Red Plane to the Rescue, Melissa Firth, Cheryl Orsini, Scholastic Press

A red plane, a blue plane and a yellow plane are planning a display. Together and separately they perform their tricks. Up and down, even swapping planes, with a ‘Chucka chucka chucka, vroom vroom vroom! Zing zing zow, zoom zoom zoom!

A red plane, a blue plane and a yellow plane are planning a display. Together and separately they perform their tricks. Up and down, even swapping planes, with a ‘Chucka chucka chucka, vroom vroom vroom! Zing zing zow, zoom zoom zoom! When it looks like disaster has struck, the aerobatic team become a rescue team, bringing everyone safely into land. Illustrations are in bright, primary colours set on solid colour pages.

Imaginative play is so important for children, and Red Plane to the Rescue is a wonderful example of the heights and drama that can be achieved in play. Young children will follow the movement of the planes as the story is being read, and it won’t be long before they’re joining in the refrain. Then they’ll be flying their own planes, toy or imaginary. Teachers will have children zooming their planes all around the place. Great fun for pre- and early school-age children.

Red Plane to the Rescue

Red Plane to the Rescue, Melissa Firth & Cheryl Orsini
Scholastic Press 2011
ISBN: 9781741698534

Other titles by this duo: Frederik Goes Bananas

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This title is available from good bookstores or online from RFishponde.

Wibbly Wobbly Street, by Trudie Trewin & Cheryl Orsini

Wibbly Wobbly Street wound up and down, thin and out, right and left and everywhere in between.
It was a peculiar street full of peculiar happenings.
And the people who lived there liked it just the way it was.

All of the streets in Squareton are straight and smooth and wide, and flat and trim and tidy – except Wibbly Wobbly Street. True to its name, Wibbly Wobbly Street wibbles and wobbles all over the place – and that is exactly how the people who live there like it. But the Mayor and the Councillors of Squareton don’t like it – and they decide it must be straightened.

Wibbly Wobbly Street is a hilarious picture book about nonconformity and the fun of being different. It is also just a plain silly story of street-straightening and a celebration of language. Author Trudie Trewin has fun making up words (rectangle-fied and wibblectomy, for example), and using real words for maximum fun – hopscotch, askew, wibbliest and more. The text also wibbles and wobbles to emphasise the meaning, and the illustrations, by Cheryl Orsini, wibble and wobble too, with whimsy and fun on every page.

A delightful tale.

Wibbly Wobbly Street

Wibbly Wobbly Street, by Trudie Trewin and Cheryl Orsini
Scholastic, 2010

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

Fredrik Goes Bananas, by Melissa Firth

Fredrik Lotsie lived on Snowsmoke Island, where everyone loved fish.
Fish for breakfast, fish for lunch and fish for dinner.
Big fish, small fish, silver fish and smooth fish.

Fredrik Goes Bananas is set in a snowy icy north, where the daily occupation is breaking through the ice to catch food for the day. Fredrik Lotsie has eaten fish every meal of his life, as has every member of his family, and everyone in his village. When Fredrik decides he’s had enough fish, the villagers are sure he’s ‘gone bananas’. As Fredrick thinks through his options, his behaviour further convinces his neighbours that he’s ‘bananas’. His wife, Mrs Lotsie who makes fish-scale ballgowns, is inconsolable, even when villagers bring her bowls of steaming fish stew. As the days go by, Fredrik is still not eating fish but his plans for an alternative seem destined to fail. He feels increasingly alone and begins to doubt himself.

Fredrik Goes Bananas is an almost-square format hardback. A jubilant Fredrick on the front cover suggests either Fredrik finds a solution to his dilemma or he’s decided that going bananas IS the solution! Cheryl Orsini has used a mainly blue palette for her illustrations, and included plenty of white space which add to the feeling of a cold climate. The air may be cold but until Fredrik’s fall from grace, this was a close community. Everyone in town is unsettled by Fredrik wanting something different. There are themes here about conformity and the consequences of wanting more. Colour floods the page where Fredrik triumphs and pervades the following openings, ending the villagers’ unease and his isolation. Recommended for 4-6 year olds.

Fredrik Goes Bananas!

Fredrik Goes Bananas! Melissa Firth ill Cheryl Orsini
Scholastic 2009
ISBN: 9781741691139

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond

Minnie Pearl and the Undersea Bazaar, by Natalie Jane Prior

Every morning, when they had eaten their seaweed-flakes, they swam through the Bazaar’s golden doors. Minnie helped her mother, Marina, put new gowns on the racks for the mer-models to wear in the day’s fashion parade and then she tidied the changing rooms in Modes and Jewellery.

Minnie Pearl and her parents live behind their shop, the Undersea Bazaar. Minnie helps in the shop when she’s not attending school and learning what to do if she should ever encounter a human. She dreams of being an explorer. Then the wide-smiling Manta Ray opens her Marine Emporium next door and everything begins to change. All the fashionable mermaids flock to Manta’s shop, even Aunt Kelpie is seduced. Minnie’s parents begin to frown as they do the accounts. Minnie determines to help them save their business. She follows Manta and discovers where the newcomer finds her stock. Returning home isn’t quite as easy as she expected and humans aren’t quite as they have been portrayed.

Minnie Pearl and the Underwater Bazaar is a longer picture book for lower to middle primary readers. Minnie is an independent, resourceful heroine determined to help her parents save their shop. Others are happy to follow unquestioningly, but not Minnie. Themes include prejudice against those who are different, and the risks inherent in blindly following fashion trends. The text brings to life an underwater community complete with seahorse-as-pets and sandwiches full of sea-cucumber slices. Cheryl Orsini’s illustrations are full of witty and humorous details, particularly in the stock of both shops. Recommended for lower to middle primary readers.

Minnie Pearl and the Undersea Bazaar, by Natalie Jane Prior & Cheryl Orsini
ABC Books 2007
ISBN: 9780733320149