Take the Lead: How to care for your dog by Elena Browne, illustrated by Jennifer Farley

Do you want to get a dog, but you’re not sure how to choose which one? Do you want a furry friend in your life, but you’re not sure what needs a dog has? Do you have a new dog, but you would really like to teach it some cool tricks? Take the Lead: How to Care For Your Dog, by Elena Browne and illustrated by Jennifer Farley, is the book you need.

In Take the Lead, Elena Browne takes young readers through everything you need to know about dog ownership. What do you need to know before you decide to get a dog? How do you decide what kind of breed to get? When you’ve bought or adopted a dog there are all sorts of other things to consider, like naming your dog, welcoming them home, and having somewhere for them to sleep and the right kind of foods to eat. Elena teaches kids how dogs communicate and how they can train their dog, teach them new tricks and play games with them. The health and well-being of your dog is also an important part of the book, especially when it comes to giving them what they need in different seasons.

Take the Lead is a wonderful, kid-friendly book that is essential reading for any young dog-lover. This is exactly the sort of book I would have loved as a kid with a dog of my own. Elena covers all aspects of dog ownership, presenting the information in a simple, but engaging text. Jennifer Farley’s illustrations capture the joy of having your own furry friend, as well as the body language that shows us how a dog is feeling.

The format is visually appealing, with small blocks of text on a colourful background, simple headings, and lots of adorable illustrations and photos. It is clear that Elena is passionate about dogs, as her enthusiasm and experience shines through in the text. There are some cool design features in the book too, like the doggy text-boxes and the use of paw prints and bones instead of bullet points. My favourite parts of the book are the step-by-step guides to teaching your dog tricks and commands, as they’re nicely illustrated and easy to understand.

I will be adding Take the Lead to the very popular section on pets in my school library. I know that kids are going to love it as much as I do.

Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter

Have you ever wanted something so desperately that your heart would break without it? We all have, especially as kids. Sometimes the things that we most want are the things that we can’t have. Allergic, by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter, is about a girl called Maggie who desperately wants a pet of her own, but she is allergic to anything with fur or feathers. It is such a great story, with different threads to it – allergies, friendship and family.

Maggie has always wanted a dog but when she finally gets her wish she discovers she is allergic to dogs. In fact, anything with fur or feathers will start her sneezing and itching really badly. Maggie still wants a pet and is determined to find one that will suit her. However, after trying fish, lizards and other critters, she still can’t find the right one. In to Maggie’s life comes her new neighbour, Claire, who Maggie clicks with straight away. Everything is looking great, until Claire gets a dog of her own, and Maggie knows her allergies means they can’t be friends anymore. After Claire apologises she helps Maggie choose a small pet, which they hope won’t set her allergies off. Maggie keeps her pet secret from her family, hiding it in her bedroom. As Maggie tries to ignore her reactions to her pet, her family worry about her. With her mum’s new baby due any time soon, Maggie also worries how she might fight into her family. If she can be allergic to animals is it also possible to be allergic to a baby?

Allergic is an adorable story about desperately wanting something you can’t have. It’s a story about friendship and figuring out where you fit in your family. Megan’s story is super relatable and Michelle’s artwork is cute and has great kid appeal. Megan has created a character who has a lot to deal with, from having something exciting taken away from her, to a new school and a new friend, and a changing family dynamic. Michelle shows us the range of emotions that Maggie goes through and how her allergies physically affect her.

There were so many aspects of Michelle’s illustrations that I loved. There are wordless spreads throughout the book, which show little snapshots of other kids around the neighbourhood (kids walking to school together, getting on the bus and playing in their yards). The montage of Maggie trying different pets is really funny, but also makes you feel sorry for Maggie. One of my favourite illustrations is the one showing the cross-section of Maggie’s and Claire’s houses, which highlights the differences in their lives. I especially love the way Michelle shows how Maggie’s allergies affect her, with the redness of her skin and her puffy, itchy eyes.

Allergic is going to be incredibly popular with kids, especially those who love Raina Telgemeier, Shannon Hale, Victoria Jamieson and Jennifer Holm. It is a must-have for all primary and intermediate school libraries.

Petunia Paris’s Parrot by Katie Haworth and Jo Williamson

What present do you get for a girl who has everything?  What could she possibly want that she doesn’t already have?  Why, a parrot of course!

9781760403690

Petunia Paris really does have everything – a swimming pool, a city of toys, and her own personal library.  When her parents ask her what she wants for her fifth birthday she can’t think of a single thing she wants, so she says the first thing that comes into her head – a parrot.  It is a beautiful parrot all the way from Peru, but no matter how hard she tries she just can’t get it to talk.  One day she loses patience and shouts at her parrot but her butler suggests that she ask it nicely why it won’t talk.  Petunia learns exactly why her parrot won’t talk and she sets out to maker it happy.

Petunia Paris’s Parrot is a perfectly pleasant and pleasing picture book.  It is so much fun to read and it gives your mouth a work-out in several places with all the alliteration.  Kids will wish that they were Petunia, with all of her extravagant gifts and a parrot of their very own.

Katie’s delightful text and Jo’s elegant illustrations are the perfect match.  Like Petunia and her family Katie’s text has an air of sophistication.  I almost feel like I should read the book in a posh accent.  Katie uses some lovely language and introduces young readers to words that they’ve probably never heard before, like ‘pertinent’ and ‘perturbed.’ She sprinkles alliteration throughout the text, whether it is Petunia ‘presenting pertinent topics of conversation,’ or ‘planning preposterous new outfits.’  These little touches make the story a joy to read.  My favourite part of the story is when ‘persistent Petunia finally lost her composure.’  I absolutely love Jo Williamson’s illustrations too.  Jo has used mostly pinks and blues in the illustrations, which give them an old-fashioned but elegant look.  Jo includes lots of lavish details that highlight the privileged life that Petunia leads, from her shelf full of toys to the chandeliers in her house and the butler who is holding an umbrella while she swims in her pool.  When Petunia’s parrot shows up he really stands out on the page because of the splash of colour that he brings to Petunia’s life.  Jo has given the parrot lots of expression too, from his determination not to try the exotic food, to his embarrassment over having to wear a silly outfit.

Petunia Paris’s Parrot is delightful from beginning to end and it is sure to be a picture book that will be shared again and again.  I’m certainly looking forward to sharing it with children.

For a sneak peak at Petunia Paris’s Parrot check out the Five Mile Press website.