The Kids’ Survival Guide by Susan Berran

Prelude

Ok, so one day I’m living in the city, surfin’, hanging-out with my mates, everything is totally awesome and then along comes one annoying, diarrhoea pants, little snot-nose sister, Miss Smelly Melly Poop Pants.

‘You’re a big brother now, Sam.’

‘We’re moving to the country, Sam.’

What the? Why? Do I get a say in this …

NOOO!

Prelude

Ok, so one day I’m living in the city, surfin’, hanging-out with my mates, everything is totally awesome and then along comes one annoying, diarrhoea pants, little snot-nose sister, Miss Smelly Melly Poop Pants.

‘You’re a big brother now, Sam.’

‘We’re moving to the country, Sam.’

What the? Why? Do I get a say in this …

NOOO!

Sam has moved to the country and he’s not loving it. But luckily for Sam, another former city kid arrives. They speak the same language, they get into the same trouble. And that’s where this story really begins. In the aftermath of a particular adventure-gone-wrong, Sam realises that all old people know exactly the same lectures. He and Jared decide to write a manual to help other kids decode these same lectures. The manual will also help other kids to get out of trouble, particularly if they have annoying little sisters. Black and white illustrations are scattered throughout.

Sam is full of helpful advice for his readers, offering translations and responses to those tedious stories from adults about how things were different in their day. From his first person perspective, he’s is the innocent victim in every action, every accidental disaster, every conversation. Readers will recognise the situations and enjoy Sam’s insights. He also offers the final, fool-proof formula for getting out of anything you don’t want to do. It’s in the International Rule book you know!  For newly independent readers transitioning to longer chapter books

The Kids’ Survival Guide, Susan Berran
Big Sky Books 2016
ISBN: 9781925520071

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

My Dog Dash by Nicki Greenberg

My dog Dash wasn’t very well-behaved at puppy school.

I think the teacher could have been a bit more patient with him.

My dog Dash wasn’t very well-behaved at puppy school.

I think the teacher could have been a bit more patient with him.

Dash’s story is told by a young girl who loves him. Dash attends puppy school, but although he does many of the same things as other puppies, the teacher is unimpressed. He’s great at ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ but is still working on other tasks. Walking Dash is slow because he’s interested in everything he sees. But he is her pet, and she loves him, despite what others might see as his failures or peccadillos. Illustrations are full page and provide plenty of humour.

Dash is an unusual dog, but there are plenty of those in the world. This young girl is caring and responsible with her pet, despite the reactions of others. ‘My Dog Dash’ is hilarious and will be fun to share with one reader or many. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

My Dog Dash, Nicki Greenberg Allen & Unwin 2016 ISBN: 9781760110673

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Princess Parsley by Pamela Rushby

It’s not that easy being a princess, you know.

I mean, you’re flat out finding anything even resembling a decent prince to go to the Year Eight disco with.

And you just try shopping for a nice new tiara in downtown Mullumbimby. As if. Not to mention anything like glass slippers: non-existent. Nothing more exotic that Super softs and hush Puppies ever hits the Mullumbimby shoe shop.

And what do you do when the kids at school don’t curtsy to you? Have them exiled?

Or executed?

Being a princess? I tell you, it’s nothing but problems.

It’s not that easy being a princess, you know.

I mean, you’re flat out finding anything even resembling a decent prince to go to the Year Eight disco with.

And you just try shopping for a nice new tiara in downtown Mullumbimby. As if. Not to mention anything like glass slippers: non-existent. Nothing more exotic that Super softs and Hush Puppies ever hits the Mullumbimby shoe shop.

And what do you do when the kids at school don’t curtsy to you? Have them exiled?

Or executed?

Being a princess? I tell you, it’s nothing but problems.

What do you do when your parents decide it’s groovy to call you Parsley? And your sisters Sage, Rosemary and Thyme? How much worse can life be as you head off to secondary school on the bus? Well, much worse. When her Dad declares their property the Principality of Possum Creek after a feud with a neighbour, her school life goes straight to the dogs. The trio of ‘blondes’ have a field day. It’s not that she wants to be a ‘blonde’, more that she just wants to get along with everyone and fit in. But if that’s going to happen, she’s going to have to find a way to adjust to her new status. Retreating to the drum class is not going to cut it.

‘Princess Parsley’ is hilarious. When you’ve spent your primary years at a school in Mullumbimby, and your parents are, ahem, alternative, there was always going to be waves when you hit the bigger world of secondary school. Parsley is open and honest, responsible and well-loved and it is a surprise to her that not everyone else views the world from that strong platform. Parsley’s year is full of ups and downs and she carries the giggling reader with her through all her trials and travails. Hidden deep inside the hilarity are themes around family, belonging, bullying and more. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.

Princess Parsley, Pamela Rushby Omnibus Books 2016 ISBN: 9781742991610

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

The Cat Wants Custard, by P. Crumble & Lucinda Gifford

Waiter, fetch me a bowl of your best custard.
Well, what are you waiting for?
Haven’t I made myself clear?

Kevin the cat is very hungry, but his human doesn’t seem to understand what he wants. He is offered chicken, sardines, beef and even pigs ears. But what Kevin wants is a big bowl of custard. His efforts to be understood include begging, spelling out custard with his body, and staring at the fridge hungrily. But nothing works. Then, in the middle of the night, the fridge is left open, and Kevin helps himself to what he wants. Or what he thought he wants.

The Cat Wants Custard is a funny picture book, which kids will want again and again. The owner’s voice features only in the first few spreads and in the illustrations appears as just a pair of legs or a hand, so that for most of the book Kevin is the sole voice, facing the reader even as he speaks to the owner. Little kids will love that they know what Kevin is saying, even when his owner doesn’t. Cat lovers will also relate well to Kevin’s actions.

