A Moose Called Mouse, by Martine Murray

This is Mouse. Mouse is a moose. He’s not a mouse or a louse or an anything else. He’s a moose I call Mouse.

In A Mouse Called Moose, author/illustrator Martine Murray captures a gentle friendship between a girl and her friend the moose. Together they discover the magic of the night and of its transformation into day, as well as the joys of simple friendship.

This is peaceful story, perfect for a bedtime tale or for any quiet time. It is also suitable for sharing at kindergartens or playgroups. Murray’s simple illustrations are a perfect calming complement to the tale, with their child-like simplicity and muted colours.

Murray is a young author and illustrator who hails from Victoria. She has studied at the Victoria College of the Arts and spent time with the circus. Her first novel for children The Slightly True Story of Cedar B.Hartley has been well received in Australia and has sold to publishers in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Denmark.

A Moose Called Mouse is a treasure.

A Moose Called Mouse, by Martine Murray
Allen & Unwin, 2002

There's a Sun Fairy in Our Garden, by Jeni Mawter

There’s a sun fairy in our garden. I know it’s there because my brother told me so.

Every youngster, boy or girl, wants to believe in fairies and, with this delightful picture book, they get a glimpse at some gloriously unique examples. The sun fairy is wearing reflector sun glasses, the rock fairy has a crash helmet and the rain fairy is wearing silver gumboots. They may elude the girl telling the story, but young readers get to see them playing and teasing.

There’s a Sun Fairy in My Garden
combines the talents of author Jeni Mawter with those of talented young illustrator Christy Martin, in a tale sure to delight four to eight year old readers and their parents. As the narrator tries to tempt the fairies out with her special gifts, her older brother encourages her efforts by delighting her with his descriptions of the various fairies hiding in their garden. As well as being a gorgeous fairy book, it is also a delightful glimpse of sibling togetherness.

A beautiful offering which will be enjoyed again and again.

There’s a Sunflower in Our Garden, by Jeni Mawter, illustrated by Christy Martin
Axiom, 2001

I'm Big Enough, by Sally Odgers

Joey Hopalong swears he is big enough to hop alone Wallaby Grove. His mother believes he is big enough. She kisses him goodbye and says she will see him when he gets there. But none of the animals Joey meets along the way believe that he is big enough to do it by himself.

First he is joined by Platypus, then by Wombat and Possum. All are sure he needs their help. It is only when they meet Kookaburra that Kookaburra proves to the other animals, and to Joey, that Joey is indeed big enough to hop alone.

I’m Big Enough, by Sally Odgers, is a gently humorous tale with a subtle message about differences and growing up. The delightful illustrations by Llyod Foye capture the colours of Australia’s landscape, with golden browns and greens prevalent.

Sally Odgers is a talented Tasmanian author who produces quality books for all ages. I’m Big Enough reaches her always high standards. A treasure.

I’m Big Enough, by Sally Odgers, illustrated by Lloyd Foye
Koala Books, 2002

The Zoo Room, by Louise Schofield

Max and Kelly have a strange Aunt who works at the zoo. When Aunt Zelda is around, wierd and wonderful things happen. So when Aunt Zelda invites the family to the Zoo Room to celebrate Max’s birthday, no one knows what to expect.

At the Zoo Room, there are strange things afoot. The waiter is a bear, the fellow diners are birds and beasts, and there is no sign of Aunt Zelda. Choosing from a menu of fried bugs and beast of the day proves a little challenging. The restaurant is a thrilling combination of excitement and danger. When the meal is over, the children are not sure they really want to go home.

The Zoo Room is a fun story with fantasy and frivolity blended in a way to appeal to five to eight year olds. The illustrations of Malcolm Geste capture both the fun and the mystery of the tale. Kids will love searching for the elusive Aunt Zelda, who can be found peeking at her nephew’s adventure. A fun read.

The Zoo Room, by Louise Schofield, illustrated by Malcolm Geste
Sandcastle Books, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2002

The Bravest Penguin of All, by Rina A. Foti

It is the day of the Great Penguin Swim Race, and all the penguins are very excited, especially Little Blue Penguin. She is determined to win.

When the other penguins hear this,they laugh. No-one so small has ever won the race.But Little Blue Penguin is not deterred, telling herself over and over that she can do it.

When the race begins, the bigger penguins splash and splatter Little Blue Penguin and tell her to get out of the way, but still she keeps going. She can hear the cheering of the crowd, driving her on.

When the cheering stops, Little Blue Penguin senses something is wrong. A Killer Whale is lurking nearby and all the racers are in danger. Is Little Blue Penguin too small to save her friends?

The Bravest Penguin of All is a delightful story which will charm youngsters (and their parents) with its gentle message. Beautifully complemented by the illustrations of Cathy Abadie, in the blues and greens of the Antarctic environment, and supplemented by a page of penguin and Antarctic facts, The Bravest Penguin of All will appeal to 4 to 8 year olds and is also suitable for classroom collections.

The Bravest Penguin of All, by Rina A. Foti, illustrated by Cathy Abadie
Koala Books, 2002

Bones Maloney and the Raspberry Spiders, by Glenda Millard

Bones Maloney might look tough, but his heart is as soft as a cherry brandy chocolate. Bones and his Jazz Doggies are the star attraction at Barker’s café every Friday night. But, if there is one thing that Bones loves more than singing it is the raspberry spiders that are served at Barkers. Unfortunately, he isn’t paid enough to be able to buy one. What would happen if his throat was too dry to sing half way through his performance?

