Jeannie Baker is an artist who creates collages (and her website is a work of art in itself. She uses natural materials as much as possible, and so thJeannie Baker is an artist who creates collages (and her website is a work of art in itself. She uses natural materials as much as possible, and so the illustrations in her books show the feathers and the mosses and the twigs, etc. I have long enjoyed looking at her picture books, and this latest one is no exception.
Her text is also excellent. It's simple, but not plain. She doesn't try to rhyme (there are some authors who really shouldn't!) but tells the story in a poetical manner.
This book is about the life and migration of the godwit - a little bird that flies annually from the Arctic to Australia or New Zealand, and back. The book also starts and ends with a boy dreaming of flying - a lovely way to make it more relevant to our children....more
I read this book when it first came into the shop (about a month or so ago) and I've picked it up and read it again several times since. It delights mI read this book when it first came into the shop (about a month or so ago) and I've picked it up and read it again several times since. It delights me each time.
One of the things that delights me, and which intrigued me when I first looked at the cover, is that the art is not what I usually expect from this illustrator. Donovan Bixley is a well-known New Zealand illustrator and author, and his work is usually bold and bright. I like bold and bright - don't get me wrong - and I really like the cheeriness of his Kiwi versions of Old MacDonald's Farm and Little Bo Peep and More...: Favourite Nursery Rhymes (and more), but if I had to choose between a wall of bold and brightly illustrated books and muted tones illustrated books, I'd choose the latter.
The cover of this book has one bit of boldness and the background is watercolours running into each other. It's quite beautiful. The rest of the book follows, with fabulous design features and simply fantastic illustrations. And of course, Melinda Szymanik has written another children's book that gets everything right. I haven't been disappointed yet in anything in her range (that goes from pre-schoolers to pre-teens), and this lovely story about a doodle gradually growing and eventually turning into a book is a real tribute to the art of writing....more
Jimmy Cook simply must be related to the famous Captain James Cook, so of course he chooses him when they have to do school projects about an ancestorJimmy Cook simply must be related to the famous Captain James Cook, so of course he chooses him when they have to do school projects about an ancestor. When he discovers where Cook died, he resolves to go there (Hawaii) and teach them a lesson. All sorts of other things happen (trouble, mainly) and this book has some very funny moments. It's all in the words that Jimmy writes in his Ship's Log ("only girls keep diaries") as he sorts himself out in Third Grade.
This is a get-up-and-go book that absolutely delights.
We're at a zoo in Australia - well, either that or a zoo elsewhere with a strong Australian contThis is a get-up-and-go book that absolutely delights.
We're at a zoo in Australia - well, either that or a zoo elsewhere with a strong Australian contingent of animals - and are warned, "Just don't wake the panda whatever you do." Why not? you ask. Surely pandas are pretty mild mannered animals. They don't do much. They're really very inoffensive. Okay, you wouldn't want to get under one that decided to fall asleep suddenly, and yes I expect their claws could wreak havoc on you if you disturbed one or threatened its baby. But seriously, it can't be that bad to wake one up.
Hmm, the second page says:
If you wake up the panda he gets very grumpy, which hypes up the hippos and makes them all jumpy. When the hippos get jumpy they usually hop, and once they begin, they are tricky to stop. Those hippos create such a hullabaloo ...
Whenever I visit the zoo (which is reasonably frequently) and see the hippos, I'm reminded of the time many many years ago when one of the hippos was very cross. It was bellowing! I'd never heard anything like it - nor have I since. So I can totally understand what happens next in the book.
What more can I say? Fabulous illustrations (another that steps outside the run-of-the-mill children's book art), brilliant rhyming and pace, hilarious story. Grab a child to read it to!...more
Wouldn't it be dreadful?! - arriving at the school library to find all the books have been stolen! But happily, Peter has been taking his dog Nell toWouldn't it be dreadful?! - arriving at the school library to find all the books have been stolen! But happily, Peter has been taking his dog Nell to the library with him, and Nell not only loves books but is a great tracking dog with a keen sense of smell.
