Home in the Rain, by Bob Graham

“My little sister.
What will her name be, Mummy?”
“Well, she’s not quite with us yet,” said Mum.
“But when will she have a name, Mummy?” said Francie.
“Soon,” said Mum. “Sometime soon.”

It’s a very wet day, and Francie and Mum have a long drive home from Grandma’s house. Stuck in the rain, Francie has lots of time to wonder what her new baby sister will be called and, just before the weather clears, Mum finds a name that seems just right.

Home In The Rain is a beautiful slice of life book from master picture book creator Bob Graham. While the trip is long and the rain is heavy, nothing world-changing occurs – but this makes what does happen – the choosing of a baby’s name – monumental.

Bob Graham’s portrayal of both the heavy rain storm and its effect on the traffic, people and animals, as well as of the little world inside Francie and Mum’s car, is divine. WHile this is chiefly a story about the latter, the detail of the former adds interest and humour and highlights the way life goes on around the little family. Younger children will enjoy the detail and older children will spot layers of meaning, and enjoy the use of light, colour and persepctive. Even the name chosen for the baby, Grace, is connected to the rain through a John Updike quote on the dedication page.

Beautiful.

Home In The Rain, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2016
ISBN 9781406368239

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.

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory, by Peter Smith & Bob Graham

There’s a hush in the crowd as the mayor lifts his gun,
then an ear-splitting Bang! and the race has begin,
with a flashing of goggles and pale cyclists’ knees,
and a murmuring sound like the bumble of bees.

Monsieur Albert loves cycling – but he loves prizes even more. SO when he reads in his morning paper about a cycling race about to start, he decides to enter. When he arrives at the starting line with his suit and cycle clips, and pannier full of supplies, the other cyclists laugh at him – none more than handsome young Francois. But it is Albert who has the last laugh as he proves that sometimes slow and steady really does win the race.

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory is a humours take on the Tour de France, told in witty rhyming verse and accompanied by the whimsical humours illustration work of Bob Graham. Youngsters will love the silliness of both story and illustrations, and adults will enjoy reading the story out loud.

Lots of fun.

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory, by Peter Smith & Bob Graham
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742376806

Available from good bookstores and online.

Come on Everybody, Time to Play, by Nigel Gray & Bob Graham

Sunday morning.
No school today.
Where is everybody?
It’s time to play.

Come on Everybody, Time to Play!

It’s Sunday morning, which means no school – so why is the narrator of this story the only one up? That’s not really a problem, because she’ll soon have them all moving – cats and kittens, dogs and puppies, little brothers, and even Mum and Dad, will soon be awake and part of her games.

This is a lovely family story of waking up and spending time together. Told in catchy rhyming text which encourages prediction by even very young readers, and also supports guessing of what is under the flaps on some of the spreads. Sturdy card stock and a toddler friendly size ensure this will withstand frequent loving (and reading!).

First published in 2008, and newly released.

Come on Everybody, Time to Play!, by Nigel Gray & Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2012
ISBN 9781921529528

Available in good bookstores and online.

A Bus Called Heaven, by Bob Graham

a warm hearted, whimsical tale about community, and friendship, and the magic which can bring otherwise isolated or just different people together. The people who come to be part of Stella’s bus community are different ages, from different cultures and with different interests.

The bus brought change to Stella’s street.
Traffic slowed where no traffic slowed before.
People stopped and talked together – just a little, but they talked.
Stella changed too.

One morning a bus – curiously named ‘Heaven’ – is mysteriously abandoned right outside Stella’s house, bringing with it change. people gather to look and to marvel. But it is Stella who see the bus’s true potential, and has it moved into her driveway. There it continues to attract people. Kids come to play in and around it, adults clean it up, street artists paint it, and birds nest in the engine. There is music and laughter and community – until a tow truck comes to take the bus away. It is once again up to Stella to find a solution to keep the bus where it is needed.

A Bus Called Heavenis a warm hearted, whimsical tale about community, and friendship, and the magic which can bring otherwise isolated or just different people together. The people who come to be part of Stella’s bus community are different ages, from different cultures and with different interests. They use the bus for different purposes – to read, to play, to create art, even to show slides, bu they are united in the knowledge that the bus is ‘theirs’. For Stella, who is almost ghost-like in her quietness, and indeed is rendered visually as almost transparent, the arrival of the mysterious bus sparks a transformation. It is she who sees the potential of the bus, she who leads its transformation, and she who fights to keep the bus when it is taken away to the scrapyard.

This is a triumphant book, with a touching story and wonderful art in which Graham creates so many diverse characters, and deftly shows the contrast between the warmth surrounding Heaven and the busy, dreary city scape.

It sounds corny, but this is a heavenly book.

A Bus Called Heaven

A Bus Called Heaven, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2011
ISBN 9781406334197

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

April Underhill, Tooth Fairy, by Bob Graham

Not so long ago, a tooth fairy took a call on her mobile.
“April Underhill here.”
…You want US? We shall be there. I PROMISE.”

April and Esme Underhill are tooth fairies – but they’ve never before collected a tooth – usually their parents do it. But when April gets a phonecall requesting her and Esme, she is sure they can work together to complete their first tooth collection.

