Emily's Rapunzel Hair, by Cecily Matthews

Poor Emily has fallen under the spell of Rapunzel–she wants her short hair to become long and flowing just like her friend Lucy Brown, who has piggy tails and tells Emily that girls have long hair and boys have short. Emily’s hair just doesn’t grow as quickly as Lucy’s, and she becomes impatient with waiting. To help ease the impatience, Emily makes pretend Rapunzel hair with red tights, and plays a series of make-believe games with Grandma, has a trip to town on the bus with Mum, visits the ducks at a local park, visits a green frog at her grandparent’s house, nearly loses her pet chick, and finally gets what she craves at her aunt and uncle’s wedding.

The book contains 7 stories, each able to be read on their own, but linked together by Emily’s exuberant personality, her desire for long hair, her toys and pet animals. Very young children will enjoy looking at the pictures, and will relate to Emily’s adventures and her bubs, chook, ducks and frog, but will probably only be able to sit through one story at a time. Older children and early readers will enjoy working through the book at their own pace, and will enjoy following Emily’s adventures and the light plot.

Cecily Matthews’ text is pitched at the right level for children under 8, and Freya Blackwood’s watercolour and pencil illustrations are soft, with lots of detail for parents and children to look at together. There is ample opportunity to talk about the child relevant stories; and to discuss similar adventures, tea parties, trips, and animals which your children have experienced, in order to make the story personal. Keen children who like to participate in their storybooks may also consider putting tights on their heads, having tea parties with their stuffed animals, playing with their ducks (hopefully not in piles of dirt under the bed!), singing along with the bus songs, and talking to frogs in the letterbox. This is a lovely story which encourages patience, and celebrates the gentle joys of childhood games from an author who has extensive experience in parenthood.

Emily’s Rapunzel Hair, By Cecily Matthews, Illustrated by Freya Blackwood ABC Books
Hardcover, ISBN: 0642589038, A$27.95, 48 pages, April 2005

The Man From Snowy River, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

There was movement at the station, for the word has passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

Few adults – whether parents or teachers – would not be familiar with Banjo Patterson’s classic ballad telling the tale of the brave ride of the young man from Snowy River and his hardy mountain pony. With this skilful rendering of the tale into a beautifully illustrated picture book, the story can now be shared with a new generation of readers.

Talented young illustrator Freya Blackwood has skilfully drawn the horses and the horsemen, with a sense of the time and place in which Patterson’s tale is set. The horses are wiry and each different, as are the horsemen, and the colours of the Australian bush flow from the endpapers, through the mountains, ridges and tree-filled plains.

Suitable for home or the classroom, this one is likely to especially appeal to male readers and all lovers of Australian bush poetry.


The Man From Snowy River, by A. B. ‘Banjo Paterson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Scholastic, 2004