Archive for the ‘Pre-school’ Category

The Grizzled Grist does not exist

By Juliette MacIver

Illustrated by Sarah Davis

ISBN 9781776574155

Gecko Press

Liam is a quiet, yet observant boy, who notices other things many children tend to miss. On a school trip in the countryside, while everyone else is busy running on ahead, Liam notices the children are being followed by what appears to be a gruesome Grizzled Grist. A Grizzled Grist is a large scary monster that likes to eat children. Liam tells the teacher one such monster is in the Dismal Hills with them but she tells him that they do not exist.

Have you ever heard of a Grizzled Grist? Do you know what one looks like? Liam does. He can see it lurking in the woods, moving in and out of the trees, but Ms. Whisk continues to tell him they don’t exist, despite wooden signs warning them.

When darkness falls

in rising mist


the Gruesome

Grizzled Grist.

I love the rhyme and rhythm, and playfulness of this story. It is a skill Juliette MacIver works into all her books.

Sarah Davis creates cute and believable characters with her delightful illustrations. There is always a softness to her illustrations which I find particularly appealing. I also love the diversity in her work.

Once again, author and illustrator, have collaborated well together and brought Liam and his friends back to life for another wonderful read.

Grandpa’s Storybook collection

By Joy Watson

Illustrated by Wendy Hodder

ISBN 9781775436614

Scholastic NZ

The cover of this new picture book collection is bright red. Grandpa stands in the centre with images from the different books surrounding him and his cheeky smile. It is a cover that says ‘pick me, pick me’.

Grandma and Grandpa have a wonderful relationship. They adore each other, even if Grandma sometimes gets annoyed with some of the things Grandpa does. Every time she tries to tidy things or make changes, somehow Grandpa messes things up again but Grandma is never cross, she just smiles at him.

Take the day she went through his clothes and sent his old grey cardigan off to the op-shop. Guess what Grandpa did next? Or the day Grandpa wanted to go to the beach but he had trouble with his shorts.

My favourite is Grandpa’s Cat. The cat goes missing and Grandma and Grandpa search everywhere. Poor old Grandpa begins to to think the worst has happened to the cat but just when he is about to give up, he hears a sound. A special kitty sound.

There is a reason Grandpa’s stories have been around for a very long time, and that is, they are funny, definitely relatable, and just a jolly good read. The illustrations, by Wendy Hodder, are funny with a retro look befitting the personalities of the grandparents.

This is a great collection to share with young, and not so young children. The stories are already firm favourites in many school libraries and homes, so it is so lovely to see them all together in one collection for even more children to enjoy.

Story titles

Grandpa’s slippers

Grandpa’s cat

Grandpa’s shed

Grandpa’s cardigan

Grandpa’s shorts

Ihaka and the Unexpected Visitor

By Kirsty Wadsworth

Illustrated by Zak Waipara

ISBN 9781775437543

Scholastic NZ

 Īhaka arrives home from school and almost immediately hears a booming knock at the door. It just happens to be Tāwhirimātea who is the Maori god of wind and storms. He is a most unusual visitor and he needs help because his littlest cloud has gone missing. Īhaka is excited and eager to help. The two set off in search of the little cloud. Along the way they meet a number of other Maori gods, such as Tāne god of the forest, and Tangaroa, god of the sea. Can they help? Do they know where the littlest cloud has gone or will Īhaka need to look for help closer to home?

This is a good introduction to different Maori gods for pre-school and primary school children. It’s also a good story for demonstrating teamwork and not being afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Lots of natural colours used in the illustrations, befitting the different Maori gods and their natural world.

There is also a te reo Maori version which is perfect timing for Maori Language week 12th to 19th September this year.

Perlorus Jack the Dolphin Guide

By Susan Brocker

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437475

Scholastic NZ

For 24 years, from 1888 to 1912 a very special moon-white dolphin guided ships through wild seas in the Marlborough Sounds which is in the upper South Island of New Zealand. People named the dolphin Pelorus Jack and everyone loved him. People came from all over the world to see this beautiful, friendly dolphin. Even some Royalty came and they got a very special, wet welcome from the friendly dolphin.

I discovered an interesting thing from this book that I never knew before. The famous writer Rudyard Kipling actually met Pelorus Jack. Later there was an incident that could have ended disastrously, but thankfully Perlorus Jack was safe. The incident had a profound impact on the people who loved the dolphin and they gathered outside parliament, demanding laws to protect him.

