Lily the Elf: The Wishing Seed & The Elf Flute, by Anna Brandford, illustrated by Lisa Coutts

The Wishing Seed (Lily the Elf)
Lily hugs the seed tightly. Then she whispers into the fluff.
Lovely dandelion seed
(not a pest and not a weed),
grant my wish
with super-speed,
a princess crown
is what I need!

Lily’s dress up crown is broken and tattered. She dreams of having a sparkly, unbroken princess crown. So, when a dandelion wish seed floats by, she knows what to do. She makes the wish and waits impatiently for it to come true. But nothing happens. Her wise dad and granny tell her that sometimes fixing things is better than wishing things, but Lily isn’t convinced – until both adults help her to fix her crown into something very special.

The Elf Flute (Lily the Elf)
First, she holds the flute sideways. Next, she wiggles her fingers over the holes. Then she blows over the big hole at the top.
She waits for lovely music to fill the room. But there is only a whiffling sound.

When Lily is given a brand new elf flute, she decides she will play it at the Grand Elf Concert, rather than recite the poem she has written. But learning to play the flute is harder than she thought. Will she master it in time for the concert?

The Wishing Seed and The Elf Flute are two new titles in the delightful Lily the Elf series. Each self-contained chapter book features Lily and her family – her father and her granny. Lily tackles problems which are a charming blend of elfish and human problems – wanting or wishing for something, mastering a new skill, appreciating individual talents and so on.

Black and white illustrations on most spreads, simple sentence structures and large font make these titles suitable for emergent readers, but accessibility has not compromised the story quality.

A lovely pair.

The Wishing Seed (ISBN 9781925081060)
The Elf Flute (ISBN 9781925081077)
both by Anna Brandford & Lisa Coutts (ill)
Walker Books, 2015

Alfie's Lost Sharkie, by Anna Walker

Alfie's Lost SharkieWho’s Sharkie?
He has big fins,
sharp teeth,
scary eyes
and he’s blue.
Maybe he’s outside.

It’s time for Alfie to get ready for bed, but he can’t find Sharkie. He’s not outside, he’s not in the bath, he’s not in the pyjama drawer or on the bookshelf. Dad tries to be patient, and eventually manages to convince Alfie to choose another toy (in fact, many other toys) but when he gets to bed, Alfie is delighted to find his toy Sharkie.

Alfie’s Lost Sharkie is the second title featuring Alfie, an anthropomorphised crocodile. And, just like the first, Hurry Up, Alfie, there is much to love.

The text is very simple – with no narration, meaning that the whole story is told by the dialogue between Alfie and his Dad (or is it Mum – this is wonderfully ambiguous, which I like) and, of course, by the illustrations, which use ink and collage and are filled with whimsy.

Perfect for bed time reading – or any time of day really.

Alfie’s Lost Sharkie, by Anna Walker
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781742839929

Available from good bookstores and online.

Hurry Up Alfie! by Anna Walker

Good morning, Alfie. It’s time to get dressed.

The sun is shining and we have a busy day.

Alfie’s not here.

Oh, that’s a pity, I thought Alfie might like to come to the park with me. Bert will be there.

Good morning, Alfie. It’s time to get dressed.

The sun is shining and we have a busy day.

Alfie’s not here.

Oh, that’s a pity, I thought Alfie might like to come to the park with me. Bert will be there.

Alfie is a young anthropomorphised crocodile. Mum says they are going to the park and that Alfie needs to get ready. Alfie finds all manner of distractions get in the way. First there’s breakfast, then the process of getting dressed. Mum offers to help but Alfie wants to do things Alfie’s way. Illustrations are a mix of pattern and collage and more. Mum is relentlessly patient and encouraging, but time is running short. Eventually, Mum and Alfie reach the park, ready to play.

