Review – My Big Photo Activity Book

In the vein of Herve Tullet, this stunning, large-format activity book is stellar quality for kids who are serious about their art. And squiggles. Author/illustrator Pascale Estellon has created a stunner of a book that’s as much a coffee table tome as it is a magnificent stack of pages designed to send your child’s creativity into overdrive.

Featuring a plethora of photos and squiggles to make anyone smile, kids are invited to first turn a scouring pad and a sponge into an animal. They are then invited to draw the other half of photographed faces. They are invited to fill in the gaps between fox ears and some ruby red lips. They can make a class photo out of rubber band heads and decorate shop bags and t-shirts. They can even create book covers.

Let me at it!

Many will be tempted to sit this gorgeous book in the centre of glass coffee table for much admiring – and not much else. Before reviewing it, my 12-year-old daughter begged to start scribbling and sticking. When told she’d need to wait – her response? “What’s the point of a book like this unless you can use it?”

Indeed. I guess I have to get over it.

My Big Photo Activity Book is published by Thames & Hudson.


Review – The Family Hour in Australia

Just loving the gorgeously retro illustrations in this book that send one winging back to the 1970s. Author/illustrator Tai Snaith has created a timeless peek into the typical Aussie family life . . . of our native fauna.

The sun has risen and a colourful Gouldian family gobble their breakfast. On a nearby branch, retro canisters are lined-up and labelled – Flies, Snails, Bugs and Ticks. Baby numbats take a ride on mum’s back, flicking out sticky tongues to catch a snatch of termites.

In the supermarket, a roo and her joeys snaffle Joey Juice and Kangamite from the shelves while a puggle slurps pink milk and baby cygnets cuddle into baby-bjorn style pouches on their parents’ fronts. Tassie Tigers don thrash metal tshirts and play the drums in the garage, and wombats snuggle in to watch tele under stripy blankets.

I love the kooky, totally disjointed nature of this book – it’s pure fantasy and the illustrations are a joy to wander through, however, in a purist sense, the blending of animal fact, highly-imaginative fiction and quirky illustrations are a little fractious at times – mostly in terms of the voice the author uses. It would have perhaps been more effective had she used language as original and fun as the book’s overall concept.

Hidden clocks denote time as the story unfolds – from early morning to late at night, and Family Facts at the end of the book expound on a series of animal facts. A great book for schools and libraries.

The Family Hour is published by Thames & Hudson.