The Very Blue Thingamajig, by Narelle Oliver

Creak…crunch…crack! From an egg covered in more spots than you could possibly count, came a very blue thingamajog. The other thingamajigs gathered around to see the new arrival, but didn’t stay long. This thingamajig was just too plain and boring, so he was left alone.

But, one Sunday morning, the thingamajig woke up to find he had a very curly tail. On Tuesday, he found he had a new pair of yellow wings. For the rest of the week, there was some new and interesting addition every day, until the next Sunday he was ready to show the other thingamajigs. Their reaction was not quite what the thingamajig expected.

The Very Blue Thinggamajig
is a fun lift-the-flap book, which teaches the concepts of days of the week and counting, at the same time as providing a gentle lesson on differences. Author/illustrator Narelle Oliver uses simple language and rich pastel colours to create a gentle but fun story.

Oliver is the author and illustrator of many award-winning picture books, including The Hunt and Baby Bilby, Where Do You Sleep?

The Very Blue Thingamajig,by Narelle Oliver
Omnibus, an imprint of Scholastic, 2003

Dancing Night, Tonight, by Ian Bone

Every Tuesday night Millie’s Mama goes out dancing. Millie stays home with Dad, but that’s okay because Millie has dancing night at home.

Mama and Millie put on their matching dresses, their shiny red dancing shoes and put ribbons in their hair. Then Mama goes out while Millie dances with Papa in the loungeroom.

Soon, though, doubts creep in. What if Mama can’t get home, or forgets to come home, or – worst of all – doesn’t want to come home? Gently her father reminds her of the links she shares with her mother, sending the fears dancing on their way, until Millie’s mother comes home with the final reassurance.

Dancing Night, Tonight is a gentle picture book from writer Ian Bone and illustrator Anna Pignataro. Pignataro’s illustrations, using a combination of pencil, water colour, ink and gouache, create an almost dream-like quality to the story and echo the gentleness of the text.

A perfect bed-time story.

Dancing Night, Tonight
, by Ian Bone, illustrated by Anna Pignataro
Scholastic, 2003

Shutting the Chooks In, by Libby Gleeson

As night draws near, the boy must feed the chooks and shut them in their pen. Across the farm yard he goes, past the buildings, machinery and trees of the farm yard.

He calls to the chooks and they follow him to their yard where he feeds them and counts them, speaking to them by name. But one chook is missing and it is getting dark. He must find the missing chook before the fox comes prowling, and conquer his own uncertainties about crossing the dark yard to get home.

Shutting the Chooks In is a charming new picture book from writer Libby Gleeson and illustrator Ann James. With minimal words, Gleeson creates rather than describes the emotions of the young boy, who remains nameless, portraying his closeness with the chickens (each of which does have a name) and his sense of duty. His uncertainty about the dark is also drawn by the word choice, and the reader can feel his heart pumping as he runs home, to joyfully greet his mother waiting inside the back door.

Ann Gleeson’s charcoal and pastel illustrations complement the simplicity of the text, with the colours of the twilight subtly creeping in as the story progresses. The golden light of home shining on the last page frames the boy on his triumphant return.

Charming.

Shutting the Chooks In, by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Ann James
Scholastic Australia, 2003

Silly Baby Magpie, by Jill Morris

Silly Baby Magpie!
Big eyes and floppy head…
I’ve been scratching, screeching, tapping
Now I’m ready to be fed.


Silly Baby Magpie
, a brand new book from Greater Glider Publications, follows baby magpie from his early life in the egg through his youth and on to maturity. Along the way we see his antics as he learns and plays.

Author Jill Morris combines simple, lively verse with text boxes containing non-fiction information about the magpie, one of Australia’s most common birds. The story and information are complemented by the richly detailed illustrations of Heather Gall.

A fun and informative picture book.

Silly Baby Magpie, by Jill Morris, illustrated by Heather Gall
Greater Glider Publications, 2003

Pigs Don't Fly and Bears Don't Bounce, by Jackie French

Pigs don’t fly …. But sometimes they do like to wallow in the mud.
Bear’s don’t bounce … But they snooze all winter.

Two new lift-the-flap picture books, combining the talents of author Jackie French and illustrator Matt Cosgrove are sure to delight young prereaders and their parents. Each page combines a little fantasy – flying pigs, bouncing bears, jiggling giraffes – with a little fact, hidden beneath sturdy flaps. Each flap is half a page and the illustration on the main page is continued on to the flap, to show a connection between the fact and the fantasy.

French’s simple text makes these books quick to read and suitable for toddlers’ short attention spans, whilst Cosgrove’s vibrant illustrations are sure to delight.

The format of the two books is similar, with Pigs Don’t Fly concentrating on farm animals and Bears Don’t Bounce on wild animals.

Jackie French is a prolific author with many children’s titles to her name, as well as books about gardening and natural lifestyle. She makes regular appearances on television’s Burke’s Backyard.

This pair of books are sure to prove popular with youngsters and their parents.

Pigs Don’t Fly
and Bears Don’t Bounce, by Jackie French, illustrated by Matt Cosgrove
Koala Books, 2003

Colossal Creatures, by Nick Hughes

Dinosaurs lived long ago and grew to a massive size
But if they lived with us today, you wouldn’t believe your eyes.

