Showing posts with label Kathy Creamer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kathy Creamer. Show all posts

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Princess Hayley’s Comet

Princess Hayley’s Comet by Rebecca Fung; illustrations by Kathy Creamer.
(Christmas Press) RRP $13.99  ISBN 978 0994 528 070

Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke

Debut author Rebecca Fung has taken a fun idea, punning on the name of the famous Halley’s comet, and produced an enjoyable and original story for young readers.

Princess Hayley’s Comet is a slim little book with an engaging cover and the promise of an active storyline. The cover illustration by Kathy Creamer is attractive in bold primary colours and the dynamic swirling path of the golden comet looks appropriately regal. The expressions on the faces of the king and the princess give a hint of the plot.

The first page plunges straight in to the crux of the story: “Dearest Hayley,” asked the King. “What would you like for your birthday?”

A princess with everything she could ever wish for, the soon-to-be-ten-year-old Princess Hayley asks for a comet.

Although set in a traditional, generic fairy-tale castle, this story does introduce elements of science fiction as the narrative unfolds. Some basic information about real comets is embedded at the beginning of the story. The princess obtains information about comets from her book Simple Astronomy. She wonders about the personality of a comet:

Hayley was sure the comet was independent, exciting and adventurous, and the more she felt that, the more she adored it.”

The comet symbolises Princess Hayley’s own personality, and her desire for adventure and exploration.

The idea of capturing and riding a comet (without being burned to ashes) is unrealistic. However, Fung manages to pull this absurd situation off, the reader suspending disbelief and going along with the story. Afterall, the fairy-tale genre does not set up an expectation of realism.

In eleven chapters liberally sprinkled with black and white drawings, the book is accessible, dynamic and inviting to primary school children, and offers both visual and textual surprises on each page. The size of the book is appropriate for child hands and the text is well-spaced and not at all daunting.

Princesses are standard fare in children’s literature. How does Hayley compare with the stereotype? She has a benevolent father, the king, ready to grant her every wish. (The Queen is not mentioned.) Princess Hayley has a collection of exotic birthday presents including polar bears, golden treehouses and diamond tiaras. She has servants to assist her in everyday life at the palace. But unlike many princesses, she isn’t isolated or lonely.

With two “equal best” friends, Ned and Cara, Princess Hayley is a well socialised and resourceful character. When the King’s Advisors say that a birthday comet is impossible, she actively devises strategies to catch her own comet.

Kathy Creamer’s illustrations reveal a princess who wears plaits with her crown, and boots with her regal robes, that are a sensible calf-length for active movement.

If there is a moral to this enjoyable tale, it is that girls are capable, interested in science and don’t need the help of male authority figures to achieve their goals.
A great addition to every little princess’s book collection.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Bigger than yesterday, smaller than tomorrow

Bigger than yesterday, smaller than tomorrow by Robert Vescio, illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dog Books) PB RRP: $24.95 ISBN: 9780994626950

Reviewed by Anne Helen Donnelly

It is the summer holidays and Hannah and Dad, and their dog Hugo, are going camping for the first time. This is an exciting adventure now that Hannah is getting older. Now that Hannah is bigger there are lots more things she could do; like protecting Hugo, helping Dad pitch the tent and climbing a tall tree.

As night approaches, Hannah doesn’t feel so big, though, and misses her Mum. Luckily, Dad is prepared with hot chocolate, bedtime books and everything that Hannah likes. But what really puts her at ease is her Mum’s scarf, wrapped snuggly around her neck, that feels just like a hug from Mum.

This is a story about a child who is discovering her independence, without straying too far from home and the security she is used to. Beautiful fun illustrations and simply told. This book will appeal to younger children ages 4 – 8 years.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock

The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock by Stephen Hart and illustrations by Kathy Creamer (Eagle Books) PB RRP $17.99 ISBN 978-0-994528056

Reviewed by Stacey Gladman

The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock, geared towards young readers aged nine to 12, is a memorable story about a young girl - Megan Evans - who faces a health crisis and almost dies.

Megan is sent to live in a tiny coastal village called Pelican Rock with her aunt Rachel in a bid to recover after her near-death experience. On the long train ride, she encounters a man - Rhys - who not only grew up in Pelican Rock, but knows her aunt.

Upon arriving Megan learns a little about the history of Pelican Rock and becomes enthralled with the island’s pelican inhabitants and the mythical stories surrounding their place at Pelican Rock.