This humorous picture book combines children’s fantasy with the blues scene for an effect that will entertain both children and their adult readers. The illustrations of Matt Cosgrove are awesome, with vibrant colours and adorable dog-characters ranging from chihuahuas to dalmations to mutts and hounds.

Most likely to appeal to readers aged 4 to 8, Glenda Millard’s story will have you hankering for a raspberry spider.

Bones Maloney and the Raspberry Spiders
, by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Matt Cosgrove
A Margaret Hamilton Book from Ashton Scholastic, 2002

The Legend of Moondyne Joe, by Mark Greenwood

One of the more colourful characters from Western Australia’s past has been brought to life in a new picture book from Cygnet Books, the children’s imprint of UWA Press.

The Legend of Moondyne Joe
tells the story of Joseph Johns (who became known as Moondyne Joe), who is remembered for his daring escapes from custody.

History has questioned whether Joe was really a hardened criminal, or simply a harmless lover of freedom. Author Mark Greenwood manages to explore Moondyne’s tale without either condemning or condoning his actions, yet the reader finds himself quietly cheering Joe on.

The story is told in simple yet clear detail and is superbly complemented by the gouache paintings of illustrator Frane Lessac (who is also Greenwood’s wife). The illustrations add to the air of history in the piece and are also true to the Western Australian setting. The pictures of the Fremantle Prison are especially accurate.

The addition of a glossary of terms and notes on the convict era are a useful educational tool and also help the independent reader to access the text.

The Legend of Moondyne Joe is an outstanding non fiction picture book text.

The Legend of Moondyne Joe, by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Frane Lessac
Cygnet Books (an imprint of UWA Press), 2002

Cowtime, by Kim Barnes

When the sun goes down and the farmers go to bed – it’s COWTIME!

The girls in the cowshed really go to town, dancing and mooing up a storm. But that’s not all – soon the pigs start jumping, horses start wiggling, and the goats, sheep, ducks – even kangaroos and possums – all join in.

This high energy book, by talented writer/illustrator Kim Barnes, is guaranteed to thrill every young reader. The rollicking rhyme, compelte with mooing chorus, is silly enough to have the most serious listener smiling and mooing along.

There are even actions, demonstrated on each page by a dingo, making the book an excellent resource for preprimaries, playgroups and child care centres.

The illustrations are outstanding. Every page is packed full of colour and action. The detail is exceptional, with loads of surprises to be discovered on rereadings. A cat (who refuses to take part in the silliness of the dance) is cleverly hidden on each page, and other clever touches, include the multicultural faces of the human characters, as well as one who is wheelchair-bound.

Cowtime is sure to be an enduring classic.

Cowtime, written and illustrated by Kim Barnes
Scholastic Press, 2002

My Yellow Blanky, by Sofie Laguna

This is Yellow Blanky. We go everywhere together.

Eevry child can relate to the experience of owning a special blanket or toy which spells security and familiarity. In My Yellow Blanky, the special item is, predictably, a yellow blanket.

The child (delightfully unnamed and of an indefinite gender) loves the blanky, especially the special smells it harbours – smells that encompass all of the child’s experiences. But, when Mum takes the blanket away for a wash, something happens to those smells.

The delightfully simple text (little over 200 words) of this title will appeal to preschool aged children and also be accessible for the beginning reader. It would be an excellent bed time story, with its gentle action and message of security.

The beautiful colour pencil illustrations of Tom Jellett complement the text perfectly – the rich pastel tones giving a warmth which echoes the story’s message.

Sofie Laguna comes from an acting background. My Yellow Blanky is her first picture book. She is also the author of Bill’s Best Day, an Omnibus Solo.

Tom Jellet has illustrated a number of children’s books, including Australia at the Beach and Fuzz, the Famous Fly

My Yellow Blanky, by Sofie Laguna, illustrated by Tom Jellett
Omnibus Books, 2002

Please Go to Sleep, by Sue Whiting

Every tiger needs a good night’s sleep. So, as night falls on the jungle, Tiny Tiger and his Mother settle down to sleep. But the night jungle is full of strange noises. Swishety Swish, Rustle, Crunch. With each new noise Tiny Tiger grows more scared. All his mother wants is for Tiny Tiger to go to sleep.

Please Go To Sleep is a fun new picture book from talented Australian children’s author, Sue Whiting. Kids will love the humour and movement of the story, learning to echo the noises of the jungle as the story is read.

Sleep-deprived parents will also appreciate the story, relating to the increasing frustration of the mother as she tries to allay Tiny Tiger’s fears and encourage him to settle down to sleep. Putting feeling into the reading of Mother Tiger’s “Please, please, please go to sleep” will be easy for parents who have had similar experiences.

The text is well supported by the gorgeous illustrations by Michael Mucci. Mucci’s use of rich greens and purples captures the night jungle in a way which is appealing and non-threatening to children – he manages to make it night without being drab. The tigers are beautifully drawn, with the expressions of fear and frustration (on Tiny and his Mother’s face respectively) cleverly drawn.

Targeted at 3 to 6 year olds, Please Go To Sleep is an outstanding offering from Banana Books, the children’s book imprint of innovative new publisher, Otford Press. A must have for every collection.

Please Go to Sleep, by Sue Whiting, illustrated by Michael Mucci
Banana Books, 2002.
ISBN 1 876 92838 7