**spoiler alert** Daisy-Head Mayzie was found as a script by Dr. Seuss's family after his death. First it was released as a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Aft...more**spoiler alert** Daisy-Head Mayzie was found as a script by Dr. Seuss's family after his death. First it was released as a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. After the cartoon was aired, the original book version was released. I really dislike post humorous released books by famous authors. The author writes 100 words on the back of an envelope, decides that it needs significant work before they would ever put there name to it in public, and move on to create the fantastic books they are famous for. Just read about the thousands or re-writes and years of work it took for Mem Fox to produce the instant classic Where Is the Green Sheep?. Then the author dies. The family, agent, or publisher goes through their things and discovers this rough draft. Now should they respect the memory of the dead author by respecting their decision not to publish this work, or should they cash in? Well in this case they certainly cashed in...
The text of Daisy-Head Mayzie needs significant work. The rough bones of Dr. Seuss's usual rhyme and rhythm is there - but there are numerous occasions where the cadence breaks down and you are left floundering. The plot too needs smoothing over - the point at which Daisy gives up her fame is key - but really doesn't work.
The script the family found had only rough sketches - so someone else has drawn them. That someone else is not credited - which irritates me. The illustrations look typically Hanna Barbera - except for Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat who appears exceedingly out of place as the 'narrator'. There is no mention of the Cat in the book, and it seems to be the only purpose of Cat's appearance is to provide some semblance of a connection with Dr. Seuss.(less)
I don't recall reading Beatrix Potter as a child - but of course you seem to absorb the stories seemingly through societial osmosis.
I certainly look forward to reading the rest of the Peter Rabbit books. I note with interest in the inside cover that this book has been translated into Latin, which I suppose would be useful if we had a time machine!
Leaving behind the book itself you have to tip your cap at whoever does Beatrix Potter's tie-ins. Without even realising it I was reading "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" to X-man while he was wearing a Peter Rabbit T-shirt (really the only thing that relates the T-shirt to the books is a discrete logo on the sleve). We were being overlooked throughout the reading by a "Mrs Rabbit" photo frame.
I was about to get on my high-horse about feeding X-man with a Bunnykins bowl and spoon too - but a quick bit of research reveils that Bunnykins was actually created independently by Sister Mary Barbara Bailey - so that put me in my place! (although you have to admit they both feature rabbits - both "naked" and clothed to entertain children, so you can understand the confusion). (less)
A humourous and generally light-hearted take on the everything pregnancy.
My wife pretty much went with the flow - so I was chief researcher... I'd hav...moreA humourous and generally light-hearted take on the everything pregnancy.
My wife pretty much went with the flow - so I was chief researcher... I'd have to say that this book was my primary reference for all things pregnancy.
The fact it is Australian, and pretty new, means that it is up-to-date with the current conditions and advice. I particularly like the fact it provides a list of resources that are available - it makes finding out more detail about a particular subject much easier.
We would occasionally pull out this book, and I would share with my wife what the little one was up to that week - "Oh, the bubs fingernails will have started growing this week.."
I remember this as a campfire skit. Captured oral traditions always disappoint me, as they never exactly match the story and wording you learnt - and...moreI remember this as a campfire skit. Captured oral traditions always disappoint me, as they never exactly match the story and wording you learnt - and so it is with We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Also the written word doesn't indicate the sing-song rhythm of the original, and doesn't provide an indication of all the relevant movements. These elements were always critical to the success of the skit, and may be lost in this book form.
Political correctness has modified the story over the years. I suspect originally the story was actually about going on a hunt to kill bears. During my childhood the movements still included holding a gun, but it was very much a pretend hunt. This book came after my time, and the guns are gone and 'hunt' is now used in the terms of 'hunting for my keys behind the couch'. I've seen some newer PC-gone-mad versions where the authors go a long way out of their way to state they are hunting for good photographs (and that no bear was harmed in the making of this story)... X-man is too young to understand the story at this stage - but I think I'll tell him this story with the level of political correctness displayed in this version. (and explain that it is a hunt for photos only if prompted.)
