Showing posts with label Little Hare Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Little Hare Books. Show all posts

Monday, 1 October 2018

Waiting for Chicken Smith


Waiting for Chicken Smith by David Mackintosh (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN9781760501761

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This story is set on a beach where a child stays in the same cabin every year with his family. Every year, the child’s friend Chicken Smith stays on the beach, too, with his dad and his dog, Jelly. But this year Chicken hasn’t arrived, and this is a worry because there’s lots of usual things to do with him – ride bikes, share milkshakes, walk to the lighthouse with sandwiches and hunt for whales through Chicken’s binoculars.

There’s so much that the narrator and Chicken have shared in the past. But now Chicken’s cabin looks different – the windows are shut; the grass is long, and Chicken’s bike is missing. The boy’s sister urges him to go to the cliff-top with her while he’s waiting, and there, for the first time, the boy sees a whale. Without his holiday friend, the boy and his sister, Mary Ann (named on the last page) get to spend time together, possibly for the first time while on holidays.

The illustrations in this book by Australian author and illustrator, David Mackintosh, are dramatic and wonderful, from pencil drawings to silhouetted shapes (such as a bicycle frame and a lighthouse on a cliff with a red wash and golden moon). Every page rewards the reader with astonishing pictures that immerse one and make one want to be creative, too.

This is a stunning book which evokes so much of the temporary and often intense friendships children make in their lives. It is not usual to have a story about the end of such a holiday friendship, but the author/illustrator celebrates it and shows the reader that sometimes, though friendships end, there are always happy memories. And new experiences to be had. This book is highly recommended for readers 5 to 8 years.



Thursday, 22 June 2017

Clare’s Goodbye

Clare’s Goodbye written by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Anna Pignataro (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $24.99  ISBN 9781760127527

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

Clare and her siblings Rosie and Jacob are about to move house. Rosie and Jacob insist on saying goodbye to everything, from their tree-house to the place their pet bunny is buried, but Clare refuses to participate. Clare’s sadness is apparent in her silence, as well as through Pignataro’s touching, charcoal illustrations, like the image of Clare with her back turned as the removalists cart their furniture away.

It’s hard not to feel for her – the youngest child, and the least likely to process a big change. The stark emptiness of the rooms highlights the finality of the move, and allows Clare to bid farewell in her own, special way. The illustrations convey a childlike innocence and evoke much emotion, with a moody grey palette tinged with colour reflecting the poignancy of the story.

This is a touching tale about the difficulties faced in saying goodbye and moving on, and the importance of allowing little ones the space and time to cope with change.


Monday, 16 January 2017

Making Up

Making Up by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9781760128999

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

Making Up is a short board book consisting of a tale extracted from Ormerod and Blackwood’s picture book Maudie & Bear.

Feisty Maudie takes offence when Bear laughs at her dancing. Bear explains he is laughing with her rather than at her; however, Maudie is quite a strong-willed little character and doesn’t accept this. Bear is gentle yet persistent in attempting to coax Maudie out of her bedroom and make amends, until he finally comes up with an idea to bring them back together.

The contrast between petulant Maudie and patient Bear captures the irrational moments of the toddler and preschool years. It also suggests the endless love of a parent or carer, even in the face of difficult behaviour. Maudie is a flawed and very real character, who reflects the emotional highs and lows experienced by the two to five year old set, the book’s target market. Blackwood’s gentle illustrations capture the moods evoked in the story beautifully.

Other books in the series include The Bike Ride, with further titles to come in 2017.


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Blue Sky, Yellow Kite

Blue Sky, Yellow Kite written by Janet A. Holmes, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9781760124229

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

Daisy spots a yellow kite dancing in the sky. She ventures over a hill to discover it belongs to a boy called William. The two meet, and William teaches Daisy how to fly his kite. Daisy runs and runs with it, and ‘She does not look back once’.