I do love how picture books can be creative and factually informative at the same time. The author and illustrator have worked together on a previous book, Mrs Chippy the cat, another picture book based on fact.

There is a page of historical notes at the back for further reading.


By Rachel Weston

Illustrated by Scott Tulloch

ISBN 978-0-473-63513-8

Weston Books Ltd.

Someone is making messes. Lots of messes in all the different rooms. Toys all over the place, muddy footprints and just big messes everywhere. Someone, a little girl with delightful pigtails and a cheeky smile, is very good at pointing the finger and blaming a raft of different monsters for causing the mess. There is a Gogglebox monster, and a Smelly-Belly monster and even a fearsome Fangle-Fangle monster. However, one monster in particular, is guilty of creating the mess.

A fun story, with gorgeous bright and bold coloured illustrations.

Definitely a picture book to share with toddlers.

Goat on a trampoline

By Amy Harrop

Illustrated by Ross Hamilton

ISBN 9781776890231

David Bateman Books

Lily is a cheeky goat who is bored. Lily is so bored she has chewed her way through jandals, chased dogs and even disturbed a weta. Lily reckons she has done everything and is looking for something new to do to pass the time. After spying a trampoline, Lily just has to give it a go. It turns out it might not have been the best idea.

Lily becomes over confident and a bit too much showing off, lands her in trouble.

A good example of the old adage pride comes before a fall. A wee lesson shared in a fun picture book.

Dougal the dancing Kākāpō

By Kath Bee

Illustrated by Lisa Allen

ISBN 9781776890057

Bateman Books

Dougal the Kākāpō loves dancing. All sorts of dancing. He rumbas in the rain, hulas in the sand on a sunny day. He hip-hops and breakdances too. He even plays a few musical instruments. Definitely a very talented kakapo.

Best of all, Dougal loves to move and have fun and he loves it all.

A sweet, colourful picture book all about having fun and doing whatever makes you happy. Dancing with friends makes it even more fun.

The monkey and the Moonbeam

By Jonathan Smith

ISBN 9780473622596

Little Love

Sometimes, we find that life is not always greener on the other side. Sometimes, we just need to look around and see that what we have is actually okay. For little monkey NicNic, this is his story of how he yearns for a better, softer bed. He travels the world with his friend, Crooner the crane and together they search all over for a softer bed. Their adventure takes them to places like the Himalayas, France and Australia. Is there a lesson in here? Yes, but that’s okay.

Sweet, and a good reminder that home is often the best place.

No home for a Wētā

By Stephanie Thatcher

ISBN 9781775437529

Scholastic NZ

In similar storyline, Weta goes in search of a new home, not because she wants a softer bed but because she wants her own space, and peace and quiet. I love Stephanie Thatcher’s illustrations. They are sweet, comical with heaps of personality. Check out the very funny pages where Weta is more than a little frustrated. A fun, rhyming picture book for young children. Great for preschool and early primary school for introducing NZ wildlife.

The last page provides useful details of different types of weta.

Korora and the Sushi Shop

By Linda Jane Keegan

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775437185

Scholastic NZ

Inspired by true events, this story is about some penguins korora who actually sneaked into a sushi shop.

A little blue penguin comes out of the sea, up on the shore, crossing dangerous roads and hides underneath a sushi shop. That is quite a big adventure for such a small creature. The penguin is rescued by the police and returned to the sea but comes back again the next day with a little blue penguin friend. Sushi shops might sound like a dream come true for penguins, but it’s definitely not the best place for little penguins to hide under.

A rhyming story with delightful colourful illustrations. Illustrator, Jenny Cooper is great at creating her animal characters and giving them life and personality with warmth and the best colour choices. When the wee penguins are safe and smiling in their new home, you can’t help but smile back.

Kara the Kākāpō

By Danni Rae

Illustrated by Evan Heasman

ISBN 9780473621759

Little Love

Kara the kakapo wants to fly but we all know Kakapo are flightless birds. However, Kara is one determined and creative kakapo. In this rhyming picture book, Kara comes up with a plan to try and make her dreams come true. Full page illustrations with lots of other New Zealand wildlife among the pages. A page of kakapo facts is a helpful addition.

Colour the stars taea ngā whetū 10th Anniversary Edition

By Dawn McMillan

Illustrated by Keinyo White

Retold in Maori by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 9781775436805

Scholastic NZ

How do you describe a colour to someone who can’t see?

