Oom Pah Pah, by Cecily Matthews

Guess what?’ Rosie cried. ‘I’ve been picked for the school band. I’m going to get an instrument.’ she flapped a note at her mother. She danced around the kitchen. ‘It says there’s going to be a meeting. You and Dad need to go and hear all about it. So do I!’

Rosie is very excited when she is chosen to join the junior school band. She fancies herself a flautist and dreams about being the best flautist in the world. She’s prepared to practice every day. But at band practice, Mrs Thomas hands her a tuba, because Rosie is tall and has long arms and fingers. Rosie decides she wants to be the best tuba player in the world. But there are a few details to sort out first. She needs to work out how to get the tuba to and from school for band practice. Rosie must convince her brother Michael that she doesn’t sound like a ‘sick elephant’. Then a new boy starts at school. Ryan is taller than Rosie, and he wants to join the band too. Rosie is worried that her career as a tuba player will be over before it’s even begun.


Rosie is a determined and enthusiastic character, happily adapting to learning a different instrument than she’d imagined. She works hard to discover a solution to getting the tuba to school and only falters when it seems she might not get to play it after all. Her enthusiasm, anxiety and diligence are nicely balanced in this realistic dilemma. Teachers and family, even siblings, offer to help her out, but this heroine finds her own solution. Oom Pah Pah! is realistic about the commitment required to be a band member and the challenges faced by those who play some of the larger instruments. It also sends clear and positive messages about reward-for-effort and the joy that playing in a band can bring. Recommended for lower-mid primary readers.


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


Oom Pah Pah! (ABC Kids Fiction)


Oom Pah Pah! Cecily Matthews & Mitch Vane
ABC Books 2007
ISBN: 9780733320682

Emily's Rapunzel Hair, by Cecily Matthews

Poor Emily has fallen under the spell of Rapunzel–she wants her short hair to become long and flowing just like her friend Lucy Brown, who has piggy tails and tells Emily that girls have long hair and boys have short. Emily’s hair just doesn’t grow as quickly as Lucy’s, and she becomes impatient with waiting. To help ease the impatience, Emily makes pretend Rapunzel hair with red tights, and plays a series of make-believe games with Grandma, has a trip to town on the bus with Mum, visits the ducks at a local park, visits a green frog at her grandparent’s house, nearly loses her pet chick, and finally gets what she craves at her aunt and uncle’s wedding.

The book contains 7 stories, each able to be read on their own, but linked together by Emily’s exuberant personality, her desire for long hair, her toys and pet animals. Very young children will enjoy looking at the pictures, and will relate to Emily’s adventures and her bubs, chook, ducks and frog, but will probably only be able to sit through one story at a time. Older children and early readers will enjoy working through the book at their own pace, and will enjoy following Emily’s adventures and the light plot.

Cecily Matthews’ text is pitched at the right level for children under 8, and Freya Blackwood’s watercolour and pencil illustrations are soft, with lots of detail for parents and children to look at together. There is ample opportunity to talk about the child relevant stories; and to discuss similar adventures, tea parties, trips, and animals which your children have experienced, in order to make the story personal. Keen children who like to participate in their storybooks may also consider putting tights on their heads, having tea parties with their stuffed animals, playing with their ducks (hopefully not in piles of dirt under the bed!), singing along with the bus songs, and talking to frogs in the letterbox. This is a lovely story which encourages patience, and celebrates the gentle joys of childhood games from an author who has extensive experience in parenthood.

Emily’s Rapunzel Hair, By Cecily Matthews, Illustrated by Freya Blackwood ABC Books
Hardcover, ISBN: 0642589038, A$27.95, 48 pages, April 2005