Christmas is Still Coming – Picture Books this Season

Need more Christmas-themed books to keep your little ones entertained this season? Between my previous list, those featured on the Kids’ Reading Guide, and the Boomerang Bloggers fantastic suggestions, you won’t be short for choice of top quality reads to cover all your festive needs.  

imageSanta’s Busy Reindeer, Ed Allen (author), Nathaniel Eckstrom (illus.), Scholastic Australia, 2014.

In a similar style to some of his other titles including 10 Cheeky Possums and 10 Funny Sheep, Ed Allen teams up with illustrator Nathaniel Eckstrom to sing us a reindeer tune just like the 10 Green Bottles one. Readers journey with ten fun-loving, and at times obstinate reindeers, with each page turn subtracting one poor deer from the equation. Carrying out all their favourite Christmas pastimes, like ice skating, hanging fairy lights, organising gifts, carolling, baking and decorating the tree, unfortunate (but oh-so-humorous) mishaps lead us down to one, until they all regroup with Santa’s call and they’re off on their merry way.

Bursting with energy, cheekiness and Eckstrom’s witty illustrations, it’s so much fun to see the reindeers’ attempts at productivity the night before Christmas! Santa’s Busy Reindeer will have your preschoolers in fits of giggles and lots of sing-along action.  

imageThe Naughtiest Reindeer, Nicki Greenberg (author, illus.), Allen & Unwin, 2013.

Poor Rudolf is bed-ridden on the night before Christmas. How will the other reindeer manage to pull the sleigh without him? Never fear! Ruby is here! But Ruby isn’t exactly the most obedient of reindeers. Her over-enthusiasm and impetuous nature lead her to all sorts of mischief. Too much for Santa to bear, he heads back to his Mrs, mistakingly dismissing one visited home, and Ruby! How will those children react when they discover their absent presents? Who will make up for the night-time disasters? You will see, a little compassion goes a long way!

You’ll be lolloping along with Ruby’s antics in this gorgeously comical and engaging rhyming story. Young readers will fall in love with this delightful and zealous character, and no doubt will relish the sequel out this Christmas, The Naughtiest Reindeer at the Zoo.  

imageThere is a Monster Under My Christmas Tree Who Farts, Tim Miller (author), Matt Stanton (illus.), ABC Books, 2014.

From naughty reindeer to naughty monster. This one’s exploding with naughtiness and cheek! With foul language and foul smells, a young boy’s Christmas is ruined by the gaseous fumes that pervade his every move. As told in first person in an explanatory style, we learn how the wrapping of presents ritual is infused with bauble bombs, a photo with Santa captures nothing but cloudiness, and Mum and Dad can’t get past his cracking noises and putrid whiffs. But will Santa believe the young boy’s innocence, or will the monster’s true identity be revealed at just the right moment?

If you’re into toilet humour, you’ll love it! There is a Monster Under my Christmas Tree who Farts, with its animated, digital cartoons, is certainly not a ‘pleasant’ read, but early primary children will certainly be tooting for more.

Double Dipping – Last minute delights for Dad!

My Dad is a GiraffeMy Dad is a Giraffe

Dads are often described as bears and can be boorish but does yours remind you of a giraffe? If he’s tall and gentle, fast and spotty and good to climb up, chances are he is a giraffe.

My Dad is a Giraffe is the latest technicoloured picture book by genius, Stephen Michael King. I admit, I tend to sway a little when I hear his name, so enraptured by his talents am I. Happily, this new partnership of carefully considered words and whimsical illustrations encased thoughtfully in a blue-for-boys cover does not disappoint.

King uses a candy shop palette of colours and swirls and squiggles to paint one child’s description of their father, a character they are clearly in awe of. I mean, this guy can do really ‘amazing grown-up things like sitting in the big chair with his feet touching the ground.’ Concepts like this one capture the rapture only children can possess before life and logic over take them. Experiencing a Stephen Michael King picture book is exquisite in its own right. Experiencing this one is like holding a bubble between your fingers. It encapsulates the seemingly fragile and temporary yet intrinsically beautiful altruistic relationship young children share with their father figures.

Could not be better for Father’s Day.

Scholastic Press August 2015

Dear Dad I want to be just like YouDear Dad, I Want to Be Just Like You

I know some might be money for old rope, but picture books by interactive picture book team, Ed Allen and Simon Williams are often right on the money. In the same epistolary style as Dear Mum, I Love You, Dear Dad, I want to be Just Like You is a collection of cleverly crafted correspondences by an assortment of critter kiddies in praise of their fathers. And when your dad is as funny, sporty and brave, not to mention a whiz in the kitchen as these dads are, you’ll wish you were just like him, too.

Williams’ full-page portraits plunge readers into the colourful hearts and homes of each animal from King Emperor Penguin to Salt Water Croc. The letters, enveloped in sneaky little fold outs and pull outs are ridiculously cute and funny while the enclosed sentiments will strike a chord with dads everywhere. There is even a referral to FIFO dads or more accurately, SISO dads as told through the eyes of Daddy Humpback. (You work it out!)

Humorous and utterly alluring, Dear Dad, I want to be Just Like You embodies a love of letter writing with the intimacy of daddy-child relationships like no other. A highly recommended fun Father’s Day read.

Scholastic Australia August 2016

For more fantastic Father’s Day reads, have a look at my round up and Romi’s as well.

Song, Poem and Rhyme Picture Books

Children connect with songs and rhymes. This innate quality allows young readers and listeners the ability to play and experiment with sounds with ease. Not only do these lyrical stories lend themselves to a range of engaging and interactive experiences, but their audience is also given opportunities to learn the mechanics of language, sequences and meaning of the text. The following few picture books explore some well-known tunes and traditional tales in new and innovative ways that will relate to their readers, both young and old. Some great for a giggle, some for a wiggle, and one for learning about things that jiggle!

The Croc and the Platypus, Jackie Hosking (author), Marjorie Crosby-Fairall (illus.), Walker Books, 2014.  

From the lyrical talent of Jackie Hosking, with the superbly detailed and dynamic acrylic paintings by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, ‘The Croc and the Platypus’ bounds its way from outback Australia straight into our hearts.
To the age-old tune of ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, here our water-loving, ‘Aussie’ pair set off, not to sea in their pea-green boat, but across the desert in their rusty Holden ute. Featuring typical Australian and Indigenous treasures and proper slang, including didgeridoo hullabaloos, sheep-shearing blokes, a cocky, lamingtons and the beauty of the Southern Cross above Uluru, the platypus and the croc embark on an extraordinary camping adventure.
‘The Croc and the Platypus’ is a charming Aussie rendition of the classic song with its romping, rollicking nature and perfectly suited sandy tones and animated characters. Primary school children will adore these unlikely mates and all that our native outback has to offer.  

8367940_ZSilly Squid! Poems about the Sea, Janeen Brian (author), Cheryll Johns (illus.), Omnibus Books, 2015.  

Following on from the ‘Silly Galah!’ poem book, award-winning Janeen Brian, together with illustrator Cheryll Johns, dive into more fact-finding fun with the wonderfully entertaining ‘Silly Squid! Poems about the Sea’.
Learning about underwater sea creatures in this book is far from boring. I love how Brian cleverly gets the reader involved. She doesn’t simply spill facts onto the page, but through a nicely cantered metre and interesting information, she encourages discussion with prompting, questioning and expression. Find out fascinating facts, like how a sea star regrows an arm, that a daddy leafy sea dragon helps the eggs to hatch, a squid is not silly because it can colour-change, and that fairy penguins don’t carry wands or grant wishes.
Discovering the world of sea life has never been more captivating with the fun poetry and vivid, bold acrylic paintings. ‘Silly Squid!’ is a valuable resource for primary aged children both in and out of the classroom.  

9781743623534The Cow Tripped Over the Moon, Tony Wilson (author), Laura Wood (illus.), Scholastic, 2015.  

A hilarious version of the old nursery rhyme, ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’, with a most persistent, hard-working cow and his ever-so supportive friends. ‘The Cow Tripped Over the Moon’ takes us back on the journey of how the cow ultimately succeeded in jumping over the moon. With exuberant rhyme and comical, distinct illustrations, it takes this hapless cow seven moon attempts before he finally conquers this mighty challenge. From tripping over, to hitting a hot air balloon, slow run-ups, riding meteorites and blazing bottoms, Cow hits an all-time low. But the encouragement of his dog, cat, dish and spoon mates sparks the determination in this fiesty creature, and the rhyme ends happily ever after.
Adorably whimsical and witty with clever plays on the classic rhyme, ‘The Cow Tripped Over the Moon’ is perfect for a snuggle and a giggle before a preschooler’s bedtime.    

