Life ever changing…

Starting this blog just under three years ago was such a huge goal achievement and also such a heart filling delight.  It has led me to meeting the loveliest of people and making connections with people who ‘get’ the wholeness and unique beauty of a Picture Book.

I have been sent beautiful things by authors, illustrators and publishing houses – just for a truthful review…and I have made some lovely friends along the way too.

My first review was for ‘Introducing Teddy’ by Jessica Walton and Douglas MacPherson which remains a favourite. The simplicity of this story becomes the strength of the message – as is the case with the most beautiful of stories.

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My last review was for the exquisitely written and illustrated, ‘The Flying Orchestra’ by Clare McFadden – a hold to you heart, take deep breaths and feel whole book.  It’s a read over and over again book that will change meaning every time you read it – I love those books – there have been many.

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Mostly I have reviewed ‘just released’ or ‘soon to be released’ books, but occasionally enjoyed bringing back a classic like, ‘Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne and ‘Rosie’s Walk’ by Pat Hutchins.

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There is still a list of classics that I haven’t done, like ‘The Story about Ping’ by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese.  (Today’s cover photo) I have loved this book nearly my whole life and was going to blog about it for my first post – but shied away from it because there’s a bit of controversy around it. I’m braver now – maybe I’ll do it one day.

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So…the point of this post is to say that (at least for the next three years) I am stopping my book reviews because…I have been appointed by CBCA as the Picture Book/New Illustrator Judge for both 2020 and 2021. (I am still pinching myself!) I am currently the 2019 Eve Powell Information Books – Book of the Year Judge. It has been such a great experience and I have increased my depth and insight of all books by using an extensive criteria, working with extremely knowledgeable people, and learning all about a new genre.  My new role going forward would be a Conflict of Interest with the ‘Tell Tales To Me’ review blog – so for now I’m letting it go. I might do the occasional old title or news type of post and one day I hope to take off where I left offI am still available for picture book editing and perhaps some other literary things – I will post about those when available.

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For now, I just want to say as I scroll through all the posts, what an absolute joy it has been and how much I have loved receiving the books to review – little bundles of love waiting on your doorstep is so joyous xx. I am now moving on to big boxes of surprises waiting to be opened, picked up tenderly and given the time they deserve in the judging process.

Thanks to everyone who has followed this blog, particularly those that closely follow and love watching this literary road I am on.

‘Picture Books are age free.’– Brook Tayla

 

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The Flying Orchestra by Clare McFadden

Music has a way of weaving through our being and permeating our souls.  We associate times, happy and sad, joyous and devastating with songs and music and words.

This book pairs classical music pieces with everyday life occurrences.  The words lead the way through life scenarios and the musical suggestions at the back of the book for each situation gives readers the hook – the hook to ‘music’ their whole life – to a cognitive and accessible symphony that they can always refer to.

It also provides the knowledge that this is possible.

The illustrations (which won the CBCA Crichton Award for Illustration in 2011) are exquisite and dreamily float the reader along through the story.

At the back of the book is a list of all the musical pieces to listen to for each page scenario.

This book is a meditation in love and life on many levels.  It’s meaning will be individual to each reader and each reading will add depth.

I want to lie under a tree and study each page whilst listening to the suggested music.  I want to imagine ‘The Flying Orchestra’ in the trees around me – and I’m sure you will too!

…and the next time a baby is born I will play ‘Aria ‘Schafe konnen sicher weiden’ (‘Sheep May Safely Graze’) from Cantata (BWV 208) by Johann Sebastian Bach.

…when I see a child learning to ride a bike I will hum Waltz in D-flat major ‘Minute Waltz’ No.1 (op. 64) by Frederic Chopin in my mind

…and the next time my husband misses the train, I will tell him to listen to 5thMovement ‘Chaconne’ from Partita in D minor for solo violin (BWV 1004) by Johann Sebastian Bach, instead of getting stressed.

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…and all the other musical teamed scenarios will now have a song of reference!

Enjoy the soundtrack of life through this delightfully unusual book.

 

ISBN: 9780702249297

Price: PB $16.95

Publisher: UQP

Little Spiral by Pat Simmons and Patrick Shirvington

Little Spiral is a beautiful poetic journey that explores the life cycle of a snail.

The whole book has an air of mystery and intrigue. Right from the first page you wonder which little pearl coloured circle could be the actual snail forming on the forest floor.

And then the journey begins that leads us through growth, life and a new generation – a circular narrative.

The text is written simply but meaningfully with words that evoke re-reading and pondering. The ink/watercolour illustrations are a perfect visual match and give depth of meaning to the story. The edge-to-edge pictures pull readers right into the forest scenario, so that you feel you are actually there and feel an empathy with the snail, ‘Little Spiral’ – what a clever, delightful name!

This is a picture book that will be enjoyed by all ages and returned to often, not only to ponder life but also to check back in with this now familiar and cute little snail.

PB RRP $16.95

ISBN 9780648267324

Publisher: Little Steps Publishing

 

 

 

 

 

The Heart of a Whale by Anna Pignataro

This book has my heart.

