Resplendent Perceptions, by Renee Buckingham

The beauty of Heron Island – one of the many islands dotted along Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef – have been captured in this new offering from Melbourne-based photgrapher Renee Buckingham.

Titled Resplendent Perceptions, this is a small format, full-colour offering from a talented photographer. The photos recreate different aspects of the beautiful island, with shots taken at different times of day and using a range of different photographic techniques, including the use of coloured gels which provide alternate perspectives on scenes which have been photographed multiple times.

This would make a great souvenir for those who have visited the island and also a nice gift for overseas or interstate friends who have not had the opportunity to visit the reef.

Purchasing details are avaialable on the photographer’s website Rab Photgraphics.

Resplendent Perceptions – Heron Island, by Renee Buckingham
Rab Photographics, 2004

Whose nose? feet? ears? by Jeanette Rowe

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Jeannette Rowe’s books are vibrant and child friendly, full of big, naïve, and visually appealing pictures with characters like YoYo that young children love instantly. Her lift-the-flap Whose series is very basic and ideal for the youngest children in your family (from about 6 months or so), and parents can really help develop early cognative skills plus a love of books by haming it up and asking the question, “Whose nose?” and then answering “Pig’s nose.” Children really enjoy looking at pictures of animals and as soon as they are old enough to speak, they will begin identifying the owners of noses, feet and ears themselves.

The Whose series was originally created as small individual books, sold in sets of three, but this new compilation has all three books in one large, glossy hardback, perfect for gift giving. Children will love Rowe’s big gold pig with purple dots, her vivid cobalt blue elephant outlined in green and black, her white and pink mouse, the turquoise rhino, and other adorable and unique creatures. This new book is sturdier than the little ones, and as the flaps are a simple fold back, will withstand use from small, chubby fingers just coming to grips with their fine motor skills.

Rowe’s books have now become classics for the youngest children in the house, and this new compilation is very likely to be a favourite. Older children, especially new readers around 4-5 will enjoy reading this to younger siblings, and both will benefit from the confidence building that comes with being able to get the questions right and successfully participate. The books focus on two things that young children know and understand well – body parts and animals, and all three “stories” end with a reference to the child – “my feet,” which parents can make much of by tickling, pointing at the child, and generally having fun. This is a lovely, gorgeously presented book which has been designed to take the kind of heavy use that it will certainly get in any home with young children. A beautiful Christmas present. For more information visit:

Whose nose? feet? ears? by Jeanette Rowe ABC Books ISBN 0-7333-1423-6, hardback, 2004

This book first appeared at Preschool Entertainment. It is reprinted here with permission.

Buzztown Books

New publisher Ibis Publishing is focussing on producing series in its children’s imprint. The latest offering is three new titles in the Buzztown series, written by various authors and illustrated by Russell Tate.

Aron Artist’s Exhibition, by Sally Odgers and Fin Firefighter to the Rescue by Adrienne Frater are both small format full colour offerings whilst Buzztown Activity Book is a colouring book with activities relating to the series.

The series has a very retro feel, with each story telling the tale of one of Buzztown’s residents and their adventures in their chosen career. Previous titles have featured a cleaner, a waiter, a detective and a hairdresser. As well as the new activity book, each book includes suggestions for parents, and there are also activities on the Ibis website.

A fun series.

Fin Firefighter to the Rescue, by Adrienne Frater, illustrated by Russell Tate
Aron Artist’s Exhibition, by Sally Odgers, illustrated by Russell Tate
Buzztown Activity Book, by Kerrie Shanahan
Ibis Publishing, 2004

Henrietta, by Martine Murray

I am Heniretta P. Hoppenbeek the First, future Queen of the Wide Wide Long Cool Coast of the Lost Socks, and the only person in the even Wider World to have visited the Island of the Rietta.
Don’t forget that, because when I do become Queen, you may just want to ask me for a sunny part of the kingdom to lie about in with your dog. You never know.

This captivating little offering is filled with whimsy and imagination. Henrietta shares her views on life in a delightful monologue that is very much stream of conciousness – jumping from topic to topic as it meanders through Henrietta’s world.

The format of the book is a perfect complement to its content – published as a small hardback with a lovely pink spine and marker ribbon. Murray’s childish illustrations, in pinks and browns, and the use of various font sizes and styles, all add to the story.

In spite of its whimsy, the story does touch on some serious parts of a child’s life – loss of a pet, sibling rivalry, firendship and more – giving Hernietta’s special insight into each.

Fans of Clarice Bean will find Henrietta just as appealing.

Henrietta, by Martine Murray
Allen & Unwin, 2004

The Doctors' Book of Australian Home Remedies

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

My family doctor must have been overjoyed the day I decided to have children. I almost never went to the doctor in the days before children (B.C.) but with each child (I have three), the number of visits increased logorhythmically. It wasn’t because I was neurotic, or that I enjoyed spending half the morning sitting in a germ ridden waiting room, it was just that children tend to get sick a lot, and you just can’t take the chance that that little cough or inexplicable rash is something serious. At times though it can seem like you spend more time in It really helps if you have a good home guide, not only to help you determine what is, and what isn’t serious, but also to help deal with some of those minor, but chronic conditions that need ongoing management, like acne, athlete’s foot, bed-wetting, or teething.