This beautifully illustrated picture book contains an intriguing premise of taking something that’s not yours, and the emotional fallout. The reader is taken on a journey from the depths of Daisy’s despair to joy in the final scene. Friendship, forgiveness and owning up to your mistakes are all cleverly conveyed. Scenes portraying Daisy’s guilty feelings are suitably darker in colour, and then brighten as she attempts to convey her remorse to William.

The story has quite a unique feel – taking something that’s not yours (whether accidental or not) is a childhood experience I’ve not often seen touched upon in picture books.


As a bonus, Blue Sky, Yellow Kite contains a colour print of one of Bentley’s beautiful scenes of Daisy and the kite, wild in the wind.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Molly & Mae

Molly & Mae by Danny Parker, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9781742975276

Reviewed by Joanne Wishart

This gentle picture book tells the story of two lively girls, Molly and Mae, who are about to embark on a train trip with family. They have a long day of travel ahead, and the girls busily find games to play, first throughout the station and then the cabin, occasionally managing to get into trouble. The girls’ journey is paralleled in the illustrations by familiar elements of travel, such as timetables and signage along the way. We share the girls’ mercurial imaginings and see their close friendship. When they have a minor falling-out, the station signs are used to add layers of meaning to scenes.

Blackwood’s illustrations – a mix of oil paint and printing on watercolour paper – have a raw yet delicate quality. Her recognisable sketch lines and subtle details provide plenty to delight the eye. The use of sepia tones and hazy visions of countryside from the train window evoke a sense of nostalgia or a tale told from memory, while the sometimes-bumpy journey of Molly and Mae’s friendship is contrasted by the straightforwardness of a journey by rail. The use of signs and symbols, scenes from the journey, and the simple but central storyline, enables a multilayered reading experience.

The girls must learn to solve their own problems as the day goes on. The illustrations give a sense of increasing richness and complexity as the journey progresses, also suggesting change and growth. The promise of new experiences is evoked by the final pages and endpapers, which, in contrast to the journey’s start, show their arrival in the atmospheric city station and the vision of a dramatic skyline. Molly & Mae could be a good book for children to enjoy in anticipation of a trip, or just to prompt dreams about possibilities. 

Budding trainspotters will enjoy the trains and railway paraphernalia. The story’s message about friendship – its ups and downs, but ultimate benefits – should also resonate for readers of all ages.



Saturday, 13 August 2016

Sydney Word by Word

Sydney Word by Word written and illustrated by Sonny & Biddy (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $29.99
ISBN 9781760125523

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

In Sydney Word by Word, design duo, Sonny & Biddy, reflect the sights and sounds of Sydney in vibrant colour.

Each page features one, simple word, with a full page illustration providing greater nuance. For example, ‘Fashion’ features a figure resembling queen of colour, designer Jenny Kee, while ‘Splash’ accompanies a pool meets sea, presumably Bondi’s Icebergs.

The book features the best of Sydney’s iconic sites, from the Opera House and Harbour Bridge to Taronga Zoo and Cockatoo Island, interspersed with everyday scenes. Annual events, like Sydney’s Sculptures by the Sea and the bright lights of Vivid are also pictured.

You may recognise the Town Hall steps, the QVB, the smoke stacks in St Peters’ Sydney Park, and Newtown’s ‘I Have a Dream’ mural. The scenes are mostly city and beach-oriented, with a nod to Sydney’s multiculturalism through imagery of pho-slurping and Chinese dragon-dancing. Escalators, buskers, snacks and terrace houses provide snapshots of urban life.

Overall, Sydney Word by Word captures the energy, colour, beach vibes and must-sees of Sydney, and can be used as a ‘first word’ type book for toddlers through to all-ages gift book. A Melbourne title illustrated by Michael McMahon is also available.


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Colours of Australia

Colours of Australia written and illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9781742976914

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

Colours of Australia is another visual, lyrical delight from talented artist and author/illustrator Bronwyn Bancroft. Each spread of this beautiful, hardcover picture book is a colourful ode to the land, from the green of the filigree ferns to the inky, indigo night sky.

