The Fairy Alphabet

A is for alphabet,
A leads on to B
B is for Barnaby,
the Bizzy Buzzy Bee

So begins this cutesy alphabet book, featuring the characters from ABC television’s The Fairies. With a combination of photography and full colour illustration, simple rhyming text and lots of sparkles, the book is aimed squarely at the under-fives, especially little girls.

Whilst the rhyming pattern is a little inconsistent – in the latter pages it almost disappears, with ‘bright’ rhymed with ‘ripe’ and ‘tot’ with ‘drops’ – the book is sure to sell well in the gift market and appeal to young fairy fanatics.

The Fairy Alphabet, The Fairies
ABC Books, 2007

Once Upon a Picture, by Sally Swain

Once upon a picture, in 1886, Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted ‘The Umbrellas’. Now upon a picture we might wonder about the girl with the hoop.
What does she want to do?

This picture book with a difference explores the work of four master painters – Renoir, Klee, Van Gogh and Rousseau – inviting children to look more closely at the paintings and wonder exactly what is happening. For one famous painting by each artist, author/illustrator Sally Swain devotes several pages to exploring the story behind the painting or behind one aspect of the painting.

Suitable for children (and adults) of all ages, this book encourages readers to really look at art closely, and opens up the world of classic art to those who otherwise may not have access.

This would be a superb tool in the art or literacy classroom (especially within the viewing strand) but is also suitable for private reading and exploration.

Once Upon a Picture

Once Upon a Picture, by Sally Swain
Allen & Unwin, this edition 2007, first published 2004

You can buy this book online at Fishpond.

One Woolly Wombat, by Kerry Argent

One woolly wombat sunning by the sea
Two cuddly koalas sipping gumnut tea…

So begins this classic Australian counting book, which this years celebrates twenty five years of publication. First published in 1982, the book has been reprinted numerous times and continues to be one of the best counting books on offer.

From one to fourteen, author/illustrator Kerry Argent offers a quirky parade of Australian animals, including wombats, koalas, numbats, dingoes and more, with rhyming text and the use of coloured pencil and watercolour wash to bring the scenes to life.

This is an endearing offering which has a timeless appeal likely to see it in print for many more years to come.

One Woolly Wombat

One Woolly Wombat, by Kerry Argent
Omnibus Books , first published 1982, this edition 2007

You can buy this book online at Fishpond.

Hello Darling! by Siobhan O'Brien

I just walked on and screamed out ‘Hello darling’ in my usual way and when the host yelled ‘Hello darling’ straight back at me, I thought, goodness me, isn’t Mike Walsh camp?

From her first appearance on the Mike Walsh show (the host that day was not Walsh, but John-Michael Howson) in September 1974, Jeanne Little has both captivated and polarised audiences across Australia. Whether they love her or are annoyed by her chainsaw voice, viewers take note of Little, her outrageous outfits and her flamboyant personality.

Born in Sydney in 1938, Little grew up with a voice which was the result of a childhood illness and a lack of confidence which resulted in a chronic stutter. Her first foray into television was almost by chance. She had recently opened a dress shop to sell her designs, and was called in by the Mike Walsh show to fill a gap when some guests pulled out. Since that day, however, she has rarely been out of the public eye – having appeared first on that show as a regular and then on a range of other television shows, as well as on stage in a variety of roles.

Hello Darling is a look at both the public and private life of the woman who is Jeanne Little. Filled with quotes from Little, as well as her numerous supporters and some of her detractors, the book provides an intimate insight into the woman an, her life and her influences. You don’t have to be a huge fan of Little’s work to be intrigued by this offering. What is likely, however, is that you will finish this read with a lot more understanding and admiration for this Aussie phenomenon.

Hello Darling!: The Jeanne Little Story

Hello Darling! The Jeanne Little Story, by Siobhan O’Brien
Allen & Unwin, 2006

This book is available for online purchase at Fishpond

A Book for Kids, by CJ Dennis

First published in 1921, C. J. Dennis’ A Book for Kidswas dedicated to ‘good children over four and under eighty four’ and continues to offer much for children of all ages. This audiobook version, read by well known Aussie actor Colin Friels, brings the familiar stories and poems from this long-enjoyed book to life.

Including well known and loved verses such as Hist!, The Triantiwontigongolope and Our Cow as well as the familiar series of poems about various occupations including The Teacher, The Sailor and The Baker, kids and adults alike will laugh aloud, whether the poems are new to them or already familiar.

This would be a valuable addition to classroom collections, but will be equally enjoyed for private listening.

A Book for Kids, by C. J. Dennis, read by Colin Friels
ABC Audiobooks, 2006

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? by Camp Quality

Why DID the chicken cross the road?

