Bear Make Den, by Jane Godwin & Michael Wagner, pictures by Andrew Joyner

9781760110017.jpgBear make Den. Den good. Den great. Den just right… Den not done!
Den need… Chairs! Wait. Den need… Table! Den still not right!
Den need… oh!

Bear has made himself a Den, band he loves it, until he realises it is missing something – or, in fact, some things. First it’s chairs, then a table, a bed, and more. Finally, with the Den fitted out and decorated, Bear realises what the Den really needs – more bears.

Bear Make Den is a gently humorous story told in very few words. Kids (and adults, too) will love the playfulness and even the very young will see the clues as to what is really missing, in the second, empty chair, the double bunk bed, the couch and so on. The underlying message about the importance companionship is a good one.

The text , by Jane Godwin and Michael Wagner, is ably supported by the artwork of Andrew Joyner, with Bear’s expressions , mostly happy but also puzzled, determined and more, an absolute delight.
Sure to please all ages.

Bear Make Den, by Jane Godwin & Michael Wagner, and Andrew Joyner (ill.)
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781760110017

As Big As You, by Sara Acton

As Big As YouClaude was a large elephant.
Finlay was a small one.

Claude is so large that he can make the earth shake with his trumpets, shower a whole herd of elephants, and stomp like thunder. Finlay is little and can’t do any of those things. He can’t wait to be as a big as Claude. But when they become separated Finlay has a special adventure all of his own. When they are reunited, Claude tells Finlay that one day he will be big, too. But in the meantime there is no hurry to grow up.

As Big as You is a breathtaking book. The story is really heart warming and the message is a good one, but it is the visual feast offered by the illustrations and design of the book which make it really magic. With the spine at the top rather than the side, each spread is long (portrait rather than the usual landscape orientation), which enables Claude’s size and the vastness of the landscape to be emphasised. On the opening spread, Claude is so big that very little of him fits onto the spread – one leg, one ear, one eye and a trunk frame the page, with the void in the middle bearing the single sentence ‘Claude was a LARGE elephant.’ The next spread introduces Final, and has him at the bottom of the spread, eye to eye with two beetles, and the spread above him largely empty apart from three butterflies. The cleverness of this beginning is carried through the book with simple yet beautiful watercolour illustrations and attention to text layout.

This is a beautiful book.

As Big as You, by Sara Acton
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743629697

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, by Haven Gillespie & J. Fred Coots, illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom

You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why…

This hardcover picture book offering brings to life the lyrics of the popular song Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Featuring animal characters – a lion, a rabbit, a giraffe, a bear an a monkey – as they prepare for Christmas, and spread the news that Santa is coming by train, plane, by drum and more – this celebratory offering is accompanied by a CD recording sung by Human Nature.

Youngsters will enjoy seeing a song they are likely to be familiar with brought to life and to interpret the subplots of the illustrations as the characters exchange gifts, play tricks, argue and celebrate.

Good Christmas fun.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, by Haven Gillespie & J. Fred Coots, illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743626405

Remarkably Rexy, by Craig Smith

9781760113940.jpgHe’s been the most dazzling cat on Serengeti Street for years and years. He’s majestic, proud, maybe brave as well.

Rex is a very handsome cat, and everybody loves him. Every morning he grooms himself, and warms up ready for the kids on their way to school to stop and admire him. All is well with the world – until Pretty Pamela, the perfect siamese from down the street, prances into view just as the kids arrive, and steals the attention. As Rex pretends he doesn’t care, pandemominum breaks loose, when Towser the dog escapes, a magpie family gets cranky, and Rex ends up in a muddy puddle. Will the kids love him anyway?

Remarkably Rexy is a humorous tale of cats and their self-obsession. Rexy is likeable, though very vain, and his misadventures will delight young readers, as will the other animal characters – Pamela, Towser the dog, and the Magpie family.

Illustrator Craig Smith is well known for his warm, rich and often humorous illustrations, but in Remarkably Rexy he makes his debut as author, too.

Remarkably Rexy will be loved, just as he deserves.