Evocative, poetic language describes the colours, shapes, light and movement of Australia’s trees, streams, mountains and ancient rock formations. The story is structured from sunrise through to night, ending with a spectacular full moon and dark shadows on a patchwork-like body of water.

From burnt orange rocks to the violet sky, Australia’s rich and varied landscapes are represented in vibrant colour. Similar to Bancroft’s recently released Why I love Australia, this is a keepsake of a book, a visual feast to be treasured.


Monday, 1 August 2016

Crusts

Crusts by Danny Parker and Matt Ottley (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $24.99   ISBN 9781742979830

Reviewed by J Wishart

This dynamic picture book is dedicated to all those children who don’t eat their crusts. Sure to resonate with many, its main protagonist, Jacob, is not a crust-eater. His story is delivered via an engaging parallel narrative that also follows three tiny aliens from a distant planet.

The aliens need help as their small planet is crumbling. They have travelled to earth to find the right material to build it up again. When they discover Jacob’s massive stash of discarded crusts they think their problems are solved – until it comes to getting them home. The aliens try to communicate with Jacob through his drawings in the hope he will help. Jacob does start building things with his crusts, but the aliens are disappointed when he seems to be only beginning to explore his crust-fuelled creativity.

The arrangement of Ottley’s lively drawings has the look and feel of a graphic novel or comic. The use of box frames with images from various perspectives – sometimes placed over the main illustration – convey a sense of activity and the passage of time. The alien’s conversations are presented like speech bubbles, while Jacob’s narrative is presented in a conventional story format. This places the reader ‘on side’ with the aliens – observing Jacob – and increases the suspense as they wait to see what he will do next.

Crusts touches on themes such as imagination, resourcefulness, determination and vision. Even the endpapers hint at adventure that lies beyond, with their glimpse of blue sky through a small window. There is humour in the form of visual gags to entertain the observant, and the combination of dialogue, visuals and narrative aid comprehension. 

Readers should enjoy the parallel stories and relate to the scenes of backyard play, invention and the ever-present childhood dilemma over what to do with those unwanted crusts.



Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Swap

The Swap written by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9781760128760

Reviewed by Liz Ledden

Winner of the CBCA Book of the Year in the Early Childhood category (2014), The Swap has been released in board book format.

Little Caroline Crocodile is jealous of her baby brother and the attention he receives. The more Mama Crocodile gushes over him, the more jealous Caroline becomes. The illustrations build on the text, with Andrew Joyner’s depictions of Caroline cleverly conveying her emotions. When Mama Crocodile heads into the Hat Shop to swap a hat that’s not quite right, Caroline gets an idea. She takes her brother to the Baby Shop, and attempts to swap him for some other animal babies. However, their cute features belie an array of difficult traits, leading Caroline to take another look at her baby brother.

The Swap examines sibling jealousy in a really fun way, with highly engaging characters, and a big dose of humour and mayhem as Caroline interacts with all the potential replacements for her brother. A heart-warming, satisfying conclusion rounds the story off perfectly.

The Swap would make a wonderful gift for a toddler or pre-schooler grappling with the arrival of a sibling. This new format’s sturdy, square-shaped pages are perfect for little hands, allowing the longevity this timeless tale deserves.


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Ricker Racker Club

The Ricker Racker Club by Patrick Guest and Nathaniel Eckstrom (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $ ISBN 9781760122928

Reviewed by J Wishart

This enjoyable picture book tells the story of brothers, Max and Ollie, and their secret club. The club’s rules allow girls under certain restrictions, and decree members must do ‘something incredibly brave or kind at least once a week.’ Thus each week, the boys busily do their ‘daring things’, while Poppy, the sole female member, takes care of the ‘kind things’ like sharing her ice-cream and cleaning the boys’  rooms for them.

