The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This book was released on the 3rd of June, 1969 and has been a favourite with every generation ever since – that’s 48 years and still going strong.

We generally accept it for what it is and I wonder if it would get published in the same format today.  There is a big push for scientific perfection and this story has been criticised for the use of the word cocoon (which is theoretically incorrect) over chrysalis – the proper name for a butterfly pupa. I guess you could also criticise it for all that human food which caterpillars would never eat – but which employs such fun !!

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But anyway, this book is such a favourite and who would have thought that there would be so much merchandise and so many associated activities to do at kinder and school. I’m a fan!  Here is a gorgeous reading of the story by Eric Carle himself – who will turn 88 by the end of the month:

Digby and the Yodelayhee…Who? by Renee Price and Anil Tortop

This picture book is pure joy and total happiness.

Renee Price has a sense of humour and that comes across clearly in this book. There is adventure and fun on each and every page – in both the story and also in the illustrations that were done by Anil Tortop.

On the opening double spread the protagonist, Digby Fixit, wonders about noisy noises – I totally relate to that being quite a noise sensitive writer, so it had me intrigued straight away, and also… there’s a picture of a cat on a roof top, wearing sunglasses whilst sitting under an umbrella – so I was totally in.  Here it is:

Renee’s words move the story along at quite a fast pace – adventures are like that! And Anil has plenty of fun surprises to find on each page – watch out for that cat I mentioned earlier!

At the end of the book there is a music song sheet for a song that accompanies the story, which would be very handy for smart parents, carers and/or teachers who can play a musical instrument ! but, what I think is even more amazing is the QR code that links you in to listen to the song…but beware!!… it is a very, very catchy song and you will be singing it all day long.

What a talented woman Renee Price is: She wrote the story, she wrote the lyrics, co-wrote the music with Aaron Hipwell, sang the lyrics along with some very cute children… and she is even available for visits to anywhere children hang out, like libraries, kinders, schools etc. to do a stage show – amazing !! I guess you can say you get the whole package with this book.

I totally recommend this story to everyone and I’m confident that Renee Price’s stage shows would be fun and entertaining for all.

You can contact her at www.createitkids.com.au

 

Mrs White and the Red Deset by Josie Boyle and Maggie Prewett

Mrs White and the Red Desert is the story of some children who live in the desert. Their homework is always dirty, so they invite their teacher home to show her why and end up getting caught up in a typical red sand storm that is the source of their problem.

There are some really well written sentences in this story – the type that you re-read twice, just to feel the loveliness all over again. I particularly liked, ‘We lived in the desert in a corrugated iron house that was wavy, buckled and bent, just like our grandmother’s hair.’ It speaks metaphorically to the reader in a child-like wondering way.

Josie Wowulla Boyle’s words really come alive with Maggie Prewett’s illustrations. These crows on the roof are a very imaginative example of her work:

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Anthropomorphic representation has been criticized lately in favour of realistic representation, but I must say that I have loved it since my own childhood and it has an extremely useful place, particularly when dealing with more emotional issues.

On a more serious note, I must say Mrs White, in her white dress and her underlying preference for clean, white sheets of homework kind of left me feeling awkward. Josie Boyle is an acclaimed historical storyteller and although not totally obvious, this is an historical story. I understand her perspective completely, but as an adult reader, I was left questioning the representations in the story – and perhaps this was a very clever authorial intention. I’m still wondering…..

Overall, a great book with great illustrations, some very funny moments and a story line that all children will enjoy. Children will also relate to the story on a personal level – we have all handed it messy homework !

 

 

 

 

Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney

Let me begin with saying – I have had this book for quite a while now ! And it has just come to me why this review has taken so long to complete – it’s because there’s so much in it to explore and contemplate and then to revisit, as well as the fact that I get lost in between the pages for so long, that when I close it, I just feel happy and content – and not very much like writing.

Tania McCartney has filled the pages of this book with all aspects of Australian diversity, including, food, places, people, plants, animals, sport, weather, language, things old, new and delightfully random. The awesomeness, however is that the information and intelligent illustrations are mixed with humour and that each and every page is unique. There is something a little bit left of centre on each page – I love that ! And every time it I read it, I find something new.

This book is like a coffee table book for everyone – not just for kids, although they are the main demographic and will just adore pondering the pages and for that reason I am coining this phrase – a milkshake desk book !! Old and young will both love it and it will also make a great information book for overseas relatives and friends.

