Posts Tagged ‘Picture books’

The Kiwi go marching one by one

By Peter Millet

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

Sung by Jay Laga’Aia

ISBN 9781775435129

Scholastic NZ 

A popular trend in picture books is to add a bonus CD. They offer more than just a picture book to read. Pre-schools and primary schools love them. They are great for listening along in the classroom or in the car on the way to the grocery store. Children with English as a second language use them to read and listen to the rhythm of English language. They are certainly popular in my school library. Peter Millet’s latest book is no exception. 

Peter has taken the classic The ants go marching one by one and given it a whole new meaning. A very Kiwi meaning. He introduces different NZ wildlife and our love of the outdoors. He takes us up to  the snow to meet kea, out on choppy seas to catch kahawai.  He takes us on a real Kiwi adventure

A familiar tune, well supported by the wonderful illustrations by Deborah Hinde. Her illustrations are bright and colourful but have a softness to them which just makes the kiwis so cute and very appealing. Their eyes, in particular are so warm and friendly, appealing to the reader to join them on their journey. Check out their attempts at bungee jumping! Adventurous yet gentle but lots of fun. Love the little fantail flitting between the pages.

Great gift for Christmas or for end of year teacher present. It is also great to have the song in Te Reo as well with easy to follow lyrics.

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I am so thrilled I had the opportunity to interview both Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Wilkins for their new children’s picture book The longest breakfast (previously reviewed here). I want to thank them both so much for taking the time to talk and sharing their ideas. Writing a story and having it illustrated demands so much in terms of collaboration and sometimes it doesn’t quiet work out but I am very pleased to say that in this case, the collaboration is perfect.

I will start with Jenny.

As a poet, language and words are so important especially with the less is more kind of theory. The longest breakfast follows this well. Did you start off with a busy but brief plot in your mind or did it work out this way because of your love for poetry?

          When I began thinking about the book I didn’t really have a plot, more a collection of things that I felt went together somehow. There was the fact of our youngest son’s early speech, which was very difficult to understand – we did, but no one else could figure it out – a friend who liked pudding for breakfast, and a dog and child having the same name.

         When I began writing the story, it turned into a kind of slapstick with characters making unexpected entrances, people mis-hearing each other, and the father, Malcolm, trying to keep calm and hold things together. In this kind of story you don’t need a lot of words – their role is to cue the action, which is mostly told through the illustrations. The way the book is written is really driven by the kind of story it is. This hasn’t really answered your question about poetry, sorry. Where the two kinds of writing meet, for me, is in an attention to language and rhythm.

As a writer, how hard is it to hand over your story to an illustrator and their personal interpretation of your story?

         Sarah and I have worked closely together on the two books we’ve done together, so I’ve never had the sense of handing my story over to anyone. It’s very much a collaborative process. I feel that my writing is only half of the story and know that Sarah will make the other half. In The Longest Breakfast we talked a lot about what Malcolm might look like and what kind of kitchen the story would happen in. We also discussed how the story ‘felt’ and what that might look like in terms of illustrations.

There is a certain amount of chaos with the family in this story. How does a morning play out for you?

         Now that our children have grown up my mornings are nothing like in the book!

Did you enjoy writing as a child and what advice would you give to young writers?

        Yes, I’ve always loved writing. When I was younger I wrote stories. I didn’t start writing poems until I’d left school. The best advice I can give to people who want to write is to read. You can learn a huge amount from soaking up how other writers do things.

Lastly if you could meet any character from any book, who would it be and why?

        Little My from the Moomintroll books, because she’s so feisty.

 

And now let’s hear from Sarah.

As an illustrator, do you feel any pressure when trying to interpret the writer’s ideas and bring the story to life or do you completely take your own ideas and work around them?

       I’ve never felt any pressure collaborating with writers. It’s more that I feel a responsibility to interpret  a writer’s ideas and enrich the world in which they exist, whether it’s for an article in a magazine or a picture book. Almost all the picture books I’ve done have been with authors I know so there has been a lot of trust and dialogue along the way, and I suppose a certain amount of flexibility on both sides. I feed my own ideas into the work but the author’s words act as the inspiration and framework for my visual storytelling.

I love how the more impatient the baby is to be heard, the more space the baby has until finally the baby takes up the whole page. Is this something you plan all along in your drawings or does it just sort or happen as you go along?

     It’s a bit of both. I try to create a visual rhythm that is in time with the rhythm of the text. I begin with initial simple pencil sketches and paste them along with the text into a mock-up book. This gives me an overall view of the flow and shows me how the individual images are working with the paginated story. I think the baby’s frustration at not being understood is the natural climax of the story so it needed to be treated differently to the surrounding images.

What is your favourite medium to use in your illustrations?

     It changes all the time. I’ve gone through phases of only using gouache, then I switch exclusively to acrylic, and currently I’ve added ink to my repertoire. For the Longest Breakfast I mainly used ink and watercolour and then added more solid areas of colour with gouache which is great for line work and adding fine opaque details. I love the spontaneity ink brings to an illustration. I scan all the completed illustrations into PhotoShop in order to clean up any mistakes and adjust colour and sometimes move anything that’s not quite in the right place.

