Mr Moo, by Margaret Wild

Mr Moo has a nice house and good neighbours. Mostly, he’s content, but sometimes he wishes for a special friend to share things with. Then along comes Jimmy Johnson, who is off to see the world. When he takes Mr Moo’s unfinished row boat for a row and it sinks, however, he changes his plans. He will stay and help Mr Moo fix the boat.

Mr Moo takes Jimmy home to stay and soon the pair have the kind of special bond that Mr Moo has dreamed off.

Mr Moo is a bright picture book combining the writing talents of the renowned Margaret Wild with the illustrative skills of Jonathan Bentley. Published in a hardback edition in 2002, it has just been released in paperback format.

Kids will love the anthropomorphic Mr Moo (a cow) and Jimmy (who is a duck) as well as the minor characters and bright surrounds of Mr Moo’s home. They will also like the uncomplicated story – perfect for the littlies.

Mr Moo, by Margaret Wild and Jonathan Bentley
ABC 2004, first published 2002

Dizzy and Me, by Angela Moore

10-year-old Midge Gardner loves Flounder Flats Caravan Park. It is the scene of the Gardner family’s annual summer holiday. Midge loves the other regulars who share the park and, especially, their dogs.

This year is extra-special, because this year Midge and her friend Alps are organising the Flounder Flats Dog Show and Fair. All the caravan park tenants are busily preparing for this big event – grooming their dogs, cooking toffees, and donating prizes.

But Midge isn’t prepared for the things that can go wrong on the day of a big event. Kaycee Elwood is hysterical when her dog Pom Pom first has her mouth stuck closed by a toffee, then is mysteriously kidnapped. Can Midge and the other kids (and dogs) rescue Pom Pom, or is it already too late? Perhaps while they’re working on that mystery they can solve the other mystery of Flounder Flat – the Flounder Flats Ghostfish.

Dizzy and Me is a fun blend of mystery, adventure and silliness, sure to appeal to eight to twelve year old readers. Author Angela Moore will be familiar to many young readers as Angela from Playschool, and her style certainly reflects some of the zaniness evidenced on-screen.

Good fun.

Dizzy and Me, by Angela Moore
ABC Books, 2004

Aussie Pony Tales 3, by Sheryn Dee

There is nothing Jessie likes better than riding her horse Magic. So, one perfect day, she and Magic set off for a picnic in the bush. All goes well, until Magic decides to take a dip in the Murray River. Jessie knows she shouldn’t follow Magic in – but what if her horse drowns?

Bush Picnic is the first of the two stories in this chapter book for four to seven year old readers. In the second story, Magic falls sick after eating some poisonous weed, and Jessie helps Mum and Dad nurse him back to help.

This is the third title in the Aussie Pony Tales series. Each volume has two short tales about Jessie and Magic’s adventures on the family farm in the South Australian Riverland. They are sure to appeal to young readers, especially horse-mad girls.

Aussie Pony Tales 3: Bush Picnic/A Magic Mixture, by Sheryn Dee, illustrated by Matt Cosgrove
ABC Books, 2004

Aussie Pony Tales 4, by Sheryn Dee

The Aussie Pony Tales series are aimed at young horse lovers making a transition to first novels from more highly illustrated picture books and readers. Each title has two stories about the adventures of seven-year-old Jessie and her pony Magic.

This is the fourth title in the series, written by author Sherryn Dee. In the first story, Magic Goes to School, young Jessie almost misses school when the car has a flat tyre and the spare is off getting fixed. But Jessie convinces Mum to let her ride Magic to school and Magic provides a welcome distraction for the other students.

In the second story Jessie and Magic become heroes, when Mum needs help urgently. Mum’s baby is coming, and when Jessie and Magic can’t find Dad anywhere, they ride to town to find a doctor instead.

With plenty of horse action and simply told stories, these tales are a great blend of interest and accessibility for young readers. They are especially likely to appeal to 6 to 8 year old girls.

Aussie Pony Tales 4: Magic Goes to School/The New Moon, by Sheryn Dee
ABC Books, 2004

Pudding & Chips, by Penny Matthews

Chips the sheepdog takes his role very seriously. If he isn’t needed to round up the sheep, he gets busy rounding up the other animals. Except there is one animal – Pudding the goose – who refuses to be rounded up. When Chips chases Pudding, she flies at him, and soon he is the one being chased.

When a fox starts visiting the farm, it is Pudding who raises the alarm. but when he catches two of the other geese, Pudding changes. All the honk goes out of her. Then, without warning she disappears.

Everyone misses Pudding, but Chips misses her the most. So, when early one morning he hears her honking on the hill, he is the first to go and greet her. Together they chase off the fox, who has made another visit, before Pudding reveals the secret reason for her absence.

Penny Matthews’ gentle but richly woven text is delightfully complemented by the pen, ink and watercolour illustrations of Janine Dawson. For teachers in preprimary or lower primary classrooms, Pudding & Chips would make an excellent complement to Matthews’ award-winning A Year on Our Farm, although of course it stands wonderfully on its own for home or school reading.

Pudding & Chips, by Penny Matthews, illustrated by Janine Dawson
ABC Books, 2004

Dorothy the Dinosaur and the Magic Shell

Reviewed by Tash Hughes

Dorothy the Dinosaur wakes up one morning feeling down in the dumps for no clear reason. Wags the Dog, Captain Feathersword and Henry the Octopus do their best to cheer her up by taking her to the beach. Still unhappy, Dorothy walks along the beach and finds a most unusual shell.

When Dorothy blows the horn, it has a magical effect on her friends; they stand on their heads, somersault and make animal noises and can’t stop!

Finally, Dorothy is happy and laughs at her friends’ antics so much she can’t blow the shell again for some time. Eventually, a blow of the shell frees her friends and they return to normal behaviour. Dorothy throws the shell into the ocean before playing with her friends and building the captain a sand ship.

The book has clear illustrations of the Wiggles characters and will delight all young children. The text is simple and short for preschoolers, but interesting enough to captivate early readers, too. The book shows children it’s ok to feel down sometimes, but it’s more fun to be with friends and laugh! A fun read from the Wiggles.

Dorothy the Dinosaur and the Magic Shell, The Wiggles, Illustrated by Jonathon Bentley
ABC Books, 1999

Great Australian Fishing Stories, by Paul B. Kidd

Every fisherman has a story to tell – usually about the size of the one that got away. Now, in Great Australian Fishing Stories, Paul Kidd shares some of his own fishing stories and others he has collected over a lifetime of fishing and story telling sessions.

From stories of outrageous cheating to win fishing competitions, to encounters with huge sharks and crocodiles, and urban myths and tall tales, Kidd takes the reader on an unrivalled fishing journey combining humour and excitement.

Great for a fisherman or anyone who likes stories with a larrikin twist.

Great Australian Fishing Stories, by Paul B. Kidd
ABC Books, 2003

Great Australian Droving Stories, by Bill 'Swampy' Marsh

Before utes, motorbikes, helicopters and planes, mustering and droving were done by men (and occasionally women) on horseback, who moved sheep and cattle vast distances in search of better feed or markets. Bill Marsh has spent time with these tough characters, listening to and recording their stories in one volume.

Great Australian Droving Stories brings together sixty stories of lives on the road as told to Bill by the drovers.

Whether you like a good yarn or are a keen observer of human nature and Australia’s culture, this is a fascinating compilation of adventure, humour and emotion.

Great Australian Droving Stories, by Bill “Swampy’ Marsh
ABC Books, 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