Five Favs from Afar – Picture books a plenty

Time to feature a few (plus a few more) stories that originate far from our shores but possess buckets of charisma worth sharing with the small people in your lives.

Found by Salina Yoon Found

I am fast becoming a fan of Salina Yoon thanks to her beguiling Penguin picture book series. Her latest (if you don’t count the penguins! –  Penguin and Pumpkin), is Found, a story personifying selfless friendship and sound morals, as anthropomorphically depicted by Bear and Bunny. Crisp, clean narrative accompanies solid simple illustrations that utilise perspective well and convey emotion in a supremely stripped-back honest way. Kiddies 2 – 5 years-old will adore Bear’s attempts to re-home a lost bunny, undoubtedly relating to his consequent heartbreak when he discovers how deeply attached he’s become to Bunny when forced to give him up. May 2014

ThThere's a Dinosaur in My Bathtubere’s a Dinosaur in My Bathtub by Catalina Echeverri

Remember Mr Snuffleupagus, Big Bird’s unerring buddy who never revealed himself to Sesame Street folk? Well, Amelia has a secret too. She has a French dinosaur named Pierre in her bathtub who is even more apt than Snuffy at remaining surreptitious. Unbeknownst to the rest of the family, she and Pierre have terrific fun together. They share galactic hot chocolates and tour magical lands of candyfloss trees; but only during the summertime. Come autumn and it’s time for Pierre to move on. Echeverri paints a fantastical world more enormous that Pierre himself. Bubbling with whimsy and colour and the occasional French phrase, this picture book is manifique for pre-schoolers and dinky di dinoWhale in the Bathsaur lovers. February 2014

(and if you want more great bathtub yarns, check out Whale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway and Tom Jellett . A similar tale about dealing with disbelief and wild imagination whilst trying to dislodge a gigantic sea mammal from the bathtub before all trouble breaks out. Massive fun from Allen & Unwin September 2014)

The Dawn Chorus by Suzanne BartonThe Dawn Chorus

This one positively hums with heart. Charm flits effortlessly from page to page. A true tactile delight; from the sumptuous cloth cover to the beautiful collage and painted illustrations. Peep is a little bird with a modest yearning to be part of a greater whole, The Dawn Chorus. However, despite his best efforts, he never makes the morning shift in time and despairs his singing dreams are at an end until he meets someone who sings as sublimely as he does. She too is not part of The Dawn Chorus, for a very special reason. An uplifting fresh look at fitting in and self-discovery. Glorious for 3 – 5 year-olds and those not-so-early birds. June 2014

On My Way to School

On My Way…series

Sarah Maizes and Michael Paraskevas are one of those picture book writing teams that ‘work’. They have created a rollicking series of visually yummy picture books spotlighting various reluctant-child-vs.-pressured-parent situations beginning with On My Way to the Bath. These two, On My Way to Bed and On My Way to School follow the familiar pattern: child asked to do something by ubiquitous unseen parent; child presents argument against request; child (and her companion Froggolini) embark on a series of madcap adventures endeavouring to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. Every double page in each of these books is saturated with bold, zany colourful fun. Mundane is aptly transformed into marvellous with clever child-typical twisty endings. Exasperated On My Way to the Bathparents will find it hard to wipe the smiles off their 2 – 5 year olds’ faces with this one. Hijacking a child’s imagination has never been such silly fun. February and August 2014

There’s a Lion in My Cornflakes

Sticking There's a Lion in My Cornflakeswith another slice of silliness, we end today with the first time collaboration of Michelle Robinson and Jim Field and There’s a Lion in My Cornflakes. Ever wanted something so bad you’d do just about anything to get it? Eric and his brother, Dan make the ultimate sacrifice spending a whole year’s pocket money on one hundred packets of cereal so that they have enough vouchers for a free lion. They endure cornflake overload until Mr Flaky finally delivers their prize, but it’s not what they expected. A quirky, laugh-out-loud tale about the dire consequences of wanting too much and not always getting what you want. It encapsulates the magnetic attraction kids possess for things often out of reach with a wildly whacky style. And, it comes with thirty vouchers to get them on their way! Brilliant. I am in love with Field’s exuberant illustrations too. Suitable for consumption by 2 – 6 year-olds and those who don’t buy breakfast cereals for the taste but for the toys! July 2014There's a Lion illos

All these titles by Bloomsbury Publishing Australia and available now through Boomerang Books.




