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

A delicious metafiction treat. Om nom nom!

This book just ate my dog!This book is really entertaining. I love me some good ol’ fashioned metafiction and this fits the bill nicely. Bella is walking her dog when something very odd happens. The book she is in eats her dog! In reality, we see that her dog has disappeared into the gutter of a double page spread (the gutter is the centre crease where the two pages meet). Well what’s a little girl to do?! Try and find help of course! But retrieving the dog isn’t going to be as easy as Bella hopes.

I adore that this book embraces the shape and feel of a book and utilises these aspects to engage the reader. It’s not a complicated story, but it sure is a fun one. Funny thing though — this book is available on e-readers whereas other books that don’t involve the feel and shape of a physical book as part of the storyline are not. Isn’t that a little quirky? But everything about this book is. If you enjoy some silly interaction and an uncomplicated story, this one is worth your time.

You can grab a copy for yourself at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20518873-this-book-just-ate-my-dog. The book is written and illustrated by Richard Byrne and published by Henry Holt and Co. I’d recommend this one for kids 3-7.

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#

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

A sweet story for the sentimental reader.

You Are My I Love YouYou Are My I Love You, written by Maryann Cusimano Love and illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa, is sugary from start to finish. I like this sort of story. Then again, I’m endlessly sappy which means You Are My I Love You is already three steps ahead in my book (pun totally intended).

The rhyming verse follows an ‘I am; You are’ pattern. For example, “I am your dinner; you are my chocolate cake. I am your bedtime; you are my wide awake.” The illustrations depict an adult bear with a little teddy as they experience the daily joys of parent-child interaction.

Love (it’s like she was born to write this particular story) has chosen her words carefully and well. Sometimes silly, sometimes serious, every page evokes a particular memory and moment as I read it. The rhyming scheme is also easy on the ears for my nearly-two-year-old.

I appreciate that the parent-figure is wearing blue clothing. This means that the figure is neutral enough that it could be a parent or caregiver from either gender. This is important because most I Love You stories seem to focus on the intimate moments with mum. This one allows for dad (or other) to read it too, and leaves room for discussion without having to respond to comments like, “but isn’t that his mummy?”

You Are My I Love You, published by Penguin Group, is recommended for children (and sappy parents) 3-5.

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).