Toffee Apple by Peter Combe, ill Danielle McDonald

Toffee Apple, nice and licky,
One for Judy, one for Nicky.
Crunchy munchy,
Very sticky
Don’t forget to clean your teeth!

‘Toffee Apple’ is a collection of three much-loved songs from performer Peter Combe. Here they are illustrated with bright colours, with words in larger fonts and a variety of colours. Animals dance as they eat their toffee apples, read the daily newspaper and imagine what it would be like to have six flies land on your jelly. This sturdy paperback comes with a cd of the three songs so everyone can sing along!

There is so much colour and movement in every page of ‘Toffee Apple’ that it is virtually impossible to sit still while it is read. And that’s probably the plan. Peter Combe’s songs are full of wonderful silliness designed to get children dancing about. The colourful pages and all-over-the-place text contribute to the fun. Sing along! Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Toffee Apple, Peter Combe ill Danielle McDonald
Scholastic Australia 2017 ISBN:
9781760275082

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Budinge and the Min Min Lights by Uncle Joe Kirk, with Greer Casey and Sandi Harrold ill Sandi Harrold

Budinge lived with his grandmother in an old wooden house beside a waterhole, deep in the Australian bush.

Each evening Budinge would take his fishing rod to the waterhole. He would sit on his favourite rock and he would fish until bedtime.

One night he noticed a bright light twinkling through the trees.

‘Hmmm,’ he wondered, ‘What can it be?’

Oh goodness me! Oh goodness me!

I think that thing is watching me!

Budinge lived with his grandmother in an old wooden house beside a waterhole, deep in the Australian bush.

Each evening Budinge would take his fishing rod to the waterhole. He would sit on his favourite rock and he would fish until bedtime.

One night he noticed a bright light twinkling through the trees.

‘Hmmm,’ he wondered, ‘What can it be?’

Oh goodness me! Oh goodness me!

I think that thing is watching me!

Budinge lives happily with his grandmother in the bush. One evening when fishing, he sees a bright twinkling light and remembers his grandmother’s story about the Min Min lights. The Min Min lights come to naughty children and entice them away from their homes. Budinge watches as another light appears, then the two lights unite to become one. He flees as they come towards him, finally diving into his bed and pulling the covers over his head. After a while he becomes brave enough to have another look. He discovers that the light is made up on many small lights – a cluster of fireflies. He is no longer scared and enjoys playing with the fireflies. Throughout there is a refrain that escalates the tension. The final words ask the reader to think about why Buddinge’s grandmother might have told him this story. Each opening has text set in a coloured page on the left with illustrations occupying the right page.

Budinge and the Min Min Lights is a dreaming story from Uncle Joe Kirk, intended to help young readers understand Aboriginal culture. It’s easy to imagine this as an oral tale shared with and passed to the next generation. The refrain adds to the tension and demonstrates Budinge’s growing fear. The night bush landscape can appear threatening and dangerous, but may not be if you can learn to read and understand it. Recommended for early primary-readers and anyone wanting to extend their knowledge of Australia’s traditional stories.

Budinge and the Min Min Lights, Uncle Joe Kirk with Greer Casey and Sandi Harrold, ill Sandi Harrold Scholastic Australia 2015 ISBN: 9781743628577

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

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

Ella Diaries 1: Double Dare You

Dear Diary

Hello Diary. My name’s Ella and

Once upon a time there was a girl called Ella. She lived

How are you supposed to start a diary? I’ve never had one before. Mum and Dad gave me this one for Christmas because

a) I like writing. I’m always writing stories and they love the poems I make up for their birthdays and other special days.

b) They think I have a good imagination and they think writing something every day is a good way to ‘exercise’ it.

c) I’m going into Grade 5 this year (starting tomorrow!) and Dad says Grade 5 was the best year of his life.

Dear Diary

Hello Diary. My name’s Ella and

Once upon a time there was a girl called Ella. She lived

How are you supposed to start a diary? I’ve never had one before. Mum and Dad gave me this one for Christmas because

a)      I like writing. I’m always writing stories and they love the poems I make up for their birthdays and other special days.

b)      They think I have a good imagination and they think writing something every day is a good way to ‘exercise’ it.

c)      I’m going into Grade 5 this year (starting tomorrow!) and Dad says Grade 5 was the best year of his life.

Ella starts Grade 5 with high hopes, but from the beginning her first day is disastrous. It begins with the no-show of her best friend Zoe, and goes downhill as everyone else sits at the classroom tables in pairs. Only Ella is alone. And just when she thinks this is the worst thing that can happen, the door opens and in comes mean girl, Peach, who isn’t even supposed to be in this class. Of course, she sits in the only spare chair – on Ella’s table. As the days and weeks pass, Ella records her life both in and beyond school. Peach continues to cause trouble. Ella’s diary is written in a handwriting font and includes ‘hand-drawn’ images and words picked out in red. There are also crossed out spelling mistakes and phrases. Ella includes some of her poems. At the end there is room for readers to make their own diary entry, write their own poem and draw their own picture. There’s also a sneak-peek of ‘Ballet Back-flip’, the next title in the ‘Ella Diaries’ series. Cover art includes ‘doodles’ that give hints about some of the adventures within.

