The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017
This novel for Intermediate and junior secondary readers is set in Sydney after the fall of Singapore in 1942 to the Japanese when great grey warships sat in the harbour like a herd of tired elephants.
It is an absorbing and lyrically novel with a sense of dread about it and ends in a surrealistic way. It recreates Australian life before World War 2 that prompted the then Prime Minister of Australia to observe “Australia is a British land of one race and one tongue”
Columba and her best friend Hilda are about 11 years old and they live on the North Shore of Sydney. Their neighbours are two elderly sisters Miss Hazel and the harp playing Miss Marguerite who say things like “people are ignorant they don’t know any better”.
Daylight saving has been introduced and it is lights out after dark to stop the enemy seeing in the dark. Darwin is bombed in the middle of the story.
Ellery a young boy from You-rope comes to town with a watch on his wrist, a bearded father and without a word of English.
At the same time an archangel blue cat wonders into the lives of Columba and her neighbours. This cat sees all and is important in providing the serendipitous ending to this story.
Easy to read with primary sources of literature, advertisements and Government directives of WW2 Australia spread throughout the novel that will intrigue the reader and provide an insight into life at that time.
I have never read a children’s novel like this before.
Kuwi’s Very Shiny Bum by Kat Merewether. Pub. Illustrated Publishing, 2016.
This is a Xmas picture book. A Kiwiana Xmas as Kuwi wants to give gifts to all her forest and seashore friends like seal, kakapo, hoihoi and ruru. Plus she wants her growing chick Huwi to have a good Xmas.
Kumi is inspired by a red ball that falls from the sky and looks exactly like a red nose day nose. She gets it tangled around her body and lodged on her bum.
Put the word bum in a picture book and you have kids attention immediately. Good positive story.
The illustrations are excellent and are filled with kiwiana detail. Kuwi and Huwi’s burrow is the opening scene in strong acrylic like colours. There is a buzzy bee hanging from the ceiling and a couple of new books on the shelf – James and the Giant Kumara and The very Hungry Huhu. Look for other surprises in the illustrations.
Relates well to Kat Merewether’s other books reviewed on this blog.
This rhyming picture book is a beauty that demands to be read aloud. It also has more than one gnu and allowed me the luxury of saying “what a gnuva gnu’ in memory of a Flanders and Swan song of yester year.
Yak with his captain’s hat and gnu with her green pearls are the best of friends and feel they are unique. Yak naturally has a kayak and gnu a canoe. What gnu hasn’t?
They are sure they are unique but a trip down the river to the sea puts paid to their common belief. They discover a goat in a boat, a calf on a raft, a snail setting snail and among others a rat and her clan on a catamaran. My favourites are the giraffes in their hovercrafts and an ocean cruise full of yaks and gnus.
” does it matter smiled gnu. Who cares my friend when I have you” Wonderful finish.
The rhyming text is never forced and Cat Chapman’s water colour illustrations are perfect. Check out the giraffes in their hovercrafts wearing sunglasses. Just superb.
This is a picture book team that is going places. Don’t miss this one.