Archive for the ‘Pre-school’ Category

The blue hour

By Isabelle Simler

ISBN 9780802854889

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

I have to say, I think this picture book is beautiful. The illustrations and its many multitudes of blues is simply stunning. The story of twilight with many different birds and animals coming out from their hiding places is gentle, peaceful with a sense of magic and awe. The first end pages show 32 dabs of blue, much like paint test pots showing the many different blues used throughout the book. It is not often we see a picture book using mostly one colour, but here the different intensities of blue help create a wonderful mysterious world. Beautiful! I feel as if I am standing on the edge, looking in and watching a secret world unfold before my eyes.

The sun has set, the day has ended, but the night hasn’t quite arrived yet. This magical twilight is known as the blue hour. Everything in nature—sky, water, flowers, birds, foxes—comes together in a symphony of blue to celebrate the merging of night and day.

The book trailer is just lovely and the music very tranquil. Very soothing.

Virginia Wolf

By Kyo Maclear

Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

ISBN 9781911496038

Book Island

 

What an absolutely charming and thought-provoking picture book. Gorgeously illustrated with careful consideration given to the choice of colours to help show the different moods and feelings of young Virginia. 

Some days Virginia feels wolfish and growls at her sister to stop making noise as everything is just too much for her. The sound of teeth being brushed is too much and even the birds chirping is too noisy and distracting. Such sadness is difficult for Virginia to live with and all she wants is to curl up in her bed and be left alone. For Vanessa it is painful to watch as her sister crawls slowly into a world of her own. But sisterly love is strong and Vanessa tries everything to help her. Beautifully written but just as important, it is great to see the topic of depression being discussed. More important than anything is the lasting impression of hope. Hope that things will get better and they do. Perfect ending. 

 

Meet Virginia, who is feeling particularly wolfish today. Somehow, her sister Vanessa must help her feel better. But how can one girl save another from turning into a grumpy, gobbling wolf? The only way to find out is to pick up a paintbrush and see where your imagination takes you.

 

Loosely inspired by sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, this stunning picture book is a testament to the power of creativity to inspire and heal, and to the loving bond between siblings.

What are you supposed to be?

By Paul Beavis

ISBN 9781775434054

Scholastic NZ

 

 

There is so much to love about this new picture book by Paul Beavis. The wonderful warm colours, the gorgeous quirky illustrations which totally capture the characters and their personalities. I have been a fan of Paul Beavis for some time now and I do think he just keeps getting better and better.

Everyone knows REAL wolves go Grrrrr and HOWL at the moon…  

but what happens here is the story of an inquisitive little girl who is determined to make the not so wolf-like wolf more like a real wolf. I love her determination and wolf’s matter-of-factness that he is just fine the way he is. Their expressions are delightful. What makes this book special though is the realisation that you can be true to yourself. You don’t need to change anything about yourself for anyone else. A lesson many adults still find hard to learn. 

This is a wonderful picture book to share and read over and over. Look out for wolf’s tongue and the funny way it keeps sticking out. Cute and funny.

I love this book so much I asked Paul Beavis a few questions and you can see his answers  right here.

 

Your illustrations have a wonderful mix of quirkiness and warmth. How hard is it to get that mix just right?

I find it very hard. The major issue is trying to get what’s in your head onto the page, I suspect most illustrators have the same thing. Oddly enough the wolf character came fairly quickly, he was originally meant to be part of a 3 Little pigs animation thing I was developing in the late nineties, nothing came from this but I filed away the wolf drawing as I thought he had something. The little girl character design was a nightmare to get right. Like casting a film you know the right one when you see them, but I have to draw them first. Once Scholastic were on board with the project I had Lynette and her team’s experience to help me decide which character designs were worth following. Also involved was Vida Kelly, Art director supreme. I’ve worked with Vida on all my books and she has the magic ability of nudging me in the right direction. She gives me the confidence to follow an illustration idea that I might doubt but she knows with a little work it will shine.

There is also with almost of all of your books a sense of mischievousness to them. Did you get up to much mischief as a child?

