Sometimes simplicity is just divine!

the-very-cranky-bearThe Very Cranky Bear, written and illustrated by Australian Nick Bland, has a simple premise. When a group of animals seek refuge from the cold in his cave, he is (surprise, surprise) cranky! The clueless foursome try their best to cheer the bear up, though not because they care so much as they really want to play in that (very) occupied cave.

They each try to get to the bottom of the bear’s crankiness. However, the solution is more simple than they realise at first, and it takes one very ‘plain’ sheep to figure it out.

Bland’s rhyming scheme adds a layer of complexity to this book that otherwise might be a bit on the bland (no pun intended) side. It also adds a layer of delicious charm. I can’t go past mentioning Bland’s illustrations. I absolutely adore his style here. Colourful, vivid and yet cartoonish. Really, I could gush on and on about them.

This book has a simple premise and a simple solution which results in a wonderful story. It’s all very seamless. You won’t be cranky about the decision to spend a few dollars on The Very Cranky Bear.

The Very Cranky Bear, published by Scholastic.
Author/Illustrator: Nick Bland.
Check it out at: http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-very-cranky-bear-collection-nick-bland/prod9781743622520.html

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Buy for the story, stay for the pictures.

ImageGood Night, Sleep Tight, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Judy Horacek, is a beauty. I know I’ve covered Fox twice, but my Ph.D is focusing on Australian picture books so I’m Aussie-centric at the moment. The story is sweet, rhythmical and altogether light-hearted.

Skinny Doug is babysitting Bonnie and Ben. He seamlessly sews their favourite bedtime stories together to create an exciting adventure for the children. It’s not a brain-bender, it’s just lots of fun. My favourite aspect of this book is the illustrations

Judy Horacek creates bright, bold and neon cartoon-like images, which is unsurprising given her profession as a cartoonist. She is also an author in her own right.

Together, Horacek and Fox have challenged gender norms and expectations, and have done so subtly. I’m not sure if this was purposeful, but it was nice, and even somewhat of a relief, to encounter a male babysitter. Skinny Doug is not threatening or creepy. He’s just babysitter who can spin a good yarn.

Horacek’s depictions of the children are androgynous and delightful. They are zany to look at and, combined with the illustrations, the story is silly and wacky in an ordered sort of way. Good Night, Sleep Tight is described as whimsical on the back, and it lives up to the description.

Buy this book for the story, stay for the pictures. Find it at http://www.booktopia.com.au/good-night-sleep-tight-mem-fox/prod9781742832579.html?source=pla&gclid=CLTDkL26r70CFQHKpAodxhQAaQ