Silly, quirky and more than a little brilliant.

Umm… so I’m back! I’d like to apologise for my brief hiatus, but guess what ya’ll! I made a baby!!

Jay and Aaron

To celebrate, I’m posting a wonderful new book I’ve had the pleasure of reading during my ‘break’ (I use the term lightly. Sleep? What is sleep??’).

 

CrocodollyThe Crocodolly, written and illustrated by Martin McKenna, is delicious. The story follows a zany yet charming girl, Adelaide, who disguises her pet crocodile as a dolly in order to keep him. Mischief and mayhem are bound to occur as her ‘dolly’ starts to grow bigger and bigger.

I like this one on several different levels. For starters, I get excited when writers are allowed to push the envelope when it comes to vocabulary. Think the Olivia books by Ian Falconer. McKenna is of those writers.

He’s managed to use the description, ‘disconcertingly vast’ in a seamless way; that is, a way that children can work out the meaning from the context. He dedicates an entire page to an irate town that offers up synonyms for the word ‘annoyed’. I just love this!

Beyond the vocabularic gems (yep, I invented a word…) embedded in this book, the story is silly enough and original enough to keep young readers captivated. My son had me read this to him several times through and right now is staring in fascination at the pages.

To grab a copy for yourself, check out: https://shop.scholastic.com.au/Product/8355754/The-Crocodolly.

The Crocodolly is published by Omnibus Books, ISBN 9781742990712.

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No mistake about this awesome book!

beautiful-oops-Beautiful Oops is written, constructed and crafted by the venerable Barney Saltzberg. This one is for everybody. Perhaps at 29 years I’m not in its core demographic, but the message is as important to me as ever it was; that mistakes can be wonderful and happy occurrences if we approach them from a positive angle.

This book is really a joy to flick through. From start to finish, each page demonstrates how different types of beautiful oopses can produce unexpected yet satisfying results. For example, a coffee stain can turn into a frog if you give it half a chance! A torn piece of paper can turn into the mouth of a crocodile (or is it an alligator? I never really got the hang of those two…).

The pages are bright, vivid and interactive. My son loves this book. He’s just over 2, and also not the core demographic for this book and yet it has already had an impact on him. When he makes a mistake and becomes a little fixated in that toddlery way (‘it’s broken! it’s broken!’), I can say ‘it’s a beautiful oops!’ and he understands the reference.

I really do recommend this book for anyone and everyone. It’s a beautifully crafted reminder that mistakes are not the end of the world and can, in fact, be the beginning of a new one.

Beautiful Oops is written by Barney Saltzberg and published by Workman Publishing, New York. It’s written for (everybody), but officially it’s for those between 3-5 years of age.

You can snatch up a copy for yourself at: http://www.booktopia.com.au/beautiful-oops–barney-saltzberg/prod9780761157281.html

Meet the Dullards is anything but dull!

Meet the DullardsMeet the Dullards, written by Sarah Pennypacker and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, details the plight of Mr. and Mrs. Dullard. When they catch their children reading – GASP! – something must be done immediately! Their children are expected to lead dull, ordinary lives; stimulating past-times such as reading are not acceptable! What is a tedious and dull set of parents to do? Move, that’s what! But children are resourceful. When the Dullards get distracted watching paint dry, their plan goes awry.

This book is awesome. Really, it is. It’s all those words I use to describe a story I’m in love with; creative, quirky, fun, different, clever. The author and illustrator somehow manages to make a story, which is quite literally about dull moments, delightful. What can I say beyond that? Author Sara Pennypacker can now count me among her innumerable fans.

Meet the Dullards is published by HaperCollins and is suitable for children 4 – 7. Pick up your own copy at: http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780062198563/meet-the-dullards#

A relief from alphabetical monotony.

ABC & DoThis book is enchantingly fun. It’s interactive, stimulating and colourful; three aspects which are key to engaging the budding reader. If I’m being honest, I think I like this book even more than my little guy. Whilst he enjoys reading it, half of the novelty elements have been ripped off or nibbled on. The thing is, my little man is obsessed with his ABCs. As you can imagine, the result is that we have piles upon piles of ABC books.

Since I seem to be in the mood for confessionals, I might as well tell you the sheer amount of letter and number books around the house is more for my benefit more than his. Seriously, you can only say A is for Apple so many times a day and in only so many ways! But ABC & DO has found a funky way to keep it fresh and interesting (thank you, Egmont… really!).

One page is a puzzle (j is for jigsaw), another is a refrigerator and freezer, one with food and one without (E is for empty and F is for full), another has a telephone with a spinning dial on it (C is for call). The design of this book is a little bit brilliant.

