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Grandad’s Guitar by Janine McVeagh. illus. Fifi Colston.

May 24, 2017 Comments off

grandads guitarGrandad’s Guitar by Janine McVeagh. illus. Fifi Colston. Pub. Makaro Press, 2017.

When Kahu is given a worn and scratched old guitar for his birthday by his Nana, he is not pleased. “why can’t I have a new one?“.

So Nana tells him the history of the guitar that was owned by his grandfather, has been around the world, entertained people from many cultures and was a strong binding factor in the relationship between his grandparents.

As Nana tells this story to Kahu he is learning to play the guitar and has three chords mastered by the end of the story.

It is probably set in the 1970’s when many New Zealanders took off for their OE on board an Italian passenger liner. I did and this picture book has a strong nostalgia about it for me and  I suspect many other grandparents out there. This is their story too.

Grandfather played the guitar all over Europe, through the Middle East to India. It nearly got swept away but now Kahu has it. He is proud.

Fifi Colston’s excellent illustrations show the hippy culture of the time, the combi van, the relationship between the grandparents and the various cultures that they met in their travels.

All in all a classy publication. It is released today at $25.00 a copy. Well worth it.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

My Dog Mouse by Eva Lindstrom.

April 20, 2017 Comments off

my dog mouseMy 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.

Superb publication.

Mr Postmouse goes on Holiday by Marianne Duboc.

April 19, 2017 Comments off

postmouse holidayMr Postmouse goes on Holiday by Marianne Duboc. Pub. Book Island, 2017.

A splendid sequel to the first Mr Postmouse picture book which is also reviewed on this blog.

Mr Postmouse his wife and three children go on a World holiday, but of course a postmans lot is never done and he takes some mail to deliver as well.

They visit a forest and a beach then take a cruise ship to a volcanic island, a camel train across the desert and to other exotic locations.

Each two page spread has it’s own story to tell and detail for children to ponder over. For example in the forest we meet Hansel and Gretel on their way to the house made of sweets and gingerbread.

There are also little bubles that look at creatures living their lives underground, there is even an igloo.

Lots of fun in this easy to read publication.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , , ,

it’s my pond by claire garralon

April 18, 2017 Comments off

my pondit’s my pond by claire garralon. Pub. Book Island, 2016.

This multi layered picture book has some depth and a lot to say about the human condition. It is for everybody but a great junior story with much to discuss and think about.

Yellow duck sees a nice pond and claims it for his own. White duck sees the pond too and negotiates to share it with yellow duck. Then many ducks of different colours take their share and all is tense as each duck guards his/her own piece of pond.

Black duck arrives and  tells them they all look miserable and that ponds should be fun places. They all agree and things are fine.

Suddenly everything changes. To find out what it is you will need to read the book yourself but be warned it is brilliant.

Simple written text and easy on the eye primary coloured illustrations. You will love it.

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault.

April 9, 2017 Comments off

virginia wolfVirginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault. Pub. Book Island, 2017.

This is a sophisticated picture book that is multi level, it is disturbing but ultimately hopeful and the topic is depression.

Many people get depressed but when a child gets depressed that is upsetting and needs investigation. When Virginia gets depressed she turns into a wolf and everything in the house turns upside down and dreary for her sister Vanessa.

Vanessa cares and tries to jolly Virginia up. It is a hard row to hoe. Virginia mentions Bloomsberry and so Vanessa paints her view of Bloomsberry with flowers and a garden in which she and  Virginia can wander safely and happily.

The names of the children and the situation mirror that of writer Virginia Woolf and the name Bloomsberry is a name associated with her, although you don’t need to know that to enjoy the book.

Isabelle Arsenault’s illustrations are superb. The black wolf, the brightly dressed Vanessa and the black and white images depicting depression are magical. The garden scenes painted by Vanessa fill the reader with hope that depression will pass.

A picture book for everyone.

Waiting for Goliath by Antje Damn

April 5, 2017 Comments off

goliathWaiting 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.

Tinui – The last Post by Michelle O’Connell.

April 2, 2017 Comments off

Tinui last postTinui – The last Post by Michelle O’Connell. Pub. BMS Books, 2017.

This is as moving, accurate and powerful picture book about Gallipoli and those who have fallen in war, as I have read.

Tinui is a small town in the Wairarapa with a reputation as being the first town to remember ANZAC day on 25 April 1916. On the hill above Tinui is a large cross and every year people come from all over New Zealand to remember the fallen.

This story was inspired by Linda Morgan who played the Last Post and Reveille at the 100th remembrance day in 2016. The illustrations in pen and ink and watercolours of her playing are some of the most moving in this book.

The memorial service is shown with 3 tiger moth bi planes flying over head. All those that fell from Tinui are featured as is Mary Innes the only woman to fall.

At the back of the book are suggested project ideas for teachers and portions of writing from Wairarapa students on what ANZAC Day meant to them. The one that got me was by Mathew Byl who wrote “if I was in war I would hate to see my friends shot and dying right beside me”. Me too Mathew.

This book has wide appeal for everybody but particularly valuable in schools. The illustrations and written text are moving.