Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum, by Gordon Winch & Stephen Pym

Penelope looked down the mountain, but Percy was nowhere to be seen.
‘Where’s that Percy?’ she thought. ‘He should be coming back by now.’

Penelope the pygmy possum wakes from her winter hibernation, looking forward to the return of her mate, Percy, who has spent the winter with the other males away from the cold of the mountains. But there is a problem. Over the winter roadworkers have built a new road, and now it is blocking the path of the male possums. Luckily, Rick the Ranger has a solution, and soon the males are using a new tunnel under the road to get home. Penelope and Percy are reunited.

Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum is a cute picture story book which fictionalises the real events surrounding the building of a ‘tunnel of love’ for male pygmy possums to safely leave and return from the Snowy Mountains during the colder months, while the female possums remain on the mountains and hibernate. The story gives young readers the chance to learn about the pygmy possum and the threats to its existence. Illustrations show realistic landscapes, roadworks and wildlife, though the possums are partly anthropomorphised for narrative purposes.

Educational and entertaining.

Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum , by Gordon Winch & Stephen Pym
New Frontier, 2016
ISBN 9781925059595

The Last ANZAC by Gordon Winch ill Harriet Bailey

On a cold winter’s day James and his dad stepped off a plane in Tasmania.

James was going to meet Alec Campbell, the last living Anzac. The year was 2001.

On a cold winter’s day James and his dad stepped off a plane in Tasmania.

James was going to meet Alec Campbell, the last living Anzac. The year was 2001.

James and his dad travel to meet Alec Campbell, the last living Anzac. James is bubbling with questions about all sorts of aspects of war. He wants to know whether Campbell was injured, whether he was scared, what he and the other soldiers ate. Interspersed with the questions from James, the story of Alec Campbell’s war service is explored. Illustrations swap between the present and 1915, with the latter images shown either full page or surrounded by a border, a bit like an old photo. The last ‘present’ image, with Alec Campbell and James together is also presented as a photo, perhaps suggesting the lasting memory of their meeting.

The Last ANZAC is based on a true story of the meeting between James and Alec Campbell. It’s not easy to share the enormity of a war with young readers. Gordon Winch has put the reader in the story in the form of a character, James, who is about their age. This way James can ask the questions that a young reader might ask. Illustrations also present more information sure to generate more questions and opportunities for discussion either at home or in the classroom. ‘The Last ANZAC’ offers an introduction to WWI for early primary readers, showing them Gallipoli through the eyes of someone who was there. Endpapers include copies of wartime letters, postcards and envelopes.

 

The Last ANZAC, Gordon Winch ill Harriet Bailey New Frontier Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9781925059298

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Enoch the Emu, by Gordon Winch & Doreen Gristwood

Enoch looked at the eggs
as Wilhelmina disappeared down the track.
“HUH!” he said. What a fuss about
a little bit of egg sitting!”

Enoch the Emu is good at kicking, eating, strutting and hanging out with his mates at the Emu Club, but he is not good at doing his bit around the nest. When his wife Wilhelmina gets sick of looking after the eggs she has laid, she decides to leave. Now Enoch must look after the eggs. At first he thinks it will be easy, but as the weeks drag by he realises just how hard it is. Still, when the eggs hatch he is as proud as can be – and can’t wait to show off his chicks to his mates at the club.

Enoch the Emu is a classic picture book, first published in 1984 and newly rereleased. A fun, fictional story, it is based on the fact that it is the male emu who sits on the eggs laid by the female and then raises the chicks. The illustrations are gently whimsical, with lots of little details for youngsters to spot and enjoy

A timeless treasure, it is wonderful to see Enoch the Emu back in print.

 

Enoch the Emu, by Gordon Winch & Doreen Gristwood
Scholastic Australia 2013
ISBN 9781742838717

Available from good bookstores and online.

Apollo The Powerful Owl by Gordon Winch ill Stephen Pym

Apollo the Powerful Owl finished his supper and thought, ‘I must change my diet. All I do is eat … eat … eat nothing by meat … meat… meat for every meal.’

BURP!

Apollo the Powerful Owl finished his supper and thought, ‘I must change my diet. All I do is eat … eat … eat nothing by meat … meat… meat for every meal.’

Apollo has a moment of introspection and decides that it’s time to change his life. No more will he eat, eat, eat. No more will he frighten all the other forest occupants. And perhaps then he won’t be so lonely. So, day by day, he alters his diet and, he hopes, his life and position in the forest. But no matter how he tries, instead of improving his lot, his efforts seem to make him feel worse and worse. Finally he seeks counsel from a wise old owl. Only then does his role and his life make sense. Illustrations are full page and include many other forest dwellers. An information page at the end of the story provides more details about this threatened species.

