Pampered Pooches – Four Inspiring Dog Picture Books

In honour of the new Duchess of Sussex’s affection for all things canine, today we snuggle up with four memorable picture books featuring the pooches we love to pamper. These stories focus on dogs as companions and the glorious relationships we share with them.

Dogasaurus by Lucinda Gifford

Author illustrator Lucinda Gifford’s combination of dogs and dinosaurs was never going to fail – both infatuate kids. Dogasaurus is a high giggle scoring story about Molly who lives ‘on a small, peaceful farm’. Life trickles along merrily until the day Molly ventures into the neighbouring Mysterious Ancient Forest and being a typical adventure inspired child, brings home something she ought not to have. When her newfound treasure hatches into Rex, a cute baby dino, she is delighted to have a pet of her own and dotes on him from morning to night. Only trouble is, Rex soon outgrows the farm and develops a mysterious yearning for the Ancient Forest.

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What Came First: the Egg or the Spoon?

WickedMost people know of the musical Wicked, a revisionist telling of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz that empathises with the ‘bad’ witch, but not everyone knows that it is inspired by Gregory Maguire’s The Wicked Years series: Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men and Out of Oz. He’s written other books for adults, including short stories, and has a range of books for children and young adults. I particularly like What the Dickens: the Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy and his latest, Egg & Spoon.

In Egg & Spoon (Candlewick Press) Maguire has again featured a witch. This time it is the wacky Baba Yaga from Russian folklore whose forest hut runs around on chicken legs. (Incidentally, Anna and Barbara Fienberg also wrote about Baba Yaga for much younger children in Tashi and the Baba Yaga and the talented Geraldine McCaughrean wrote a picture book about Baba Yaga, Grandma Chickenlegs, illustrated by Moira Kemp.) Baba Yaga is the source of sly humour in Egg & Spoon and a gateway to the Russian tradition and culture that is interwoven into the story.

 

Egg & SpoonTwo thirteen-year old girls of very different backgrounds, Elena is a peasant with a dying mother and conscripted brother and Ekaterina (Cat) is from a wealthy background who is lined up to possibly marry the Prince, meet when Cat’s train to St Petersburg breaks down. They circle each other, drawn by their similarities and differences, until Elena accidentally takes Cat’s place. The opportunity to try to petition the Tsar for her brother’s release is too great for Elena to miss and so she takes Cat’s identity.

 

The Faberge egg that Cat’s chaperone Great-Aunt Sophia has had made to impress the Tsar and his godson, the Prince, is a symbol of exotic Russian folklore. It is covered in designs with three openings cut into it like windows or scenes from a theatre. They show the magic flying Firebird, a phoenix; the albino ice-dragon, Zmey-Azdaja; and Baba Yaga and her house.

 

Baba Yaga is the source of most of the novel’s humour. When she disguises herself as Cat’s governess she says, ‘I am getting to like this martinet drag … It brings out my inner Mary Poppinskaya.’ And when the Prince tells her that he knows all about suffering from reading Dostoyevsky and Balzac, Baba Yaga retorts, ‘You want suffering. I’ll kick you in your Balzac.’

 

Egg & Spoon is attracting wide acclaim. It is a gorgeous hard-cover gift book for young adults and adults. What the Dickens

Review – Demolition

Grab your safety gear, it’s time to get moving! There’s some demolition going on and a parade of banging, clacking and roaring machines are making the job a whole lot easier.

Whack! goes the wrecking ball and down comes the building. Crunch! goes the mobile crusher turning slabs of stone into gravel for new concrete. Scrunch! goes the wood chipper, shredding wood into sawdust and mulch. It’s a riot of noise and action as a cruddy old building site is transformed into a serene park for kids to play in.

Children with a love of machinery will absolutely adore this book, onomatopoeia hollering from its action-packed pages.

Brian Lovelock’s vibrant illustrations are a riot of movement and the exhilarating text, with staccato sentences and beautifully kid-oriented wordage (“Dinosaurs had teeth like this!”) is pure delight for the younger set. I can imagine many a repeat read of this thoroughly entertaining book.

Machine Facts on the final page will fulfill those wanting a little more information on each machine, with their correct names and a short explanation and diagram.

Perfect for 3 – 8 year olds. And maybe even for middle-aged women, too.

Demolition is published by Walker Book Australia.