Laughter, mishaps, laughing at mishaps; these are the grist of good picture books. Throw in a few feathered birds, the odd duck and a penguin or two and you have the makings of hours of picture book fun pre-schoolers and avian lovers everywhere are sure to get in a flap about.
McKinlay’s predilection for waddling birds works a treat in this re-release paperback about an exciting new addition down at the zoo. Every animal is a-twitter and a-flutter because the penguins are coming only trouble is no one is exactly certain what a penguin is. Supremely illustrated pages depict each animal’s supposition of these new-comers, each description becoming more implausible and exaggerated than the last until even our accepted idea of a penguin is altered from boring little black and white bird to Hawaiian shirt wearing, pizza gobbling, party animal. The Zookeeper tries to set the record straight, supplying his charges and readers with sensible genuine penguin facts only to be ultimately comically upstaged. Oceans of fun and colour with plenty of apt facts and enough animal imagery to fill a real life zoo.
Meg McKinlay also has a brand new duck inspired picture book illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom, Duck! Read Romi’s comprehensive review of it, here. Duck! is a suspense-filled, comical cautionary tale, a modern day Chicken Little if you like, that small people will feel a strong affinity for as it champions the little guy, the one nobody takes seriously and talks over all the time. It is also a gorgeous autumnal-hued romp through the farmyard revealing the various attributes and personalities of some of our favourite farm animals. Exceptionally entertaining for young and old.
Keep your laughing gear fully tuned up; you’re going to need it for this companion book to Koalas Eat Gum Leaves and Mopoke. I adore Laura’s use of crisp punchy narrative to portray characters that are often the odd sock out. Like the anti-gumleaf-eating Koala, anti-establishmentarianism runs deep in Kookaburra who refuses to laugh, especially for no reason at all. His differences make his branch buddies so edgy, producing a laugh out of him becomes their sole mission in life. However, he’s not having a bar of it and abandons them in preference of a laugh-free lifestyle. ‘Yet, something doesn’t feel quite right’ and to the surprise of his friends and himself, he discovers what truly tickles his funny bone.
Philip’s clean, retro-coloured, instantly recognisable illustrations portray a forest of emotions and personalities with minimal brushstrokes and enviable agility. This is a quirky representation of themes relating to self-acceptance and acknowledging differences where story and visual narrative work supremely together to deliver a positive sense of place. Cackle worthy for four year-olds and above.
Omnibus Books March 2018
The trademark wide-eyed wonderment and doleful expression of a Bunting storyboard is back in this cheeky new picture book about…yes, you guessed it…penguins! Errol is your quintessential recalcitrant, red beanie-toting toddler who point blank refuses to listen to his mother and come at her beck and call even after the dreaded count down! He has far more important things to get on with like ice-skating, ice cream eating and disco dancing. His mother is filled with remorse after he suddenly disappears, prompting the question, what becomes of you if you are too stubborn for your own good. Most children and their long suffering parents will instantly connect with this truer than true-life tale centering on parent-child relationships, family, love and patience.
Scholastic Press June 2018