The Cat Wants Custard, by P. Crumble & Lucinda Gifford
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760155780

This Hungry Dragon, by Heath McKenzie

This HUNGRY dragon
heard his tummy growl.
Someone who heard it
was a nervous little owl!

A very hungry dragon meets – and eats – a series of unfortunate animals: the owl, a fancy fox, a muddy pig, and more. But eventually he feels sick and a visit from the doctor is needed. When the doctor, too, ends up in the dragon’s belly he figures out a way to get the dragon to spit them all out. the dragon feels better – and has learnt his lesson.

This humorous rhyming picture book will have kids laughing out loud and saying ‘gross’ in equal measure, but whilst animals are eaten, there’s no blood or gore, and every one is fine at the end. The dragon, in gentle reds and pinks, with tiny wings and big round eyes looks silly rather than fierce and the looks on the various animals’ faces as they realise what is happening adds to the humour.

Lots of fun.

This Hungry Dragon, by Heath McKenzie
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760151508

Don't Call Me Bear, by Aaron Blabey

But if I got a dollar
every time you called me ‘bear’,
I tell you what – and no mistake –
I’d be a MILLIONAIRE.

Koala has had enough. Ever since European explorers first visited Australia, he has been called a bear. And he’s sick of it. If those first explorers ahd done their research, they’d have known that koalas, like kangaroos and wombats, are marsupials.

Don’t Call Me Bear! is a humorous rhyming picture book about Koala’s frustration. There is a gently educational element, but really the focus is on humour, especially with the other marsupials concluding the book by telling Koala that he looks like a bear.

From the creator of books such as Pig the Pug and Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, will be similarly enjoyed.

Don’t Call Me Bear!, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760159849

Did You Take the B from my _ook? by Beck & Matt Stanton

I think mt favourite letter has gone from this _ook!
Let’s check!

Designed to be read aloud to one or more children, Did You Take the B from My _ook? is an interactive offering which will have kids laughing and interjecting throughout. The reader, it seems, has sneezed the B from the bok in the arly pages, and so everyword that should begin with B is incomplete. There are _ulls, _eds, _alls and _utterflies aplenty – just no Bs to correctly pronounce them. The solution, it seems, is to have the listeners call out for B to come back.

Did You Take the B from My _ook? tags itself as a book that drives kids crazy, but it’s mor elikely to make them laugh and want to join in with the tongue-twisting silliness of trying to say all those B words without the letter b.

With simple illustrations and a sturdy format, this is perfect for sharing in a school or child care setting as well as at home.

Did You Take the B from My _ook? , by Beck & Matt Stanton
ABC Books, 2016
ISBN 9780733334832

Chip. by Kylie Howarth

He ate
fat chips, skinny chips,
doggy vhipd, sandy chips,
crunchy little bits of chips
and even spicy chilli-dipped chips.

Like most gulls, Chip would do anything for fish and chips, even though the chips he eats make his stomach ache. So, when the fish and chip van owner bans Chip and his mates from being fed chips, Chip gets desperate. He hatches a plan to impress people so much they won’t be able to resist him and his friends.

Chip is the humorous tale of a greedy, but inventive seagulll, who trains his friends to fly in formation so they can compete in an airshow and get free chips. Though the plan works, the result is not free chips (which are bad for gulls) but fresh fish, which is more satisfying. The mixed-media illustrations make use of collage, pen outlines and digital elements and Howarth’s ability to give Chip plenty of emotion and movement with just a few simple lines is clever.

A fun picture book which will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

Chip, by Kylie Howarth
Five Mile, 2016
ISBN 9781760400736

Where is Bear? by Jonathan Bentley

Where is Bear?
Where could Bear be?

A young boy is ready for bed, but cannot find his bear anywhere. He searches first the bedroom, then the rest of the house, and even outside. The reader can see what he apparently can’t – a huge reddish brown bear that shadows him everywhere. Finally, in desperation, the boy asks the reader  Have you seen Bear? But, though an answer from the reader might be forthcoming, the surprise is that boy looks around and finds, not the big bear, but a teddy bear peeking out from a rug in the bedroom. The boy then presents it to the big bear and, together, the pair go to bed.
This humorous, clever picture book will draw the young reader in, and encourage them to interact. The apparent humour of the boy seemingly unable to see the huge bear who follows him everywhere, coupled with the twist at the end, makes for lots of child engagement and laughter. Bentley’s colourful pencil and watercolour illustrations fill each spread, and allow for minimal text.
Delightful.

Where is Bear? By Jonathan Bentley
Little Hare, 2016
ISBN 9781760122911

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas, by Aaron Blabey

We don’t eat apples!
We don’t eat beans!
We don’t eat veggies!
We don’t eat greens!
We don’t eat melons!
We don’t eat bananas!
And the reason is simple, mate.
We are
PIRANAHAS!

Brian loves bananas, and he’d like his friends to like them, too. The problem is – they are piranhas, and they’d prefer to eat knees, feet and even bums. But Brian persists – offering them all kinds of fruit and vegetable treats. Eventually his friends agree to try a fruit platter if he’ll stop his chatter. They do give it a try but, to Brian’s chagrin, even though they do think the fruit is nice, they still prefer bum.

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas is a short, silly book which kids will adore. The text consists of dialogue between Brian and the other piranhas, with narration not needed. Blabey’s ability to show so much animation in the faces of the fish – largely through movement of their eyes – is amazing.

The rhyming text flows well and there will be giggles at the concept and its execution. Very clever.

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743625781