Tag Archives: animals

Old MacDonald Heard a Fart by Olaf Falafel

There are many different book versions of Old MacDonald but you haven’t read one like this before.  Old MacDonald Heard a Fart is the stinkiest, funniest version of the song you’ve ever heard.

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As the title suggests this book is full of farts.  All of the usual animals on Old MacDonald’s farm are here but they’ve all got a serious case of wind.  Each animal makes a very distinct fart noise and Old MacDonald demonstrates how to make the sounds on each page.

Old MacDonald Heard a Fart is a picture book that is guaranteed to make kids laugh out loud.  I’ve read and sung it to the 5 and 6 year olds at my school and they were laughing the whole time.  They left the library making farting noises and I’m sure they went home to tell their parents all about it.  I am sure that this book will never stay on the shelf because the kids will be reading it again and again.  Olaf Falafel is going to have the Old MacDonald tune stuck on repeat in the heads of kids and adults.

It is Olaf Falafel’s illustrations that really make this book stand out for me.  They look quite similar to Axel Scheffler’s illustrations as he gives each of the animals some real personality.  The pig wears a tutu, the cow wears a Hawaiian shirt and the duck wears a boater hat.  The illustrations of Old MacDonald’s face at the bottom of the page are really helpful to figure out how to make the fart noises, especially when the kids want to make the noises.

Laugh and fart along with your kids as you read Old MacDonald Heard a Fart.  Later in the year you also have the festive Father Christmas Heard a Fart to look forward to.

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Noisy Nights by Fleur McDonald – Review + Giveaway

My 15-month-old loves books with sounds in them.  She loves hearing different animal sounds and pointing at the animals so that daddy will make the sounds.  Noisy books aren’t best for bedtime though, unless they’re all about going to sleep, like Fleur McDonald’s new book, Noisy Nights.

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Noisy Nights follows Farmer Hayden as he tries to get to sleep.  It is very noisy on his farm, between the crickets, dogs, cows, sheep, horses, foxes and trains.  Farmer Hayden just wants to sleep but the animals just won’t be quiet.  When he goes outside to look at his farm and his animals it is the sheep who help him to get to sleep.

Noisy Nights is a delightful picture book that young readers, especially preschoolers, will love.  It’s the perfect picture book to curl up with and share together at bedtime as it leaves you feeling relaxed and sleepy.  It reminds me of one of my favourite books from childhood, Jill Murphy’s Peace at Last.  The noises of the farm are keeping Farmer Hayden awake, much like the noises of the night that keep Mr Bear awake in Peace at Last.  I certainly have fun making lots of animal noises while I read Noisy Nights.  It would be a great book to act out, with different children making all the noises.

Annie White’s illustrations are the perfect match for the story as the tones of the colours are soft and the animals look cuddly.  I really like the way that Annie has portrayed Farmer Hayden and his frustrations.  You can see him getting increasingly tired and agitated throughout the book.

Grab a copy of Noisy Nights and cuddle up with this delightful story.

Win a copy of Noisy Nights!

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Vicki.

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Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Some books grab hold of your heart from the first page and don’t let go, even when you’ve reached the last page.  When I first heard about Pax by Sara Pennypacker I knew that it was going to be one of those books and from the moment I picked it up I knew I was going to love it.

PaxPax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own.

Pax is a beautiful heart-breaking story about the connection between a boy and his pet fox.  Sara Pennypacker makes you feel this connection between Peter and Pax and you read the story with hope that they’ll find each other but dread that they might not. Pax is also a story about never giving up, even when the odds are stacked against you.  Both Pax and Peter face many challenges but they are determined to find each other.  Sarah Pennypacker grabs you from the first chapter, giving you an immediate connection with Peter and Pax.  It’s a very emotional start to a story (that will probably make you cry) and you have to know what will happen to Peter and Pax.  Jon Klassen’s illustrations are stunning too.  His illustration style perfectly captures the tone of the story.

