Tag Archives: picture books

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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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: 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: Wonderful new picture books from Nosy Crow

Nosy Crow are one of my favourite publishers of picture books.  Their picture books are quirky, funny, and they look stunning! They’re the sort of picture books that you’re happy to read to your kids again and again, because you love them as much as they do.  Here are three of my recent favourites from Nosy Crow.  You have to go and get these from your library or bookshop and read them right now.

Weasels by Elys Dolan

Weasels – what do they do all day? Eat nuts and berries? Frolic in leaves? Lurk in the dark? Argue with squirrels? Hide in their weasel holes? Well, all these are wrong. What they really do is . . . plot world domination. Find out how their dastardly plans are foiled in this hilarious, off-the-wall debut picture book from a shiny new star in the children’s book firmament, Elys Dolan.

It’s almost impossible to put into words how original and witty this book is: imagine spoof James Bond meets Scaredy Squirrel if you can. It’s packed with cross-over humour to amuse kids and big kids too. The art is stylish yet accessible and full of details for poring over time and time again – there’s always a new joke to find! And there are machines and maps and even a laboratory . . . oh, and lots of lots of weasels.

Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson

Timothy Limpet feels out of place in the troll family – he likes things to be just so, and most trolls, frankly, don’t. Tabitha Lumpit likes things to be loud, loopy and messy and she feels a fish out of water in her very neat family. Sometimes they wonder if their families really see them for who they are, so when Timothy and Tabitha meet on the bridge they decide each other’s family is a better fit and they swap places . . . with hilarious and touching results.

Based around the time-honoured theme of home is where the heart is, this warm and witty story is a celebration of the individual and offers a valuable lesson on not judging others.

Check out Leigh Hodgkinson’s other hilarious picture book from Nosy Crow, Goldilocks and Just the One Bear.

Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt, illustrated by Sarah Massini

A joyful celebration of the physical book in all its glory! For the very young, books can be anything – from a chair, to a tower, to a hat – but the best thing they can be . . . is a book… and it’s never too soon to share a good book with your little ones.

The simple text, written by debut author Jane Blatt is brought to life by Sarah Massini’s delightful and nostalgic illustrations of babies and toddlers discovering the new, magical world of books.

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Picture Book Nook: Bang by Leo Timmers

I’ve been a huge fan of Leo Timmers ever since Gecko Press first introduced us to his work when they published Who’s Driving? Each book of Leo’s that Gecko publishes seems to be funnier and more clever than the last.  Leo’s latest book from Gecko, Bang, is his best yet.

Bang is virtually wordless but Leo Timmers proves that you don’t need words to tell a hilarious story.  It all starts with a book-loving deer who is driving his car while reading.  Everyone knows that’s a bad idea and that it’s not going to end well.  What starts off with one ‘Bang,’ quickly escalates into a multi-vehicle pile-up, with animals, food, clothes, and paint ending up in one huge mess.

I absolutely love this book!  Leo brings his characters to life in his characteristic, vibrant illustrations.  I love how each of the animals have their own distinct personality and a vehicle that seems to be a perfect match for them and their outfit.  The cat has a very small, pink car and the rabbit has a very long car to fit all her children. Leo’s characters also have very expressive faces that portray all sorts of emotions throughout the story, from the horrified expression of the pig before he crashes, to the stressed expression of the mother rabbit.

There is a wonderful sense of anticipation throughout the whole book.  Each time a new character crashes you wonder what effect it will have on the other characters, and it often has unexpected results.  The sign of a excellent picture book is being able to turn the page and not know what will happen next.    Just when you think you know how the story will end, Leo surprises you.  Each time you read the book you’re bound to find some quirky detail you didn’t see last time.

The book has been beautifully produced by Gecko Press, with delightful end-papers and the wonderful fold-out page right at the end.  One of the reasons I love Gecko Press picture books is that they produce beautiful hard-back editions that will be treasured for many years, and this book is no exception.

Bang is a picture book that adults will love just as much as children and you’ll want to read it again and again. Thank you Gecko Press for bringing us the magic of Leo Timmers!

Win a copy of Bang

Thanks to Gecko Press I have a copy of Bang to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Friday 10 May (NZ only).

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2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Finalist: Melu by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly

Melu by Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo and John O’Reilly is a finalist in the Picture Book category of the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  I’m a huge fan of Kyle Mewburn’s and I love Ali and John’s illustrations.  It’s a wonderful picture book and I’m glad to see it as a finalist.  I reviewed it in April last year,  so if you want to hear all about it and find out what makes it such a worthy finalist, read on.

Have you ever felt like you don’t quite belong?  Have you ever wanted to just stop doing the same old boring thing, day in, day out and go off in search of something better?  If you answered yes to these questions then Melu by Kyle Mewburn, and illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly is the perfect book for you.