Luke and Isaac are good friends. Luke just happens to be blind and in his world of darkness he doesn’t believe he needs colour, but Isaac does. Isaac uses all his senses to describe colour to his friend. The idea of describing colour as a taste is wonderful. The tender kindness of Isaac in helping his friend is such an important theme in this book.

This is a good book for any school or preschool collection. For a 10th anniversary, this picture book is now available with a bilingual Te Reo Maori version.

Words about birds of Aotearoa New Zealand

By Geoffrey Fuller

ISBN 9781775437666


I’m sitting here on my bed, sun coming through the window, and I have one foot hanging over the edge, and the other up on top in a moon boot. I’m watching a sparrow as it perches on the clothesline happily outside my window. It keeps turning its head and looking at me as if trying to communicate. It’s quite fitting as I write about a book on NZ birds.

The book is a collection of poems about birds, written and illustrated by Geoffrey Fuller. It features mostly Native birds from different areas, such as forests, swamps, ocean birds.

Yellow eyed penguins, and kea are my favourites. I do think there is not enough poetry being published, so this is lovely to see. The poems are short, with just a little information but mostly fun. Each bird has its own full page illustration opposite its poem.

Good introduction on birds for primary schools and keen bird watchers.

The story of Swoop

By Matt Owens

Illustrated by Emma Gustafson

ISBN 9781775437642

Scholastic NZ

Another book about birds, as I note my wee sparrow friend has flown off in search of better conversation.

This book is based on truth. Firefighter Matt had been driving down a country road when he discovered a cold, hungry, baby magpie all on its own. He scooped it up and took it home and cared for it. He even named it Swoop. The two became friends, and even Matt’s cat, Mogli accepted the magpie. Being the caring person he is, Matt soon realised that Swoop needed to be with his own family and friends, other magpies.

Set in the natural surroundings with full colour page illustrations, this is a sweet, heart-warming story about bird and human relationships. I do really like the illustrations of the magpies with their shiny black and white feathers and cheeky personalities.

Roo and Vladimir (an unlikely friendship)

Written and illustrated by Minky Stapleton

ISBN 9781775437505

Scholastic NZ

Roo is a happy dog, a very, big happy dog who loves doing lots of things. He is clumsy and trips over his own feet, and this causes him lots of trouble and makes him sad, especially when other dogs are frightened of him.

It is the meeting of another dog, Vladimir, a much smaller one, that shows friendships can be found anywhere. A big storm happens and the friends need to work together to find a safe place. What they do together shows us that heroes and friends can be found everywhere.

The brightly coloured illustrations are delightfully comical.

The invisible

Written and illustrated by Tom Percival

ISBN 9781471191305

Simon and Schuster UK

I had already read good reviews of this book, so when I saw it sitting on the bookshop shelves, I had to pick it up. Even without the reviews, the cover stood out so much that I would have picked it up anyway. The soft cool tones, the child and her dog, standing in the centre of the cover just wanting to be seen. So yes, this beautifully illustrated picture book went straight into my basket.

Isabel loves her family but they are poor. They miss out on things other people take for granted. The house is so cold, the ice forms on the inside of the house. Isabel feels invisible in this world where others pretend not to see her. The time comes when the family can no longer afford to live where they are and they are forced into a different kind of life, cold and gloomy.

Isabel however, wants more. She notices other invisible people and that is the turning point in this story.

Simple, clear text without being too harsh, shows readers a world that may or may not be like theirs. It is a world that sadly, too many people have to share. The illustrations are lovely especially with the choice of colours reflecting Isabel’s moods and surroundings.

A good purchase for families and definitely school libraries. I really like this and it fits a need. Lovely!

Here is the author and illustrator Tom Percival reading his book.

Wobble, waddle, toddle

By Anne Hunter

Illustrated by Dave Gunson

ISBN 9781776890088

Bateman Books

This is a gorgeously illustrated collection of poems about the wildlife along the shores, and beneath the seas, from Australia, New Zealand and all the way to Antarctica.

The rhyming poems are about whales, penguins, dolphins, the Royal albatross and many more.

The illustrations are cute and show lots of personality. The last few pages provide further facts and details for extra reading.

I do love the colours. Lots of blues just like the animals natural environment.

A good choice for preschools and primary schools as children discover animals and learn about poetry.