It’s one of those books where you re-read lines just to absorb them because they are poignant and they touch somewhere special deep inside you.

I was smitten from the first line:

‘Whale’s song was so beautiful it could reach the furthest of faraways.’

The dual text is harmonious – the words a poetic symphony with gentle, undersea, watercolour illustrations that carry you forward in this beautiful story about love. The whale sends out a song, a song with the longing to find a love to fill it’s emptiness. The song envelops many other creatures until it is heard by another whale.

When you finish reading the story, you sigh, close the pages, and hold it to your heart, knowing this book is unique… and then you read it again.

This is a must read. It will fill you with love too and make you feel all warm on the inside.

ISBN: 9781743817629

HB: $24.99

PUBLISHER: Scholastic Australia

 

Black Cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

Black Cockatoo is a story that presents interpersonal family relationships and issues in a quite upfront but gentle manner.

Mia is the protagonist and she is struggling with the changes her brother is going through as a rebellious, defiant teenager. He is going through his own teenage angst struggle of fitting in with his group of friends versus respecting his own family, his own culture and traditional values as portrayed in the relationship with his grandfather.

Mia, at thirteen, (although she seemed much younger to me) takes on a position of observation to analyse her family’s turmoil.

This vignette is evocatively written, however, the portrayal of Mia’s brother’s issues is done through quite a few acts of animal cruelty. As an animal activist, I must say that I found this confronting. I have a belief that it is hard to unsee or unvisualise something you may never have imagined before. Through social media I have seen cruelty that I would never imagined possible and unfortunately those visuals remain in my memory. I worry that the depictions of cruelty in this book could either affect those reading it and/or put ideas into their heads.

There is, however, a beautiful scen at the end of the book between Mia and the dirran black cockatoo she has been caring for, where she must make a choice whether to keep the wild bird caged or to set it free into a world where it will not survive.

There are many issues crammed into this short story but poignant story.  Many interesting points could be contemplated and discussed during and/or after reading it. The book incorporates Jaru Aboriginal language and Aboriginal English terms – with a helpful glossary at the back.

Overall, an evocative, interesting story that presents a lot of food for thought.

ISBN: 978-1-925360-70-7

PB: $11.99

 

 

The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Mary Cummings and Cheri Hughes

The premise of this book is sibling death and how we remember and continue to celebrate the lives of those we lose. The child who has passed in this story is ‘Johnny.’

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The story is told in a gentle and touching way and would give lovely ideas to any family going through similar grief, for example, wearing something that belonged to the person who died, to keep playing their favourite games and still having a birthday celebration to remember them.

Making up ‘cloud stories’ is an important part of this book – each illustration has a cloud-like setting to place Johnny’s presence into the story.  The story could have been enriched, I feel,  by including a distinct reflection of one of the stories the brother had made up before he passed, or something more significant in the illustrated cloud pictures – maybe a symbol to show he is watching over the family and is still forever present. An example of this could be a wombat in the clouds, just like the t-shirt that Jonny used to wear and that his sister now wears to hold him dear.

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Overall, a lovely explanation of loss and grief and the celebration of life – told gently. And an inspiring springboard to use when death touches our lives, for creating personalised rituals to keep those that leave us present and remembered.

ISBN: PB – 9781925675382 – $14.99       HB – 9781925675399 – $24.99

Big Sky Publishing

 

 

 

Billie by Nicole Godwin and Demelsa Haughton

The author’s intent is very clear in this book – to show the beauty of the natural world in which all animals should live happily and peacefully, compared to the hardships that they actually face every day because of humans.

‘Billie’ presents readers with many scenarios that underwater sea creatures face. The protagonist is Billie, a bottlenose dolphin, who just wants to spend her days playing joyfully in the surf, but instead, sets about helping animals affected by human intervention. She does things like free animals from nets and releasing them from fishing lines.

There is something new to discuss on each page, even after multiple readings – Demelsa Haughton’s illustrations are part of the reason for this. Although the illustrations are bold and clear, they are layered with extra visual information. The colour palette used is beautifully calming and maintains a sense of peace that everything is under control. (Even if as adults we know the truth is problematic)

Nicole Godwin is both an author and an animal activist. She is on a mission to save the animals that suffer on our planet and she is doing this by writing stories that start the conversation with children. Her books introduce children to facts and encourages them, as not only readers, but as people, to think differently about all creatures in the hope of a better more conscious future.

Her mission statement reads:

                        ‘We create children’s books that give a voice

                          to those who yelp, roar, moo, oink and trumpet.’

There is a double-page spread at the back of the book that gives readers facts about dolphins and the hardships faced by creatures living in the ocean – a lot of food for thought.

Congratulations to Nicole and Demelsa. This is their second book together. Their first book ‘Ella’ can be found here:

https://telltalestome.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/ella-by-nicole-godwin-and-demelsa-haughton/

ISBN: 978-0-9945314-1-4                                                                                                                       HB: $24.99                                                                                                                                                             PUBLISHER:  Tusk Books https://tuskbooks.com