Marvin and Marigold: The Big Sneeze, by Mark Carthew & Simon Prescott

Whenever young Marvin smelled biscuits or cheese
his whiskers would twitch…and he’d let out a sneeze.

Marigold Mouse has built herself a lovely new house, but there is a problem. Her neighbour, Marvin, has a terrible case of the sneezes, and whenever he sneezes, Marigold’s house shakes and gets messy. If she wants to save her house and keep Marvin as a neighbour, Marigold must search for a cure for Marvin’s sneezing.

The Big Sneeze is a delightful story in rhyme for young readers about friendship – and sneezing. The rhyme and rhythm scan well, making the story a pleasure to read aloud, and youngsters will love the humour of the situation as well as the illustrations which show quirky anthropomorphic mice and lots of detail covering every spread. The expressions of the mice are especially pleasing.

The Big Sneeze, by Mark Carthew, illustrated by Simon Prescott

New Frontier, 2016
ISBN 9781925059656

This Hungry Dragon, by Heath McKenzie

This HUNGRY dragon
heard his tummy growl.
Someone who heard it
was a nervous little owl!

A very hungry dragon meets – and eats – a series of unfortunate animals: the owl, a fancy fox, a muddy pig, and more. But eventually he feels sick and a visit from the doctor is needed. When the doctor, too, ends up in the dragon’s belly he figures out a way to get the dragon to spit them all out. the dragon feels better – and has learnt his lesson.

This humorous rhyming picture book will have kids laughing out loud and saying ‘gross’ in equal measure, but whilst animals are eaten, there’s no blood or gore, and every one is fine at the end. The dragon, in gentle reds and pinks, with tiny wings and big round eyes looks silly rather than fierce and the looks on the various animals’ faces as they realise what is happening adds to the humour.

Lots of fun.

This Hungry Dragon, by Heath McKenzie
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760151508

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

Don't Call Me Bear, by Aaron Blabey

But if I got a dollar
every time you called me ‘bear’,
I tell you what – and no mistake –

Koala has had enough. Ever since European explorers first visited Australia, he has been called a bear. And he’s sick of it. If those first explorers ahd done their research, they’d have known that koalas, like kangaroos and wombats, are marsupials.

Don’t Call Me Bear! is a humorous rhyming picture book about Koala’s frustration. There is a gently educational element, but really the focus is on humour, especially with the other marsupials concluding the book by telling Koala that he looks like a bear.

From the creator of books such as Pig the Pug and Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, will be similarly enjoyed.

Don’t Call Me Bear!, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760159849

The Whole Caboodle, by Lisa Shanahan & Leila Rudge

Wakey-wakey peachy pear,
my fuzzy-wuzzy grizzly bear,
my tootsy-wootsy fizzyjig,
my hurdie-gurdie whirligig!

It’s walk time. A cute ginger and white dog wakes, eager for his morning walk. He wakes his bearded owner, excited at who they might meet in the park today. Will it be one itzy-bitzy Poodle, or two lovey-dovey Bolonoodles?

The Whole Caboodle is a gorgeous rhyming counting book, featuring not just the narrating dog, but a whole feast of dogs big and small, real and recreated. As the little dog and his owner prepare for their walk, each new dog is mimicked by something in the illustration. So, when one poodle is mentioned, there is a poodle teapot cosy as the owner eats breakfast, and the two Bolnoodles are represented by a pair of dog slippers. On the final spread, in the park, when they meet ‘the whole caboodle’, the real dogs are present, and readers will have fun spotting and counting them.

Youngsters will enjoy the rhyming text, with its creative use of words created for tongue-twisting fun, and the  illustrations with matching whimsical detail. This one will demand repeated rereadings.

The Whole Caboodle, by Lisa Shanahan & Leila Rudge
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781743629321

Cyclone, by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley

Outside, a giant
groans and growls.
A wind that
and howls.
A crack,
A lurch,
our house
is torn
to paper
by the storm.

On Christmas Eve in 1974, Cyclone Tracy destroyed most of the city of Darwin, with houses ripped apart and families fighting for their lives as they sought shelter. Christmas Day revealed the extent of the damage and, in the days that followed, families were separated as most were evacuated until it was safe to return. While other cyclones and storms have hit Australia before and since, the scale of Cyclone Tracy and the damage she wrought, nothing has matched the scale of that storm – with 71 people killed, 41 000 left homeless and 80 percent of the homes destroyed.

