Showing posts with label Familius Imprint. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Familius Imprint. Show all posts

Monday, 17 September 2018

Little Heroes: Inventors who changed the world

Little Heroes: Inventors who changed the world by Heidi Poelman, illustrated by Kyle Kershner (Familius LLC) HB RRP $9.99 ISBN 9781641700351

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This board book looks at eight inventors including two women, Marie Curie and Grace Murray Hopper. With two sentences each double-spread page, the reader learns those who created inventions which revolutionised society. Cai Lun, for instance, mixed ‘pieces of bark, old rags and fishing nets’ with water to produce the world’s first piece of paper. Grace Murray Hopper programmed a room-sized computer to respond to human voices, not just number codes.

In introducing each of the inventors, the author uses the word ‘little’ before the name, so ‘Little Louis’ found germs through the lens of his microscope. This surely gives the impression that each of the people targeted made their discoveries when they were young. A misconception, of course. 

Naturally it’s a good thing that small children learn that Thomas Edison found a way of lighting up light bulbs, that Leonardo Da Vinci drew plans for machines that eventually became real and that Johannes Gutenberg created the first printing press and so on. But one must question why these facts are presented in a book for pre-readers, that is, a board book.

Also, the reading level of this book is that of a 7 to 8-year-old. Even if someone read to a small child, it would probably be incomprehensible to someone so young.
Having said that, it must be pointed out that the book is colourfully illustrated and it’s good that children can learn, probably for the first time, about people who made our world more accessible.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Shakespeare for Kids, Five Fully Illustrated Classic Plays

Shakespeare for Kids, Five Fully Illustrated Classic Plays. Exisle Press (Familius Imprint) PB RRP $29.99
ISBN 9781939629777

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

What child doesn’t love a slipcase full of books? In my house these items are gold on the shelf, indicating much-loved and well-read volumes for returning to over and again. Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton – childhood staples that always deliver.

So I have to say that the mere notion of a slipcase full of Shakespeare for kids had me a little concerned. Can the concepts within Shakespearian plays, created for mass public consumption within a very specific time and context, really and truly resonate with today’s children? And the biggie; do these books warrant a slipcase?

These volumes look the part, in a modern kind of way. In my collection (the first of four Shakespeare Classic Libraries) are The Tragedy of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Tempest, All’s Well That Ends Well and Much Ado About Nothing. Muted colours on the box and covers give each a certain gravitas which does seem important when introducing the bard.
The interior of the books is cohesive and lives up to the promise of illustrations on each page. Black line drawings take us through the same introduction of Shakespeare in every book (one page with an illustration in a hand-drawn frame, a nice touch), and then to an illustrated list of the main characters in each play.

There are two obviously different illustration styles in the collection of books I received. I, personally, am very fond of scrawly line drawings (Quentin Blake is an all-time fave) and appreciated both styles which have come from McCaw books.

To their credit, these books are exactly what they say they are: straight up, no frills, blow-by-blow outlines of Shakespeare’s plays. Not written as plays but rather as condensed summary texts, they make sense of often grossly convoluted plots in a comprehensive manner. Interspersed with dialogue and illustrations, each is compact enough to engage and hold attention, and is accessible to children in terms of language and ideas.

So far, so good. As a reviewer I do have to note, however, that these are not the gorgeous, Roald Dahl-esque sublimely clever and rhythmic treatments of the classics that I was secretly hoping for; for instance, there’s no modern equivalent of the iambic pentameter that so endeared Shakespeare to his audiences.

However, when all’s said and done I believe that they do make a substantial offering and for that, they earn their slipcase – a very different kind of slipcase to those that contain imaginative, much-loved children’s classics -  but one that’s library-worthy nonetheless.