Category Archives: picture books

Picture Book Nook: Toucan Can by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis

Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis are incredibly talented in their own rights, but when they combine their talents they create magic.  Juliette and Sarah have previously worked together on the wonderful Marmaduke Duck books for Scholastic, and when I heard they were collaborating on a new picture book for Gecko Press I knew it was going to be a great book.  In their new picture book for Gecko Press, Toucan Can, Juliette and Sarah introduce us to a very colourful and talented Toucan.

Toucan can do lots of things!

Toucan dances!

Toucan sings!

Toucan bangs a frying pan!

Can you do what Toucan can?

 

Toucan Can is one of my favourite picture books of the year.  It’s got all the ingredients of a wonderful picture book.  Juliette MacIver’s delightful text will tangle your tongue and trip-up your lips, and once you get going you just can’t stop.  Toucan certainly can do lots of things but I’d like to see him try to read this book perfectly without tripping up.  Sarah Davis’ illustrations are absolutely stunning and they make the colourful characters jump off the page.  I love Sarah’s style of illustration because you can see each brush stroke and pencil line, and the colours she uses are so rich.  I really like the layered effect that Sarah has used in these illustrations.  The further back the animals are in the illustration, the more faded and washed out they are.  The expressions on the animals faces are also delightful.  Toucan especially has lots of different expressions, from ecstatically happy as he dances to slightly worried when he’s asked ‘Can Toucan do what YOU can do?’

One of the things I like the most about Toucan Can is that it addresses the reader and engages you.  You’re asked ‘Can you do what Toucan can?’ and Juliette suggests there are many things that you can do that Toucan can not.  Sarah’s illustrations also bring the focus back to the reader.  As Toucan and his friends dance, juggle, flip and flop, they’re looking out at you from the page.

Everyone should go out and grab a copy of Toucan Can to treasure and read again and again.  It is certain to add colour and laughter to your life and will have you dancing along with Toucan and his friends.

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Picture Book Nook: Machines and Me series by Catherine Foreman

Catherine Foreman, author and
illustrator of the award-winning picture book, The
Cat’s Pyjamas
, has just released the first two books
in her fantastic new series, Machines and
Me
, with Scholastic NZ. Machines
and Me
is a series of four picture books that each
focus on a different machine. The first two books (out now)
are Planes and
Tractors, with
Boats and
Trains coming soon.

I absolutely love these books!
They’re bright and bold, so will appeal to very young
children. Every page is colourful and the machines really
stand out on the page. The text is simple but has a really
nice rhythm to it. The thing I like the most about these
books though is that they are perfectly suited to the age group.
Catherine Foreman gives a simple
explanation of what each machine does and how it works, but she
does so in a fun way. I also really like Catherine’s design
of the books, with the text following the direction of the machines
and matching the size of the machines. I’m always looking for great
books to share with babies and their parents at our sessions in the
library and these books are perfect. They’re large and the
illustrations are vibrant so they can be seen from further
away. The simple, rhyming text makes them perfect to read
aloud to a large group too. Get your hands on a copy of the first
two Machines and Me books,
Tractors and
Planes
, and keep an eye out for Boats
and Trains, coming soon
to a bookshop and library near you. They’re a must for any
home library and would be an absolute hit in preschools.

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Herve Tullet reads Help! We Need a Title

Help! We Need a Title is the latest book from Herve Tullet, the creator of innovative picture and board books, including Press Here. Help! We Need a Title is a very cool new picture book that would be great to read aloud as a team.  Grab a copy from your library now and help the characters with their book.

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Win a picture book pack from Scholastic NZ

Scholastic New Zealand are publishing some wonderful new picture books in July, including books about birds, dinosaur dads, and a retelling of a piggy tale.  The best part is that they’re all by New Zealand authors and illustrators!  I’ll be reviewing them here on the blog throughout the month, but here’s your chance to get your hands on them.

Thanks to Scholastic NZ I have a pack of their wonderful new picture books to give away. The pack includes a copy of One Little Fantail by Anne Hunter and Dave Gunson, My Dinosaur Dad by Ruth Paul, and The Three Little Pigs retold and illustrated by Gavin Bishop.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Debbe.