Nature’s alphabet : A New Zealand Nature Trail

By Andrew Crowe

Illustrated by Dave Gunson

ISBN 9781776890163

Bateman Books

A run through the alphabet in this book gives us bite-sized information about a variety of New Zealand’s wildlife. I found J for the Jumping Spider very interesting. I never knew they had so many eyes; eight to be exact. That is kind of scary even though they are harmless.

Author Andrew Crowe, knows his animals, creatures, insects and trees and provides the reader with interesting facts to whet the appetite.

Dave Gunson brings his artistic talents with warmth and detail.

There is an alphabetical list at the back which is a checklist for creatures to find within the pages of the book. This is a fun interactive book.

Row, row, row your waka (New Maori and English edition. CD and sheet music included)

Written and illustrated by Rebecca Larsen

ISBN 9781776890316

Bateman Books

Meet some of New Zealand’s favourite birds and animals as a group of friends sail across the sea. Kiwi, Pukeko and Hoiho journey over the ocean heading for a holiday in Australia. This is an updated edition with bilingual Te Reo Maori and English text.

The book comes with a CD which makes it fun and a good companion for car rides for children to sing along too. The illustrations are bright and bold with a child-like quality making it a good choice for younger children. The repetitive text and familiar tune will make this fun and no doubt a favourite for younger children.


By Sally Sutton

Illustrated by Brian Lovelock

ISBN 9781760653385

Walker Books Australia

The Roadwork series is a perfect combination of language, story and illustration. The books include, Roadworks, Demolition, Construction, Dig, dump, roll, and Wheels. Tractor is the latest and is sure to be another hit with young children, parents and grandparents alike.

I think what makes this a great book to read aloud is the language. Lots of rhyme, rhythm, onomatopoeia and repetition. The story focuses on the agricultural side of farming and the big tractors required to plough the field.

Down on the farm, let’s squirt the dirt.

Whoosh it! Swoosh it!

Splish! Splash! Spray!

Down on the farm, let’s squirt the dirt.

Each page has descriptions of things happening on the farm and then readers get to guess what type of tractor is doing the work, making this a fun and interactive picture book.

The illustrations are full page, bright, bold colours of farming life. The last page is more informative, with details about the parts of a tractor, which will delight the young children who love to know everything.

Great for homes, preschools and primary school libraries. A fun book to read over and over again.

What colour is the sky?

Written and illustrated Laura Shallcrass

ISBN 9780995142336

Beatnik Publishing

When you look at the sky, what colour do you see? Is it blue, grey, turquoise? What if you think it is blue, but your friend thinks it’s grey? Is one of you wrong and the other right or perhaps, you’re both wrong, or both right. Perception is different to us all. This gentle picture book by award winning author and illustrator, Laura Shallcrass, addresses this issue.

Pihoihoi puzzles over this question and together, with Hare, who just happens to think the sky is blue, begin to ask friends what they think.

Hedgehog thinks the sky is brown but mouse thinks it’s green. The journey continues, and as they meet other animals, they finally come to an understanding that we all think differently, and that is absolutely fine. Everyone has an opinion and everyone should be listened to, and respected, without judgement.

I loved the artwork in the author’s first book Hare and Ruru and I love it in this, her latest book. Natural colours for the natural landscape and gentle text, make this another delightful book to share together with someone special.

The Rhyming Pirate

Written and illustrated by Glenn Jones

ISBN 9780473574277

Mary Egan Publishing

What happens when a pirate, infamously known for his ability to rhyme everything, gets stuck when he finds a word he cannot rhyme?

This is a fun picture book mostly for preschoolers, although early primary school teachers might find it useful for learning about rhyme. The pirate, with his eye-patch and wooden leg, enjoys the chit-chat of talking in rhyme. He does it all the time and has quite the reputation but one word stumps him. Children will enjoy trying to work out what the word might be. Like all pirates, there is treasure but it is for readers to find within the pages of the book. There is a page with mini pictures of the things to find.

Fun and interactive.

A place I truly belong : A Loveable Larry Story

By Anita Hinton

Illustrated by Michelle Euinton & Shaila Awadh

ISBN 9780473576011

Mary Egan Publishing

Larry is different to the other animals in the zoo where he lives. He is soft and cuddly, while the others are tall and real. Being different makes Larry feel lonely with an overwhelming sense of not belonging. One night something magical happens under the Matariki night sky and Larry is able to escape the zoo.

He wanders many places, asking different animals he meets, if he belongs with them. Sadly, Larry doesn’t belong with any of them. There is a happy ending, and Larry does find a place to belong and to call home.

