Hippity Hoppity – Easter’s on its way!

You may be surprised as I to learn that Easter is just two and a half weeks away. Well, maybe not with all those buns and eggs on the shop shelves to remind you. If filling your Easter break with more than just chocolate and egg hunts and spiritual appreciation is important to you, then perhaps these new picture book releases will appease the persnickety Peter Rabbit within (and entertain your younglings to boot!)

We're Going on an Egg Hunt Laura HugesWe’re going on an Egg Hunt, by Laura Hughes amply satisfies young tastes with easy-to-read, boldly laid out text that echoes the perennial favourite, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt verse. Being instantly recognisable means small eyes can concentrate on Hughes’ foxy little illustrations, only there is not a fox in sight, thank goodness. The Bunny Family are the ones on the hunt…for eggs naturally, and they are super excited about it, too.

As they traverse their way through woods and across farmyards, they encounter obstacles at every twist and bend. Armed with nothing more than an egg-swiping net and a barrow-load of perseverance, they figure out the best course of action until they hit the jackpot and a whole lot of trouble. Did I mention there were no foxes?! Perfect Easter action-based fun for pre-schoolers demonstrating positive rewards follow tenacious effort with dinky flaps to lift and treasures to accumulate.

Bloomsbury Children’s Books March 2016

The Wonderful Habits of RabbitsEver wondered what rabbits get up to when they are not fighting off wolves and hunting for eggs? Well, wonder no more for The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits will delight every lover of lapins and addresses all those tricky rabbit questions. Written in gently loping verse, author, Douglas Florian invites us to spend a day with a colony of rabbits (otherwise known as a fluffle) as they leap and laze The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits illos spreadabout the meadows. Actually, life with this family of cottontails stretches poetically across several seasons until it’s time to snuggle down with a goodnight kiss. Sonia Sanchez’s winsome pencil line drawings bound with colour and charm depicting the energetic spirit of bunny in the most Watership Down-dream-like way. The end papers are particularly appealing, especially for kids who love to quantify and establish ownership (of things) with plenty of rabbits to choose a favourite from. The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits is a fetching addition to your Easter reading.

The Five Mile Press February 2016

George BilbyIf Easter equals a chance to chillax with your loved ones and whip up a few dozen hot cross buns as it can for me, then you’ll appreciate George, the Bilby Chef and his insatiable quest to cook. This sweet new character hailing from the pens and paintbrushes of Jedda Robaard features in the first of a new picture book series about enterprising epicurean marsupial, George and because bilbies like George are Australia’s preferred kind of egg-delivering icon, he fits snuggly into any Easter basket. In this debut instalment, The Raspberry Surprise, George is intent on surprising his best friend, Betty Echidna on her birthday with a special sweet treat. Raspberry muffinsGeorge Bilby illos spread are his dessert of choice but locating and then harvesting said raspberries proves to be near impossible until George enlists the services of some of his very obliging and thoughtful friends. By the time Betty arrives, the cakes have been baked and readers are gently aware of the benefits of working together towards a shared goal. Robaard’s soft easy to digest illustrations compensate for a slightly longer text but one that young readers will enthuse over thanks to the lovely sense of expectation and logical explanation. Best of all; a handy Bilby Chef Recipe card is included to keep and use. I wonder what other scrumdelicious adventures George will encounter. Ideal for three-year-olds and above and budding junior Masterchefs everywhere.

The Five Mile Press February 2016

Dance Bilby DanceFor many, Easter is a time of reflection, renewed hope and of life moving forward. For most of us, dreams represent the impetus to continue. In Tricia Oktober’s latest picture book, Dance, Bilby, Dance, our favourite Easter marsupial, Bilby is no different; ‘he wishes he could dance.’ In what appears to initially be a one-man show, Bilby is surrounded by white space, alone with his desires while all those in the world around him appear to revel in what he regards is unobtainable, until one day, after closely observing his dancing shadow, his innermost yearnings leap into existence. But, has Bilby unleashed a passion too big and scary to control? Oktober’s bright expressive illustrations are king in a quietly impressive picture book that imaginatively introduces readers five years old and above to some curious critters, stirring language, and the possibilities that can lead to new friendships. I especially appreciated the gentle notion that overcoming ones fears can free one for moments of ecstatic expression and reward; an approach to life that should never be underestimated. And perhaps one of the soundest Easter messages of all.

Ford Street Publishing March 2016

Aussie Easter Hat ParadeNow it just wouldn’t be a notable time of year without a cheer-filled, colourful contribution by Colin Buchanan and Simon Williams, and if you have primary aged children you will instantly sympathise with the Easter Hat Parade tradition performed at many schools. What I love about Aussie Easter Hat Parade is the outrageous tribute to not only a swag of Aussie creatures but also the brilliant flora that constitutes their homeland (and ours). From the bright red desert pea that Billy Bullant crowns himself with to Wombat’s Gymea lily lid, each little mate adorns themselves with feathers, flowers, gum nuts and more resulting in a fantastic Easter bonnet brouhaha and the very first Aussie Easter Hat parade (just in case you were wondering how all this craziness started). Sensational fun, bewitching illustrations and a singalong CD to boot, with a neat little ending reminding us that sometimes the biggest brightest ideas can originate from the most minute situations…or ants.

