Pandamonia, by Chris Owen & Chris Nixon

Come through. Look around. relax and explore.
Inside you will find there are creatures galore.
You’ll have a magnificent time at the zoo…
just don’t wake the panda whatever you do.

It’s a lovely day for visiting the zoo, but when the panda gets woken, it can set off all kinds of uproar, from jumpy hippos creating a hullabaloo, to shimmying emus, and even cha-chaing chinchillas.the resultant uproar can cause shenanigans that carry on far into the night. So, readers are beseeched, whatever they do they must not wake the panda.

Pandamonia is a lively, humour-filled picture book with rhyme that roms through the pages. Youngsters will love the silliness of the text and will have fun playing with the vocabulary, with glorious words like fandango, cavorting, shimmy and more. The illustrations, on colourful backgrounds, bring the animals to life with simple geometric shapes filled with life and humour.

Likely to be requested again and agian, Pandamonia will withstand repeated rereadings.

Pandamonia, by Chris Owen & Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press, 2016
ISBN 9781925163339

Our Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro

In the deep green forest, Pip asked, ‘Mama, when will I be big?’
‘You’re bigger than you were before,’ said Mama.

Pip the panda looks forward to being big, but her gentle, wise Mama tells her she is bigger than she was, and goes on to tell her just how she has grown – and how their love has grown, too.

This gentle, lyrical picture book is a celebration of love and parent-child bonding, told partly in rhyming prose, and with just a line or two of text per spread. This allows the simple but divine watercolour illustrations to take centre stage, with the love between mother and child obvious through their facial expressions and the range of activities they do together: playing, exploring, resting and admiring the world around them.

A feature of both text and illustration is that Pip’s gender is not mentioned, an ambiguity which allows the child reader to choose (or not to choose) whether (s)he is a girl or boy.

Perfect for bedtime, cuddle time or any time reading.

Our Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro
Scholastic Press, 2015
ISBN 9781743626269

Available from good bookstores and online.

Saving Pandas, by Dr Carla Litchfield

Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are massive bears, just like black bears, polar bears and brown bears. They share the same habitat as red pandas, but are not closely related to them. Surprisingly little is known about the behaviour of giant pandas in the wild – except that they spend about 12 hours a day eating bamboo!

Saving Pandas is a new addition to the non fiction series of picture books from Black Dog Books. The books are large format paperbacks, with beautiful photos of animals and their habitats. Extra info bites extend the non fiction narrative and are displayed in different fonts. Words that might be unfamiliar are in bold and a glossary at the back gives their meaning. The final page also provides extra ‘panda facts’ and website addresses. Saving Pandas is full of photos of young and mature pandas. Red pandas might share the name and a similar habitat, but are not closely related to Giant pandas.

Giant pandas look cute and cuddly but with her opening words, Dr Litchfield reminds us that they are also enormous and well…they are bears! Few people would want to cuddle a big black bear, but there’s something about pandas that makes them seem cuddle-able. Despite the size. Despite the claws. This new series ‘Rare Earth’ from Black Dog Books looks at endangered animals and the programs in place to help them survive. Some readers may only respond to the cuteness of these giants, but for others, it’s an introduction to the world of animal conservation. Pitched for lower- to middle-primary aged readers, the language is simple but informative and perfect for lovers of animals and of non-fiction.

Saving Pandas (Rare Earth)

Saving Pandas (Rare Earth) Dr Carla Litchfield
Black Dog Books 2010
ISBN 9781742031149

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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