Sniffy the Sniffer Dog, by Krista Bell

Born into a family of outstanding sniffer dogs, no one can understand why Sniffy is such a failure at sniffer dog school.

Sniffy’s problem is that his nose seems to be doing the bidding of his stomach. He can always find lollies and chocolate, but this is no help when he’s supposed to be finding seeds and fruit.

When Sniffy is thrown out of sniffer dog school, he thinks his life is over. But really it’s just begun. He finds a new home with a family, where he gets the chance to prove he really is an excellent sniffer dog.

Sniffy the Sniffer Dog is a delightful new chapter book by versatile Aussie author Krista Bell. With illustrations by the talented Craig Smith, this is a great title for six to eight year old readers.

Sniffy the Sniffer Dog, by Krista Bell and Craig Smith
A Start-Ups title from Lothian, 2003

Mutt Dog, by Stephen Michael King

In the city there lives a dog who belongs to no-one. He spends his days searching for food and a place to sleep, until one day he chances upon a half way house, where people are lining up for food and a bed for the night.

The lady working at the refuge tries to turn the dog away but when he sneaks back in she relents and lets him stay the night. The next morning, she decides to offer the dog a home at her place in the country and soon the newly-christened Mutt Dog is settling in to life in a family.

This gorgeous new offering from the talented Stephen Michael King is a cute story about a dog but it is much more than just a dog story. Mutt Dog looks at issues of homelessness – both for animals and humans. It is no coincidence that Mutt Dog is picked up at a refuge for homeless people or that, while he is on the streets, he is surrounded by people who are in the same situation as he is. Probably the most telling part of the whole book is the line, when Mutt Dog discovers the half way house: There wasn’t enough room … or even enough food for a dog.

Mutt Dog will be enjoyed for its quirky illustrations and feel-good story but it will also pave the way for discussions, both in the classroom and at home, about the plight of the homeless.

Mutt Dog is a warm and touching combination of cute story and important subject matter which belongs in every home and library.

Mutt Dog, by Stephen Michael King
Scholastic, 2004

Happy Birthday Roly and Where Are You, Roly?, by Selena Chan and Michelle Katsouranis

Roly is a chubby purple puppy, which is hardly surprising when you realise that his father is blue and his mother pink. Kids will love his crazy colour and his cute face and they’ll like his adventures, too.

Both of these offerings have very simple storylines and lots of colour, and so are suited for very young children – aged up to four years. Where Are You, Roly? is a lift the flap book with each double page spread showing Roly hidden in various places – in a treehouse, behind the bubbles in the bath, behind books on his desk and so on with a simple but sturdy flap to be lifted or opened to reveal him. The text is patterned, with each page beginning with the question: Where are you, Roly? This is followed by Roly’s description of what he is doing, in simple rhyme, and his question, Can you see me?

Happy Birthday Roly is similarly simple, although slightly larger in format and without the flap feature. It is Roly’s birthday and he is preparing for his birthday party. He is planning to do a magic act for his friends but he has nothing special to wear. Until he opens his parents’ gift.

A feature of both books is the inclusion of notes for parents on the back cover, with simple suggestions for before, during and after reading the book. There are also further tips and activities avaialable at the publisher’s website.This cute pair would be suitable as a birthday gift and their sturdy pages make them likely to withstand the love they will get from toddler owners.

Happy Birthday Roly and Where Are You Roly?, by Selena Chan, illustrated by Michelle Katsouranis
Ibis Publishing, 2004

This Dog Bruce, by Frances Watts and Bridget Strevens-Marzo

One brown rabbit was sitting on a hill, sitting very still and enjoying the sun, when…
This dog Bruce comes sniffing along, wagging his tail and looking for FUN! With a hippity-hop, the rabbit was gone.

Bruce is a delightfully bouncy pup who just wants his friends to play with him. Unfortunately, his friends don’t seem to want to play . Bruce is baffled until they explain that he is just too rough. Fortunately, Bruce is able to think of a game that they all can play.

This Dog Bruce is a lively read-aloud title that young prereaders will adore. Perfect for sharing, youngsters will soon pick up the repetitive tagline and will also catch on to the inbuilt counting lesson. With lovely rhyme and rhythm, adult readers will enjoy sharing this one too and will overlook the slight awkwardness of the shifting tense (from past to present and back again).

The animal illustrations of Bridget Srtevens-Marzo (who most recently illustrated Margaret Wild’s Kiss Kiss) are perfect for the tone of the story, with lots of colour and cute expressions. The four fluffy ducklings are especially appealing.

This Dog Bruce is a delight.

This Dog Bruce, by Frances Watts and Bridget Strevens-Marzo
Little Hare Books, 2004

Buttonhead's Day at the Farm, by Lisa Coutts

Buttonhead is Ibis Publishing’s newest character, with two books just released and more yet to come. In Buttonhead’s Day at the Farm, Buttonhead visits Farmer Jo and feeds the farm animals.

Each double paged spread includes a flap for young readers to lift, with the opportunity to guess which animal Buttonhead is about to feed. The text is simple, with the question Who is Buttonhead feeding? repeated on every spread but the first and the last single page. Because of this simplicity and the bright, uncluttered illustrations, the book is likely to appeal to the very young – children aged two to four – who will enjoy the novelty of predicting the animals and opening the flaps.