A day trip to visit the ruins of the old lighthouse leads Megan to wanting to discover more about its history and that's where the magic of this book really come into its own. It's not long before Megan finds out just how magical the pelicans are, and Megan finds herself back in time, or is it just a dream?

I really enjoyed the story, it evokes feelings as a reader as you learn more about Megan's home life and her yearning to find a place where she truly feels at home.

The scene that is set throughout the book feels historical and really lends itself well to the storyline. The writing is clean and easy to follow and keeps you guessing about what magic is happening on the little seaside town of Pelican Rock.

The images by Kathy Creamer help add to the storyline and give you a feel for Megan and what is being told.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

See Monkey Review

See Monkey by Sophie Masson, Illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dogs) PB RRP: $24.95 ISBN: 9780994626981

Review by Anne Helen Donnelly

Toddler and Monkey are awake and immediately the fun begins. First Monkey jumps, then he dives but can’t stop in time. Monkey likes to go outside and hop, all over the flowers. Then he plays ball and dances, and more mischief ensues. Monkey’s quiet time results in a creative and colourful mess for Mum to clean up, but his energy is limitless! Monkey then sits, then reads. After bath time Monkey swings before bedtime.

What a day! Follow Toddler and his favourite toy through their busy day and all the fun adventures and mischief they get up to. Parents with toddlers will relate to some of these amusing situations of these energetic adventures and after-fun clean-ups.

See Monkey is a children’s picture book for children of ages 3 – 7 years. The themes are universal, and it is a good read for families with babies and young children. The lively and colourful illustrations will capture the minds of a young audience.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

A Pocketful of Rhymes

A Pocketful of Rhymes by Max Fatchen illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Second Look) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780994528018

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

What a wonderful idea it was of Australian publisher Christmas Press to introduce a second imprint to re-introduce children’s books which were popular in their day and/or which have gone on to become classics. Hence this collection of poems, his 13th book, written by Max Fatchen, first published in 1989 by Omnibus, is now given new life with an introduction by award-winning author/poet Janeen Brian, and illustrations by Kathy Creamer.

Fatchen (1920 – 2012), a children’s writer and journalist who published more than 20 books over his career, including poetry collections, was much-loved and granted numerous awards including the Centenary of Federation Medal. His poems were widely anthologised in Australia and overseas. In her foreword, Brian says her late friend ‘has a poet’s second sight, which helps us to look at life, and particularly nature, with fresh eyes.’ Reading these poems which have quirky – and often humorous – ways of looking at situations, one has to agree with Brian that they ‘bounce with joy and fun and questionings’ and are ‘a testimony to the man himself.’

‘Sing a song of poetry/A pocketful of rhymes’ are the first lines that lead into this easy-to-read and delightful collection of poems, each one of which offer ‘a slice of verse!’ Many of the poems, though not all of them, use rhymes, but all have rhythms that engage one so that the lines often cause one to recite them aloud. Topics are child-centric from ‘Welcome Aboard’ (‘A truckload of  cattle?/Why no, the school bus!), to ‘Camp Crazy’ (two words on each line), to ‘Say Cheese’ (where a group of children are being photographed – and of course, ‘you…you little wretch…/YOU MOVED!)

Raised in Adelaide Plains of South Australia, Fatchen often writes about animals and country with poems such as ‘Late Gossip’ (‘Small, lively birds with feathered zest/…chatter in a final flight…), “Magpie Mayday’ (‘With terrifying swooping/Aerobatic magpies come,/Swiftly looping-the-loop’ and ‘Does this Sound Fishy?, about a gigantic cod caught on the Murrumbidgee. There are also lots of short, pithy and witty poems in this collection about aliens landing in a school yard, a boy with dirty fingers, a girl playing her school recorder and sports day. And much more.

Printed on good quality (will never go brown) white paper, the pages are frequently illustrated by Creamer with engaging black and white line and wash pictures that are sure to appeal to young readers. There’s an illustration, for instance, of a droning teacher, a Frankenstein-like brother in bed and the back view of a naked girl (accompanying the poem ‘Just Look at your Clothes!)

Here’s the last stanza of this poem:
          ‘Do stop all the flurry
          A silly old worry.
Our clothes we will always get torn in.
          So let’s all go nude
          And be terribly rude,
Just wearing the skin we were born in.’

Thank you Second Look for reminding oldies what a wonderful writer Max Fatchen was, and for introducing a new generation of readers to his work. This book is highly recommended for children aged 7 to 10 years; in fact, it’s ideal for anyone who loves polished and entertaining verse.