Archive for the ‘Picture book’ Category

Weka’s Waiata and Muddle and Mo’s Rainy Day by Nikki Slade Robinson.

March 10, 2018 Comments off

wekas waiataWeka’s Waiata and Muddle and Mo’s Rainy Day by Nikki Slade Robinson. Pub. Duck Creek Press, Imprint David Ling publishing 2018.

Two picture books that show the versatility of one of New Zealand’s  best picture book writers and illustrators.

Weka’s Waiata introduces the Maori welcoming song or waiata through a story in which five weka chicks greet their grandparents or  Koro and Huia with a song that demonstrates the pronunciation of the vowels in Maori language.

Every school pupil in New Zealand knows a waiata and it is good to see picture books used to promote the Maori language.

It is little kiwi who has the idea to compose a waiata to which the chicks respond with some enthusiasm. The weka is not often written about and I would have liked to see the chicks look as much like weka as little kiwi does as a kiwi. The weka is a cool bird. Nonetheless the result is pleasing.

rainy DayMuddle & Mo’s Rainy Day is just brilliantly simple and exposes how easily people dismiss a dull day when fun could be had.

Ducks love rainy days but goats are not so enthused. “come and jump in the puddles Mo” pleads Muddle but Mo is somewhat reluctant. Goats don’t like rain.

Muddle will not let it go and shows Mo the way.  He does with great relish.In the end its the best rainy day ever.

Muddle and Mo are simply drawn with Mo’s facial expressions a highlight.


Bobby the Littlest War Hero by Glyn Harper, illus. Jenny Cooper.

March 6, 2018 Comments off

bobbyBobby the Littlest War Hero by Glyn Harper, illus. Jenny Cooper. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

Of all the animals that have assisted man during wartime, Bobby the canary, has to be the smallest.

This is about the part Bobby played for the miners who tunneled under the lines of German soldiers during the 1st World war. Bobby was used to detect gas, set up in his cage with clipped toes so that he would fall off his perch when gas was around. He saved many lives, reluctantly I would guess, and was brought back to life seven times.

This extraordinary tale is beautifully told and illustrated by the experienced and perceptive team of Harper and Cooper. The text is powerfully understated and the illustrations show the humanity and inhumanity of war at the same time.

Come ANZAC Day everybody will be reading this story. One to remember. The perfect war story for children.

Look, a Butterfly by Yasunari Murakami.

February 21, 2018 Comments off

butterflyLook, a Butterfly by Yasunari Murakami. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018.

A love of reading needs to be started early and this superb board book about colours is as good as it gets.

White butterfly flits and flutters in the blue sky and green grass. It stops on one colourful flower after another and they all open. Then it rests on a pussy cat and the cat wants to play.

Plenty here to fascinate a young reader with the colours and the shapes.

From the illustrator of 999 Tadpoles find a new Home also reviewed on this blog.

The Holidays by Blexbolex.

February 17, 2018 Comments off

holidaysThe Holidays by Blexbolex. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018.

This is a wordless picture book of novel size that tells a story of a little girl spending the end of the holidays with her grandfather. The girl likes her own space, does not like to share with others and dreams.

Then grandfather tells her to get ready because they are going to the station to meet a friend. She reluctantly goes and the gets a surprise at the friend. It is a baby elephant who is very playful and can do things that other elephants can’t do, like play tennis.

The girl resents the elephant but he really is good company and other children like him. The two fight and the elephant takes off on a stormy night putting himself in danger. The girl has cause for regret.

There is more to the story than this and each reader can read their own version into it. That is what makes it so good. Imagination!!

It is however the artwork which gives this book it’s class. It recreates the french countryside and the moods and desires of the little girl, grandfather and the elephant. Each double page is like a painting and there is a mystery. A clock appears at times showing the time but it has an extra red hand. What does this mean?

It is a superb creation from a french artist who is known throughout the world and says this a story about experience. It sure is. If it is possible to put mime on paper then this is it.

Grandma’s Special Birthday Party by Sue Kim & Veronica Yang

February 16, 2018 Comments off

grandmas birthdayGrandma’s Special Birthday Party by Sue Kim & Veronica Yang. Pub. Second Avenue Publishing, 2017.

An International picture book about traditional clothing from a number of countries and International food dishes from the same countries as a side salad.

Picture books are about pictures, mostly, and the pictures in this beautiful publication are works of art. They are almost film sets such is the detail put into them. Into these sets are put doll characters whose moods are portrayed by adjustments to the dolls eyes. Their place in the settings is almost collage like and the dresses are magnificent.

Twins Abby and Ally are in every set as are their dogs Jerry and Harry but for me Grandma with her “I’ve been here before look” takes the biscuit.

The story is about grandma’s birthday and how she always had an International day featuring dresses from a range of countries when the twins mother and aunty were little girls. Abby and Ally decide to have one on grandma’s birthday.

Good read-a-loud story for juniors but something to look at and savour for much older readers. In the back is a glossary of all the dresses from other cultures and a message that we are all starting to learn from each other and wear similar clothes. My international picture book of the year.

Check it out at

Hannibal. The camel who longed to be special by Pauline Marshall. illus. Candice Haare-Smith.

February 1, 2018 Comments off

hannibalHannibal. The camel who longed to be special by Pauline Marshall. illus. Candice Haare-Smith. Pub. 2018

Good manners dictate that one eats with ones mouth closed. Hannibal the camel doesn’t do this, no camel does. Their flubbery lips flap, their jaws swing and whatever they are eating sprays around like a sandstorm. That’s what being a camel is all about.

Hannibal is not happy with this and he wants to impress the lovely Cleo. He consults a number of others including Dugg the dung beetle, Oz the ostrich and human beings. He just makes himself look silly but he has a lot of fun doing it.

Then he discovers something about Cleo that changes everything. Read it and see what it is.

First time illustrator Candice Haare-Smith does a splendid job with acrylic and watercolour illustrations that capture the camels image and manner. The eyes are particularly important because through the eyes you can see the soul.

Lovely story about identity and individuality for juniors either to read alone or for an adult to read aloud.

Purchase on Amazon.

Erik. The lone Wolf by Sarah Finan.

January 19, 2018 Comments off

erik wolfErik. The lone Wolf by Sarah Finan. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2018.

This picture book impressed me the minute I picked it up, before I even  opened it up to see what was inside. The cover was done in a relief type of art. The title stuck out from cover you could feel it like a blind person. So did Erik with his red scarf and the mountains as well. It was lovely to rub my hands across it.

Inside the written text and illustrations did not disappoint either. I do admire author/illustrators.

It is about belonging and feeling crowded at the same time. Erik is sick of being with the pack and being told to do this and not to do that. He takes off on his own.

At first the freedom is exhilarating but then trouble, Erik is in the deep stuff. Fortunately the pack haven’t left Erik and they rescue him and he is so glad to be back. Sometimes people do not appreciate you till you’re gone and vice versa. Lots of positive messages about this work.

Great to read aloud and to read on your own. A real beauty, don’t miss this one.

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