 

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Picture Book Nook: The Green Bath by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Steven Kellogg

It has been almost a year since one of our most treasured authors, Margaret Mahy, passed away.  Since her passing there have been three wonderful new Margaret Mahy stories published.  This month, Scholastic are publishing another new Margaret Mahy story, The Green Bath, illustrated by one of Margaret’s previous collaborators, Steven Kellog.

Sammy likes to have adventures of all sorts, but he could never have imagined the adventures that he would have when his father brings home a big, green bath.  When Sammy takes a bath to clean up for his grandma’s visit, the bath escapes from his house with Sammy inside.  The bath takes Sammy on an adventure on the seven seas, with mermaids, a sea serpent and pirates.

The Green Bath is a wonderfully-wacky Margaret Mahy story that will have kids imagining their own bath-time adventures.  Margaret has let her imagination run wild with this story of a boy who’s bath tub comes to life.  The story is full of Margaret’s wonderful language and characteristic wordplay.  I especially like ‘ Sammy bewildered them with bubbles and baffled them with soapsuds,’ and the way that she describes the buccaneers as ‘beaten, bubbling and blustering.’  Steven Kellog’s illustrations are delightfully silly and perfect for this watery, bubble-filled adventure.

The Green Bath is the perfect bedtime book to share with your children, especially just after a bath.  Just don’t go reading it before bath-time or you might find your bathroom covered in water and bubbles!

 

 

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Picture Book Nook: One Little Fantail by Anne Hunter, illustrated by Dave Gunson

There are some wonderful books that have been published about New Zealand birds, especially Ben Brown and Helen Taylor’s picture books.  There are very few, however, that are perfect for younger children and wonderful to read aloud.  One Little Fantail by Anne Hunter and illustrated by Dave Gunson is one of those books that entertains and informs young children about New Zealand birds.

One Little Fantail is a collection of delightful rhymes that introduce children to a variety of our native birds.  Anne Hunter’s rhyming text is a joy to read aloud and each poem rolls off your tongue.  I love the way that Anne can describe so much about each bird’s characteristics in just eight lines. The short, rhyming text makes the book perfect for sharing with younger children, as they don’t get bogged down in detail. You could get children to pretend to be each bird, based on the description that Anne gives you of each one.  For those inquisitive children, there are more interesting facts about each bird in the ‘Did you know…’ pages at the back of the book.

Each double page spread features a different bird, with their name in English and Maori.  Dave Gunson’s realistic illustrations are stunning and he perfectly captures the characteristics of each bird.  He captures the mischief of the Kea, the flitting of the Fantail, and the fierceness of the Kahu.

Book Design have done a brilliant job of designing One Little Fantail.  I especially like the way that the names of the birds fade into the background, while also being quite prominent on the page, and the way that the sounds each bird makes stands out in bold lettering.

One Little Fantail is a book should be in every preschool and school around the country.  Grab a copy and introduce your children to our magnificent native birds.

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Picture Book Nook: Henry’s Map by David Elliot

Henry is a very particular sort of pig, who believes there’s ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’  But when he looks out the window, he’s troubled.  The farm is a mess! How will anybody find anything? Henry comes up with a plan.  He’ll draw a map!  Follow Henry and his friends through the farm as he draws the map.  Will this sort everything out?

Henry’s Map is a very funny picture book that’s full of surprises.  I started reading it thinking it was going to be a pretty straight-forward story, but David Elliot had me laughing out loud as the story took an unexpected turn.  It’s so much fun to read aloud, because you naturally speed-up the second part of the story as the animals are all rushing around.

The animals all have quite unique personalities so you can’t help but do different voices for each one.  Henry the very organised pig is a cute wee guy who kids will love.  He proudly clutches his map and shows it off to the other animals on the farm, but he gets quite flustered when he thinks that it’s all wrong.

David’s illustrations are superb and his characters are very animated.  The sheep are bursting with energy, the chickens are all in a flap, and the horse is galloping full-pelt down the hill.  One moment they full of delight and the next they’re full of worry.

