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

Kevin doesn’t want a pat.
He doesn’t want a tickle.
And he definitely does
NOT want a cuddle.

When Kevin the cat’s nap is disturbed by his owner, wanting to give him some attention, he is not impressed. His owner wants to pat him, tickle him and even cuddle him. But Kevin is not all impressed. He just wants some space. Until he sees the dog getting attention instead. Now he thinks he might quite like some cuddles. For a while.

The Cat Wants Cuddles is a humorous picture book which cat owners will find especially relatable. Kevin seems to think the world revolves around him – and is really contrary. Yet somehow, he is also likable.

The text includes no narration or tags. The owner’s words are presented in bold in the opening pages, with Kevin’s responses (not understood by the human, of course) are in thought bubbles. For the majority of the book, the only text is these thought bubbles. The illustrations focus squarely on Kevin’s expressions and actions, with the human only shown as shoes, hands and a lap. Dog (who remains unnamed, seemingly because Kevin doesn’t dignify him with one) is shown on several spreads, looking slightly confused and long-suffering.

Kids will love the humour of this one.

The Cat Wants Cuddles, by P. Crumble & Lucinda Gifford
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743811412

Chook Doolan: Books 5-8, by James Roy

My other name is Chook. People call me that because chickens are sometimes called chooks, and I’m a bit of a chicken. That means I’m scared of hings, which is true. I do get scared of things. A lot.

Chook – also known as Simon Henry Doolan – is scared of a lot of things. Holidays away from home, school camps (they’re might be snakes!), talking to new people, and crowds. Luckily, deep down he is pretty brave, and with support from those around him he manages to find ways to confront his fears.

The Chook Doolan series features a likable, everyday kid, with lots of worries. Chook is honest about his failings, but also draws on everything he can to confront his problems and to find a way forward. Young readers will relate to many of the things he fears, as well as to the gentle humour of the stories.

The text is accessible to early readers, and is supported by illustrations on most spreads. Each book stands alone, meaning that these four new i=offerings, plus the previous four, can be read in any order.

Chook Doolan: On the Road (ISBN 9781925381566)
Chook Doolan: Un-happy Camper (ISBN 9781925381573)
Chook Doolan: Up and Away (ISBN 9781925381580)
Chook Doolan: Let’s Do Diwali (ISBN 9781925381597)
All by James Roy, Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford
Walker Books, 2017

One More Friend by Bill Condon ill Lucinda Gifford

Here I am, heading off on the bus for my first day at Cordo Hill Primary. The weather is rainy and gloomy, which is exactly how I feel. Starting at a new school is scary.

The trip is long and boring. I feel myself drifting into a daydream.

Here I am, heading off on the bus for my first day at Cordo Hill Primary. The weather is rainy and gloomy, which is exactly how I feel. Starting at a new school is scary.

The trip is long and boring. I feel myself drifting into a daydream.

Jack has just started at a new school and he’s a little apprehensive. His first attempts to make friends and to fit in are a bit rocky, but he’s soon making people laugh and seems to be settling in. There’s only one boy, Mark, who doesn’t think Jack is funny. No matter what Jack does, Mark seems determined not to like him. It’s going to be a big first day. Colour illustrations appear on every opening, and there are headers and footers reflecting elements of a school day.

‘One More Friend’ is part of the ‘Mates’ series from Omnibus Books. Each title offers a particularly Australian story, full of humour. Jack is a relatable character, his early nervousness manifesting in a certain clumsiness. This makes others laugh at him, but soon he’s realised he can make them laugh with him. Only Mark doesn’t laugh, and it takes a while for Jack to realise why. Rather than laugh at Mark, Jack quietly helps him and in the process makes another friend. This is a realistic depiction of school life as it should be, with characters having the insight to look behind bullying behaviour to see the world from the perspective of the bully. Go Jack! Recommended for newly-independent readers.

One More Friend, Bill Condon ill Lucinda Gifford
Omnibus Books 2016 ISBN: 9781742991184

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

Chook Doolan: The Tiny Guitar by James Roy ill Lucinda Gifford

Hi. I’m Chook. But that’s not the name my mum and dad gave me. They called me Simon. But once, when I was little, someone called me a chicken.

