Bruno by Catharina Valckx illus. Nicolas Hubesch. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.
This brilliant piece of work is subtitled Some of the more interesting days in my life so far and that is exactly what it is. For Bruno every day above ground is a good day and if it is not, then there is always another day.
Six days in Bruno’s life with his friends Ringo the old pony, Gloria the dairy owner, Bup the fish, Georgette the turtledove, Gerard the wolf and my favourite, Tweety the canary. There are other characters and they are all superbly developed with their own mannerisms and language.
The six days are not all good but they are very interesting. Included are a peculiar day, a day when the power went off and an almost perfect day. These days spent by Bruno with his blue cloth cap and his friends are all connected. They will make you laugh and recognise human foibles.
The illustrations show a French urban setting in which the detail is absorbing and has a strong sense of accuracy. The characters are brilliantly drawn but my favourite is the elegant giraffe in white skirt and top, with sunglasses and a bag over her shoulder at the escalator.
If you get bored with this book you have no soul.
A book for everybody but the writing is for primary and intermediate students. The cover makes you want to pick it up. This is a beauty.
Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.
There is an old adage about relationships that goes “it is not the similarities that make a relationship but the differences”. Well Snake and Lizard or Helper and Helper put this to the test in this excellent sequel to Snake and Lizard.
Firstly they haggle over business when a rival helper in the form of a grey rabbit starts stealing Snake and lizard’s clients. A new sign is needed but whose name should go first?
Lizard is fairly easy going and feels that Snake is taking advantage of him with his more ruthless attitude. The dialogue between them is like a marriage.
Then Lizards bludging relatives call and clean out the larder. Snake has to break a vow to ensure that they don’t come back but does lizard work this out? Does he want to?
The old pass the message through a number of characters to see how it ends up trick, is then used to make Snake understand what his relationship with lizard means to him.
Lots of little surprises and scenarios understandable to everyone are acted out and as always Gavin Bishop’s superb illustrations enhance the characters and the story line.
Great read-a-loud for primary schools. Lots of wisdom here and justly called modern Fables in the Aesop mould.
Fox & Goldfish by Nils Pieters. Pub.Book Island, 2016.
Friendship is beyond words and the friendship between Fox and Goldfish is out there.
Fox sees that goldfish is not long for this world and considers goldfish has much to see before shaking off this mortal coil. Fox takes him on a journey carrying goldfish’s bowl in his arms, on his head, on a bike and dragged along on a little cart.
Goldfish is ecstatic. Perhaps he knows he is going to die? or does he?
Together fox and goldfish visit the forest, the sea and across the desert EasyRider style on a cut down motorcycle. Mt Fuji and the jungle follow then it is Singing in the Rain. Up a mountain, skiing down, up to the moon and then as the sun sets Fox says “Ok my friend Now you can go”.
The epitaph is very moving. Read it and see.
Brilliant idea, even better illustrations. One of the best picture books this year.
Starlight Stables Bk.4: Saving Starlight by Soraya Nicholas. Pub. Puffin Books,imprint penguin Random house, 2016.
This fourth part about a horse riding stable has the same quality and values as the previous three which are reviewed on this blog. Set in Australia and mainly written for horse crazy girls and there are a lot of them, this continues the story of Poppy, Milly and Katie and their horses Crystal, Joe and Cody.
Aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark have financial worries after a sponsor hits hard times. Starlight Stables is under threat. The girls have a competition of their own and Aunt Sophie is riding for an Olympic place at an event in Melbourne on her impressive horse Jupiter.
The girls want to help save Starlight and poppy wants to do well at her role of groom for Aunt Sophie’s horse Jupiter. What will happen if the stables go broke? Will the impressive colt Prince have to be sold? Will the girls be able to hold on to their horses? Read it and find out.
Starlight Stables Bk.3 Bush Bolts by Soraya Nicholas. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2016.
Poppy and her two horse riding friends Milly and Katie return to Starlight stables for a long weekend but this time they have another companion who doesn’t share their fanatical love of horses.
Her name is Sarah and she was a good friend to Poppy when her father died and her mother was grieving badly. poppy badly wants Sarah to love horses like she does but that is a big ask. However Sarah has other qualities as a friend and a human being especially her love for all animals.
Starlight Stables is tinder dry and bush fires are a threat. While out riding the girls come under threat from a lightening storm that threatens catastrophe. Read the rest and find out what happens.
The other Starlight books are on this blog and the author can be reached at http://www.sorayanicholas.com
Never get caught skinny dipping in the sea by a boy. That’s what happens to Dani and her best friend Ella while on holiday. Don’t look they cry but boys always do.
The fourth story from this writer and illustrating team for newly confident readers aged 5-8 years and even older. Others by these two are reviewed elsewhere on my blog.
Dani does have serious things going on in her life and she does have an excellent friend in Ella and some great adult role models looking after them. In this instance Dani’s father is in hospital after a car accident and Dani misses him When Sven shows up and tells Dani that her dad has a girlfriend Dani gets the glums.
A surprise visit brings all the emotion out. Superb without being over sentimental. Simple text, short chapters, large font with a problem delicately handled.
Eva Erikson’s illustrations characterise everything beautifully. You have to get this. Good read-a-loud too.