What Makes My Mum Happy, by Tania Cox & Lorette Broekstra

What makes Mum happy?
When I start her day with breakfast on a tray;
when I make her a crown to wear into town;
when she watches me dance, skip, hop and prance.

What makes Mum happy?
When I start her day with breakfast on a tray;
when I make her a crown to wear into town;
when she watches me dance, skip, hop and prance.

The simple text of this hard cover offering focuses on what makes Mum happy – with an emphasis on things Mum and child do together, or that the child does for/around Mum – making things for Mum, playing together or doing every day things. Illustrations support this – showing various mothers and their children revelling in being together. In both text and image it is lovely to see togetherness being celebrated, and hugs and cuddles in abundance, and also to see the mums and children coming from different ethnic groups and seemingly having different interests, rather than being generic.

Released in April, in time for Mother’s Day, this a book to be enjoyed all year round by mums and their children, and with simple, minimal text would be suitable for the very young.

What Makes My Mum Happy

What Makes My Mum Happy, by Tania Cox & Lorette Broekstra
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742378374

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

Four Baby Board Books, by Sally Rippin

What’s That Noise?, Hush Baby Hush, Go Baby Go! and Where is Baby? are sturdy board books in a new series for babies from Allen & Unwin. Sally Rippin authors them all, but illustrates only Where is Baby?, with the others illustrated by some of Australia’s best-known illustrators. Each spread features a baby interacting with their environment. In What’s That Noise? common noises are identified, from the baby crying to washing flapping and more. Go Baby Go focuses on a range of movements, while Where is Baby? uses simple rhymes. Hush Baby Hushlooks at some familiar daily routines. Each book is linked to the others in the series by a common design spotted spine.

What’s That Noise?, Hush Baby Hush, Go Baby Go! and Where is Baby?’ are very first books for babies. They are designed to encourage early interaction with books between parent and child, child and text/illustration. The text is simple and repetitive and the images invite the reader to explore beyond the written word. A range of cultures are depicted. The colours are warm and bright and each title is robust enough to withstand many readings. Backgrounds to each spread are full colour, with Baby the feature of each opening. Each illustrator has interpreted their characters differently yet there is enough similarity to link the books. The three babies who feature in each book greet the reader on the back cover. Recommended for babies and the very young.

What’s That Noise? Sally Rippin ill Lorette Broekstra Allen & Unwin 2008 ISBN: 9781741753899
Go Baby Go! Sally Rippin ill Ann James Allen & Unwin 2008 ISBN: 9781741753882
Hush Baby Hush, Sally Rippin ill Craig Smith Allen & Unwin 2008 ISBN: 9781741753875
Where is Baby? Sally Rippin Allen & Unwin 2008 ISBN: 9781741753868

Hugo the Lifesaving Sailor, by Lorette Broekstra

Hugo the elephant is off sailing in his boat, Gypsy. It is a lovely day and the other residents of Hometown are out having fun on the water, too. But when the wind blows up, there is a cry for help. Penelope Pentland has been swept out to sea. Hugo and Gypsy must save her. Soon everything is back to normal and Hugo leads the way home.

Hugo the Lifesaving Sailor is a simple adventure story for littlies – aged 1 to 5. With brief, basic text, bright primary colours and lots of animal characters, youngsters will follow the story and like the elements of repetition. For those at the older end of the age range, there are maps on the endpapers, which show Hometown and the path of Hugo’s travels.

Bright and attractive.

Hugo The Lifesaving Sailor, by Lorette Broekstra
Allen & Unwin, 2005

Hugo the Flying Firefighter, by Lorette Broekstra

The first in a series, Hugo the Flying Firefighter is a delightfully entertaining story made more enjoyable by the bright, colourful illustrations.

Hugo sets out in his plane for a journey over Hometown only to discover a fire at the Pigdons’ house. Unable to get the attention of local residents Hugo uses the planes smoke switch to write a message in the sky, raising the alarm for the local firefighters and saving the Pigdons’ house.

The author has used few words to take Hugo on his journey across the skies of Hometown. This makes the story easy for younger children to follow. Repetition of expressions and names allows children to anticipate what happens next. The use of different sized text places emphasis on the more exciting moments in the story.

The illustrations are delightful, simply and accurately portraying what is in the text. The beautifully bright pictures portray a wonderful perspective from the aeroplane. The illustrations are not complex and invite discussion about what is happening in them. This highlights an educational benefit of the story, especially for pre-school aged children who can use it as a discussion point to talk about fire safety. There is also the opportunity for colour and object recognition for small children and number recognition for pre-schoolers.

This is an enjoyable story that will delight children up to about 5 years.

Hugo the Flying Firefighter, Broekstra, Lorette (illus and text)
Allen and Unwin, 2004, $24.95, ISBN 1741143349