Picture Book Nook: Machines and Me series by Catherine Foreman

Catherine Foreman, author and
illustrator of the award-winning picture book, The
Cat’s Pyjamas
, has just released the first two books
in her fantastic new series, Machines and
, with Scholastic NZ. Machines
and Me
is a series of four picture books that each
focus on a different machine. The first two books (out now)
are Planes and
Tractors, with
Boats and
Trains coming soon.

I absolutely love these books!
They’re bright and bold, so will appeal to very young
children. Every page is colourful and the machines really
stand out on the page. The text is simple but has a really
nice rhythm to it. The thing I like the most about these
books though is that they are perfectly suited to the age group.
Catherine Foreman gives a simple
explanation of what each machine does and how it works, but she
does so in a fun way. I also really like Catherine’s design
of the books, with the text following the direction of the machines
and matching the size of the machines. I’m always looking for great
books to share with babies and their parents at our sessions in the
library and these books are perfect. They’re large and the
illustrations are vibrant so they can be seen from further
away. The simple, rhyming text makes them perfect to read
aloud to a large group too. Get your hands on a copy of the first
two Machines and Me books,
Tractors and
, and keep an eye out for Boats
and Trains, coming soon
to a bookshop and library near you. They’re a must for any
home library and would be an absolute hit in preschools.

Picture Book Nook: Clumsy giraffes and mid-air mayhem

The latest bunch of picture books from Scholastic New Zealand feature a clumsy giraffe and mid-air mayhem in hot-air balloons.

Great Galloping Galoot is the first picture book by New Zealand author and illustrator, Stephanie Thatcher.  It’s about a clumsy giraffe, called Galoot, who is always tripping over things and bumping into things.  Whenever he does something silly, the other animals call out, ‘You great galoot!’  His parents always say to him, ‘when walking, walk tall. When running, run fast.  Galoot, always be your best.’  When he comes across some other animals who can’t cross the river , he offers to help, but they tell him he can’t because he’s a great galoot.  But Galoot remembers his parents’ words and knows just what to do.  Great Galloping Galoot is a cute story about being different, with a character that children will love.  I must admit, I got a bit confused when I first read the story (Why are they calling him a great galoot when he’s called Galoot?), but when I read it again I realised that children wouldn’t pick up on that.  Galoot’s parents’ words of advice are repeated throughout the story, so children will be able to join in.  Stephanie’s illustrations are quite cute, especially her googly-eyed Galoot, and I love the determination on his face as he rushes down the hill to save the day.

3 out of 5 stars

Madison Moon and the Hot-Air Balloon by Chris Gurney and illustrated by Catherine Foreman, is the story of Madison Moon who has a great idea.  Madison is sick and tired of being stuck in traffic in her little red car, so she decides to buy a hot-air balloon.  She soars up, up and away, ‘high in the cottonwood clouds,’ while everyone else battles the traffic.  Soon everybody wants to go for a ride in her balloon, including the butcher, the baker and the lollipop maker, and they all decide they want their own hot-air balloon.  As everyone starts to use their balloon instead of their car, the sky becomes very crowded, and suddenly Madison doesn’t find it fun anymore to be up in the sky.  Chris Gurney’s text is fun to read, with lots of whooshing, swooshing and blabbety-blabbing.  You get caught up in the rhythm as you read and get taken on a wild ride through the air.  Catherine Foreman’s illustrations are bright and colourful, and filled with lots of different patterns and shapes, especially the balloons.  Madison Moon and the Hot-Air Balloon will really appeal to children, because it’s taking something ordinary (traveling from one place to another) and making it extraordinary.  They’re sure to enjoy the cyclic ending, and could imagine what might happen after you close the book (Will everyone else join Madison?  Will she get sick and tired of the traffic and try something else?  What might she try next?).

4 out of 5 stars