with label Christina Booth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christina Booth. Show all posts

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Cool Poems


Cool Poems by Kate O’Neil, illustrated by Christina Booth (Triple D Press) PB RRP $25 ISBN 780994349996

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Despite having written and published her poems for numerous years, this is Australian Kate O’Neil’s first solo collection. It is especially for students who enjoy words, who love rhythm and rhyme. The collection is divided into seven sections with subject headings ranging from ‘In Australia’ and ‘Speaking Your Mind’ to ‘Play’ and ‘Light and Dark’.

One of the first poems in the book under ‘Happy Living Things’ was a short free form  poem with a fine image that sticks in my mind. This is in ‘Slug’, where O’Neill writes, … ‘how is it that your/loathsome taper/makes this/exquisite/tracery of silver script...’. Beautiful! I urge you to get your hands on this book, so you can read poems like this with such memorable imagery. Another short poem in the same section is ‘To a Leech’, the first line of which reads, ‘You’re no prince in disguise’.

In the section, ‘In Australia’, there are poems about being barefooted, eating mangoes, climbing mountains, paragliding and cockatoos. Subject matter throughout the book is wide-ranging and includes school rules, blowflies, Cocky’s Joy, beating the blues and blind man’s bluff. Some poems, like ‘The Cynic Route’, ‘Gargoyle Guile’ and ‘Man and Moonshine’ are more suited to mature readers, but there are plenty of fun poems sure to be enjoyed by younger readers, such as the prima donna selection, ‘The Kid from Camdenville’, ‘Bare, Bare Black Sheep’ and ‘Classy Darcy’.

Happily, too, there’s a variety of poetic forms from rap to couplets, quatrains to free form. A few of the poems use the rhyming scheme of well-known poems. And, too, the poet uses speech within poems such as in ‘Bedtime Boogie’ and ‘Bedtime’.

Booth has done an excellent job of illustrating the collection with black and white line and wash pictures. Stand-outs are the gargoyle illustrating ‘Midnight Feast’ and the big-headed cat about to pounce on the unsuspecting bold mouse.

If you’re looking for a collection which will be rewarded by dipping into and reading fun, serious and thought-provoking poems for your reader aged 9 to 14, this book is highly recommended.


Thursday, 30 March 2017

This is Banjo Paterson

This is Banjo Paterson by Tania McCartney, illustrated by Christina Booth (NLA Publishing) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9780642278982

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

This beautifully simple narrative celebrates the life of the great poet and author Andrew Barton Paterson. Tania McCartney and Christina Booth have cleverly combined forces to make this educational picture book engaging and relatable to a young audience. The text is nonfiction while the illustrations depict a parallel fictional story.

The dreamy endpapers set the scene for this inspired outdoor adventure. In a typical suburban backyard, a small group of resourceful young children recreate the events and experiences of Banjo’s life through their imaginative play. Throughout the journey we discover how this talented Australian got his nickname, his many boyhood interests, the people who influenced him and the many and varied jobs he undertook.

The children’s re-enactment of Banjo’s life story is illustrated using a combination of single page images, double page spreads and vignettes. The playful illustrations provide entertaining rhyming dialogue, via speech and thought bubbles, as well as humour scattered throughout.

This book is equally appealing as a bedtime story or read aloud in the early years’ classroom. It can be a great conversation starter about poetry and a natural introduction to Banjo’s work. A detailed biography, photos and some renowned verses can be found at the end of the book.

If you like this book you may also like This is Captain Cook by McCartney and Booth.


Monday, 30 March 2015

This is Captain Cook

This is Captain Cook by Tania McCartney, illustrated by Christina Booth (NLA Publishing)
HC RRP $24.99
ISBN 9780642278692
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Two highly talented artists have collaborated to create this entertaining and educational picture book for the 3+ year age group. It’s totally captivating from cover-to-cover. The end pages display the chickens from the story accompanied by clever captions. Every page is a new discovery. I loved it! This is another outstanding production from the National Library of Australia.

Mrs Batts’ class is presenting a play on the life of Captain James Cook; from his boyhood on the farm (lots of chickens and two goats are included in the show) to when he sailed away to Hawaii never to return. The story concentrates on his life as mariner, father and adventurer.

For me there were several parts to applaud in this stunning picture book (the comedy of chickens was an added novelty). The delightful, light-hearted text by Tania McCartney sets the mood. Christine Booth’s brilliant detailed illustrations activate the art show.

The story begins with ceaseless activity taking place on the stage. Chickens run amok as children try to catch them with nets. A cast of children act out their parts as they wave to parents in the audience. Everyone is having tremendous fun.

The first image of the audience shows the parents arriving, greeting each other, and the show starting. This is all in colour.

On the following pages, the images of the audience are shadows. Parents share whispered conversation. Babies babble. One baby is thinking of the toy it has dropped. Another has fallen asleep in its mother’s arms. This is where a second story seems to appear, trying not to obscure the stage play, but demanding attention none-the-less.

There is doubt as to how much the parents are taking in of the actual show, for many are distracted by the few children chasing and trying to catch those elusive chickens.

I was impressed by the amount of interaction the book engendered. I had to look carefully time and again, to fully absorb the volume of information contained on each page. This guarantees that children will discover new things each time they open the covers. The rich content will generate questions and answers between adult and child.


At the end is a double page spread with illustrated frames identical to the images in Cook’s Gallery. More information can be accessed along with maps and journals through the NLA on-line. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Blossom Possum and the Christmas Quacker

Blossom Possum and the Christmas Quacker by Gina Newton, illustrated by Christina Booth (Scholastic Press)
HB RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-1-74283-959-2
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Koala Claws has fallen asleep beneath the gum tree after his last stop on Christmas Eve and Blossom Possum cannot wake him. What will happen if he sleeps through Christmas? Can Blossom and her buddies save Bush Christmas?

