Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros, by Meg McKinlay & Leila Rudge

Once, there was a small rhinoceros
who wanted to see the big world.

All the other rhinoceroses do the things that rhinoceroses are supposed to do: they wallow in the mud, bathe in the sun, eat grass and rub their horns against trees. But for one small rhinoceros these things are not enough. She wishes she could see the world.  And, although she knows that rhinoceroses can’t build boats, and especially can’t sail and steer boats, she builds her own little boat and sets off to see the world.

Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros is a gentle, humorous but inspirational picture book story. The text tells a tale of courage and following dreams and will appeal to young dreamers. The mixed media illustrations are in gentle tones, allowing the rhinoceroses to star both in the jungle and in the settings the young rhinoceros travels through.

A divine offering for children and adults alike.

Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros, by Meg McKinlay & Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2017
ISBN 9781925126709

The Whole Caboodle, by Lisa Shanahan & Leila Rudge

Wakey-wakey peachy pear,
my fuzzy-wuzzy grizzly bear,
my tootsy-wootsy fizzyjig,
my hurdie-gurdie whirligig!

It’s walk time. A cute ginger and white dog wakes, eager for his morning walk. He wakes his bearded owner, excited at who they might meet in the park today. Will it be one itzy-bitzy Poodle, or two lovey-dovey Bolonoodles?

The Whole Caboodle is a gorgeous rhyming counting book, featuring not just the narrating dog, but a whole feast of dogs big and small, real and recreated. As the little dog and his owner prepare for their walk, each new dog is mimicked by something in the illustration. So, when one poodle is mentioned, there is a poodle teapot cosy as the owner eats breakfast, and the two Bolnoodles are represented by a pair of dog slippers. On the final spread, in the park, when they meet ‘the whole caboodle’, the real dogs are present, and readers will have fun spotting and counting them.

Youngsters will enjoy the rhyming text, with its creative use of words created for tongue-twisting fun, and the  illustrations with matching whimsical detail. This one will demand repeated rereadings.

The Whole Caboodle, by Lisa Shanahan & Leila Rudge
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781743629321

Gary, by Leila Rudge

Most of the time,
Gary was just like
the other racing pigeons.

He ate the same seeds.
Slept in the same loft.
And dreamt of adventure.

Gary is just like the other racing pigeons – except that he can’t fly. So, on race days, when the other pigeons head off on adventures, Gary stays home and dreams. And, when they come home, he collects souvenirs and information which he records in his scrapbook. When Gary accidentally finds himself in the travel basket one raceday, he wonders if he’ll ever find his way home. But his scrapbook provides the clues he needs to plot a route home.

Gary is a gently whimsical picture book about daring to take risks and follow dreams, no matter the obstacle. Readers will love the idea of a flightless bird using ingenuity – and public transport – to overcome his perceived handicap, and the way the other birds try Gary’s way, too. They will also adore the mixed media illustrations, with pastel hues and lots of detail to explore, especially in the maps and souvenirs which Gary collects for his scrapbook.

A beautiful picture book, Gary is suitable for all ages.

Gary, by Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2016
ISBN 9781925081695

Mum Goes to Work, by Libby Gleeson & Leila Rudge

Mum Goes to WorkIt’s early morning.
Everyone is arriving at the centre.
It’s noisy and busy while Mark and Mai greet everyone.
Mum is going to work.
“Bye, Mum.”

As the mums head off to work, their children settle in for a day of playing, and resting, and eating. What do mums do when they are wt work? And what do the children do while Mum is away?

Mum Goes to Work is a beautiful picture book about mothers and children, and about child care centres. Each spread shows one mother at work, explaining what she does there, before looking at what the child and a friend do at the childcare centre. The children’s activities mirror what the mother is doing. So, while Laurence’s mother works in a cafe, Laurence and Georgia make sand cake and sand biscuits in the sandpit, and while Max’s mum works as a nurse, Max and Ann put the dolls to bed in the dress up corner.

The illustrations show mums from lots of different backgrounds and, while the text focusses on mums, the illustrations show dads at drop off and pick up, too, a nice touch, as is the fact that one of the childcare workers is male. The illustrations, in watercolour, pencil and collage, are softly coloured and have lots of detail of both the childcare centre and the mothers’ workplaces, with mots spreads having several smaller pictures. This gives plenty to be explored on the repeated readings that the book is likely to have.

Mum Goes to Work is an excellent offering, particularly for families who use childcare, and for centres, too.

Mum Goes to Work, by Libby Gleeson & Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2015
ISBN 9781921529825

Available from good bookstores and online.

Ted, by Leila Rudge

Ted had been at the pet shop for as long as he could remember.
He was a smart dog with his own jumper,
and he did his best to make a good impression.
But there were so many other dogs that nobody noticed Ted.

