Posts Tagged ‘Imagination’

If I Was a Banana by Alexandra Tylee & Kieran Rynhart.

September 4, 2016 Comments off

bananaIf I Was a Banana by Alexandra Tylee & Kieran Rynhart. Pub. Gecko Press, 2016

When I read this outstanding picture book for children of all ages my thoughts were that the pairing of author and illustrator was an experienced one and they must have worked together several times. But no. It is Alexandra Tylee’s first book and the only time she has worked with Kieran Rynhart and what’s more they are Kiwis.

A boy who is neither big or little is walking with his mother looking at the world around him. He plays the What If game. If he was a banana he would be fat and full like the one in the shop window, if he was a cow he would be the self important one standing in the field and if he was an elephant he would be very careful where he put his feet.

There are more What Ifs before he decides he is most comfortable being himself.

The illustrations are superb. In coloured pencil and varying in size from whole page to smaller images placed strategically within the written text and melding beautifully with the imagination and emotion of the boy. The lion, the tree the storm clouds even the banana are outstanding.

I shall be watching this one when Award time comes round next year.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

Don’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minho Martins, illus. Bernardo P. Carvalho.

July 20, 2016 Comments off

cross lineDon’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minho Martins, illus. Bernardo P. Carvalho. Pub. Gecko Press, 2016.

This is a sophisticated picture book from a Portuguese author and illustrator. Sophisticated in theme and in the complexity of the illustrations.

If you are going to have a revolution against a tyrannical regime then this peaceful way is the way to do it.

Inside the thick cardboard covers there appear more than 60 characters with their lives to live from a broad spectrum of a community. The title page has a fierce looking general sitting on an even fiercer horse bellowing at the guard how he gives the orders around here.

The guard is to stop any one from going onto the right hand page of the book. At first a dog tries to cross, then a man but the guard is fierce and vigilant. He explains ” I am only obeying orders” How many times has that been used as an excuse. The growing crowd think it is crazy,  something has got to give and as always children lead the way. The guard becomes a hero and the people have their victory.

The illustrations are bright water colours with all characters distinctive by their big purple noses which I am in favour of. As you follow the characters through the story you see the lives they have. Clara with son Rui and husband Joe in tow has a baby. Marcelino an ET type character needs to phone home and two prisoners need to get away.

There are many stories in the naked city this is a few of them. A multi level book.


Raymie Nightingale by Kate Di Camillo.

March 26, 2016 Comments off

raymieRaymie Nightingale by Kate Di Camillo. Pub. Walker Books, 2016.

This is a novel for primary/intermediate students that will draw you in once you have read one page. It begins on a day when the sun is in a cloudless sky “it seemed like someone had put it up there and then walked away and left it”.

The style of writing with short sharp sentences makes for easy and compulsive reading. Kate Di Camillo draws the imagination out of the reader with her descriptions – “she looked like a mermaid in a bad mood” and when describing one of the characters grandmother it was “like looking at Louisiana in a fun house mirror”

The story is about three girls who are all broken hearted.  Raymie’s father has run away with a dental hygienist and she wants him back. Louisiana’s parents have been killed and she lives with her grandma who has put her cat in a home, and Beverley has a father who is a cop and has left home.

They meet at Baton twerling lessons and each has a motive for being there and all three want to enter the Little Miss Central Florida Tire 1975 competition which involves doing good deeds. The three become friends and as the plot progresses their priorities change.

Set in Florida in 1975 it tells of an innocent age long since passed. It is refreshing reading from the same writer that gave us Because of Winn-Dixie and the Tale of Despereaux,

You have to read this beauty, a smile will rarely leave your face.

Bicycling to the Moon by Timo Parvela, illus. Virpi Talvitie.

March 16, 2016 Comments off

bicycling moonBicycling to the Moon by Timo Parvela, illus. Virpi Talvitie. Pub.Gecko Press, 2016.

One of the best books I have read this year and possibly one of the best books ever.

It is a laid back series of stories about a cat named Purdy and a dog named Barker who live together in a blue house at the top of a green hill where the forest meets the sky.

It is said that dogs have a master and that cats have staff but it is never mentioned that the two can be friends. Purdy is an artistic, sensitive sophisticated being a trifle lazy but very determined when he wants to do something. Barker is energetic and organised and works first before fun. Barker runs the house and Purdy lets him do it.

They have friends in the village with names like Henny Cluckington and Daisy Butterfield who often come into their lives. The stories of their lives together over a full year  are philosophy itself. My favourite is the singing competition in which Purdy imagines he has a magnificient voice and Barker has the reluctant and unenviable task as judge.

You will have a grin on your face from start to finish.

Virpi Talvitie’s illustrations perfectly capture the nature of Purdy and Barker and add to the adventures and experiences they have.

A good read-a-loud to juniors and for independent reading for everybody else. You will kick yourself if you miss this one.

The Pencil by Paula Bossio.

December 31, 2015 Comments off

pencilThe Pencil by Paula Bossio. Pub. Gecko Press, 2015.

A simple board book in similar vein to the classic Harold and the Purple Crayon. There is no correct way of saying what this book is all about, it is purely your own imagination.