Well beyond X-man’s current capabilities – but definitely on the list to read to him when he’s older.
After slightly disappointing me with the straight...moreWell beyond X-man’s current capabilities – but definitely on the list to read to him when he’s older.
After slightly disappointing me with the straightforwardness of Jungle Drums Graeme has outdone himself in this book. Truly tremendous fun in playing hide-and-seek with all of the plants and animals (he conveniently provides a list of what to find, and how many!).
At the simplest level this is a relatively simple counting game – the animals count down from 10 to 1. But the back of the book explains a the maths behind the numbers of plants, buildings and humans – with increasing level of complexity of maths. This should keep the kids going well into primary school.
The underlying story is also agreeable – the first children’s story I’ve read with a blatant environmental message.
The words explain the fantasy world the children are inhabiting - subduing the Gremlin of the Groanin...moreThis story examines the world of children's play.
The words explain the fantasy world the children are inhabiting - subduing the Gremlin of the Groaning Grotto (her little brother) with her ultra-laser beam (a wrapping-paper covered paper-towel roll), before attempting a rescue of the White Wizard (a butterfly) from General Min and her Hissing Horde (the cat Minnie and her kittens) (I won't give away the ending...) The illustrations show what's physically occuring in the backyard.
After nearly 5 years of water restrictions running through the sprinkler in the backyard reminds me of my childhood - and a time when backyards had green lawns not the brown and crispy reminants X-man gets to crawl around in now. Ahhh... the good old (or is that olde?) days... I won't even mention the ban on toilet rolls in children's craft activites because of 'hygiene' reasons...
**spoiler alert** This story follows the rather lonely life of Hunwick, a eldery bilby. After a large storm Hunwick finds an egg outside his burrow, a...more**spoiler alert** This story follows the rather lonely life of Hunwick, a eldery bilby. After a large storm Hunwick finds an egg outside his burrow, and he adopts it. After a while he realises that the egg is never going to hatch and that it is in fact a rock that is shaped and coloured like an egg. Despite coming to this realisation he continues to treat the rock as an egg.
I find the story incredibly depressing - which is the main reason for the low two star rating.
The illustrations of Australian wildlife in this book is truely amazing.
Hunwick is named after John Hunwick, a bilby researcher and long-time advocate. Mem was trying to write an Easter book - and was inspired by the campaign in Australia to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby, due to the extensive environmental damage done by rabbits. See this interview for more information. For see here for more information on the Easter Bilby. And for the original book that linked Easter with the Bilby see Billy the Aussie Easter Bilby by Rose-Marie Dusting published in 1979.
If you don't know that Foul Ole Ron says "Mellennium Hand and Shrimp" or that you shouldn't eat the sausages-inna-bun from Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler then I wouldn't bother with this book. A quick test for this is to look at the award on the front cover - if you understand it then read the book, if you don't, don't. (The award is fake, a reference to The Librarian (of the Unseen University) who was turned into a orangutan in The Light Fantastic and has since refused to be turned back. He says Ook! and eats bananas.)
If however you are a fan of the Discworld series and you have a young person in your life, then I would highly recommend this book.
The black and white illustrations seem stark for what should be a lovely tale of friendship/love. The start of the book made me think of drunken 'scor...moreThe black and white illustrations seem stark for what should be a lovely tale of friendship/love. The start of the book made me think of drunken 'score' - "The came from different worlds, but they like each other's looks. In the park by the lake they got to know each other." - and it was a thought I just couldn't shake through the rest of the book.
I like the use of out-of-line text - graphically illustrating within the text the bubbles in the ocean, and the cat floating...
After reading it I just can't get Paula Abdul's Opposites Attract out of my head, which I'm sure isn't what the authors were aiming for!(less)
It's just way too weird for me... Maybe X-man will be able to explain it too me when he can talk!
