Winner of the Draw Simon Competition

I’m very pleased to announce that the winner of the Draw Simon competition is Frances.  Frances drew Simon doing 3 naughty things and I was super impressed.  Frances wins a pack of Simon the rabbit books, courtesy of the wonderful publisher of Stephanie’s books, Gecko Press.  Check out Frances’s drawing:

Simon 1 – Simon thinks it will be fun to pour cold water on a sleeping Mummy rabbit.

Simon 2 – Simon thinks it would be interesting to see what happens when he puts flowers in the car’s petrol tank. The result; car gets towed (based on real life events!)

Simon 3 – Simon cranks up the volume, the adults aren’t impressed!

Congratulations Frances and enjoy your prize!

Picture Book Nook: Stupid Baby by Stephanie Blake

One of my favourite picture books from last year was Stephanie Blake’s Poo Bum!, published by the wonderful Gecko Press.  It’s a book that kids immediately love (and end up repeating Simon’s favourite phrase) and divides adults (they either love it or hate it).  Thanks to Gecko Press I have a Poo Bum badge that I wear with pride in the library, which makes a great talking point.  Gecko Press have just published Stephanie Blake’s second book featuring Simon the rabbit, Stupid Baby, and it’s just as hilarious as Poo Bum!

In Stupid Baby, Simon has just gotten a new baby brother.  Simon is always getting told off because he’s making too much noise.  Of course, Simon doesn’t like his new brother at all and wants the ‘stupid baby’ to go back to where he came from.  His parents tell him that the baby is here to stay, but he won’t stay forever will he? What a stupid baby!

Stupid Baby is a spectacular picture book!  I loved Simon in Poo Bum and he is certainly on fine form in this book.  He’s such an amusing character, who is pretty horrible, but loveable at the same time.  Although he acts all tough and mean, he worries just as much as most kids.  He’s scared of the dark and the wolves that are coming to get him, and he’s scared that his baby brother might stay forever.  The text is simple, but the wonderful translation and the design of the text make the story special.  The variation of the text size helps the reader to put the emphasis in the right place, whether it’s the Ka-boom! of the rocket or whispering around the teeny, tiny baby.  Stephanie Blake’s illustrations are big, bold and bright (similar to Lucy Cousins’ illustrations) making them appealing to kids.  There is no white space in Stupid Baby, every page is colourful.  The bright red cover, with Simon in his superhero outfit, jumps off the shelf and shouts ‘READ ME!’  I love the page where Simon is worrying about all sorts of things, as his expression goes from worried to angry.  I also love Simon’s wide-eyed expression when he’s worrying about the wolves.

The ending is unexpected and will have kids rolling around on the floor laughing.  Get a copy of Stupid Baby now and meet the worst role model in the picture book world.

My Top 5 Read Alouds for 5-8 Years

Last week I posted my Top 5 Read Alouds for 2-5 Years.  This week I’ve posted my Top 5 Read Alouds for 5-8 Years.  I’ve also included some of my other favourite read-aloud picture books (that I couldn’t fit into my top 5) that deserve honourable mentions.

1. Morris the Mankiest Monster by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Sarah McIntyre

This is my absolute favourite picture book!  I always use it to hook kids – a monster who stinks and does disgusting things, what more could you ask for.  It’s gross, funny, and the language is great!  It’s one of those picture books where the text and illustrations match perfectly and I couldn’t imagine one without the other.  Every time I read it there are refrains of ‘Ooooo!’ and ‘Gross!’ but kids absolutely love it, especially the very last page.  I’d love to see Giles and Sarah create more picture books together.

2. What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen, written and illustrated by Nick Sharratt

Kids love this book because they think it’s magic (and it’s slightly disgusting).  There are lots of things to find in the witch’s kitchen, some of them nice and some of them revolting.  Depending on which way you open each flap you could find Strawberry Tea or Goblin’s Wee, some crunch hot toast or a grumpy burnt ghost.  I read this book almost every week for a whole school year to different groups of children and I never got tired of it.  You can really build the sense of anticipation with each turn of the flap and kids can end up rolling around on the floor laughing.

3. Wild Boars Cook by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Meg Rosoff’s story about four wild boars (Horris, Morris, Borris and Doris) who decide to cook a Massive Pudding, is absolutely hilarious.  They’re bossy, selfish, stinky and hungry, so when you put them all together to make a pudding you know it’s not going to end well.  They put all sorts of stuff into their pudding, including broccoli and a squid, and I love seeing the kids’ faces when you show them the finished product.  Their hunger is never satisfied and they get very whiny, so it’s a great book for doing different voices.   Sophie Blackall’s illustrations are great and add to the hilarity of the story.

4. Poo Bum! written and illustrated by Stephanie Blake

I can’t go past a picture book with some good toilet humour.  Boys especially love books like this.  You can’t read this book without children joining in saying ‘Poo bum!’  It’s about a little rabbit who only says one thing – Poo bum.  However, one day he’s eaten by a wolf and then rescued by his father.  You start to think that maybe he has changed and learnt some manners, only to be sadly mistaken.  I love reading this book aloud to groups of school children, and most of the teachers and parents who have heard me read it loved it as well.  Be prepared – children will walk around saying ‘poo bum’ for hours afterwards.  This is one of my favourite picture books from New Zealand publishers/translators, Gecko Press.  If you haven’t heard of them, check them out.

5. Oh No, George! written and illustrated by Chris Haughton

This book is great for sharing because the illustrations are bright and bold and the kids help you tell the story.  They can anticipate what George is going to do and will join in the refrain of ‘Oh No, George!’  It’s a great book for the adults to enjoy too because they’ll get the subtle humour in the story and notice George’s guilty expressions.  Some kids that I’ve read this to don’t quite get the ending, especially younger children.  They want the story to have an end and don’t want to have to make their own mind up about the story.  I think it’s extremely clever and a great way to get readers to use their imagination.


Honourable Mentions


Picture Book Nook: Poo Bum by Stephanie Blake

Children of any age love toilet humour, so what better book to appeal to them than Poo Bum by Stephanie Blake. Once there was a little rabbit who could only say one thing – Poo Bum.  Whenever his parents or his sister ask him to do something, this is what he says.  But what happens when he meets a wolf who wants to eat him?

Children are in fits of giggles even before you open the book and you know they’re going to be rolling around on the floor by the end of it.  The story and illustrations are so simple but they make a winning combination.  The danger (and fun) of this book is that children start to join in with you.  However, they don’t see the surprise ending coming, which sends them into fits of giggles.  Poo Bum is sure to be a favourite of children everywhere and the book that parents will have to read again and again.  Another brilliant book from Gecko Press, publisher of curiously good books from around the world.