Archive for the ‘Pre-school’ Category

The Little Yellow Digger A B C

A lift-the-flap book

By Peter and Alan Gilderdale

Based on the stores by Betty Gilderdale

ISBN 9781775436133

The Little Yellow Digger has been a household name for many years now. There have been a number of books in the series where our loveable little digger has exciting adventures, like starting school and even meeting a whale.

The latest is an alphabet picture book based on the stories about him. Each letter of the alphabet is hidden under a flap encouraging little hands to open them and discover the different letters. Lots of nice alliteration with words that begin with the featured letter from under each flap. A fun rhyming text helps the story flow. I love peeking under flaps in books.

This is a great introduction to the alphabet with fun, characters that children will recognise from the many stories about the loveable little yellow digger.

 

Mini Whinny: Goody four-shoes

By Stacy Gregg

Illustrated by Ruth Paul

ISBN 9781775435389

 

 

Mini Whinny is back. This time, she is upset at the arrival of a new pony who just happens to be very good at everything. Mini Whinny is jealous of Goody Four-Shoes, right from the start, even before she gets to know the other pony.

Mini Whinny’s friend, the grey and black tabby cat Berenice is back too, and she is the voice of wisdom as she makes helpful and kind suggestions for Mini Whinny to learn to accept change, and new friends.

There is definitely a lesson in there about not judging others, especially before we get to know someone but sometimes children (and adults, too) need a reminder to take time to get to know one another and be less judgemental. 

Ruth Paul’s illustrations are just as cute and adorable as ever.

 

 

The Crayons’ Christmas

By Drew Daywalt

Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

ISBN 9780008180362

 

 

 

I cannot resist books with envelopes and hidden letters. There is something very tactile and sort of secretive about slowly pulling a letter out from an envelope, even more so when the letter isn’t really for you. The Crayons are back for another adventure and this time Duncan and the Crayons share their Christmas celebrations in this delightful new picture book. Inside there are letters, a race game, Christmas decorations, even a pop-up Christmas tree and so much more. I love everything about this book.

Daywalt and Jeffers are a wonderful team and their Crayon stories are incredibly popular. The Crayons’ Christmas is a funny, interactive picture book reuniting characters we have grown to love. An ideal Christmas present.

 

The Dinky Donkey

By Craig Smith

Illustrated by Katz Cowley

ISBN 9781775436065

A fine sequel to the infamous Wonky Donkey picture book. Wonky Donkey now has a child and she is cute and small. She is in fact a little dinky donkey. In the same format as Wonky Donkey, this story brings humour and familiarity which young children love.

Illustrator Katz Cowley brings her to life with her cute illustrations. There is certainly a family resemblance and it is clear to see that dad donkey and Dinky Donkey love each other very much. Look out for Dinky Donkey’s very cute little humming bird friend.

You can go online to Craig’s website and purchase the song to add to your own collection.

 

 

The Wonky Donkey and other stories

By Craig Smith

Illustrated by Katz Cowley with Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9781775436096

To help celebrate ten years since the first publication of The Wonky Donkey, Scholastic have produced a collection of five of Craig Smith’s picture books in a quality hardback format. There is a CD included to help you enjoy the stories even more. Good for travelling in the car. A nice collection for fans of The Wonky Donkey.

Eekily, sneakily

By Anne Hunter

Illustrated by Dave Gunson

ISBN 9781869665036

New Holland Publishers

Simple poems introduce young children to some of New Zealand’s smaller wildlife.

We meet frogs, snails, stick insects, worms, spiders, butterflies and others and even a lizard. Lots of alliteration and made up words make this a fun learning read. Dave Gunson’s illustrations are bright and cherry yet well detailed.

There is a section at the back with facts for each creature to add to their poems.

Eeekily, sneakily is a simple non-fiction book in picture book format. Many of the insects are found in our own backyards so this is good to help children identify them when they see them flying around.

