I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet…

They sent me a… cat who sheds all over everything and a dog who likes to chew up my backyard! Alright, the book doesn’t actually say this, but I’m attempting to be witty here whilst splashing in a puddle of exhaustion. I can either continue to try to be cute about this or just get on with the business of reviewing picture books. I choose the latter! So…

ImageDear Zoo by Rod Campbell is an easy read and quick fun. In fact, I know it pretty much by heart. That’s how simple it is! Also, that’s pretty indicative that my son is a fan. I never thought an 11 month old would have so many opinions about what he reads, but if it’s not in his mouth or he’s not craning his neck so he doesn’t have to look at the pictures, then I know I’m onto a winner.

This book is quick, has a narrative, and is a lift-the-flap — it’s my trifecta! It is very minimal. The page with the lift-the-flap that matches the cover — the one with the cage in front of the lion — is my son’s favourite. He likes to run his tiny little pointer finger through the little paper bars.

This books is pretty darn popular, and I can understand why. Go see for yourself at: http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Zoo-Lift-Flap-Book/dp/141694737X

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Night Night Spot!

ImageThis will be the second time a Spot book appears on this website. I would argue this is an inevitability, considering my son is enamoured with these books.

I am quite a fan of a goodnight book. I have struggled to get through some of them with my son because his attention span isn’t yet developed. He does, however, usually let me get through Goodnight Moon and I’m quite fond of that one. However, when I found Night Night Spot I was quite relieved. It conveys a very simple yet effective narrative in only 8 double page spreads. It holds my son’s focus, and allows for a routine. It is also a board book so he can chew to his heart’s content.

Sadly, it seems he is now in the habit of crying as soon as this book comes out because he knows it means it is sleep-time. This breaks my heart, but also tells me that the book does a solid job of rounding out his bedtime routine. Besides, it’s only a flash cry and then the thumb pops in and all is well.

I recommend this text as a starter goodnight book. It is quick, simple and effective — sure to hold your bub’s attention, and help get them settled for the evening.

Have a look here:  http://www.booktopia.com.au/i-love-spot-baby-books-night-night-spot-eric-hill/prod9780723271642.html

Phwoar! Introductory PhD seminar over. Back to books!

Hi All,

You may notice that there has been a bit of a break in posts. I was busy finalising preparations for my PhD seminar on Australian children’s picture books. What a rush! I finished today, and it all went swimmingly (or so I’m told). So, now, back to my reviews!

ImageThe Wattle Tree, written by John Bell and illustrated by Ben Wood, is a beautiful story. John Bell is of Bell Shakespeare fame, and boy does he know what he is doing. I have actually met the man before. When I met him, he was a rather rigid sort, and I was kind of intimidated. It was in the capacity of radio production, back in the days when I produced for Radio 2CC. He was interviewing with the venerable Mike Jeffries, for whom I produced at the time.

 At any rate, I should have guessed that Bell would be was an extraordinarily capable children’s picture book author, especially when considering the success of his Shakespeare company. However, when I came across this book I found it difficult to reconcile the seemingly stern man with the sorts of crushing emotions that he both understand and effectively communicates.

What is really flooring is how he has encapsulated the awful and distressing emotions a child experiences with the passing of a loved one. The Wattle Tree is about a little girl whose grandmother passes away. The little girl misses her grandmother very much, and doesn’t know how to express or discuss it.

Interestingly, this book depicts the experiences her mother is having too. I appreciate the realistic aspect of this book; mum doesn’t have the answers for everything, and she is really suffering too. That’s rare in children’s books, and it was an enjoyable aspect of this narrative. This story is a touching one, and worth your dollars. You can find it at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/36390.John_Bell

Rudie Nudie – a celebration of childhood innocence.

rnRudie Nudie, written and illustrated by Emma Quay, is one for those who embrace nostalgia. The rhyming text is about two little children who romp about in the nude, and embrace the opportunity to be silly and naked and not worry about anything but being a little kid. Nothing graphic is depicted in this text. The crayon-type utensil used to illustrate the story serves to further support the innocent feel of the text. The bubble motif is a reminder that this is fun and nothing untoward. Quay has also used a pastel palette, which is a little unusual, but works well here.

At one stage, we see the little girl roll around on a rug, just to feel the texture of it. Her brother seems to follow her lead, and at one stage they dance together. She also does a little naked pirouette. It’s all lightness and adorable.

This is not a thought-provoking or didactic story. Just lightness and innocence.

Rudie Nudie was an ABIA category award winner, and short-listed by the CBCA.

You can take a trip down memory lane at: http://www.emmaquay.com/books.html#rn

Silly learning fun for baby.

ImageThis book cover is pretty much self-explanatory. Jeanette Rowe’s Whose bottom? is a flap book suitable for children ages 0-3. The flaps cover the front of the animal, leaving only the cute little animal tushies exposed. The words are rhythmically repetitive (always appreciated by my little one), and the flaps are able to be gripped by tiny little hands. The ending is not necessarily surprising, but is the cutest tushy of all!

Go give it a squiz at:  https://shop.abc.net.au/products/whose-bottom-hbk-rowe.