I have had a lovely time recently re-reading, something I don’t usually do. But there have also been new things to enjoy. Here are some of them.
Seadog by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Tom Jellet, published by Random House
Seadog captures all the joy that having a scruffy lovable dog can bring to a family. Jellet’s illustrations capture the adventurous and mischievous nature of the dog in many different environments. We learn exactly what the dog isn’t and the simple refrain tells us that he’s a seadog. Just great for reading aloud or sharing with a 3-5 year old.
Funny Bums by Mark Norman, published by Black Dog Books
Have you ever really thought about animal bottoms? This is an information book full of great photographic images combined with weird and wonderful facts, introducing children to a part of the animal which we rarely focus on. Indirectly, through text and images, children develop early concepts of evolution, adaptation, ecology and survival. The animals range in size from the elephant on the cover through to small beetles which have an exploding backside and many in between.
Sidney, Stella and the Moon by Emma Yarlett. Templar Publishing
Sidney and Stella constantly bicker and, after one fight, bounce their ball so high that it smashes the moon out of the sky. Of course, they have to find a replacement and the book recounts the adventure they go on to achieve this. Right from the start it is obviously fantasy and the reader joins in with the wacky ideas they try. Great illustrations include a double fold-out page. The subtle lesson from the book, the need to share and reach a common goal, is well-executed.
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, published by Chronicle Books
This is a wordless picture book which will appeal to readers of all ages, but especially young budding dancers. Flora, dressed in flippers, swimsuit and bathing hat, meets a flamingo and imitates its movements. When she mucks up, the flamingo mocks, eventually relents and together they perform. The great strengths of the book are the many flaps which change the reader’s perception of what is actually happening. This is a gently humorous story about friendship. It’s a pity that its pinkness may put off parents of boys, who are sure to enjoy the humour as much as girls will.
The Frank Show by David Macintosh. Harper Collins
David Macintosh is one of my favourites. When the boy has to give a one-minute talk at school about a family member, he discounts everyone till he is only left with his grandfather Frank. But he is so boring! He’s not as interesting as other class mates’ family members. He doesn’t like anything the boy does, doesn't like noise, or today's music, or gadgets and gizmos. But the boy discovers his grandfather is much more than he knew or expected. A good humorous story, with wonderfully detailed but off-key illustrations to explore, about generational differences and acceptance of others, aimed at lower primary students.
And now for books aimed at older readers. Echoing Carol’s blog last week, the following can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, not only the ones for whom they have originally been aimed.
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, published by Indigo.
This was the YA and overall the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, which I learned about through the last CBCA Tas newsletter. (Thanks Penny). It’s a great cover which is sure to attract readers. Zoe writes to Stuart Harris, a man on death row in Texas, and through her letters unburdens her terrible secret, slowly allowing Harris, and the reader, to learn more about her crime. Zoe’s voice is believable – ranging from the worldly wise to the naïve and immature. There are lots of themes which will appeal especially to teenage readers.
Boundless by Cynthia Hand. HarperCollins
This is the final book in the Unearthly trilogy. Fans of the series are sure to be pleased by it, but for me, coming to it without knowledge of the previous books, I found it uncompelling. This may have to do with my age but also my personal preference is not for paranormal romance, despite it being well-written. Clara has learned to live a normal life along with her Angelblood heritage, but now she is torn between her love for both Tucker and Christian. There are themes of parental and romantic love, along with the place of religion in modern life.
Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt. Published by Allen & Unwin
This is a great fantasy, peopled by some unexpected characters, without the typical royal intrigues, treasure seeking and fighting. Peat is blamed after the stranger’s visit brings death and disease and therefore she is forced from her farm home. Her journey takes her through an interesting landscape. There she meets some wonderful people, including Eadie, Mother Moss, and Siltboy, the 900 year-old child with quaint language and outlook. I hope there’s a sequel with more of Peat’s adventures but Julie may decide that her readers are better left with their own imagination creating Peat’s future life. (Thanks to Allen & Unwin for my review copy).
What have been your favourites recently? Please let us all know.