Using acrylic, pencil and digital media, Eckstrom has captured the energy of play, but also evokes the exaggerated viewpoint of the child. The text adds to this with place names that tell how the boys see the world, such as the ‘tunnel of doom’ and ‘banana-peel bridge.’ Along with the scary ‘wolf’ that lives in the neighbour’s backyard, there are plenty of challenges to test their bravery.

The story is well-paced and ideal for reading aloud, and has plenty of visual cues for early readers to follow. The cover image is eye-catching, depicting the children on a night-time quest with the ‘wolf’ watching from a distance; while the illustrated text features places and activities that children will recognise and easily relate to.

The narrative follows a familiar fairy-tale format, with a repetition and escalation of events that ultimately leads to a shift of power. When it happens, the change is welcome and carries a positive message about equality and judging others. 

The story of The Ricker Racker Club encourages the reader to think differently about what kind of behaviour truly takes the most strength of character; while also being fun and visually engaging.


Saturday, 30 January 2016

Together Always

Together Always by Edwina Wyatt, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo (Little Hare Books)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781742979632

Reviewed by J Wishart

This gentle picture book written by Edwina Wyatt, and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo, tells the story of Pig and Goat who live together in an orchard. The two animals enjoy long, lazy days in each other’s company. They provide each other with support, and vow that they’ll stay together always. The day eventually comes, however, when Goat feels the need to leave and the two animals have to face the prospect of living apart.

Using simple but lively illustrations with soothing, muted colours, Masciullo evokes a stylised natural world, moving the reader from day to night and through fields and woodlands with the characters. Pig and Goat are shown happily together, then in their respective environments. It is there that they learn to cope on their own – tapping into skills each taught the other, as well as their fond memories for comfort.


The hardcover book is attractively designed with a mix of double-spread and vignette images, and colour-washed endpapers. With its simple language and a reassuring repetition throughout, Together Always would make a pleasant bedtime story for younger children. Although it touches on more challenging ideas of individuality and diversity in needs and interests, it is thoroughly infused with the comforting notion that wherever they are, good friends can always be together in each other’s thoughts. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast retold by Margrete Lamond (story by Jeanne-Marie Leprince De Beaumont), illustrated by Anna Pignataro (Little Hare Books)
HB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9781921894886

Reviewed by J. Wishart

From the ‘Once upon a timeless tale’ series published by Little Hare books, Beauty and the Beast offers a timeless tale of love, integrity and duty. Retold by Margrete Lamond (from the original story by Jeanne-Marie Leprince De Beaumont), with full page illustrations by Anna Pignataro, Beauty and the Beast is attractively hardbound, and would make a good stocking-filler or gift book for readers who might like to collect the series.

Pignataro’s illustrations are a striking combination of watercolour and collage, with still-visible sketch-lines that give them movement and immediacy. The muted colours mixed with snippets of vintage fabric also highlight the artwork’s handmade quality; and effectively complement the story of a once-wealthy merchant’s daughter, who is condemned to live out her life with an unappealing suitor.

The personal qualities of the cast are well contrasted by Beauty’s two aspiring, and later, bitter and jealous, sisters, while Beauty is characterised by her consistent humbleness and loyalty to her father. She willingly sacrifices herself to live with the Beast, and, in time, comes to fear him less. As with many beloved fairy tales, things are not what they appear to be – but Beauty is ultimately rewarded for her honesty and open-heartedness.

This telling of the well-known tale is refreshed with light humour, and condensed to the length of a middle-grade reader – also making it an ideal book for busy grownups to enjoy over a cup of tea. With illustrations that evoke the mystery and opulence of the Beast’s mansion and the drama of the dilemmas faced by the characters, this charming version of the classic tale will be sure to please.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Where are Santa's Pants?