Well I always imagined I was a good boy/teenager. But my fiancée is a school teacher and having told her some of what I got up to in and out of school she is less than impressed, she would have marked my card very early on. However my Dad, who was pretty smart, never knew that all the football practices I said I was going to were in fact detentions.

What comes first – pictures in your head or the story?

The character always come first. Be it a drawing of an odd looking wolf or an old lady in Mrs Mo’s case, they both stared back at me and I wondered what’s your story?

This happens very rarely as I’ve drawn hundreds of faces/characters over the years. After I have my ‘star’ the real challenge is to find someone for them to act against. Then the story evolves with me speaking to myself (in my head) and writing down the dialogue, I churn out of lot and then edit this back down to find the basic bones of a story. The hard work then begins of trying to make a story that can be read multiple times while hoping against hope that it will resonate in the readers mind.

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

Well based on my behaviour as a child, I reckon an afternoon with young George from the Roald Dahl book George’s Marvellous Medicine would be interesting to say the least. I’d hope to go toe to toe with him on some of my questionable deeds, although I will say that I have never poisoned an elderly relative. I’m assuming dinner would be a burger and coke, and if we go back to the 1980s when I read the book we’d find ourselves in either A Little Chef or a Wimpy Bar, both were pretty grotty by today’s standards but I felt ‘proper posh’ going in them as a child.

What advice would you give to children who want to write or illustrate?

Write, write, write, draw, draw, draw. More importantly don’t worry if it’s not right the first time, this is so crucial to remember so I’m going to say it again don’t worry if it’s not right the first time. Because the great thing is that you don’t know how good you’re going to be, if you knew already where would be the fun in that?

Think of it as a big adventure, at the moment you are just wandering towards a mountain stepping through endless fields of cow dung (or dinosaur dung if you want to add a bit more excitement) but each of these stinky fields you make through makes you stronger. Then one day you’ll find yourself stepping on the mountain path and all sorts of possibilities open up.

Brilliant. Thank you Paul for taking the time to share your thoughts. I love that your dad thought you were at football when you were actually in detention.

Mr Postmouse goes on holiday

Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc

Translated by Greet Pauwelijn

ISBN 9781911496045

Book Island

In the first book Here comes Mr Postmouse author and illustrator Marianne Dubuc introduced us to the daily routines of Mr Postmouse as he delivered letters and parcels to animal folk everywhere. In this second book we find Mr Postmouse and his family; Mrs Postmouse and children, Pierrot, Pipsqueak and Lulu taking a holiday all over the world. As we move through the pages we meet lots of animals and visit many different places. I particularly love the ladybugs and all the rosy cheeks of the animals and small creatures.

Family is important here with even the youngest of the mice sharing responsibilities helping to make the holiday the best it can be.

The large portrait size picture book is great for sharing and with it’s bright and busy illustrations it is not difficult to find yourself spending quite some time pointing out the different animals. There are sloths, frogs, tigers, even penguins and polar bears to search out and enjoy a  conversation over, with young ones. A good book to share.

 

Tāwhirimātea A song for Matariki

By June Pitman-Hayes

Illustrated by Kat Merewether

Māori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

Matariki is a time to celebrate Earth, sky, seasons and whānau. This new picture book with its accompanying CD is a treasure for families, schools and pre-schools.  Great to read aloud and great to sing along with the CD.

Mum, dad, children and grandparents go on a walk and have a picnic. They swim, catch fish, walk through the bush and spend a wonderful day together.

Tāwhirimātea, blow winds blow

Rā, warm us up with your sunshine glow.

Papatūānuku, we plant seeds in you.

Ua, rain, helps new life come through…

Lots of New Zealand wildlife make guest appearances throughout the story. Very good use of Te Reo throughout the story as well as a complete Maori version make this essential for school libraries.

Gorgeous use of colour in the illustrations, especially the blues and purples. Warm and friendly.