Melu is a mule who lives with the rest of his herd, high up in the sun-baked hills, on a rocky island floating in a glittering green sea.  They’ve always clip-clop around the hills in the same direction, but Melu is different.  He doesn’t clip-clop, he clop-clips, and he imagines himself galloping across fields and splashing in the sea.  One day Melu decides to go off in search of the fields and the sea.  Along the way he meets Goat and Bull who are different just like him and they join him in his search.

Melu is an absolute winner!  The story is full of Kyle Mewburn’s witty humour and it’s a real joy to read.  Kids will identify with Melu because he’s different and full of dreams.  Kyle uses lots of descriptive language, like splashing and glittering, which make the story fun to read, and I love the way each of the animals talk (they each have their own voices in my head).  Ali Teo and John O’Reilly’s illustrations are bold and really make Kyle’s character’s shine.  They’re quite simple illustrations but the character’s faces and body language are so expressive.  My favourite illustration is near the end when they’re in the sea because they’re just so happy.  Not only is Melu a fun story with wonderful illustrations, it also shows children (and adults) that it’s OK to be different and stand out from the crowd.

5 out of 5 stars

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Picture Book Nook: Bad Dog Flash by Ruth Paul

I’m a sucker for a good dog story, especially when it features a very cute dog who you can’t help but love.  Bad Dog Flash is New Zealand author and illustrator Ruth Paul’s dog story.  Like her previous books, including the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards finalist book, Stomp, Ruth has proven that she can tell a fun and entertaining story using very few words and her delightful illustrations.

Bad Dog Flash is the story of a playful puppy whose games keep getting him in to trouble.  Whether it’s chasing the cat, digging a hole in the garden to hide his bone or chasing the washing on the line, he always gets told off.  However, as all dog lovers know, you can only be angry with your dog for so long, and then it’s back to giving them lots of love and affection.

Bad Dog Flash is a wonderful picture book, full of mischief and humour.  It certainly has the cute factor because I just want to pick the wee guy up and give him a cuddle.  Ruth Paul’s illustrations are soft, making Flash look fluffy and adorable, but she’s also given him loads of character.  Ruth has made Flash bouncy and full of energy (as all puppies are) and you can tell by the expression on his face and the curl of his tail that he’s happy.  Flash also has a really good guilty face.  You can tell by the way that Ruth has illustrated Flash and his actions that she is a dog person.  The way that Flash plays with his stick and the shoes is absolutely spot on.

The thing that I love the most about Ruth’s books is the way that she can tell such a wonderful story with so few words.  The text on the pages with Flash and his stick is ‘Push stick, poke stick…chew stick, chuck stick…’  Ruth could have used more words, but these eight words work so well just by themselves.  All you need are these action words and you can fill in the rest yourself.

The rhythm and rhyme of the text make the story a lot of fun to read aloud and I’m sure you’ll find the children joining in with you as repeat ‘Bad dog, Flash!’ Grab a copy of Bad Dog Flash from your library or bookshop and meet this loveable little troublemaker.

 

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Picture Book Nook: Two DINO-tastic new picture books

Scholastic have just released two great new dinosaur picture books for the young dinosaur fan in your life, Dino Bites! by Algy Craig Hall and Dinosaurs in the Supermarket by Timothy Knapman and Sarah Warburton.

Dino BitesDino Bites! by Algy Craig Hall is like a dinosaur version of There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.  It starts with ‘This is the dinosaur looking for lunch.  This is the lunch looking for a snack…’ and continues on with smaller dinosaurs each time, all looking for something to eat.  However, their food is still buzzing and wriggling inside their tummies and with one big BURP everything is back in order.  The story is simple enough for even the smallest dinosaur fan to enjoy and the illustrations are appealing because they’re bright and bold.  The front cover is sure to jump out at children, with the big T-Rex with its mouth open wide.

Dinosaurs in the Supermarket by Timothy Knapman and Sarah Warburton will appeal to dinosaur fans young and old.  I’m sure it’s almost every kid’s fantasy to meet an actual dinosaur, but what would happen if you went shopping with your mum and dinosaurs were everywhere? The boy in the story sees a ‘T-Rex gobbling sausages…Stegosaurus spilling beans…and Apatosaurs chucking frozen peas,’ but when he tries to show his mum, the dinosaurs hide.  It’s not long before the dinosaurs have created a huge mess, but the boy gets the dinosaurs to play a game of Supermarket Clean-up.  Dinosaur fans will recognise their favourite types of dinosaurs in the story and will have fun trying to find the dinosaurs in their hiding places.  The rhyming text is fun to read and the illustrations will have kids in stitches.  Sarah Warburton has obviously had a lot of fun creating havoc with her dinosaurs on the page and making a huge mess of the supermarket.

It’s always exciting to discover new dinosaur books because they’re always so popular with young readers.  I highly recommend both of these picture books and I know they will have children laughing (and roaring) along with the story.

 

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Picture Book Nook: Anton and the Battle by Ole Konnecke

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.

 

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Picture Book Nook: Open Very Carefully by Nicola O’Byrne and Nick Bromley

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.

 

 

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