Remarkably Rexy, by Craig Smith
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781760113940

The Very Noisy Bear, by Nick Bland

The Very Noisy BearIn the Jingle Jangle Jungle,
there was music in the air…
And it landed in the ears
of a very sleepy Bear.

When Bear is woken by his friends playing music, they suggest he joins in. But when he tries to play the drums, he bashes too hard and knocks them over, when he tries to play the guitar, his claws get tangled in the strings, and when he tries the trumpet, he makes a loud screech that scares the monkeys. Luckily his friends are persistent -and when he’s offered the microphone, Bear soon has everybody dancing when he roars in perfect harmony.

The Very Noisy Bear has all the fun of its predecssors, including The Very Cranky Bear, with humorous rhyming text, gorgeous animal-filled illustrations (rendered in acryclic paint), and a gentle, humorous story.

Lot sto like!

The Very Noisy Bear, by Nick Bland
Scholastic Press, 2015
ISBN 9781743627853

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Great and Wondrous Storyteller, by Michael Scott Parkinson

 

The Great & Wondrous Storyteller

Oh, hello. I am the Great and Wondrous Storyteller!
I have read big books. I have read little books.
I have read short books, tall books,
thick books and thin books …
I have read every
type of book you can imagine!

Everybody knows that the Great and Wondrous Storyteller is, in fact, a great and wodndous storyteller. Everyone knows he has read all kinds of books, to all kinds of people. But everyone also knows that you don’t eat books, or hold them upside down, or start at the end. So why is the Great and Wondrous Storyteller doing all those things?
The Great and Wondrous Storyteller is a gorgeous celebration of books and reading, with a gently educative element – teaching youngeters about the magic of books, and encouraging them to take up reading. The digital illustrations are bright and colourful, with the main character, Norbert, an adorable green monster, and other characters being a range of cute, big-eyed animals.

This debut picture book also explores themes of honesty and learning.

The Great and Wondrous Storyteller, by Michael Scott Parkinson
Five Mile Press, 2015
ISBN 9781760066628

Available from good bookstores and online.

How the Sun Got to Coco's House, by Bob Graham

How the Sun Got to Coco's HouseIt had to start somewhere.
While Coco slept faraway, the sun crept up
slowly behind a hill, paused for a moment,
seemed to think twice…
before it plunged down the other side and skidded gently across the water.

This delightful homage to the sun and sunshine traces the sun as it rises in a farway land, seen only by polar bears, then travels around the globe, shining on children and animals in many countries, crossing beaches, mountains, forests and oceans, before finally shining through Coco’s window, waking her and her family, and spending the day shining on her and her friends.

From master Australian creator Bob Graham, How the Sun Got to Coco’s House has the simple yet expressive style that fans of his work have come to know and love. From polar bears to people, cityscapes to vast deserts, every pages ia delight created in simple lines, muted colours and text of just a setence or two.

A celebration of sunshine and of life everywhere, How the Sun Got to Coco’s House is beautiful.

How the Sun Got to Coco’s House, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2015
ISBN 9781406359008

Available from good bookstores and online.

Meet My Book: Awesome Animals, by Di Bates

It is truly awesome to welcome author Di Bates to the blog today, to introduce us to her new book series, Awesome Animals. Welcome Di. Over to you.

Please tell readers about your new books.

Awesome Animals (Big Sky Publishing) is an entertaining new non-fiction animal series for kids – a Guinness Book of Records meets Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Awesome Cats and Awesome Dogs, the first two books in the series, are each an entertaining new read — a Guinness Book of Records meets Ripley’s Believe It or Not! which features fascinating stories about animals from all over the world. As well, there are relevant book lists, jokes and even humorous animal verses. Each beautifully styled book contains true stories and amazing photographs and quirky, illustrated break-out boxes, introduced by funny cartoon animal characters. The book is best suited for children aged 8 to 11 years, but there’s no doubt older readers will love the books, too.

What are the books about?  

Each of the books is a miscellany of fun facts and stories about real-life cats and dogs. As well, there are poems and jokes and a list of children’s books featuring cats and dogs.