This is the latest in Julia Donaldson's extensive list of published books. She rhymes so nicely, the stories are nice, and the illustrations are beautifully suited. This, like any of her others that I've looked at with the grandchildren, is a pleasure to read aloud....more
I think I saw this on a shelf at the library and thought it might be a nice, light read. I've enjoyed some other series that are themed around variousI think I saw this on a shelf at the library and thought it might be a nice, light read. I've enjoyed some other series that are themed around various crafts, but this wasn't as good as them and I almost didn't finish it. There's too much lead-up to the crime, and then a rapid wrap-up. And I knew who the murderer was right from the beginning. On top of that, none of the key characters caught my interest.
To be honest, I haven't even read one page. I'm not drawn to it - historical novels rarely make it onto my reading list. The few paragraphs I've looked at are well-written however, and the dialogue is natural, so I expect it would be very readable....more
What characters these two girls are - Bean is an extrovert and naughty, Ivy is quietly subversive. When Bean decides she wants to break a record - anyWhat characters these two girls are - Bean is an extrovert and naughty, Ivy is quietly subversive. When Bean decides she wants to break a record - any record will do - Ivy is right there with her. And when the record of sticking straws in your mouth doesn't work, and when Bean gets into trouble for trying to shatter glass by screaming, without warning her Dad, it's Ivy's talking about Mary Anning that points Bean in the right direction. Mary Anning was the first person to find a whole ichthyosaur fossil, and she was only 12. Bean very quickly convinces them both that of course there'll be dinosaur bones in her backyard and they're digging their way to becoming the youngest paleontologists ever.
My grandchildren loved this just as much as the first two in the series, and I am still loving reading them aloud....more
This book grabbed me right from the start - a boy sitting on a bench at the far side of the playground on a cold winter's day, having a think; a girlThis book grabbed me right from the start - a boy sitting on a bench at the far side of the playground on a cold winter's day, having a think; a girl coming to sit beside him wearing nothing but a sleeveless summer dress. The title is a giveaway and the reader knows before the boy does that this is Jessica's ghost. What the reader doesn't expect is the friendship that is almost instantaneous between boy and ghost.
The boy is a misfit within his school environment, the girl is dead, and soon another misfit comes into the story - a girl who is short and squat and solves her problems with violence. She's been expelled from many schools and has been accepted into his. The boy's mother thinks he needs friends, the girl's mother is desperate for the girl to not be expelled yet again, though she holds little hope that the girl will ever get on with anybody. But the girl can also see Jessica.
There are some funny moments in this book, but mostly it's about friendship, and about the need to talk about your problems before they end up killing you....more
Sometimes I have ideas about books I'd like to write .... but I never have the commitment to put in the time. What this gives me, however, is a deep aSometimes I have ideas about books I'd like to write .... but I never have the commitment to put in the time. What this gives me, however, is a deep appreciation for authors (even for authors whose work I think is rubbish (yes, I know that's a terrible thing to say) or who have avoided a thorough editing process).
This author has got it right! Children are fascinated by the octopus; many adults are also fascinated by them - the way they change colour, the way they can squeeze through tiny gaps, those waving tentacles, the suction caps dotted all down the tentacles, the beady eyes and curved beak, the huge variety in size of them ..... This book has a great deal of that, though not the beady eyes and curved beak (it's fiction so we don't need to deviate from cute), nor the variety (there being only one octopus in this story). But it has the octopus changing colour to blend in with its environment, and it has the octopus squeezing into tight gaps in order to hide.
It also has a cute story which many of us can relate to - the need to have alone-time, and the opposite need to be with people (well, seahorses in particular) who we know. And the colours of the illustrations are really suitable to the sea. It's all very nicely done.
I asked the grandchildren what they thought of this story, but I think it was too late at night to get anything coherent out of them. "Awesome" was one response, but Zenobia has been saying that about every little thing lately so it doesn't cut much. Then, to my leading questions, I simply got affirmatives. Ah well, there are times I can't think of much to say either....more