Showing posts with label EK Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EK Books. Show all posts

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Australia Illustrated


Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney (EK Books) PB RRP $32.99 ISBN: 9781925335880

By Anne Helen Donnelly

The book starts out with three adjectives to aptly describe our nation: big, beautiful and diverse. The messages in this book are primarily conveyed through bright and quirky illustrations. It lists all things uniquely Australian, and all the things we love about our home, from a child’s focus.

After the bold introductory statement, the book goes onto show native and endangered Australian animals, iconic and bush foods, precious rocks, sport we love and play, swim wear, slang (one of my favourite pages, as after 38 years in Australia, I’m proud to say I am familiar with all of them), various weather around our continent and famous Aussies.  

Each state is then explored, starting with New South Wales. There are landmarks, popular attractions, famous eats and all things each state is best known for and their pride and joys. One of my favourite pages is the Great Barrier Reef page, with different schools of stunning fish intermingling – just like the real thing!

An engaging visual reference guide to all things Australian. Great for natives as well as those wanting to take a glimpse into our culture. Recommended for ages 4 – 8 year olds.


Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Invisible Jerry


Invisible Jerry by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Giusepe Poli (EK Books) PB RRP: $24.99 ISBN: 9781925335781

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

People didn’t notice Jerry. Nobody waved to him, said sorry if they bumped into him, laughed at his jokes and he was never picked for sport. It was as if he was invisible. Jerry didn’t want to stand out, but he did want someone to notice him.

One day, Molly came along. Molly was interested in Jerry. She was interested in what he thought, she would share things with him, she said sorry if she bumped into him and she laughed at his jokes. Molly made Jerry smile, for the first time in a long time.

As Jerry’s confidence grows, he becomes strong enough to be someone else’s Molly. To notice and care about others who feel invisible. First it was Paul but then there were others. And so, Molly’s acts of kindness and friendship continued to spread.

This is a quiet and gentle story, championing for the shy introverts who, even if not noticed, have a lot to give. It also shows how kindness can spread like a wonderful contagious disease. The soft illustrations suit the story and there is a good use of colour to portray the tone of the story’s undulations. Recommended for ages 4 – 8 years.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

My Storee


My Storee by Paul Russell, illustrated by Aska (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925335774 

Reviewed by Dianne Bates
To get published, a manuscript must pass the ‘gatekeepers’, those adults who assess the story, often looking for what is ideologically unsound. Should a book with incorrect spelling all through it, pass the test? Apparently, the publisher, EK Books agreed with the words on the cover of this book, ‘Just because you can’t spell doesn’t mean you can’t write’. Some adults, like this reviewer, believe that the words in a book help a child learn how to spell.

This quibble aside, this is a book which most children aged 5 to 8 years are likely to enjoy because they, like the book’s protagonist, struggle with spelling as they attempt to write stories. The boy in this book is kept awake because he knows ‘a grand adventur (sic) is always (sic) waiting four (sic) me at the end ov (sic) my pencil’. He imagines stories about dragons, his teacher being eaten by a ‘gruesome ogre’, detectives, robot, aliens and more. However, at school, he says, there are too many ‘riting (sic) rulz (sic)’ and with all the rules his imagination suffers. Teachers, he says, cover his writing with red pen and change his meanings with the result that at school he doesn’t like to write.’

A new teacher with new teaching methods is the solution to the boy’s problem. The last sentence in the book reads, ‘So I picked up my pencil and wrote.’

The illustrations in My Storee are colourful and joyous, filled with cartoon characters such as live pencils, surfing mice and unicorn detectives, so they are sure to be enjoyed by child readers.


Thursday, 27 September 2018

My Storee


My Storee by Paul Russell, illustrated by Aska (EK Books) HB RRP ISBN9781925335774

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

To get published, a manuscript must pass the ‘gatekeepers’, those adults who assess the story, often looking for what is ideologically unsound. Should a book with incorrect spelling all through it, pass the test? Apparently, the publisher, EK Books agreed with the words on the cover of this book, ‘Just because you can’t spell doesn’t mean you can’t write’. Some adults however, like this reviewer, believe that the words in a book help a child learn how to spell.

This quibble aside, this is a book which most children aged 5 to 8 years are likely to enjoy because they, like the book’s protagonist, struggle with spelling as they attempt to write stories. The boy in this book is kept awake because he knows ‘a grand adventur (sic) is always (sic) waiting four (sic) me at the end ov (sic) my pencil’. He imagines stories about dragons, his teacher being eaten by a ‘gruesome ogre’, detectives, robot, aliens and more. 