Grab a copy of Henry’s Map by one of our most talented author/illustrators, David Elliot.

 

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Shuan Tan talks about Rules of Summer

I’m a huge Shaun Tan fan so I really can’t wait until October when Shaun’s latest picture book is released. The sample illustrations that have been released look amazing and it sounds like another wonderful Shaun Tan book.

Rules of Summer is available in New Zealand from 8th October 2013.

Check out the Rules of Summer website – www.rulesofsummer.com.au

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The 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards winners

The finalists in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards gathered in Christchurch last night for the awards ceremony. The awards night is always themed and this year the organisers went for a ‘Witch in the Cherry Tree’ theme in honour of Margaret Mahy.  The book of the year was also renamed the ‘New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year’ this year.  I was  nervous myself, hoping that my favourites would take out the award, so I’m sure the authors and illustrators themselves were incredibly nervous.  Overall, I was pleased to see a couple of my favourites win awards, but I was disappointed that others missed out.  I think that Red Rocks and The Nature of Ash are amazing books and if I could give Rachael and Mandy an award I would.

Read below to find out who won each category, as well as the Honour Book and Children’s Choice Award.

Best Young Adult Fiction and New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year

Into the River by Ted Dawe

Best Non-Fiction

100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa by Simon Morton & Riria Hotere

Best Junior Fiction

My Brother’s War by David Hill

Honour award, Junior Fiction

The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania series by Barbara Else

Best Picture Book

Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy & Gavin Bishop

Best First Book

Reach by Hugh Brown

Children’s Choice

Melu by Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo & John O’Reilly, Scholastic NZ

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Picture Book Nook: Luther and the Cloud-makers by Kyle Mewburn and Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson

What would you do if a choking, thick, black cloud of pollution covered your home?  Would you sit back, worrying, and wait for it to go away and for someone else to sort it out, or would you want to find a solution?  In Kyle Mewburn and Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson’s new picture book, Luther and the Cloud-makers, this is the issue that Luther and his family face.

At the end of a wide, green valley lies a secret village, full of laughter and singing…until one day the clouds come.  As the clouds gather, turning day to night, Luther sets out to find the cloud-makers and make them stop, before it’s too late.  He meets many cloud-makers along the way, but can he convince them to see the error in their ways?

LutherLuther and the Cloud-makers is a powerful story with an ecological theme, about a boy who stands up for what he believes in.  It shows children that even one small act can make change happen and make the future brighter.  When everyone in his village is sitting around feeling sorry for themselves, Luther decides to do something about the problem and make the cloud-makers stop.  It’s a unique take on the ecological and environmental theme that will entertain and educate readers.

The story is full of Kyle Mewburn’s characteristic word-play and he paints a vivid picture with his language.  I love the way he describes the air in the valley as ‘so fresh your skin soaked it up like an old, dry sponge dropped in the sea,’ and he describes the pollution cloud as ‘tongue-tingling, nose-crinkling.’  Kyle makes the cloud-makers sound so menacing by using words like ‘rumbling,’ ‘belching, booming,’ ‘roaring’ and ‘crackling.’

Sarah Nelisiwe Annderson’s illustrations for Luther and the Cloud-makers are superb and really suit the tone of the story.   I love the way that Sarah has contrasted the colours throughout the book.  At the beginning of the book there are lots of bright and vibrant blues and greens to highlight how clean and fresh the village is.  Then the oozing black clouds appear and bring darkness to the landscape.  When Luther meets the cloud-makers Sarah has used lots of red, orange and black to highlight the danger and evil nature of the cloud-makers and their pollution.  When he finally gets to the city, almost all colour has disappeared, to be replaced by grey and black.  It’s on the last few pages that Sarah gives your eyeballs a wake-up call.  One of the things I really like about Sarah’s illustrations is the way that she frames them and uses different panels on the page.  One of my favourite examples of this in the book is when everything goes dark in the village and the animals become confused.  This style will certainly appeal to older children who like graphic novels.  I’d actually really like to read a graphic novel (or even a wordless picture book) written by Sarah.

Luther and the Cloud-makers is a wonderful picture book to read to children young and old, and it’s a must-have book for teachers.

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