Blossom Possum and the Christmas Quacker is a fun picture book filled with Australian animals who all have different suggestions about how to help Blossom Possum wake Koala Claws. The story does not always have an even rhythm, or pure rhyme. But the rhyme exists within the sentence structure; the rhythm is exposed as the story builds with lovely intermingling of rhyme, prose and repeated verse:

But Koala Claws wasn’t stirring,
he stayed sleeping like a log.
Stuck in the Land of Nod was he.
So who would do his job?

As the story develops and animal names are added, a wonderful tongue twister is created. Echo Gecko, Neville-the-Devil, Good Luck Wood Duck and many more – try saying them fast.

The language is very much Australian. They 'set off down the track, round the back of the beyond and go past the black stump'. And the story plays out in an Australian setting too. The soft watercolour illustrations bring the gum trees to life, making the landscape very much a part of the story. They show the procession of animals getting longer and longer, stretching across the page and emphasising the vastness of the country around them. Then on alternating pages, the pictures draw closer to very busy animals in a group.

I especially love the image of the animals on their way back, their silhouettes throwing purple shadows, as the trees on the distant hills do, emphasising the passing of time. This is echoed also at the end with Claws and his reinroos silhouetted in the sky as Santa Claus is often depicted at the end of Christmas stories.

This is a Christmas story with a difference, very Australian and, with its balance of repetition and action, and its humour, it should catch the imagination of preschool aged children.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Welcome Home

Welcome Home by Christina Booth (Ford Street Publishing)
HB RRP $26.95 PB RRP $16.95
HB ISBN 978-1925000085 PB ISBN 978-1925000092
Reviewed by Francine Sculli

Welcome Home is an important book about an issue that is not always easy to convey in children’s literature, but author and illustrator – Christina Booth – has carved a story so rich in meaning and message that it should be read to every generation.

Welcome Home is told through the eyes of a young, nameless boy. Every day he hears the calls of a female whale echoing down the river, softly lapping at the mountains. The boy listens intently as her calls change from pure joy to sadness and pain. Trying to decipher the calls that only he can hear, the boy feels the whale’s pain and listens to her story.

The whale carries history to the river – a place where her ancestors were once driven out by early settler whalers, mindlessly slaughtered and displaced. The boy feels it all, as the whale comes to him every day, searching for meaning and forgiveness, and a return to the place they once called home.

The whale tells the boy that they wanted to come home but they did not feel safe and the boy hangs his head. Saddened by what the men had done to her, he whispers a soft sorry as she swims away, her flukes clapping like thunder.

But the next day, as if the boy’s sorry was enough for her to feel safe again, the whale returns to the river with a call that is gentle and soft. The boy sees that the call was not meant for him this time, but the small baby whale that she has given birth to in the river. The boy and bystanders watch as the whale and her child swim through the waters, full of forgiveness and new beginnings. She tells the boy that they are safe now, and he welcomes them home.

Booth tells the story in a soft and unobtrusive way, but still her message is heard. The warm, forgiving and endearing nature of the whales, and the understanding and connectedness of the boy, which she paints so poetically, are powerful enough to show the mindless nature of whaling and what is needed to move forward. The words Booth chooses are nothing short of perfect and beautiful. But it is her illustrations that are a form of poetry in themselves – soft, washed out watercolours, intricately telling with their hues of grey, white, black and blue. They are images that tell of the whales joy and pain and of a future that does not need to be so horrific.


This important book is the perfect catalyst for educating and introducing children to the effects of whaling, to instil in them a care for our natural world and to spread the story that we must care for our animal world. It is a story perfect for the classroom and the family bookshelf, but one that should be read to adults and children alike. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

I Wish There Were Dinosaurs


I Wish There Were Dinosaurs by Amanda Niland, illustrated by Christina Booth (Windy Hollow Books)
HB RRP $27.99
ISBN – 9781922081049
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

End papers of this book immediately draw readers in with their map of a zoo that keeps dinosaurs. The map even has a key showing where to find viewing areas, education zone, cafĂ©, toilets and bus stop. Childlike typeface and lively layout follow, adding to the appeal of whimsical yet exciting scenes which are mostly illustrated in earthy tones. Told in rhyme, the story delves into one young boy’s wish.

While museum exhibits endeavour to show us how big certain dinosaurs were, the effect is limited. Skeletons just aren’t the same as the real thing. This story’s narrator, who always wears a strapped on dinosaur tail, appears on the title page pushing an elephant away. While he admits he likes them, he wishes zoos kept dinosaurs. He decides that writing to the zoo is the answer.

From here each spread ensures readers see exactly what the narrator imagines. As they journey through the zoo with him they will get a feel for what different dinosaurs were like in comparison to existing zoo animals they will be familiar with. Giraffes are not at all that tall! I was especially relieved to see that the dinosaur eyeing off the woman at the ticket booth is obviously herbivorous.

Partway through enjoying his imaginative trip to the zoo, the narrator ponders over what could go wrong. What if the fences didn’t hold the dinosaurs in? How frightening would it be to face a T-Rex that’s escaped, or any large dinosaur for that matter? Even small ones have bigger jaws than monkeys. And the sheer size of many also means they could easily destroy our homes.

Such thoughts result in a quick and sensible decision to cancel the letter, balancing tension with humour to calm readers who might be frightened. Readers will delight in the logic of the solution and those in preschool and early primary years will undoubtedly visit the dinosaurs through the pages of the book over and over again.