One Keen Koala, by Margaret Wild & Bruce Whatley

ONE keen koala
ready for school.

One keen koala is ready for his first day of school. hH is joined by two perky penguins, three excited wallabies and so on, as they discover the fun of starting school. From posing for photographs, to meeting the teacher, to playing with paint and glue, having stories and, at the end of the day hurrying home to mum, the animals romp through the day.

With rhyming text by Margaret Wild and joy-filled watercolour and pencil illustrations by Bruce Whatley, this is an offering sure to be embraced by youngsters starting school, and their parents. It will withstand repeated rereadings, and the simplicity of the text will encourage children to join in on rereadings.

Lovely.

One Keen Koala, by Margaret Wild & Bruce Whatley
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743629291

Sleigh Ride, L. Anderson & M. Parish, illustrated by Matt Shanks

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
Ring-ting-tingling too,
Come on, it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you.

This popular Christmas song filled with mentions of snow and sleighs seems an unlikely choice for an Australian picture book, but illustrator Matt Shanks has given it a very Australian makeover. The words are unchanged, but the sleigh bells belong to an icecream van, and the sleigh is a trailer towed behind it. The ice and snow come from an esky. The pages are also populated with a cast of Australian animals – koalas, wombats, numbats, galahs, echidnas and more are picked up in the icecream van sleigh and end up at the beach where the van’s driver is revealed as a penguin.

Youngsters will love seeing the song interpreted in a beach and outback setting, and there is a bonus CD featuring the song performed by Hum,an Nature and Jessica Mauboy, so they will be able to sing along.

Christmas fun.

Sleigh Ride, by L. Anderson & M. Parish, illustrated by Matt Shanks
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760276928

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

Hop up! Wriggle over! by Elizabeth Honey

Hop up, wiggle over, wakey wakey, HUNGRY!
Crunch crunch, gobble gobble, lick lick, MORE!

So begins this beautiful little movement and sound filled offering for early childhood audiences. This unconventional animal family – Mum is a koala, Dad a big red kangaroo, and the nine children include a wombat, an echidna, a bilby and more – move through the day joyfully, from wake up till bedtime.

The text is minimal – just four words or phrases per spread, being the sounds the animals mutter (sploosh! boing…boing) or the occasional word such as yum yum! and a joyful Dad-dee! when Dad arrives at the park where the children are playing. Illustrations, in watercolour with pencil outlines are pastel-toned colours of the Australian bush, with white backgrounds and lots of fun detail for youngsters to discover. Movement is depicted with a few well placed lines, and the joy of the family is evident in their faces.

A joyful celebration of families and of Aussie animals.

Hop Up! Wriggle Over!, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743319987

Available from good bookstores and online.

How I Love You by Anna Pignataro

Far in the bush, Little Koala and Mummy were playing.

Little Koala hugged Mummy very tightly and said,

‘This is how I love you, Mummy.’

Far in the bush, Little Koala and Mummy were playing.

Little Koala hugged Mummy very tightly and said,

‘This is how I love you, Mummy.’

Little Koala shows his mother how he loves her. Other baby Australian animals follow suit, expressing their love for their mother in their own special ways. First the day animals, then the night animals declare and show their love. Finally, it’s bedtime for Little Koala and his Mummy shows just how much she loves her baby. Illustrations are soft watercolour with pencil outlines. Habitats are indicated in vignettes, but mostly the images are of the animals themselves. Paper stock is a rich cream, endpapers are a lovely night-blue.

This is a lovely gentle book to be shared with small children, while they are curled in the reader’s lap. Each animal shares a little of its habitat and behaviour before snuggling with mother. In the final pages, it’s made clear that no matter how much the young love their mother, their mother loves them more. An introduction to Australian animals for the very young. Recommended for pre-school children.

 

How I Love You

How I Love You, Anna Pignataro Scholastic Press 2014 ISBN: 9781742838182

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Koalas, Kites and Kangaroos: An Australian Alphabet Book by David Ridyard ill Doreen Gristwood

Koalas, kites and kangaroos,

Penguins and possums and pelicans too.

Worm-eating wagtails and wombats at play,

Surf-riding seals on a hot summer’s day.

Rabbits on roller-skates, lizards on land,

Card-playing crocodiles, shells on the sand.

Turn over the pages and take a close look

At this wonderful, colourful ALPHABET BOOK!

