Archive for the ‘Picture book’ Category

Home Child by Dawn McMillan, illus. Trish Bowles.

April 9, 2019 Comments off

home childHome Child by Dawn McMillan, illus. Trish Bowles. Pub. Oratia Books, 2019.

This is the picture book story of Pat Brown, one of the children that Britain gave away in the 1950,s because of poverty or because they were orphans.

Many of these children had sad lives, sometimes abused and often unloved. Several hundred came to New Zealand and while Pat Brown had many sad moments  she was one of the lucky ones who had a happy life.

Dawn McMillan enhances Pat’s story of how she and her two brothers and sisters caught the boat from England, through the Panama Canal to the strange wooded hillsides of Wellington. Then a trip across Cook Strait and bus ride to Nelson. There Pat and Sheila were separated from Bill and Alma who were fostered elsewhere.

Pat tells the story to her granddaughter and there is a big surprise at the end. Read it and see what it is.

Trish Bowles captures every emotion in her illustrations. The sadness and tears of leaving home, the ship voyage out to NZ, the fun on board ship, the tragic separation of the children, the first day at school and the surprise ending.

A classy publication for everybody. Very moving.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,

Little Frida by Anthony Browne

April 6, 2019 Comments off

Little fridaLittle Frida by Anthony Browne. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

A new Anthony Browne picture book is something to savour, and this one about the young Frida Kahlo is a beauty.

Frida was only 6 years old when she contracted polio. It was painful and made her different from other children. She felt lonely and an outsider and when she dreamed she dreamed of flying.

She retreated into her imagination and flew away meeting a girl who was just like her, except she could dance. Frida told her all her secrets, she listened and they became the closest of friends. She knew she could visit her whenever she wanted and she did.

Brilliant story about the power and healing qualities of the imagination. It is a powerful story.

The illustrations are as always outstanding. Full of mystery and meaning while capturing Frida’s sadness and pain and the Mexican landscape from whence she came. There is the airplane made of fruit, a little dog that appears on most pages and the wings that Frida wore disappearing mysteriously.

Check it out, you will not get better quality writing and illustration than this.

Cats and Robbers by Russell Ayt

April 3, 2019 Comments off

cats robbersCats and Robbers by Russell Ayt. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

This is the Home Alone of picture books. Two cats verses three robbers and I bet you can guess who is going to win.

The cats live in a long tall house with three floors and a basement. Three infamous robbers are up a tree casing the joint. On the top floor they see a safe that must be full of lots of loot but they don’t see the cats.

The two cats have spying cameras and mics in the basement and prepare booby traps for the robbers. The robbers are not the sharpest tools in the shed and as they tiptoe, sneak and creep through the house they are ambushed by the cats and sent where all robbers should be sent. Read it and see what happens.

The illustrations are truly unique. Each page has a different pastel colour with illustrations that enhance the text yet tell another side of the story. The robbers are suitably villainous and stupid and the cats are both innocent and cunning.

One of the best of the year. Don’t miss it.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

There’s a Hedgehog in my Pants by Amy Harrop illus. Ross Kinnaird.

March 29, 2019 Comments off

hedgehog (2)There’s a Hedgehog in my Pants by Amy Harrop illus. Ross Kinnaird. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

I showed this picture book to my granddaughters aged 8yrs and 10yrs and they both smiled immediately. I said how would you like a hedgehog in your pants? One answered it would prick my butt the other said you couldn’t sit down.

They both read the book one said it rhymes, the other said the hedgehog is cute.

I can’t do better than that except to say Ross Kinnairds illustrations are terrific, the rhyming text makes it a good read-a-loud and it has a surprise ending. It will make kids laugh and in my book that is a big positive.

Check it out. it does have a warning “This book contains multiple words for Bottom”, so it broadens vocabulary.

The ANZAC Billy by Claire Saxby, illus. Mark Jackson & Heather Potter.

March 26, 2019 Comments off

anzacThe ANZAC Billy by Claire Saxby, illus. Mark Jackson & Heather Potter. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.


The illustrations in this picture book are some of the most powerful images I have ever seen in a publication, with the detail of life in a home during World War 1 outstanding.

The story is of a little known practice carried out by Australians to see that their fighting men received a billy full of goodies for Christmas. I am not sure if this happened in NZ.

A boy is preparing to fill a billy for his dad by putting his favourite things in, while grandma and mother put their things in too. On the inside cover and the back cover the things that go into the billy are shown.

The written text tells the story simply  with a letter to the soldier who receives the billy written by the boy. But it is the illustrations that really tell the story.

The last illustration will blow you away.

Just in time for ANZAC day.

Little Wise Wolf by Gijs van der Hammen & Hannecke Siemensma

March 23, 2019 Comments off

little wise wolfLittle Wise Wolf by Gijs van der Hammen & Hannecke Siemensma. Pub. Book Island, 2019.

Nobody is an island unto themselves, not even little wolf, but he acts as if he is.

Little Wolf is very bright. He reads plenty of books and all the other animals go to him with difficult questions but he hasn’t got time for all their questions.

Then he receives a letter from a very sick king wanting help. He hasn’t got time but the crow tells him that when the king calls you go.

He sets off on a long journey to the king and his friends help him on the way without his knowledge. When he finds the king he is humble about his abilities but manages to help the king.

He understands now that his friends helped him and wants to return to them a changed wolf. Now he has time for everyone and still gets done what he needs to.

Wonderful lesson for everyone.

Beautifully illustrated especially when Little Wolf is on his journey to the king. His animal friends are hidden somewhere in the full page illustrations . See if you can find them.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,

Bess. The Brave War Horse by Susan Brocker, illus Raymond McGrath

March 15, 2019 Comments off

bessBess. The Brave War Horse by Susan Brocker, illus Raymond McGrath. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

A beautifully illustrated picture book telling the story of Bess one of 10,000 horses to leave New Zealand for World War 1 and one of only 4 to return.

The story tells of her trip by ship to Egypt, her training with her master Guy Powles, her stay in the desert and her charge into battle. The full story of Bess is in the novel Brave Bess and the ANZAC Horses also by Susan Brocker, and reviewed earlier on this blog.

The illustrations of Bess’s journey and ordeal in war are  revealing, enhancing what she went through for junior readers and showing the horrors of war. A horse is not the easiest animal to draw but these illustrations are superb.

An excellent publication for everybody.

Categories: Picture book, War Tags: