Mr Pegg’s Post by Elena Topouzoglou

Anna lived with her mum and dad in a lighthouse by the edge of the sea.
Anna would spend her days indoors reading or outside, in her rowboat, while the sun was shining.
But Anna was lonely.

Every day Mr Pegg, the pelican postman, would drop off letters for her parents. Every day Anna hoped for a letter just for her.
Anna is lonely. The only visitor to the lighthouse is Mr Pegg, bringing mail for her parents. No one every sends her letters. So when a storm blows Mr Pegg off course and he hurts his wing, Anna is more than happy to help out. Together they deliver the mail all along the coast. This can’t last and when Mr Pegg is better, Anna is resigned to returning to her lonely isolation. But when Mr Pegg returns, there is more than one surprise for Anna. Illustrations are watercolour and pencil and depict an island and landscape that look quite Mediterranean.

To some children, Anna’s life looks exotic. She lives in a lighthouse and has her own rowboat. Anna’s life would be perfect if she could just have a friend to share it with. A chance accident provides the opportunity for Anna to help out the postie and to make some friends. ‘Mr Pegg’s Post’ is a story of loneliness, friendship and the power of communication. Recommended for preschool and early schoolers.

Mr Pegg’s Post, Elena Topouzoglou New Frontier Publishing 2018 ISBN:9781925594195
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Lucia and Lawrence by Joanna Francis

Lucia and Lawrence are next-door neighbours.
Lucia has a head full of dreams that reach as high as the sky and as deep as the sea.
Lawrence has a head full of numbers that are useful, predicable and safe.

Lucia and Lawrence live side by side but have very different personalities. Their friendship is coloured by Lucia’s exuberance and Lawrence’s reticence. Yet, mostly they find a middle ground that allows them to play together. Until Lucia’s birthday. Lucia invites Lawrence to join in her celebration, but Lawrence says no. That’s all. No. Lucia parties without him, and it’s only afterwards that she discovers there are different ways to celebrate. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour and show their two worlds becoming one.

Lucia is very outgoing and a little bit wild. Lawrence is pretty much the opposite and feels safest in his room with his numbers. But their friendship happens at the intersection of their personalities, with their imagination. Together, their adventures harness the talents and strengths of each. A gentle story of friendship. Recommended for early schoolers.

Lucia and Lawrence, Joanna Francis New Frontier Publishing 2018 ISBN: 9781925594157
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Jacaranda Magic by Dannika Patterson and Megan Forward

Five friends feeling bored on a hot stick day.
‘What should we do?
What games can we play?’

It’s a summer day and five friends are at a loss. What to play? None of their normal games/activities will do. When a breeze showers them with Jacaranda flowers, their imaginations come alive. The flowers, the branches, the tree itself all contribute in sparking game after game that they devise and share. The Jacaranda tree offers endless opportunity for invention and imagination. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour, loose and summery.

Imagination requires space to grow. Time space, not just physical space. Cued by falling flowers, a group of children begin to imagine new worlds. No props are needed beyond imagination and the tree. A potentially empty summer’s day fills with adventure and discovery as the children explore their physical world. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Jacaranda Magic Dannika Patterson ill Megan Forward Ford St Publishing 2018 ISBN: 9781925804010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Dogasaurus, by Lucinda Gifford

One day, Molly was walking in the forest when a Mysterious Thing rolled out from behind a fern.
And, even though she knew she shouldn’t,
Molly took it home.

Molly lives on a peaceful farm near a Mysterious Forest, which she loves to explore. When she finds a Mysterious Thing, she decides to take it home and, when it hatches and out comes a baby dinosaur, she decides to keep him as a pet, and name him Rex. But Rex grows quickly, and Molly soon realises that having a dinosaur on a farm can be a big problem.

Dogosaurus is a humorous offering, which youngsters will lvoe for its silliness. At the same time, the gentle underlying messages of conversation and ownership are valuable. Rex is a friendly looking, playful dinosaur with goggly eyes and a goofy smile so that even when he wreaks havoc, he is endearing to readers.

Great for young dinosaur fans, or anyone who needs a smile.

Dogosaurus, by Lucinda Gifford
Scholastic Australia, 2018
ISBN 9781743810712

Kookaburras Love to Laugh, by Laura & Philip Bunting

This guy doesn’t like to koo.
And he isn’t keen to kaa.
He’s the most serious
kooka in the borough.

Everybody knows that kookaburras love to laugh – when it’s sunny, when it’s rainy or even just for no reason. But one kooka just doesn’t like laughing. He is serious, and enjoys serious pursuits, which puts him at odds with the other kookaburras. He sets off to find a new flock, but finds it harder than he expects. All flocks, it seems, have their faults.

Kookaburras Love to Laugh is a picture book which will have youngsters (and adults, too) laughing, even when the hero of the story doesn’t. From the creators of the equally funny Koalas Eat Gum Leaves and Mopoke, this new offering has simple, humorous text and digital collage illustrations.

Lots of fun.

Kookaburras Love to Laugh , by Laura & Philip Bunting
Omnibus Books, 2018
ISBN 9781742769660

Time for School, Daddy, by Dave Hackett

‘Wake up, Daddy, it’s time for school.’
‘But I’m tired,’ says Daddy.

It’s morning, and a little girl has to get her faddy ready for school. But first he’s too tired to get up, then he has a rumbly tummy, and next he is missing a sock.  Finally, she gets Daddy ready, with lunch packed and hair combed and ont he bus to school.

