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

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

Hush Little Possum: An Australian Lullaby, by P. Crumble and Wendy Binks

Hush, Little PossumHush, little possum, don’t you cry,
Mama will keep you safe and dry.

As the sky rumbles, rain falls and the wind bangs sheds and sways trees, Mama Possum hastens to reassure and protect her baby, singing her a lullaby to let her know she will keep her safe and warm.

To the tune of ‘Hush, Little Baby’ Hush, Little Possum gives an Australian twist to the old favourite, brought to life in adorable illustrations by Wendy Binks. The big-eyed possums traverse stormy farm scenes, with appearances by other animals – both wild and farm animals –  giving lots for youngsters to spot and enjoy.

The hard cover picture book is accompanied by a recording of the song, sung by Deborah Mailman, as well as an instrumental version for singing along.

A cute offering for preschoolers.

Hush, Little Possum, by P. Crumble & Wendy Binks
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743626436

Available from good bookstores and online.

Me and Moo by P Crumble ill Nathaniel Eckstrom

This is me, and this is Moo

Can you tell which one is me and which one is Moo?

Moo lives under my bed, and at night he

Eats Mum’s flowers from the backyard.

I tell him not to eat the flowers but

He just loves the purple ones.

This is me, and this is Moo

Can you tell which one is me and which one is Moo?

Moo lives under my bed, and at night he

Eats Mum’s flowers from the backyard.

I tell him not to eat the flowers but

He just loves the purple ones.

The young narrator introduces his friend Moo and talks about how Moo came to be his friend and part of his family. Moo was small when he arrived but is now much bigger than the narrator. His family accept Moo, despite his clumsiness and his struggles with the house rules. Now that the narrator is at school, Moo sometimes goes too. And it is at school that the narrator discovers that other children have special friends too. These special friends are really good at different games, much better than the narrator’s friends. When a sleepover gets a little scary, the narrator tells his friends about Roar, the lion who lives in his wardrobe. Illustrations are digital in muted greens, blues and browns and provide plenty of humour to the spare text.

Me and Moo is a story of imaginary friends. While Moo helps the narrator in his everyday life, the imaginary friends of his school friends also help him to realise that he is not the only one who sometimes needs help. When the sleepover looks like it might be derailed by the scary stories the narrator is telling, he offers Roar, who lives in his wardrobe as protection for them all. Gently told, with a solid dollop of humour, Me and Moowill help timid children to feel less alone. Recommended for pre- and early schoolers.

 

Me and Moo, P Crumble ill Nathaniel Eckstrom
Scholastic Australia 2015 ISBN: 9781743625323

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Tortoise and the Hair by P. Crumble, ill Louis Shea

On the morning of his big day,

Tortoise leapt out of bed straight away

For today on stage with his guitar,

He would become a singing superstar!

On the morning of his big day,

Tortoise leapt out of bed straight away

For today on stage with his guitar,

He would become a singing superstar!

Tortoise has completed auditions and is to sing and play his guitar at a talent competition. He attributes at least part of his success to his wig, but as he prepares for his big day, he cannot find it anywhere. As he searches, trying not to panic, other animals discover his wig on the bus. The wig begins a journey of its own, being tested and rejected by several potential wearers before Tortoise’s friend Hare finds it. He knows just how much importance Tortoise attaches to the wig, so he speeds to the auditorium to return it. Tortoise, although nervous without his wig, is ‘wowing’ the judges and Hare realises that the wig he has retrieved is no longer needed. Tortoise shines without it! Tortoise and the Hairis told in rhyme with full colour illustrations which include many other animals.

Tortoise and the Hair is a very different take on a traditional tale, although elements of the original can still be found. Instead of the message being about ‘slow and steady’ winning the race, Tortoise is held up by his need for his ‘good luck’ wig. Hare’s speediness is employed, not in racing Tortoise, but by returning his wig to him. This is a colourful story with a gentle reminder that external decorations ‘make not the man’. There are also themes of friendship and nods to other stories. A fun story for pre- and early readers.


Tortoise and the Hair, P. Crumble ill Louis Shea Scholastic Australia 2014 ISBN: 9781743625286

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Meerkat by P. Crumble ill Louis Shea

There was an old lady who swallowed a meerkat

I don’t know why she swallowed the meerkat

Fancy that!

There was an old lady who swallowed a meerkat

I don’t know why she swallowed the meerkat

Fancy that!

The old lady of the title has quite an appetite. Not content with swallowing a meerkat, she consumes an owl, a hyena, a lion and more. This take on the well-known traditional rhyme is set in the zoo, where she has access to animals from all around the world. Other zoo visitors look on in surprise as she continues her swallowing. Things get more and more out of hand until the old lady swallows a hippo. Full colour illustrations take on an escalating psychedelic feel with bright colours and wild internal scenes.