Made by Maxine

By Ruth Spiro

Illustrated by Holly Hatam

ISBN 9780399186295

Penguin Young Readers Group

Maxine is a thinker, she’s intelligent, imaginative and creative, but most importantly she’s a maker. Maxine tinkers for fun but also when faced with problems, she thinks things over and rethinks again and again, until she finds a solution.

Maxine loves making new things out of old, even making music out of vegetables. Her dilemma is to try and find a way to take her pet fish, Milton, to the school pet parade. I love how persistent Maxine is and even though there are times when she wants to give up, she doesn’t. Instead, Maxine keeps trying different ideas to see what will work best. With the right attitude, a difficult situation can be seen positively.

She had already discovered a million ways that would not work. Which meant she was getting closer to finding a way that would.

This is an ideal picture book to use when thinking about STEM (Science, technology, science and mathematics) lessons.

The illustrations are sweet, and busy with lots of things happening, just like Maxine. A good pairing of illustrator and author. A great trailer for this book too.

 

The Gobble Degook Book

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Giselle Clarkson

ISBN 9781776572588

Gecko Press

This Joy Cowley Anthology is full to the brim with stories and poems to make you laugh out loud. Joy plays with language creating words of her own that will delight children of all ages. There are classics in here such as Niceketty-Nacketty, Noo-Noo-Noo and Greedy Cat. These and many more, have been around for years and loved for just as many years by children all over. The poem Goggly Gookers is a great example of her word creations. How can you not smile at lines like this;

The clop is in the fizz-bustle eating all the grimlings.

The illustrations in this collection add another level. From the bright yellow front cover with the big bold red title, to the giraffe on the back and everything else in between, this is a wonderful combination of story and pictures.

I feel very lucky to have had a chance to ask illustrator Giselle Clarkson some questions.

  1. The cover of this anthology is bright and immediately eye-catching.  How did you decide on which story to use for the cover?

We left the cover until very last. Vida Kelly (the book’s designer) and I had lots of back-and-forth discussion about it and went through heaps of different options before settling on the one we’ve got. In the end it just seemed like the character of the jumbaroo perfectly captured the spirit of the book. Exuberant, joyful, playful, brilliant nonsense. Because it’s an anthology we added characters and elements from other stories, my favourite bit is the tiny woman and her snail on the barcode.

  1. Were you a keen artist as a child and was this something you wanted to always do? What sort of pictures did you draw as a child?

I wasn’t particularly big on toys or sports, I liked climbing trees, computer games and art. I was really fortunate to grow up in a home with art supplies always there for me to use. I always knew I wanted to be some kind of artist, but it didn’t dawn on me that illustration was my dream job until I was about 25. It was a real “oh yeah, duh” moment for me.

When I was very young liked drawing happy people, flowers, and jewel-bright birds and fish. When I was about 10 I started reading things like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and King Arthur and got really into drawing dragons, elves and enchanted woods.

  1. What is your process for drawing and which medium do you like to use best. 

I do all my illustration digitally – I use a Wacom drawing tablet and Photoshop. What I like best about drawing on a computer is that I can experiment endlessly and never waste any paper.

  1. There is a childlike quality to the pictures which is perfect for this collection. Was it a deliberate choice to do this and how hard was it to achieve?

This is pretty much my most natural way of drawing! Coming up with a good idea can take hours, but the final drawing can often be done very quickly. A lot of the time (for other work) I have to go back over my first versions and make them much more polished, but for The Gobbledegook book they were intentionally kept sudden and loose and un-fussed over. It was wonderful to work that way. Some of my favourites are unchanged from the first quick ideas I did to show the publishers, like the tiny woman standing under the falling leaves, or the wee wishy woman facing off the ogre in Nicketty-Nacketty Noo-Noo-Noo.

  1. How do you relax, or what do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to go outside. I love to garden, and walk in the bush or on the beach. I usually have my nose to the ground looking for interesting stuff, like insects or feathers or unusual fungi. My walks on the beach are always very slow because I inspect everything that’s come in on the last tide.

