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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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

 

 

Ever so often, you’ll come across a picture book that makes you want to be a better writer.

jessica's boxJessica’s Box, written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas, is one of these inspiring treats. The story is about a little girl starting at a new school and she is trying to dream up effective ways of making friends. The story was shortlisted in 2008 for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and was listed as a ‘Notable Book’ by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. It’s easy to see why.

This story is touching and very real; it accurately captures the nerves and the dread that one can feel in this sort of situation. It is also pretty accurate about the attitude of the children. You’re rooting for Jessica all along, and you can see what she’s doing and why it won’t work, but she has to discover this for herself.

The end is touching and beautiful and makes me want to go write. Jessica’s Box is for the adults and the kiddies. Children will likely relate to the emotions that Jessica is experiencing, and adults will enjoy teaching their children about their children’s worth whilst reading beautiful writing. The illustrations are fun and thought provoking and they match the feel of the text perfectly.

I cannot recommend this one enough. Do yourself a favour and have a look. You can find it at http://newfrontier.com.au/books/jessicas-box/233.html.

‘Wuthering Heights’ board book, you say?! Read on…

ImageThe squeal I emitted when I came across this book would have been embarrassing, were I not busy hyperventilating from excitement. There is a set of board books, aimed at babies, which have been appropriated from the classics. The one I purchased was Wuthering Heights – A Weather Primer, by Jennifer Addams, illus by Alison Oliver.

Each book is focused on teaching bubs something by using descriptions from the classic story on which the book is based. For example, in the Wuthering Heights book, the ‘Breezy’ page describes the weather as “…sweet and warm.” So evocative and fun. I think this is a really great concept. The illustrations, too, are unique and engaging.

Other books in the series include Moby-Dick – An Ocean Primer and Jane Eyre – A Counting Primer (both by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver). In case you are interested, you can go check them out here: http://www.babylit.com/about/. Go on, you know you want to!