Did you enjoy drawing and art as a child and what advice would you give to young artists?

     Yes, I did enjoy drawing, but no more than the next child. I actually enjoyed reading and writing more. I even remember feeling a little unsure of my drawing skills, especially compared to my big sister who was the queen of colouring books. So neat and always within the lines!

My advice to young artists is to persevere. Just keep doing it and you will get better. For most of us it takes years to find a genuine voice in this industry, and having the patience to keep going is essential.

 

Lastly if you could meet any character from any book, who would it be and why?

I’d like to meet Pippi Longstocking because she’s so unconventional and strong.

This is another wee gem that Jenny and Sarah have worked on together.

Putangitangi walks

By Stephanie Thatcher

ISBN 9781775434221

Scholastic NZ

 

Cheeky Putangitangi (little duck) is looking for her friend. What will she do when she finds him? A fun rhyming story about two playful little ducks.

Mischievous, funny and gorgeously illustrated picture book about a paradise shelduck  going out for a walk and the antics she gets up to on the way.  Lovely whimsical language, rhyme and rhythm but the heart of this story has to be the illustrations. The wonderful cheeky facial expressions clearly show the mischief and personalities of the ducks and other birds. A lovely touch which I adore is the little frog on every page and his comical smiles.

This is a sweet, funny picture book with lots of appeal which will become a firm favourite. This book is also very much a New Zealand landscape which will make it an ideal gift to send or take overseas for family and friends.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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

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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.

 

I heard the news today and like so many other people was saddened to read that Babette Cole had passed away. Only 67 and still so young with many books no doubt, still to come.

I was so fortunate to see and listen to Babette when she was here in Christchurch not so many years ago. Babette was quirky, funny, talented and just adorable. I even forgive her for spelling my name wrong when she signed my copy of Two of everything.

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It is wonderful to have something so special from someone so special. Babette knew how to reach readers. She knew what made them laugh even when talking about important things like making babies, or divorce. She did it with style and humour.

I recall some years back that a parent came to see me in my school asking me to remove Two of Everything from our library. I was dumbfounded. It was a simple but much-needed picture book on divorce. The parent complained that it made divorce normal and said it shouldn’t be allowed. Okay, he was very religious and that is totally fine. I pointed out that some children needed to know that even though they had to go to two different homes, they had parents who loved them and that was so important. Anyway, we agreed to differ and as he handed me back the library book, I pointed out that it was actually wet. Soggy wet! And so I asked him to pay for the damage – which he reluctantly but thankfully did. So he actually paid $20 for a book he wanted removed.   A little ironic and a little funny and I am sure Babette would have laughed at the irony.

News of Babette Cole’s passing can be found here.

We found a hat

By Jon Klassen

ISBN 9781406347517

Walker Books

Readers of the first two hat books will delight in this third and final picture book in the hat trilogy.  We found a hat is funny in a dry sense of humour way that leaves you smiling and feeling good.

Two turtles have found a hat.

The hat looks good on both of them.

But there are two turtles.

And there is only one hat.

In both This is not my hat and I want my hat back, there are consequences for actions, most drastic of course is being eaten. Here though, we have a sense of the growing understanding of the value of friendship. Even though both turtles want the hat, we see a mutual acceptance of the situation.

Klassen, even in the simplest of illustrations has the ability to use characters eyes to really show expression. I love the eyes in all of his books. They show character and personality, both good and bad thoughts and are certainly a highlight in his storytelling.

This is one of those special picture books that adults will love as much as children and one that will be read over and over again.

 

I love this trailer too and couldnt resist singing (very badly) along side the video. Another wonderful book from Jon Klassen and Walker Books.

As always, cover and trailer are copyright to Walker Books.

 

 

Pandamonia

By Chris Owen

Illustrated by Chris Nixon

ISBN 9781925163339

Fremantle Press

A day at the zoo can be so much fun as long as you follow one simple rule. Don’t wake the panda, no matter what. If you do the consequences could be bad. And I mean bad. Jumpy hippos, tickly termites and a grumpy panda make for a funny story with gorgeous full-page illustrations.

There is much to look at with the illustrations and the different animals. I do love the hyenas and their cheeky grins.  Great rhythm and rhyme make this a delightful picture book to share with young ones

The zebra, giraffe and hyenas all laugh.
The geckos and gibbons all giggle.
Which causes the emus to shimmy and sway,
and the tapirs’ bottoms to jiggle.
 
It is also perfect to add to a teacher’s classroom collection. Great support if you are looking at zoos and animal habitats. Teaching notes available here.

