Spring has sprung and with it a prolific explosion of sublimely divine children’s books. Here is the slimmest selection. Do search the bookshelves for more.
Befittingly released on the tail end of our Southern Hemisphere autumn, The Perfect Leaf is a glorious explosion of colour and joy. Smothered in hues of honey-on-warm-toast, this book oozes the golden splendour of autumn on each page, promoting friendship, imagination and creativity in a way adults often forget about but children naturally embrace.
In a world where imperfections are deemed as failures rather than avenues for alternative thought and being, this book serves as an important reminder for us all to rejoice in the small things in life and look for the unique beauties within them. Plant’s multi perspective illustrations saturate each page, providing the perfect backdrop for his syrupy prose. The Perfect Leaf is a lovely vehicle for discussion about nature, seasons, perception, acceptance and friendship. And, while more autumn hued than spring, worthy of treasuring as the days warm.
Ford Street Publishing October 2018
At a time when children are constantly being reminded of the arid nature of this land, Big Fella Rain is a supremely refreshing, soul-quenching look at life in the Top End of Australia.
It begins with electric flashes of light ‘through liquorice clouds’ and rolling booms of thunder. Birds scatter, shooting into the heavens, unsettled and unsure. Raindrops dash upon the cracked earth quickly turning it into puddles, pools, streams and creeks until the billabongs fill. Life awakens in a marvellous cacophony of celebration. ‘The rain has come and the land is reborn’.
Illustrations and prose sing in perfect harmony like the sound of rainfall onto parched earth. Martin’s soft yet incredibly detailed drawings capture the changing moods, colours and textures of the landscape as the storms hit with meaningful innocence. Swirling watercolours bleed from bruised clouds, reflect glistening raindrops and evince brolgas to dance, frogs to sing. Big Fella Rain is a glorious salute to the cycles of life and the seasons that shape those cycles. One to look at, feel and absorb many times over.
Magabala Books 2018
Uncomplicated rhyme partners deliciously with Forward’s sublime watercolour illustrations. The indescribable beauty of Jacaranda blooms, wafting lazily about on a spring breeze is ably captured in this gentle exploration of imagination. Wild spirits are unleashed one day among a group of friends bereft of the usual contraptions of play: scooters, swings or smart devices, as Jacaranda blooms begin to rain upon them.
A joyful example of overcoming boredom that encapsulates the capacity of nature to inspire, educate and entertain, Jacaranda Magic harnesses the essence of friendship and the pooling of imaginative resources in a time when it’s easier for many of today’s youth to simply swipe away boredom. I hope city kids especially will embrace this tale with the same bare-footed abandonment as some of their country counterparts might, with pure joie de vivre.
Ford Street Publishing September 2018
It wouldn’t be spring without bees. Bertha Bee lives within a hive of honey-hunters but is restless for a life less regimented and predictable. She yearns for adventure.
When a storm destroys part of their hive and the Queen declares a new one must be found, Bertha volunteers to help and sets out in a search party of one. She must hurry though for another spring storm is stirring, not ideal flying conditions for a young bumblebee. It is then she encounters…Bear.
We all know bears love honey, but will this bear provide the solution to Bertha’s rehoming-mission or is he another threat to the bees?
This is a jolly musical quest story of want, need, discovery and taking risks. Thanks to her determination and drive, Bertha learns to overcome her instinctive fears and on a deeper note, forces us to acknowledge assumed prejudices (against bears) as she does so. Sharpe’s enchanting illustrations project as much joy and colour as a bowl of rainbow-coloured ice cream and show that creatures of very different backgrounds can live, work and play harmoniously together, especially when there’s honey involved. It also pays important homage to one of the most humble yet crucial parts of our eco-system, bees. A handy tool for classroom discussion about nature and the environment.
UQP September 2017
Lemonade Jones is one sassy little lady with enough fizz and bounce in her curls to captivate young girls and boys all the way around the playground and back again. She has a hankering for loud and exciting situations, suffers fools badly and definitely isn’t interested in sticking to the rules because they have a tendency to stifle loud exciting moments, which means Lemonade Jones is in trouble more often than not.
Apart from the delicious mix of contemporary names with superbly original ones, the energetic early primary school- based story lines and the irrepressible illustrations that litter the pages, these junior novels are ideal for young confident readers who are graduating from chapter books. Each book is two stories in one. I read The First Day Back and The Zoo That Comes to You, that deal with heading to school for the first time and turning six for the first time.
Lemonade’s energy and spirit are hard to supress and these are the very qualities that will endear her to schoolchildren everywhere. Fun, feisty and full of bubbly joy, this is a series as refreshing as a pre-summer glass of homemade lemonade.
Allen & Unwin Children’s Books August 2018