Friday, 30 December 2016

Busy Izzy and Friends

Busy Izzy and friends by Roxanne Kiely, illustrated by Jeesoo Kim (Busy Ink Publishing) PB RRP $14.99   ISBN: 9780646941042 

Busy Izzy and Newly Truly by Roxanne Kiely, illustrated by Jeesoo Kim (Busy Ink Publishing) PB RRP $14.99   ISBN: 9780994551009

Reviewed by Stephanie Ward

The first two books in the Busy Izzy picture book series introduce readers to the modern world of Green Grass Grove, a "happy and healthy place" with a diverse cast of characters. 

In Busy Izzy and Friends, we meet cheerful Busy Izzy who owns the Nix & Nax store. When her friends come to visit, she offers them healthy snacks and gives them jobs around the shop. When things go wrong, Busy Izzy always knows just what to do and is never too busy to help a friend in need. 

Busy Izzy and Newly Truly introduces readers to Izzy's new puppy who had been neglected by its previous owners. Busy Izzy adopts her spunky new pet from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The story explains how Newly Truly was rescued and cared for by this caring organisation. With a wealth of back matter including notes about how to read a puppy's signals and loads of healthy recipes, this book is packed with information about taking care of pets. 

The Busy Izzy series offers young readers the opportunity to jump into a kid-centric situations (like bike riding, kite flying and caring for a new puppy) while being taught lessons about kindness, safety and health. Often, these messages are overt: 'Safety first, helmets on' or 'We must wear hats and sunscreen'. This approach supports the storyline around Busy Izzy always knowing what to do and sharing that information with her friends. There is also a strong theme of nutrition through the foods and snacks in the story offered as recipes in the back pages of the book. Plus, there are fun sing-along songs -- My 26 BFFs and Busy Izzy Says, to name just two -- both written out and recorded on an accompanying CD that reminds children of all they've learned. 

The bold illustrations show wonderful facial expressions that bring out the concern in Worried Warren and Bossy Bobby's commanding ways. The bright, rainbow colour palette and attention to even the smallest details in the storyline make the illustrations a perfect match for the words.

Australian author, Rozanne Kiely has created a fun series of simple stories that readily appeal to young children. Endorsed by the World Literacy Foundation, the Busy Izzy series goes beyond storytelling to include songs, recipes and games to supplement the lessons and themes in the books.

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