Archive for the ‘Pre-school’ Category

Wheels

by Sally Sutton

Illustrated by Brian Lovelock

ISBN 9781760651589

Walker Books

Writer Sally Sutton and illustrator Brian Lovelock have teamed up again to create yet another fun picture book for younger children. In the same format as previous collaborations such as Roadworks, Demolition and Construction, this new book Wheels is another winner.

Bright and colourful illustrations accompany delightfully fun language as we explore all things wheels. Big ones, little ones, rumbly, snazzy and even zoomy wheels. Lots of different wheels and lots of cars, trucks and even scooters. There is a page at the back of the book detailing the parts of a wheel, which with the end papers of tyre treads, adds to the overall impact

Rhyme, repetition and a good solid rhythm will make this a favourite and guaranteed to be read over and over again. This is a great book for parents and grandparents to share with young ones. It is also a good choice to have in preschools and kindergartens, not just because it is informative, but because it’s a great interactive read aloud as the reader is encouraged to join in and “shout what’s coming”. 

Look out for this one publishing 1st February 2020.

Just Because

By Mac Barnett

Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

ISBN 9781406388763

Walker Books

Just Because is one of those special books for curious minds. Children love a good story at bedtime and even more than that, they love prolonging the final lights-out before sleep. The young girl in this book keeps asking her father questions and he gives her the most wonderful answers.  Are they the right answers? You will have to find out for yourself, but they will make you think, and smile. 

She asks “Why is the ocean blue?” 

He answers “Every night, when you go to sleep, the fish take out guitars. They sing sad songs and cry blue tears.”

Great imagination and a beautiful moment for dad and daughter to share.

The illustrations reflect the night until the last double page spread where her dreams and imagination take over while she sleeps and they become alive with colour.

What I think makes this book extra special, is that while it is a lovely picture book to snuggle up and share with a young child at bedtime, it is also a good book to use in class and get students writing. I can see them asking all sorts of questions and coming up with unusual and imaginative answers. They could create their own drawings to accompany their questions too. I have this book in my school library and I will be sharing it with every teacher.

I love this book, just because!

Where’s Kiwi Celebrating?

Written by Lynette Evans

Illustrated by Miles Lawford

ISBN 9781775436157

Scholastic NZ

Our loveable Kiwi is back for another adventure. This time he is wandering in and out of different celebrations. Full-page colour illustrations with quirky cartoon-like characters focus on the many different, yet wonderful celebrations in New Zealand. This is an ideal book to share in classes and libraries in schools, and of course, in home collections. It celebrates different cultures and different occasions that make us special. There is Chinese New Year, Matariki, Waitangi Day, to name just a few.

Kiwi is hiding somewhere on each page and it is up to us, the reader, to find him and his many friends; like Tricky Tuatara, or Mystery Moa and more importantly, Kiwi’s Girlfriend.

There is a double page spread at the back of the book with lists of lots of other things to find. In fact there are over 800 things to spot.

Lots of bright, colourful and busy pictures to keep readers searching for hours.

 

Stink-o-saurus saves Christmas

By Deano Yipadee

Illustrated by Paul Beavis

ISBN 9781775435907

Scholastic NZ

 

 

 

The dinosaurs are back for another funny adventure and this time it is Christmas.

Bright and cheerful with lots of opportunities to use a big loud voice when you come to words like “Toot, Toot, Toot” or “chomp, Chomp, Chomp”. A good story to read aloud.

This picture book comes with a bonus CD so little ones can sing-along and enjoy the fun. Great for car rides or just listening to in the comfort of your own home.

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.