I bought this book from a Big W which means it is affordable and easily accessible. If your little one is caught up in the ABC craze, do yourself a favour and considering purchasing ABC & DO.

Written by Lee Singh, illustrated by Karen Wall. Recommended for children 3-5 years (or parents who are dreaming of apples, boats and cats).

My son loves this book.

Dino ShapesDino Shapes, written and illustrated by Suse MacDonald, is really fun. It’s also educational, but in a tricky haha you’re learning and you didn’t even know it sort of way.

The concept is complicated but presented in a seamlessly simple way. Essentially, through a mix of colours and shapes, MacDonald builds a dinosaur page by page. Each page is dedicated to a new part of the dinosaur’s face, and that part is made out of a different shape. My son (17 months) has asked for the ‘dino’ book three days in a row now. Tonight, he startled me by correctly identifying the oval and diamond. He has a firm grasp on other shapes but these are, arguably, more complicated for a little person to grasp. He also identified the ‘crescent’, but he hasn’t quite articulated it properly yet. I’m certain Dino Shapes is a large part of this early learning.

Amazon suggests this book is appropriate for 3-7 years but I think that doesn’t give children on the earliest side of life enough credit. Dino Shapes is exciting and cleverly immersive, especially considering the tiny people for which the book is written. If you don’t have little ‘uns, this one is actually a pretty great gift too. You can purchase the book at: http://www.amazon.com/Dino-Shapes-Suse-MacDonald/dp/1481400932

Baby, I’m baaaaaaack.

I’ve been on hiatus for about a month or so now, my apologies to all! I had a nearly-month-long trip to visit the US. My husband, son and I visited family in NY and CO and it was lots of fun, albeit not very refreshing travelling with a one-year-old. However, the big news is…drum roll please… I met up with my loverley agent, Alison McDonald from The Rights Factory! Yep, I’m signed and I am super excited about it!! It’s so fun having someone to work with on my manuscripts. If you want to contact her regarding my work, she is available via their website, http://www.therightsfactory.com/.

Mustache babyNow, back to the topic at hand: MUSTACHE BABY (Written by Bridget Heos and Illustrated by Joy Ang). When I came across this book I practically ripped it off the shelf in my enthusiasm. What an absurd and endearing concept. I tend to gravitate to (and write) quirky and absurd stories so this is right up my ally. The story is about a newborn baby who, fresh out of the womb, is already sporting a mustache. But the questions remains: is this a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache?

First thing’s first: you won’t find a concept like this anywhere else. If this story tickles your fancy, then you might as well grab this book ‘cuz baby, there’s no other Mustache Children lurking around the shelves of bookstores. Actually, Mustache Children sounds particularly creepy. There’s not much didactic about this story either, which I appreciate. It’s just some odd fun.

The story explores the stereotypes and clichés surrounding different types of mustaches. It’s a story for the sake of the story, which is often the best kind of story. Did I mention this was a story?! That being said, I am more partial to a stronger narrative arc. This is just a personal preference of course, and this one is definitely worth a look if you are a lover of the quirky and strange.

Ang’s illustrations happily embrace the absurdity of it all, whilst clearly conveying the stereotypes and cliches to children who might not really understand mustache cliches yet (there’s a term I never thought I’d use; ‘mustache cliches’). I’d say this would be suited to children in Kindergarten and Year One.

Check it out at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15814439-mustache-baby

An unimaginably clever read…

BeekleA little while ago, I lamented the fact that Drew Daywalt had created such a clever story with his The Day the Crayons Quit, and I was most disappointed that I had not come up with the idea myself. This post follows the same vein.

Dan Santat’s The Adventures of Beekle – The Unimaginary Friend is a wonderfully novel concept; on an island far away, imaginary friends wait to be imagined so they can start their adventures. Beekle, however, is always left behind. What’s an unimagined imaginary friend to do?

Santat’s story is so clever. For starters, there is lateral thought put into both the illustrations and the story. A child reading this can enjoy the surface story but, for the more developed little one, there is rewarding subtext to consider and discuss.

The pictures are quirky and, at times, melancholic, but not in an off-putting way — more-so in an emotionally appropriate way. Finally, the concept is novel and makes me grumble, ‘UGH! Why didn’t I think of this?’.

This story is probably most appropriate for children ages 4-7, but I’d still recommend it to kids on either end of that because…well… it’s wonderful.

Go buy this story. It’s worth it. Meanwhile, I’ll sit here shaking my fist at yet another literary genius.

The Adventures of Beekle the Unimaginary Friend is available at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18295821-the-adventures-of-beekle.