Emily and the BIG BAD Bunyip, by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

The award winning and highly successful team of Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have a new picture book, sure to delight children and the parents and teachers who read to them.

What do you do with a bunyip who doesn’t like Christmas? You try and make him smile, of course, and find something to like about the Festive Season. The text is simple and undeniably Australian. It bounces along as easily as the kangaroos in Shaggy Gully do. I loved the illustrations, particularly the prickly echidnas and the peckish emus.

There’s just enough repetition to please children and readers as well with the koalas ‘eating gum leaves – because that’s what koalas do best.’ And you’ll fall in love with the possums and bats ‘hanging about.’

Several aspects, particularly the Shaggy Gully chorus pages, were reminiscent to me of Pamela Allen’s Bertie and the Bear, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Children will love adults who can read these pages with expression.

The text and illustration that introduces us to the bunyip is a delight. What to do with a bunyip who doesn’t like Christmas or Christmas presents raises a problem. The solution is clever and unexpected. Children will love it! If you buy one picture book this Christmas make it this one. Or buy it not for Christmas but for no other reason than it’s a great fun book. Destined to be a classic.

Emily and the Big Bad Bunyip

Emily and the BIG BAD Bunyip, Written by Jackie French, Illustrated by Bruce Whatley
Angus&Roberston An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008 $24.95

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Sucked In, by John Parker

I took the eye out of my pocket and stared at it.
It wasn’t made out of glass, like a normal doll’s eye. But it wasn’t plastic either. And it wasn’t rubber.
I sniffed it. My hooter came up with the smell you get when you sit in the front seat of a brand-new car. But there was something else, too – something down, like the smell of rotten grass.
Whatever it was made of, I didn’t like the way the eye gazed at me.

When Dan finds out that his friend Zainey has sold his much-prized mountain bike to buy an eye, Dan thinks Zainey is crazy. After all, two hundred and twenty dollars for a fake eye HAS to be a rip off. But when the eye arrives in the mail, Dan soon realises it is no joke. There is something about the eye that unnerves him, and when the eye tries to attach itself to Dan, he realises that the eye is no joke. This eye is after blood.

Sucked In is a funny, slightly spooky tale of an out of control eye and a boy who will do whatever it takes to feel he belongs. Zainey is a short boy who suffers from low self-esteem, and is thus willing to try anything to feel a part of things – even if he has to resort to adding an extra eye so he can see what’s going on around him. Whilst the story is humorous, its messages about friendship and self-belief are important ones.

Part of Walker Books’ new Lightning Strikes series, Sucked In is attractively packaged and the shorter length and accessible text size and presentation will make it appealing to readers of all abilities.

Sucked In, by John Parker
Walker Books, 2008