Tag Archives: picture book

That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis

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!

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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!

 

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Noisy Nights Blog Tour with Fleur McDonald

Noisy Nights is a delightful new picture book written by Fleur McDonald and illustrated by Annie White.  You can read my review here on the blog and enter to win a copy of the book.

I have the pleasure of being joined by Fleur McDonald today as part of her Noisy Nights Blog Tour. Fleur has grown up on farms in Australia and she draws inspiration for her books from her experiences.  This certainly shines through in Noisy Nights, which is all about a noisy farm at night.  Read on to find out why Fleur decided to write Noisy Nights.

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There is nothing more gorgeous than hearing a child giggle. For me, hearing that child laugh while reading a book, is even better. After all, something has really resonated with them to make it happen.

As a kid, I spent HOURS reading. Apparently (and I can’t claim this is true as I don’t remember, but Nana says it was, so it must be!) after my first day at kindy, I stormed home to my Nana’s place, flung myself into the old Smokers-Bow Chair (which we grandchildren called ‘The Story Telling Chair), she had next to fire place and groaned: ‘they didn’t teach me to read!’

That was the start of a love of reading that I’ve never lost.

Mum used to tell me, she’d hear me laughing in my bedroom and sneak down to see why … I would always be reading.

In 2004 I was told my son was ‘at high-risk of autism.’ I didn’t know what autism was and started researching it from that day. As time went on Hayden began to show more and more signs that this was the case. During his year at kindy, one of the reports I kept getting back was his concentration span was very limited. I wondered what I could do to increase it.

For a few weeks I watched Hayden and it became clear he loved being out in the sheep yards. He loved the dogs, pet calves and lambs; any animal really. (I do need to mention here, that it didn’t mean he was good with them, but he loved being with them.) He also didn’t sleep at night.

I decided to try something I hadn’t done since I was at school and that was to write a story. The story had to be about something he could relate to, understand and liked.

It took me quite a while and I struggled with the rhyming and rhythm. Poor Hayden had several versions tried out on him. But he sat still for longer and he laughed every time I read it to him.

That made my heart very happy.

Having been involved in the agricultural industry for more than twenty years, it frightens me how little some children understand about where their food comes from and how country people live. From here on in, I’d love to be involved in educating kids through stories – the emphasis being on STORIES.

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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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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!

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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.

 

 

 

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Tickle My Ears by Jörg Muhle

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.

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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.

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Are You Sitting Comfortably? by Leigh Hodgkinson

I love books about books and the experience of reading so when I saw Are You Sitting Comfortably? by Leigh Hodgkinson I fell in love.  This wonderful picture book is all about the search to find the perfect place to read.

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The story starts like this, ‘The thing is…when I want to read what I really really need is a place to sit…just for a bit.’ The boy in the story tries to describe the perfect place to read, somewhere that’s not ‘buzz-buzzy,’ or ‘slippy, slimy,’ but also somewhere that is not too hot or too cold. He realises that it doesn’t really matter where you sit, but that a book is best when you share.

Kids and adults alike understand the struggle to find the perfect place to sit and read.  In winter I want somewhere warm and in summer I often want somewhere cool.  Leigh perfectly captures this struggle, both in the text and the illustrations.  I love the way that the font changes to match the things that the character is describing.  When the boy is talking about a place being too itchy and fuzzy the text looks fuzzy.  I also love the way that the chairs change size, shape and pattern to match what the character is describing.  The ‘buzz-buzzy’ chair has flowers all over it and ‘stinky grimy’ chair has a pattern of wafting stink lines.

Are You Sitting Comfortably? is the perfect picture book to curl up with and share with your little book worms.

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Let’s Play by Hervé Tullet

Hervé Tullet is the master of interactive picture books.  They are picture books for the ‘app generation,’ those kids who have grown up with electronic devices from a very young age.  Much like apps Hervé’s books get kids tapping, swiping, tilting and mixing but on a page instead of a screen.  I’ve loved Press Here and Mix It Up! and his latest book, Let’s Play, is just as much fun.

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Let’s Play takes readers on an adventure with yellow dot that is full of movement, colour and silliness. Yellow dot talks directly to the reader, giving instructions and asking for help, so the book will keep kids engaged.  There are all sorts of concepts included in the book, from colours and numbers to following a line with your finger from left to right, which helps the development of writing in young children.

Let’s Play encourages kids to play and explore and shows them just how fun a book can be. Like Mo Willems’ excellent ‘It’s a Book,’ Let’s Play is a book that really celebrates paper books. It’s the perfect book for one-on-one sharing or for older children to enjoy by themselves.  Fans of Hervé Tullet will love this new book and it’s sure to capture new fans both young and old.

