Can You Find Me? by Gordon Winch & Patrick Shirvington

I am a platypus.
I live in the muddy water and on the grassy bank.
I look like the muddy water and the grassy bank.
That is why I am hard to see.
Can you find me?

Can You Find Me?’ features a collection of Australian animals (large and small) living, hiding, in their particular environment. Each double page spread draws their home, and suggests why they might be hard to find. The final line on each spread then asks ‘Can you find me?’ Endpapers show ‘specimens’ from a range of Australian native plants set in white paper. Illustrations are watercolour and realistic in style.

Camouflage is a great tool for survival, particularly if an animal is not the fastest, biggest or top of their food chain. Each of these Australian animals from the echidna on the cover to the leaf moth and stick insect has adapted to be able to hide in plain sight. The invitation is explicit in the title and young readers will enjoy finding each animal. Text spells out why they are hard to see: ‘I live in the … I look like the …’ and then asks the reader to search the image. An introduction to camouflage and Australian creatures large and small. Recommended for pre-schoolers.

Can You Find Me, Gordon Winch & Patrick Shirvington
New Frontier Publishing 2017
ISBN: 9781925059793

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

The Very Sleepy Bear, by Nick Bland

Winter had come early and Bear was running late.
He was feeling very sleepy, it was time to hibernate.
He hurried down the mountain, past the icy rocks,
and never even noticed a rather sneaky Fox.

The Bear is back – and this time he’s really sleepy. Winter is here, and he needs to hibernate, but a sneaky fox thinks Bear needs a new bigger cave. First he offers a train tunnel, then a bat cave, and lastly an ocean-side cave. When bear decides he’s had enough and wants to go back to his own snug cave, he finds Fox and his friends have moved in.

The Very Sleepy Bear features the bear who youngsters may well know from The Very cranky bear and other offerings. Told in humorous rhyme and featuring the big brown bear and assorted other characters in gently humorous acrylics , the book will nightstand repeated rereading – which is just as well, because it will be requested over and over.

The Very Sleepy Bear, by Nick Bland
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743812549

Twinkle , Twinkle, Little Star, illustrated by Matt Shanks

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

There is no doubting the popularity of classic nursery rhyme brought to life in this book, though probably many readers will be surprised at the number of verses, some of which may be less familiar. But it is the way it is brought to life in the adorable illustrations which make this version so appealing. Olive the owl (named only in the blurb), flies across the darkening landscape, delivering books (each adorned with a star) to her sleepy friends – a flock of sheep, a family of wombats, even a human child – before returning home to read to her three owlets.

The gentle blues and purples of the night skies, together with the expressive, sweet faced animals and the familiar text make this an ideal bedtime or rest time offering.

Lovely.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, illustrated by Matt Shanks
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781760158668

Rock Pool Secrets, by Narelle Oliver

Down on the rocky shore,
waves crash and smash.
Then the tide goes out and the sea is calm.
It’s a good time to explore rock pools.

At first glance, there isn’t much to see in a rock pool, but a closer look reveals lots of interesting creatures, from anemones, to crabs, shrimp, tiny fish and more.

Rock Pool Secrets is a divine non-fiction picturebook, taking youngsters inside the secrets of a beach side rock pool. the text is informative, but also beautifully crafted, enticing readers to keep exploring. the use of large flaps on most spreads is similarly enticing, with left sized text hinting and encouraging readers to look closely at the outside of the flap before opening it to see what new creature is there.

One of the last picture books created by the late Narelle Oliver, Rock Pool Secrets was crafted from beautiful lino cut and watercolour illustrations, with beauty and detail which offer much to explore.

Divine.

Rock Pool Secrets , by Narelle Oliver
Walker Books, 2017
ISBN 9781922179357

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo! by Mark Carthew ill Anil Tortop

When Jess and Jack opened the gates to the Zoo,
it was strangely deserted. Nobody said BOO!
‘Where’s the new roo?’ said Jess, looking round.
‘It’s never this quiet. I can’t hear a sound.’

When Jess and Jack arrive at the zoo to begin their day and to check on their newest animal, they find everything suspiciously quiet. None of the animals are to be seen, but it’s clear where they’ve been. There are open cages, and animal scats and tracks everywhere. They follow the tracks, the scats, the feathers and down. They know their animals love to roam free, but are keen to get them back before night falls. Just when Jess is beginning to worry, she finds Jack and the animals too. Illustrations are full of fun and humour as the animals conduct their big Hullabaloo.

‘The Great Zoo Hullabaloo’ tells a story of disappearing zoo animals, the tracks they leave behind and the reason they have vanished, all in rhyme. Young readers are invited to speculate about where the animals might be, then to join in when they are discovered. Both zookeepers are relieved to find their animals, and to join in the shenanigans. There are plenty of animals to identify, and rhythms to replicate. Recommended for pre-schoolers.

