Thursday, 28 May 2020

Where’s Spot?

Where’s Spot? written & illustrated by Eric Hill (Puffin) HB RRP $16.99 ISBN 978024144685

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Said to be ‘the world’s favourite (and original) lift-the-flap book’, Where’s Spot is celebrating its 40th birthday with a special edition. Highlighting the ruby anniversary, this editing of the classic hide-and-seek tale is now available with a ruby foil cover and in a new large format.

Ideal for toddlers, the playful text starts with naughty Spot missing at dinner time. From then on, each page asks a question, for instance ‘Is he behind the door?’ Spot has his nose behind the door and when the door flap is opened, there is a huge brown bear with a honeypot saying ‘no!’ Spot then investigates various other places -- a grandfather clock, a (pink) piano, an under-the-stairs door, a wardrobe and more. Each time there’s a hidden animal saying ‘no’.

Finally, a turtle under a rug gives a clue (‘Try the basket’) and that’s when mother dog Sally finds naughty Spot.

This clever book enables reader and child to re-visit the book many times, interacting with the text and illustrations. The illustrations are ideal for the small reader with simple pictures and lots of white space with few words.

Since publication, the Spot books (yes, there are more!) have been translated into over 60 languages with over 65 million books sold worldwide. 

This book is highly recommended for readers aged from one and older.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

The Big Old Rambutan Tree

The Big Old Rambutan Tree by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dog Books) PB RRP ISBN 9780648256373

Reviewed by Claire Stuckey

Ginger is a hungry orangutan savoring the perfume of the first rambutan fruit of the season. The big old rambutan tree provides a feast for the congress. Ginger discovers and adopts a lost tiger cub, but the others are wary of this natural enemy. She continues to care for the cub, but Stripes soon hungers for more than fruit. Ginger sadly sends him on his way. Years later a fire threatens the orangutan’s environment. Escaping to the big old Rambutan Tree, Ginger falls but is rescued by an enormous tiger as animals across the rainforest search for shelter. Life returns slowly to the rainforest 
environment after monsoon rains, including the fruit on the big old rambutan tree.

This is also kindness story; a retelling of how good deeds are often repaid. Ginger is the ideal role model, compassionate yet pragmatic. Colourful illustrations bring action and emotion to the animal characters; these will certainly engage children. Set in Sumatra, it provides readers with a simple tale of the importance of a food source to a threatened species. Ginger is the ideal role model, compassionate yet pragmatic.

Introducing the concept of fire and environmental damage to a pristine environment in what appears to be a simple story is clever and important for the planet’s future. An information page or glossary on the rainforest animals featured -- such as the Sun bears, birds and other species -- might have been a useful addition. The proceeds of book sales go to Orangutan Outreach to support conservation.  

This title would be a great classroom resource. Recommended for ages 4 > 7 years.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Eloise and the Bucket of Stars

Eloise and the Bucket of Stars by Janeen Brian

Orphaned as a baby, Eloise Pail yearns for a family. Instead, she lives a lonely life trapped in an orphanage and made miserable by the cruel Sister Hortense. Befriended by the village blacksmith, Eloise soon uncovers some strange secrets of yesteryear and learns that something terrible may be about to happen to the village. As troubles and dangers mount, she must learn who to trust and choose between saving the village or belonging to a family of her own. Unless something truly magical happens...
The title is mid-grade, historical, magic realism aged at readers 9+ years. It’s described as:

·       A powerful tale of how magic weaves its way into the real world.
·       Explores themes of belonging, what it takes to be a friend and what constitutes a family.
LINKS:   Available online and in all good bookshops.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Rachel Carson, Scientists Who Changed the World

Rachel Carson, Scientists Who Changed the World by Anita Croy (EK Books)
Hardback, 88 pages RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925820690

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Rachel Carson is a book that is part of a series designed to help children learn about scientists who changed the world. Rachel Carson’s discoveries changed our understanding of the natural world and the impact of humans. Protecting the earth is her legacy.

This book has six chapters. It starts with a biography and then moves onto background information about the natural world and saving our environment. I particularly like the use of timelines to show the changes through time as awareness and understanding about our environment developed. Another strength of the book is the direct quotes by Carson sprinkled throughout the pages. Her skills as both a scientist and a writer combined to give a powerful voice to her discoveries about the natural world. Her childhood shaped her personality and set her onto a lifelong path of environmental pursuits. Rachel Carson wrote the New York Times bestselling book Silent Spring.

The six chapters include photos, quotes, facts, and varied page layouts with colourful illustrations where a child can open the book and read what interests them. The book doesn’t have to be read in order and is reader friendly. It supports STEM in our schools and there is a glossary and information about books and websites for further information for the curious child.

Rachel Carson’s achievements were many and her contributions to our world are still topical and relevant today. A child can be inspired to know that they can make a difference in the world with lots of hard work, persistence, and patience.