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Win a copy of Fuzzy Doodle

Fuzzy Doodle is the stunning new collaboration between the very talented Melinda Szymanik and Donovan Bixley.  Fuzzy Doodle will be a favourite with young and old alike and I think everyone needs to own a copy of this wonderful book.  You can read my review here on the blog.

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Thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic NZ I have a copy of Fuzzy Doodle to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com, with the subject ‘Fuzzy Doodle,’ along with your name and address.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Craig.

 

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Fuzzy Doodle by Melinda Szymanik and Donovan Bixley

I love everything that Melinda Szymanik and Donovan Bixley do, so when I heard that they were collaborating on a book I was incredibly excited.  The more I heard about this book, Fuzzy Doodle, the more I wanted to get my hands on it.  We don’t have many books published in hardcover here in New Zealand but you know that when a publisher releases a book, especially a picture book, in hardcover that they really believe in this book.  Fuzzy Doodle has just been released and it is an absolutely stunning book!

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Fuzzy Doodle follows a scribble on a page as it starts to eat the ink, then nibbles letters and words, until it moves on to gobbling pictures full of colour.  When it is full to bursting it makes a cocoon and then emerges and unfolds as a dazzling book.  The story perfectly captures the process of creating a story, from the first scribble of an idea, building on that idea, adding colour and layers to the story, sending it out into the world and hoping that it will unfold into a book.

Fuzzy Doodle has ‘award-winning’ written all over it.  It is one of those books that everyone is going to know and it will be a favourite with kids and adults alike.  It is a book that speaks to you as a reader and a lover of books.

There is something magical about this book, from Melinda’s delightful text that is a joy to read aloud to Donovan’s stunning, vibrant illustrations that make Fuzzy leap off the page. Melinda has a lot of fun with words and the story is sure to introduce children to lots of fantastic new words.  Fuzzy does lots of eating so Melinda uses words like ‘gobbled,’  ‘chomped,’ ‘famished,’ and ‘scrumptious.’ Donovan’s illustrations in this book are like nothing we’ve seen from him previously but they are perfect for this story.  Fuzzy starts off as quite dull but the magic really happens when he discovers the ink.  The ink is glossy on the pages (which looks amazing!) and so as Fuzzy eats more ink and words he starts to become glossy himself.  Then Fuzzy discovers colours, and you can’t help smiling as Fuzzy gets brighter and larger.  It really feels like you are holding a valuable piece of art when you are holding this book.  You know that it is something special to treasure.

I urge everyone to buy a copy of this book (multiple copies if you can afford it).  Fuzzy Doodle should be in every home, school and library in the country, and I hope that those outside New Zealand get the opportunity to discover this wonderful book too.  If you are a teacher or a parent you need to share this book with your children.  You will fall in love with this adorable Fuzzy Doodle.

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Steven Seagull: Action Hero by Elys Dolan

I’ve read some fantastic picture books so far this year but the new picture book by Elys Dolan, Steven Seagull: Action Hero, has blown all the others out of the water.

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Steven Seagull: Action Hero is the hilarious story of Steven, a retired cop who comes back to the force for one last case. Someone is stealing the sand from Beach City and it’s up to Steven and his ex-partner, a goldfish called Mac, to catch the thief. They have a list of suspects, including reformed criminals Harry, Lola and Rick. Will they catch the culprit and find out what’s been happening to the missing sand? You don’t want to mess with this seagull.

Steven Seagull: Action Hero is the funniest picture book I’ve ever read.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book for months as I’m a huge fan of Elys Dolan’s books.  She creates picture books with so many layers of humour and this book is no exception.  I was laughing the whole time I was reading it and every time I read it again it makes me giggle.  There is no doubt that kids will love Steven Seagull but this is one of those rare picture books that will appeal to adults as much as kids.  I think it’s a book that dads in particular will love, with the references to action movies and action stars like Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude van Damme.

In Elys’s other picture books there have been lots of funny details to find in the illustrations and the pages can be packed with characters.  In Steven Seagull though it’s often the sparse pages that are the funniest.  Take the first two pages for example:

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From Steven Seagull: Action Hero by Elys Dolan, published by Oxford University Press

 

I love the look on Steven’s face as he looks into the distance.  It’s the perfect action hero stare.  He looks tough and afraid of nothing.

I also love the stereotypical action movie details in the illustrations. Steven’s partner Mac has his police badge around his neck the whole time, there are posters up around the place encouraging the animals to ‘Vote Clam’ for mayor, and the end papers of Steven doing karate moves look like a montage of Steven preparing himself for a fight.

I urge everyone to buy a copy of Steven Seagull: Action Hero (or at the very least borrow it constantly from your library) and join the Steven Seagull fan club.  It’s a picture book that I want to share with everyone and I encourage you to share it with everyone too.

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