Cyclone tells the story of that night from the perspective of a child who, initially, is sure that nothing is going to spoil Christmas, until s/he is woken in the night by Dad, who ushers his family out of their disintegrating house to hide under their brick barbecue. The rhyming text gathers the momentum of the storm – starting and finishing calmly but with pace and fury in the middle, and the chaos reflected by short line breaks.
The illustrations too, match the text with brooding skies in the early spreads, lightening slightly to illuminate the chaos of the storm, then brighter in the pages that follow. The use of muted tones and washes reflects both the tone of events and the photography of the 1970s which was used as reference material.

From the team who previously produced Fire and Flood, Cyclone is another outstanding offering.

Cyclone, by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781743623596

Nellie Belle, by Mem Fox & Mike Austin

Is it fun in the yard,
Nellie Belle, Nellie Belle?
Is it fun in the yard,
Nellie Belle?

Nellie Belle is a an adorable brown and tan dog who is off on an adventure – digging holes in yard (and escaping), exploring the street, the beach and, finally, the park – before getting spooked by the dark and hurrying home to her safe warm bed.
With a rhythm and repetition reminiscent of the folk song “Billy Boy”, Nellie Belle is a fast-moving, happy celebration of dogs and adventure. The illustrations, rendered digitally, have textures reminiscent of children’s paint sets and of marble, collaged into delightful scenes. The joyful expressions of the animal characters is especially appealing.
Suitable for reading aloud to the very young, the repetition will encourage youngsters to join in.
Nellie Belle, by Mem Fox & Mike Austin
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781760274108

I Need a Hug, by Aaron Blabey

I need a hug.
Won’t you cuddle me, Lou?
What? With those spikes?
Get away from me! Shoo!

A poor old prickly hedgehog is desperate for a hug, but nobody will give him one. They run away from him/her, complaining about spikes and prickles. It seems s/he’s destined not to be hugged, until something scarier than a prickly hedgehog scares the other animals away – and the hedgehog meets a snake, who only wants a kiss.

A funny rhyming tale about friendship, hugs and kisses, I Need a Hug will delight young readers with its humour and its gentle message about acceptance and not judging others by their appearance.
From the creator of Pig the Pug, I Need a Hug is lots of fun.

I Need a Hug, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743629093

This & That, by Mem Fox & Judy Horacek

I’ll tell you a story of this,
and I’ll tell you a story of that.
I’ll tell you a story
of cavernous caves
and a chimp
with a magic hat.

Two mice (adult and child) begin story time with an empty box, which transforms to a boat and launches their journey through imaginary worlds of the stories the adult promises. Down rivers and across oceans, through market places and palaces, with a cast including elephants, monkeys , kings and queens and so much more, the pair travel until it’s bedtime, and the adult leads the child home, finishing the final story with a kiss goodnight.

This & That is a lovely bedtime offering, with gently fantastical illustrations, and soothing rhyming text, making it suitable for the very young. It will withstand repeated readings and could be easily memorised- both by parent and child

Horacek’s illustrations balance lots of details on some pages, with deceptive simplicity on others, and the fact that the mice have no apparent gender is a nice touch.

This & That, by Mem Fox & Judy Horacek
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743622537

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas, by Aaron Blabey

We don’t eat apples!
We don’t eat beans!
We don’t eat veggies!
We don’t eat greens!
We don’t eat melons!
We don’t eat bananas!
And the reason is simple, mate.
We are

Brian loves bananas, and he’d like his friends to like them, too. The problem is – they are piranhas, and they’d prefer to eat knees, feet and even bums. But Brian persists – offering them all kinds of fruit and vegetable treats. Eventually his friends agree to try a fruit platter if he’ll stop his chatter. They do give it a try but, to Brian’s chagrin, even though they do think the fruit is nice, they still prefer bum.

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas is a short, silly book which kids will adore. The text consists of dialogue between Brian and the other piranhas, with narration not needed. Blabey’s ability to show so much animation in the faces of the fish – largely through movement of their eyes – is amazing.

The rhyming text flows well and there will be giggles at the concept and its execution. Very clever.

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743625781