Review – WANTED! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar

Wanted Ralfy Rabbit It is wise to start a new year on a positive note. Many begin with a resolution. A new book excites me. But how do you choose the perfect title that will not only entertain and enthral but also convince you to pick up another, again and again? Best to begin with a tale of intrigue, mystery, and devil-may-care with a convincing love story involving passion and redemption. Happily, I found such a (picture book) tale so began the New Year with Ralfy the Rabbit!

Ralfy has a touch of OCD. He likes making lists and is a bit of an over-sharer all because he harbours a passion that runs deeper than a need for carrots. Ralfy loves books. In fact, he can’t get enough of them.

And, as some obsessions are wont to become, Ralfy’s soon evolves into one of criminal dimensions. Ralfy can’t stop taking other people’s books in order to satisfy his need to read.

It appears Ralfy’s bibliophilic book thief existence is unstoppable until he meets Arthur, who also loves books and becomes more than a little agitated by the loss of his favourite title. Unable to curb his lust for books, Ralfy is finally nabbed by PC Puddle. At first, Arthur rejoices but then sympathises with the bookworm in Ralfy.

Emily MacKenzieHow can Arthur save Ralfy from imprisonment and cure his burglary tendencies without curtailing his lifelong love? Tune into author illustrator, Emily MacKenzie’s Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar to find out.

MacKenzie’s bouncy picture book text and adorable crayon/watercolour illustrations give wonderful insight into the heart and soul of would-be criminal, Ralfy. Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, demonstrates to young readers how two very different people can find unity because of a shared common passion and, in this case, become best (book) buddies.

I love how Wanted!… ultimately celebrates books and unashamedly encourages reading at every level, on almost every page. One can’t help but giggle at Ralfy’s’ expansive To Read, Read and Favourites Lists which include some time honoured literary masterpieces such as: A Hutch with a View, Warren Peas and The Hoppit.

the children who loved booksThe Bush Book ClubLike several other picture books before it, namely: The Children Who Loved Books, It’s a Book, Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books, I Love You Book, and Bush Book Club, Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar embraces the literal physicality of books and re-establishes the importance of the havens that show case them (libraries for instance) by subtly emphasising their significance in our world. Ultimately, a book about loving words and libraries and treasuring the worlds they harbour.

This one is definitely going on my Favourites List. Fantastic reading for 5 – 8 year olds and five out of five carrots from me!

Bloomsbury Publishing January 2015

 

Ready to Play: Peter Carnavas bears all on ‘Oliver and George’

peter carnavas picturePeter Carnavas is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator, some of his titles including The Children Who Loved Books, Last Tree in the City, The Great Expedition, The Boy on the Page, The Important Things and Jonathan!.  

Peter’s books consistently provide both children and adults with heartwarming, humorous and thought-provoking experiences that leave a lasting impression. His illustrations always showcase his talent in portraying beautiful expression and sensitivity. He also balances a perfect mix between detail and playfulness, and spreads that make a simple yet dramatic statement.  

oliverToday I present you with Peter’s latest adorable read-aloud story, Oliver and George, and I am lucky enough to have had the talented author / illustrator himself answer some behind-the-scenes questions!  

Short Review: Oliver and George

I love how we are introduced to the characters. Immediately, they capture our attention.
Oliver sure is ready to play. He’s dressed in a multitude of outfits; he’s a swashbuckling, sword- and hook-bearing pirate with a rollerskate on one foot and a flipper on the other, with a box for a hat and a superhero suit and cape. Then there’s George. George is a serious, spectacle-wearing bear. He’s busy… reading.           
Oliver can’t wait for George to finish his book.
”’In a minute,’ said George.”
Oliver tries to be patient, but that doesn’t last very long. So he throws a paper plane at George, and breaks his chair, and tips porridge on his head, until George got so mad that he… didn’t do anything.
Oliver continues to pester George until at last he gets some attention. But is it the attention he wanted? And are both Oliver and George finally ready to play?
With adorable illustrations showcasing the parent-child-like relationship between the characters, simple yet effective page layouts with white backgrounds and sizeable text, Peter Carnavas’ Oliver and George is a delightful, cheeky and charming story about patience (and sometimes losing it) for young readers to giggle through from start to finish.  

10626774_765837733476621_2094984753388497762_nHow did the idea for Oliver and George come about?
I was on the plane to Perth, scribbling away in my sketchbook.  I had been thinking about a bear character for a while – I guess almost every children’s author has done it – and finally thought of creating a bear character that really didn’t behave the way in which the reader expected or wanted.  I think I had the wonderful No Bears (Meg McKinlay/Leila Rudge) floating around my head as inspiration.  I decided to add the cheeky Oliver character and, together with George, the two of them form a bit of a sibling relationship or, more likely, a parent-child relationship – the child bugging the parent to play, but the parent is always too busy.    

Are these characters based on anyone you know?
No, I didn’t base them on anybody.  However, since I’ve made the book, I’ve noticed members of my family behaving very much like Oliver and George.  We bug each other for attention, or tell each other, “In a minute”, when asked to do something.  

Have you ever broken someone’s chair?
I have!  When I was ten, I remember drawing a picture that didn’t meet my expectations and I kicked one of our dining chairs out of frustration.  I was a quiet kid but very occasionally I snapped – much like George.  Dad made me pay for the chair out of my pocket money.  
I also punched a boy in Grade One for snatching a book from me. My teacher smacked me and I never punched anyone again (apart from my brother).

So, you are more like George than Oliver?
I realise I am quite like George the bear.  Tolerant… until somebody snatches a book from me.  

How long did it take you to write and illustrate Oliver and George?
It didn’t take me too long to write the first draft but then I rewrote it many times, swapping ideas with my editor, changing the bear to a crocodile at one stage (didn’t last), and playing around with the ending a lot. I received some advice from some teacher-librarians about the ending, which helped a lot. So it’s hard to put a timeline on the writing process – it tends to happen in-between everything else. The illustrations probably took a few months, over the summer.

What’s your favourite animal to illustrate? Why?
It changes all the time.  At the moment I love drawing whales and penguins.  My favourite part of drawing any animal is dressing them up a little and giving them human expressions with the slightest details – small eyebrows and things like that.  

What can us Peter Carnavas fans look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
You mean there’s more than one of you?!  I’ve written a really fun book called What’s In My Lunchbox?, illustrated by Kat Chadwick.  It’s a fun, read-aloud book aimed at a young audience, much like Oliver and George. It will be out in early 2015.  
I look forward to its release!

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Pete!
You’re welcome!  

Peter Carnavas, with the help of Pat Flynn, will be launching his new book, Oliver and George, on October 25th at Maleny Library, Queensland.
See http://www.newfrontier.com.au/events/oliver-and-george-book-launch/850.html for more details.
http://www.petercarnavas.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Carnavas-AuthorIllustrator

Article by Romi Sharp
www.romisharp.wordpress.com
www.facebook.com/mylittlestorycorner