Some other great song books to add to your list:

10-cheeky-possums10 Cheeky Possums, Ed Allen (author), Claire Richards (illus.), Scholastic, 2015.  

From the crazy silly series from Scholastic and Ed Allen, including ’10 Clumsy Emus’, ’10 Spooky Bats’ ’10 Hooting Owls’, ’10 Silly Wombats’, and ’10 Funny Sheep’, is the latest in the collection; ’10 Cheeky Possums’.
Each book contains the same rhythmic style and format, taking the reader from ten animals down to one, to the tune of ’10 Green Bottles’. There are always lively scenes and funny ways that the animals disappear from sight, like being inauspiciously swept off into the distance.
Whilst some unconventional phrasing to fit the verse, this series is an entertaining and interactive concept aimed at young preschoolers and the development of number recognition and counting skills. There are certainly plenty of opportunities for exploration and manipulation in the areas of numeracy and the arts.  

little-barry-bilby-had-a-fly-upon-his-noseLittle Barry Bilby had a Fly upon his Nose, Colin Buchanan (author), Roland Harvey (illus.), Scholastic Australia, 2015.  

By legendary author and musician Colin Buchanan, and charismatic, witty illustrations by Roland Harvey, is the gorgeously humorous and charming ‘Little Barry Bilby had a Fly upon his Nose’.
Crafted from the classic ‘Little Peter Rabbit’ song, this Aussie version takes us bouncing and itching along as a group of helpless native animals escape the invasion of their bizzy buzzy bush bug pests by jumping into the creek.
With rollicking lyrics in three verses, repetition and alliteration, preschoolers can easily gauge the rhythm and language, allowing for a most appealing and engaging song (and dance) time experience. The bonus CD adds an extra dimension to the drama, particularly for those adults who may need some help staying on key!  

Last Minute Must Have for Mum – Picture book review

Dear Mum I love You #2This is a Mother’s Day book that shouts Mother’s Day and possibly one of the best picture book tributes to mums I’ve read since becoming one. It will melt your heart and make you want to scoop up someone small and hug them tight.

From the failsafe team of Ed Allen and Simon Williams, Dear Mum, I Love You addresses mums of all creeds and colours in a heart-warming, epistolary-styled, bright pink covered picture book. I love the concept of learning about the various glowing attributes of each young creature’s mother through their handcrafted notes and letters to her.

Clever word play deftly synchronises each creature’s relationship with their natural, species-specific behaviours; Junior the elephant loves wallowing in his bath for instance. Lachie the monkey loves hanging around with his mum; Mia appreciates the finer qualities of hide and seek thanks to her mum, the chameleon.

Each youngster’s little thank you note echoes the undiluted innocence and serenity the very young possess in truck loads without a trace of sentimentality or schmaltz. Well okay, it is a book full of love notes to mum so you’d expect a little cuteness. However, I never once felt trapped in a chocolate-box while reading this. Rather, it was a book I genuinely looked forward to sharing with my own child.

Allen’s sometimes-sarcastic humour and William’s pages of glorious colour balance it all beautifully. Each full-page spread is dense with textural detail and character rich imagery.

Philanthropically correct (at time of printing – I’m assured the .70c stamp is set to increase any day soon, though), Dear Mum, I Love You has real letters for little fingers to open, flaps to lift revealing hidden notes and most charming of all, real note paper for children to write their own message of love and appreciation to YOU. Arww… At least you would hope they act on this mindful prompt!

Dear Mum, I Love You combines the almost lost past times of letter writing and spending quality reading time together in a remarkably fun and delightful way.

As Evie, the deer sums up, ‘My favourite place in the whole wide world is always anywhere you are. I love you.’ And you’ll love this too.

Mother's day noteAvailable, in time for Mother’s Day sharing, here.

Scholastic Australia April 2015