In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the little frog finds an egg.
“That’s mine!” he says.
But the snake wants his egg, and so does the eagle, and so does the lizard…But what does the angry elephant want?
That’s Mine! by Michel Van Zeveren is a gem of a picture book that’s simple, yet surprising. You start off thinking you know where the story is going, but it veers off in a completely different direction (these are the best sorts of stories). The illustrations are bold and I love the expressions on the animals faces, especially right at the end.
The thing I like most about this book though is the text and the design. As each of the animals appears the sound they make turns into a word, like the eagle who flies in saying “Ack…ack…ack..actually it’s mine.” Children can follow the direction that each animal appears from by following the direction of the words (the hsss of the snake drops down from the top to the bottom of the page). I love the way that the text changes size depending on how loud the animal is talking and in relation to their size. On a page featuring all the animals, the text is largest for the elephant and smallest for the frog, so it’s clear that each of the animals has a different voice.
That’s Mine! is the perfect picture book for reading aloud. You can do different voices for all the animals and make it really silly. It could even be acted out in the classroom, with each child being a different animal.
4 out of 5 stars
Anton and the Battle is one of those picture books that you know is going to make kids laugh just by looking at the front cover. How can you not laugh when the two boys are swinging a cow and a cello at each other? The cover hooks you in and you want to find out what the battle is about.
The story starts with Anton and Luke arguing about which one of them is the strongest. Anton can lift a big stone, but Luke can lift an even bigger stone. They keep trying to out-do each other by proving that they’re stronger or louder or braver – until they meet a ferocious puppy.
Anton and the Battle is a wonderful story about the power of the imagination and the joy of play. Both the text and the illustrations are so simple, but really funny. Ole has coloured his two characters but left the rest of the page white so that they and their imaginations stand out. The white space allows the giant horn or the bombs to take center stage and draw the reader’s attention. The illustrations will have children laughing out loud, as Anton and Luke chase after each other with giant hammers, swing lions and tigers over their heads and get stuck up trees. The page where they are swinging lions and tigers over their heads is hilarious (just look at their faces)! I love the twist on the story when Ole throws a puppy into the mix and even when they’re stuck up a tree, they’re still trying to out-do each other.
It’s a story with lots of anticipation that keeps children guessing. Before you turn the page you could ask them what they think might happen next. Even after the story is finished you could ask children to suggest other things that Anton and Luke could battle with or ways they could show they’re stronger, louder or faster than each other. They could even draw their own Anton and Luke battle scene.
Anton and the Battle is one of Gecko Press’ first releases of 2013 and is available in libraries and bookshops now.
I love picture books that are interactive. I’m not talking about book apps, but physical books that ask the reader or the audience to do something. Not only are they fun for the audience, they’re also incredibly fun for the reader. Some of my favourite interactive picture books are the cat books by Viviane Schwarz (There Are Cats in This Book, There Are No Cats in This Book), that involve you blowing on the page to dry them off and throw balls of wool at them. I’ve just discovered a new favourite interactive picture book, called Open Very Carefully by Nicola O’Byrne and Nick Bromley.
The book starts off with the story of The Ugly Duckling, but something shows up in the story that shouldn’t be there – a really big, scary CROCODILE! It seems that this crocodile likes to eat letters, words and even whole sentences, but you’ve got to stop him before he eats the whole book. You try rocking the book backwards and forwards to make him go to sleep, and you try shaking the book to make him fall out. Will it work or will he eat the whole book?
Open Very Carefully will have adults and children in hysterics! Part of the humour of the book is in the way that you read it, putting the emphasis in the right place, and part of it is in the hilarious illustrations. At the beginning of the book the crocodile is looking very happy with himself, but that changes quite quickly when he discovers that he is wearing a very unflattering outfit. From the very first page children are engaged in the story and they’ll want to help you get rid of the crocodile. The interactive parts of the book are especially great for sharing one-on-one as these parts make children feel like they are important to the outcome of the story. The design of the book is wonderful too, especially the final pages and the back cover, which offers one final surprise for readers.