However, at school, he says, there are too many ‘riting (sic) rulz (sic)’ and with all the rules his imagination suffers. Teachers, he says, cover his writing with red pen and change his meanings with the result that at school he doesn’t like to write.’

A new teacher with new teaching methods is the solution to the boy’s problem. The last sentence in the book reads, ‘So I picked up my pencil and wrote.’

The illustrations in My Storee are colourful and joyous, filled with cartoon characters such as live pencils, surfing mice and unicorn detectives, so they are sure to be enjoyed by child readers.


Friday, 10 August 2018

At the End of Holyrood Lane


At the End of Holyrood Lane by Dimity Fletcher & Nicky Johnston (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN9781925335767

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This picture book tells of Flick, a small girl who loves to chase butterflies and jump in heaps of leaves, but who is terrified of storms. The first storm which arrives is shown in an illustration of Flick indoors looking to outside where ‘angry clouds muscle in and wild winds bully the curtains.’ Doubtless any child reader with a fear of storms would take the visual and written text as depicted on surface value.

However, the information sheet which accompanies the review copy says, ‘(the book) provides a sensitive glimpse into one aspect of domestic violence and how it can affect young lives’. Yes, Flick is shown hiding indoors day and night ‘in places where the thunder cannot reach her’. But until there’s an illustration – just one – which shows the silhouetted profile of a person in a storm cloud, there’s no real indication that the storm Flick is reacting to, could possibly be caused by an adult.

Flick flees outdoors where a black storm ‘seethes and snarls… drenching her in its fury’. There she does something she’s never done before – she seeks help. Once again, outdoors in an angry storm, she is embraced by a woman with an umbrella. Her confession works, the story tells, and ‘the sun comes out’.

This book is visually arresting and the words well written. And it’s one of the most difficult things in a book for young children to depict domestic violence. But one must question whether a child would see the duality of meaning in this picture book given its text. And, too, finding a solution to domestic violence is never easy for anyone – adult or child. Just telling an adult is not as easy as it seems. And too, in this book the simple act of telling immediately solves the problem.

Doubtless the book creators and the publisher mean well. They have tried valiantly to highlight and remedy a malaise which is too common in our society. Certainly, the book shows a child’s anxiety and fear of a storm. And at the end of the story when the storm has gone, we see the little girl still anxious that the storm might return.

The only way to see if this book can be understood by small readers is the test of time. A caring adult reading it to a child could use At the End of Holyrood Lane to prise out the underlying meaning through probing questions and sensitive disclosure of the book’s message.


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Reena’s Rainbow

Reena’s Rainbow by Dee White, illustrated by Tracie Grimwood (EK Books) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN: 9781925335491

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

Reena is deaf but highly observant. She finds Dog at the park and immediately likes his playful nature. They both play hide-and-seek in the playground with the other kids. But when Reena finds herself alone in the park after not hearing the other children leave and calling out to her, she is sad. Her mother explains to her that we are all different, just like each colour of the rainbow. But, just like in a rainbow, despite our differences, we all have a place. Reena is not convinced: she feels that she does not belong, like the brown dog that does not have a home.

Then one day, Reena, with her keen eye, notices a tree branch about to fall onto one of the boys in the park. She calls out, but no-one hears her. Luckily, Dog leaps in and saves the day. The children at the park are shaken and nobody notices that Dog’s paw has been hurt from his heroic efforts. Reena takes Dog home and the pair finds they are perfect for each other. Dog is joyful with his new home and best friend and Reena’s heart is happy again. She finds her place in life’s rainbow.


Reena’s Rainbow is a picture book ideal for children 5 to 7 years old, beautifully finished with soft illustrations and a hard cover to couple with this gentle story of diversity and acceptance. Children will identify with Reena’s need to belong and to find their place.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Don’t think about Purple Elephants

Don’t think about Purple Elephants written by Susan Whelan, illustrated by Gwynneth Jones (EK Books) HB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978-1-925335-48-4

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

The title page of this delightful story features a tiny purple elephant sporting a fez, a handbag and twirling a hula hoop on its trunk. So begins Don’t think about Purple Elephants, an engaging picture book whose fundamental message is one of empowerment.

