Hooray for Lucy Cousins!

Lucy Cousins is much-loved, highly acclaimed international author-illustrator best known for her beloved Maisy series. She is also creator to Peck Peck Peck, and Hooray for Fish! And there is always much excitement when her new releases are revealed, even if they are simply new editions of the old. Go wild for Cousins’ latest books! They will keep your little ones entertained for hours.

Hooray for Birds! is the extravagantly captivating sequel to Hooray for Fish! Not only is there an immediate hook with endpapers containing a wonderfully colourful menagerie of beaks a-squawking and wings a-flapping, but then read the opening line: “Can you imagine… You’re a busy bird?”. Well, can you imagine?! Those little minds will be racing, hearts fluttering and arms ready to soar! Reading and acting this book out with my four year old has been a pure joy, every time!

With the most vibrant, solid colours, enlarged bold text and a patterned array of bird species engaging every page in this large format book, it’s no wonder Hooray for Birds! is an absolute winner with young children. Its rollicking rhyming text almost literally escalates its readers to new heights, effortlessly inspiring them to perform in a fun-filled mimicking and imaginative role-play experience. Included are shouts of “cock-a-doodle-doo!”, there are hopping birds, pecking birds, ones with tall necks. There are parrots that talk, starlings that swoop, fly-catching birds, and ones that lay eggs. The list goes on with a cascade of onomatopoeia and lively action words, enough to make one exhausted as we reach a suitable ending when it’s time to say goodnight.

What a fantastically playful book with the massive potential for teaching and learning moments on the study of bird names, habitats and characteristics. Highly recommended, jubilant fun for all preschool aged children.

Maisy Goes Swimming was originally published in 1990, but here today we have a magnificently interactive new edition that is perfect for children from age three.

Your child may be a confident swimmer, or completely new to the experience. Either way, this book can be adopted as a familiar reference or as a simple introduction, both encouraging independence. Maisy is preparing for her visit to the pool, and with the reader’s help, she can dress appropriately for the occasion. The ideal size board book for small, busy hands, Maisy Goes Swimming is brimming with tactile goodness to entertain again and again. Large bold text in colours that match the clothing item of attention help little ones identify the correlation between word and picture. And most likely after just one adult read-aloud they will be able to ‘read’ it all themselves. From a wintery outfit of jacket, hat, scarf, gloves and boots, slowly but surely flaps are lifted, strings are pulled, parts are slid up or down and folds are opened. Watch out for the rudey-nudey Maisy when her layers are all off! Quickly slide that recognisable striped swim suit on and take Maisy for a swim.

The sturdy and high quality pages provide great comfort in knowing that for a book that your children will never get tired of, Maisy Goes Swimming is sure to be a classic for another 25+ years!

Maisy Goes to the Bookshop is still as relevant today as it was all those years ago. And we’re all for encouraging a love of books, right?!

When Maisy enters the bookshop with teddy in tow, she is delightfully greeted with an abundance of colourful books filling the shelves. Immediately both Maisy and the reader are confronted with a very real circumstance in the need to make decisions. Which book will she choose to buy? Exploring the range from bears, to fish, trucks and art, it is the book about birds that catches her eye…it’s a book to share with her friend Tallulah. Some books are factual, and some can spark one’s imagination. This concept is neatly woven into the story as Maisy and her friends at the bookshop discover topics that fill their minds with wonder and excitement, and a bit of humour too. After storytime and a bite to nibble, Maisy makes her purchase and delivers her present to its new owner for a fun shared reading afternoon.

Making clear the benefits and many ways to enjoy books, Cousins’ text and illustrations prove equally as enthusiastic and simple. Maisy Goes to the Bookshop is obviously a pleasurable reading experience about a pleasurable experience with books! For book-loving children from age three.

Walker Books, 2017.

Curious Concepts – Concept picture book reviews

Concept picture books play a huge part in shaping a young person’s perceptions. They are capable of unlocking an inquisitiveness that hopefully sticks around for life and are crucial for developing critical thinking, reasoning, and logic. However, important educational concepts need not be strictly didactic and dull as these entertaining picture books clearly display.

