How To Keep Dinosaurs, by Robert Mash

What do you give to the person who already has one of everything? A pet would be nice – especially if it were a dinosaur. But if you are planning to do so, perhaps you should start with this book, a complete guide to the care and breeding of every conceivable breed of dinosaur.

With chapters devoted to every type of dinosaur – including Dinosaurs for Beginners, Dinosaurs for Security Work and Dinosaurs for Eggs and Meat – as well as chapters devoted to the best places to buy your dinosaur and how to deal with common ailments and cures, this is a superb guide. The photo-like illustrations will give insight into the asthetic qualities of possible purchases.

A useful volume for the dinosaur enthusiast – novice or expert.

How to Keep Dinosaurs, by Robert Mash
W & N Illustrated, 2003

Jingle Jangle Jungle, by Axel Scheffler

The highlight of this simple rhyming story is the delgihtfull illustration style of Alex Scheffler, who uses plenty of vibrant colour to bring the jungle animals to life. Each double page spread includes two two-piece puzzles and is perfect both for little fingers learning to do puzzles, and little heads learning to count to 10.

With prancing giraffes, stomping elephants, skipping zebras and more, all dancing to the jungle beat, young readers will love the simple story and be delighted by the novelty of the puzzles.

A great gift book.

Jingle Jangle Jungle, by Alex Scheffler
Macmillan, 2003

Children's AudioBook Review: Christmas Stories for Kids

There are plenty of Christmas tapes and cds on the market, but this production offers something a little bit different.

With a combination of stories, song and humour, this is great for Christmas listening at home as well as being suitable for the primary classroom.

On side one Sophie Lee reads the delightful Eloise at Christmastime, while Mark Mitchell, whose comedy will be well known to many parents, tells the hilarious tale of a Crisis on Christmas Eve. On the reverse side, Jane Clifton signs an Australian version of the Twelve Days of ChristmasA Bellbird in a Flame Tree, from the book by Kilmeny Niland, and Kym Lardner (and friends) add a fun, yet beautiful, version of the nativity story.

Christmas Stories for Kids is a great offering from ABC Audio and would be a thoughtful gift for the kids on your list.

Christmas Stories for Kids, with Jane Clifton, Kym Lardner, Sophie Lee and Mark Mitchell
ABC Audio, 2001

The Dog Sitter, by Sue Walker

Jack has always wanted a dog, but his parents say he must wait until he is older. When he sees an advertisement for a pet-sitter he sees his chance. If he can look after the dog for a week, maybe his parents will let him have a dog of his own.

But looking after big, friendly Samson is not as easy as Jack thought. Samson digs, and chews and wees and poos. It is a big job to clean up after him and keep him entertained.

The Dog Sitter is a Solo title for beginning readers making the transition from picture books to chapter books. With loads of illustrations by Beth Norling and simple yet lively text, it will appeal to young readers.

A cute and engaging story.

The Dog Sitter, by Sue Walker, illustrated by Beth Norling
Omnibus, 2003

YoYo's Hidey House, by Jeanette Rowe

YoYo is playing hide and seek with his friends. Young readers can lift the flaps and help YoYo search through the house to find them all.

This brightly coloured book will appeal to toddlers with its simple story and interactive flaps. Janette Rowe’s illustrations are both vibrant and whimsical, making them perfect for the early years.

Rowe is a Melbourne based author and illustrator who has been creating children’s books for over fifteen years. The YoYo series is a delight and this addition is no exception.

YoYo’s Hidey House, by Jeannette Rowe
ABC Books, 2003

Two Hairy Maclary Titles, by Lynley Dodd

There are few dogs more loved in children’s literature than Hairy Maclary. For years they have been read aloud by parents, grandparents and teachers, made into a television series for littlies and generally enjoyed. Now ABC Books has released two beautiful titles in board book format.

In Hairy Maclary, Sit, Hairy and his friends are attending obedience classes in the park. Hairy, however, is feeling “breezily bad, jittery, skittery, mischievous, mad.” When the leader tells him to sit, he scampers away instead. As he chases two ducks he is joined by more and more of the obedience-class escapees – Bottomley Potts, Muffin McLay, Hercules Morse, Nitzer Maloney – in fact all of the dogs who make regular appearances in Dodd’s stories.

In Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack, Hairy Maclary meets a mischeivous duckling who wants to play. Hairy isn’t so sure, and tries to hide from the yellow intruder, until he finds himself in a bind that Zachary can help him out of.

Both stories ooze appeal and readability. Dodd’s whimsical use of words and rhyme, coupled with her bright, joy-filled illustrations make these titles that parents will love to read and chidlren will love to listen to. The board-book format makes them sturdy, which is great – because these are books which will be read again and again for a long time to come.