Scholastic Australia March 2016

 

 

A hunting we will go – Easter basket fillers

It wouldn’t be Easter without a bit of a hunt. Whatever your predilection, chocolate eggs, fairies, time spent with loved ones; this small but sweet selection of Easter inspired treasures are perfect to pop into your Easter baskets this year.

For the very young bunnies:

Little Barry Bilby Little Barry Bilby by Colin Buchanan and Roland Harvey, including bonus CD for those inept at carrying a tune like me, starts us off. Modelled on Little Peter Rabbit, this Aussie version is chockers with charm and ‘bizzy, buzzy, bush bugs’. Barry Bilby and a cast of awesome Aussie characters are subjected to the typical insecticidal onslaught familiar to us all, especially those on their annual Easter camping trips. Mozzies, cicadas, bees, ticks and even a Bogong moth, harass our lovable cast until they find a better-than-Aeroguard solution to their ‘itchy-twitchy’ dilemma. Eye catching, sing-along fun.

Scholastic Australia March 2015

Beach HolidayOne of the latest in the Ella and Olivia series, Beach Holiday is great Easter-time-away reading for those weaning themselves onto their first chapter books. When Ella’s little sister, Olivia, gets lost on holiday, adventure follows. But can Ella save her and the day? Penned by Yvette Poshoglian and illustrated by Danielle McDonald.

Scholastic Australia January 2015

The very Cranky Bear PuppetsEaster Bunny is prone to leaving the odd stuffed likeness of himself behind on Easter morning, but why not leave instead a fluffy lamb, a curious moose, or even a cranky bear? Nick Bland’s classic, The Very Cranky Bear has been bonsai’ed into a divine little board book rendition of the nursery rhyme, Five in the Bed, with finger puppets! A sure bedtime, anytime crowd pleaser for under three-year-olds.

Scholastic Australia November 2014

For the maturing bunnies:

Those Pesky Rabbits Those Pesky Rabbits is the stunning picture book debut by author illustrator, Ciara Flood and another story that paints bears as slightly grumpy, inhospitable creatures that prefer to live on their own, just the way they want.

Bear is no exception so imagine how his forbearance is tested when a hoard of do-gooding rabbits set up camp, right next door.

They pester him with annoying requests and invitations until the full force of his impatience is unleashed. Fortunately, those pesky rabbits persist and their charity finally triggers a delightful change in Bear.

Pesky rabbits illos spreadHighly recommended for its attractive illustrations and messages of selfless kindness, community spirit, and perseverance.

Koala Books March 2015

Virgil and Owen Virgil and Owen tells the tale of burgeoning friendship in a slightly different light. As Easter values echo acceptance, new beginnings and understanding, so does Paulette Bogan’s picture book tale about Virgil, the penguin who finds a lost polar bear, Owen and immediately claims ownership of him. However, Owen has other ideas and divides his time between just about everyone else on the iceberg but Virgil. Slighted and alone, Virgil eventually learns that friendship is not merely about possession. A lovely example of tolerance and fair play.

Bloomsbury Children’s March 2015

For the bigger bunnies:

The Fairy who Wouldn't FlyWhat is Easter without a mad dash around the garden, seeking out hidden treasures: eggs, maybe even the odd fairy or two? Released last year, The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly retold by Bronwyn Davies, is a beautifully presented hardcover copy of Pixie O’Harris’s classic tale.

O’Harris’s exquisite illustrations adorn each page with the same tender beauty I find so captivating in May Gibbs’s work. Bush flora and fauna melt seamlessly together into fluttering, ethereal scenes.

Fairy NLA illoDavies’ retelling of the fairy who is banished to Woodn’t, a place where indignant creatures are exiled to for refusing to do as they should, takes a subtly different path from the original. Davies’ fairy assumes a more girl-power attitude, showing courage and thoughtfulness, which in turn encourages readers to embrace the possibilities of differences between them and nature more openly.

Valuable for confident readers aged six years and above or as a gorgeous shared bedtime read.

NLA May 2014

Like to save the best egg until last? I do.

Where's the Easter Bunny Where’s the Easter Bunny? by the perennial, Louis Shea is the ultimate Easter fun picture book. It’ll have your primary aged-bunnies engrossed for longer than it takes to hop down the bunny trail (and back up again), or in this case, the magic burrows.

Easter Bunny, aka EB, aka Uncle Bun, has got himself lost in the Magic Burrows. His young nieces and nephew head the rescue party, embarking on a zany mission to find him before the feckless bunny-hungry Foxy does. There’s not a minute to lose as Delivery time draws near.

This humorous ‘look and find’ romp through out-of-this-world places like Cloud Castle, Fairy Forest, and Mars Mine is brimming with joyous colour and delicious titbits about Easter egg creation. Perfect for consumption this Easter!

Scholastic Australia March 2015