Book Review: Seeking an Aurora, by Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Anne Bannock

Available in selected bookshops nationwide. 

cv_seeking_an_aurora.jpgSeeking an Aurora is one of those books which at first glance, seems just a light read with pictures. And for a child it probably is, with the beautiful pictures holding the interest more than the story.

In fact, reading it to the child in my life, we found that examining and discussing the pictures was a story in itself. We talked about the way the cold air made our breath puff out like little clouds, and the way frost on the ground crunched beneath our feet as we walked on it. We wondered how the artist had produced such vivid colours from what looked like crayons or pastels and we thought we might try to make some art work ourselves.  The depictions of the Aurora woke in us a fervent desire to witness one ourselves and we discussed how we could set about achieving this desire.  We really really liked the book on lots of different levels.

The main one for me was enjoying the company of my grandchild as we talked together about the book and the thoughts it brought up. For a child, reading it with an interested adult is the ideal, but I can imagine them reading it over by themselves afterwards, thinking their own thoughts, and enjoying the memories.  A lovely wee book.

Reviewed by Lesley Vlietstra

Seeking an Aurora
by Elizabeth Pulford and Anne Bannock
published by OneTree House
ISBN 9780995106444

Book Review: Around the World Fashion Sketchbook, by Jenny Grinsted & Eva Byrne

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_around_the_World_fashion_sketchbook.jpgFashion, travel, colouring-in, and design – courtesy of the creative team at Lonely Planet kids. The Fashion Sketchbook is a very fun and educational trip around the world in traditional costumes.

Divided into six geographic regions, the book features twenty-seven countries from Mexico to Ghana to our own New Zealand. It’s always a source of parochial glee to find Aotearoa in a book.  Each country has a double-page spread outlining traditional clothing, patterns, fabrics, and jewellery.

Part fashion fact book, part atlas, part activity book, this A4-sized book has plenty of information and photos but also leaves room to draw in your own designs. You can customise a Herero-style hat from Namibia with your own patterns and colours, or follow the steps to draw your own quadrille dress for a Jamaican dancer. Fun, educational, and creative.

This is a great activity book to keep your design-minded, wannabe young travelers busy over the school holidays. My twelve-year-old has already stolen my review copy.

Review by Tiffany Matsis

Around the World Fashion Sketchbook
by Jenny Grinsted & Eva Byrne
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781787014442

Book Review: Sports are Fantastic Fun, by Ole Könnecke

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_sports_are_fantastic_funMy sports-loving seven-year-old, who incidentally grew up with both of the other big books by Ole Könnecke that Gecko Press has translated, was over the moon when presented with this book.

Sports are Fantastic Fun begins with a short rejoinder reminding us exactly why sports exist, then launches into the fantastic fun of football.

The style of the text is quite to-the-point, generally beginning with a statement about how fun it all is, then exploring the broad rules of each sport and how one could win. For football, for example: ‘When a team scores a goal, everybody is happy. (Actually, only the team that scores is happy. The other team is annoyed.)’

The sports represented vary widely, though I would point out there are considerably more ‘male’ looking figures playing the sports than female figures (they are all animals). Possibly as a balance, whenever there is a pronoun used, it is usually describing a female. Everything from rhythmic gymnastics and athletics, to skiing and mountain climbing, horse riding of all types, dirt bike riding, golf and racquet sports, as well as fishing, boxing and rugby are shown.

One of the most interesting pages to me was that about ice hockey, mainly for this description: ‘Sad but true: sometimes ice hockey players fight. That’s one reason an ice hockey game has up to four officials to make sure the players follow the rules.’ On reading further, I realise these fights are sanctioned and indeed, part of the game. I guess it’s not too far removed from rugby at times!

The illustrations, as always for Ole Könnecke, are an absolute delight and the highlight of the book. The athletics page is hilarious, with the elephant doing a shot put, the penguin doing the long-jump, the cow doing a balletic high jump, and the octopus throwing the javelin. Then there is the giraffe on the pole vault. The illustration of her getting distracted by a butterfly halfway up then falling flat on her back makes you wince and laugh at the same time. ‘This time, the giraffe approaches faster than before. This should work. Too late she notices that in the excitement she has forgotten her pole. That wasn’t good either.’

The illustrations are also innovative in where they have sports being performed – in the case of swimming, he shows frogs doing the breaststroke, the freestyle and butterfly in a goldfish bowl, complete with goldfish.