  1. If you could have dinner with any character from any book, who would it be and why?

A quiet meal with Mog the cat from Judith Kerr’s books. I love Mog, and I miss my own cat who died recently and was a lot like her. I could rub Mog’s belly and I’d let her sit on the table, and we’d both have soft boiled eggs for our tea.

  1. What advice would you give to someone wanting to illustrate children’s books.

Persistence and practice and a lot of honest, constructive criticism of your own work! Having 32+ blank pages to fill can be extremely daunting, you don’t want to go into that unprepared!

I didn’t study illustration, so I spent several years getting experience by building up a portfolio of commercial work, always with children’s book illustration as a goal in mind. Long before I had anything published I went to a conference in Wellington for children’s authors and illustrators, and things I learnt back then are still useful to me now – about storytelling, contracts, and publishing in general. There are also so many wonderful and kind people working in illustration who are happy to offer advice if you just ask.

Thanks Giselle for sharing your thoughts with us. I love your self-portrait and the one of Joy. Just delightful. I love the look of contentment on both of your faces.

The Scarecrow

By Beth Ferry

Illustrated by the Fan Brothers

ISBN 9780062475763

HarperCollins

 

All the animals know not to mess with old Scarecrow. But when a small, scared crow falls from midair, Scarecrow does the strangest thing.…

He saves the tiny baby crow.

Soon a loving bond grows between the two unlikely friends. But is it strong enough to weather the changing of the seasons?

 

There is something magical about scarecrows. I have always secretly believed they are a little bit human, in that they each have their own personality and perhaps, when no one is watching, climb down from their posts and spring to life. I always thought there was something sad about them too. I have just ordered a copy of The Scarecrow for my school library but I can see I will probably be buying a second one for myself, as this just looks so beautiful. We need more feel-good stories for children, with subtle little messages that will leave them feeling happy, but also just a little more thoughtful.

I am a huge fan of the Fan Brothers and have a number of their books already. I love this trailer for its warmth, its quietness and beauty.  The illustrations are just gorgeous, and there is a softness that is so heart-warming.  Can’t wait for this to arrive. 

Click here for some activity sheets to accompany this picture book.

How Māui slowed the sun

Retold by Donovan Bixley

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

Advised and translated by Dr Darren Joseph and Keri Opai

ISBN 9781988516202

Upstart Press

 

I had the great pleasure yesterday of meeting author and illustrator Donovan Bixley and yes he was wearing his famous top hat. He was taking a workshop for young students as part of the ReadNZ, (formerly the New Zealand Book Council ) Speed Date an Author program. He was great with the students and I loved how he shared his ideas about illustrating, with the main concern that children should not sit there, pen in hand, and wait for perfection. Children were encouraged to start with squiggles and see where it took them. Lots of discussion took place and everyone was engaged, so if you get the opportunity to have Donovan at your school, then go for it.

His latest book is eye-catching. There is no way you can miss the bright, vivid cover or Māui’s cheeky smile.

Donovan’s retelling adds a touch of humour to the traditional tale of Maui and how he slowed the sun. Māui is upset that he cannot do all he wants to do in a day because the sun rushes across the sky so fast there is not enough light left to accomplish everything. He comes up with a plan and organises everyone to work together to trap the sun Tama-nui-te-rā.

His characters, especially Māui, have personality which shines through. The first endpaper has a selection of small illustrations with both English and Te Reo words which will assist readers. On the last page Māui addresses the reader with a “Ka kite anō Catch you next time” which gives us hope that there will be another book in this Tales of Aotearoa series.

The first in the series is How Māui Fished up the North Island and is also a must-have for school libraries. Great resources for schools looking at Maori myths and legends.

Here he is hard at work.

 

And here is my own gorgeously signed copy. Thank you Donovan!