The only child

By Guojing

ISBN 9780553497045

 

only child

This is an absolutely beautiful book. I have had it for awhile and just keep dipping in to it again and again to marvel at the illustrations. It has been said it is a mixture of Shaun Tan’s Arrival and Raymond Briggs The Snowman, and I completely agree. What they all have in common is the wordless story with wonderful illustrations that put them in a league of their own as far as picture books are concerned. This is a wonderful example of imagination and adventure and lovely emotional connection to the “only child”. An only child is left alone while her mother goes to work. After playing on her own for awhile she decides to take a trip to visit her grandmother. However, soon after leaving the safety of her home, she ends up lost and alone. We can feel her growing sense of loneliness. Her sense of wonder and awe when a stag takes her flying through the sky, is palpable. The dark tones, the mood and atmosphere of this picture book ring true even in a world of imagination. Love, love, love this book to bits.

This truly is a beautiful book to treasure. I can’t wait to see more from this very talented artist.

Witch’s cat wanted: Apply within

By Joy H. Davidson

Illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson

ISBN 9781775433729

Scholastic NZ

cat

This is a delightful picture book about a young witch whose spells don’t work very well. In fact they are quite useless. The reason for her disastrous spells is that she doesn’t have a cat.  As everyone knows, a witch needs a good cat to help cast spells.  So she advertises for a cat but the ones applying for the job are simply not right. The witch asks them lots of questions but she is not having much luck at all with any of the cats who come knocking at her door.

“Could you ride on my broom across the moon,

and stir my cauldron with a wooden spoon?”

Good rhyming text adds to the fun of this story as the witch seeks to solve her problem and finds a friend along the way.

The illustrations are both sweet and funny and personalities shine through. Do watch out for the witch’s cute and comical frog on each page. His smile is contagious.

 Joy H Davidson is the winner of the Joy Cowley Award.

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The other brother

By Stephanie Thatcher

Illustrated by Stephanie Thatcher

ISBN 9781775433828

Scholastic NZ

 

 

brother

Bertie McQuerty is the other brother, the one who struggles just a bit. He has no special arty skills, or sporty skills, in fact he feels quite lacking in skills and talents altogether. Not to be put off though, Berty does attempt things but somehow, no matter how hard he tries, he ends up being a little distracted.

The gorgeous illustrations show just how adorable he is with his big friendly smile. He does have a little yellow chick as his special friend and young readers will love looking for this chick hidden on each page of the book. This is a feel-good picture book all about trying things out, giving it a go and accepting that we are not all the same. We all have that something which makes us special, that something we are good at. Do look out for this gorgeous picture book especially if you want to know what makes Berty McQuerty special.

I think this would be ideal in both pre-school and primary schools, not just for its moral message but because it is simply a lovely book to share.

 

 

Nibbles: The book monster

Bu Emma Yarlett

ISBN 9781848691933

Little Tiger UK

nibbles

 

It doesn’t matter how old you are, a good picture book is not just for young children.  A good picture book is worth reading at any age and Nibbles: The book monster is one such book.  Brightly coloured, full page illustrations are one of the first things you notice, but the second, is the cheeky smile of the very naughty book monster.  Despite being naughty and gate-crashing his way into traditional fairy tales you just can’t help but like him. The ending is particularly funny and children will love it.

There are peep holes to peek through, and  stories within stories to unfold. Nibbles has escaped from his cage and is on the run. The story really needs the reader to help put him back in the cage where he belongs.  I bought this delightful book for the school library and can’t wait to share it with the children. It is also great for teachers wanting to look at fractured fairy tales.

 

 

Tu Meke Tui!

By Malcolm Clarke

Illustrated by Flox

ISBN 9780473343750

Mary Egan Publishing

Tu Meke Tui Face Book page.

 

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Tu Meke Tui is a heart-warming story of friendship and encouragement but also acceptance and being proud of who you are. It is about the realization that we are all different but we all have something that makes us special. Most of all, it is about finding the courage to try something new and take risks and find new friends along the way.

This picture book is full of rich, vibrant illustrations depicting some of New Zealand’s native birds and bush.  I love how there is so much of New Zealand’s native wildlife and fauna throughout the illustrations. It would be ideal as a gift to family and friends overseas.

If you want to know more just click here.

The lion and the bird

By Marianne Dubuc

Translated by Sarah Ardizzone

ISBN 9780994109873

Book Island

LionAndTheBird_Cover_WEB

While out gardening one day Lion comes across an injured bird and so takes it home and nurses it back to health. Lion and Bird are completely different but their friendship blossoms and they do everything together. They spend time sharing stories and enjoying time outdoors but soon bird has to return to his flock. Throughout the story we move through the seasons exploring the heights of friendship and the pangs of loneliness.

It is a sparsely written book allowing the illustrations to do the talking. It allows us to see the characters and feel the depths of their friendship. By the same token it also lets us see Lion at his most vulnerable and loneliest of times. This is an honest and very special beautifully packaged hardback picture book.

This is not just for young children but a reminder to us all of how special friendships are and how much loyalty matters. This gentle story pulls at the heart strings but friendship and loyalty are strong bonds that wont be broken.

Teacher notes to help make the most of this very special book can be found here.