Five Faves from Afar

Summer has nudged spring well and truly out of the garden but there’s still time to sit back, cool off and relax with this month’s Fave Five. Five sweet, syrupy offerings to help you remember the mellifluous moments of last season before we dive head first into the next silly one…

Wake up Do Lydia LouWake Up Do, Lydia Lou!Julia Donaldson and Karen George. 2013 Macmillan Children’s Books UK. From the creators of Freddie and the Fairy, comes this utterly divine, not so scary story about a ghost who is bent on trying to give Lydia Lou a fright. He tries everything in his ethereal powers, enlisting in the vocal stylings of mooing cows and booing babies, but nothing can stir Lydia Lou from slumber. What does happen when she finally wakes to a roomful of noise makers? Children as young as three will hang on every word of this amusing collection of alliterative and repeating verse. It’s a fun and innovative way of introducing sound and word associations with just a smidge of spook thrown in. Too good to wait for next Halloween to share.

Clara Button and the Wedding Day SurpriseClara Button and the Wedding Day SurpriseAmy De La Haye and Emily Sutton. V & A Publishing 2013 (in corporation with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum). When in London, a visit to the V & A museum is imperative. If an overseas sojourn to Europe with your little ones seems a long way off, whet their appetites and infuse their senses with culture with this gorgeous picture book, the very first published by the museum. Amy De La Hayes’ Clara Button is an innovative, creative type who is all in a dither over a friend’s upcoming wedding. She loses herself in a dream of what to wear and how to personalise her outfit. When things go horribly wrong, Clara’s lateral thinking turns disaster into something fantastic which ironically suits the wedding theme to a tee. Wedding Day Surprise is oozing with more intricate detail and fascination than the Portobello Road haberdashery itself. Captivating for 4 – 7 year olds.

Amelia and Nanette Sparkly Shoes“Amelia and Nanette: Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties Sophie Tilley. 2013 Bloomsbury Publishing UK. Still very much in the slightly convoluted manner of English orientated picture books, is this spring time release by Sophie Tilley. In spite of an over-flowery narrative, the look and feel of this book is sumptuous and sublime. I love the Bloomsbury penchant for clothbound hard covers. It’s a winsome look at two best friends who revel in each other’s shared dreams, loves and delights. Even when Amelia’s ‘large and really rather naughty dog’, Pilou, attempts to sabotage the girls’ perfect picnic day, their friendship endures, strengthened by hugs and supportive mothers. Younger school aged girls in particular will find this picture book as delicious as drinking a strawberry smoothie.

Dragon Loves PenguinDragon Loves PenguinDebi Gliori 2013 Bloomsbury Publishing UK. Another English author illustrator who should need no introduction is Debi Gliori. Her latest picture book is a gorgeous, read again and again tale of ‘need’ finding the perfect fit with ‘want’ and develops into an enchantment about the power of love, and being brave and unique. Two unlikely characters, a dragon and a penguin, are magically brought together with Gliori’s loose charcoal line and watercolour illustrations, a fusion which melts the iciest floes. Sensitive storyline and sublime art for 0 – 5 year olds, although my 8 year old can’t get enough of this one.

Penguin in LovePenguin in LoveSalina Yoon. 2013 Bloomsbury Publishing Australia, 1st published in the US 2013. Sticking with the Antarctic theme and rival for top pick over Dragon Loves Penguin, is Penguin in Love. Author illustrator, Salina Yoon, weaves a tender-hearted tale of looking for love and friendship and finally finding it under a mountain of woollen beak cosies. “Love is a big adventure” especially if you are small and alone but worth the risk of seeking out as Penguin discovers. Told with big bold beautiful illustrations, this picture book is certain to warm the very cockles of your heart not to mention those of 3 – 5 year olds.

Stay tuned for more exciting stocking filling ideas in my next post.