Rugby 1 2 3 : Whutupōro Tahi Rua Toru

By Tahlia Kehoe Rowden

Illustrated by Myles Lawford

ISBN 9781775436089

Scholastic NZ

 

The release of these two picture books is perfect timing for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori Week. Rugby 1 2 3 is a bilingual picture book about one of New Zealand’s favourite sports; rugby.  The story shares some of the regular happenings at a rugby game such as; forwards, backs, reserves, and officials, among others. There is a simple counting structure encouraging children to learn their Maori numbers. For someone beginning to learn a little bit of Te Reo this is a great incentive as the words will soon become familiar and easily recognisable. Great for preschoolers and children up to about age 7.

It is wonderful to see publishers producing more bilingual books, especially as there is a growing interest in learning Te Reo and learning about Maori culture.

 

 

My Kiwi Gumboots

By June Pitman-hayes

Illustrated by Minky Stapleton

Maori Lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 9781775435808

Scholastic NZ

Another bilingual book for children with a very New Zealand setting. Gumboots, farms, cheddar cheese, it’s all here.
Every child loves their gumboots, especially the young girl wearing her yellow boots and matching raincoat. She visits a farm where there are even more reasons to wear her big yellow gumboots. Lots of puddles to splash in and mud to splosh in, a delight that most children can relate to, even if they haven’t visited a farm. Bright, cherry illustrations offer lots of things to look out for adding extra value to the story.
There is also an accompanying CD to sing along. The end page has a glossary Te Papākupu to help with translation.

Scary Tales: Rhymes for Brave Children

By Judi Billcliff

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

ISBN 9780473483043

PictureBook Publishing

Judi Billcliff has taken traditional rhymes and given them a makeover; a scary makeover.

The blurb on the back of this picture book asks if you are brave enough to look inside and meet the scary creatures and there are plenty of them. You just might need to be brave! There are witches, goblins, and ghosts too. Even Count Dracula makes an appearance in these reimagined  rhymes with a twist of scariness and lots of laughter.

 

 Scary Mary

Scary Mary quite contrary

How does your garden grow?

With wailing moans

And rattling bones

All hanging in a row.

You’ll have to to read the book to find out what else she has in her garden.

Deborah Hinde, as always, provides gorgeous illustrations; cheeky, funny, quirky, but also with a warmth which leaves us feeling safe after our journey into the spookiness of scary tales. This is a great book to use when thinking about Halloween, too.

Bumblebees have smelly feet

By Rachel Weston

ISBN 9780473482961

Weston Books

What a perfect summery cover for a book about bees. The book is packed with information on everything you ever wanted to know about bees and more. I shared this with a group of children and this is what they had to say.

They loved the title and thought having a funny title was good. They enjoyed the photos next to the writing and the information about bees.  They all loved the funny drawings at the back of the book where the bees are wearing costumes. They thought the reading level was just right for them. In fact, they were all very taken with this non-fiction book and agreed we all need to encourage bees to visit our gardens. As one of them said “we have to look after our bees for everyone”.

This has all the qualities I look for in a non-fiction book. Quality photos, glossary, index, bold headings and sub-headings which is great for children who like to dip and dive into a non-fiction book. The buzz facts is a cool addition to this well-researched book.

Certainly a book to add to any school library and one for home too.

Tough guys (have feelings too)

By Keith Negley

ISBN 9781912497157

Flying Eye Books

 

Everyone has feelings. Everyone feels a little sad at times, even superheroes.  This is a simple but very effective picture book about knowing that it is okay sometimes to have sad days. It is okay to show feelings and more importantly, share those feelings with someone special. This is super cool with lots of mustardy, red and blue coloured illustrations where falling tears are evident.

Dads have feelings too and how many children think of their dads as some kind of superhero who they consider a tough guy. Here, we have a dad and a son, sharing their love and support for each other knowing that neither of them have to be tough all the time, or even pretend to be tough. Feelings are natural and I believe this book is an important one to share the message that it is perfectly fine to cry, feel sad and know who to turn to when in need. Great for pre-school and early primary schools.

