My Dog Mouse by Eva Lindstrom. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.
If you have ever been able to count the number of teeth in a dogs mouth while it yawns then you are probably dealing with an old dog. Mouse is an old dog with thin droopy ears who is a little over weight and moves real slow.
The little girl with the androgynous hairstyle loves the old dog and always asks the owner if she can take him for a walk.
Wearing her flared green dress with black tights and her back pack she takes Mouse for a walk around the block, through the park, right turn and home again.
They both love it and are clearly comfortable together. This is the way it should be.
“I wish Mouse was mine” the little girl says after dropping him off. The last page will put a lump in your throat. Don’t miss this one. Great for studying pets and reading aloud to juniors.
The illustrations are laid back. Easy autumnal water colours accompanied with pencil etchings. The illustrations also make social commentary – the supermarket trolley left behind, the cigarette butts on the ground outside for smokers.
Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts. Ten Tales from the Deep Dark Woods by Craig Phillips. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.
The telling of stories of myths and legends was the reason the storyteller had the best seat by the fire. Here are ten myths legends and fairy tales from nine different cultures that talk about all the mythical creatures mentioned in the title.
Most of the stories you will know already although there was one I hadn’t heard of and it is a beauty. From Sweden is The Boy Who Was Never Afraid. He goes looking for his cow that was stolen by a an old Troll. Who hasn’t? he can’t afford to be afraid and after confronting bravely some formidable opponents he gets his cow back and becomes a hero at the same time. Brilliant.
You get Irish giant Finn McCool, Russian with Baba Yaga and Momotaro the peach boy plus others. You can’t beat that.
What makes these tales more accessible than they were before is the fact they are written in wide screen comic book illustrations that bring life to the tales. Visual readers will really get into these and so they should.
Less than 30 bucks will get you this impressive book that will appeal to reluctant readers and good readers alike. High boy appeal.
Waiting for Goliath by Antje Damn. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.
The surprise factor in a children’s picture book is a big plus as far as I am concerned and this book from German author Antje Dam has it.
When one considers Goliath, certain giant like images come to mind. Wait till you see him.
Bear is loyal, trusting and patient. He knows Goliath is coming and is prepared to wait a year for him to come. So bear sits on his bench, hibernates then wakes to greet Goliath. As he does so the seasons pass.
Unique diorama like illustrations with rich coloured backgrounds show the seasons passing. The written dialogue as other animals tell bear that Goliath isn’t coming is short and sharp. Bear will not be deterred.
Good read-a-loud for juniors and pleasurable for newly confident readers. Adults will have a smile or two as well. A quality publication.
Moa by James Davidson. Pub. Earths End, 2017.
A comic book story in 5 parts concerning two Moa Rangers Possum von Tempsky and Kiwi Pukupuku. Both ride Moas and are sort of watchdogs cum cultural police cum super heroes who wander round NZ’s bush and seashore sorting out the bad dudes including tough looking pigs, stags and lizards. All the local population are kiwis.
Their adventures fringe onto Maori legends including Hatupatu and the Birdwoman and of course Maui. There is a story of the largest Kauri tree that bushmen want to cut down. Everytime they try it is restored again as it is protected by a Mauri stone.
The last story which is not finished is a serial story concerning the theft of Maui’s magic jaw bone by Otto who wants to use it to fish for his own land and conquer the World. You will need to get the next part to find out how it ends.
Comic book illustrations with speech bubbles from the characters. Lots of action and tongue in cheek humour without offending the cultural aspects.
Another example of the changing way Maori legends and culture are proceeding to appeal to modern kids. I like the movement.
Yousuf’s Everyday Adventures: Beautifully Different by Dana Salim, illus. Pavel Goldaev. Pub. firstname.lastname@example.org
Taylor Swift once said “if you have the good fortune to be different don’t ever change“. This is very much the theme of this positive picture book about difference.
The book opens with this line- “Daddy, some of the kids in my class are different than me. Why is that? Why can’t we all be the same?”
Then we go on a fantasy adventure that involves travel to a land where the flowers are attacked by weeds and unite together to defeat them. The message is difference is beautiful.
The illustrations are bright, large and colourful. They start with a father and son both with big expressive eyes who go on an Imagination Time Travel game and it ends with a positive lesson.
A picture book with International appeal for primary school children and probably best read aloud to a class or individuals.
If I Had an Elephant by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones. Pub. Scholastic, 2017.
The imagination of a child is limitless and this team of Terry Jones, Richard Fairgray and colourist Tara Black exploit the desire of a young boy to have an elephant to the fullest.
A young boy hanging upside down from his bunk bed looks at a picture of an elephant on his wall and proclaims “I wish I had an elephant”. If he had one he would never have to ask for a cookie again and he’d win every water fight. he would get the best seats at the circus and could build a time machine and visit elephant’s grear great great….grandfather.
But he doesn’t get an elephant for his birthday but what he does get inspires his imagination further.
Simple text in large black font make easy reading but it is the illustrations that blow your mind. The elephant has expressive eyes and the boy has bewilderment and joy all over his face.
The colouring is superb and not a page is wasted.The front inside cover has the shadow of an elephant hanging over a pit of peanuts and it finishes on the back cover with a contented elephant who clearly has had his fill.
A joyous and imaginative picture book for everybody.
Spy Toys by Mark Powers, illus. Tim Weeson. Pub. Bim UK imprint Allen&Unwin, 2017
I am very impressed with this new series that is designed for reluctant readers both boys and girls of primary/intermediate age.
In a phrase it is like the cartoon network without the cartoons. Bizarre, witty with a tight and sharp dialogue exchange between the highly imaginative characters.
The plot and characters revolve around rejected and defective high tech toys from the Snaztacular Ultrafun toy factory. Dan is a cuddly bear who is so strong he can crush a tractor with his cuddles, Arabella, a rag doll with an attitude to burn and sympathy for no-one and Flax a highly aggressive rabbit with a down beat wit.
The toys are all discarded because they are defective but escape into the World and are captured then hired by Auntie Roz from the Department of Secret Affairs to bodyguard the Prime Ministers son from Rusty Flumptrunk a very bad half Elephant half human nasty.
Brilliant stuff with Tim Weeson’s animation filling in the gaps.
I was spellbound and read the short book in one sitting with a smile all over my face. It is great.The first chapter about Dan is called If Hugs Could kill and it sets the tone of the book immediately. Big font makes reading easy.
If you want your reluctant readers particularly boys to read, these are a great start.