The story starts with Peter leaving Pax in the woods at the side of the road and driving away.  Peter’s father is going off to war so Peter has to go and stay with his grandfather.  This means he is not allowed to take Pax with him and his father tells him he has to set him free.  As you can imagine, this would be hard for any child to do, and you feel how hard it is for Peter to do this.  Peter found Pax clinging to life as a kit.  Peter’s mum had just died and so he found Pax when he really needed a friend.  They had been inseparable ever since, until this day that Peter is forced to leave Pax.  The story alternates between Peter and Pax’s point of view and we follow both of their journeys to find each other again. There are times that you wonder whether they will both actually survive long enough to do so.

I loved the characters of Peter and Pax, especially their determination.  They will stay in my head for a long time and I already want to go back and read their story again.  My favourite character though was Vola, a woman that Peter meets and who helps him.  She’s a really interesting character because she has been damaged by war and is used to living alone.  I love the way that her character develops just through her relationship with Peter.

Pax is an amazing story that I can’t praise enough.  It is perfect for those who like stories with animals, for fans of Michael Morpurgo and highly recommended for those who have read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

 

 

 

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Michael Morpurgo Month – Little Manfred by Michael Morpurgo

March is Michael Morpurgo Month, a celebration of one of the best storytellers (and one of my favourite authors).  Organised by Michael Morpurgo’s publisher, it is a chance to highlight the many wonderful stories that Michael has written. Here is one of my favourite Michael Morpurgo books.

I love both stories about war and stories about animals, which is my I love Michael Morpurgo.  Most of his stories are about war or animals and sometimes both.  His latest book is called Little Manfred and it’s about war, and a dog that sparks the memories of an old man.

It’s the summer of 1966 and Charley and her little brother, Alex, are walking their dog Manfred on the beach by their home when they notice two old men staring out to sea.  When the two men discover that their dog is called Manfred, this sparks the memories of Walter and he tells the children about his experiences during World War II.  Through Walter’s story, Charley and Alex learn about their mother’s past and her connection to Manfred, a German prisoner of war who was posted at her farmhouse when she was a little girl.

Michael Morpurgo has woven another amazing story of friendship, bravery, and forgiveness that transported me to another time and another place.   Whenever I read a Michael Morpurgo book it’s almost as if he is sitting on my couch or in the library beside me, telling me the story, because I can hear his voice in my head.  If you’ve ever seen one of his videos of him reading you’ll know that he’s got the perfect storytelling voice.  Michael Foreman’s illustrations, once again, perfectly match the story because they can be bright and happy or dark and gloomy.  I think Michael Morpurgo’s books are perfect for anyone and if you haven’t read any of his books, Little Manfred is a great one to start with.

 

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Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman

You know sometimes when you see a book and instantly fall in love?  I had one of those moments recently when I laid my eyes on Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman.  I first saw this book on one of my favourite book websites, Love Reading 4 Kids and the cover really caught my eye.  When I finally got my hands on a copy of the book from my library I fell in love.  Excuse me while I gush over this book.

Creaturepedia is a visually stunning book about creatures from all over the world.  The book’s by-line is ‘Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth,’ and it’s not wrong.  Adrienne Barman introduces us to creatures great and small, huge and miniscule. Adrienne has split the book up into different sections, with names like ‘The Champion Breath-Holders,’ ‘The Masters of Camoflage,’ and The Show-Offs.’  The beauty of this book though is that it is perfect for dipping in and out of.  You could pick any page at random and it would make you go ‘Wow!’  Curious children could flick to ‘The Lilliputians’ and discover that the Bee Hummingbird is the world’s smallest bird at 5.7cm long or that the Dwarf Gecko is the world’s smallest reptile at 1.6cm long.

The text in the book is sparse, letting the reader focus on the gorgeous illustrations that portray these creatures.  Children will discover creatures that they never knew existed and will want to find out more about them.  Adrienne’s illustrations are vibrant, quirky and fun.  Each of the creatures has its own unique personality.  Take a look at just a couple of the page spreads from the book:

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Before you even open the book you can tell you’re holding a work of art in your hands.  The publisher of Creaturepedia, Wide Eyed Editions, clearly knows what makes a great book.  The love that went into producing this book is evident, from the hardcover to the binding and the vibrant colours to the high-quality paper.

