Too Cold for a Tutu, by Mini Goss

‘Wake up, Stella, let’s go out and play!’ said Barry.
He put on his new Nanna-knitted cardigan and Stella put on her new made-by-Nanna tutu.

‘It’s way too cold for a tutu!’ said Barry.
‘It’s never too cold for a tutu!’ said Stella.

When Barry and Stella get dressed for play on a chilly morning, they both put on the new clothes Nanna has made them. Barry has a new cardigan, and Stella a tutu. But Barry says it’s too cold for a tutu. Outside it is indeed cold, and the siblings find it hard to play together – until Stella discovers there’s room in Barry’s cardigan for two, and the dress-up fun begins.

Too Cold for a Tutu is a joyous celebration of imaginative play, siblings and even grandmothers (though Nannna doesn’t appear in the story – it is her creations that inspire the play). Stella and Barry are divinely cute characters and the text and its layout are vibrant and filled with fun.

The illustrations, too, are a delight. Barry and Stella are knitted toys – both dogs with big eyes and droopy ears – and their adventures are captured using photography. Goss’s knitting and handcraft skills are amazing, with the characters coming to life on the page.

Too Cold for a Tutu is charming.

Too Cold for a Tutu

Too Cold for a Tutu, by Mini Goss
Allen & wi, 2012
ISBN 9781743313787

Available from good bookstores or online.

Five Little Owls, by Mark Carthew

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan


Good rhyming books can be difficult to find but Mark Carthew has met the rhyming challenge with Five Little Owls. The rhyme and rhythm remind me of Julia Donaldon’s The Gruffaloand as a result, the reader is rewarded with a well written book where the words flow beautifully and musically off the tongue.

We join five little owls as they play hide and seeks across the pages with mice, frog, rabbits and bats. Young children can relate to the excitement of the game being played in the story and can join in the search for the animals as well as the delightful peek-a-boo ending.

Once again, Mini Goss’s illustrations have been perfectly paired with the text and are a delight to look at. The illustrations generate discussion between reader and child as they search the pages for the hiding animals, not only about which animals are hiding, but whether or not those animals are really owl’s prey. As always, if you want to get a feel for the characters, look at the eyes of Goss’s animals.

Five Little Owls will appeal beyond the pre-school age group it is intended for. It is a memorable for book for combining the simplicity of childhood games with the complexity of beautiful rhyme and illustrations. This book is destined to be read over and over again.

Five Little Owls Mark Carthew (text) and Mini Goss(illus)
New Frontier, HB rrp $24.95

Round Fish, Square Bowl, by Tom Skinner and Mini Goss

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan

When this book arrived in the mail, I knew I had a favourite with my children. The “Can you read me this, Mummy,” was an early clue, but the fact that both children wanted it as their bedtime story – over and over again – sealed it. The bright orange fish grabs your attention, and the title, to me, summed up what is probably true for everyone to some degree.

This is one of the most delightful new books I have read to my children in some time. It has encouraged discussion about why mules are stubborn and allowed me to retell the story of the tortoise and the hare. Even young children are able to identify with being slow (yes they get labelled at a young age) or being scared. The story ends beautifully with the mice showing that family and friends bring richness to our life. It is a wonderful book to explain to children that it is okay, and sometimes even wonderful, to be different, and that there are two sides to every story.

Mini Goss’s illustrations brighten the pages with their humour and showing what the words don’t say. Visually, there is a lot to talk about and children will be able to identify with the characters, after all, we all know the story of the 3 little pigs. It is a delight to see more of Mini Goss’s illustrations appearing and they become more pleasing with each new publication.

New Frontier should be congratulated for taking a chance with new author Tom Skinner and Round Fish, Square Bowl. It is such a simple story, and delightfully puts into words the whole concept of being different.

Round Fish, Square Bowl, Mini Goss, (illus.) and Tom Skinner (text),
New Frontier Publishing, 2006
Hardcover, ISBN 978 1 92104 296 6

Rhino Neil, by Mini Goss

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan

Living in a zoo filled with exotic animals doesn’t always mean that you have friends. Rhino Neil is big, and because the other animals in the zoo find him scary, he is lonely. Then, one day a new animal arrives and Neil is no longer the biggest animal at the zoo. The arrival of Tuscany means the arrival of a new friend for Neil.

This is a wonderful story inspired by one of Mini Goss’s children and a visit to Werribee Zoo. We meet a fantastic range of African animals; giraffes, zebra’s, ostriches and antelope’s as we learn why they fear Rhino Neil. The book is an excellent way to promote discussion about fear, likes and dislikes.

The illustrations are beautiful, bright and emotive. Mini Goss’s ability as an illustrator is highlighted through her wonderful use of perspective and showing Neil as he appears to the animals. Using symmetry and shape well, the animals fill the pages, showing their emotions through their facial expressions and in particular their eyes.

This is a well written, enjoyable story that does not waste words. The language is suitable for early readers and it is easy for younger children to follow and listen to. The illustrations will delight everyone. A highly recommended read for everyone who enjoys picture books.