Where are Santa's Pants? by Richard Merrit (Little Hare)
ISBN 978-1-921541-50-6
PB $9.95 RRP
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Where are Santa's Pants? is basically Where's Wally? with a Christmas theme. The introduction explains the predicament : Santa has lost weight (he's been dieting) and now his pants keep falling off. The reader's job is to find Santa's pants on each page —he's got a few pairs in different colours. Also there to find, are the reindeer and a lucky sixpence, if you're extremely observant.

There's a reason this book is recommended for kids five and over — these things are not easy to find! The illustrations are packed with colour and detail so it will keep the children quiet for some time as they search for the various objects. Each page has a theme which has something to do with Christmas, starting with the North Pole, the beach, the ice rink and the department store, to name a few. The last page is a vibrant looking apartment block, where different people are celebrating the festive season in their own unique ways.

There's quirky humour such as a giraffe in a taxi, a mermaid watching a Christmas concert and two snow people getting married. There's someone who looks like Wally on one page as well. Kids can have a lot of fun while getting into the Christmas spirit. For those who get stumped, or even those who want to cheat, the answers are on the last few pages. Small versions of the previous pictures are dotted with circles showing the location of the pants and reindeer.

This is a reprint of Where are Santa's Pants? which was originally put out in 2010 and reprinted in 2011. Available now as well is a follow up book called Where is Santa's Suit?  also illustrated by Richard Merrit.

 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Puppy Playtime 1,2,3

Puppy Playtime 1,2,3 by Celeste Walters and Adele Jaunn (Little Hare Books)
ISBN 978-1-742977-16-4
PB RRP $14.95 
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

On the surface, this picture book by author Celeste Walters and illustrator Adele Jaunn simply rhymes its way up to ten and back, accompanied by cute illustrations of puppies playing. However, that isn't all there is, not by a long way. There's also an element of mystery, education about different dog breeds and a huge variety of verbs. Then (although this reader wasn't observant enough to notice it on the first read through) there's also a 'spot the bone' activity. This is a book with a lot of things to keep young children busy!

Billy the Bitzer has hidden his bone and is worried the other puppies are going to find it. First one puppy comes racing and chasing, then two romping and stomping, up to ten, when Billy the Bitzer is feeling unhappy and snappy. No wonder. So he decides to get rid of the puppies, one by one. First he starts grunting and growling, then hooting and howling, until there's one little puppy, sneaking and peeking … who finds the bone. And it's been in view the whole time.

The different breeds of puppy are depicted beautifully by Adele Jaunn, who also illustrated Baby Bilby's Question by Sally Morgan. A poodle, a collie, a samoyed, a great dane and others. All have joyful, inquisitive expressions on their furry faces. Each page is covered with happy little dogs, always on the move, as puppies are. In fact the illustrations convey movement extremely well and this is a real strength of the book.

Celeste Walters has written several books for young adults and children, including A Certain Music. Puppy Playtime 1,2,3 uses repetition with skill and clever rhyming. Lots of fun for adults and kids to enjoy together, this is a book can that can be re-read, with something different to notice each time.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood : Pictures by Anna Pignataro, story by Charles Perrault, Retold by Margrete Lamond (Little Hare)
ISBN 9 781921 894879
HB $12.95 RRP
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Once Upon a Timeless Tale is a series of beautifully presented hardback editions re-telling classic stories including Jack and the Beanstalk, The Ugly Duckling and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Little Red Riding Hood starts with …' in the days when wolves could talk and should have known better …' The familiar story, told with a humorous slant, is accompanied on each page by illustrations, full of colour and character. With a red spine decorated with pictures of delicate dandelion seeds, the book feels nice as well as looking it, inviting the reader inside.

In this series, the illustrators are showcased, with only their name on the front page. Anna Pignataro, Melbourne based illustrator and creator of over fifty children's books, has provided  pictures which deserve this attention. Rosy cheeked Riding Hood skips through colourful pages filled with interesting details that will definitely appeal to young readers and listeners. There's even an illustration of the inside of the wolf's stomach containing poor Grandma and Riding Hood and later on, when the woodcutter has replaced them with stones.

