‘Leave it, Mrs Dog,’ called Tall One.
‘It’s too small and weak to live.’
But Mrs Dog carried the little Woolly-Head home to the Big Kennel.
Mrs Dog is getting too old to round up sheep, but when she finds a tiny orphaned lamb, she is determined to help him. She takes him home, keeps him warm and tries to teach him all that she knows. Baa-rah does his best to do the things Mrs Dog teaches him, and one day, when it is Mrs DOg who needs help, Baa-Rah saves the day.
Mrs Dog is an adorable picture book story about an unlikely friendship between a dog and a sheep, elderly and very young. Children will love not just the events of the story, but the use of language, with Mrs Dog’s terminology for sheep being Woolly-Heads, the humans called Tall Ones and so on. The illustrations, in soft colours and with loads of detail, capture farm life and the expressions of the animals. A wonderful touch is that while the humans do lend a helping hand, they are barely there in the illustrations, allowing the bond between animals to be highlighted.
A lovely picture book.
Mrs Dog, by Janeen Brian & Marjorie Crosby-Fairall
Five Mile, 2016
He’s been the most dazzling cat on Serengeti Street for years and years. He’s majestic, proud, maybe brave as well.
Rex is a very handsome cat, and everybody loves him. Every morning he grooms himself, and warms up ready for the kids on their way to school to stop and admire him. All is well with the world – until Pretty Pamela, the perfect siamese from down the street, prances into view just as the kids arrive, and steals the attention. As Rex pretends he doesn’t care, pandemominum breaks loose, when Towser the dog escapes, a magpie family gets cranky, and Rex ends up in a muddy puddle. Will the kids love him anyway?
Remarkably Rexy is a humorous tale of cats and their self-obsession. Rexy is likeable, though very vain, and his misadventures will delight young readers, as will the other animal characters – Pamela, Towser the dog, and the Magpie family.
Illustrator Craig Smith is well known for his warm, rich and often humorous illustrations, but in Remarkably Rexy he makes his debut as author, too.
Remarkably Rexy will be loved, just as he deserves.
Remarkably Rexy, by Craig Smith
Allen & Unwin, 2015
Secretly Magpie felt jealous of her friend.
He could soar to great heights.
He could drop from the sky like a stone.
He could see over a long distance.
Magpie decided to play a trick on him.
Magpie can sing beautifully, but she is jealous of her gentle, kind friend Brown Falcon, for his hunting and flying skills. So she plays a series of mean tricks on him to make him look silly. AT first Falcon tries not to mind, but eventually he gets cross and flies away. When Magpie gets caught in a hunter’s nest she realises, almost too late, the value of Falcon’s friendship.
Magpie Learns a Lesson is a charming lesson about friendship and, in a story with echoes of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the importance of being honest. The story is brought to life in beautiful acrylic paintings, with the oil sketch paper adding . texture. Rich blue skies alternate with creamy backgrounds and eucalypt greens for the ground and tress scenes, giving a generous echoes of the Australian bush.
A wonderfully Australian title.
Magpie Learns a Lesson, by Sally Morgan & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, illustrated by Tania Erzinger
Omnibus Books, 2015
Available from good bookstores or online.
Wombat stared in surprise at the other animals.
Am I special after all?
When Wombat emerges from his tunnel, his friends are really glad to see him, but as Wombat watches them celebrate he feels sad. Each of his friends is good at something: Goanna is the fastest climber, Magpie is the best singer and Dingo is the cleverest dancer. Wombat wants to go back and hide in his tunnel, but his friends run after him to remind him that he, too, is good at things, and best of all, that Wombat is their friend.
A Feast for Wombat is a gentle tale of friendship and self belief. While Wombat wants to be like his friends, he seems unaware that each of them is different, as is he. His friends’ reminder of his own strengths is reassuring, and will reassure young readers, too.
The acrylic illustrations bring the cast of Australian animals to life in gentle bush colours with lovely textured backgrounds, adding to the warm feel of the book.
A Feast for Wombat, by Sally Morgan & Tania Erzinger
Available from good bookstores or online.
In their last adventure, the Serventy Kids had to work together to save the magpies that the local council was determined to eradicate. Now, the birds are safe, but the kids aren’t. Local hoons are out looking for fun and their idea of fun spells danger for the younger kids.
First, the year sixes are on a school excursion which is ruined when a speeding car runs them off the road. Then sometime rips up the school oval. The kids decide they’ve had enough. Someone needs to act before their school is ruined – or, worse still, someone is seriously injured.
What it takes to put a stop to the hoons is a team effort, a little detective work and some proactive thinking.
Magwheel Madness is an exciting sequel to Magpie Mischief and shows kids working together to change things that effect them. Looking at themes of responsibility, team work and honesty, the book’s main appeal is its humour and pace.
A good fun read.
Magwheel Madness, by Jon Doust and Ken Spillman
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2005