Get your hands on a copy of Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman and fall in love with this stunning book!

Creaturepedia is just one of the gorgeous books published by Wide Eyed Editions (distributed in Aus/NZ by Allen and Unwin).  Check out their website now.

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Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt

Des Hunt is one of my favourite New Zealand authors because he writes action-packed adventure stories set in New Zealand.  The setting is always so important in his stories and Des has introduced Kiwi kids to parts our beautiful country that are both familiar and unexplored territory for them. In his latest book, Phantom of Terawhiti, Des takes us to Wellington’s wild southwest coast and introduces us to Zac, who stumbles on an interesting discovery.

It’s the school holidays and Zac thinks he might go crazy with boredom. He’s living in exile with his disgraced father on the remote Terawhiti Station on Wellington’s wild southwest coast. Then Zac and his dad witness a boat sink during a storm. Investigating further, Zac finds a set of unusual animal prints on the beach. Whose boat is it? And what creature could have made the prints? Soon armed men are prowling the coast, and threatening Zac, his friends and his family. He must do all he can to protect the Phantom of Terawhiti from those intent on hunting it down.

Phantom of Terawhiti is an action-packed adventure story, packed with mystery,  armed and angry Russians, brainless hunters, wild weather, a car chase, and a race against time.  Des Hunt is a gifted storyteller who never fails to write a story that grips readers and makes you keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.  In Phantom of Terawhiti there are plenty of heart-stopping moments, especially when Zac and Jess clash with the Russians.  The mystery of the ‘Phantom of Terawhiti’ draws you in and, even when the creature is revealed, you wonder how it will survive in the wild with the hunters trying to track it down.

Like the main characters in his other books, Zac and Jess are just normal Kiwi kids, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe the right place at the right time).  Zac gets dragged by his dad to come and live on the remote Terawhiti Station, and it’s while he’s here that he discovers the wreck of the yacht and the paw prints in the sand.  When they discover the Phantom of Terawhiti, Zac and Jess know that they must do everything they can to protect it.  Kiwi kids will relate to Zac and Jess and will imagine themselves in their shoes.

Phantom of Terawhiti is one of Des Hunt’s best books so far and I can’t wait to see where in the country he will take us to next.

4 out of 5 stars

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Picture Book Nook: That’s Mine! by Michel Van Zeveren

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the little frog finds an egg.

“That’s mine!” he says.

But the snake wants his egg, and so does the eagle, and so does the lizard…But what does the angry elephant want?

 

 

 

That’s Mine! by Michel Van Zeveren is a gem of a picture book that’s simple, yet surprising.  You start off thinking you know where the story is going, but it veers off in a completely different direction (these are the best sorts of stories).  The illustrations are bold and I love the expressions on the animals faces, especially right at the end.

 

The thing I like most about this book though is the text and the design.  As each of the animals appears the sound they make turns into a word, like the eagle who flies in saying “Ack…ack…ack..actually it’s mine.”  Children can follow the direction that each animal appears from by following the direction of the words (the hsss of the snake drops down from the top to the bottom of the page).  I love the way that the text changes size depending on how loud the animal is talking and in relation to their size.  On a page featuring all the animals, the text is largest for the elephant and smallest for the frog, so it’s clear that each of the animals has a different voice.

That’s Mine! is the perfect picture book for reading aloud.  You can do different voices for all the animals and make it really silly.  It could even be acted out in the classroom, with each child being a different animal.

4 out of 5 stars

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Picture Book Nook: Hey Baby! by Corinne Fenton

Everybody loves a cute animal photo, especially when it involves baby animals.  The latest picture book by Corinne Fenton is filled with extremely cute photos of baby animals and it’s perfect for sharing snuggled up with your baby.

Corinne’s lovely text is from the point of view of a parent, telling their baby just how special, precious and unique they are.  I love the positive message of the text and parents will love reading it to their baby.  I also really like the layout of the text on the page and the way Corinne has used different colours for the text.  The text is perfectly matched with some beautiful photos of baby animals, from pigs and rabbits, to monkeys and elephants.  When the text talks about eyes and ears, the photos are of baby animals with unique eyes and ears.  The photos are quite extraordinary and will make you laugh (especially the monkeys holding their breath) and make you go ‘awwww’ (especially the baby elephant running along).  I love that there is lots of white space so the focus of you and your baby goes straight to the animals, and that the photos are quite large and close up so that you can see the unique features of the animals.