Kids love books with different formats, and Colossal Creatures, with a flap to lift on every page, is sure to delight. The simple rhyming text by Nick Hughes, contrasts the ancient dinosaurs with the animals, people and buildings of today.

The highlight of the book is the brilliant illustrations of Mini Goss, who conistently produces work of this standard. Bold colours and lively detail are Goss’s specialty and in Colossal Creatures she makes excellent use of the lift the flap format.

Colossal Creatures, is equally appropriate for the home and educational context.

Colossal Creatures, by Nick Hughes, Illustrated by Mini Goss
Koala Books, 2002

Sisi and the Cassowary, by Arone Raymond Meeks

When Sisi goes with her mother and sisters to the waterhole, she swims too far away. Chased by a crocodile she surfaces in an unfamiliar place, and can’t find her way home. Soon, she comes across a boy collecting berries and agrees to help him with his task if he will then help her to get home. However, when the time comes for the boy to fulfill his part of the agreement, he disappears, and Sisi is joined by a large bird. The cassowary gets Sisi to climb on his back, and he gives her a ride home, where she is reunited with her mother. Sisi realises then that the cassowary and the boy were in fact one.

This traditional tale is made complete with the rich traditional paintings of Arone Raymond Meeks, who uses browns, ochres, greens and blues to capture the Dreamtime essence of his story.

This is both an excellent sharing book and a useful educational tool for studies of Aboriginal art and dreamtime stories.

Sisi and the Cassowary, by Arone Raymond Meeks
Omnibus Books, an Imprint of Scholastic, 2002

Gordon's Got a Snookie, by Lisa Shanahan

The animals in the zoo are so excited that Gordon is coming. Gordon is the new silverback gorilla being brought in from overseas to take care of the girls. Of course, the girls are more excited than anyone – they hope Gordon will be big and strong and hairy.

When Gordon arrives he looks to be all that they hoped for – until the young gorillas notice something funny. Gordon has a snookie! Now all the animals are scornful and highly amused – how can Gordon live up to his strong image if he needs a comforter? The girls are embarrassed to be seen with him.

Poor Gordon – left alone, the snookie becomes more and more important, until a young gorilla unwittingly offers a chance solution.

Gordon’s Got a Snookie is a hilarious story sure to appeal to children and to their adult readers. Shanahan’s text is a delightful blend of humour and gentle message about the acceptability of snookies, or blankies or other comforters. The illustrations of Wayne Harris perfectly complement the text, capturing the range of emotions from ethusiasm to loneliness with a delightful colour range and skillful portrayal of the characters’ facial expressions.

A delightful book!

Gordon’s Got a Snookie, by Lisa Shanahan, illustrated by Wayne Harris
Allen & Unwin, 2002

Too Loud Lily, by Sofie Laguna

Wherever she goes, everyone tells Lily Hippo she is too loud. At home they say “too loud”. At school they say “too loud!” Even her best friends think she’s too loud. Poor Lily!

But when a new teacher called Miss Loopiola comes to school, Lily decides to be in the school play. With Miss Loopiola’s help, Lily learns that sometimes loud is what’s needed, and her family and friends see that sometimes Lily is not too loud.

Too Loud Lily is a funny new picture book from author Sofie Laguna. With a simple message of acceptance and understanding, the lively text is well complemented by the equally lively illustrations of Kerry Argent, who portrays the telling emotions of Lily and those around her delightfully.

Too Loud Lily will appeal to children from birth to six years of age, and their parents and educators.

Sofie Laguna is an actor and writer, whose other publication credits include My Yellow Blanky and Bill’s Best Day. Kerry Argent’s previous illustration successes include Wombat Divine and One Woolly Wombat.

Too Loud Lily, by Sofie Laguna, illustrated by Kerry Argent
Omnibus Books, an Imprint of Scholastic Australia, 2002

Jump Baby by Penny Matthews

Three possums – Mumma, Big Sister and Baby – are eating their breakfast high in a tree in a moonlit garden. Mumma and Big Sister move around confidently, but Baby is scared. The tree is very high and he wants to stay close to his Mumma. When Mumma and Big Sister jump to the peach tree, Baby is left behind. Mumma and Big Sister plead with him to jump, but he can’t. He is left by himself in the walnut tree. How will he get to his Mumma? And how will he learn to jump?

Jump Baby is a sweet new picture book from Ominibus Books. Author Penny Matthews tells a charming tale of learning and taking risks. The illustrations of Dominique Falla, with the deep purples and greens of the night garden contrasting with the browns of the animals, are a perfect complement to the gentle text.

This is a lovely sharing book for preschoolers and their parents, and also suitable for early childhood classrooms.

Penny Matthews has previously written another picture book, A Year on Our Farm and three titles in the Omnibus Solos Series. Dominique Falla is a graphic designer and also illustrated the award-winning picture book Woodlore.

Jump, Baby, by Penny Matthews, Illustrated by Dominique Falla
Omnibus Books, an Imprint of Scholastic, 2002.