April Underhill, Tooth Fairy is a beautiful story of two young sisters learning the ropes as toothfairies – and also a story about being empowered and supported by loving parents. Children will love the fairies who, instead of being pink and frilly stereotypes, are instead contemporary, in bright colours. Their house nestles near the motorway beside a tree stump and there are hints at the changing of times brought about by modern ‘progress’.

Bob Graham is a master of the picture book form – with gently quirky story lines and illustrations. April Underhill, Tooth Fairy is delightful.

April Underhill, Tooth Fairy April Underhill, Tooth Fairy, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2010
ISBN 9781406321555

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond.

The Trouble With Dogs, by Bob Graham

“The trouble with dogs,” said Dad, “is that they take over your life. Run the show.”

Adopted from the rescue centre, Dave is a small pup who Kate thinks is perfect. But sometimes he gets just too excited, and causes problems – jumping onto laps, running through flowerbeds, even stealing cupcakes from visitors’ plates. When Mum finds the phone number for Pup Breakers, a solutions seems at hand. But when the Brigadier starts to train Dave, he loses his sparkle.

The Trouble with Dogs! is a delightful sequel to Let’s Get a Pup, featuring big, slow Rosy and little fast Dave, and their people family. With a gentle lesson for dog owners – and even parents – about the wonder of having a zest for life, this is creator Bob Graham at his best, with deceptively simple illustrations, and text which says only what’s necessary.The Trouble with Dogs!

The Trouble with Dogs! by Bob Graham
This edition Walker Books, 2010
ISBN 9781406326017

This book can be purchased in good bookstores and online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Spirit of Hope, by Bob Graham

They waved to the passing trucks and the drivers waved back.
Everyone knew the Fairweathers,
and the Fairweathers knew everyone.

The Fairweathers live in a little house in the middle of an industrial area. Six days a week they walk across the bridge with Dad, waving goodbye as he goes to work in the factory. Six days a week they welcome him home. This is a happy family who enjoy simple pleasures. On the seventh day each week, the Fairweathers go to the docks and have a picnic among all the big ships. Their make-believe ship is called ‘Spirit of Hope’. And it is this spirit of home that they cling to when they learn their the land where their house sits is earmarked for a factory. The family search for a new home to live in. Inspiration comes from the smallest, quietest member of the family, Mary.

Bob Graham is well-known for his deceptively simple but heart-warming stories. His trademark illustrations detail the minutiae of family life. Like many of his stories, Spirit of Hope celebrates family. The front cover shows largely grey with a bright white spotlight on Mary, the smallest member of the family. To an outsider, it might seem that living between factories and next to a busy road might not seem the most ideal home. But this family celebrates every day. They celebrate Dad arriving home, playing simple imaginative games and their many friends. When trouble strikes, it is the strength of their unity that helps provide a solution. Spirit of Hope was first released in 1993, but is as vibrant and meaningful today as it ever was. Recommended for 4-7 year olds.

Spirit of Hope

Spirit of Hope, Bob Graham
Lothian Books 2008
ISBN: 9780734410696

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
www.clairesaxby.com

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Come On Everybody, Time to Play, by Nigel Grey

The sun is up and so is the main character in Come on Everybody, Time to Play. A small girl is revelling in the weekend and not having to get ready for school. She wanders through the house but it seems that everyone is hiding from her. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that everyone is still asleep! Openings alternate between her searching, then finding the other occupants of the house. When she has found all but two, it’s time for a group assault on the final two sleeping bods! Bob Graham’s gentle yet strong character sketches speak loud as the little girl searches her house for company. Backgrounds are minimal allowing the characters to shine. Text is large and round and like hand printing.

Come on Everybody, Time to Play is written in gentle rhyme. The reader (listener) can hear the sound of the words and predict what is to be found under each flap. Of course nothing – no one – is where they should be! The fish is in the cat’s water bowl and socks are all over the place. Come on Everybody, Time to Play is a largish, hardcover, sturdy-paged lift-the-flap book, designed for multiple re-readings. Recommended for pre-schoolers.

Come on Everybody, Time to Play! Nigel Gray Ill Bob Graham
Walker Books 2009
ISBN: 9781921150500

Come on Everybody, Time to Play!

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
www.clairesaxby.com

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Zoltan the Magnificent, by Bob Graham

Jack never saw much of his Dad, who left early for work and got back late at night. Sometimes Jack got up to see his Dad.
‘Never enough time,’ said Dad, and was gone.
Just a cold teabag left behind in the kitchen sink.

Jack doesn’t see much of Dad – and when he does, Dad seems to be impatient and not much fun. So, when the family goes on holiday, Jack think it’s Mum who will be the most fun. But as Dad unwinds, Jack sees an unexpected side of Dad. Perhaps Dad can be fun, after all. Dad, too, learns from Jack and the rest of the family, and learns to take life a little less seriously.

Zoltan the Magnificent is a lovely tale of family togetherness and rediscovery. The events of the family holiday are told in detail, with tricks played, adventures had and lessons learnt all featuring – from peas rolling across the floor of a restaurant, to walks on the beach and family entertainment – with the reader privileged to observe these scenes, through Bob Graham’s delightful word-pictures and his whimsical illustrations. First published in 2004, Zoltan the Magnificent has been reprinted to be available to a new young audience.

Zoltan the Magnificent

Zoltan the Magnificent, by Bob Graham
Lothian, this edition 2008, first published in 1994

This book can be purchased from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.