The latest bunch of picture books from Scholastic New Zealand feature a clumsy giraffe and mid-air mayhem in hot-air balloons.
Great Galloping Galoot is the first picture book by New Zealand author and illustrator, Stephanie Thatcher. It’s about a clumsy giraffe, called Galoot, who is always tripping over things and bumping into things. Whenever he does something silly, the other animals call out, ‘You great galoot!’ His parents always say to him, ‘when walking, walk tall. When running, run fast. Galoot, always be your best.’ When he comes across some other animals who can’t cross the river , he offers to help, but they tell him he can’t because he’s a great galoot. But Galoot remembers his parents’ words and knows just what to do. Great Galloping Galoot is a cute story about being different, with a character that children will love. I must admit, I got a bit confused when I first read the story (Why are they calling him a great galoot when he’s called Galoot?), but when I read it again I realised that children wouldn’t pick up on that. Galoot’s parents’ words of advice are repeated throughout the story, so children will be able to join in. Stephanie’s illustrations are quite cute, especially her googly-eyed Galoot, and I love the determination on his face as he rushes down the hill to save the day.
3 out of 5 stars
Madison Moon and the Hot-Air Balloon by Chris Gurney and illustrated by Catherine Foreman, is the story of Madison Moon who has a great idea. Madison is sick and tired of being stuck in traffic in her little red car, so she decides to buy a hot-air balloon. She soars up, up and away, ‘high in the cottonwood clouds,’ while everyone else battles the traffic. Soon everybody wants to go for a ride in her balloon, including the butcher, the baker and the lollipop maker, and they all decide they want their own hot-air balloon. As everyone starts to use their balloon instead of their car, the sky becomes very crowded, and suddenly Madison doesn’t find it fun anymore to be up in the sky. Chris Gurney’s text is fun to read, with lots of whooshing, swooshing and blabbety-blabbing. You get caught up in the rhythm as you read and get taken on a wild ride through the air. Catherine Foreman’s illustrations are bright and colourful, and filled with lots of different patterns and shapes, especially the balloons. Madison Moon and the Hot-Air Balloon will really appeal to children, because it’s taking something ordinary (traveling from one place to another) and making it extraordinary. They’re sure to enjoy the cyclic ending, and could imagine what might happen after you close the book (Will everyone else join Madison? Will she get sick and tired of the traffic and try something else? What might she try next?).
4 out of 5 stars