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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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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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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: 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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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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Picture Book Nook: Queen Alice’s Palaces by Juliette MacIver and Lucia Masciullo

Do picture books about princesses and queens make you want to tear your hair out?  Your little girl may like to be endlessly read stories with sparkles on every page, but if you have to read it one more time will you go insane?  Well Juliette MacIver and Lucia Masciullo have just created a picture book about a queen that adults will enjoy just as much as children.  It’s called Queen Alice’s Palaces.

Queen Alice has a palace that’s ‘gilded and grand’ while poor, hard-done-by Sir Hugh has a castle that’s ‘crumbly and small.’  Dastardly Sir Hugh hatches a plan to get his own palace – he’ll get Queen Alice to build a palace of ‘stunning design,’ then he’ll steal it, ‘by means of a military coup.’  Queen Alice constructs a series of unique palaces, made from bamboo, ice, cheese and other strange building materials.  Can she outwit Sir Hugh or will he steal his own palace?

Queen Alice’s Palaces is a rollicking picture book filled with imagination, wonder and humour.  Juliette and Lucia have let their imaginations run wild and built all sorts of wonderful, if slightly impractical, palaces.  Juliette’s rhyming text bounces along, making it a joy to read aloud.  As with Juliette’s other books (Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam), you need to warm up your mouth because you find your mouth doing gymnastics and getting tongue-tied as you read.  Just the title alone gives your mouth a good work out.  I love Juliette’s use of language too, like ‘gilded and grand’ and ‘cunning, conniving and callous.’  I think it’s wonderful when you can read a picture book and learn new and interesting words.

Lucia Masciullo’s illustrations are the perfect match for Juliette’s text.  I really love the way that she has portrayed the characters, especially the ‘cunning, conniving and callous’ Sir Hugh.  He looks very villainous and his creepy little mustache makes me laugh every time (especially when he twirls it).  He will appeal to the boys, while the very glamourous Queen Alice will appeal to the girls.  Lucia clearly had a lot of fun creating the palaces, which all look spectacular.  There is certainly plenty to discover in the illustrations on each page.

Warm up your mouth, fire up your imagination and share Queen Alice’s Palaces with the children in your life.

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Picture Book Nook: Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates

Louise Yates creates picture books that combine two of my favourite things – dogs and books.  Louise introduced us to her book-loving Dog in Dog Loves Books, and then came Dog Loves Drawing.  Dog is cute, lovable, totally addicted to books and one talented wee pooch.  Dog shows how exciting and fun reading can be.  Louise’s latest book is Dog Loves Counting and it’s an absolutely terrific book.

Dog can’t get to sleep.  He loves books so much that he just can’t stop reading.  Dog tries counting sheep, but it’s not working – perhaps there are some other creatures he can count?  Soon Dog is off on an adventure, finding friends and numbers in unexpected places.

Dog Loves Counting is a cute, funny story in which Dog takes us on a journey inside a book to help him solve his problem.  Louise had me from the first page,

‘Dog loved books.  He loved reading them late into the night and didn’t like to leave them for long.’

You immediately relate to Dog and you want him to be your best friend.  When he can’t sleep he reaches for a book and hopes that it might help.  He discovers all sorts of creatures and makes some new friends within the covers of his book.  Not only that, it also helps him with his problem of not being able to sleep.  The text is simple, yet fun and I really like the way it flows over the page.  Louise has created a sense of anticipation of what creature will be on the next page and what there will be to count.

I love Louise’s illustrations, from the loveable Dog and his stacks of books, to the multicoloured Dodo, the Three-Toed Sloth, and the Five-Lined Skink.  Each of the pages made me laugh, but I especially like the picture of Dog in bed, surrounded by sheep with books in their mouths.  The way that Louise has incorporated the numbers into the story is really clever too and it makes the story more interactive for children.  Louise has also created some stunning endpapers too that add an extra surprise to the book and incorporate numbers, stars and the creatures from the story.

Louise’s Dog books aren’t just for kids, but also for book-lovers everywhere.  In her character Louise has perfectly captured how much I love books and what makes them so special.  Grab Dog Loves Counting and Louise’s other Dog books from your library or bookshop.

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Picture Book Nook: Breakfast by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Amy Lam

Joy Cowley has written many wonderful stories throughout the years and she has created characters that children have grown up with.  I don’t think you can go through primary school in New Zealand without reading one of her junior readers or being read one of her picture books.  Clean Slate Press have published many of Joy’s stories and they’ve just released a delightful new picture by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Amy Lam, called Breakfast.

BreakfastEach morning the breakfast dishes get themselves ready for breakfast.  The jug gets all the dishes and cutlery, table and chairs ready for the noisy, messy children that come racing downstairs for breakfast.  After yet another ‘breakfast war,’ the children leave ‘jam in a puddle and milk in a pool’ as well as bent spoons and broken cups and plates.  When the children are gone, the breakfast dishes clean everything up and fly into the dishwasher with smiles on their faces.

Breakfast is a story that children (and parents) will be wishing was true.  If only all your dishes would magically transport themselves to the dishwasher when we leave the room!  Joy has taken an everyday occurrence and turned it into a magical experience.  Children will have a good giggle at the antics of the breakfast dishes, while parents will relate to the chaos of breakfast time.  It’s a simple story with rhyming text that makes it great for sharing with younger children.

Amy Lam’s soft, but colourful illustrations are the perfect match for Joy’s text.  The dishes all look happy, and even when they’ve been battered and bent, they’re ready to jump back in the dishwasher and do it all again tomorrow.  I love the cover with the splash over the title and it’s sure to stand out on the shelf.  Clean Slate Press have once again produced a beautiful hardcover picture book, with very cute end papers.

Breakfast will make a great addition to any school or home library.

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Picture Book Nook: Ted by Leila Rudge

I mentioned recently that I’m a sucker for a good dog story, so when I first saw Leila Rudge’s new picture book Ted I fell in love.  Ted, the little dog who is the subject of the story, graces the front cover in various poses wearing his little green jumper.  I knew right away that I would love Ted and you will too.

Ted is a smart dog, with his own jumper. But he has lived at the pet store for as long as he can remember and nobody seems to notice him. Will Ted ever find the perfect place to live? Ted joins the circus, enters a pet pageant, and takes a job as a guard dog, but nobody notices him.  When he least expects it, Ted gets noticed.

Ted is a superb picture book by a very talented author and illustrator.  Ted is a loveable character that children certainly will notice and want to take home. The story is great to read aloud and will have children laughing and hoping for Ted to find a home.  The illustrations are both cute and funny, with lots of quirky details that children will point out.  I particularly like where Ted puts his collar when he’s a guard dog.  The end papers even add to the story (compare the ones at the front to those at the back).

The ending of the book is absolutely hilarious and I definitely didn’t see it coming.  I thought it had all gone horribly wrong for Ted, just when things were looking up.  You’ll just have to read it to find out what happens.

Ted is the perfect book to snuggle up with and share before bed on a cold Winter’s night, so grab a copy from your library or bookshop now.

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Jez Alborough reads Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile

Jez Alborough is the creator of some wonderful picture books, including the classic Duck in the Truck.  I am a huge fan of his books, with their bouncy, rhyming text and bright, cheery illustrations.  Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile is his latest book and the first in a fantastic new series.  I’ve been following the creation of Nat the Cat through Jez’s Facebook page.  It’s really interesting to see the steps of putting a picture book together and the different stages of the illustrations.

Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile is available now in NZ from Random House.

Watch the video below to see and hear Jez reading Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile and singing the song from the book.

 

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