This is the traditional story, with no sugar coating at the end, when it comes to the wolf. Little Red Riding Hood is a bit precocious, but in a good way. The best line in the book comes right at the end.
        "'That should teach you,' said the grandmother,' not to talk to wolves.'
        'That should teach the wolf,' said Red Riding Hood,' not to talk to little girls.'"
        And you can't argue with that logic!

This is a great book to introduce a new generation to a story that will never get old. Recommended for children aged five and above.


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Where are Santa's Pants?

Where are Santa's Pants? by Richard Merrit (Little Hare)
ISBN 978-1-921541-50-6
PB $9.95 RRP
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Where are Santa's Pants? is basically Where's Wally? with a Christmas theme. The introduction explains the predicament: Santa has lost weight (he's been dieting) and now his pants keep falling off. The reader's job is to find Santa's pants on each page —he's got a few pairs in different colours. Also there to find, are the reindeer and a lucky sixpence, if you're extremely observant.

There's a reason this book is recommended for kids five and over — these things are not easy to find! The illustrations are packed with colour and detail so it will keep the children quiet for some time as they search for the various objects. Each page has a theme which has something to do with Christmas, such as the North Pole, the beach, the ice rink and the department store, to name a few. The last page is a vibrant-looking apartment block where different people are celebrating the festive season in their own unique ways.

There's quirky humour such as a giraffe in a taxi, a mermaid watching a Christmas concert and two snow people getting married. There's someone who looks like Wally on one page as well. Kids can have a lot of fun while getting into the Christmas spirit. For those who get stumped, or even those who want to cheat, the answers are on the last few pages. Small versions of the previous pictures are dotted with circles showing the location of the pants and reindeer.

This is a reprint of Where are Santa's Pants? which was originally put out in 2010 and reprinted in 2011. Available now as well is a follow-up book called Where is Santa's Suit?  also illustrated by Richard Merrit.

 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

B is for Bedtime

B is for Bedtime written by Margaret Hamilton, illustrated by Anna Pignataro (Little Hare)
ISBN 978 1 921894 34 3
HB RRP $24.95 
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

B is for Bedtime gently works its way through the alphabet, describing the gradual process that is a child going to sleep. Using the 'A' for awake, the alphabet goes through things a child would notice, like 'F' for fingers, 'M' for moon and 'I' for insect until it reaches the last one: Zzzzzz! Each pair of letters has a rhyme, and this flows particularly well, for example,' L is for Lullaby … dum di-di dum' (rhyming with Mum).

The very cute illustrations show a rosy cheeked child which could be a girl or boy (this could widen the appeal to readers). Pictures have the appearance of home-made collage, with lots of different patterns such as polka dots and stripes in soft colours. The small brown and white spotted dog on almost every page is a great addition, providing humour.

The alphabet is a nice structure to hang a bedtime rhyme on, giving a sense of movement through to the end — that is sleep! Moving towards the letter 'x', never an easy one to rhyme with, I was pleased to read 'X for relaX now I'm facing the wall.' It's nice to be surprised by an unexpected bit of text.

This lovely book could become a favourite for little ones going to bed. Adults will also appreciate the way the rhymes read so well out loud. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Three Wallabies Gruff

The Three Wallabies Gruff by Yvonne Morrison and Heath McKenzie (Little Hare Books)
PB RRP $14.95 
ISBN 978 1 742977 15 7
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

This delightful picture book takes an old tale and cleverly twists it into a story as Aussie as Vegemite. Taking the place of the Billy-goats Gruff are three very astute wallabies; a dad, mum and son. Instead of a troll is a green yowie, beautifully illustrated with red eyes and yellow teeth. It's all set around a sparkling blue pool, shady and cool. None of the other animals can drink the water because the yowie frightens them away. But things change when the Wallabies Gruff turn up.