A sweet story, with sweet illustrations. It was written by the author, for her daughter, when times were tough and they both needed reassurance that there is a place somewhere, for everyone to call home.

As a parent, Christmas wasn’t Christmas, without giving books. Picture books, novels, even the road code counted. With that in mind, today’s post is a selection of new picture books just in time for Christmas shopping.

Ming’s Iceberg

By Kiri Lightfoot

Illustrated by Kimberly Andrews

ISBN 9781775437130

Scholastic NZ

What is not to love about a penguin? Little Ming is a curious penguin who wants to see what is out in the big wide world. From her home in Antarctica, Little Ming can see the horizon and when an opportunity arises she takes a leap onto a floating iceberg, and sets out to find what is in that place where the sea meets the sky.

On her journey she meets new friends but soon discovers that her iceberg is melting. This is sweet picture book with an environmental message about climate change and warming seas, but it is not the key message. Family, friends, and taking risks, are themes told in this gentle book.

Kimberly Andrews has captured the essence and sparkle of Little Ming. Lots of soft blues and whites, creating a sense of the Antarctic landscape. Just lovely.

The Little Yellow Digger and the big ship

By Peter Gilderdale

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775437413

Scholastic NZ

The Little Yellow Digger as a character, is a classic.

The original story was written by Betty Gilderdale and illustrated by her husband, Alan. Together they wrote several books about the digger and his antics. More than one generation has grown up with their books.

He is back with yet another adventure, this time written by their son, Peter, and illustrated by Fifi Colston. This is their second collaboration and they certainly do justice to the Little Digger stories.

Based on the real stranding of a ship in the Suez Canal in March 2021, this latest adventure sees our smartest, small machine save the day, once again. In fact, the little yellow digger gets stuck right in helping, even when others think he is too little, or doing things wrong. Sometimes, it pays to follow your own instincts and believe in yourself. Another lovely wee message to share with young readers.

Ka Pai Kiwi Favourites : 5 sing-along stories

ISBN 9781775437338

Scholastic NZ

This is a compilation of five previously published picture books, all bound together in a lovely hardback edition. The book is in both English and Te Reo Maori, and is a good pick to share with younger children. You can download the songs for free from here.

The Kiwi Hokey Tokey by Lynette Evans

The Kiwi go marching one by one by Peter Millet

Row, row, row your boat by Lynette Evans

10 kooky Kiwi (based on the traditional song 10 Green Bottles)

If your’e Kiwi and you know it (based on the traditional song If you’re happy and you know it)

The stories are all fun and quirky, with a definite kiwi theme which also makes it good for sending overseas.

Going on a Kiwi holiday

By Suzy Cato and Arthur Baysting

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437284

Scholastic NZ

Getting ready for a summer holiday takes quite some planning. What do you need, what will you do when you get there and even – where do you go? This family thinks of everything; kayak, sleeping bags, chilly bin, but there is always something that ends up being forgotten.

A fun road trip through summer with a repetitive rhyme just right for singing along in the car on your own holiday.

Wonky Donkey’s big surprise

By Craig Smith

Illustrated by Katz Cowley

ISBN 9781775437277

Scholastic NZ

Wonky Donkey is back and spending the day with Dinky. He tells Dinky there is a big surprise to come and they spend time guessing just what it might be. Katz Cowley’s illustrations bring out the softness and cuteness of little Dinky and the warmth of family love. Another one for fans to add to their Wonky Donkey collection.

Marvin makes a friend

by Nadia Lim

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775437307

Scholastic NZ

Marvin, the curious chicken is back, but he is now a teen and in this sequel to Marvellous Marvin, he is looking for a family of his own. He is just as delightful as when he was young, but he is now just a little bit too sure of himself. In fact he struts around as if he owns the place. All that does however, is leave him feeling a bit lonely. After talking to many of the animals on the farm, while they offer to be his friend, they tell him, they’re not his family. He is about to give up when he wanders up to an apple tree in the orchard, when something wonderful happens. If you read the first picture book then it is well worth checking this one out too, to see how Marvin has been growing up.

Fifi Colston has once again captured his personality perfectly, in her delightfully, cute illustrations. There is a lovely, and very cute little bumble bee which follows Marvin around wherever he goes. A friendly buzzy bee with his own personality. Lots of other farm animals make an appearance and I particularly love the cow and her big, beautiful eyes.