Children have fantastic imaginations, and they'll nee...moreIt's just way too weird for me... Maybe X-man will be able to explain it too me when he can talk!
Children have fantastic imaginations, and they'll need them to understand this book.
Why are the three bakers clones - and why do they look like Hardy (from Laurel and Hardy)? How can you confuse milk with a small child? Why is the oven called a "Mickey Oven" if they didn't mean to bake him? Who eats cake for breakfast? Well, I suppose children in their dreams!
This follow-up book has all the problems of the original (basically an inability to find a satisfactory climax to the bo...moreA follow-up book to Not a Box.
This follow-up book has all the problems of the original (basically an inability to find a satisfactory climax to the book), without many of its redeeming features.
They've attempted to bring across the design elements - this book's cover looks like a plank of wood. Of course a stick doesn't actually look like a neatly cut plank of wood at all... And the original's cover actually felt like a cardboard box - this version's cover feels like a book cover.
The ability to see the original item (box or stick) in the imagined world worked really well in the original - the stick just seems to get lost in the imagined world (because it basically looks like a straight line, hidden in an object that is, essentially, a straight line). (less)
This book is a modern take on the fairy-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden story - with the garden being concrete with weeds overlooking the local service st...moreThis book is a modern take on the fairy-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden story - with the garden being concrete with weeds overlooking the local service station, while the fairies are in the hamburger and ice-cream business. The plot beyond this initial premise is a little thin, and the text isn't exactly rip-roaringly exciting. The cartoon-esque illustrations are clear and fun.
When reading this aloud I couldn't help thinking of Jethro Gibbs from the TV show NCIS (even though this book was published before the character had made it to TV).
This is one of the relatively rare cases that a book is eligible for multiple 'national' awards - it was eligible for the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards because Bob Graham is Australian, and it was eligible for the Kate Greenaway Medal because the book was first published in the UK, while Bob was working there. I'd always somehow considered the Kate Greenaway Medal more prestigious. I suppose I felt this because 1) the UK must produce more children's books than Australia (given the population), 2) it has a greater cash prize 3) receiving the award would almost certainly lead to a greater number of book purchases by schools and libraries and I suppose 4) a bit of cultural cringe. Thus it is interesting to note that this book only managed to make the Short List of the CBCA Picture Book of the Year, but managed to win the Kate Greenaway Medal. (less)
A lovely story about a non-traditional family - a kangaroo mother with her adopted lamb progeny.
There are numerous clues throughout the book that this...moreA lovely story about a non-traditional family - a kangaroo mother with her adopted lamb progeny.
There are numerous clues throughout the book that this was written and illustrated by (and probably for) the British. The first clue is that book opens with the lamb alone and lost in the 'wilderness' - any Australian picture book worth its salt would refer to the 'outback'. The second indication is the illustrations of the setting and surroundings. First impression is that the outback is almost universally shades of red, not the beige of these illustrations. Rosalind Beardshaw's mixed-media illustrations are really interesting - collecting plant leaves and incorporating them into her illustration - but none of them resemble the tough leaves of plants that live in the area depicted. Also none of the 'incidental' animals that appear in the illustrations (spiders, birds, lizards, butterflies etc) resemble those that appear in the Australian bush. While none of these issues really impact on the lovely story they just niggle at you while you are reading it. This is particularly true because there are fantastic Australian picture book authors and illustrators who work really hard to get these little things right. (less)
As an alphabet book it was interesting because it uses a verb for each letter - unlike just about every other alphabet book tha...moreIt was OK, but just OK.
As an alphabet book it was interesting because it uses a verb for each letter - unlike just about every other alphabet book that uses nouns. But as an alphabet book you might need to do some significant explaining about the history and development of the English language, as it is missing an I. I also thought the treatment of the bain of the alphabet-book creator's life, those pesky late-in-the-alphabet letters was a cop out!
