Chip. by Kylie Howarth

He ate
fat chips, skinny chips,
doggy vhipd, sandy chips,
crunchy little bits of chips
and even spicy chilli-dipped chips.

Like most gulls, Chip would do anything for fish and chips, even though the chips he eats make his stomach ache. So, when the fish and chip van owner bans Chip and his mates from being fed chips, Chip gets desperate. He hatches a plan to impress people so much they won’t be able to resist him and his friends.

Chip is the humorous tale of a greedy, but inventive seagulll, who trains his friends to fly in formation so they can compete in an airshow and get free chips. Though the plan works, the result is not free chips (which are bad for gulls) but fresh fish, which is more satisfying. The mixed-media illustrations make use of collage, pen outlines and digital elements and Howarth’s ability to give Chip plenty of emotion and movement with just a few simple lines is clever.

A fun picture book which will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

Chip, by Kylie Howarth
Five Mile, 2016
ISBN 9781760400736

Nellie Belle, by Mem Fox & Mike Austin

Is it fun in the yard,
Nellie Belle, Nellie Belle?
Is it fun in the yard,
Nellie Belle?

Nellie Belle is a an adorable brown and tan dog who is off on an adventure – digging holes in yard (and escaping), exploring the street, the beach and, finally, the park – before getting spooked by the dark and hurrying home to her safe warm bed.
With a rhythm and repetition reminiscent of the folk song “Billy Boy”, Nellie Belle is a fast-moving, happy celebration of dogs and adventure. The illustrations, rendered digitally, have textures reminiscent of children’s paint sets and of marble, collaged into delightful scenes. The joyful expressions of the animal characters is especially appealing.
Suitable for reading aloud to the very young, the repetition will encourage youngsters to join in.
Nellie Belle, by Mem Fox & Mike Austin
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781760274108

Thunderstorm Dancing, by Katrina Germein & Judy Watson

9781743314593.jpgDaddy is the wind
whizzing and blowing
howling and growing
making trees whoosh!
making seas swoosh!

A day at the beach is interrupted by an approaching thunderstorm, and the family rushes home to shelter as the win blows, the rain falls and thunder rumbles. Most of the family dance their way through the storm – echoing what is happening outside – but the viewpoint character, a little girl, is very unsure. While every other family member dances and acts a different part of the storm – rain, wind, thunder, lightning – she waits till the storm has passed to play her own shining role.

Thunderstorm Dancing is an energetic picture book about thunderstorms, dancing and families. The text makes good use of poetic techniques including onomatopoeia, assonance and rhyme, so that the reader can hear the storm raging and the frenetic movement of the family. The illustrations use a variety of techniques including black ink, pencil and washes to similarly bring to life the movement of the storm as well as the contrast between light and dark. The end papers, with seagulls soaring in the storm inside the front cover and resting on the beach in the back, are a gorgeous touch.

Thunderstorm Dancing is an excellent read-aloud offering.

Thunderstorm Dancing, by Katrina Germein & Judy Watson
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743314593

Available from good bookstores and online.

Tanglewood, by Margaret Wild & Vivienne Goodman

‘What is family?’ asked Tanglewood.
‘Family is love and friendship. Family is everything.’

Tanglewood is the only tree on a tiny island, and she is lonely. She calls to the dolphins, the seals and the birds to come and play with her, but they don’t, and Tanglewood thinks she might die of loneliness. Then, in the midst of a storm, a seagull falls into her branches, and Tanglewood shelters her. When Seagull leaves, to return to her family, Tanglewood is even more alone, having known the feeling of company, but she stays strong, because one day Seagull will return. When that day comes, Tanglewood gets a delightful surprise – not one seagull, but a whole flock, bearing the gift of life in the form of seeds.

Tanglewood is a breathtaking collaboration. Margaret Wild’s text is powerful, syaing enough but never too much and moving like a gentle stream from page to page. Read aloud, the words entrance. The illustrations are a mix of sizes, form double page spreads, to multiple panels on a page, as well as single panels and horizontal panels spanning the middle of spreads with text above and below. The might of the sea, the sparsity of the lonely island and the beauty of the gulls are all captured.

This is a charming, wrenching, gorgeous story.


Tanglewood, by Margaret Wild & Vivienne Goodman
Omnibus, 2012
ISBN 9781862915701

This book is available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.