The shark with the glinting, pointy teeth saw Turtle.
The octopus with the dangly, stretchy tentacles saw Turtle.
As Turtle makes her way across the sea, the reader is asked ‘Who saw Turtle?’ giving an element of interaction to this delightful tale of a turtle travelling to lay her eggs. The illustrations, too, are interactive, encouraging both prediction and a close examination to see previous animals repeated.
Who Saw Turtle is beautiful picture book offering from Ros Moriarity, with indigenous artwork from the Balarinji studio. Together with The Rainbow, it offers both simple text and rich visuals, perfect for very young students and second language learners.
An important inclusion in both books is a back of book translation of the text into the Yanyuwa language, spoken by families in Borroloola, in the Northern Territory. Such use of traditional language is vital not just for the speakers of that language, but for promoting Australia-wide awareness of the existence and importance of the many languages of our first peoples.
In paperback format, this pair will be enjoyed for its simple, engaging text and rich, bright illustrations.
Who Saw Turtle? ISBN 9781760297800
The Rainbow, ISBN 9781760297794
both by Ros Moriarty, illustrated by Balarinji
Allen & Unwin, 2018
Can you see her?
There – deep in the stretching shadows – a dingo.
Her pointed ears twitch.
Her tawny eyes flash in the low-slung sun.
It is dusk, and Dingo is awake, ready to hunt to feed her cubs. As she moves through the landscape, the reader learns about this dingo and, through her, the dingo species.
Dingo, part of the Nature Storybooks series from Walker Books, is a sumptuous picture book offering. The text is lyrical, pacing across the pages like Dingo paces across the landscape. The illustrations, in layered oil paintings, are rich and wild, matching the subject matter perfectly. Short factoids on each spread, in a different font, give the reader further detail about the species.
Perfect for young animal lovers to enjoy on their own, Dingo will also be a valuable classroom and library addition.
Dingo, by Claire Saxby & Tanya Harricks
Walker Books, 2018
Once, there was a small rhinoceros
who wanted to see the big world.
All the other rhinoceroses do the things that rhinoceroses are supposed to do: they wallow in the mud, bathe in the sun, eat grass and rub their horns against trees. But for one small rhinoceros these things are not enough. She wishes she could see the world. And, although she knows that rhinoceroses can’t build boats, and especially can’t sail and steer boats, she builds her own little boat and sets off to see the world.
Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros is a gentle, humorous but inspirational picture book story. The text tells a tale of courage and following dreams and will appeal to young dreamers. The mixed media illustrations are in gentle tones, allowing the rhinoceroses to star both in the jungle and in the settings the young rhinoceros travels through.
A divine offering for children and adults alike.
Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros, by Meg McKinlay & Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2017
I am a platypus.
I live in the muddy water and on the grassy bank.
I look like the muddy water and the grassy bank.
That is why I am hard to see.
Can you find me?
‘Can You Find Me?’ features a collection of Australian animals (large and small) living, hiding, in their particular environment. Each double page spread draws their home, and suggests why they might be hard to find. The final line on each spread then asks ‘Can you find me?’ Endpapers show ‘specimens’ from a range of Australian native plants set in white paper. Illustrations are watercolour and realistic in style.
Camouflage is a great tool for survival, particularly if an animal is not the fastest, biggest or top of their food chain. Each of these Australian animals from the echidna on the cover to the leaf moth and stick insect has adapted to be able to hide in plain sight. The invitation is explicit in the title and young readers will enjoy finding each animal. Text spells out why they are hard to see: ‘I live in the … I look like the …’ and then asks the reader to search the image. An introduction to camouflage and Australian creatures large and small. Recommended for pre-schoolers.
Can You Find Me, Gordon Winch & Patrick Shirvington
New Frontier Publishing 2017
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
Winter had come early and Bear was running late.
He was feeling very sleepy, it was time to hibernate.