Many readers will be familiar with the original ‘There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly’, and this version continues the nonsense at the zoo. Young readers will giggle at the antics of the old lady, the victims and the observers. As with the original, the action is sufficiently absurd, as to be comical rather than believable. The text is rhythmic, rhyming and cumulative and young children will soon be able to join in the ‘reading’. The text for the animals is presented in different and larger fonts, ideal for young pre-readers to start identifying word shapes. Good fun, with plenty of extra story to be found in the illustrations. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

 

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Meerkat;, P. Crumble ill Louis Scholastic Australia 2013 ISBN: 9781742836461

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores or online.

There Was an Old Bloke who Swallowed a Bunny! By P. Crumble ill Louis Shea

There was an old bloke who swallowed a bunny.

I don’t know why he swallowed that bunny …

Crikey, that’s funny!

There was an old bloke who swallowed a bunny.

I don’t know why he swallowed that bunny …

Crikey, that’s funny!

Based on There Was an Old Bloke Who Swallowed a Bunny! and part of a series of similarly based stories, ‘There Was an Old Bloke …’ is a comically absurd romp through the countryside. He has an explanation for the consumption of all animals except for the bunny – that’s just funny. Illustrations are full page and full of detail. The refrain curves on the page, and each about-to-be-consumed animal word is in bold. All of the animals on the Old Bloke’s menu are farm animals except for the bunny, which would probably be most farmers’ first nibble.

The world needs some nonsense, some silliness, and this series of books modelled on an old folk rhyme is perfect in delivering it. And much learning can be slipped in underneath the silliness. The rhyme, rhythm and repetition in these titles are perfect for pre-reading skills. Children learning to read can predict what’s coming next and before long will be able to ‘read’ it themselves. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

There Was an Old Bloke Who Swallowed a Bunny! P. Crumble ill Louis Shea Scholastic Australia 2013 ISBN: 9781742831602

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

If you’re cheeky and you know it by P. Crumble ill Chris Kennett

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it,

then you really should just show it …

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re cheeky and you know it,

then you really should just show it …

If you’re cheeky and you know it, clap your hands.

If You’re Cheeky and You Know It! is a new take on an old rhyme/song. It takes a familiar rhyme/song and introduces a range of cheeky animals. It begins with a monkey and adds a new animal each opening. A cheeky monkey is joined by a penguin, frog, hippo and more, and they frolic through the pages. Illustrations are mostly set in white space although there are also full bleed spreads. Text bops around the spreads.

If You’re Cheeky and You Know It! offers the opportunity to add some silliness to your life and to the reading experience. The rhythm, illustrations and bouncing text make it almost impossible to just read – singing and joining in is almost mandatory. Young listeners will enjoy mimicking the actions portrayed. A fun experience for pre- and early-schoolers.

If You're Cheeky and You Know It!

If You’re Cheeky and You Know It!, P. Crumble ill Chris Kennett Scholastic Australia 2013 ISBN: 9781742836478

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores and online.

Sheep on a Beach, by P. Crumble & Danielle McDonald

Sheep.
Sheep on a beach.
Umbrella up, towel underneath.

It’s a hot summer’s day and Sheep suddenly finds himself on the beach. Luckily, with a little help from a friendly crab he soon has an umbrella, a towel, even an esky full of cold treats. Is thsi really happening, or is Sheep still the paddock dreaming about the beach?

Sheep on a Beach is a funny, simple celebration of the beach, using cumulative text to tell of Sheep’s adventures on the beach. Because it is cumulative, even very young children will be able to join in, soon recognising the pattern.

The bright digital illustrations are full of fun and details which youngsters will enjoy exploring, The crab is a key character, though he isn’t mentioned in the text and his role seems initially incidental.

Perfect for summertime reading Sheep on a Beach is packed full of giggles.

Sheep on a Beach

Sheep on a Beach, by P. Crumble & Danielle McDonald
Scholastic, 2012
ISBN 9781742833217

Available from good bookstores pr online.

If You're Happy and You Know It!, by P. Crumble & Chris Kennett

An Aussie addition

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it,

then you really should just show it …

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

The first lines of this traditional rhyme are true to the original, but from there on, there’s a distinctly Australian flavour. Firstly, if you’re a possum, climb a tree. The openings that follow provide activities for a whole range of Australian animals to ‘do their thing’. The final opening has the gang of Aussie animals being koalas and going to sleep. Illustrations are full page and stylised and mildly anthropomorphised, eg the wombat has a mining helmet and the koala is wearing pajamas. At the end each ‘verse’ is offered in full.

Traditional rhymes have remained popular in part because they are easy to learn and they provide opportunities in classrooms to get up and move about. ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It!’ will have children up, singing and dancing as they try to be cockatoos, bandicoots and crocodiles. Along the way, they’re discovering a little about Aussie animals and how they live. Young children will soon become familiar with the language patterns on the page and with the aid of the illustrations will soon be ‘reading’ this story for themselves. Recommended for pre-school and early school years and for use in the classroom.

If You're Happy and You Know It!

If You’re Happy and You Know It! P.Crumble & Chris Kennett
Scholastic Australia 2011
ISBN: 9781741698916