Garden FriendsGarden Friends by Natalie Marshall is a Touch and Feel board book, sturdy and bright in appearance in the same vein as the That’s not my… series. This one directs 0 – 3-year-olds to experience their tactile investigations within a garden setting using short verb orientated phrases – ‘Duck is quacking!’ It’s joyous and sensual and a nice shift from the usual ‘touch and feel’ concept.

The Five Mile Press March 2016

Counting Through the DayCounting Through the Day by Margaret Hamilton and Anna Pignataro escorts pre-schoolers through a typical day from sunrise, to breakfast, to visits with Nanna and finally back off to bed. Along the way, our young protagonist gently encounters many fascinating objects and situations from two sturdy feet to five broody hens and even ‘thousands of raindrops falling from the sky’. And as children are wont to do, they count each and every one of them.

Hamilton’s gently rhyming verse and affecting choice of counting objects harness a child’s every day pleasures, highlighting the world around them: their toys, meals, the weather and so on. Numbers 1 – 11 are shown numerically and in words while Pignataro’s combination of drawn, painted, and collage illustrations are simply marvellous. The end pages alone will provide hours of delight and interest.

Counting Through the Day is as much about story as it is about learning to count. I love that readers are taken past the obligatory ‘10’, and are introduced to 11, 20, hundreds and even millions, exposing young minds to a universe of infinite possibilities. Easy to grasp and absolutely beautiful to enjoy.

Little Hare Books imprint HGE 2016

For someone whose spatial awareness is not as sharp as it could be, the next two picture books are a real boon. They encourage an understanding of the relationship of objects to oneself and in ones world in a clever and entertaining way that ensures high levels of reader investment and interest.

The Shape of My HeartThe Shape of My Heart by Mark Sperring Illustrated by Alys Paterson is a board book sized banquet of colour, shapes, and rhymes; images guaranteed to captivate 0 – 5-year-olds. This is no ordinary ‘this shape is a…’ book. It expands the notion of appearance and form by depicting the most obvious shape to start with – you and me. From there, readers are shown the various shape of parts of our anatomy (eyes, mouth, feet) the environment in which they live (sun, houses) and those shapes that inhabit the world with them (birds, vehicles, creatures in the zoo) and so on. I love how the shape you can hear with (ears for instance) leads to a myriad of other shapes that make up our existence. Sounds confusing to describe but not to behold and read thanks to Paterson’s cheerful and shapely illustrations. Reminiscent of Mem Fox’s Where is the Green Sheep? in parts, The Shape of My Heart combines visual literacy, introduction of sounds, and rousing vocabulary whilst neatly implying that everything that shapes our lives fits within our hearts and you can’t get any more spatial than that. Highly recommended.

Bloomsbury for Children February 2016

What Could it BeWhat Could it Be? by Sally Fawcett is a fascinating picture book initiative combining the best bits of storytelling, creative stimulation, and subliminal learning. Displayed in complementing double page spreads, Fawcett gently introduces young readers to some well-known geometric shapes and colours. Pre-schoolers and early primary schoolers may already be loosely familiar with shapes such as circles, ovals, and even octagons. They are probably discovering the mysteries of an artist’s palette, as well but in What Could it Be?, they are challenged to delve deeper, look more closely and investigate the world of possibilities surrounding them.

With the help of, a young boy named Max, readers are prompted to answer the ‘what if’ inspired notion to think outside of the box and tap into their creative souls. Each page of story is gloriously illustrated by Fawcett who cleverly secretes dozens upon dozens of obviously hidden aspects in each scene to be discovered by roving little eyes. I say obvious because this picture book adventure serves to show that every conceivable form, colour and object in our worlds are there for us to find if we just look hard enough and perhaps use a little imagination.

Children will delight in the seek and find quality of What Could it Be?. In addition, this book has far-reaching usefulness in homes, schools, and early learning centres. I see a future for it in home schooling, too as it fosters a genuine exploration and appreciation of the world around us. At the book’s conclusion, children are invited to go one-step further and are encouraged to think, experiment, create, and share for themselves.

Unleash your child’s creativity with this one!