‘Ella Diaries’ is a new series for mid-primary readers, primarily girls. Double Dare You begins with the new school year and establishes the characters and the world Ella occupies. Ella is a bright, energetic student who displays a positive outlook on most of her world (with the exception of her relationship with bully Peach). She is a leader, a supportive friend and keen to learn. Young readers will recognise characters from their own classroom, the good and the less so. When Ella has to make a decision about whether or not to do a dare, or in this case, a double-dare, she thinks about what it would be like to be the victim. Double Dare You lets the reader peek into Ella’s innermost thoughts, fears and enthusiasms. Recommended for mid-primary readers.

 

Ella Diaries 1: Double Dare You , Meredith Costain ill Danielle McDonald
Scholastic Australia 2015 ISBN: 9781743628638

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Ella Diaries 2: Ballet Backflip

Saturday, before dinner

Dear Diary,

You will never ever EVER believe what happened today!

I was at ballet class like I normally am every Saturday morning. My ballet class is held at La Madame Fry Ecole du Ballet (which is just a fancy way of saying Mrs Fry’s ballet school). Except, actually, the school isn’t very fancy at all.

The main reason for this is because ballet is held in our local scout hall which means when we’re not there, the scouts ar, which is a VERY BAD THING.

Reasons why sharing your SPACE with SCOUTS is BAD:

Scouts are (mostly) boys
Boys often SMELL BAD (especially when they have been running around playing sweaty scouty games. Ewwww.)
Boys leave old bits of chewy under the seats.
They also leave BOY GERMS all over the wooden barre …

Saturday, before dinner

Dear Diary,

You will never ever EVER believe what happened today!

I was at ballet class like I normally am every Saturday morning. My ballet class is held at La Madame Fry Ecole du Ballet (which is just a fancy way of saying Mrs Fry’s ballet school). Except, actually, the school isn’t very fancy at all.

The main reason for this is because ballet is held in our local scout hall which means when we’re not there, the scouts ar, which is a VERY BAD THING.

Reasons why sharing your SPACE with SCOUTS is BAD:

  1. Scouts are (mostly) boys
  2. Boys often SMELL BAD (especially when they have been running around playing sweaty scouty games. Ewwww.)
  3. Boys leave old bits of chewy under the seats.
  4. They also leave BOY GERMS all over the wooden barre …

Ella is getting the hang of diary-keeping. In it she can talk about anything she wants to without fear of discovery, except perhaps by her snoopy little sister Olivia. In Ballet Backflip ’, Ella dreams of being the lead in the ballet recital. She and her friend Zoe, hatch plans to make sure they can share the limelight. Meanwhile at school, Peach is demonstrating new skills learned at gymnastics. Her backflip is very impressive, even Ella has to admit. The school playground is transformed as Ella’s classmates all try their own moves. Text is presented in a hand-writing font and there are illustrations scattered throughout. Some words and parts of the illustrations are picked out in purple. Ella includes some of her poetry too. If there are words that Ella thinks might not be understood, she includes a footnote explaining what she means. There is room at the back to write a shape poem of your own and decorate it however you want to.

Ballet Backflip is book 2 in the Ella Diaries series. Ella is in Grade 5 and reveals all in her diary so the reader is able to share in her ups and downs, excitements and frustrations. Ella is passionate about ballet and thinks her friend, Zoe is just as committed, but gradually comes to realise that changing interests don’t have to mean a betrayal of friendship. She demonstrates the difference between enthusiasm and obsession, and also the benefits of learning to adapt to new challenges. Young readers will recognise themselves and their dilemmas and potential solutions. There’s plenty here for young dancers, and gymnasts and their families. Recommended for mid-primary readers.

 

Ella Diaries 2: Ballet Backflip by Meredith Costain ill Danielle McDonald

Scholastic Australia 2015 ISBN:9781743628645

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

Possum’s Big Surprise by Colin Buchanan ill Nina Rycroft

Flossy the Possum was running alone,

Scurrying, flurrying, hurrying home.

On over rock, past eucalypt tree,

Flossy the Possum was quick as can be!

When all of a sudden …

Flossy the Possum was running alone,

Scurrying, flurrying, hurrying home.

On over rock, past eucalypt tree,

Flossy the Possum was quick as can be!

When all of a sudden …

Flossy the Possum is in a big hurry to get home and she’s a tad skittish. She spies a big wrinkly claw and skitters on. Then a tall pair of fluff-covered ears. Each encounter has her skittering and flittering on until she reaches the safety of her home. When she arrives though, the biggest surprise is waiting there for her. Possum’s Big Surprise is told in rhyme with ‘When all of a sudden … ‘ set on the right hand side of openings cueing the next stage in her adventure. Illustrations are soft watercolour and reveal the animals that Flossy is spooked by.

