Thursday, 23 May 2013
Wednesday, 22 May 2013
PB RRP $6.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
Lottie and Mia have just started at a new school. They are twins but are not the same in every way. Lottie is messy while Mia is tidy, Lottie is shy while Mia is forward, and they like to dress differently. But they are identical when it comes to magical powers. When the twins link their pinkie finger and say the magic spell:
‘When Twins get together
We’re stronger than ever!
Twin magic azam,
Let’s do what we can!’
they become magical Super Twins. In Lost Tooth Rescue! Super Twins power is needed, and together with unicorn Rosie and new friend Toby, they find Anna’s lost tooth.
The illustrations are colourful and fill the whole page with the focus split evenly between pictures and text. This clearly places the book between a picture book and an early reader chapter book. The drawings are not detailed, but rather emphasise the important aspects of the story and the expressions of the children. They reflect the thoughts and actions of the twins, highlighting their similarities and differences.
Interestingly, Lottie and Mia are much clearer individuals as girls than when their Super Twin persona is activated. Lost Tooth Rescue! is the first in a new series for girls between six and eight. It is good for stretching readers a little, while sticking to a simple storyline which includes relatable concepts such as starting school, losing a tooth or helping a new friend. This, combined with the appeal of twins, magic and unicorns, will ensure the Twin Magic series will be a hit with young girls.
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
HB RRP $24.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
Daisy is the oldest child in a large family and the thing she wants the most in the world is a puppy. But how can she convince her parents that a dog would be a good thing for the family? She washes the neighbourhood dogs, sleeps in a basket and howls at passing fire engines. But after gazing at the animals in the pet shop, she still leaves empty handed.
Daisy and the Puppy is a beautiful story about family. Although not written in rhyme it is rhythmically poetic. ‘Lark loves the sucking catfish, with their fins like floating veils.’ The dialogue is natural and reading this story aloud the words roll off the tongue with ease. ‘You don’t need one,’ says Dad. ‘Not when you can rumble and tumble with Ruby, Lark and Jube!’
The illustrations are wonderfully messy, sometimes running off the page, creating movement and life. It is through these pictures that you get a true sense of the warmth, love and togetherness of the family.
Bear and Chook by the same author is a picture book I have always loved. There is something delightful about the way these two characters embrace the world. Daisy and her family are enchanting in a similar way with their earthiness and uncomplicated happiness.
Daisy and the Puppy is a heart-warming story for three year olds and up, especially for any young child longing for a puppy of their own.
Monday, 20 May 2013
PB RRP $7.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
Ella has invited her best friend Zoe for a sleepover. They plan to stay up late, telling stories and having a midnight feast. Olivia is feeling left out.
Olivia is only five-and-a-half years old, almost two years younger than her sister and not old enough yet for a sleepover. But she helps Ella with all the jobs which need to be done in preparation for the night. When Zoe arrives, Ella hopes that the bigger girls will share the fun with her.
The Ella and Olivia books are a great series for beginning readers. The text is large and broken up with sweet black and white illustrations. The chapters are short and the words and sentences straight forward and not too complex.
The story is one grounded in reality. Girls will easily identify with the sisters and recognise the excitement of the first sleepover with a friend. The relationships in the story are lovely but real, especially the one between the two sisters. They sometimes get frustrated with, or envious of, each other but they work it through, often with a little help from Mum.
There are eight so far to collect, and these books, suitable for 5-8 year-olds, will keep young readers engaged in the lives of Ella and Olivia.
Sunday, 19 May 2013
HB RRP $19.95
Also available as an ebook
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness
Fabulous and fun! I loved this picture book from the moment I saw Tom Jellett’s cheeky cover. There are many rascally dogs in children’s literature such as Harry the Dirty Dog and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, and Seadog has just as much charisma.
Just like we are all different, so too are dogs. Who wouldn’t love a sea dog? Who couldn’t love a sea dog? Seadog is not a work dog or a fetch dog or a trick dog or a clean dog, he’s a ‘find-and-roll-in-the-fish dog’. He’s a rapscallion and his day at the beach is described in lots of hyphenated phrases, until he is a ‘Pee-ee-euw, Seadog’. After the day is done when he’s all stinky with fish he becomes a ‘sit-still-till-it’s-done dog’ and succumbs to a bath.
With Saxby’s clever use of alliteration and assonance, children and adults will have fun twisting their tongues around the rhythm and rhyme as they go on Seadog’s adventures at the beach.
Tom Jellett has captured the enthusiasm and joy of such a scruffy, lovable dog. The endpapers give the book even more sea-appeal with a patchwork of international maritime signal flags. There are lots of close-up pictures of Seadog that make you feel as if you could give him a pat and hold your nose as you smell his fishy fur.
Claire Saxby is prolific in her writing and admits to being inspired by her own children, memories of childhood and by the children around her. It helps that she has a dog that often pretends to be a cat.
Tom Jellett is not only a bestselling illustrator of books for children; he also has been an editorial illustrator for umpteen print publications.
This is one picture book for 3 and up that will become dog-eared from love.
Saturday, 18 May 2013
PB RRP $11.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
The year five cross-country race is an important one for Jack and his mate Eric. It is really the race to end all races - the one where Jack is finally going to beat Rocket Robertson, his racing nemesis. And it is the race that Eric is finally going to make it to the finish line.
In order to achieve these goals, the boys will need plenty of training – and maybe a little help from the spangled drongoes, those cheeky birds who hang out at the creek.
Drongoes is a title in the Mates – Great Australian Yarns series and is perfect for young readers. It is an easy-read chapter book but with a storyline which will also satisfy older reluctant readers. The connotations of drongoes (one of which is a horse famous for not winning a race) adds an extra dimension to the story which older readers will appreciate without affecting younger reader’s enjoyment. The humour is appropriate for both readerships as well.
This is an appealing book to look at as well as to read. The layout is attractive, with full colour illustrations which add to the enjoyment of the reading experience. The pictures echo the humour of the text. The double spread illustration of Jack and Eric training, silhouetted in the setting sun, followed by a flock of drongoes, beautifully evokes the enormity of what the boys are trying to do.
This is a funny story highlighting the notions of winning not being everything, of loyalty, and of the great Aussie spirit of ‘giving it a go’. It will appeal to many young readers, especially those who relish a good sporting challenge. Jack and Eric are great characters to cheer for.
This will be enjoyed by children from seven and up.
Friday, 17 May 2013
My Band by Elizabeth Lea, illustrated by Chantal Stewart (National Library of Australia)
HB RRP $17.99
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
This is a musical book full of fun and movement that educates and informs. The focus is on the introduction of ten instruments that any child would learn if they were to join a band. Each instrument is introduced by the letter that it begins with set in large font on the outside of the lift-the-flap section. Underneath is the instrument with information on how to play it, what it is made of, how it is held, what the major pieces are called and the family it belongs to: woodwind, brass, percussion or string.
The pages are made of sturdy but light plasticised cardboard that will easily wipe clean. The illustrations are enchanting – light-hearted and joyful, surrounded by notes and filled with colour. After the ten instruments have been presented, it’s time for the whole band to play together.
At the back of the book there are eight craft activities to make: a guitar, French horn, castanets, tambourine, panpipes, violin, oboe, and a kazoo. The method is easy and most households would have the things that are needed for these projects. Below each activity is a picture of, and information on, each instrument in the project section.
All NLA books are specifically created with combined learning and entertainment in mind. They are produced with great insight and meticulous preparation and thought.