If you’re looking for that perfect book to give to a newborn baby or for a special book to give to your own baby this Christmas you can’t go past Hey Baby! by Corinne Fenton.  

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Picture Book Nook: If You’re a Kiwi and You Know It! sung by Pio Terei, illustrations by Stevie Mahardhika

Children love singing and dancing to songs like ‘The Wheels on the Bus,’ ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm,’ and ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It.’  In the last few years there have been a number of books, based on these action songs, that have been given a Kiwi twist.  Donovan Bixley’s The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald’s Farm, and Do Your Ears Hang Low by The Topp Twins and Jenny Cooper, are recent favourites of mine.  Scholastic New Zealand, along with Kiwi entertainer Pio Terei and illustrator Stevie Mahardhika, have just released a Kiwi version of ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It,’ called If You’re a Kiwi and You Know It!

They have taken the original action song and given it a Kiwi twist by adding in some of our wonderful wildlife.  Kids can join in the song and dig for worms like a kiwi, dive and play like a dolphin, strut around like a pukeko, slither away like an eel, and many more.  The actions are easy to do and you can have a lot of fun pretending to be different creatures.  Stevie Mahardhika’s illustrations are beautiful and they get funnier as you go through the book.  I love how each of the animals pretends to be a different animal (the kiwi and pukeko trying to dive like a dolphin and flap their flippers like a seal are absolutely hilarious!).

The book comes with a great CD of Pio Terei singing the song (and just the guitar accompaniment), as well as a Te Reo Maori version of the song.  Thank you so much Scholastic New Zealand for including the Te Reo version of the song on the CD and for including the Te Reo lyrics in the back of the book (rather than as a separate book).  This is a godsend for librarians like myself who will use this book and CD in their preschool sessions in the library, and for parents all over the country.  We certainly need more bilingual books of this quality.  Get a copy of If You’re a Kiwi and You Know It! from your library or bookshop now, and sing and dance along with our wonderful wildlife.

4 out of 5 stars

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Picture Book Nook: A Hare, A Hound and Shy Mousey Brown by Julia Hubery

The best picture books are those where the text and the illustrations are perfectly matched.  Even though the author and illustrator may have worked in different parts of the world, the book is so perfect that they could have been working side by side.  A Hare, a Hound and Shy Mousey Brown, written by Julia Hubery and illustrated by Jonathan Bentley is one of those rare picture books.

‘There’s a hare in the air, there’s a hound on the ground, and watching them both is shy Mousey Brown.’  On the first page we meet these three very different characters.  The hare is bouncing around, full of joy, while Mousey Brown watches on, hoping the hare will notice him.  But when the fearless hare dances right up to the hound and tries to wake him, Mousey Brown has to be brave and save the hare from the hound’s jaws.

A Hare, a Hound and Shy Mousey Brown is a beautifully illustrated picture book, full of joy, mischief, and three very loveable characters.  Julia Hubery’s rhyming text begs to be read aloud and it simply rolls off your tongue.  It’s the sort of story that’s perfect to act out because of the three different characters and their very different personalities.  The hare has lots of energy and is always bouncing around, the dog is pretending to sleep, and Mousey Brown is just watching from afar and trying to warn the hare.  Jonathan Bentley’s illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and he’s perfectly captured the personalities of the three different characters.  The illustrations are cute but full of character.  I love the way that Jonathan has captured the complete joy and carefree nature of the hare, the irritation of the hound, and the admiration and worry of Mousey Brown.  Even before I opened the book and read the wonderful story inside, Jonathan’s front cover grabbed me and I knew it was going to be special.

Like Mousey Brown, my heart goes pitter-pat-pounding with love for Julia and Jonathan’s book.  I hope that we see more picture books by this amazing duo.

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