I liked how each of the letters were anthropomorphised in the illustrations - but there really aren't any human characteristics of a letter to make this more than a curiosity.
At times it appears that the pie has been included as an after-thought, floating in the margins of the illustration. The illustrations themselves are beautifully detailed - it is interesting to consider what Kate Greenaway would be producing today with the cultural changes - and the technological changes that greatly increase the range of illustrative methods that can be used in mass-produced books.
This book is a great introduction to the world of science for a young child.
It is inspired by the story of the original "Eureka" moment, when Archimed...moreThis book is a great introduction to the world of science for a young child.
It is inspired by the story of the original "Eureka" moment, when Archimedes stepped into the bath - the displacement of the water gave him the idea of how to solve a problem for the king.
In this picture book version the problem is that that the bath keeps overflowing. Who is causing the problem - is it the goat, the kangaroo, the wombat or Mr Archimedes himself? The Eureka moment is that Mr Archimedes discovers (through a series of experiments) that the overflowing is simply caused by having too many animals in the bath - not any one animal as was originally hypothesized.(less)
The celebrity children's book should always be approached with caution...
This book attempts to get that active toddler asleep by sequentially saying g...moreThe celebrity children's book should always be approached with caution...
This book attempts to get that active toddler asleep by sequentially saying good night to body parts. The idea is certainly not new, and I'm almost certain there are other books that use the idea. The text in this book is acceptable - not exceptional, not terrible. The use of an orangutan by Emma Quay provides a point of interest.
The quote from the "grateful parent" on the back about how this book solved all their bedtime battles is a bit over the top!(less)
Bruce Whatley has attempted to capture what occurs in a child's imagination. This can be a tricky thing for an adult to do - after all I think even th...moreBruce Whatley has attempted to capture what occurs in a child's imagination. This can be a tricky thing for an adult to do - after all I think even the most expensive recreational drugs would struggle to allow an adult to come up with the disjointed, crazy, bizarre imaginary world the average 4 year-old can come up with. And every author in the genre has to compete with the 1865 classic Alice in Wonderland. This being said Bruce has put together a pretty solid book - taking you to a world where tigers have spots, triceratops tightrope walk and seahorses play catch.
Bruce's forte is definately illustration - which is done to perfection. Fortunately he has had the sense to keep the text simple and short!(less)
I'm very familiar with Quentin Blake's illustrations of Roald Dahl, but I'm embarrased to say I wasn't aware of his other works.
A quick check of his w...moreI'm very familiar with Quentin Blake's illustrations of Roald Dahl, but I'm embarrased to say I wasn't aware of his other works.
A quick check of his website reveals that he has been involved in more than 300 books - only 27 of which were written by Roald Dahl and a full 35 which were written and illustrated by Quentin.
My most endearing memory of Quentin's illustrations were his illustrations in The Witches. Quentin's signature style of illustrations in this book made me expect Mrs Armitage to at some point remove her wig and (non-existant) gloves.
The regular contact between Wilfred and the residents of the old people's home greatly contrasts with my limited experience. We took X-man to my grandmother's nursing home and were quickly overwhelmed my dozens of elderly ladies desperate for some contact with a baby. It seems sad that today there is such paltry contact between these two groups in society.
If you planned on using this book to explain dementia to children I would be wary. While, in my extremely limited experience, I'm amazed at what dementia suffers can remember it would be tragic for your child to collect up a series of items to prompt their memory and for it not to work.
The collaboration that worked so well with Possum Magic has come together again and produced another memorable book.(less)
While this is a picture book, and the language would be accessable by children, the content is harrowing. Approach with care - read it first yourself...moreWhile this is a picture book, and the language would be accessable by children, the content is harrowing. Approach with care - read it first yourself and be prepared to guide your child through this book.