I’d recommend this book for sports lovers of all ages. It is a great primer for ideas of what sports might be played, and would work for kids aged 3 and up. As always, the pictures can be read without the words, by a younger child reading alone. Sports are indeed, fantastic fun, when written and illustrated by Ole Könnecke and published by Gecko Press.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Sports are Fantastic Fun!
by Ole Könnecke
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776572014

 

 

Book Review: Welcome, by Mo Willems

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_welcome.jpgWe absolutely adore Mo Willems in our family. He’s the bestselling creator of the hilariously mad Elephant & Piggie series, as well as Knuffle Bunny, and the brilliant Pigeon picture books; all of which have brought much glee to adult and child readers alike. Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals is the newest book from this talented former Sesame Street writer and animator.

Aimed at parents and caregivers of new additions, this gorgeous book is a life instruction manual for little ones, designed to be read aloud to your new baby. The message of the book is gorgeous: ‘This is you, you are you, you are loved. No restrictions apply.’ It is a delightful, loving, life lesson to share with your little person.

This book will last well into toddlerhood with its heavier than paper, reinforced pages for durability, a fun mirror inside the front cover, and very simple pictures on coloured pages. This book is sure to be a hit at baby showers, christenings and any other gift-giving opportunities to celebrate a new arrival to your community. And as always, the Pigeon makes a sneaky cameo appearance in the book.

Review by Tiffany Matsis

Welcome
by Mo Willems
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781406383584

Book Review:  Woolly Wally, by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_woolly_wallyIf you are familiar with Doctor Grundy’s Undies, I need a new Bum and other stories, and Mister Spears and his Hairy Ears, you will adore this offering from Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird. What a great book. Woolly Wally was first published in 2006 and is now back in this latest edition.

Woolly Wally was a ram who stood master of his flock, full of importance, ready to show off his beautiful wool, thick and crinkled, extra fine, grey and wrinkled.  He was sure that his perfectly formed, uniquely shaped, individualised, spiral, ribbed and oversized horns were absolutely perfect and that he as incredibly handsome.  He was also sure that all the sheep were in love with him and that when spring came all the ewes would be mums and the fields full of his perfect offspring, so what a shock Woolly Wally got when he heard the word “shear”.

A wonderful story with a great moral. Pride comes before a fall, and in Wally’s case he falls far.

As with all books that Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird have collaborated on, small readers will not be disappointed.  My 3 ½ year old granddaughter Quinn had it packed in her bag ready to go home before I could turn around.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Woolly Wally
by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
Published by Oratia Media
ISBN 9780947506421

Book Review: Maya & Cat, by Caroline Magrel

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_maya_and_cat.jpgCat does not want feather boas, nor pink shoelaces or a pompom on a stick and although she ate every oily silver morsel of fish, Cat is searching for something much more precious. So Maya sets out with Cat in tow to knock on doors to see if one holds what Cat is seeking.

Maya & Cat is a heart-warming story that follows a little girl and a cat as they seek out the thing that Cat is missing most and the thing that Maya discovers she is missing too; companionship. A perfect story to read together; young children will enjoy the gentle, poetic language. Caroline Magrel’s adorably quirky watercolour illustrations take us through the wet and gloomy, lamp-lit streets of a seaside town. They leave you with that sense of peace and tranquility you feel when you’re warm and cosy indoors while a storm rages outside your windows.

This unique feel-good picture book written and illustrated by Caroline Magrel would make a wonderful addition to any young child’s bookshelf. Maya & Cat makes for a pleasant and comforting read – the perfect bed time story!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Maya & Cat
by Caroline Magrel
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781921977282

Book Review: Oh, so many kisses!, by Maura Finn & Jenny Cooper

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_oh_so_many_kissesThere are so many books showing families and love but this one has already become my favourite! The poetic text and accompanying sketches perfectly illustrate all the love children experience without becoming ‘too cute’. It is a charming read that relaxes and fills the reader with aroha from the beginning to end.

The language is kept simple for young readers and is cleverly written into prose making it beautiful to read out loud. The words are woven through sketches that clearly illustrate the words. It means the book is fantastic for children to correspond new words to pictures and concepts which supports language development. There are so many possible departure points for conversation provoked by the animated water colour sketches.

The best feature, however, is the diversity in the illustrations. It shows everyone from all corners of Aotearoa going about their everyday lives. Even better is the amount of dads and grandparents caring for and loving young ones.

Together the author and illustrator have woven a real example of love. The raspberry jam kisses, the kisses for a scraped knee, the kisses to say goodbye at drop off and the kisses with a best friend. This is the perfect bedtime book for little ones (and the big ones who read to them too!).

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Oh, so many kisses!
by Maura Finn & Jenny Cooper
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434924