Tania McCartney held a virtual launch online for this book and I was lucky enough to have won the book during launch week and also to name this gorgeous character ‘Mabel.’

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Just for the record this is what I wrote about Mabel:

‘She is quite a shy girl but reading books make her feel alive on the inside.    One day she wants to write her own books and being quite the quiet type means she is a great observer of all the people she meets – she calls them her characters. She keeps a secret journal where she writes down all her ideas and observations.’

And this was entry I wrote about my favourite Australian quirk:

‘My favourite Australian quirk is ‘Australian friendliness.’ We have the ‘gift of the gab’ in our beautiful country and we will talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time and about any thing ! – and we are pretty much experts on any topic ! It isn’t until you travel overseas and come back that this endearing quality fills your sun-bleached soul and makes you happy that you are home.’

The end papers themselves sum up this book as well as this beautiful country we live in – it is open and expansive and we are free as birds and yet it is distinctively full.

Well done Tania McCartney – you are a creative genius – really !!

Here’s the trailer too !! :

 

 

Postscript: Since the release of this book last year Tania McCartney has also released this book:this-is-banjo-paterson

 

And is no doubt working on her next one………………………..!! Take a look at Tania’s blog – it’s gorgeous:

 

 

 

Miffy in the Snow by Dick Bruna

Only a few weeks ago I received a complimentary copy of ‘Miffy in the Snow’ and it has just been announced that the Dutch author Dick Bruna has passed away in his sleep at the age of 89.

Miffy was an ongoing success -first published in 1955 with the original title ‘Miffy’ and also ‘Miffy at the Zoo.’  In the years following the ‘Miffy’ series included about thirty books and was translated into 50 languages, selling more than 85 million books.

Rereading this book has made me think a couple of things about children’s literature:

When I first read a ‘Miffy’ book it would have been way below my reading standard, but I loved it non the less – perhaps it is precisely for this reason that I don’t believe age and reading ability match and why I always say Picture Books are for everyone.

And also, the illustrations could hardly be more simplistic and yet I am as intrigued by them and ponder over them for just as long now as I did then – there is beauty in the simple things. I do think Miffy looks sad though with her little cross mouth !

I also love the trademark small square book for tiny little hands and the basic colour palate.

Vale Dick Bruna – your books made millions of children very happy readers.

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The 12th Dog by Charlotte Calder and Tom Jellett

The delightful memories that this book brought up make me smile.

The 12th Dog is the classic Aussie kids street or backyard cricket match story – simple but fun.  Charlotte’s words take us on a sweet journey of the annoying ball stealer who is finally recognised for his great cricket playing skills, and Tom Jellett’s illustrations are adorable – especially the expressive, realistic faces the dog pulls throughout the book.

When I was growing up there were many games of cricket played in the street and dogs made really good fielders – but occasionally one would take off with the ball and there would be a stream of kids chasing the dog down the road to get the ball back.  From memory the dogs always outsmarted and outran all of us, which ended the game unless another ball could be found !  At one stage we had a ball crazy dog named Snoopy that the neighbours used to borrow for their backyard cricket games.  They put him to the test one day in a match that lasted five hours – he didn’t let them down !

This is a really great book that both children and adults will enjoy and hopefully it will get lots of you playing cricket with your dog – they make the best players…..and the best memories  !!!

At The Zoo I See by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells

 

 

I have a newly acquired attraction to ‘Board Books.’ From a literary viewpoint I have seen them evolve and become much more focused on the importance of both visual and written language and At the Zoo I See by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells displays this so well.

In this book we are introduced to nine animals that could be seen at the zoo – a mix of native and exotic animals; a macaw, a quoll, a jaguar, an anteater, a wombat, an elephant, a lion, a gorilla and a cassowary.

What makes this book work is the combination of the distinctive adjectives used for each animal,

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and the expressive illustrations – they just made me smile and enjoy this book so much more.

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What an adorable, surprised face !!!!

Written text is extremely important because it introduces children to infrequently used words and word combinations and the visual text confirms this and gives a secondary view of the meaning – Joshua and Robyn have synergized this well……..and all this within a few pages of a Board Book suitable for children from newborns up to kindergarten age.

This Board Book is engaging and is sure to be read over and over again – I’ve already read it five times myself !