This book tells the story of a young girl who lived in a city called Hiroshima. It tells of the relatively carefree 1930s - her love of drawing, dislike of school, playing with friends and watching fireworks with her family during summer. It then plots the increasing militarisation of the general population, seen by her by having to wear special clothes and attend military training during school holidays.
Then the bomb drops.
Junko's illustrations, as always, are spot on. I particularly like the picture of the single B-29 (which we know is the Enola Gay) flying at high altitude - it looks so innocuous.
The illustrations of the aftereffects are disturbing - but accurately reflect the true impact of a nuclear blast on the human body. My most haunting memory of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was the images of people with their skin hanging from their fingernails - and this has been illustrated by Junko in this book... Pretty powerful.
I remember camping in Rundu, Namibia looking across the Okavango River at Angola dreaming of a time when everything north from here to the Sahara wasn...moreI remember camping in Rundu, Namibia looking across the Okavango River at Angola dreaming of a time when everything north from here to the Sahara wasn't stamped with "Reconsider your need to travel" and "Do not travel" by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
This story follows Tim Butcher's journey through the Democratic Republic of Congo. The story of the journey is regularly interupted with comparisons to two other journeys: Henry Stanley's 1867 expedition (the first European to successfully map the route of the Congo River), and this mum's rail and ferry trip through the Congo in the 1950s. Interspersed with this are many stories about the history of the Congo.
Tim is really well read on the topic, and provides a very readable history of the Congo (as well as documenting many of the pop-culture references to the region). While he has good 'book-knowledge' I felt that Tim did not add significantly to this knowledge through actually undertaking the trip. The vast majority of people he mentions in the book were westerners providing aid, employees of aid agencies, or religious leaders. His contact with real Congolese was hampered by suspicion about danger and exploitation on both sides and a significant language barrier (he so needed a Swahili translator!). The very few occasions Tim manages to access a genuine local the language barrier, and simplistic interviewing technique, lead to pretty generic answers (material things aren't as good as they used to be, jeez those rebel groups can be scary, etc) - all the while hinting that if Tim slowed his trip down and actually had a real conversation with these people he could learn some really interesting stories and perspectives.
After I while Tim's banging on about the danger and 'uniqueness' of the trip does become irritating. While I don't doubt the level of risk (the travel advisories are there for a reason) - after several hundred pages it becomes boring. There were only about three times I though 'he's in real danger of being a victim of violence' - you'd have more than that spending 44 days walking any major city in the world!
This book opens you eyes to a country that has been forgotten by the world - and this forgives its niggling irritations.(less)
This is an Australian classic. Julie Vivas (of Possum Magic fame) has again created fantastic illustrations, in her typical style.
This book is similar...moreThis is an Australian classic. Julie Vivas (of Possum Magic fame) has again created fantastic illustrations, in her typical style.
This book is similar in style to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. As such it is perfect for storytimes with lots of kids, all chanting along - and trying to guess the next animal. What I like about this book (which doesn't exist in Brown Bear) is that clues are given as to what the next animal is.(less)
While Jane Yolen has a long history of writing what must be quite good books (with a Caldecott winner and honour book under her belt), even the best a...moreWhile Jane Yolen has a long history of writing what must be quite good books (with a Caldecott winner and honour book under her belt), even the best author can put out a middling book.
This book has many of the right elements - rhythm, rhyme, onomatopoeia, cute illustrations... But somehow the combination of all these good parts doesn't seem to produce an amazing book. (less)
The high-contrast illustrations and sing-song text would make this book perfect for a very young child. As such I'd get the board book version!
I was a...moreThe high-contrast illustrations and sing-song text would make this book perfect for a very young child. As such I'd get the board book version!
I was all set to get on a high-horse about the promotion of breastfeeding in children's books with a bird and a squirrel (maybe?) both saying they fed the baby - then realised that the baby in question is a baby duck...
This would be perfect to read with your toddler and a brand new "Number 2/3/4, etc" (less)