The book, apart from being a good story, is also informative. Nadia shares family photos of her farm, children, animals and the real Marvin. There are fun facts about the farm in Central Otago. It is great to see another recipe in this book. A good, easy recipe for corn fritters, that parents and readers can enjoy doing together.

Another good book to share with young ones.

One of the best things about holidays is the chance to slow down and catch up on some reading. As a school librarian I don’t get to read many adult books as I spend my time reading kids and young adult books so I can make honest recommendations to my students. I don’t believe in giving bad reviews as I want to focus on what I do enjoy reading. Also, these are reviews, and not critiques like what I used to have to do at university. Besides, I actually really enjoy reading children’s books. They offer so much and the stories and world-building for many of them are just wonderful. So some quick reviews of what I have been reading these holidays.

Inside the suitcase

By Clotilde Perrin

ISBN 9781776573431

Gecko Press

Clotilde Perrin is amazing with her illustrations and paper engineering.

A young boy packs his red suitcase with all manner of things and sets out into the world. We get to open his suitcase and bit by bit, flap by flap discover what is inside. Each flap has multiple layers to lift open, each revealing something different. We begin with large illustrated flaps which reveal smaller flaps to lift. Each reveal turns out to be part of an overall puzzle on how to get back home again. Perrin’s stories always have a certain quirkiness to them that engages the reader and keeps them guessing what will happen or be revealed inside the next flap to lift. The boy goes over the sea, ends up in the mountains, and even a monster makes an appearance. What else is in the suitcase? You’ll have to discover that yourself.

Her illustrations are quirky too, and that adds to the humour and story. The animals, cat and insects are certainly cute, especially the wee snail. I think it is my favourite. It turns up on several pages as well as the front and back covers.

This the third book of hers that I own but my favourite is Inside the villains. Look out for that one too.

The tiny woman’s coat

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Giselle Clarkson

ISBN 9781776573424

Gecko Press

This story has been around since 1987 but here it is a bigger format, and wonderful new illustrations.

This is a sweet, short text with a repetitive line The tiny woman wanted a coat. Her desire to make a coat from leaves, sees animals and birds offering their ideas and support as they recycle bits and pieces to help her make a coat, just in time to protect her from the bad weather.

The trees offer her their leaves, the goose helps her cut the cloth, and so it goes that eventually she has her coat. The story is about friendship and how friends help each other.

Joy Cowley has a wonderful way with language that engages the reader. Repetition, alliteration, and onomatopoeia add to the fun. Simple, fun and bound to be read over and over.

The illustrations by Giselle Clarkson, have lots of natural colourings, very wintery on some pages so that I can almost feel the cold. There is also a cute snail in this book who appears on every page, too.

Lovely to see this story out there in a new picture book format for a new generation of readers.

Kiwis and Koalas

By Sarah Milne

Illustrated by Laura Bernard

ISBN 9780473573959

Little Love an imprint of Mary Egan Publishing

Like the author, I too lived in Australia for a number of years. I still think of those years, the people and lifestyle with fondness. I returned to New Zealand many years ago but my memories are still vivid. Sarah has pulled together a sweet story about the love between living in Australia and New Zealand.

Many kiwis will relate to this story, many will have family across the ditch and will enjoy the comparisons between the two countries. Part tour guide, part fun with our language differences, this book is a reminder of the love that exists between the countries, although when it comes to sport, the rivalry is palpable.

The story is about Lily and her dog, Woof, who go in search of a bridge between the two countries. After a short, imaginative adventure, Lily remembers the things she loves, the places she has seen, and the animals and even the food she has eaten, which help celebrate the differences between Australia and New Zealand. It is a reminder that home is a place in your heart.

For young children, I feel the story is very wordy, but for older children who still enjoy a picture book this will have appeal.

The illustrations are sweet with a softness and lots of focus on the greenery of natural environments.

What do you need Little Rhino?

By John J. Lewis

ISBN 9781990003134

Upstart Press

Little Rhino is angry but she has no idea why. Her frustration keeps building and she runs around getting angrier and more upset. Her rhino parents ask lots of questions to try and find out why she is upset but Little Rhino has no answers. Eventually, they find a solution to clam her down.

Little Rhino is like many young children who find themselves overwhelmed with frustration and unable to communicate why they feel the way they do.

The illustrations are full page colour with lots of red and pink, highlighting the sense of how overwhelming and out of control her frustration feels.