I will be reading Open Very Carefully again and again to preschoolers and school groups in my library. I’ll have to try and read it without laughing myself though.
I came across this delightful picture book last week when I was putting new books out for display. A Patch of Black is one of the best picture books I’ve seen that’s aimed at children who are scared of the dark and it’s a wonderful bedtime story. It starts with a mother and her child in the girl’s bedroom getting ready for bed. The mother says to her child,
“Don’t be afraid of the darkness, dear.
Don’t be afraid of the dark.
What can you do with a patch of black,
a moon and a silver star?
The mother then tells the child about all the different places and things she could dream about when she’s sleeping. There are pirates and mermaids, princesses and dragons, ice cream lakes and milkshake streams, and much more. The mother’s refrain is repeated throughout the book and is followed by a different dream land.
It’s a very reassuring story that will have children imagining their own dream lands. The illustrations are also reassuring and comforting, as they’re light, bright and full of excitement. If you want a bedtime story that you’ll be happy to read again and again, grab a copy of A Patch of Black by Rachel Rooney and Deborah Allwright.
Everybody loves a cute animal photo, especially when it involves baby animals. The latest picture book by Corinne Fenton is filled with extremely cute photos of baby animals and it’s perfect for sharing snuggled up with your baby.
Corinne’s lovely text is from the point of view of a parent, telling their baby just how special, precious and unique they are. I love the positive message of the text and parents will love reading it to their baby. I also really like the layout of the text on the page and the way Corinne has used different colours for the text. The text is perfectly matched with some beautiful photos of baby animals, from pigs and rabbits, to monkeys and elephants. When the text talks about eyes and ears, the photos are of baby animals with unique eyes and ears. The photos are quite extraordinary and will make you laugh (especially the monkeys holding their breath) and make you go ‘awwww’ (especially the baby elephant running along). I love that there is lots of white space so the focus of you and your baby goes straight to the animals, and that the photos are quite large and close up so that you can see the unique features of the animals.
If you’re looking for that perfect book to give to a newborn baby or for a special book to give to your own baby this Christmas you can’t go past Hey Baby! by Corinne Fenton.
Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich is one of the first three titles from new local publisher, Book Island. The books will be launched on Sunday 11 November at Raumati South Memorial Hall on the Kapiti Coast.
Sammy is a little boy with a huge appetite. The enterprising toddler feels like eating the biggest, tallest sandwich in the world, so he pulls out all the stops. The sandwich soon grows taller than he is, but fortunately there’s a ladder. Sammy saws holes through the ceilings and carries on stacking his sandwich. He can make it even higher by going through the skylight, and with the help of a crane he’s able to top off this creation with an olive and a sprig of parsley. And then … Sammy feels like having a banana.
Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich is a picture book bursting with imagination (and sandwich ingredients). Lorraine Francis’ story is simple and one that kids can relate to, but it also fires their imagination. It gets you thinking about what ingredients you would use if you were making the world’s biggest sandwich and how tall you would be able to make it without it falling down. You could have a great discussion about whether or not the different ingredients in Sammy’s sandwich would go together well.
Pieter Gaudesaboos’ illustrations are a visual delight. There is so much to look at on each page, from different types of food to the weird and wonderful objects in Sammy’s attic. The page where Sammy lays out all the ingredients for his sandwich makes my mouth water so you probably shouldn’t read this book when you’re hungry. I really like all the contraptions that Pieter has created for Sammy to help him build his monstrous sandwich, like his remote control aeroplane for spreading the bread, the fishing line for adding sprinkles to the top, and his crane to help him finish it all off. My favourite illustration is right at the end when we see the sandwich from bottom to top, and I’m sure children will gaze at it in wonder. I love the design of the book too, because it’s big and has sturdy cardboard pages. It isn’t really a board book though (in the traditional sense) because the story is aimed at preschoolers.
Both parents and children will love the ending and will want to go and help Sammy build another skyscraper sandwich. Grab a copy of Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich from your library or bookshop.