Hurry Up Alfie is a delightful observation of a day in the life of a small child. Alfie is easily distracted but simultaneously easily entertained. Meanwhile, the reader can see both familiar and different elements in this particular home and its routines. There are plenty of details to pick out and they will enjoy watching Steve McQueen the cat as he joins in or stays safe from Alfie’s antics. Parents will recognise the challenges, and the futility of trying to hurry an imaginative and self-entertaining child. Recommended for pre-schoolers.


Hurry Up Alfie, Anna Walker Scholastic Press 2014 ISBN: 9781742839912

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

I Love Ollie Activity Book, by Anna Walker

An activity book based on Ollie’s ‘I Love…’ books. Spot the difference between pictures of Ollie preparing for a beach trip; join the dots; colour and draw; add your own touches to a seascape and garden, using stickers and colours. And plenty more, besides!

Ideal for anyone who loves Ollie.

I Love Ollie Activity Book, Anna Walker
Scholastic 2010
ISBN: 9781741696455

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

I Love my Grandma and I Love My Grandma, by Anna Walker

Ollie, the main character of the ‘I Love…’ series from Anna Walker is an androgynous striped zebra. Or ‘everychild’ in a pyjama suit. In previous outings, Ollie has loved his Mum and his Dad. Ollie also likes holidays and Christmas, to sing and to dance. Ollie even has his own ‘I Love Ollie’ font that’s used for his stories. I Love My Grandmais about Ollie spending a day with Grandma at her house. They have a picnic, a singalong and a bath. And all the while Grandma is knitting.

At Grandpa’s house, Ollie and Grandpa are ready for a day of gardening. Ollie helps as only a small child can, as they weed and harvest in Grandpa’s vegetable garden. At the end of the day, the two share dinner and a chat and then doze off in the chair. Illustrations are watercolour with lots of white space. Endpapers depicting a child’s drawing of the day’s activities echo the colours on the front cover and spine. And cuddles. Both Grandma and Grandpa offer the best of cuddles.

Each of the ‘I Love…’ books tells the story of a day with Ollie, from Ollie’s point of view. Text is simple, with the illustrations illuminating the words and reflecting a sometimes different story. But they are full of the simple joys of just being. As with previous offerings in this series, children will enjoy Ollie’s adventures and adults will appreciate the relationships depicted. Ollie is full of life and curiosity and love. These are small format almost square hardback picture books, sure to be a favourite with littlies and with their families.

I Love My Grandma

I Love My Grandma, Anna Walker Scholastic 2010
ISBN: 9781741696363

I Love My Grandpa

I Love My Grandpa, Anna Walker
Scholastic 2010
ISBN: 9781741696370

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

I Love My Mum, by Anna Walker

Ollie B is a small zebra-ish character who invites the reader into the everyday. In this outing, Ollie shares a day with Mum. Ollie helps with Mum’s jobs and then they go for a walk. The walk is full of the ordinary and extraordinary. The day ends with a wonderful bedtime hug. Illustrations are soft and evocative watercolours, full of colour and movement. I Love My Mumis a smallish hardback, styled as others in the series.

Ollie could be boy or girl. Readers will make their own decision. And it doesn’t really matter. I Love My Mumis full of the magic of everyday, celebrating the simple things that fill many days for Mum and small child. Learning is gentle. Familiar things become new through the eyes of small children. The size of I Love My Mumis perfect for little children who can follow the story in the illustrations, with or without the words being spoken.

Recommended for pre-schoolers.

I Love My Mum

I Love My Mum, Anna Walker
Scholastic 2010
ISBN: 9781741693331

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Friends for Keeps series, by Emma Quay & Anna Walker

Come and play with Panda, Owl and Sheep!

Friends can come in all shapes and sizes and in this gorgeous trio of books, the three characters, best friends, are a sheep, an owl and a panda, showing how friends play, get along and share.