Apollo wants to be more like the other animals in the forest and perhaps then they will be his friends. But it’s not as easy as that and Apollo discovers that he has a role to play in the ecosystem and that there are other ways and other places to seek friendship. It is a story about being yourself as well as discovering that everyone has a role to play in the world. There is opportunity to use this story in a classroom to introduce an Australian animal, an Australian environment, discuss food chains and ecosystems. Readers will empathise with Apollo and his need for companionship and will celebrate with him at the story’s conclusion/solution. Recommended for pre- and early-readers.

Apollo the Powerful Owl

Apollo the Powerful Owl, Gordon Winch ill Stephen Pym
New Frontier Publishing 2012 ISBN: 9781921928284

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores or online.

Samantha Seagull's Sandals, by Gordon Winch & Tony Oliver

 long time ago
there lived a young, silver gull
who wanted to be different.
Her name was Samantha.

Samantha wants to be different and although she is advised that in time she would be different, she just can’t wait. She decides that shoes will be what makes her different. So she tries high heels, gumboots and more, but each has limitations for a seagoing gull. When her shoes fail, her fiend Simon is there to tell her that she is beautiful just as she is. Not that Samantha believes it. And with each failure she has to endure ridicule from the other gulls (except Simon). The ridicule causes her to blush, red feet, red eyes and beak. Finally, she thinks she has found the perfect shoes to make her different. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour and realistic in style, although the hermit crab has a few extra features! His eyebrows are fabulous.

Many children are in a hurry to grow up, to find their way, their own special place. And because they are impatient, they can’t hear the advice they’re given, nor can they see some of the consequences of their actions. Samantha is keen to be different, but doesn’t realise – or perhaps doesn’t value – the unconditional friendship offered by Simon. Simon on the other hand is patient, uncritical and supportive. The crowd? Well they’re a crowd and act as one with no heed for the impact. This is a 25th birthday for Samantha Seagull’s Sandals , a tremendous achievement for a picture story book. In a post script, there is information about silver gulls. It’s true, their legs, eyes, beaks do really change colour as they become adults. Recommended for early primary readers.

Samantha Seagull’s Sandals , Gordon Winch, ill Tony Oliver
New Frontier Publishing 2010
ISBN: 9781921042591

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

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online fromFishpond.

Do You Know Millie, by Gordon Winch

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan

Change is difficult for everyone, so when you are a small child moving away from your friends, it is normal to be sad. In Do you know Millie?, Sarah is moving to the big city and is told by her friend, Rosa, that Millie also lives in the big city and will be Sarah’s friend. The only problem is, that nobody seems to know Millie.

Do you know Millie? is a story about friendship and finding that some things are closer than you think. The story flows smoothly as we follow Sarah in search of Millie and the basic concept of asking people if they know her indicates the size of the world we live in. Despite this, Sarah does not easily give up her search.

There is disappointment for Sarah, but the book ends on a positive note as she finds a new friend in her neighbour.

You feel Sarah’s emotions in Alan Robinson’s illustrations and the double page spreads are bright and have a positive feel to them. Do you know Millie? is Robinson’s first picture book and his work complements Winch’s simple, yet heartfelt text. Sarah’s teddy and little white dog join her in each illustration as her constant companions, and friends.

This is another enjoyable story from New Frontier and once again they have produced a publication worthy of sitting on our bookshelves.

Do you know Millie? Winch, Gordon (text) and Robinson, Alan (illus)
New Frontier, 2008
HB rrp $24.95

Two Matilda Mudpuddle Titles, by Gordon Winch

Matilda Mudpuddle looked in the mirror and had a big shock. “I’ve gone!” she exclaimed in alarm. “I’ve disappeared. I’ve left the face of the earth!”

Matilda is very special. Whenever she eats one of the delicacies her grandfather brings back from his trips overseas, she develops a new special ability. When he brings back bright blue jelly babies from the Bahamas, Matilda discovers that eating one turns her invisible for three hours. She decides to use the new power to get up to all sorts of mischief – from tricking people in the supermarket, to tickling the school principal during a long, boring speech. But her grandfather wants her to also use her special powers to help people and, when she and her mother are caught up in a bank robbery, she sees her opportunity.

The Invisible Matilda Mudpuddle and Matilda Mudpuddle and the X-ray Eyes are two new titles in the Matilda Mudpuddle series. Each book features Matilda having adventures with a new special ability, each of which is limited in time – the invisibility only lasts till she’s eaten the last jelly baby, whilst her x-ray vision lasts for a month. Each chapter features a new adventure with the relevant ability, so that each can be read as a self-contained adventure, making them accessible to slow readers.

This is a fun series which will appeal to kids aged 7 to 9.

Matilda Mudpuddle and the X-ray Eyes and The Invisible Matilda Mudpuddle, by Gordon Winch, illustrated by Dee Texidor
New Frontier Publishing, 2006