Koalas, kites and kangaroos,

Penguins and possums and pelicans too.

Worm-eating wagtails and wombats at play,

Surf-riding seals on a hot summer’s day.

Rabbits on roller-skates, lizards on land,

Card-playing crocodiles, shells on the sand.

Turn over the pages and take a close look

At this wonderful, colourful ALPHABET BOOK!

Koalas, Kites and Kangaroos: An Australian Alphabet Book’ is exactly what it says: an alphabet book. As well as Australian animals, there are words describing the Australian life including kiting, surfing, ‘beaching’. There are also a broad range of other words that young readers will be familiar with including shapes, foods and plants. Words are listed down each side of openings, with two letters sharing an illustration. Illustrations are in watercolour set in frames on each opening, although the ‘characters’ often burst beyond their frame. A list in the final pages, offers the opportunity to return to images to find other, perhaps less obvious words.

Koalas, Kites and Kangaroos was originally published in 1985 and reprinted several times before this new edition from Scholastic in 2013. It’s pitched at young children beginning to access written language. The animals are anthropomorphised to extend the alphabet into scenes familiar to many young Australians. Echidnas feature on the ‘A’ page, and the list at the end identifies them as ‘anteaters’, providing the opportunity to talk about animals being named by their activity as well as having a scientific name. A zebra does appear on the ‘z’ page, but it is in a zoo, opening the discussion about native and other animals. Recommended for pre-schoolers.

 

Koalas, Kites and Kangaroos: An Australian Alphabet, David Ridyard ill Doreen Gristwood Scholastic 2013 ISBN: 9781742838724

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

The Koala Bounces Back, by Jimmy Thomson & Eric Lobbecke

Karri, the koala, lives in Karri’s Corner, a peaceful home where there are no dogs, no cats, no cars, trucks or men with saws. Peaceful. Tranquil. Perfect. Then a gang of feral cats moves in.

Karri, the koala, lives in Karri’s Corner, a peaceful home where there are no dogs, no cats, no cars, trucks or men with saws. Peaceful. Tranquil. Perfect. Then a gang of feral cats moves in. The other animals are traumatised and ask Karri to intervene. But the feral cats, no longer welcome in their previous homes, have nowhere else to go. It’s a standoff. Then Jinksy, one of the cats, suggests a football game. The winning team can stay, the losers must move on. Before he really thinks about it, Karri agrees. The advantage gradually goes the way of the cats, until weather intervenes. Karri and his crew are winners but he cannot stop thinking about the plight of the homeless cats. His solution brings smiles all around. Illustrations are set in white space and provide multiple perspectives of both bush and urban animals with humour.

Fantasy and realism combine in The Koala Bounces Back. Karri needs goodwill, humour and advanced problem-solving skills to save himself and his friends from the invading cats. The cats, it’s clear, don’t really want to be there either, but having been evicted from their urban homes, are determined to adapt. Unfortunately, cohabiting with native animals is not going to work, not for the native animals anyway. There are opportunities for classroom discussion about sharing, cooperation and compassion. Young readers will enjoy the humour, particularly in the illustrations. Younger children will just enjoy the silliness of cats and native animals playing football. Recommended for early primary years.

The Koala Bounces Back

The Koala Bounces Back, Jimmy Thomson & Eric Lobbecke
Random House 2011
ISBN: 9781742750071

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Koala Number One, by Jill Morris

Until now, Kolo has lived with his mother, safe within the koala colony. Now, though, his father tells him he must leave. There can be only one big male koala in the colony.

Out on his own, Kolo has difficulty finding a safe place to live. Much of his habitat has been destroyed, and he faces feral predators and other perils such as cars and bushfire. Finding food and shelter is his greatest challenge, but finding company his greatest desire, as he finds it is no fun being alone.

Koala Number One is a fictional story but, like all of the author’s books, is also very educational. Children are being given a glimpse of the threats faced by koalas as man encroaches on what was once koala territory. As well as facts and information scattered within the story, the final page of the book also presents relevant facts.

The illustrations of Heather Gall are a superb complement to the text of Jill Morris, with delightfully detailed depitctions of the koalas, the bush and more.

Koala Number One is suitable for ages 4 to 8 and, as an educational tool is appropriate even for upper primary aged students.

Lovely.

Koala Number One, by Jill Morris, illustrated by Heather Gall
Greater Glider, 2004