We’re off to find a Kiwi

By Juliette MacIver

Illustrated by Kate Wilkinson

ISBN 9781775433750

 

 

We're Off to Find a Kiwi hr

 

Children’s writer, Juliette MacIver is prolific and popular. Her trademark playful rhymes continue in her latest picture book about Louie and his big sister, on the hunt for the elusive kiwi. The children think of the different places a kiwi might hide. They search the town, a farm and even the mountains but just can’t seem to find any kiwis. But they do not give up.  I do like the last page with facts about kiwis which adds a little extra to the story.

Very much a New Zealand themed picture book which makes it ideal to send to family and friends overseas.

Soft illustrations with lots of natural colours, particularly with the bush scenes. Great for the 3 – 7 year olds.

 

 

 

 

Waiting for Goliath

By Antje Damm

ISBN 9781776571420

There is so much to love with this picture book about waiting for a friend.

Bear sits waiting and waiting. Even when it snows, bear sits waiting on the bench for his friend Goliath. Other animal friends come and go and much discussion is had about whether Goliath will ever turn up. Bear is of course patient, optimistic and faithful to his friend Goliath. When Goliath eventually does turn up, young children will laugh out loud. I did.

The illustrations are superb. Created as dioramas and then photographed, the pictures have a depth of field that will fascinate young readers and put them right in the middle of the story. Just gorgeous.  Published this May so do watch out for it.

 

My dog Mouse

By Eva Lindstrom

ISBN 9781776571499

Published this June.

 

He’s old and fat with ears as thin as pancakes. His walk is a kind of waddle and he’s always pleased to see me.

This delightful book really is for everyone. We all know an old dog that goes so slowly. “Step, pause. Step, pause. Step, pause.”  The kind of old dog you want to just pick up and carry home. 

Well Mouse is one of those old dogs and even though the girl in the story doesn’t own Mouse she does love him to bits. Whenever she asks, she is always allowed to take him on walks. Very slow walks where other people always overtake them. And when she hands him back to his owner, she thinks “I wish Mouse was mine”. The story is funny and sweet but it is also real. And we know that come tomorrow she will be back to take Mouse for another long, slow walk.

The illustrations have a naive, child-like quality to them which is lovely and fresh. 

A Mother’s Day Dilemma

By Juliette MacIver

Illustrated by Janine Millington

ISBN 9781775433453

Scholastic

Poor Prince Pierre and Princess Emma face a major muddlesome dilemma. What do you give your mother the Queen… when she has absolutely everything?

It’s Mother’s Day and Pierre and Emma are stuck for ideas on what gift to give their mother, especially as she is the Queen and has everything she could possibly want. They search the markets, the beach, everywhere. They come up with all sorts of ideas, including smoked sardines. Will they ever find a gift for mum?

Juliette MacIver brings her trade-mark rhymes to her story about the young brother and sister as they struggle to think of a special gift.

I love how the bright illustrations have a real feel of the Pacific to them with the beaches, bush and birds. I love the pink flower in Emma’s hair and the way she scrunches up her nose at the smoked sardines.

 

 

And another delightful picture book to celebrate mums.

 

My Meerkat Mum

By Ruth Paul

ISBN 9781775434894

Scholastic NZ

 

Up. Down. Dig. Play.

Meerkat Mum leads the way.

 

What a delightful picture book with a strong message all about a mother’s love for her children. Always watching, always checking for her children’s safety, mother meerkat stays constantly alert for any danger her young family may face. The meerkat mum takes her family out in the search for food but protects them from snakes and wild weather. Always, we can see how much she loves her children, even at night when they are sleeping, mum is watching out for her children. Quick, jaunty language totally suits the movements of meerkats in this story.

Just like real meerkats, the ones in this picture book are inquisitive and quick. The burnt orange and yellow colours of the illustrations match their natural environment and the meerkats definitely have the cute factor making this an ideal book to share with younger readers.

 

If I had an elephant

By Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones

Illustrated by Richard Fairgray

Colouring by Tara Black

ISBN 9781775434764

Scholastic NZ

Fun, imaginative and just the way childhood play should be. This talented partnership of writers and illustrator have again brought us another fun-filled humorous picture book. 

