Claude was a large elephant.
Finlay was a small one.
Claude is so large that he can make the earth shake with his trumpets, shower a whole herd of elephants, and stomp like thunder. Finlay is little and can’t do any of those things. He can’t wait to be as a big as Claude. But when they become separated Finlay has a special adventure all of his own. When they are reunited, Claude tells Finlay that one day he will be big, too. But in the meantime there is no hurry to grow up.
As Big as You is a breathtaking book. The story is really heart warming and the message is a good one, but it is the visual feast offered by the illustrations and design of the book which make it really magic. With the spine at the top rather than the side, each spread is long (portrait rather than the usual landscape orientation), which enables Claude’s size and the vastness of the landscape to be emphasised. On the opening spread, Claude is so big that very little of him fits onto the spread – one leg, one ear, one eye and a trunk frame the page, with the void in the middle bearing the single sentence ‘Claude was a LARGE elephant.’ The next spread introduces Final, and has him at the bottom of the spread, eye to eye with two beetles, and the spread above him largely empty apart from three butterflies. The cleverness of this beginning is carried through the book with simple yet beautiful watercolour illustrations and attention to text layout.
This is a beautiful book.
As Big as You, by Sara Acton
How does sound taste?
Do colours smell?
Why do onions make me cry?
Who builds the wings for birds to fly?
Children love to ask questions – even (or sometimes, it seems, especially) questions which can’t be answered, so they will love Can a Skeleton Have an X-Ray? which is filled with questions. From practical questions (Why do onions make me cry?) to whimsical questions (Can a skeleton have an x-ray?) to deep, even philosophical questions (How does the future look?) there are questions to ponder, discuss and even laugh about.
Hughes-Odgers’ quirky illustrations will delight readers of all ages. In black ink with watercolour, each illustration uses cross-hatching and detailed line work with earthy colour tones, to bing to life imaginative scenes which will inspire as much discussion as the questions themselves.
A visual feast,Can a Skeleton Have an X-Ray? is a unique, inspirational book for children and adults.
Can a Skeleton Have an X-Ray? by Kyle Hughes-Odgers
Fremantle Press, 2015
Bob would jump onto the footplate of one train, leap off again at some wayside spot, then clamber onto another train heading in the opposite direction.
There was hardly a town in South Australia he did not visit, from Oodnadatta to Kalangadoo.
In the early days of Australian railways, when shiny new tracks opened up vast areas of rural Australia, a special dog developed a taste for travel. Bob, as he was named by his first owner, Guard Ferry, travelled first with Guard Ferry then later on any train he could hitch a lift on, and became a favourite with drivers, guards and porters. Today, a photo of Bob still sits in memorial to him at Adelaide Station.
Bob, the Railway Dog is a beautiful historical picture book told with the warm simplicity at which author Corinne Fenton is so very adept. WIih key facts and events wven into the story, readers will nontheless feel like it is a story, with Bob painted as a really endearing character. The artwork, in watercolour, charcoal and pencil, are similarly warm and inviting bringing both Bob and the era to life. Buildings, landscapes, people and, of course, Bob himself are rendered beautifully, making for a really attractive whole.
Bob, the Railway Dog is a treasure.
Bob, the Railway Dog, by Corinne Fenton and Andrew McLean
Black Dog Books, 2015
Available from good bookstores and online.
Hop up, wiggle over, wakey wakey, HUNGRY!
Crunch crunch, gobble gobble, lick lick, MORE!
So begins this beautiful little movement and sound filled offering for early childhood audiences. This unconventional animal family – Mum is a koala, Dad a big red kangaroo, and the nine children include a wombat, an echidna, a bilby and more – move through the day joyfully, from wake up till bedtime.
The text is minimal – just four words or phrases per spread, being the sounds the animals mutter (sploosh! boing…boing) or the occasional word such as yum yum! and a joyful Dad-dee! when Dad arrives at the park where the children are playing. Illustrations, in watercolour with pencil outlines are pastel-toned colours of the Australian bush, with white backgrounds and lots of fun detail for youngsters to discover. Movement is depicted with a few well placed lines, and the joy of the family is evident in their faces.
A joyful celebration of families and of Aussie animals.
Hop Up! Wriggle Over!, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2015
Available from good bookstores and online.