I’m a huge fan of Leo Timmers. I always look forward to his books because they are so clever. There are so many layers to the illustrations and you find something different every time you read his books. Leo’s latest book from Gecko Press is Gus’s Garage and it is terrific!
Gus the pig runs a garage. Gus stores all sorts of stuff in his garage, stuff that looks like rubbish, but when his friends need help, he always has just the right thing for them. It’s up to the reader to figure out what stuff Gus might use to help his friends. He certainly is one very clever pig. Rico the rhino comes by on his moped and says ‘Gus, this seat – I’m overflowing.’ Gus looks through his bits and bobs and attaches an old seat that he has to Rico’s moped. This carries on throughout the book until Gus has reused everything in his pile of stuff.
Gus’s Garage is another brilliant picture book from Leo Timmers. It is a picture book that is both entertaining and gets kids thinking. It makes them wonder what Gus will use from his pile of stuff to come up with a solution for his friends and then what might Gus’s final product be. I love the sense of anticipation as you turn the page to find out what Gus has done. I also love Gus’s refrain, ‘Let’s see. I have some bits and bobs. This goes with that. There. Just the job.’
One of the things that I love the most about Leo’s illustrations are the vibrant colours that he uses. His illustrations seem to shine on the pages. There are lots of details to take in on each page. Something I only noticed on my third or fourth reading was that the sky gets darker and darker throughout the story as the day gets later.
Gus’s Garage is a picture book that will be begged to be read again and again.
As a father of a 15 month old I’m always on the look out for some great board books to share with my girl. She will certainly let me know if she doesn’t like a book (either by pointing to a different book or just getting off my lap and walking away). We love going to the library and she’ll usually choose books that she likes the look of. Every night we have 2 or 3 stories just before she gets into bed and I love having a bedtime book, one that signals it’s time for bed. Our favourite bedtime book at the moment is the brilliant board book from Gecko Press, Tickle My Ears by Jörg Muhle.
Tickle My Ears is the perfect book for bedtime. It is very interactive, with lots of signs imbedded in this simple story that tell the child that it’s time for bed. It is short and sweet but fun at the same time. You have to help Little Rabbit get ready for bed by doing things like fluffing up his pillow (by shaking the book), tickling his ears, stroking his back and tucking him in (by turning the page). We read this book almost every night so my girl has got the hang of it and will stroke Little Rabbit’s ears and rub his back. There are some things I have to do myself, like saying ‘Hoppity Hop’ to help him get ready. The great thing about this book is that it will work for different age groups, whether your baby is talking or just sitting quietly listening to you read. I love the interactivity of the book and it is simply adorable watching my daughter stroke the rabbit’s back. I never get tired of reading it and neither does she.
Get your hands on a copy of Tickle My Ears and make this brilliant book part of your child’s bedtime routine.
How many times have you been reading a novel and desperately want to know more about the subject of the story? I’ve read stories set in Venice and needed to know more about this magical place and read Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret and needed to know more about the early days of movie making. Usually you have to go to a completely different book or website to find the information you crave. However, in a brilliant new book by Sylvia Vanden Heede and Marije Tolman, What Dog Knows, fiction and nonfiction are mashed together for the perfect book for inquisitive young readers.
When Wolf finds a fact-filled book in the library, he thinks he will outsmart his clever cousin Dog.
Who knows more about robots, dragons, knights, and pirates? And what about setting traps, playing tricks, and chewing bones?
What Dog Knows is a one-of-a-kind book that kids are going to gobble up. It’s a book that will make kids laugh and go ‘wow!’ It weaves the story of Dog and Wolf’s antics with information about all sorts of topics, from mummies to pirates and robots to dinosaurs. Each section of the book focuses on different topics, with Dog and Wolf trying to one-up each other to prove they know more. They are always picking up books to find out what they need to know. Fiction and nonfiction are presented in two different sized fonts but both weave together seamlessly.
