Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis are the dream team when it comes to picture books in New Zealand. They have written and illustrated so many fabulous picture books, from the Marmaduke Duck series to Toucan Can. Their books are always a joy to read aloud and their latest book, That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! is no exception. Adults and children alike will love this book!
In That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! we follow a class of children and their poor teacher on an outing to the zoo. They discover that the hippopotamus is missing and they race off all over the zoo as they try to track it down. Some of the children think they’ve found the hippo but they don’t quite get the right animal. One of the children, Liam thinks that he sees the hippo but no one pays attention to him. When it gets to the stage that the children are all forlorn and their teacher has almost had a nervous breakdown Liam finally gets everyone to listen to him.
That’s NOT a Hippopotamus is a hilarious story that will have adults and children in fits of giggles. After creating so many books together Juliette and Sarah have a real knack for creating funny, entertaining, but also very clever, picture books. The thing that makes this picture book stand out for me is that there are so many layers to it. As the children chase after different animals (thinking they’ve found the hippopotamus) Juliette gives the reader little details about each animal so you can guess what it is. There is this great sense of anticipation about what the animal will be, and you often get it wrong (which makes it even better). On one page a boy says ‘I see him Miss! He’s on the ground. I’ll get him while he’s snuffling round.’ There is an elephant’s bottom poking around the end of the page so you think it might be an elephant, but it’s actually a warthog. Another layer of the story, told through the illustrations, is Liam spotting the hippopotamus. He tells his teacher that he’s seen the hippo but she doesn’t pay him any attention. The hippo is actually hiding in the exhibits though, and if you look carefully you will spot him.
I love the way that Juliette MacIver plays with words and she has certainly had fun with this story. She has used some very clever rhyming and I love what the children yell out each time they catch an animal, ‘I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im by his trotter, Miss!’ I know kids are going to love calling out ‘That’s NOT a hippopotamus!’ too.
This is a picture book that kids will beg to read over and over again and it is one that I think adults will be very happy to. I absolutely love it!
Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis are incredibly talented in their own rights, but when they combine their talents they create magic. Juliette and Sarah have previously worked together on the wonderful Marmaduke Duck books for Scholastic, and when I heard they were collaborating on a new picture book for Gecko Press I knew it was going to be a great book. In their new picture book for Gecko Press, Toucan Can, Juliette and Sarah introduce us to a very colourful and talented Toucan.
Toucan can do lots of things!
Toucan bangs a frying pan!
Can you do what Toucan can?
Toucan Can is one of my favourite picture books of the year. It’s got all the ingredients of a wonderful picture book. Juliette MacIver’s delightful text will tangle your tongue and trip-up your lips, and once you get going you just can’t stop. Toucan certainly can do lots of things but I’d like to see him try to read this book perfectly without tripping up. Sarah Davis’ illustrations are absolutely stunning and they make the colourful characters jump off the page. I love Sarah’s style of illustration because you can see each brush stroke and pencil line, and the colours she uses are so rich. I really like the layered effect that Sarah has used in these illustrations. The further back the animals are in the illustration, the more faded and washed out they are. The expressions on the animals faces are also delightful. Toucan especially has lots of different expressions, from ecstatically happy as he dances to slightly worried when he’s asked ‘Can Toucan do what YOU can do?’
One of the things I like the most about Toucan Can is that it addresses the reader and engages you. You’re asked ‘Can you do what Toucan can?’ and Juliette suggests there are many things that you can do that Toucan can not. Sarah’s illustrations also bring the focus back to the reader. As Toucan and his friends dance, juggle, flip and flop, they’re looking out at you from the page.
Everyone should go out and grab a copy of Toucan Can to treasure and read again and again. It is certain to add colour and laughter to your life and will have you dancing along with Toucan and his friends.
Do picture books about princesses and queens make you want to tear your hair out? Your little girl may like to be endlessly read stories with sparkles on every page, but if you have to read it one more time will you go insane? Well Juliette MacIver and Lucia Masciullo have just created a picture book about a queen that adults will enjoy just as much as children. It’s called Queen Alice’s Palaces.
Queen Alice has a palace that’s ‘gilded and grand’ while poor, hard-done-by Sir Hugh has a castle that’s ‘crumbly and small.’ Dastardly Sir Hugh hatches a plan to get his own palace – he’ll get Queen Alice to build a palace of ‘stunning design,’ then he’ll steal it, ‘by means of a military coup.’ Queen Alice constructs a series of unique palaces, made from bamboo, ice, cheese and other strange building materials. Can she outwit Sir Hugh or will he steal his own palace?
Queen Alice’s Palaces is a rollicking picture book filled with imagination, wonder and humour. Juliette and Lucia have let their imaginations run wild and built all sorts of wonderful, if slightly impractical, palaces. Juliette’s rhyming text bounces along, making it a joy to read aloud. As with Juliette’s other books (Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam), you need to warm up your mouth because you find your mouth doing gymnastics and getting tongue-tied as you read. Just the title alone gives your mouth a good work out. I love Juliette’s use of language too, like ‘gilded and grand’ and ‘cunning, conniving and callous.’ I think it’s wonderful when you can read a picture book and learn new and interesting words.
Lucia Masciullo’s illustrations are the perfect match for Juliette’s text. I really love the way that she has portrayed the characters, especially the ‘cunning, conniving and callous’ Sir Hugh. He looks very villainous and his creepy little mustache makes me laugh every time (especially when he twirls it). He will appeal to the boys, while the very glamourous Queen Alice will appeal to the girls. Lucia clearly had a lot of fun creating the palaces, which all look spectacular. There is certainly plenty to discover in the illustrations on each page.
Warm up your mouth, fire up your imagination and share Queen Alice’s Palaces with the children in your life.
Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam by Juliette MacIver and illustrated by Sarah Davis was one of the finalists in this year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards and was one of my favourites. The bouncy, rhyming text and stunning illustrations were a winning combination and made a fun, if tongue-twisting, read-aloud. I was excited to see that they had written another Marmaduke Duck book, called Marmaduke Duck and Bernadette Bear.
Marmaduke Duck has opened a marmalade shop and animals of all shapes and sizes are coming from all over to sample Marmaduke Duck’s marmalade jam. But then one day, Bernadette Bear shows up and opens a honey shop right next door. Will Marmaduke’s marmalade shop survive or will Bernadette put him out of business?
I absolutely love Marmaduke Duck and Bernadette Bear! Juliette’s rhyming text is a joy to read and makes the story bounce along. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Davis‘ illustrations, whether it’s people or the myriad of different animals that populate the pages of Marmaduke Duck and Bernadette Bear. Sarah has the amazing gift of being able to portray animals that look life-like while at the same time having human expressions (just have a look at the front cover to see what I mean). Every page glows with the brightly coloured animals and their crazy antics. Any parent who chooses to read the Marmaduke Duck books to their children is sure to give them a love a words and beautiful illustrations. This is definitely one of my top picture books of 2011.