This is a good book to read aloud, with humorous rhymes to please both the reader and listener. The phrase, 'Who's that going Slip Slap down my private track? I'll gobble you up for my afternoon snack!' is repeated each time an animal tries to cross the bridge. Unfazed by the hideousness of the yowie, the quick-thinking wallaby family take advantage of his greediness and ultimately trick him into losing his beloved pool. The yowie ends up in the back of beyond, where he gets his just deserts 

The illustrations are colourful and full of character. Father wallaby wears a Bonds type singlet top and has a moustache and muscles, while Mother wallaby wears a red, floral dress. The facial expressions, on the animals too scared to drink the water from the pool, look suitably distraught. But the yowie is the best, almost evoking sympathy at the end in a final (textless) twist on the last page. It's good to end a book with a chuckle.

The humour in this book makes it appealing to children of a variety of ages, from preschool to those who can read it for themselves. 



Saturday, 8 June 2013

What's Wrong with the Wobbegong?


What's Wrong with the Wobbegong? by Phillip Gwynne and Gregory Rogers (Little Hare)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781921714962
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

The wobbegong lies on the beach and says nothing. Watching him are a crab, a stingray, a clam, a humpback whale, a sea bird and an octopus who talk and talk about what might be wrong. What makes the wobbegong so quiet and still? Suddenly he gets moving and impresses them all with his swimming skills. The animals chatter that there is nothing wrong with the wobbegong. Finally this is proven without a doubt, without the wobbegong needing to say anything at all.

This is a simple story about the dangers of gossiping or perhaps making incorrect assumptions about others. The text uses repetition and gradually builds up with each character adding its own observation until the moment the wobbegong moves. Following this, the text is reduced by each character, winding down to the final hilarious twist. This is the highlight of the book. 

The illustrations are effective, with deceptively simple line drawings conveying the expression (or in the wobbegong's case, the lack of expression) on each character's face beautifully. Colour is used quite sparingly, mostly for the character's bathers, umbrellas and hats. There are often pages with large patches of white and the sky is shown as orange. Most importantly, the illustrations are funny.

What's Wrong with the Wobbegong? is an Australian picture book suitable for children or parents with a slightly black sense of humour.  

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Yobbos Do Yoga


Yobbos Do Yoga by Phillip Gwynne and Andrew Joyner (Little Hare Books)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781921714832
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

With a catchy title and lively cover illustrations, Yobbos do Yoga immediately draws the reader in. The narrator of the story is a small, dark-haired girl whose neighbours have moved out (with their noisy cat, Sir Reginald the Third). The girl's dad is at peace to do his favourite yoga poses — the fish, the lightning rod and the salute to the sun. Then, with their cars in the front yard and their dogs in the backyard, yobbos move in next door.   
       
The newcomers have a party where there is yobbo music, yobbo dancing and yobbos singing yobbo songs. Dad gets so angry he can't do his yoga any more. But when the little girl goes over the fence to get her ball and actually meets Tubby, Ferret and King Wally Kahuna, they call her Princess and give her cordial. Even their dogs let her pat them. She knows if she can just get her father to talk to these nice people, he might begin to get along with them.
       
This is a humorous story about tolerance and the importance of not judging people by appearances. The very Australian prose, use of repetition and the colourful illustrations work together to allow the readers to come to their own conclusions, way before the dad does. The friendly-looking yobbos have flannelette shirts, ACDC t-shirts and one has a great mullet. The skinny dad with his bald patch and spectacles is a nice contrast.
       
Suitable for children over the age of three (and quite a good read for adults as well) Yobbos Do Yoga ends on a positive note with everyone joining in for a yoga session.
       
Phillip Gwynne's picture books include Ruby Learns to Swim and The Queen with the Wobbly BottomAmong the books illustrated by Andrew Joyner are The Terrible Plop and Too Many Elephants in this House.