Time for School, Daddy  is a funny take on the morning rush of school days, with the role reversal showing the child in control and  determined to keep things on track.  This use of humour helps to normalise the multiple worries and dramas which can be part of the routine, and will allow children and parents to see their own routines from a different angle.  Colourful, child-like,  cartoon-style illustration on white backgrounds also offer a lovleyw at for young readers to connect.

Time for School, Daddy, by Dave Hackett
UQP, 2018
ISBN 9780702260049

The Little Stowaway, by Vicki Bennett & Tull Suwannakit

Tim takes me back to my home in Lille.
We try to find my uncles and aunts but they are all gone.
Tim says he will be my family.

When Honore walks into a camp on a military airfield, he is cold and hungry. he has been drawn into the camp by the smell of a Christmas turkey. Allowed to stay, because he has no home, soon Honore, an orphan, becomes known as Henry or Young Digger, and makes himself useful around the camp. The airmen all treat him well, but one, named Tim, takes special care of him, treating him like a son. When Henri’s family can’t be located, Tim promises to look after him. So, when the time comes for Tim to return to his home in Australia, he has to find a way to smuggle Henri on board the ship.

The Little Stowaway tells the true story of a young orphan who was befriended by Australian airmen near the end of World War 1 and who w s subsequently brought to live in Australia with his carer, Tim Tovell, and his family. The story has been simplified to key events for the picture book format and uses historical photographs alongside beautiful sepia and grey-scale illustrations.

Primary aged readers will be fascinated by this intriguing piece of Australian and French history.

The Little Stowaway, by Vicki Bennett & Tull Suwannakit
Scholastic, 2018
ISBN 9781742993072

Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler

There was a hum of excitement.
Flags flickered in the breeze as Maggie’s heart danced with delight.
‘This is a very special day!’ her mother said.

Maggie and her mum are waiting with thousands of others for an official apology from the Australian government about the Stolen Generations. Interspersed spreads tell the story of taken away from their parents because of policies made by the Australian government of the time. When Maggie is separated from her mother in the crowd, the stories coalesce. The loss of a child for even a few seconds is traumatic for both parent and child. How much worse then to see your child put in a truck and driven away. Finally, the Prime Minister of the day offers an apology to all those families disrupted and damaged by being separated from each other. The contemporary story is depicted in colour, the historical one mostly in sepia tones, like old photos. Final spreads include an explanation of the policy that led to the Stolen Generations. There are also photos of the event that promised to begin to repair the hurt.

National Sorry Day was first held on 26 May 1998 but the event featured here is 13 February when for the first time, an Australian Prime Minister apologised directly to the people of the Stolen Generations. The final spreads also offer a timeline. The depiction of a contemporary child being temporarily lost will be easily comprehensible to most young readers, and will allow them to empathise with the many children taken from their families. ‘Sorry Day’ offers the opportunity to begin discussion in the classroom and the home about belonging and loss. Recommended for primary schoolers.

Sorry Day, Coral Vass ill Dub Leffler NLA Publishing 2018 ISBN: 9780642279033

Scaredy Cat by Heather Gallagher and Anil Tortop

Have you seen my Scaredy Cat?
He’s afraid of this and afraid of that!
Afraid of bees and …
towering trees and …
Granny’s super-duper sneeze.

A small girl has lost her Scaredy Cat. Scaredy Cat is frightened of just about everything from bee to burglar. The narrator tells the reader all the things Scaredy Cat is scared of, then reassures all that she’s brave enough for both of them. Told in rhyme, the story builds to a ‘twist in the tale’ conclusion. Illustrations show only Scaredy Cat’s tail in each scenario. Cover art of this square format hardback also shows the searching girl and Scaredy Cat’s tail.

Scaredy Cat’ details all the things Scaredy Cat fears – mostly domestic situations that many small readers will encounter. In the way of small children, the bravery of the viewpoint character grows in proportion to the situations that her Scaredy Cat is spooked by, until she is vanquishing robbers like a champion! Young children will enjoy the rhyme and repetition as they turn the pages and try to find Scaredy Cat. Recommended for pre-schoolers.

Scaredy Cat, Heather Gallagher ill Anil Tortop New Frontier Publishing 2018 ISBN: 9781925594171
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

The Hole Story, by Kelly Canby

One day, Charlie found a hole.
He couldn’t believe his eyes.
A hole of his very own!
Charlie bent down, picked up the hole and popped it into his pocket.

When Charlie fins a hole, he is very excited, but he quickly discoevrs that having a hole in his pocket is a problem – and a hole in his backpack is even worse. So he sets out to find someone who needs a hole. For some people – – including the boat builder and the seamstress – a hole is very unwelcome, while others – including the donut seller – already have enough holes. Finally, after a very frustrating day, Charlie decides that the hole is worthless, and throws it away. He doesn’t see the very relieved rabbit, who has followed him all day, hope back into the hole it calls home.

The Hole Story is a humorous exploration of perspectives of usefulness and value, and could be read also as a critique of the need to ‘own’ things, particularly those things found in nature. Mostly, though, it is a whimsical, funny story which youngsters will love, with cartoon-style watercolour illustrations which are a delight to explore.

So much fun.

The Hole Story, by Kelly Canby
Fremantle Press, 2018
ISBN 9781925591125