EK Books June 2016

#ByAustralianBuyAustralian

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Anything but Boring – A collection of Board Book reviews

I’m not sure how or why but I’ve still got many of the board books of my childhood and now, those from my daughter’s early learning days.Big Book of Silly

Their very construction may have something to do with standing up to the test of time. Maybe, I just can’t bear to part with them because of what they represent, an intensely intimate time of shared firsts, revelations, and discoveries.

Board books not only symbolize these never to be repeated phases of a child’s development but also crucially supply growing intellects with those first initial stepping stones towards visual and verbal literacy.

Here are some fun newbies to add to your collection.

Big Book of Silly illo spreadBig Books by Natalie Marshall. I absolutely love the look and feel of these large format board books. The Big Book of Silly allows pre-schoolers to revel in the surreal and silly, like a rhino eating three hundred jellybeans before bed for instance (however perhaps this is not as silly as it sounds to a child). As with the Big Book of Happy, it is illustrated with loud colour-filled pages of big bold characters prompting very young readers to question their own happy and silly moments. Too much fun to pass up.

The Five Mile Press May 2015

Cheeky Monkey manners Lisa Kerr is another Aussie author whose Cheeky Monkey Manners builds on her Cheeky Monkey series character and uses vibrant full-page colour to harness young attention spans.

Cheek Monkey spreadCheeky Monkey is not so much rude as ‘unknowing’ and with the help of his extremely tolerant jungle pals eventually comes to understand and use his ‘please’ and ‘thankyous’ correctly.

Repeating scenarios and a square compact size makes these books idea for introducing and enforcing manners in pre-schoolers.

The Five Mile Press May 2015

Magic Car Wash seriesAnother vibrant set of books perfectly suited for fledging imaginations is the Magic Car Wash series, a family collaboration by Rosie Smith, Bruce Whatley, and Ben Smith Whatley.

Kit the mechanic owns a car wash and small but eclectic fleet of vehicles in the town of Tyre Flats. (Don’t you love the connections?) The thing is, whenever the cars drive through the car wash, magical things happen; front and back ends mix and match resulting in some curious combinations…and adventures.

Magic Car wash illo spreadBeginner readers will get a real buzz of out these Transformers meets Cars tales. They provide the idea vehicle from which to explore concepts of fear, friendship, spatial awareness and direction, and the benefits of working together to achieve great results. I adore the simple colourful graphics, exploration of language and brilliant little twisty endings of these books. Robust (super thick glossy pages means these books will last for a long time on the book shelves of even the most active readers) yet cute enough to win over boys and girls, and hopelessly appealing, the Magic Car Wash series is another great example of board books on offer from The Five Mile Press May 2015. Titles include The Giant Mouse, The Runaway Car and Red’s First Fire.The Giant Mouse

Lastly but not least (there are still so many to fawn over) a little bit more magic…Possum Magic. Mem Fox and Julie Vivas have joined formidable forces again to develop a series of beautifully bound board books aimed at pre-schoolers and based on their perennial picture book favourite, Possum Magic. Animals led the way, now followed by, Actions, an exploration of ‘doing’ words.

Possum Magic ActionsWords that inspire action in various modes are lovingly represented by Vivas’ cheerful illustrations. Familiar yet brimming with new eye-catching detail, each spread features two different verbs demonstrated by those endearing Possum Magic bushland characters we’ve come to love.

If you like eating (lamingtons), reading (in comfortable places) and dancing (under starlit skies), you will love Possum Magic, Actions and so will little ones aged 0 – 4 years of age.Possum Magic Opposites Possum Magic Numbers

Scholastic Australia 2015

Pig Kahuna PiratesHere’s another hot off the press. Pig Kahuna Pirates! by author illustrator, Jennifer Sattler just corkscrewed its way across my desk. This chunky little board book follows in the wake of Pig Kahuna and Sattler’s previous Chick ‘n’ Pug picture book creations. Goofy, cutesy characters bounce through seemingly parochial situations yet inspire adventure and genuine expressions of love.

chick n pugThe porcine brothers, Fergus and Dink spend a day at the beach together  caught in a world of pirates and brotherly disagreement until Fergus realises the value of his baby brother. Heavily textured illustrations ably capture the emotions and the ambient beauty of the day. A great board book addition for those with siblings under 5 years old.

Bloomsbury Children’s Books July 2015