Young Henry begins the day by wishing he had an elephant and then takes us with him as he considers the awesome time they would have together. We journey through time and space and meet wonderful characters such as the “four-eyed, two-horned, big-tusked Grumblepuff”.  Having an elephant by your side leads to all sorts of adventures which will in turn spark young reader’s own imaginations. Everyone needs the friendship and support of a best friend and here in this truly imaginative story, elephant is this young boy’s best friend, or at least he would be if he only had an elephant. 

If I had an elephant for a best friend, there’d be no stopping us! We’d get matching jackets. We’d build a time machine together. We’d have OUT OF THIS WORLD adventures …

IF I had an elephant.

 

My pictures after the storm

By Eric Veille

ISBN 9781776571048

Gecko Press

 

What a delightfully funny board book of words. Simple but comical pictures of before and after events. Board books are mostly aimed at babies and toddlers but this is one that even adults will love. 

On the left hand side of  each double page spread you have “my pictures” of an event where there are multiple little illustrations with a description underneath. On the right facing page you have pictures after the event with similar illustrations and descriptions. One example is “Before lunch” you have a loaf of bread and after you have a picture of crumbs.

I particular love the page where the pictures of food are labelled such as “dobado” and “lebod” but “after a cold” they are of course tomato and lemon. And the page after corrections is also very funny. Such a simple idea, yet very creative and clever. Children will love making the connections and spying the changes. Lots to do, lots of surprises and lots of fun. I just love it and the kind of dry sense of humour which makes us laugh even louder.

The great egg stink

Dinosaur trouble Book 1

By Kyle Mewburn

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775433668

 

 

Kyle Mewburn has a way of connecting with his readers, of which he has many. His picture books are always in and out of the library and his Dinosaur Rescue series has been a great success with the year three children and up.  Now with a prequel series for Dinosaur Rescue aimed at  younger readers, he will no doubt capture those working on their first chapter books.

In The Great Egg Stink cave boy Arg meets Krrk-Krrk the dinosaur. Meet isn’t exactly the right word but you will see what I mean when you read this funny book. There is lots for readers to laugh at, with flying maggots and smelly body bits. Donovan’s humourous illustrations add to the quality of this fun first chapter book and will hook readers who will love going on to the extended reads of the Dinosaur Rescue books.

 

A little reminder of the Dinosaur Rescue series for when you have finished The Great Egg Stink and want to read more about Arg and his Stone Age adventures.

 

 

10 Greedy goats

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

Sung by Pio Terei

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 9781775434078

 

This is an old classic and everyone knows the tune with a real sense of familiarity which will make this a favourite. Deborah Hinde’s beautiful, warm and yes, cute illustrations are delightful. Bright, bold colours with a warm fuzzy feel will appeal to younger readers enjoying a read with parents and grandparents. I do love the little snail who is there on almost every page, smiling at the goats and their antics. With the bonus CD wee ones can sing along and it won’t take long before they know it all by heart and keep asking for it again and again.

 

 

Tui Street tales

By Anne Kayes

ISBN 9781775434726

 

Tui Street Tales  came about after Anne Kayes won the prestigious Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

This middle-grade novel is actually a series of short stories about children living in suburban Tui Street. The stories are connected as the children in the street become involved in each others lives. There are familiar fairy tale associations weaving their way through the stories. The children attend nearby Awatiu School and know each other well. It is lovely to see how this small community look after and protect each other through the many different adventures they face. Community and friendship are a strong theme through this book. Is there magic or something more happening somewhere in the street? Well you will have to find a copy to find out but be prepared to find yourself wishing you lived on Tui Street with Jack, Tim, Ella and many more.

Bathtime for little rabbit

By Jorg Muhle

ISBN 9781776571376

Gecko Press

bathtime-for-little-rabbit-594x600

 

This is a fun follow-up to Tickle my ears. What I love about this wee board book is that readers are encouraged to interact with little rabbit and participate in his bath time routine. Children are able to help rabbit as he takes his bath.