Before writing these books I searched for something similar, but found nothing. Yes, there are books about cats and dogs, but the presentation of content in the awesome books is unique. Take cats, for example: in Awesome Cats there are hundreds of short stories about cats in history, cat adventures, famous cats and famous people’s cats, working cats, spoilt cats, and cats in fiction and in TV, on stage and in movies. Here’s just a little ‘teaser’ from the book: ‘In 1976 a mystery cat in Hong Kong killed more than 20 dogs. According to local people it was about four feet long and black or gray in color. It was never caught.’ Imagine that, a dog-killing cat; certainly not a lap cat!

How did the idea for this series come about?

As a full-time, professional children’s author, I am always searching for an idea which will result in a book that any child would love to read. The three books in the Awesome Animals series are dogs, cats and horses (Awesome Horses will be published in 2016): it would be impossible, I’m sure, to find one of these animals that any child didn’t love, much less cherish. I started researching stories about dogs, first as I’m a real dog lover. Before long, I was finding amazing dog stories everywhere! Here are just a few famous dogs, for example, whose stories are told in Awesome Dogs: Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Old Yeller, Bullet, Scooby Doo and Benji. I just love dogs and really miss our last beloved dog, Sassy; she has been irreplaceable since she died two years ago of old age.

 

Where can people buy Awesome Cats and Awesome Dog?

The books retail for $14.99 each. Here’s where you can get Awesome Cats:

http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/Books/Children/Awesome-Animals-Cats/1123/productview.aspx

… and Awesome Dogs: http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/Books/Children/Awesome-Animals-Dogs/1124/productview.aspx

Silly Squid, by Janeen Brian & Cheryll Johns

Silly Squid!Look at me! I’m quite divine,
a dancer of the sea.
I swim and glide and slip and hide
and grip my food with glee.

With the ability to colour-change, adapt and hide,the squid of this title poem is anything but silly. And, while there is plenty of fun and joy in this lively collection of poems, there is lots of evidence too of the wonders of the animal world, particularly those that live under and around the water.

From little jellyfish:
We come in different sizes
and people call us ‘jellies’
We have no bones, nor heart nor brain –
not even jelly bellies!

to the huge whale:
I swim high and low
and wherever I go
my water spout makes
such a wonderful show

Silly Squid! is a wonderful exploration of the diversity of the ocean, celebrated in playful rhymes. Each animal is given a double page spread including a poem and a realistic, yet still intimate acrylic illustration. The eyes of the animals look straight at readers, inviting them to get to know their subjects. Each page is finished off with brief facts about the animal in question. These facts, while useful, are on the edges of the page so as to not give them more emphasis than the poetry or art.

Readers may choose to read the book from cover to cover, or to read one poem at a time, dipping in and out of the book.

From the creators of Silly Galah, Silly Squid! is a wonderful poetry offering for younger readers.

Silly Squid!, by Janeen Brian & Cheryll Johns
Omnibus Books, 2015
ISBN 9781742990965

Available from good bookstores and online.

One Night, by Penny Matthews & Stephen Michael King

In any farmyard, on Christmas Eve, if you are very lucky, you can hear the animals talk.

It happens only on this most magical of nights.

And it happens only in that moment just before midnight

when the world is silent, waiting.

On Christmas Eve, at midnight, legend says that animals can talk. They speak to remember the part that animals played on the very first Christmas – where a donkey carried the baby’s mother, horses gave up their stall and other animals provided soft bedding. Even the mouse and the spider did their bit, and the rooster crowed to herald the news. Proud of the part their forbears played, the animals celebrate on Christmas Eve.

One Night is a delightful, gentle Christmas tale with the focus squarely on the animals, though two spreads show Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, and the final spread shows all the animals gazing at the sleeping baby.

The text is not overdone, using the animals’ dialogue to show their pride, and the watercolour and pencil illustrations are a perfect complement with soft, expressive animals and night time hues.

A lovely Christmas offering.

 

One Night, by Penny Matthews & Stephen Michael King
Omnibus Books, 2014
ISBN 9781742990279

Available from good bookstores or online.