 

Winner of the Joy Cowley Award

The little ghost who lost her boo!

By Elaine Bickell

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775435754

“I’ve lost my Boo! I’ve lost my Boo!

Where has it gone? What will I do?”

What do you do when you are a little ghost and somehow you’ve lost your boo? You go searching of course, and that is exactly what little ghost does. She searches everywhere and asks all her friends if they have seen her boo. We meet lots of different animals and birds, but do they know where her boo is? It doesn’t seem like she is having much luck at first but wait for the ending which requires reader participation to complete the story.

The illustrations are quite adorable, especially poor little ghost’s looks of disappointment, worry, sadness and of course, happiness. I do love the rooster’s feathers all beautiful and detailed and taking up a whole page.

 

Picture book reprint

Grandmas McGarvey joins the scrum

By Jenny Hessell

Illustrated by Trevor Pye

ISBN 9781775436034

Grandmother McGarvey has been around for 30 years and this reprint brings her back for a whole new generation of readers. It’s not everyday you see a Grandma toughing it out on the rugby field, head down in the middle of a scrum with a rugby team, but that is exactly what Grandma McGarvey does. Totally by accident, of course. Why she is there will all be revealed when you find a copy of this latest edition. The story is funny and with a good kiwi feel to it.

Junior novel reprint

Lily has a secret 

(Book 2 in the Lily the Littlest Angel series)

By Elizabeth Pulford

ISBN 9781775435921

 

First chapter books carry a lot of responsibility. They need to have a good story to capture the imagination of newly independent or emerging readers. Short chapters, decent size font, illustrations to help break up the text, and words readers are familiar with as well as a few new words to challenge. The Littlest Angel series of books  provides all that and more.

Lily has a secret. A warm, fluffy, cute and injured kitten. How will she keep it a secret, especially when one of the rules, is no animals allowed? There is also the matter of a performance to put on, which is quite difficult when you are trying to hide a kitten.  Lily somehow always manages to break things, or get herself into some sort of trouble but she is sweet and likeable and really only wants to do the right thing. Good first chapter book and beyond.

 

Monkey on the run

By Leo Timmers

ISBN 9781776572519

Gecko Press

Wordless picture books, or silent books, as they are sometimes known, are often sadly undervalued yet they offer so much. Children get to retell what they see or invent their own stories. Perfect for oral language, sharing stories and using imagination.

Monkey on the Run allows us the chance to be creative and interact with his delightful picture book.

Papa monkey and little monkey are stuck in a traffic jam. Little monkey decides to jump on to a fire engine and hop from one vehicle to the next in order to move up the line and beat the traffic. Papa monkey isn’t far behind but there are a lot of vehicles in the traffic jam and lots of drivers. We meet donkeys, giraffes, moles, pigs and even sea creatures all driving different cars and trucks. The pictures are brightly coloured, with heaps of detail and things to discover. Young children could name the animals, count and name the different type of vehicles, explore the pictures and of course, tell you their own imagined story. Definitely a book for having fun together with someone close.

 

 

Otto goes North

By Ulrika Kestere

ISBN 9781776572427

Gecko Press

I love the opening sentence of this new picture book.

Far up in the north you’ll find a blueberry-blue house with a grass roof. 

Who can resist a blueberry-blue house, a grass roof, a sauna and a setting as beautiful as the mountains and the sea.

Otto the Lemur cycles for a very, very long time to visit his friends, far, far away so he can see the Northern Lights. He wants to paint a picture of the lights so he can remember their beauty but it is too cold for a lemur and he struggles to keep warm. His friends, Lisa the lynx and Nils, the young bear, come up with a plan, as good friends do. The conversations are delightfully comical and I found myself giggling away at times.

Gorgeous illustrations but in particular, check out the expressions on the animals faces. Love Otto’s red nose as he shivers in the cold. There is so much on offer here and teachers could  go beyond a simple reading and extend students learning. It’s about good friends, kindness, caring, creative thinking and problem solving, as well as a good read.