There is a lot to love about What Dog Knows. The conversations between Dog and Wolf are very funny and full of wit, so any adults who share this book with children will love it just as much as the children. Boys especially will enjoy the humour and the jokes. Marije Tolman’s illustrations are quirky and perfectly compliment the text. Her diagram of Wolf mummifying a cat is brilliant. The thing I love the most about this book are the simple quizzes to test what readers have learnt and the activities for kids to try that tie in with each topic.
Thanks to Gecko Press for publishing this special book in English. Without Gecko Press we wouldn’t know about all the wonderful books that are published in other languages. Gecko Press also published Wolf and Dog by the same team and hopefully there are other books to come starring these two characters.
Put What Dog Knows in the hands of all the young readers you know. Not only will they be entertained, they’ll learn a thing or two along the way.
Gecko Press introduced us to Stephanie Blake’s naughty little rabbit, Simon, when they translated and published Poo Bum! a few years ago. They’ve continued to publish Stephanie’s books, with more and more stories of Simon’s naughty antics. I’ve loved each and every one (Stupid Baby is my favourite). Gecko Press has just released the latest Simon the rabbit book, I Want Spaghetti, and it’s every bit as funny as the previous stories. In I Want Spaghetti we get to meet Simon the fussy eater.
Simon only likes to eat one thing…spaghetti. His parents try to get him to eat other things like sandwiches and soup but Simon thinks they are disgusting and he won’t eat them. Simon isn’t fond of getting told what to eat or being told to go to his room so he throws a big tantrum. His parents manage to tempt him with chocolate cake and just when they think they’ve got Simon eating out of the palm of their hand, he turns the tables on them.
I Want Spaghetti is a laugh-out-loud picture book featuring a character that both kids and adults love. Simon is the child that you can laugh at but wouldn’t want as your own. He’s a horrible little rabbit, with bad manners, who has tantrums and makes a huge mess, but you can’t help but love him. Kids especially love him because he gets to do and say the things they aren’t allowed to. I have read I Want Spaghetti to kids in schools around Christchurch and kids of all ages love it, from 5-year-olds right through to 12-year-olds. In fact, the Simon the rabbit books are the most requested books that I get asked to read again and again. That’s the sign of a really great book!
I love how sparse Stephanie’s books are. The illustrations are quite simple, while showing an incredible range of emotions, and the colours of the pages are bright, allowing the text to stand out. The text is also quite simple but it has real impact. The design of the book is very clever, with the text changing sizes and being run together for emphasis. I especially like the pages of text and illustration where Simon says ‘I Want Spaghetti’ increasingly louder. The text gets bigger and the illustrations show Simon getting angrier and angrier.
The thing I love the most about Stephanie’s books is that there is always a twist in the story. I love seeing kids’ faces and hearing them laugh when you turn the last page.
Thanks Gecko Press for continuing to bring us more of Stephanie’s Simon stories. I certainly hope there are many more to come!
Joy Cowley’s latest novel, The Bakehouse, is out this month from Gecko Press. It’s a brilliant, multi-layered novel about secrets, lies and how the consequences of one boy’s actions ripple throughout his family. You can read my review here on the blog.
Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is Benedict.
Viewed from a distance of seventy-plus years, 1943 was history soup, everything mixed up, and it was difficult to separate reality from what he had read or been told. One event, though, was crystal clear and refused to be forgotten. He’d never talked about it to the others, not Meg and certainly not Betty, but he didn’t want to be buried with the truth.
Someone should know what happened that winter day.
Bert wants nothing more than be old enough to fight in the war—to handle weapons, defend his country, and have a life filled with adventure. Little does he know that the secrets and danger of war don’t always stay at the front line, and that one boy’s actions can change everything.
I have loved Joy Cowley’s previous books from Gecko Press, Dunger and Speed of Light, and The Bakehouse sounds equally as good. Gecko Press always produce beautiful books and their covers for Joy Cowley’s books are no exception.
The Bakehouse is released in NZ in August.