Colin Buchanan’s experience as a songwriter is evident in Possum’s Big Surprise. The language trips and flows effortlessly across the pages, escalating the tension until Flossy is safely home. Nina Rycroft’s gentle colours and soft outlines dance across each spread. Together they have created a beautiful picture book for the very young. It introduces the Australian landscape and some of our iconic animals, in a lyrical story about things that twitch in the day. Possum, usually a night dweller, is startled by some of the creatures she encounters, providing an explanation for her skittishness. Young children love a surprise, and Possum’s Big Surprise delivers this deliciously! Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Possum’s Big Surprise, Colin Buchanan, ill Nina Rycroft Scholastic Australia 2014 ISBN: 9781742839271

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Karana by Uncle Joe Kirk, with Greer Casey and Sandi Harrold, ill Sandi Harrold

Karana made a beautiful nest

Then groomed his feathers to look his best.

When emu ladies came strolling by,

He started his dance to catch their eye.

One lovely lady with very long legs,

Sat on his nest and laid SIXTEEN EGGS

Karana made a beautiful nest

Then groomed his feathers to look his best.

When emu ladies came strolling by,

He started his dance to catch their eye.

One lovely lady with very long legs,

Sat on his nest and laid SIXTEEN EGGS

Karana the father emu makes a nest. He courts a female emu then sits on the eggs until they hatch. When they hatch he rears them, showing them the foods to eat, keeping them safe until they are big enough to survive on their own. When his chicks are independent,  it’s time for Karana to make a new nest. Karanais told in simple rhyme with text in white set on coloured background with painted illustrations generally on single pages. Emu is inquisitive and engaging and his chicks delightful.

Karana tells the story of a father emu and his chicks. Text is simple and rhythmic with repetition, easy to listen to, easy to build on. Biographical information on the final page introduces Uncle Joe Kirk, a Wakka Wakka elder who is passionate about sharing traditional stories. The final page also offers information about the importance of the emu in Wakka Wakka culture. Karana is an engaging illustrated story for pre- and early-schoolers. It could also be used in a variety of ways with older children, connecting story with the land, and introducing science concepts. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Karana, Uncle Joe Kirk, with Greer Casey and Sandi Harrold, ill Sandi Harrold Scholastic Australia 2014 ISBN: 9781743623138

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Juicy Juicy Green Grass and other fun songs by Peter Combe ill Danielle McDonald

uicy juicy green grass,

Where have you gone?

Will you come back?

Juicy juicy green grass.

Juicy juicy green grass,

Where have you gone?

Will you come back?

Juicy juicy green grass.

Juicy Juicy Green Grass and other fun songs’ is, as the title suggests, a collection of songs from Peter Combe. The title song laments the lack of green grass and pleads for it to return. ‘The Silly Postman’ suggests that this particular postman isn’t doing his job quite as he ought. ‘The Tadpole’s Song’ tracks a tadpole through his transformation to a frog, complete with his lament for lost youth and ends with a celebration of his new form. The final song, ‘Red Says Stop’ explores and explains the different coloured lights at in traffic lights. Illustrations are brightly coloured and humourous and fill every opening. Juicy Juicy Green Grass comes with a cd of Peter Combe singing his songs.

Peter Combe has been delighting youngsters with his lyrical silliness for a generation. His songs encourage singing and dancing and the right amount of ridiculousness. Along the way, children will discover that sheep eat grass for breakfast, lunch and tea; there are some things that do not belong in the letterbox; that tadpoles might miss their tail as well as what to do at the traffic lights to be safe. Childhood is full of learning and it’s great that some of it has been set to song – a reminder that the world needs silliness and fun. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Juicy Juicy Green Grass and other fun songs, Peter Combe, ill Danielle McDonald Scholastic Australia 2014 ISBN: 9781743620649

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

10 Hopping Bunnies by Ed Allen ill Simon Williams

Ten hopping bunnies with their egg and spoon

Ten hopping bunnies with their egg and spoon.

And if one hopping bunnies drops the egg too soon,

There’ll be nine hopping bunnies with their egg and spoon.

Ten hopping bunnies with their egg and spoon

Ten hopping bunnies with their egg and spoon.

And if one hopping bunnies drops the egg too soon,

There’ll be nine hopping bunnies with their egg and spoon.
10 Hopping Bunnies uses the familiar rhythm and rhyme of ’10 Green Bottles’ and introduces a family of bunnies. One by one, the numbers reduce until there is only one bunny remaining. That bunny flees a storm and takes refuge in a warm burrow, and then joins all the other bunnies in a pillow-fight before bedtime. Numbers are spelt out in each verse of the rhyme, but the illustrations feature the number symbol. Illustrations are comical and feature anthropomorphic bunnies of all sizes, shapes and colours.

10 Hopping Bunnies joins several other counting books from Scholastic which use familiar tunes/rhymes and feature animals. The animals are childlike and complete activities that will be familiar to many children. And there’s always a family/group reunion at the end. Young readers will soon be singing and counting along and become familiar with the number name and symbol. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

 

10 Hopping Bunnies

10 Hopping Bunnies, Ed Allen ill Simon Williams Scholastic Aust 2014 ISBN: 9781742836362