For me a look at the front and back covers may provide an answer to those who want something definite.

A young girl in orange dress finds a pencil line and follows it. As she progresses along the line she experiences wonderment, fun, adventure, surprise, fear, tears, happiness and finally satisfaction with what she has done.

But is somebody stringing her along. Excellent and simple for juniors.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

The Umbrella by Ingrid & Dieter Schubert

November 29, 2015 Comments off

umbrellaThe Umbrella by Ingrid & Dieter Schubert. Pub. Book Island, 2015.

There is always something special about a wordless picture book because the story is always the readers interpretation or imagination. They are great to use in teaching English as a second language because the reader can use all the words they know and learn a few more.

This story is simply a small dog who finds a red umbrella, gets caught in a big wind and travels around the world through all environments and finds himself back home wiser but glad to be there. The ending is a surprise as the mantle is handed over to another unknowing suspect.

Each double paged spread is a delight. African animals in which crocodiles are a stand out, a seascape with an impressive whale, turtles wondering what a dog is doing with a red umbrella, seals clapping at the wonder of it all, polar bear cub and mother startled at what they see and a weary yet happy dog as he arrives home to pass on the buck.

Ezceptional picture book. If you don’t get this you are mad or broke.

From The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi

October 29, 2015 Comments off

barney kettleFrom The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi. Pub Penguin Random House, 2015.

I always vowed that I would never write a bad review about any novel and I hope people do not conclude that this is a bad review. But in all honesty this is not my kind of novel. I love De Goldi’s Clubs and Honoria Lee was diffident on The 10PM Question but this novel was too busy for me. I found the plot was cluttered with trivia that prevented me getting at the story.

It took me five weeks to read the novel and one week of thinking what and if I was going to review it.

The story is a good idea. Barney is an aspiring film maker who has a filmic view of the world. He is looking back at the world of central High Street Christchurch before a 32 second shake killed it for everyone. Its the way he goes about telling it that gets me. I wish his more level headed sister Ren had been the narrator I probably would have liked the novel better.

Nonetheless people will love this book and Kate De Goldi is too dominant a literary figure to be ignored or dismissed just as this novel is.

Not my cup of tea but few who know me will not be surprised by this.

I think this is an adult book but senior students, young adults and readers with that theatric flair will like this novel.

Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer Illus. Oliver Jeffers.

October 11, 2015 Comments off

imaginary fredImaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer Illus. Oliver Jeffers. Pub. HarperCollins Childrens, 2015.

Pushing boundaries has always been a characteristic of Eoin Colfer’s writing now he has an accomplice in superb illustrator Oliver Jeffers who pushed his own boundaries with the picture book The Day the Crayons quit.

Imagine if two lonely children, both with imaginary friends meet and become friends and their imaginary friends like each other too and also become friends. But first the two children Sam and Sammi have to find that they no longer need imaginary friends and the imaginary friends Fred and Frieda need to know that they are not going to disappear as they have before but can be imaginary friends together.

Put this all together with illustrations that show the lonely children in black ink drawings and the imaginary couple in shades of blue and yellow and you have a recipe for an outstanding picture book  for early readers and for children who are lonely need hope and have an imagination.

A great book made out of genius.

Franky by Leo Timmers.

September 17, 2015 Comments off

FrankyFranky by Leo Timmers. Imprint Gecko Press, 2015.

Sam’s bedroom is full of robots. he is crazy about them and he believes out there in space is a planet where all the robots live. he is right of course but his mum and dad and his dog are not convinced.

Sam needs help so he builds a robot from electronic things in his room and he calls the robot Franky.

Franky is great to play with but one day he goes all quiet and looks up to the heavens. Then a space ship lands full of robots and guess who they look like.

Superb illustrations of robots and space rockets. Boys will pour over it for ages. Sam is a confident boy and trusts his own judgement.

You really need to get this for your home or school library.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

Middle School: Save Rafe by James Patterson Illus. Chris Tebbetts.

June 17, 2015 Comments off

save rafeMiddle School: Save Rafe by James Patterson Illus. Chris Tebbetts. Pub.Random House, 2014.

This is the 6th book in this very good series for reluctant readers particularly boys but not exclusively so. The main character in this novel is Rafe Khatchadorian who lives with his artist mother and younger sister.

Rafe has an attitude problem because he likes to break rules and gets into heaps of trouble. He finds it difficult to talk to girls but is a gifted cartoonist writing a series of comic books about Loozer the loser which is really about himself. The cartoons are spaced throughout the book reflecting the action that has or is to take place.

Rafe was expelled from his last school and before his new school will accept him he has to pass a two week outward bound type school with 7 other kids including 3 girls. It is not easy but they will learn how to conquer their fears, work together and learn to trust themselves. Not everybody will pass.

At the end they have to write a letter to themselves saying where they would like to be in a years time.

Good values and a lively plot as the 8 kids make their own raft to sail down a river, climb a cliff and survive by not hurting the environment.

Easy to read with frequent cartoon breaks that advance or comment on what has occurred.

Valuable for ages 9 through to 13 years.