Me and My Dad, by Jill Kearney and Jamie Tufrey

The premise of this book is simple: it is fun to play with Dad. It is that simplicity which makes the book magic. The main character – a young girl – tells of the fun times she shares with her dad. Together they read stories, play with dolls, paint and more. Most importantly, the narrator tells us, she loves it when her dad loves her.

The bright illustrations by Jamie Tufrey capture the sense of fun from the text and youngsters will love the lift the flap format which shows the reactions father and daughter get from those around them.

It is really lovely to see a book focus on the relationship between father and child – especially father and daughter – and to see a dad doing daggy things like playing with dolls and dressups. This would make a great gift for a new father and is perfect for bedtime reading.

Me and My Dad, by Jill Kearney, illustrated by Jamie Tufrey
Koala Books, 2004

The Ghost of Raven Hill, by Emily Rodda

When Liz and her friends need to earn some money, she has a great idea. Soon the friends are known collectively as Teen Power Inc., advertising themselves as willing to do almost any job. When they do get their first job, however, they don’t expect to be involved in solving a mystery. Their employer, the proprietor of the Pen newspaper, is having an unbelievable run of bad luck. Liz and her friends are soon involved in working out what is going on.

The Ghost of Raven Hill is the first in the series now known as the Raven Hill Mysteries, but which first appeared in 1994 as the Teen Power Inc. series. The book seems to have travelled well and is just as likely to appeal to upper primary aged readers now as it did when it was first released.

A little different than Rodda’s more recent offerings in the fantasy genre, The Ghost of Raven Hill is still a good sound mystery story .

The Ghost of Raven Hill, by Emily Rodda
First Published by Scholastic, 1994, this edition, 2004

Bruno Dreams of Ice Cream, by Peter Whitfield and Nancy Bevington

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan


Bruno Dreams of Ice Cream is the first in a series of books based on Zen Tales. There are nine characters in the series each representing a human characteristic such as love, fearlessness or anger.

This story is about focusing attention and not allowing yourself to be distracted. Everyone has an ice cream, except Bruno, and he wants one. This is all he can think about. When his fearless quality is needed to help a friend, Bruno is able to focus his attention on something other than the ice cream. He soon forgets about it and gets what he wants – ice cream.

Nancy Bevington’s illustrations tell the story without any distractions. The colours are earthy; a lot of browns brightened by greens, yellow and red. The square pictures sit beautifully within a pale brown frame on the page.

There are a lot of characters in this story, seven of the nine in the series, but once children become familiar with them, this should not be a problem. This is a book with a subtle message told within a story that children will enjoy. The word length means it is for older children, although younger children might like the pictures. The original Zen Tale is included at the end of the story.

Bruno Dreams of Ice Cream, Bevington, Nancy (illus.), Peter Whitfield (text)
New Frontier Publishing, $19.95, ISBN 0975090712

Taming Butterflies, by Sue Whiting and Mini Goss

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan


Sometimes a solution is much easier than we expect. Tilly has thousands of butterflies living inside her stomach. They are not always there, but when they wake up they make Tilly shiver and shake. One day, Marjory-Anne comes to visit and helps Tilly tame the butterflies. The answer to Tilly’s shyness and nerves is simple: tell the butterflies to be still.

Sue Whiting’s story is almost rhythmical at times and the language is simple, yet accurately describes how butterflies behave.

The bright illustrations by Mini Goss are beautiful with much more to offer than just telling the story. They show the underlying emotions. Younger children may not understand what being shy means but they will recognise the emotions of sadness, happiness and fear on Tilly’s face.

This is a fabulous story offering a simple method of dealing with nerves and shyness. It lets the child take control. Whilst the solution may not work for everyone, it is straightforward and fun to try out. It is a great book to read aloud and lets the listener join in with taming the butterflies. This is a story that children will want to read, or listen to, over and over again.

Taming Butterflies, Goss, Mini (illus.), Sue Whiting (text)
New Frontier Publishing, 2004
Hardcover, RRP$24.95, ISBN 0975090755

The Old Johnno Stories, by Barry Carozzi

Old Johnno had a dog…He was so big that he more than filled the back of Johnno’s old Holden ute. People used to say that he was 50 per cent Great Dane, 25 per cent Airedale, 25 per cent horse and 100 per cent stupid! I’d have to agree. He would have to be the stupidest dog I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Old Johnno and his dog Mutt have wild and wacky adventures. There are, the narrator tells us, more stories about Johnno than there are dead fish in a tip. All of these stories are funny, adventurous and just a little bit silly. Some are downright unbelievable.

It is great to see a children’s book told in the best tradition of Aussie tall tales, a form which many kids would be unfamiliar with but which they will love for its humour and down to earth style.

The Old Johnno Stories is part of the Breakers series from Macmillan Education, a series designed for classroom use but just as appealing for private reading.

Good fun.

The Old Johnno Stories, by Barry Carozzi
Macmillan Education, 2004