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo!, Mark Carthew ill Anil Tortop New Frontier Publishing 2017 ISBN: 9781925059786

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo? by Anh Do & Laura Wood (ill)

What do they do with all the poo
from all the animals at the zoo?
the hippos, the tigers, the kangaroos –
What do they do with all that poo?

Comedian Anh Do has been making Australians laugh for years, and since turning to chidlren’s books he’s gained a whole new generation of readers. What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo? will entertain even younger readers than his junior novels.

This rhyming story, which comes with accompanying music on a CD (sung by Simon Mellor) is catchy, funny and, of course, slightly gross, which is exactly why youngsters will love it. The illustrations, by Laura Wood, are also filled with humour, with the looks on the faces of humans and animals particularly engaging.

Great for reading with or without the accompanying music, this will be a favourite both at home and in classrooms.

What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo?, by Anh Do & Laura Wood
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760276324

The Silent Owl, by Sam McPhillips (ill) & Clemency Pearce

In the great, old hollow oak,
Lived an owl, who never spoke.

Owl doesn’t speak, doesn’t sing and doesn’t even hoot. All the other animals are worried. They would like a sign that Owl is all right. Finally, Owl does make a noise – by playing a series of musical instruments.

The Silent Owl is a gorgeous rhyming picture book, illustrated with paper collage and water colour backgrounds. The humour of the story, coupled with the big eyed characters will appeal to young readers, and the deceptive simplicity of the collage will entice young artists to experiment with collage themselves.

Lots of fun with early childhood readers.

The Silent Owl, by Sam McPhillips (ill) & Clemency Pearce
Big Sky Publishing, 2016
ISBN 9781925520019

This Hungry Dragon, by Heath McKenzie

This HUNGRY dragon
heard his tummy growl.
Someone who heard it
was a nervous little owl!

A very hungry dragon meets – and eats – a series of unfortunate animals: the owl, a fancy fox, a muddy pig, and more. But eventually he feels sick and a visit from the doctor is needed. When the doctor, too, ends up in the dragon’s belly he figures out a way to get the dragon to spit them all out. the dragon feels better – and has learnt his lesson.

This humorous rhyming picture book will have kids laughing out loud and saying ‘gross’ in equal measure, but whilst animals are eaten, there’s no blood or gore, and every one is fine at the end. The dragon, in gentle reds and pinks, with tiny wings and big round eyes looks silly rather than fierce and the looks on the various animals’ faces as they realise what is happening adds to the humour.

Lots of fun.

This Hungry Dragon, by Heath McKenzie
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760151508

Pandamonia, by Chris Owen & Chris Nixon

Come through. Look around. relax and explore.
Inside you will find there are creatures galore.
You’ll have a magnificent time at the zoo…
just don’t wake the panda whatever you do.

It’s a lovely day for visiting the zoo, but when the panda gets woken, it can set off all kinds of uproar, from jumpy hippos creating a hullabaloo, to shimmying emus, and even cha-chaing chinchillas.the resultant uproar can cause shenanigans that carry on far into the night. So, readers are beseeched, whatever they do they must not wake the panda.

Pandamonia is a lively, humour-filled picture book with rhyme that roms through the pages. Youngsters will love the silliness of the text and will have fun playing with the vocabulary, with glorious words like fandango, cavorting, shimmy and more. The illustrations, on colourful backgrounds, bring the animals to life with simple geometric shapes filled with life and humour.

Likely to be requested again and agian, Pandamonia will withstand repeated rereadings.

Pandamonia, by Chris Owen & Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press, 2016
ISBN 9781925163339

Go Home, Cheeky Animals! by Johanna Bell & Dion Beasley

At Canteen Creek here we live, there are cheeky dogs everywhere.

Mum gets frustrated by the cheeky dogs hanging around the cap and tries to shoo them away – but Grandpa says they help to keep the other cheeky animals away. When the rains come, so too do the other animals – first a gang of goats then a drove of donkeys, followed by horses, buffaloes and camels. Finally, everyone has had enough – especially the cheeky dogs, who growl at the cheeky animals until they go home. Now the cheeky dogs have the camp to themselves – untilt he enxt time the big rains come.

Go Home Cheeky Animals is humorous, delightful book filled with cheeky dogs and, of course, the other cheeky animals, getting into all sorts of mischief around the camp. Kids will love the story but will especially connect with the illustrative style of Dion Beasley whose work is really accessible and simple – yet filled with life, humour and detail.

Children from remote indigenous communities are offered a story here which connects with camp life, while kids form other parts of Australia will enjoy the insight Go Home Cheeky Animals offers, alongside its humour.

To learn more about the collaboration behind this book and its predecessor, Too Many Cheeky DOgs, visit the creators’ website here.

Go Home Cheeky Animals, by Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781760291655

 

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