Each book is a simple story. In Jump Over the Puddle Panda and Owl help Sheep to conquer her (his?) fears about trying something new – jumping over the puddle. In Let’s Play House the three friends build a cubby using a blanket. But when the cubby isn’t big enough they invent a new game. And in Yummy Ice-Cream, Sheep and Panda share their ice-creams with Owl, who doesn’t have one.

All three books are illustrated using gentle watercolours and collage of patterned fabrics. Gentle pastels colours complement the gentleness of the stories. The three characters are nicely non-gendered, both in text clues and in their appearance, so that readers can decide for themselves if they are boys or girls.

These lovely books can be enjoyed individually, but young readers will also enjoying the familiarity of having all three.


Jump Over the Puddle (Friends for Keeps)

Jump Over the Puddle

Let's Play House (Friends for Keeps)

Let’s Play House

Yummy Ice-Cream (Friends for Keeps)

Yummy Ice-Cream

all by Emma Quay and Anna Walker
Scholastic, 2009

I Love My Dad, by Anna Walker

My name is Ollie.
I love my dad.

Ollie, who has featured in several titles in the last two years, is back to share the relationship he shares with his dad. Actually, there is no indication of Ollie’s gender and readers can choose whether or not they wish to assign gender. Ollie is a small, striped anthropomorphic zebra who shares his world with the reader. In I Love My Dad Ollie shares the wonderful ordinary elements of a father-child relationship. Ollie and his dad climb trees, make cakes and more. Illustrations are watercolour on mostly white pages. Text is simple and minimal, in a clear handwriting font. I Love My Dad is a small square hardback book with bright yellow endpapers with naïve sketches of tree branches and birds.

Ollie is a loving and very likeable character, a young child clothed in zebra coveralls. His world is simple and defined by the relationships he shares with those around him. There is the overt relationship with Dad but there is also Fred, his dog, a sister and a teddy to take to bed. Walker uses few words and it is the spaces between her words that speak loudest. Her images are deceptively simple too, but pack a full emotional punch. Small children will relate to the action, from the swings in the park to piggyback rides and the cooking with Dad. Recommended for preschool-aged children.

I Love My Dad

I Love My Dad Anna Walker
Scholastic 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

I Love Christmas, by Anna Walker

Ollie the Zebra has won the hearts of lots of young Aussie readers with his ‘I Love’ stories. This Christmas, he appears in a new offering, I Love Christmas, telling us what he loves about Christmas.

From decorations and tinsel, to gluing glitter and helping make the Christmas cake, Ollie loves everything about Christmas – but what he loves best of all is to sit with his dog, Fred, and listen for Santa’s sleighbells.

I Love Christmas is as gentle and beautiful as earlier titles in the series, including I Love My Mum and I Love to Sing. With gently rhyming text, and watercolour illustrations, this small format hardcover book is perfect for babies and toddlers, and would make a lovely first Christmas gift.

I Love Christmas

I Love Christmas, by Anna Walker
Scholastic, 2009

This title can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

I Love My Mum, by Anna Walker

Little zebra, Ollie, takes the reader through a normal sort of day, the sort of day familiar to many mothers and small children. There are everyday tasks like washing and going for a walk. But everyday tasks are new to little people and there is mystery and adventure in the simplest of tasks. The text here is very simple and there is magic in the illustrations. Anna Walker has used watercolours and ensured plenty of white space remains. Ollie is a small stuffed toy, perhaps a zebra, and Mum is a slightly larger version. I Love My Mumis a small format hardback book, perfect for little hands.

Anna Walker’s illustrations are just beautfiul. Her gentle watercolours set in white space allow plenty of room for the reader to bring their own story. It’s easy to imagine sharing I Love My Mum with a small child and revisiting their day or their way of doing things. Walker’s use of an androgynous toy as main character allows wide appeal, although with the pink detail on the cover, it’s most likely this will be a treasured book for a small girl. A lovely book. Recommended for 3-5 yo children.


I Love My Mum

I Love My Mum, Anna Walker
Scholastic 2009

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author This book can be purchased online at Fishpond.

Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.