The book includes reading and teaching suggestions on the back cover, as well as activities on the Ibis website.

A cute offering for littlies.

Buttonhead’s Day on the Farm, by Lisa Coutts
Ibis Publishing, 2004

How Many Dogs in the House? by Beverley Boorer

On the front porch lies a big old dog named Nemo:
A snoozing in the sun dog.
A dreaming of a bone dog.
A come and scratch my back dog.
But Nemo isn’t the only dog in the house. In fact there are dogs in every room of the house – dogs of all shapes and sizes. Just how many dogs are there?

This delightful counting book will have youngsters guessing, counting and eagerly turning pages. The rhythm of author Beverly Boorer’s text makes for a fun read-aloud, which parents and teachers will enjoy sharing with preschoolers.

The illustrations of award-winning artist Kilmeny Niland use bright pastels and a combination of whimsy and cute in a style which youngsters will love.

All round, a cute little number with the added bonus of helping youngsters learn to count.

How Many Dogs in the House, by Beverley Boorer, illustrated by Kilmeny Niland
Scholastic Press, 2004

Pudding & Chips, by Penny Matthews

Chips the sheepdog takes his role very seriously. If he isn’t needed to round up the sheep, he gets busy rounding up the other animals. Except there is one animal – Pudding the goose – who refuses to be rounded up. When Chips chases Pudding, she flies at him, and soon he is the one being chased.

When a fox starts visiting the farm, it is Pudding who raises the alarm. but when he catches two of the other geese, Pudding changes. All the honk goes out of her. Then, without warning she disappears.

Everyone misses Pudding, but Chips misses her the most. So, when early one morning he hears her honking on the hill, he is the first to go and greet her. Together they chase off the fox, who has made another visit, before Pudding reveals the secret reason for her absence.

Penny Matthews’ gentle but richly woven text is delightfully complemented by the pen, ink and watercolour illustrations of Janine Dawson. For teachers in preprimary or lower primary classrooms, Pudding & Chips would make an excellent complement to Matthews’ award-winning A Year on Our Farm, although of course it stands wonderfully on its own for home or school reading.

Pudding & Chips, by Penny Matthews, illustrated by Janine Dawson
ABC Books, 2004

YoYo's Hidey House, by Jeanette Rowe

YoYo is playing hide and seek with his friends. Young readers can lift the flaps and help YoYo search through the house to find them all.

This brightly coloured book will appeal to toddlers with its simple story and interactive flaps. Janette Rowe’s illustrations are both vibrant and whimsical, making them perfect for the early years.

Rowe is a Melbourne based author and illustrator who has been creating children’s books for over fifteen years. The YoYo series is a delight and this addition is no exception.

YoYo’s Hidey House, by Jeannette Rowe
ABC Books, 2003

Two Hairy Maclary Titles, by Lynley Dodd

There are few dogs more loved in children’s literature than Hairy Maclary. For years they have been read aloud by parents, grandparents and teachers, made into a television series for littlies and generally enjoyed. Now ABC Books has released two beautiful titles in board book format.

In Hairy Maclary, Sit, Hairy and his friends are attending obedience classes in the park. Hairy, however, is feeling “breezily bad, jittery, skittery, mischievous, mad.” When the leader tells him to sit, he scampers away instead. As he chases two ducks he is joined by more and more of the obedience-class escapees – Bottomley Potts, Muffin McLay, Hercules Morse, Nitzer Maloney – in fact all of the dogs who make regular appearances in Dodd’s stories.

In Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack, Hairy Maclary meets a mischeivous duckling who wants to play. Hairy isn’t so sure, and tries to hide from the yellow intruder, until he finds himself in a bind that Zachary can help him out of.

Both stories ooze appeal and readability. Dodd’s whimsical use of words and rhyme, coupled with her bright, joy-filled illustrations make these titles that parents will love to read and chidlren will love to listen to. The board-book format makes them sturdy, which is great – because these are books which will be read again and again for a long time to come.

Hairy Maclary, Sit and Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack, both by Lynley Dodd
ABC Books, 2003

Junkyard Dogs, by Margaret Balderson

In an uptown mansion, four pampered pooches – Billy, Bolly, Bella and Blue – live in luxury. They have a great view and a lovely lawn, and are bathed weekly in ‘la Poochette’ shampoo, but they have absolutely nothing to do. Across town, two mutts called Molly and Moo live in a junkyard and spend their days frolicking and clowning around.

One day Molly and Moo cross town and visit their pampered friends. They decide to liberate them and take them out for an excursion – to the tip. The six dogs have a wonderful time, but the four from the hill are in trouble when they get home dirty and smelly.

Times change, however, when the pampered pooches’ owner goes bankrupt and is forced to sell his big house and move across town. Guess who his new next door neighbour is?

Junkyard Dogs is a fun rhyming picture book by Margaret Balderson. Her quirky rhyme style is well complemented by the watercolour illustrations of Janine Dawson, whose dogs are adorable.

A fun text that preschoolers will love.

Junkyard Dogs by Margaret Balderson, illustrated by Janine Dawson
Scholastic, 2003