Sophie is a young girl who loves friends, school, riding her bike, baking cakes, reading books… but sometimes she worries. And these worries often visit at night, leaving her feeling tired and out of sorts the next day. So Mum comes up with a great idea:

‘I know,’ said Mum. ‘Go to bed, close your eyes and DON’T think about purple elephants. No cute little purple elephants, no big purple elephants at the circus. No purple elephants at all.’

And of course, the moment Sophie lies down she can’t help but imagine itty bitty purple elephants everywhere, and so snuggles into a purple-elephant-infused sleep.

Worry and anxiety are becoming more of a cultural fixture as society grows ever more complex, and this offering from Susan Whelan and Gwynneth Jones gives a delightful, practical means of easing the worries of bed time anxiety. It’s a bonus that the book is captivating and amusing.

I love Jones’ animated pictures which somehow manage to be both dreamy and full of detail at the same time. The combination of words and illustrations is seamless and wonderful. In the middle section, black and white illustrations are cleverly used to reference Sophie’s worry and anxiety, with splashes of colour defining the cause of her anxiety.

This is a helpful, engaging and highly recommended book.
Teacher’s notes are available and the book is also available in hardcover.




Friday, 14 July 2017

The Leaky Story

The Leaky Story written by Devon Sillett, illustrated by Anil Tortop (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99    ISBN 978-1-925335-39-2

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

This is a charming story about a book sitting… and sitting…  just waiting to be read. It then takes matters into its own hands by springing a leak which grows bigger by the second, eventually turning into a raging sea.

Young JJ is playing happily with his toys, and is the first to notice that the book is leaking when water rains down from the shelf. Initially JJ’s parents refuse to believe that anything out of the ordinary is happening, as they sit comfortably in front of the television.

“… But a couple of stubborn imaginations would not stop the leak. The drip drips grew into plop plops. Puddles filled the living room.”

In a similar vein to the much-loved picture book ‘A fish out of water’, this small leak that begins with a ‘drip, drip’ eventually turns into a full sprung ocean complete with sea creatures, boats and pirates – all in the living room of the Blossburn family.

There is a great deal of life and fun contained in both the text and illustrations of this book. Many of the images depict words leaking out of the pages, and so provide an extra layer of challenge for children who wish to piece together the letters within the images. I personally, particularly enjoyed Mum on a small island in the lounge room, holding at bay a menacing pirate (who’s in the water) by keeping one foot on his head. She’s also terrorising another dangerous creature with a rolling pin. Ten out of ten!

The use of language is wonderful too. The author doesn’t talk down to the readership and uses appropriate words such as ‘curious’ and ‘sated’ within the natural flow of the narrative.

Author Devon Sillett is currently completing a PhD on children’s picture books, and illustrator Anil Tortop works as illustrator and animator. Together they have created a book which will delight and captivate readers who take the plunge and wade through this story (see what I did there!).

This is a book to capture the imagination and be revisited -- definitely one for exploration. It is recommended for children 4-8 years.


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Fix-it Man

The Fix-it Man written by Dimity Powell, illustrated by Nicky Johnston (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-925335-34-7

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

Grief, love and loss are a natural part of life and The Fix-it Man broaches them all. In the hands of Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston, the treatment of this often challenging subject is accessible, masterful and most importantly of all, age-appropriate.

A young girl believes her dad to be the king of fixing things. After the death of her mother, both the child and her father discover that broken hearts are not as easily repaired as damaged toys or cracked teapots.

The media release calls this, ‘A hopeful story of life, loss and love,’ and it is definitely that. It is also a celebration of what children do so well – living in the moment. It is important to note that this is a book for everyone, not just those who are moving through the challenges of grief and loss. It’s divine.

What is not spoken out loud through the text is delicately conveyed through detailed pen and wash illustrations. Together the text and images work in tandem to create a colourful, uplifting and profoundly affecting narrative. I particularly love the snippets of rhyme which provide an unexpected change of pace at significant moments.
The ability of this work to travel into sadness and move through to the other side with joy is remarkable. Every element of this picture book has been explored deeply, to create a work of strength and hope.

The story, with its subtle directives for dealing with grief and loss in young children, cuts to the heart of what it means to live and to love. Reading this book actually warmed my heart.This is a simply beautiful picture book for 4-8 year olds.

Substantial teachers’ notes from the author are also available.





Monday, 13 March 2017

Our Dog Benji

Our Dog Benji written by Pete Carter, illustrated by James Henderson (EK Books) HB RRP $19.99   ISBN 978-1-925335-33-0

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

This picture book pays homage to Benji, a much-loved family dog who happily gorges on daffodils, bones, avocadoes and any morsels passed to him under the table. 