So we all know that the chicken crossed the road, but just why did she do it? This little offering offers a variety of explanations for this conundrum. The police department don’t know why, but given some time alone with the chicken are sure they can find out. Grandpa thinks we shouldn’t be asking why – in his day if someone told you the chicken crossed the road, you just accepted it was true. There are also answers from George W. Bush, Jessica Simpson, Colonel Sanders and more.

A fundraiser for Camp Quality, this fun offering will appeal to adult readers just as much as children. Why not buy a copy and support the organisation that supports kids with cancer?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? by Camp Quality
Scholastic Australia, 2006

When Elephants Lived in the Sea, by Jane Godwin and Vincent Agostino

When the world was young, elephants lived in the sea like the whale and the dugong.As sea animals, elephants swam gracefully, diving and rolling, and floating when they needed to rest. Their trunks were snorkels and their legs were like fins. Then, as the world changed and the seas began smaller, elephants began to evolve until eventually they became land animals with strong legs and saggy skin. But even today, when elephants do come across water, they swim , roll and dive, remembering their origins as sea animals.

When Elephants Lived in the Sea is a delightful picture book which takes a nonfiction basis but makes gorgeous use of language to really draw young readers in to this fascinating piece of natural history. Author Jane Godwin doesn’t tell us that elephants could swim – instead she says: They dived, explored, snorted, splashed, rolling with the ocean like a swell. This poetic use of language creates a sense of wonder and whimsy which will keep young readers spellbound. The acrylic illustrations, by Vincent Agostino, use gorgeous aquas and earthy tones in a wonderful complement to the text. A back of book information page provides further understanding of the evolution process.

This is an outstanding offering.

When Elephants Lived in the Sea

When Elephants Lived in the Sea, by Jane Godwin and Vincent Agostino
Lothian, 2006

You can buy this book online at Fishpond

Muffin Top, by Andrew Daddo

‘We’re getting a … family makeover. Cool huh? And we’re here to do the “before” shots. Then we’re going to a health farm for a week, and coming back for the “after”. What do you reckon?’ Her smile dulled slowly as she saw the three laughing clowns in front of her, each waiting for a ping-pong ball in the mouth. Leroy and Candy were still grinning.
‘But why? Cranked Dad.
‘What’s wrong with us?’ I said.
‘Who needs a makeover?’ Kylie had her arms folded across her chest.

Ash and Kylie’s mum is a total embarrassment. She writes a column for the local paper about pet care – even though the family doesn’t own a pet. Then, when Ash and Kylie have a fight about their muffin tops, their mother has a great idea about doing a family makeover for the paper. She wants them to feature in a double page spread featuring before and after photos.

Before Ash knows what’s happening, he finds himself at the Natural Spiritual Health and Wellness Centre. Mum’s in her element, with massages and mud baths and plenty of opportunities for deep inner work, but the rest of the family aren’t so sure. Can they survive a whole week of wheatgrass and yoga?

Muffin Top is a funny novel for upper primary aged children about family togetherness, body image and self awareness. Whilst it’s mostly just good fun, it also has a healthy message about liking yourself as you are.

Good stuff.

Muffin Top

Muffin Top, by Andrew Daddo
ABC Books, 2006

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond.

Henrietta the Great Go-getter, by Martine Murray

We’ve got an EMERGENCY DILEMMA to attend to. We absolutely have to find a home for the Rietta because it’s lost and its spots are fading…

This is the second book featuring Henrietta P. Hoppenbeek, a delightful first-person narrator who takes young readers along on her adventures to the imaginary Wide Wide Long Cool Coast of the Lost Socks, the land of which Henrietta is the future Queen. She travels with her best friend Olive Higgie (who has been known to eat pickles) and her baby brother Albert (who dribbles and dribbles, and also does other disgusting things like pooing his nappy), sailing in the bathtub to take the msierable Rietta home.

The hard cover format of this little offering, coupled with the illustrations – a combination of child-like sketches and collage – and design elements such as text which wanders over the pages, makes it visually appealing, and the whimsical text make it sure to appeal to readers of all ages, though it is primarily aimed at younger children.

Henrietta: The Great Go-getter

Henrietta the Great Go-getter, by Martine Murray
Allen & Unwin, 2006

You can buy this book online at Fishpond

Audiobook Review: Life's Like a Crocodile, by Rolf Heimann

What if a snail decided to seek a starring role on television – in a snail pellet advertisement? Or what if a cabbage managed to trick a rabbit into not eating it for dinner? This collection of stories by funny Australian author Rolf Heimann tells these tales and more, in a fun offering for children aged 7 to 10.

Read in this audiobook version by Anna Steen, the eighteen stories are each brief (the longest takes 7 minutes but most are less than 4), making them suitable for short listening spells of one story at a time, although they are just as appropriate for listening to in a longer sitting of several stories.

This would be a wonderful offering for the classroom, but will be enjoyed for private listening, too.

Life’s Like a Crocodile, by Rolf Heimann, read by Anna Steen
ABC Audio, 2006

You can buy this CD online at Fishpond.