Rhino Neil, by Mini Goss
New Frontier, 2005

Taming Butterflies, by Sue Whiting and Mini Goss

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan


Sometimes a solution is much easier than we expect. Tilly has thousands of butterflies living inside her stomach. They are not always there, but when they wake up they make Tilly shiver and shake. One day, Marjory-Anne comes to visit and helps Tilly tame the butterflies. The answer to Tilly’s shyness and nerves is simple: tell the butterflies to be still.

Sue Whiting’s story is almost rhythmical at times and the language is simple, yet accurately describes how butterflies behave.

The bright illustrations by Mini Goss are beautiful with much more to offer than just telling the story. They show the underlying emotions. Younger children may not understand what being shy means but they will recognise the emotions of sadness, happiness and fear on Tilly’s face.

This is a fabulous story offering a simple method of dealing with nerves and shyness. It lets the child take control. Whilst the solution may not work for everyone, it is straightforward and fun to try out. It is a great book to read aloud and lets the listener join in with taming the butterflies. This is a story that children will want to read, or listen to, over and over again.

Taming Butterflies, Goss, Mini (illus.), Sue Whiting (text)
New Frontier Publishing, 2004
Hardcover, RRP$24.95, ISBN 0975090755

Colossal Machines, by Nick Hughes and Mini Goss

Many animals work to help human beings – elephants, oxen, horses, even dogs. So if dinosaurs were still alive, would they help out too?

Colossal Machines explores this question, in a fun lift the flap format. Each double page spread, with flap, compares the work done by contemporary machinery, with what could be contributed by different dinosaurs. For example, a wrecking-ball’s work could be equally as well done by the bulbous tail of an Ankylosaur.

Combining two favourite subjects with youngsters (especially preschool boys) – dinosaurs and machines – and superbly illustrated by the talented Mini Goss, this clever book is sure to delight three to five year old readers.

Colossal Machines, by Nick Hughes, illustrated by Mini Goss
Koala Books, 2004

Colossal Creatures, by Nick Hughes

Dinosaurs lived long ago and grew to a massive size
But if they lived with us today, you wouldn’t believe your eyes.

Kids love books with different formats, and Colossal Creatures, with a flap to lift on every page, is sure to delight. The simple rhyming text by Nick Hughes, contrasts the ancient dinosaurs with the animals, people and buildings of today.

The highlight of the book is the brilliant illustrations of Mini Goss, who conistently produces work of this standard. Bold colours and lively detail are Goss’s specialty and in Colossal Creatures she makes excellent use of the lift the flap format.

Colossal Creatures, is equally appropriate for the home and educational context.

Colossal Creatures, by Nick Hughes, Illustrated by Mini Goss
Koala Books, 2002

When Mum Was Little, by Mini Goss

It’s pretty hard to belive that Mum hasn’t always been a Mum. She was little once too.

The world was much different when Mum was little. CD players and computer games weren’t even invented, there were no plastic takeaway containers and lollies were much bigger.

When Mum Was Little is a fun picture book from talented author/illustrator Mini Goss. Kids will love seeing how different the world was in the sixties and seventies, while Mum and Dad will love the trip down memory lane. Everyone will love the psychedelic illustrations and laugh at the clothing and hairstyles of Mum and her family ‘back then’.

As well as being great for at home reading, When Mum Was Little would make a great addition to classroom libraries and wonderful learning tool for studies of the past (NOT ancient history!).

A gem.

When Mum Was Little, by Mini Goss
Black Dog Books, 2001

Sticky Bill, by Hazel Edwards and Christine Anketell

When Sticky Bill comes to live on the Children’s Farm he finds himself caught up in a crisis. The Health and Safety inspector has said that the farm needs urgent repairs. If these aren’t carried out, the farm will close. All the repairs will cost thousands of dollars, which the farm just doesn’t have.

Sticky Bill quickly makes friends on the farm. There’s Pig, Parrot, Sheep , Goat, Cow and, of course Cate, who looks after them all. He doesn’t want to see the farm close, when he’s just got there. Neither, of course, do the other animals. The farm is their home.

So, when they have the chance of appearing in a television commercial, it seems a good chance to make the money necessary to save the farm. However, when you try to make a commercial starring a proud cow, a clumsy (though well-meaning) duck and a zany sheep and goat, things probably won’t go according to plan.

Kids aged 6 to 9 will love this hilarious story, and adore the gorgeous characters. They may even be sad when it’s finished, which isn’t a bad thing, because, when it is finished, they can simply turn the book over for a second story featuring another adventure from the Children’s Farm.

In Cyberfarm, there are plans to turn the farm into a Cyberfarm with virtual games and cyber helmets. The real animals are worried that they’ll be replaced with robots and lose their jobs. Cate is worried too.

StickyBill has a plan. He will direct the animals in a special show, to prove to the farm’s visitors that real animals are much more interesting than virtual ones.

These two delightful stories, written by Hazel Edwards and Christine Anketell, and illustrated by Mini Goss, are part of the innovative Banana Splits series from Banana Books, the children’s book imprint of Otford Press. Each book includes two stories back to back, from the same author. Kids will love the novelty of this format, and parents and librarians will like the inherent value for money that this concept offers – two books for the price of one.

StickyBill: TV Duckstar and Cyberfarm, by Hazel Edwards and Christine Anketell, illustrated by Mini Goss
Otford Press, 2002.
ISBN 1 876928 91 3