Christmas Wombat, by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley

It’s Christmas Eve. Mothball the wombat has no idea what Christmas is, or why there are strange, annoying dangly things hanging on the tree but she does know the smell of carrots, her favourite food. When she finds strange creatures are eating her carrots, she fights a battle of wills. Soon, though, her quest for carrots and a comfortable place to sleep sees her taking an unexpected sleigh ride around the world…

Strange creatures are eating my carrots!

It’s Christmas Eve. Mothball the wombat has no idea what Christmas is, or why there are strange, annoying dangly things hanging on the tree but she does know the smell of carrots, her favourite food. When she finds strange creatures are eating her carrots, she fights a battle of wills. Soon, though, her quest for carrots and a comfortable place to sleep sees her taking an unexpected sleigh ride around the world.

Christmas Wombat is a wonderfully quirky Christmas picture book starring Mothball, the wombat who first starred in Diary of a Wombat. Text is funny and simple, from Mothball’s point of view and readers left to make their connections about what is happening. The reindeer (the aforementioned strange creatures) are delightful, but of course Mothball is the star of this book – and readers will love her.

A perfect Christmas gift for readers young and old.

Christmas Wombat

Christmas Wombat, by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley
Angus & Robertson, 2011
ISBN 9780732291716

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

My Mum's the Best, by Rosie Smith & Bruce Whatley

My mum’s the best because she gives me big hugs…

This delightful hardback offering is perfect for bedtime or cuddletime reading with the very young. The minimal text explains that ‘my’ mum is the best because of the things she does every day – giving hugs, tucking in, feeding breakfast and so on. The illustrations show a range of animal babies with their mums doing these things – a bear cub being squashed in a big cuddle from his mum, a young fish being gently nudged into the school by mum, a frog dancing with mum and so on.

The design is also simple, with each spread offering text of just a few words on one page and the matching illustration on the other , with background colours in warm pastels and the animal characters gently colourful .

Simple yet beautiful, this would make a lovely gift for a newborn.

My Mum's the Best

My Mum’s the Best, by Rosie Smith & Bruce Whatley
Scholastic Press, 2011
ISBN This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Hunting for Dragons, by Bruce Whatley

Dragons are everywhere – if you know where to look.

The young protagonist in this book likes nothing better than hunting for dragons and spends most weekends doing just that. There are dragons high in the sky (in the clouds), but it is hard to catch those ones, so it is better to hunt inside where dragons hide in every room of the house.

As the child hunts dragons, the reader has the fun of spotting them in each illustration – outlined by the shape of food on a plate, washing in a basket, shadows on a wall, and more. But the biggest surprise of all is when the protagonist finds a big green dragon in her bedroom . An additional lovely surprise is when the child takes off her dragon hunting armour to reveal to the reader that she is a girl.

Hunting for Dragons is a gorgeous hard cover picture book offering from award winning author/illustrator Bruce Whatley. The whimsy of the watercolour illustrations, the surprises hidden in the same, and the fun of the text will delight young readers.

Lovely.

Hunting for Dragons, by Bruce Whatley
Scholastic Press, 2010

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

Martha Doesn't Share, by Samantha Berger & Bruce Whatley

Martha has learnt a new word and is using it quite a lot. The word is ‘MINE!’ and she’s applying it to everything around her. Her parents and little brother would quite like her to share, but Martha’s having none of it. Until she discovers that having everything isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be. This is a landscape-format paperback with a mauve and pink cover. Martha and her family are soft anthropomorphised otters. Endpapers show Martha at her non-sharing best. Illustrations depict Martha and her family in soft pastels and include large areas of white space. This is an international edition of the original US edition.

Martha’s parents try all sorts of ways to introduce the concept of sharing to this strong-willed child but with little success. Indeed they almost quake in the force of her ownership bids. They withdraw then and leave Martha with all her things. But Martha discovers this isn’t what she wanted after all. Martha Doesn’t Share sends a very clear message about the value of sharing. But never fear that Martha is completely reformed by her discovery of the up-side of sharing. The final opening shows Martha is still fairly sure that she owns most of the world. Recommended for preschool age children.

Martha Doesn’t Share, Samantha Berger & Bruce Whatley
Hachette 2010
ISBN: 9780316126359

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
www.clairesaxby.com

Baby Wombat's Week, by Jackie French

Few Australian picture books have been as internationally successful as Diary of a Wombat (2002). Now the team from this book have produced a sequel, Baby Wombat’s Week, featuring the offspring of that first wombat.

Just like his mother, Mothball, Baby Wombat creates havoc as he digs, searches for food, and plays with his friend – a baby human. Using the same minimalist diary format, and the same adorable style of illustrations of marvellously expressive wombats, and colourful surrounds against white backgrounds, Baby Wombat’s Week will delight fans of the earlier work, and attract a whole new legion of fans.

Very cute.

Baby Wombat's Week

Baby Wombat’s Week, by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley
Angus & Robertson, 2010

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

Zoobots, by Bruce Whatley & Ben Smith Whatley

Zebo longed for another best friend.
One not big.
One not too small.
One
just
right.

Zebo lives in Junk Jungle with her two best friends, Hyde and TC. She loves them both but you can never have too many best friends, and Zebo longs for another one, about the same size as her, and perhaps a girl, like her, too. Together the three friends assemble a collection of junk in an attempt to make a best friend that fits all their requirements – but they find it isn’t as easy as they think.