The Doctor’s Book of Australian Home Remedies is a good overall family guide which isn’t just for children. There are over 140 different health problems covered in this comprehensive guide, and every section contains information in the form of a sidebar about when to consult a doctor. This is just what the um, doctor ordered, and can save a lot of emotional and physical stress as you try and determine whether your child’s earache requires antibiotics, or just a few days of rest. Each section also contains information on how to manage the condition – ease pain, prevent worsening, treat with gentle herbal or other home remedies, simple kitchen remedy, or best of all, prevent it in the first place (or at least next time). The contents are arranged in a neat alphabetical order which will allow for easy reference to the condition which ails you or your children, and the authors provide some really useful and well written advice on how to cope with problems as diverse as anxiety, breast pain, conjunctivitis, gingavitis, hiccups, infant colic, teething, wrinkles, or nappy rash:

Nothing is more pathetic than a baby with a bad case of nappy rash, says clinical herbalist Douglas Schar. Babies express their misery through tears and it’s enough to make a grown-up cry too. But herbal medicine can come to the rescue. A strong brew of calendula tea, regularly applied, with quickly clear up the condition. Add two tablespoons of dried calendula flowers to 500 ml of water and simmer in a covered pan for 20 minutes. Strain the brew, use it to wash baby’s bottom every time you change the nappy, and the inflammation will quickly subside, says Schar. (417)

The authors have clearly spent some time in the company of children and parents, as each chapter has been carefully designed to be read by groggy and desperate parents, with a clear point by point format (eg “10 easy solutions,” “25 ways to end the aching,” “17 skin-soothing remedies,” etc), and, in some cases, a suggestion for the one most important thing you can do. The scope is broad, but this is the kind of whole family guide which will be used and re-used, saving you stress, potentially significant amounts of money in doctor’s bills and expensive medications, and when necessary, guiding you to the doctor when nothing else will do. This is a responsible, thoughtful, and quite fun to read guide full of home remedies, many of which come straight from the kitchen fridge, like tomatoes and cucumbers for sunburn, frozen grapes for teething, aloe vera for cuts and grazes (we use it on spots to very good effect). This is a book which belongs on every parent’s bookshelf. You may find yourself reading through it just for the serendipity of discovering a new cure for an old ailment.

The Doctors’ Book of Australian Home Remedies
Medical Consultant: Dr Linda Calabresi
Natural Therapies Expert: Pamela Allardice
Pharmacist: Michael Cross
Rodale (Prevention)
Paperback, ISBN 1405077360, $35.00aud, November 2004

This review first appeared at Preschool Entertainment. It reappears here with permission.

Little Lucie's Diary, by Louise Pfanner

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Little Lucie decides to keep a diary so that she’ll remember all the interesting things that happen. And interesting things do happen. She makes up a new song, shares apple pancakes with her best friend Pip, makes a book, goes for a nature walk, makes Pip a very useful felt hat, makes three cakes, has a garden party, reads three books, makes a spider’s web to play in, makes, and floats boats, goes to the beach, walks on stilts, and counts the stars. Lucie and Pip are mice, redolent of Pfanner’s lovely version of The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse, and this charming story will stimulate children in a number of ways. It is a story of friendship first and foremost, and Lucie and Pip’s support and care for one another is touching. It is also a story of resourcefulness, and the many activities using readily available materials will have children making their own felt hats (the book ends with a guide to making a felt hat for a mouse), building boats, making up songs, climbing web ropes, writing stories with their friends, and starting their own diaries.

Pfanner seems to have a wonderful sense of whimsy, and her stories and illustrations are full of lovely little details which children will enjoy pointing out in longer reading sessions. For shorter sessions, the text is fairly simple, and easy to read, and younger children can easily describe what the mice are doing. The colours are bright with delightful mid shades like watermelon pink, periwinkle blue, pale mint green, and soft golds. The mice are adorable, and the the whole story has a very pretty feel which will particularly appeal to young girls, though my 2 sons also loved it and tried to make their own mouse hats. The diary entries are written in script, which gives older readers the sense of really reading someone’s diary, and the illustrations and description is fleshed out by dialogue between the two mice. Existing fans of Pfanner’s extensive body of work will recognise her unique style which always seems to incorporate a bit of craft, unique and beautiful items, and lots of warmth and caring. For those who haven’t read books like The City Mouse and The Country Mouse, Louise Builds a Boat, or The ABC Book of Gifts for Kids to Make, this is an excellent introduction, which will appeal to a very wide range of ages, from the very young, who will love the pictures, the gentle story and the cute characters, to older children who will enjoy the slightly longer story, the crafts/activities, and the subtle themes. The attractive presentation also make this a lovely gift, ideally for a 3-6 year old girl.

Little Lucie’s Diary by Louise Pfanner
Little Hare
October 2004, hardcover, iSBN 1877003689, RRP $aud19.95

This review first appeared at Preschool Entertainment. It reappears here with permission.

Boredom Busters 1 and 2, by Merle Bennett

With the Summer holidays just about upon us, many parents will be interested in these two offerings from Ibis Publishing, one of Australia’s newer publishers. Each book offers a hundred pages of puzzles, quizzes and games for children aged eight and over – a great way to fend off cries of “I’m bored” on car trips, or on days at home.

From wordsleuths and crosswords, to math and observation activities, as well as group games and games for the car, there is a good range of different activities in each book, and back of book answers are provided where relevant.

The cover of each book is glossy and slightly sturdier than many magazine-style puzzle books, making these books an attractive gift for Christmas or another occasion.

Boredom Busters 1 and 2, by Merle Bennett
Ibis for Kids, 2004