The Very Sleepy Bear, by Nick Bland

Winter had come early and Bear was running late.
He was feeling very sleepy, it was time to hibernate.
He hurried down the mountain, past the icy rocks,
and never even noticed a rather sneaky Fox.

The Bear is back – and this time he’s really sleepy. Winter is here, and he needs to hibernate, but a sneaky fox thinks Bear needs a new bigger cave. First he offers a train tunnel, then a bat cave, and lastly an ocean-side cave. When bear decides he’s had enough and wants to go back to his own snug cave, he finds Fox and his friends have moved in.

The Very Sleepy Bear features the bear who youngsters may well know from The Very cranky bear and other offerings. Told in humorous rhyme and featuring the big brown bear and assorted other characters in gently humorous acrylics , the book will nightstand repeated rereading – which is just as well, because it will be requested over and over.

The Very Sleepy Bear, by Nick Bland
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743812549

My Meerkat Mum, by Ruth Paul

Up. Down. Dig. Play.
Meerkat Mum leads the way.

From first light till bedtime, Meerkat Mum supervises her children, guiding, scolding, feeding, and guarding. Even when they finally rest safe in their burrow, she will remain alert for danger all night.

My Meerkat Mum is a delightful rhyming text which captures the jerky, slightly humorous movements for which meerkats are known, in its stop/start rhythm. It withstands repeated readings (this reviewer road tested it with a ten month old who sat through four readings).

The illustrations, rendered digitally are equally delightful, with golden desrt hues and semi-realistic portrayals of the meerkats and other animals, though mum and one meerkat pup are adorned with flowers, and another has a favourite cuddly toy aardvark.

Suitable for babies through to early schoolers.

My Meerkat Mum, by Ruth Paul
Scholastic NZ, 207
ISBN 9781775434894

I’m Australian Too, by Mem Fox & Ronojoy Ghosh (ill.)

My auntie came from Athens
with her brother and her niece.
And now we live in Adelaide
because it’s so like Greece.
How about you?

Since the first white settlers arrived in Australia, there have been ongoing debates, discussions and worse, regarding just who has the right to be here, or to call themselves Australian. This is a really important topic, but not always an easy one to explore in a child-accessible way. I’m Australian Too manages to explore a wide range of versions of being Australian, from the first peoples, through to refugees – including those still waiting to find out if they will be ‘let in’ – ┬áin a form which is easily digestible but also offers a way to discuss belonging and nationhood with even quite young children.

Opening with the lines I’m Australian!/ How about you?, each subsequent spread is from the voice of a different Australian child, telling where their family is from and where they live now. The closing pages focus on Australia’s tradition of opening doors to strangers, with echoes of the national anthem, and a reminder (or rejoinder) to live in peace. The important message of the story is reflected in the wonderful illustrations, showing the diversity of Australian homes, customs, landscapes and, of course, children.

Perfect for classroom discussions of belonging, multiculturalism, refugees and more, this is also perfect for at home sharing.

I’m Australian Too, by Mem Fox and Ronojoy Ghosh (ill.)
Omnibus Books, 2017
ISBN 9781760276218

What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo? by Anh Do & Laura Wood (ill)

What do they do with all the poo
from all the animals at the zoo?
the hippos, the tigers, the kangaroos –
What do they do with all that poo?

Comedian Anh Do has been making Australians laugh for years, and since turning to chidlren’s books he’s gained a whole new generation of readers. What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo? will entertain even younger readers than his junior novels.

This rhyming story, which comes with accompanying music on a CD (sung by Simon Mellor) is catchy, funny and, of course, slightly gross, which is exactly why youngsters will love it. The illustrations, by Laura Wood, are also filled with humour, with the looks on the faces of humans and animals particularly engaging.

Great for reading with or without the accompanying music, this will be a favourite both at home and in classrooms.

What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo?, by Anh Do & Laura Wood
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760276324

The Silent Owl, by Sam McPhillips (ill) & Clemency Pearce

In the great, old hollow oak,
Lived an owl, who never spoke.

Owl doesn’t speak, doesn’t sing and doesn’t even hoot. All the other animals are worried. They would like a sign that Owl is all right. Finally, Owl does make a noise – by playing a series of musical instruments.

The Silent Owl is a gorgeous rhyming picture book, illustrated with paper collage and water colour backgrounds. The humour of the story, coupled with the big eyed characters will appeal to young readers, and the deceptive simplicity of the collage will entice young artists to experiment with collage themselves.

Lots of fun with early childhood readers.