Zoobots is a cute picture book offering from the pairing of award winning author/illustrator Bruce Whatley and his son, Ben Smith Whatley. Using software-enhanced 3D graphics, the pair have brought the junkyard to life with a realistic look and feel, and endearing characters, including Zebo, who is a painted and shaped like a zebra made from junk, Hyde, like a rhinoceros, and TC, like a bird, as well as Ruby, their new friend, who resembles a giraffe.

Children will enjoy the story here, but they will also love the quality and quirkiness of the illustrations.

Zoobots

Zoobots, by Bruce Whatley and Ben Smith Whatley
Harper Collins, 2010

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

Pete the Sheep, by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley

‘That sheep-sheep is nothing but a troublemaker!’ yelled Ratso.
‘He has to go!’ cried Big Bob.
‘Too right!’ shouted Bungo, who never said much.
‘If Pete goes, I go!’ said Shaun.
‘That suits us fine!’ yelled the other shearers.

The new shearer, Shaun, doesn’t have a sheepdog, like the other shearers do. Instead he has a sheep-sheep, Pete. And Pete the Sheep is nor ordinary sheep. He wins over the sheep, but not the dogs or the other shearers. And soon Shaun and Pete are out work – until Pete has an idea.

Pete the Sheep is a hilarious book, with a funny storyline and comic illustrations which will have readers of any age giggling. First published in 2004, it has been rereleased in a sturdy hardcover edition.

From the award-winning team who created the bestselling Diary of a Wombat, Pete the Sheep is a must have book.

Pete the Sheep, by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
This edition Angus and Robertson, 2008

The paperback edition of Pete the Sheep is available from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Diary of a Wombat, by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

Monday
Morning: Slept.
Afternoon: Slept.
Evening: Ate grass.
Scratched.
Night: Ate grass.

So begins the diary of Mothball a carrot-loving, doormat-destroying wombat – a picture book which has won hearts (and awards) around the world since its first release in 2002. Written from the first person (first wombat?) perspective of a wombat, the text gives us Mothball’s perspective of life, whilst the illustrations – by the talented Bruce Whatley – often show us a very different reality, with humorous results.

Previously published in hardcover and paperback format, this new release is in a delightful boxed set with a small format hardcover edition of the book and, for the first time, a small plush wombat – Mothball herself, complete with carrot.

This would make a gorgeous gift for a child of any age – this reviewer is way past her first childhood, but has souvenired the wombat for herself, much to the disgust of her children.

Diary of a Wombat, by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
This edition Harper Collins, 2008

Emily and the BIG BAD Bunyip, by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

The award winning and highly successful team of Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have a new picture book, sure to delight children and the parents and teachers who read to them.

What do you do with a bunyip who doesn’t like Christmas? You try and make him smile, of course, and find something to like about the Festive Season. The text is simple and undeniably Australian. It bounces along as easily as the kangaroos in Shaggy Gully do. I loved the illustrations, particularly the prickly echidnas and the peckish emus.

There’s just enough repetition to please children and readers as well with the koalas ‘eating gum leaves – because that’s what koalas do best.’ And you’ll fall in love with the possums and bats ‘hanging about.’

Several aspects, particularly the Shaggy Gully chorus pages, were reminiscent to me of Pamela Allen’s Bertie and the Bear, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Children will love adults who can read these pages with expression.

The text and illustration that introduces us to the bunyip is a delight. What to do with a bunyip who doesn’t like Christmas or Christmas presents raises a problem. The solution is clever and unexpected. Children will love it! If you buy one picture book this Christmas make it this one. Or buy it not for Christmas but for no other reason than it’s a great fun book. Destined to be a classic.

Emily and the Big Bad Bunyip

Emily and the BIG BAD Bunyip, Written by Jackie French, Illustrated by Bruce Whatley
Angus&Roberston An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008 $24.95

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

The Flying Machine of Lombardy, by Bruce Whatley & Rosie Smith

Danny’s Uncle Leo was an artist, an inventor and a scientist. An adventurer. He had been playing around with the idea of flying for years.
‘We could build a flying machine,’ said Danny.
Uncle Leo had a BIG grin on his face. He liked a challenge.

When the Duke of Milan announces that he wants to fly, local inventors set to work to make it happen. Danny da Vinci’s Uncle Leo is busy, so Danny and his friend Mick Angelo and his little sister Lisa set to work to figure out the best way to create a flying machine.

The Flying Machine of Lombardy is the second title in the Danny da Vinci series, which bring history to life with a twist. Whilst the story and characters are humorously fictionalised, the storyline and illustrations draw on the work of Leonardo da Vinci (Danny’s Uncle Leo), with a back of book spread exploring the factual elements of the story.

The use of the graphic novel format allows the story to use illustrations based on Leonardo da Vinci’s own sketches and artworks as an integral part of the story, and young readers will find the text accessible, and enjoy the use of colour illustrations throughout.

A collaboration between husband-wife duo Bruce Whatley and Rosie Smith, The Flying Machine of Lombardy is an excellent offering.

Danny da Vinci: The Flying Machine of Lombardy, by Bruce Whatley & Rosie Smith
ABC Books, 2008

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