Book Review: Puffin The Architect, by Kimberly Andrews

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_puffin_the_architectEveryone wants different features in a new home and Puffin is an architect who takes pride in designing the perfect home for clients. But the pufflings seem hard to please even when Puffin takes them on a journey to all the recent builds the architect has designed.

Puffin the Architect is a delightful read by Wellington author Kimberly Andrews whose first picture book Tuna and Hiriwa was a 2017 Storylines Notable book.

The exquisite illustrations in her latest publication will capture children’s attention and they will find interesting topics for discussion each time the book is read to them. Suitable for ages 3-7 years, I am sure these children will have as much fun looking for the 19 snails hidden among the pictures as I did.

The pufflings visit Platypus’s bakery, Otter’s fishing boat, Detective Hound’s home, Pig’s tool shed, Painter Goose’s studio, as well as the homes for a moose and giraffe , but none of the features in these unique homes appeal to the pufflings. ‘Can’t you make a puffin cottage?’

The resulting cottage by the sea is just what the pufflings want and we see in the final page Puffin the Architect is moving into the home with her two young pufflings and their toys.

Lots to stimulate children in this book, the rhyming text on each double page, the intricate details in the different illustrated homes, as well as finding out where puffins are living in world.

It is a good sized book for sharing with a group of children, and will certainly create wonderful discussion and stimulate ideas for a new generation of designers and architects.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

Puffin The Architect
by Kimberly Andrews
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143772187

Book Review: Paraweta, by Stephanie Blake

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

Paraweta-cover-451x600This is a te reo Māori version of the well-known picture book Poo Bum. Little rabbit is rather rude and from the moment he wakes up little rabbit answers every question with ‘paraweta (Poo Bum)’ – until he meets a wolf who likes to eat rabbits!

Te reo Māori is growing in strength as we all see the importance of sharing our indigenous language with our little ones. Translations of classic stories that young children already know and love are a perfect way to introduce te reo Māori. Children can hear natural language patterns as they follow the familiar storyline and illustrations. It won’t be long before children will start shouting out ‘paraweta’ in all the right spots!

For nervous readers, you could start by changing out ‘poo-bum’ for ‘paraweta’ – however children tend to be a very forgiving audience when it comes to practicing a new language.

This book shows how much fun language can be. It will draw in the most book-shy child who will enjoy laughing at a parent or teacher saying ‘taboo’ words. The bold illustrations use blocks of colour and black lines to continue the absurdity – who has ever seen a green wolf or a rabbit in a suit?!

As an adult, you will either love or hate the storyline but young children are almost guaranteed to love the silliness! A book filled with toilet humour, familiar characters and a witty punchline – what is not to love? Just be prepared to read this book over and over again.

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Paraweta
by Stephanie Blake, translated by Karena Kelly
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776572182

Book Review: Lonely Planet Kids: World’s Strangest Creepy Crawlies

cv_worlds_strangest_creepyCrawliesAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

Most definitely not for squeamish grown-ups, this book will delight bug-obsessed kids with its catalogue of weird and wonderful insects. Have you ever heard of a bird-dung crab spider?

This new book by the clever folk at Lonely Planet is a Top 40 of the world’s strangest species, ranked in order and scored on a scale of creepiness, beauty, fighting ability, and superpowers. It is chock-full of coloured photos, fact boxes, lists, and brightly coloured graphics. The cast includes a full array of bugs from spiders to ants to bees. I confess it was extremely satisfying to see that New Zealand’s own Giant Weta made an appearance. Did you know that a weta’s ears are on its knees?

It is hard to imagine a child who would not be fascinated by this treasure trove of facts and photographs. With quizzes, maps, and a glossary, there is plenty of information in this compact book to keep primary school-aged children captivated. It may be a little basic for older readers but it could provide a good starting point for the curious researcher.

Adults, be prepared to be regaled incessantly with all sorts of weird and revolting statistics. ‘Mum! Mum, did you know…?’ Just be glad you are not a termite queen that produces one egg every three seconds for fifteen years; that’s a lot of babies.

Reviewed by Tiffany Matsis

Lonely Planet Kids: World’s Strangest Creepy Crawlies
by Lonely Planet
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781787012974

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:  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: Ping vs Pong, by Mauro Gatti

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_ping_v_pong.jpgEdamame beans may not be what you first think of when you want to explore themes of turn taking, resilience and empathy, but bear with me – you might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Ping and Pong, the aforementioned edamame beans, were born on the same day, and share the dream of becoming world champion table tennis players. With hard work and perseverance, they achieve their goal, but then decided they need to go one further – which one of them is the best?

Of course, when someone has to be the winner, someone has to be the loser, and feelings get hurt. This is not the end of the story, of course …

With vibrant, engaging illustrations, my class of 5-7 year olds enjoyed the story, and were able to see the lessons in it. This isn’t a hard-hitting moralising story, quite light in fact, but it’s always a good thing when young children can see to the heart of a story.

Recommended for 4-8 year olds who are learning to take turns and mind other people’s feelings.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Ping vs Pong
by Mauro Gatti
Published by Flying Eye Books
ISBN  9781911171386