“Every morning, he hurries to the kitchen in case the fridge suddenly exploded overnight.”

Benji’s young owner is much more selective than his canine friend about food. He can’t quite understand that Benji doesn’t seem to care what he eats.

As we travel through the engaging text with its gorgeous, detailed, duotone illustrations, we see Benji’s exploits both at home and further afield. His adventures are warm, funny and totally relatable. I particularly love the page where the family find him sitting on a builder’s knee, sharing homemade sandwiches.

Through the course of this charming book we watch as the tables turn and the child becomes a little more adventurous about eating.

A delightful hardcover book, Our Dog Benji is an endearing tale that will appeal to children and adults alike – and to lovers of food, dogs and whimsy.

Our Dog Benji is available from www.ekbooks.org and wherever good books are sold. Best URL to link to is https://ekbooks.org/product/our-dog-benji/






Sunday, 29 January 2017

Australia Illustrated

Australia Illustrated written and illustrated by Tania McCartney (EK Books)
HB RRP $29.99   ISBN 979-1-925335-21-7
Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

A gorgeous textured hardcover book, Australia Illustrated is ‘the ultimate visual reference guide to all things Aussie,’ from award-winning author Tania McCartney.
My review copy has been thumbed through and appreciated by teens and toddlers alike. It’s clever, funny and terribly engaging. Special mention must be made of the list of Aussie slang words which beg to be spoken aloud.  

This non-fiction picture book will appeal to the child in everyone. It’s a glorious mish-mash of facts, figures and curiosities beautifully wrapped with the ribbon of McCartney’s distinctive, colourful and endlessly fascinating illustration style. We are told that the pictures are made using watercolour, gouache, ink, mono-printing, digital art and filters. The overall design is colourful and dynamic, cheerfully whisking the reader from one idea to the next. 

There is so much in this book to love. And to ponder. It’s playful and whimsical – with the author’s enjoyment eminently apparent in textural images and visual stories. The pictures cleverly accentuate the text in some places and work as stand-alone observations in others.

I particularly enjoy being made to work a little. The ideas, images, fonts, layout, cultural icons, maps and events are laid out with charming appeal and quirky connections. Although there are predictable ‘patterns’ of structure, within these the surprises are endless. It’s delightful for instance, to discover (because readers of this book will make discoveries) that the icons which open each chapter, are cobbled together from an array of Australiana. The opera house has been constructed from chook feathers, for instance. The Harbour Bridge from coat hangers. And I’ll leave the big merino as a special surprise.

A picture-book that transcends traditional notions of age, gender and reading ability, I suspect that like the icons represented in its pages, Australia Illustrated will be celebrated for a long time to come.


Recently I made the bold claim that McCartney is well on the way to being a goddess of Australian children’s literature. This offering just about clinches the deal.  

Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Everything Princess Book

The Everything Princess Book by Barbara Beery, Brooke Jorden, Michele Robbins, David Miles. Illustrations by Rebecca Sorge (EK Books) HB RRP $29.99 ISBN 978-1- 942934-65-3

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

Hold onto your puffy sleeves and tiaras – THIS is a Princess book to outshine them all.

With 101 crafts, recipes, stories, decorations and more inside a lush, pink-and-gold embossed hardcover book, this spiral-bound compendium will have your own princess swooning before s/he’s even turned a page. Although unashamedly catering to girls, some little boys – if given the opportunity - will also enjoy this book which fosters empowering values like intelligence, problem solving and inner beauty.

Divided into sections with fairy tales, princess recipes, games, virtues, activities and ‘heaps of charming tips on how to befit your royalty (and handle your fairy godmother),’ there are literally hours of frilly entertainment to be had from within the pages of this book.

The idea and intent are happy, magical and uplifting – however I’m glad that I will not be the parent who needs to interpret some of the recipes (‘cook your cupcakes in little china teacups,’ proclaims one!).  My own personal princess was more into gumboots in her heyday than tulle. Perhaps a Princess Masterchef is in order?

This book will no doubt be shared and enjoyed by princesses and would-be queens, the world over. This is a sure bet choice for a special occasion, or just because. 



Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Creation

The Creation written and illustrated by David Miles (EK Books) HB RRP $14.99   ISBN 978-1-939629-55-5

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

If you like your Creation stories with ‘lift and look’ foam flaps, then this tiny offering may be just the ticket.