A great wee book to read to preschoolers and let them know that frustration and anger is ok but that there are ways to deal with our feelings and sometimes, a hug is all we need.


by Rachel Weston

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

ISBN 9780473571245


Bumblebee is the latest picture book from author Rachel Weston. Told in gentle rhyme, it is both a story and an informative look at bumblebees.

Flowers call to Bumblebee as she dances around the garden sipping pollen and smelling the flowers sweet perfume.

“Come to me!

Come to me!

Come drink my nectar, Bumblebee.”

With Bumblebee’s help, vegetables grow, and fruit hangs from trees.

Soon Autumn comes with chilly nights and Bumblebee hides away. When she wakes up things are not quite the same and she is struggling to find flowers to help her survive.

Bumblebee’s life is in danger but with the help of a young girl’s thoughtfulness, and wisdom of her grandmother’s words, Bumblebee is rescued. I won’t tell you how this happens but it is worth knowing so you can help other bumblebees too, someday if needed. The book showcases the busy life of a bumblebee and the need for people to support and care for the bees.

This book is perfect to use in classes and homes. It is an ideal book to read now, with NZ Bee Aware month coming up in September.

At the back of the book is a double-page spread with information about pollinators and things people can do to help these wonderful insects.

Deborah Hinde is one of my favourite illustrators. Her artwork is soft, warm and, colourful. The pictures have just the right amount of cuteness. I love the French flaps and the beautiful endpapers with their colourful floral display. And who doesn’t love a cute dog in there as well.

Thats what dragons do

Written and illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437496

This delightful picture book is full of wonderful language with words that dance on the page and on the tongue, and quite possibly in a tongue-twistery way will trip you up too. Dragons that roar and fly and swish, diggers that dig big and deep, alien space robots that zip and zoom and plenty more. It is full of imagination and creative thinking as two sisters play together before bedtime. The girls, no doubt will grow up to be anything they want to be.

The illustrations are bright and animated. Even the stars, clouds and cupcakes have cheerful personalities. Yes! There is even a cup cake fairy in the pages of this picture book from Raymond McGrath.

It is also a lovely, happy book to share with dads for Father’s Day, which is not far away.

Starfish the star

By Elaine Bickell

Illustrated by Daron Parton

ISBN 9781775437123

Starfish is in an aquarium with lots of other fish; clownfish, seahorse, and jellyfish, to name just a few. Starfish has attitude though, and it’s not the nicest. He wants fame. He wants adoration. He wants it all and he doesn’t really think of anyone else but himself. So he sticks himself to the front of the glass and all the other fish are forced back where no one can see them.

People coming to visit the aquarium become disappointed at not seeing all the fish, but Starfish is too vain and self-centred to realise what is happening. However, there is a chance at redemption when a disaster begins to happen and Starfish is called to help.

Lots of colourful underwater scenes, gorgeously illustrated with quirky personalities shown through the eyes of the different fish. A nice wee lesson on helping others and being part of a team.

Grandpa versus swing

By Tania Sickling

Illustrated by Lael Chisholm

ISBN 9781775436751

Grandpa versus Swing written by Tania Sickling is the winner of the Storylines Joy Cowley Award.

The story involves a grandpa who rushes about with lots of energy and no fear. He tries everything. You should see where he hides when he plays hide and seek.

A rhyming picture book about a special grandfather and the grandchildren he adores. However, he soon finds himself in strife but laughter and help from someone special saves the day.

Lael Chisholms illustrations are rich and vibrant and add to the humour of this family-friendly book for young readers. This is a great choice to read with grandfathers, and grandmothers too.


Written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776574001

Gecko Press

Coming in September.

Written and illustrated with a delightful simplicity, this new board book by Gavin Bishop is perfect for the littlest of readers. A child spends the day with their grandfather. They hold hands as they collect eggs and greens from the garden. They share kai, and stories, and at the end of the day, they fall asleep curled up next to each other. Simple language, yet a very clear message about family bonding and love.

Gavin Bishop creates close-up illustrations of Pop and his grandchild which highlights the close bond they share together. It is a thoughtful, gentle and considered approach, and works very well.

Sweet and meaningful. This works well together with the board book Mihi, also written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop, and in the same format.

There is also a te reo Maori edition, which, as someone who is trying to learn Maori, I find particularly helpful for introducing some basic te reo Maori words.

Great for wee ones at home, but I think these would do very well in pre-schools too.


ISBN 9781776574018