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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.

Yousuf’s Everyday Adventures: Beautifully Different by Dana Salim, illus. Pavel Goldaev.

March 28, 2017 Comments off

differentYousuf’s Everyday Adventures: Beautifully Different by Dana Salim, illus. Pavel Goldaev. Pub. dana@ds-publishing.com

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.

My Pictures after the storm by Eric Veille.

March 28, 2017 Comments off

after stormMy Pictures after the storm by Eric Veille. Imprint Gecko Press, 2017.

What does an octopus look like after it has been stood on by and elephant? or a boys bedroom after two boys have played sword fights in it?

This French picture book is zany, it is clever, it is perceptive and it is gloriously funny. The front cover shows a lion after the wind has blown his mane all over the place and this establishes the pattern of this picture book.

But what really emphasises the humour are the eyes even on an inanimate object like a tractor or a gumboot and watering can. The illustrations are colourful and require no text but what text is written is concise and often enhances the humour.

This is a before and after picture book for the pre school and primary student. It is a great book for granddad or grandma to show their grandchildren or a parent to their youngsters. Adults will have a chuckle too.

Torty and the Soldier- a Story of a True WW1 Survivor by Jennifer Beck, illus. Fifi Colston.

March 15, 2017 Comments off

tortyTorty and the Soldier- a Story of a True WW1 Survivor by Jennifer Beck, illus. Fifi Colston. Pub. Scholastic, 2017.

Torty is a tortoise from Greece and is New Zealand’s oldest survivor of the Great War 1914-1918. He was rescued by a New Zealand Ambulance Corps volunteer named Stewart who preferred to save lives rather than fight.

Torty was crushed by a gun carriage, rescued and nursed to Health by Stewart at the Salonika field hospital for wounded soldiers. The hospital was bombed during the war  and off the coast the Marquette was torpeoed with over 100 nurses and medical orderlies lost.

Torty’s tale is told in conjunction with the war history and his trip back to New Zealand as an illegal immigrant. He still lives in Dunedin with the relatives of Stewart and is estimated to be over 200 years old.

Jennifer Beck sensitively tells the story and Fifi Colston’s illustrations of the War, the soldiers the Greek landscape and of course Torty to whom she gives life, are terrific.

Just in time for ANZAC Day and a reminder of a war story that is unlike any other.Valuable for every school library and in the home, for primary and intermediate school students but adults will love it too.

Categories: Picture book, War Tags: ,

If I Had an Elephant by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones.

March 14, 2017 Comments off

if i had elephant 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.