Crusts, by Danny Parker & Matt Ottley

Jacob refused to eat his crusts.
His Mum said they would make his hair curly.
Jacob didn’t want curly hair.
She said they would make him sleep better.
he didn’t believe her.
His mum said it was a waste,
so Jacob saved them
in a box in the dark,
safe and cool in his shed.

 

Jacob doesn’t like crusts, and refuses to believe his mum when she says they are good for him. But when she says not eating them is wasteful, he decides to keep them, sure they will be useful for something. That something is surprising: a tiny, far away planet is falling apart. Pieces keep crumbling off.  Three intrepid travellers head off, looking for help. When they find Jacob’s crusts, they are sure they have found their answer. But they are tiny aliens. The problems is how to communicate with Jacob and get him to figure out a way to get the crusts to their planet.

Crusts is a humorous, imaginative picture book offering which young crust-avoiders will love. With  Jacob’s story and the aliens’ story delineated using separate illustration panels and distinct dialogue boxes  for the aliens, the book has elements of a graphic novel blended with more traditional picture book style. Jacob doesn’t see the tiny aliens, so their means of getting across whay they need has to be visual – through diagrams and clever layout of his toys.

This is not the first time author Parker and illustrator Ottley have worked together for a satisfying picture book, and hopefully it won’t be the last.

Crusts, by Danny Parker & Matt Ottley

 

 

Portable Curiosities by Julie Koh

Sight

A lizard keeps following me around the house.

I tell the Tattoo Man about it when we’re sitting on his verandah one afternoon. The Tattoo Man has puffy eyelids and a black beard that he strokes when in deep thought. He’s in his rocking chair with a stray orange cat sitting at his feet, swishing its tail.

Sight

A lizard keeps following me around the house.

I tell the Tattoo Man about it when we’re sitting on his verandah one afternoon. The Tattoo Man has puffy eyelids and a black beard that he strokes when in deep thought. He’s in his rocking chair with a stray orange cat sitting at his feet, swishing its tail.

‘Portable Curiosities’ is a collection of twelve surreal and satiric short stories. In ‘Cream Reaper’, the story reflected in the cover art, the search for the ultimate ice cream flavour becomes deadly serious. ‘Sight’ offers the opportunity to see what others miss. Stories are told in first, second and third person, and explore myriad ‘landscapes’.  ‘The Fat Girl in History’ is story within story, twisting and turning, keeping its truths shifting.

‘Portable Curiosities’ is funny, sad, disturbing, pointed, merciless and merciful. Each story in this collection engages the reader then makes them squirm. A wonderfully black-humoured, multi-flavoured assortment which uses fiction to illuminate truths about the world we live in and how we live in it. Much to think about, great fun.

Portable Curiosities, Julie Koh
University of Queensland Press 2016 ISBN: 9780702254048

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen ill James Foley

My dead bunny’s name is Brad;

His odour is extremely bad.

He visits me when I’m in bed,

But Bradley wasn’t always dead …

My dead bunny’s name is Brad;

His odour is extremely bad.

He visits me when I’m in bed,

But Bradley wasn’t always dead …

A boy’s pet rabbit dies in an unfortunate accident and although sad, he buries his pet and thinks that’s the end of Brad the bunny. Not so, Brad returns as a foul-smelling, terror-inducing zombie. His eyes are pink, his fur green, his whiskers crinkled and a worm sprouting from his head. And it seems there is no escaping Bradley. Bradley sends the boy’s sister mad and chases the family from the house. The boy devises a solution, but it may not be the end, it may be the beginning … Illustrations are mostly black and white and a puky-green.

My Dead Bunny is not for little children. If the colours and format don’t cue that, then the terror on the boy’s face should. It’s a small format picture book half-way between gift and classic picture book size. But for children who like a bit of subversion with their reading, My Dead Bunny is spot-on. Full of horror-movie angles and deadpan rhyming text, it will have young and old alike cackling. Hilarious! But don’t give it to your toddler unless you fancy dealing with nightmares. Recommended for zombie-fans of all ages.

My Dead Bunny, Sigi Cohen ill James Foley
  Walker Books Australia 2015
ISBN: 9781922179593

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com