The Great Rabbit Chase,by Freya Blackwood

Mum went out to buy a new pair of gumboots,
but came home with a rabbit.
I named him Gumboots.

Gumboots the rabbit is a much loved pet, but the thing he does best is escape. Today, he chooses the moment Mum is in the shower and the narrator’s friend Norman is at the door to escape. Soon Mum (wrapped in a towel) and the two children are in pursuit. As they move through the town,more people join in the chase – a neighbour with a plate of cakes,a man with shiny black shoes, even a mum with a crying baby. Finally, Gumboots leads them to a park, where everyone feels more rested, and Gumboots has a surprise.

The Great Rabbit Chase is an adorable picture book about happiness, slowing down -and rabbits. Blackwood, best known for her gentle, life-filled watercolour illustrations, shows that her creative talents extend to writing with a similar touch of gentle whimsy.


The Great Rabbit Chase, by Freya Blackwood
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743811641

Baby Band by Diane Jackson Hill ill Giuseppe Poli

The apartment block loomed cold and quiet.
The same people had lived there a long time.
They did not know each other and they
never spoke – not even to say hello.

No one speaks to anyone in the apartment block. They go about their business separately and in as quietly as possible. Then a baby arrives in the apartment block. The baby is not quiet, not a bit, no matter how his mother tries. He cries. And cries. Until one day he finds the pots and pans. The crying stops and the music begins. One by one, the other occupants of the floor join in. Together they create music. And a community. Illustrations are loose outline filled with colour, often set in white. End papers offer music in the park – two versions.

The apartment block is a collection of separate people who seldom interact – until the baby arrives. The solution to the baby’s crying is music and accidentally at first, then intentionally, it brings the individuals of the block together as a community. Young readers will love the notion that music can be made with whatever is at hand – or foot. Kinder and early years teachers can use this story to introduce music to their classrooms. Young readers will also enjoy looking at the difference between the front end-papers and the rear end-papers, and finding all the apartment-dwellers. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Baby Band, Diane Jackson Hill ill Giuseppe Poli
New Frontier Publishing 2017
ISBN: 9781925059779

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

A Curry for Murray, by Kate Hunter & Lucia Masciullo

A Curry for MurrayMolly made…
slippery duck pasta for her brother’s headmaster,
spit-roasted geese for the local police,
and Singapore noodles for the Montague poodles!

Molly likes her neighbours Maureen and Murray, so when Maureen goes to hospital, Molly decides to make a curry for Murray. Word soon gets out about her wonderful culinary skills, and soon Molly is cooking and baking for friends near and far. But in the midst of her cooking chaos, Molly hurts herself – and Mum says ‘enough’. Finally, when Maureen gets home from hospital, it is Molly’s turn to receive a food gift.

A Curry for Murray is a gorgeous new picture book with lots of food-based silliness in both text and illustrations. Alongside the fun aspect, there is also lots of information about food, with visual representations of the ingredients in each dish, and a lovely demonstration of community spirit. The food offerings, as well as rhyming with the recipient names, come from a range of different cuisines, and some of the food is sent to faraway places, offering lots of opportunities for discussion.

The watercolour and pencil illustrations have touches of whimsy and lots of detail for youngsters to explore. From the cover through to the endpapers, this is a beautiful book to own and engage with.

A Curry for Murray, by Kate Hunter & Lucia Masciullo
UQP, 2015
ISBN 9780702253546

Available from good bookstores and online.

A Bus Called Heaven, by Bob Graham

a warm hearted, whimsical tale about community, and friendship, and the magic which can bring otherwise isolated or just different people together. The people who come to be part of Stella’s bus community are different ages, from different cultures and with different interests.

The bus brought change to Stella’s street.
Traffic slowed where no traffic slowed before.
People stopped and talked together – just a little, but they talked.
Stella changed too.

One morning a bus – curiously named ‘Heaven’ – is mysteriously abandoned right outside Stella’s house, bringing with it change. people gather to look and to marvel. But it is Stella who see the bus’s true potential, and has it moved into her driveway. There it continues to attract people. Kids come to play in and around it, adults clean it up, street artists paint it, and birds nest in the engine. There is music and laughter and community – until a tow truck comes to take the bus away. It is once again up to Stella to find a solution to keep the bus where it is needed.

A Bus Called Heavenis a warm hearted, whimsical tale about community, and friendship, and the magic which can bring otherwise isolated or just different people together. The people who come to be part of Stella’s bus community are different ages, from different cultures and with different interests. They use the bus for different purposes – to read, to play, to create art, even to show slides, bu they are united in the knowledge that the bus is ‘theirs’. For Stella, who is almost ghost-like in her quietness, and indeed is rendered visually as almost transparent, the arrival of the mysterious bus sparks a transformation. It is she who sees the potential of the bus, she who leads its transformation, and she who fights to keep the bus when it is taken away to the scrapyard.

This is a triumphant book, with a touching story and wonderful art in which Graham creates so many diverse characters, and deftly shows the contrast between the warmth surrounding Heaven and the busy, dreary city scape.

It sounds corny, but this is a heavenly book.

A Bus Called Heaven

A Bus Called Heaven, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2011
ISBN 9781406334197

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