The Silent Owl, by Sam McPhillips (ill) & Clemency Pearce
Big Sky Publishing, 2016
ISBN 9781925520019

Pig the Elf, by Aaron Blabey

How he loved Christmas!
He’d chortle with glee –
‘The presents! The presents!
For ME! ME! ME! ME!

It’s Christmas Eve and Pig and his patient friend Trevor are excited. But while Trevor has written to Santa asking just for ‘something nice’, Pig has written an almost-endless list of demands. And, while Trevor knows that Santa will come when he’s asleep, Pig is determined to stay up to see Santa. The waiting is hard, but harder still is his realisation that Santa hasn’t brought him everything on his list. He wants to make Santa pay – with hilarious results.

Pig the Elf is the latest in this much-loved picture book series featuring Pig the selfish (yet somehow lovable) Pug and his long-suffering friend Trevor the dachsund. In bouncy, humorous verse complemented with big generous acrylic illustrations, this is sure to be a favourite this Christmas season.
Pig the Elf, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760154271

Marvin and Marigold: The Big Sneeze, by Mark Carthew & Simon Prescott

Whenever young Marvin smelled biscuits or cheese
his whiskers would twitch…and he’d let out a sneeze.

Marigold Mouse has built herself a lovely new house, but there is a problem. Her neighbour, Marvin, has a terrible case of the sneezes, and whenever he sneezes, Marigold’s house shakes and gets messy. If she wants to save her house and keep Marvin as a neighbour, Marigold must search for a cure for Marvin’s sneezing.

The Big Sneeze is a delightful story in rhyme for young readers about friendship – and sneezing. The rhyme and rhythm scan well, making the story a pleasure to read aloud, and youngsters will love the humour of the situation as well as the illustrations which show quirky anthropomorphic mice and lots of detail covering every spread. The expressions of the mice are especially pleasing.

The Big Sneeze, by Mark Carthew, illustrated by Simon Prescott

New Frontier, 2016
ISBN 9781925059656

This Hungry Dragon, by Heath McKenzie

This HUNGRY dragon
heard his tummy growl.
Someone who heard it
was a nervous little owl!

A very hungry dragon meets – and eats – a series of unfortunate animals: the owl, a fancy fox, a muddy pig, and more. But eventually he feels sick and a visit from the doctor is needed. When the doctor, too, ends up in the dragon’s belly he figures out a way to get the dragon to spit them all out. the dragon feels better – and has learnt his lesson.

This humorous rhyming picture book will have kids laughing out loud and saying ‘gross’ in equal measure, but whilst animals are eaten, there’s no blood or gore, and every one is fine at the end. The dragon, in gentle reds and pinks, with tiny wings and big round eyes looks silly rather than fierce and the looks on the various animals’ faces as they realise what is happening adds to the humour.

Lots of fun.

This Hungry Dragon, by Heath McKenzie
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760151508

Pandamonia, by Chris Owen & Chris Nixon

Come through. Look around. relax and explore.
Inside you will find there are creatures galore.
You’ll have a magnificent time at the zoo…
just don’t wake the panda whatever you do.

It’s a lovely day for visiting the zoo, but when the panda gets woken, it can set off all kinds of uproar, from jumpy hippos creating a hullabaloo, to shimmying emus, and even cha-chaing chinchillas.the resultant uproar can cause shenanigans that carry on far into the night. So, readers are beseeched, whatever they do they must not wake the panda.

Pandamonia is a lively, humour-filled picture book with rhyme that roms through the pages. Youngsters will love the silliness of the text and will have fun playing with the vocabulary, with glorious words like fandango, cavorting, shimmy and more. The illustrations, on colourful backgrounds, bring the animals to life with simple geometric shapes filled with life and humour.

Likely to be requested again and agian, Pandamonia will withstand repeated rereadings.

Pandamonia, by Chris Owen & Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press, 2016
ISBN 9781925163339

Don't Call Me Bear, by Aaron Blabey

But if I got a dollar
every time you called me ‘bear’,
I tell you what – and no mistake –
I’d be a MILLIONAIRE.

Koala has had enough. Ever since European explorers first visited Australia, he has been called a bear. And he’s sick of it. If those first explorers ahd done their research, they’d have known that koalas, like kangaroos and wombats, are marsupials.

Don’t Call Me Bear! is a humorous rhyming picture book about Koala’s frustration. There is a gently educational element, but really the focus is on humour, especially with the other marsupials concluding the book by telling Koala that he looks like a bear.

From the creator of books such as Pig the Pug and Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, will be similarly enjoyed.

Don’t Call Me Bear!, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760159849