The Creation is a colourful foam board book which manages to distil into 10 simple pages what religious folk have grappled with for thousands of years – the first seven days of earth’s creation, as represented by the Christian bible.

Kudos to author and illustrator David Miles. The book is quite delightful, with interestingly shaped panel pieces to ‘pop out’ using tiny fingers (and only tiny fingers will do the job well, as I found out the hard way with my big fat damage-y ones!).

‘The creation took seven days, but your child will love this book forever.’

A bold claim which may or not have its basis in truth – however it is certain that the colour and simplicity of the book will appeal to small people.
If you are open to the authority of the biblical voice, then this is a delightful go-to book for sharing with a cuddle, or for quietly exploring alone.


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Noah’s Ark

Noah’s Ark written and illustrated by David Miles (EK Books) HB RRP $14.99 ISBN 978-1-939629-56-2

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

This ‘lift and look’ small, foam story book tells the biblical Noah’s Ark story in 10 simple pages. As a narrative, it is necessarily sparse. However the book itself is colourful with a substantial ‘feel factor’ which satisfies one of the fundamental requirements of the board book.

Lift off ‘panels’ which require a tiny finger to be poked into a tiny hole in order to extricate one foam picture in order to reveal another, are a lovely idea. 

Overall, the book lives up to the description of being a whimsical and fun rendering of the famous story. The pictures are engaging, happy and endearing.

Whilst I might question the use of ‘friendly’ to describe the broader story (spoiler alert – the original  involves a lot of drownings) – this particular short narrative DOES give a lovely and warm focus on only the happy parts of the Noah’s Ark story.

The surprise reveal of each hidden image brings great delight, and this is indeed a perfect quiet book or interactive experience for your child. 



Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Ants ‘N’ Uncles

Ants ‘N’ Uncles written and illustrated by Clay Rice (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978-1-942934-68-4

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

A 32-page hardcover picture book, Ants N Uncles will delight children of all ages, as well as adults who still have access to the child inside. With illustrations by internationally-recognised silhouette artist Clay Rice, the book pays homage to and faithfully utilises this distinctive illustration style.
Silhouette artistry and storytelling have been in the author’s family for eighty years. Clay’s grandfather, Carew Rice, travelled worldwide sharing his mesmerising cut-outs with delighted customers.

‘What happens when Uncle steps on an ant hill? The ants in his pants make him dance, of course, and his dancing skills become famous around the world…”

The rhyming, silly story with unique cut-outs combines to create a book with a very individualistic style and sensibility. Many of the illustrations have an ‘other worldly’ feel to them which is part of their charm. They are perhaps more of an acquired taste than their cartoon or computer-generated counterparts, but these silhouette images are interesting and pave the way for questions, curiosity and a deeper reader experience.

Both the text and illustrations offer a great deal to pore over and ponder. 
There is no doubt that this book has the potential to spark many conversations, particularly when shared between generations. 


Monday, 3 October 2016

Patch and Ruby

Patch and Ruby by Anouska Jones and Gwynneth Jones (EK Books) PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-1-925335-22-4

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

This is the story of a lonely pony Patch, who has farmyard friends in all sorts of places but still doesn’t feel quite ‘right.’ This delightful tale covers enormous terrain although it’s confined to a small geographic locale.

‘Patch was lonely. It wasn’t that he didn’t have friends. He did. But sometimes he felt like he didn’t quite fit in.’

A beautifully crafted story, Patch and Ruby touches on the universal themes of friendship and needing to belong. It shows us how Patch spends his days on the farm, highlighting his ‘difference’ and the clever ways in which he tries to deal with this. Through a wonderful melding of words and pictures, young children will immediately see and identify with his challenge to fit in.

When Patch’s special (human) girl Sam has a BIG idea, his life changes in an amazing way. 

It’s hard to describe quite how much I love both the words and illustrated characters in this story. I can’t recall ever having seen a ladybird with such attitude. Gwynneth Jones’ soft paintings are simple, fresh and surprising. Beryl and the girls (chooks) hold a special place in my heart.

All children will at some point feel that they don’t quite belong – at school, at home or in the community - and the story of Patch and Ruby makes such ‘not quite belonging’ okay.

This book is simply a ‘must read’ for everyone!