Hairy Maclary, Sit and Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack, both by Lynley Dodd
ABC Books, 2003

Two TV Spin-Offs from ABC Kids

If there are kids in your house, chances are that you know who Angela Anaconda and Bob the Builder are. The pair are regulars from the ABC for Kids afternoon line up. Now, ABC Books has two offerings for young fans which would make perfect Christmas gift ideas.

Angela Anaconda is the queen of one-liners and silly jokes, so it is little surprise to see a book full of them. Angela Anaconda: My Book of Stupid Jokes is crammed full of silliness – jokes, puns, knock-knocks and more. Complemented with illustrations of all the show’s characters – Angela herself, Johnny Havati, Gina Lash, Gordy Rhinehart, even Nanette Manoir and Mrs Brinks.

Perfect for young fans of the show (some of the jokes would be unclear for anyone who hadn’t watched it), this little book has a nice little price too – just $5.95 (rrp).

For Bob the Builder fans comes the Bob the Builder Bumper Book, Volume Three. This a part story book, part activity book, with plenty of tales based on episodes of the show, along with picture puzzles and introductions to all the members of Bob’s team.

The range of stories will cater for children of differing ages and abilities, with variations in the numbers of pictures and words. There is also a rhebus story (a story where some of the words are replaced with picture clues) and even a Christmas story.

Unlike some activity-style books, there are no activities which require the child to draw in the book, which ensures its longevity. There are also plenty of opportunities for parent-child interaction, with many of the activities inviting children to ‘talk about’ or ‘discuss’ the pictures.

At just $12.95 (rrp) this, again, would be a great Christmas gift.

ABC Book titles are available from ABC Shops and Centres, online and in other good bookstores.

Angela Anaconda: My Stupid Book of Jokes, by David Lewman
ABC Books, 2003

Bob the Builder Bumper Book Volume Three, by Brenda Apsley
ABC Books, 2003

The Kazillion Wish, by Nick Place

Harlan and Ainsley Banana are not happy. Life is not treating them well at all. First, their parents separated. Then, just when they’d got used to that, they both copped really bad teachers. Now, things are looking even more grim, with their dad in deep depression. Mister Banana is lonely, and all Ainsley and Harlan want is for him to be happy. They are sure their lives will get better if only they can cheer him up.

When Ainsley blows a dandelion and a frongle appears, she gets to make a wish. Her wish is a big wish – a Kazillion wish. The frongle, Zootfrog, explains that a kazillion wish has to be earned, by undertaking a quest: a Kazillion Wish quest.

Accompanied by a crazy creature named Zucchini Spacestation, Harlan and Ainsley embark on their quest, meeting strange and wild creatures such as the Chocolion and Martian twins with a desperate need for speed.

The Kazillion Wish is a wild and funny adventure which kids aged 7 to 11 will love. Plenty of fun.

The Kazillion Wish, by Nick Place
Allen & Unwin, 2003

Hair of the Skeleton, by Pamela Freeman

When the residents of Tiger Beach Village claim to be visited by a ghost Jake, Peter and Ruby decide on a stake-out to see if they can catch the ghoul. Their surprise to find that the ‘ghost’ is definitely not dead soon turns to determination to figure out who it is and what they want.

Hair of the Skeleton is the first in the new Network Mysteries series by Pamela Freeman. The young sleuths solve the mysteries they encounter with high technology – robots, biosensors and digital cameras.

With the use of this technology, the stories will appeal to most youngsters, especially gadget-lovers and mystery enthusiasts.

A high-tech, fast paced mystery with a touch of humour.

Hair of the Skeleton, by Pamela Freeman
Koala Books, 2003

A Bastard of A Place, by Peter Brune

When Australians think of the brave men who fought in Papua in the Second World War, they immediately think of the Kokoda Trail. But as well as the Kokda campaign, Australian men fought against the Japanese in Milne Bay on the eastern tip of the island, and in Gona, Buna and Sanananda in the north.

A Bastard of a Place details the efforts of Australian soldiers in all of these places in the years 1942 and 1943. It describes and explores the men who fought there, the battles that they fought and the victories they won. Importantly, it also debunks some of the myths and outright untruths about the events.

The war against the Japanese in Papua and New Guinea was one which was vital for the protection of Australia. The story, as it is told here, is an important piece of our history, yet one which is not well known. Peter Brune, in this honest and well-researched volume, seeks to make up for this lack of renown and bring this piece of history to the common Australian.

Essential reading.

A Bastard of a Place: The Australians in Papua, by Peter Brune
Allen & Unwin, 2003