Ted is a little dog with a big problem. he doesn’t belong – and belonging is what he most wants. So he sets off to find the perfect place. He tries the circus, but everybody cheers the circus dogs and nobody notices Ted. Similarly, Ted doesn’t succeed as a pageant dog or a guard dog. Dejected, he is about to head back to the pet store when he comes across Dot, who is looking for a furry friend who enjoys long walks and ball games. Ted does his best to get noticed by Dot – and succeeds.

Ted is an adorable picture book story about an adorable dog. He may not be suitable for any of the roles he tries, but he is a dog who will win the hearts of young, and not-so-young readers. The illustrations, using pencil and ink with touches of paper collage, have a gentle whimsy to them, with lots of detail for readers to explore and discover.

Perfect for young animal lovers.


Ted, by Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2013
ISBN 9781921977503

Available from good booksellers or online.

Definitely No Ducks, by Meg McKinlay

Everyone crowded in behind Abby, craning to see.
“Oh dear,” said Melvino.
“Our glacier!” said Lianna.
“Our whale!” said Sam.
“Quack!” said Max.

Max is back. He charmed readers in Duck for a Day, and now this wonderful little duck, and his human friends Abby and Noah (and their classmates) are back in a new adventure. If you haven’t yet met Max, what you should know is that he is a special duck – because he’s the class duck. He waddles around the classroom, curling up on the feet of the children and brightening their lives. He’s especially made a difference to Noah, helping him build in confidence and bringing Noah and Abby together as friends. Now, though, Max is in trouble. Someone – or something – has destroyed the class Antarctica display, and the principal says he will have to go. Abby and Noah are determined to prove that Max is not the culprit. If they don’t they’ll lose him.

Definitely No Ducks! is as compassionately quirky as its predecessor.  The concept of a class duck, and a teacher with a touch of Mary Poppins magic about her, is one which will amuse young readers, but the messages about honesty and acceptance and friendship, are important ones, and ones which McKinlay handles deftly.

This is a delightful little offering which will appeal to readers ages six and up,  and would be perfect for sharing in a classroom setting – though it may lead to pressure for a new classroom pet!

Definitely No Ducks!

Definitely No Ducks!, by Meg McKinlay & Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2013
ISBN 9781921977855

Available from good bookstores or online.

No Bears, by Meg McKinlay & Leila Rudge

I’m in charge of this book so I know everything about it – including the most important thing, which is that there are NO BEARS in it.
I’m tired of bears. Every time you read a book it’s just BEARS BEARS BEARS – horrible furry bears slurping honey in grotty little caves.
You don’t need BEARS for a book.

Ruby is the boss of this book and if she says there are no bears then there will be no bears – or will there? Ruby is determined to create a tale which is scary, exciting and pretty all at once – and contains no bears. So she tells a delightful story which meets all her requirements – except perhaps one. While she makes no mention of bears (except to say that there’s none of them) the young reader/viewer will love spotting the bear lurking in the book – and contributing to the action.

Author Meg McKinley’s clever text is gorgeously complemented by the quirky digital illustrations of Leila Rudge for a whole which is whimsical, humorous and, simply delightful. A fun bedtime read full of gentle giggles for younger readers, with perhaps a bit of a message about inclusivity and friendship for older readers.

No Bears

No Bears, by Meg McKinley & Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2011
ISBN 9781921529924

This book can be purchased from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Duck for a Day, by Meg McKinlay

“Mrs Melvino,” said Noah, “if Max is our class duck…does that mean we can take him home?”
Abby caught her breath.
Because Noah was right.
Because class pets were allowed to come home if your parents said yes. And Abby’s parents had said yes.

Abby’c class has a class pet – a class duck, in fact. Max is a gentle duck who sits on children’s feet, or waddles and quacks around the classroom. When Mrs Melvino says that no one can take Max home unless they have just the right conditions for a duck, Abby is determined to get things right so that she can be the first one to take Max home.

But Noah, the new boy, who lives in the house behind Abby, wants to be first, too. Even when Abby has her chance to look after Max, it seems Noah is still plotting. Having a duck for a day could prove harder than Abby expects.

Duck for a Day is a delightful new chapter book about class pets, responsibility and friendship. While Abby learns about what it takes to get what you truly want, she and Noah both learn about friendship, and the adults around them learn about trust. Most of all, though, young readers will enjoy the fun of seeing the chaos one little duck can cause as it waddles its way into the lives of the children.

With whimsical grey-scale illustrations by Leila Rudge, this is novel to love.

Duck for a Day

Duck for a Day, by Meg McKinley and Leila Rudge (ill)
Walker Books, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Duck for a Day. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.