Also available as one of three books in the Sugar and Spice Collection is a beautifully presented boxed set.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Great Sock Secret

The Great Sock Secret by Susan Whelan and Gwynneth Jones (EK Books) PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-1-925335-24-8

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

No doubt we’ve all asked some big curly questions: Is there life on other planets? Trump or Clinton? Where do single socks disappear to? ‘The Great Sock Secret’ title is apt. Only in THIS case, the answer is one that no-one to my knowledge has ever broached. 

Apparently single socks are all taken away and used by fairies. Luckily for us, in this magical storybook, we get to actually see what the fairies do with the socks. We also witness the ways in which one little girl tries to protect her fairy friends. 

The Great Sock Secret is a funny, whimsical story that pokes fun at grownups everywhere because we simply don’t see fairies.

As ever, the wonderful illustrations of Gwynneth Jones provide an extra layer of story to each double page spread so that readers both young and old will be poring over them long after the words have finished…

This is a delightful, fresh and engaging read.

It is also available as one of three books in the Sugar and Spice Collection, a beautifully presented boxed set.


Saturday, 1 October 2016

Dance with Me

Dance with Me by Penny Harrison and Gwynneth Jones (EK Books) PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-1-925335-23-1

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe 

Dance with Me is a delightful and uplifting picture book about a music-box ballerina who loves nothing more than to dance.

‘Come dance with me!’ she sings as the music box lid is opened. Then the ballerina and her little human girl dance around together. And because she loves to dance so much, sometimes the ballerina even leaves the music box to dance in the big wide world of the bedroom when the little girl isn’t looking!

However as always happens, small girls grow bigger and their interests change. Who will dance with the ballerina now?

Gwynneth Jones’ divine, soft illustrations are a perfect complement for Penny Harrison’s charming story line. I love the clever and engaging way these pictures give a deeper context to the narrative.

Depicting joy, fun, freedom, movement, uncertainty, release, moving on and new beginnings… this book covers a breadth of ideas with simple beauty and clarity.

A poignant ending brings the story full circle to leave readers young and old, very satisfied.

The book is also available as one of three books in the Sugar and Spice Collection, a beautifully presented boxed set.



Wednesday, 31 August 2016

A Texas Year

A Texas Year by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling (EK Books)
RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-1-925335-06-4

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

Another in the wonderful series by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling, A Texas Year takes young readers on a month-by-month journey through the festivals, events, games, sports, flora & fauna, quirky traditions and famous sights of Texas. Did you know that the armor-plated armadillo comes from Texas - and that Americans spell armor differently to the Australian ‘armour’? You do now.

Inside, richly populated double spreads take us into the lives of five diverse young characters. Here’s one:

Hola! I’m Luis and I’m 10. I was born in Mexico and came to Texas when I was 3. I grew up with horses and one day I want to ride in rodeos and play baseball for the Texas Rangers.

With endearing and distinctive illustrations, along with a smattering of fun facts and interesting anecdotes, this book will definitely have you smiling. Those who don’t reach for their ancient World Book Encyclopaedia volumes will no doubt visit Dr Google after reading A Texas Year.

A natural fit for boys and girls, the beauty of this series lies in the capacity of these books to incite wonder and pique curiosity. Reluctant readers too, will definitely find something here to interest and entertain.


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A New York Year

A New York Year by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling (EK Books)
RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-1-925335-07-1

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

Tania McCartney is something of a goddess when it comes to picture books and this latest offering confirms that she is still worthy of the title. Her crown is firmly wedged on.

We are Madison, Alexander, Fabian, Sofia, and Jayla – and we’re ready to take you on a journey through twelve months in the life of New York’s kids.

So begins A New York Year. To open this book is to be greeted by dozens of tiny vignettes in Snerling’s distinctive, colourful illustration style. These endpapers alone will have children (and adults) meandering happily for several minutes.

Set out as a month by month prospect, the reader is introduced to the characters and invited to follow individual children through their New York lives and seasons. It is dynamic and varied – with no actual ‘narrative’ as such, but rather a clever and current design which allows the reader to wander in their own direction, through a whole new and exciting world.

A New York Year is a book for poring over by alone or for sharing with a cuddle. It’s a book for throwing down on the couch while you run to Dad’s old DVD collection to return triumphantly clasping ‘Groundhog Day’. Or it’s a book that will elicit dinner time discussion about snowmen in our summer, and inspire wider conversations around the delights of challah or the meaning of the Statue of Liberty.

Geography, history, festivals, cultural difference, acceptance, inclusion, facts and figures – all are covered in this very entertaining and educational offering.