Then I was a chook.

Then I was just ‘Chook’.

Chook Doolan.

Hi. I’m Chook. But that’s not the name my mum and dad gave me. They called me Simon. But once, when I was little, someone called me a chicken.

Then I was a chook.

Then I was just ‘Chook’.

Chook Doolan.

Chook Doolan is a young boy who lives with his family and attends the local primary school. He worries about just about everything. He also notices all the places, all the people, all the happenings in his community. So when he is given a ukelele he’s keen to show busker friend, Eddie Two-hats. But when Chook reaches Eddie’s normal spot in the shopping street, keen to enlist Eddie’s help with ukelele-playing, his friend is not there. Chook knows that Eddie needs to busk to earn money for food, and that someone else will soon take his corner if Eddie doesn’t return. So Chook decides, despite his worries, that he will teach himself to play, and protect Eddie’s corner. Illustrations appear on every opening, with large and hypersize text and short chapters.

‘Chook Doolan’ is a new first chapter book series for young readers transitioning from fully-illustrated texts to chapter books. Chook is an engaging character who pushes through his worries, to help out his friend. He’s an observant, friendly and practical boy with well-developed problem-solving skills. That’s not to say that he is an island. He has a supportive network around him, in friends and family, ready to help as necessary, if necessary. Chook might have worries, he might not be the loudest boy in the world, but he demonstrates clear-thinking, empathy and is wonderfully grounded. Recommended for early-primary readers.

Chook Doolan: the Tiny Guitar , James Roy ill Lucinda Gifford
Walker Books Australia 2016
ISBN: 9781922244963

Chook Doolan Saves the Day by James Roy ill Lucinda Gifford

Hi. I’m Chook, and you’re not.

This is my family. We’re the Doolans.

I’m the little one on the end.

No, the other end.

My mum and dad call me Simon, because that’s my name. Simon Doolan.Some of the kids at school have a different name for me.

They call me Chook.

Hi. I’m Chook, and you’re not.

This is my family. We’re the Doolans.

I’m the little one on the end.

No, the other end.

My mum and dad call me Simon, because that’s my name. Simon Doolan.Some of the kids at school have a different name for me.

They call me Chook.

Chook Doolan is a slightly anxious young boy who worries about many aspects of his life, at home and at school. At school lots of people play soccer, including his friend Joe. But the thought of being on the same football ground as Ashton Findus, Marty Petrovic and a ball fills him with fear. And he’s sure he’s no good at it. His big brother Ricky and friend Joe try to share their love of the game by teaching some of the rules and skills. Perhaps there’s a place for Chook after all. Illustrations appear on every opening. Text is large and includes hypersize words. Chapters are short.

‘Chook Doolan’ is a new series of short chapter books for the newly independent reader in transition from fully illustrated books to chapter books. Chook is a realistic character set in a contemporary setting familiar to many young readers. His anxieties too will resonate with young readers. Chook is a keen observer of his world, and while he worries about things, he does not let them stop him from trying new experiences. Recommended for newly independent readers in the early years of school.

Chook Doolan Saves the Day , James Roy ill Lucinda Gifford
Walker Books Australia 2016 ISBN: 9781922244956

Chook Doolan: Rules are Rules by James Roy ill Lucinda Gifford

Hi. My name is Simon, but you can call me Chook.

Almost everyone does.

This is me with my family. We’re the Doolans.

I’m the small, scared-looking Doolan on the end.

Hi. My name is Simon, but you can call me Chook.

Almost everyone does.

This is me with my family. We’re the Doolans.

I’m the small, scared-looking Doolan on the end.

Chook Doolan would like to be braver. When his brother, Ricky, is sick, Mum is looking after him, and Dad is late for work, he realises he is going to have to walk to school alone. He’s not sure he’s brave enough. Dad tells him The Rule. Chook sets out determined to do exactly what Dad says. It’s harder than he thinks. He makes it to school without letting his fear overwhelm him, but now he has another problem – actually more than one. Each opening includes large font text and black and white illustrations.