After his bath rabbit needs more help, especially when it comes to getting dry. Lots of chances for little ones to purse their lips and blow. Rabbit is cute and just plain gorgeous and this will be a favourite not just for wee ones but for parents too. While Tickle my ears was a fun interactive read for setting up a bedtime routine, little rabbit’s latest book will be great for helping set up a bath time routine. Young ones see just how easy and safe it is to have a bath and have heaps of fun too. A lovely, warm and reassuring book to share and enjoy.

The singing dolphin: Te Aihe i Waiata

Written and illustrated By Mere Whaanga

ISBN 9781775434023

Scholastic NZ

5

Between 2007 and 2009, the dolphin Moko lived and played in the sea near The Pathway of the Whales at Mihia. The singing dolphin: Te Aihe i Waiata was inspired by Moko’s time there.

This a traditionally told bilingual picture book about a grandmother and her three grandsons. Tahi knows the land, Rua knows the waters but the youngest one, Potoki spends his time singing. He badly wants to join his brothers catching fish but they always tell him he is too little.  One night Potoki hides under the fishing net in the canoe but the following day something terrible happens. Like many traditional stories there is a lyrical quality to this story and I can just imagine sitting around listening to a grandparent sharing this story with grandchildren.

Beautifully illustrated with the the most natural of colours. Earthy browns, forest greens and deep sea blues, interwoven with many Maori motifs make this a very special picture book.

I especially love the double spread with the wood pigeons, and pukeko as well other native birds.

singing-dolphin-the_pb_p10-11

The colours are stunning.

A good choice for all school libraries.

 

Nee Naw the little fire engine

Words and music by Deano Yipadee

Illustrated by Paul Beavis

ISBN 978177543

 

fire

 

Poor Granny is trapped inside her burning house with flames shooting through the windows. The big fire engines come racing to put out the fire but find themselves in trouble. It is up to the little fire engine Nee Naw to save the day.

Another funny tale from Deano Yipadee with bright bold illustrations from Paul Beavis. You can read on its own or singalong with the CD. I shared this today with some student librarians who thought it was a great choice for younger children.

 

The lost kitten
By Lee
Illustrated by Komako Sakai
ISBN 9781776571260
Gecko Press

the-lost-kitten-cover-491x600

Author Lee tells the sweet story of a young girl’s apprehension at taking in a little kitten in need of help and a home. At first Hina isn’t too sure what to make of the little gooey-eyed kitten that arrives on her doorstep but soon her curiosity gets the better of her and she starts taking care of the small bundle. When the kitten goes missing, Hina is desperate to find it and keep it safe. She hunts everywhere even risking her own safety. Little by little, Hina falls in love with the kitten. The story is told with simplicity and warmth.

The illustrations are beautiful. I love the first illustration where Hina and her mother open the door to a mother cat and her kittens, their backs turned to the reader allowing the kitten to be the focus of the story. The mother pleads with Hina and the reader and so we are hooked  right from the start.

There is a lovely softness about the illustrations that captures the pure innocence and honesty of children. I absolutely adore the illustration where Hina is sitting on the floor, her legs folded and spread under her, exactly how young children sit. Gorgeous. This is bound to be a favourite with lots of children.

 

100 Hugs

By Chris Riddell

ISBN 1509814305

Pan Macmillan

9781509814305100-hugs

 

I am going to end up with a very bleak retirement if I don’t stop buying books. When you see 100 Hugs you will  know why I couldn’t resist buying this to add to my Chris Riddell collection. It is just as well for him that we live on opposite sides of the planet as I think I would follow him to every book signing he does or every talk he gives. Not just an amazing illustrator and author, he is  a wonderful supporter of all things library. Being a librarian I agree with everything he says. Libraries are in danger of being closed down (many have already gone) and schools without libraries just breaks my heart. 

Anyway, I digress.  This latest book is adorable. Perfect size to fit in the hands of anyone and perfect to give to someone special. The illustrations are simple yet moving. Some pull at your emotions, draw you in and leave you all happy inside. Page after page of people, animals, book characters and more, all being hugged. The illustrations would make wonderful prints for any bedroom or library wall. Simply beautiful. I can’t share the pictures here because of copyright but seriously, check out the links above and see for yourself. This is one I will carry around with me, pull out and show everyone. Small and gorgeous.