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
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.
Children love singing and dancing to songs like ‘The Wheels on the Bus,’ ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm,’ and ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It.’ In the last few years there have been a number of books, based on these action songs, that have been given a Kiwi twist. Donovan Bixley’s The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald’s Farm, and Do Your Ears Hang Low by The Topp Twins and Jenny Cooper, are recent favourites of mine. Scholastic New Zealand, along with Kiwi entertainer Pio Terei and illustrator Stevie Mahardhika, have just released a Kiwi version of ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It,’ called If You’re a Kiwi and You Know It!
They have taken the original action song and given it a Kiwi twist by adding in some of our wonderful wildlife. Kids can join in the song and dig for worms like a kiwi, dive and play like a dolphin, strut around like a pukeko, slither away like an eel, and many more. The actions are easy to do and you can have a lot of fun pretending to be different creatures. Stevie Mahardhika’s illustrations are beautiful and they get funnier as you go through the book. I love how each of the animals pretends to be a different animal (the kiwi and pukeko trying to dive like a dolphin and flap their flippers like a seal are absolutely hilarious!).
The book comes with a great CD of Pio Terei singing the song (and just the guitar accompaniment), as well as a Te Reo Maori version of the song. Thank you so much Scholastic New Zealand for including the Te Reo version of the song on the CD and for including the Te Reo lyrics in the back of the book (rather than as a separate book). This is a godsend for librarians like myself who will use this book and CD in their preschool sessions in the library, and for parents all over the country. We certainly need more bilingual books of this quality. Get a copy of If You’re a Kiwi and You Know It! from your library or bookshop now, and sing and dance along with our wonderful wildlife.
4 out of 5 stars
I love both stories about war and stories about animals, which is my I love Michael Morpurgo. Most of his stories are about war or animals and sometimes both. His latest book is called Little Manfred and it’s about war, and a dog that sparks the memories of an old man.
It’s the summer of 1966 and Charley and her little brother, Alex, are walking their dog Manfred on the beach by their home when they notice two old men staring out to sea. When the two men discover that their dog is called Manfred, this sparks the memories of Walter and he tells the children about his experiences during World War II. Through Walter’s story, Charley and Alex learn about their mother’s past and her connection to Manfred, a German prisoner of war who was posted at her farmhouse when she was a little girl.
Michael Morpurgo has woven another amazing story of friendship, bravery, and forgiveness that transported me to another time and another place. Whenever I read a Michael Morpurgo book it’s almost as if he is sitting on my couch or in the library beside me, telling me the story, because I can hear his voice in my head. If you’ve ever seen one of his videos of him reading you’ll know that he’s got the perfect storytelling voice. Michael Foreman’s illustrations, once again, perfectly match the story because they can be bright and happy or dark and gloomy. I think Michael Morpurgo’s books are perfect for anyone and if you haven’t read any of his books, Little Manfred is a great one to start with.
Recommended for 7+ 10 out of 10
If you want to know more about the story and find out what Michael Morpurgo’s inspiration was, you can read about it on the Guardian Children’s Books website.