‘Chook Doolan’ is a new first chapter book series from Walker Books Australia, featuring a young boy who is learning how to navigate his world. In Rules are Rules he thinks that adhering to his father’s ‘rule’ will help him stay safe on the way to school. He also discovers more about the community in which he lives. A realistic story for young readers making the transition from fully illustrated books to chapter books. Recommended for early-primary.

Chook Doolan:Rules are Rules , James Roy ill Lucinda Gifford
Walker Books 2016
ISBN: 9781922244932

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Chook Doolan: The Newest Pet by James Roy ill Lucinda Gifford

Hi. My name is Simon Doolan, but most people call me Chook, which is another name for a chicken.

And that’s what I am.

I’m a chicken.

I’m not a real chicken – don’t be silly. I’m just a boy. A not-very-brave boy.

Hi. My name is Simon Doolan, but most people call me Chook, which is another name for a chicken.

And that’s what I am.

I’m a chicken.

I’m not a real chicken – don’t be silly. I’m just a boy. A not-very-brave boy.

Chook Doolan is a not-very-brave boy, navigating a world that feels very big and a little scary. But he’s making friends and enjoying school. When his teacher, Ms Rashid, announces a ‘Bring your pet to school day, he discovers that his apparently fearless friend, Joe doesn’t have a pet to bring. Chook puts aside his own worries and decides to help Joe find a pet to take to school. But finding a pet for someone else isn’t easy. Text is presented in a large font with black and white illustrations on most openings.

Chook Doolan: The Newest Pet is a new first chapter book series from Walker Books Australia. Chook would like to be braver, like his friend, Joe. Joe is about the bravest boy he knows. But when Pet Day is announced, it’s Chook’s turn to help Joe. These realistic and contemporary stories have short chapters and are ideal for young readers making the transition from fully illustrated books to chapter books. Recommended for early-primary readers.

Chook Doolan: The Newest Pet, James Roy ill Lucinda Gifford
Walker Books 2016 ISBN: 9781922244949

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Space Alien at Planet Dad by Lucinda Gifford

Every Saturday,

Jake set out on a mission to

PLANET DAD.

Planet Dad was AWESOME.

There were BATTLES

TOWERING space stations …

Every Saturday,

Jake set out on a mission to

PLANET DAD.

Planet Dad was AWESOME.

There were BATTLES

TOWERING space stations …

Every Saturday, Jake spends time with his dad at his dad’s place. They both love Space and spend the day happily together, playing, exploring, eating and sharing movies. But one day Jake arrives to discover a Space Alien. He is not happy. And not shy about letting the Space Alien know it. Over the next visits, he does everything to repel the Space Alien, but nothing works until he loses his cool completely. Paperback with bright and colourful illustrations, with much of the text large and loud.

Jake has a wonderful time with his dad each weekend, but when his dad starts seeing someone, everything changes. Space Alien at Planet Daduses wonderful space-themed language, huge letters and voice bubbles to let the reader know just how upset he is. Dad does all he can to convince Jake that the Alien is worth knowing, but Jake continues his resistance. This is a wonderful book for families adjusting to new and unfamiliar configurations. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers, particularly those in changing family circumstances.

Space Alien at Planet Dad, Lucinda Gifford
Scholastic 2016
ISBN: 9781760153687

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

The Witch's Britches, by P. Crumble & Lucinda Gifford

Don’t lose these britches, look after them well.
They’ll stop being magical if they smell.

It seems we’ve all been conned into believing that magic could come from a wand. Witches’ magic, it seems, actually come from their magical underwear. When young witch Ethel arrives at magic school she receives a package of britches and a note reminding her to keep them clean. She follows this instruction faithfully until a strong wind springs up one washing day and carries her pants away. When the underwear lands in a local park, all sorts of magical chaos ensues, until Ethel can round it all up.

The Witch’s Britches is a humourous rhyming picture book about magic, witches and, of course, underwear. Youngsters will enjoy the silliness of both the premise and the chaos caused by the flying undwear. The bright digital illustrations have lots of detail to be enjoyed, and work well with the story.

Good fun.

The Witch’s Britches, by P.  Crumble & Lucinda Gifford
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781760151539