He hurried down the mountain, past the icy rocks,
and never even noticed a rather sneaky Fox.
The Bear is back – and this time he’s really sleepy. Winter is here, and he needs to hibernate, but a sneaky fox thinks Bear needs a new bigger cave. First he offers a train tunnel, then a bat cave, and lastly an ocean-side cave. When bear decides he’s had enough and wants to go back to his own snug cave, he finds Fox and his friends have moved in.
The Very Sleepy Bear features the bear who youngsters may well know from The Very cranky bear and other offerings. Told in humorous rhyme and featuring the big brown bear and assorted other characters in gently humorous acrylics , the book will nightstand repeated rereading – which is just as well, because it will be requested over and over.
The Very Sleepy Bear, by Nick Bland
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
There is no doubting the popularity of classic nursery rhyme brought to life in this book, though probably many readers will be surprised at the number of verses, some of which may be less familiar. But it is the way it is brought to life in the adorable illustrations which make this version so appealing. Olive the owl (named only in the blurb), flies across the darkening landscape, delivering books (each adorned with a star) to her sleepy friends – a flock of sheep, a family of wombats, even a human child – before returning home to read to her three owlets.
The gentle blues and purples of the night skies, together with the expressive, sweet faced animals and the familiar text make this an ideal bedtime or rest time offering.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, illustrated by Matt Shanks
When Jess and Jack opened the gates to the Zoo,
it was strangely deserted. Nobody said BOO!
‘Where’s the new roo?’ said Jess, looking round.
‘It’s never this quiet. I can’t hear a sound.’
When Jess and Jack arrive at the zoo to begin their day and to check on their newest animal, they find everything suspiciously quiet. None of the animals are to be seen, but it’s clear where they’ve been. There are open cages, and animal scats and tracks everywhere. They follow the tracks, the scats, the feathers and down. They know their animals love to roam free, but are keen to get them back before night falls. Just when Jess is beginning to worry, she finds Jack and the animals too. Illustrations are full of fun and humour as the animals conduct their big Hullabaloo.
‘The Great Zoo Hullabaloo’ tells a story of disappearing zoo animals, the tracks they leave behind and the reason they have vanished, all in rhyme. Young readers are invited to speculate about where the animals might be, then to join in when they are discovered. Both zookeepers are relieved to find their animals, and to join in the shenanigans. There are plenty of animals to identify, and rhythms to replicate. Recommended for pre-schoolers.
The Great Zoo Hullabaloo!, Mark Carthew ill Anil Tortop New Frontier Publishing 2017 ISBN: 9781925059786
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
What do they do with all the poo
from all the animals at the zoo?
the hippos, the tigers, the kangaroos –
What do they do with all that poo?
Comedian Anh Do has been making Australians laugh for years, and since turning to chidlren’s books he’s gained a whole new generation of readers. What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo? will entertain even younger readers than his junior novels.
This rhyming story, which comes with accompanying music on a CD (sung by Simon Mellor) is catchy, funny and, of course, slightly gross, which is exactly why youngsters will love it. The illustrations, by Laura Wood, are also filled with humour, with the looks on the faces of humans and animals particularly engaging.
Great for reading with or without the accompanying music, this will be a favourite both at home and in classrooms.
What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo?, by Anh Do & Laura Wood
In the great, old hollow oak,
Lived an owl, who never spoke.
Owl doesn’t speak, doesn’t sing and doesn’t even hoot. All the other animals are worried. They would like a sign that Owl is all right. Finally, Owl does make a noise – by playing a series of musical instruments.
The Silent Owl is a gorgeous rhyming picture book, illustrated with paper collage and water colour backgrounds. The humour of the story, coupled with the big eyed characters will appeal to young readers, and the deceptive simplicity of the collage will entice young artists to experiment with collage themselves.
Lots of fun with early childhood readers.
The Silent Owl, by Sam McPhillips (ill) & Clemency Pearce
Big Sky Publishing, 2016