Rachel Carson is a book that will fascinate any child 10-13 years with an interest in the natural world. This book is part of a series about scientists who really did shape and change our world in momentous ways.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Daisy Runs Wild

Daisy Runs Wild by Caz Goodwin, illustrated by Ashley King (Little Hare Books) HB RRP $19.95 ISBN: 9781760503055

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Daisy Runs Wild is the sequel to the popular Lazy Daisy, and follows the little koala on her latest adventure. Her friend Jasper has ‘built a machine so that she could sit down’ while they strolled around town, but something is not quite right. She leaps off the seat and darts away through the park. ‘What in the world was poor Jasper to do? Daisy kept running, so Jasper did too.’ When Jasper eventually catches up to Daisy, he discovers the problem: ‘He plucked out a thorn that was stuck in her rear.’

Caz Goodwin’s rhyming couplets fly off the tongue as quickly as Daisy gallops across the grass. Kids will giggle at Daisy’s increasingly hilarious actions, from knocking over a wicket to landing on a passionfruit sponge. Caz’s enthralling use of language is seen to best effect on the blue page, where she utilises alliteration of the ‘s’ sound to emphasise Daisy’s pain: ‘The little koala was such a sad sight, squealing and squawking and shaking with fright.’            

Colour bursts from the pages at every turn. Ashley King’s dynamic illustrations dance across brightly hued spreads, dazzling the eyes with pattern and pandemonium. Young readers will adore her characterisation of Daisy, from her absurdly large ears to the tiny red bow perched on top of her head.

Brisk rhythms and spirited images combine to create a highly entertaining picture book for children all ages. Youngsters will ‘run wild’ as they read this laugh-a-minute story again and again, finding amusing new details each time they chase Daisy through the vibrant pages.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Books by Hong Kong Authors

Title: Surprising Mrs Rhubarbson (English)
BlurbRoxy Rhubarbson is feeling sad for her mum. Mrs Rhubarbson takes care of the Old Tree Home animals all by herself. It's her birthday today. How can Roxy and her friends Marble Mangosteen and Shooz Starfruiter help plan a surprise for her mum? How can they show her she's special too?

This is the first book in the Marble Mangosteen's Good Deed Collection series. The series aims to inspire and instil good values in each book. For this book, some of the themes and values are as follows: teamwork, not taking others for granted, spending time with the elderly, caring for Mum, friendship and sharing (among others).
Amazon link for English version 

Title: Yani the Unicorn and the Day Mommy Went to the Moon
Blurb: Yani the Unicorn and the Day Mommy Went to the Moon is a book about the special bond every mother has with her child.  The book follows Yani through that special day when her mommy has to leave her for the first time. A relatable theme for families with working moms or parents. 

The book wants to convey the message that developing a deep mother-child connection can help our children feel safe and secure in their own little world while they explore life around them. It provides a valuable opportunity to build connection and assure our children that they are loved and that mommy always comes back.

Title: The Mother’s Day of Rock
BlurbJoin Sara and her pet goat, Nana, on an adventure as they search for the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. What will Sara do when things don't go as planned? And will Sara's mother like her gift? Children, parents, and grandparents will enjoy reading this story with a special message about the love between a mother and child, and a love and respect for Mother Nature and the world we share.
Title: Mother Hen and Her Eggs
Author: Deeksha Palanna 
Blurb: A riveting and humorous story of a MOTHER HEN and her frantic search for her lost eggs
On a tip-off from a friendly BIRDIE, a MOTHER HEN races to retrieve her stolen eggs from the nest-robbers before it is too late. After a roller-coaster chase, a joyful surprise awaits her and the readers in the end.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Sir Isaac Newtown, Scientists Who Changed the World

Sir Isaac Newtown, Scientists Who Changed the World by Anita Croy (EK Books) Hardback, 88 pages RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925820713

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Sir Isaac Newtown is part of a series designed to help children learn about scientists who changed the world. Isaac Newtown’s discoveries changed our understanding of the world through science.

This book is divided into chapters that build a picture not only of Sir Isaac Newtown’s discoveries and achievements over his lifetime, but it gives background information that shows the young reader who and what shaped his personality and scientific mind.

There are six chapters which include photos, quotes, facts and varied page layouts with colourful illustrations where a child can open the book and read what interests them. The book does not have to be read in order. The text is child-reader friendly and supports STEM and history in our schools. There is a glossary and information about books and websites for further information for the curious.

Sir Isaac Newtown’s achievements were many and his contributions to this world are hard to include in one book, yet Anita Croy has successfully captured the essence of Sir Isaac Newtown and all that he contributed with his incredible mind. A child can be inspired to pursue a scientific field they are interested in and know that it is not enough to have the ability: it also requires lots of hard work, persistence and patience.

Sir Isaac Newtown is a book that will fascinate any child 10-13 years with an interest in Science. This is a great resource for schools and teachers.