Book Review: Keep an Eye on this Koala, by Scott Tulloch

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_keep_an_eye_on_this_koalaIn this short comic-like chapter book narrated by a smart-mouthed cockatoo we meet a “dozy” Koala who we are told to “keep an eye on”. Koala is the butt-end of all the jokes amoungst his fellow Aussie creatures. He gets tricked into hilarious situations and creates trouble for the others. However they are made to eat their words when Koala uses a clever idea to help them escape from The Dreadful Drop-bear.

Scott Tulloch has created another amusing comic with humorous dialogue in Keep an eye on this koala. His cute pencil illustrations add to the comedy with their highly expressive faces and movements.

I love when characters break the fourth wall in children’s books which is exactly what the main character and narrator of this book does. Talking directly to the audience helps engage young readers and gives the feel of being apart of the story.

Keep on eye on koala is a lighthearted book that’s perfect for beginner readers. It’ll have children chuckling at Cockatoo’s wisecracks and Koala’s dozy misfortunes. A great introduction to chapter books!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Keep an Eye on this Koala
by Scott Tulloch
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435426

Book Review: Things in the Sea are Touching Me!, by Linda Jane Keegan and Minky Stapleton

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

Things in the sea are touching me_HRUnder a shimmering, summer-blue sky, a family strolls to the beach. After dropping their towels, sunblock and snacks at their favourite spot the little girl and her two mums run into the bubbling waves feeling carefree… when suddenly something grazes the girl’s feet causing her to shriek and squeal and call out for her Ma! What could be lurking beneath the surface… a shark? a sea monster perhaps? or something more mysterious?

We can all relate to that feeling of fright when something unknown brushes against us in the waves! Things in the Sea are Touching Me! explores a few of the things we might commonly encounter at the beach that, when unseen, can seem a little scary but after learning what they are become quite a wonderful part of the swimming in the ocean!

With its jaunty rhythm and rhyme, repetitive sentence pattern and fun language play, this book is a joy to read aloud. Minky Stapleton’s multi-layered underwater seascapes that depict mysterious hands reaching up from the ocean bed will keep children wondering about what could be hiding under the water. My preschool class loved making guesses about what was touching the little girl and enjoyed being introduced to the filter-feeding salps, bobbing mangrove seeds and slimy kelp forests.

Things in the Sea are Touching Me! is a delightful picture book that addresses the fear of the unknown in a light-hearted and humorous way. An awesome book for young children which is also available in Te Reo Māori: Ngā mea kei rō Moana e whakapā mai ana!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Things in the Sea are Touching Me!
by Linda Jane Keegan, illustrated by Minky Stapleton
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435709

Book Review: Up the Mountain, by Marianne Dubuc

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_up_the_mountain.jpgMrs Badger lives at the foot of a small mountain, and though she is very old she walks all the way up to the top of that mountain every Sunday. The story begins with Mrs Badger setting out on her walk just like any other Sunday but today she gets the feeling she is being watched… Leo, a little cat, would like to climb the mountain too but he is full of self-doubt and announces that he is “too little”. Curiosity eventually gets the better of Leo and he follows Mrs Badger, who is more than happy to introduce her young friend to the many wonders of the mountain. Along the way, Mrs Badger generously shares her wealth of knowledge about the animals and plants that live on the mountain. When Mrs Badger becomes too old and tired to explore the mountain with Leo, Leo begins to adventure up on his own but he never forgets his friend Mrs Badger. He returns at the end of each trip to share his discoveries and bring her gifts from the mountain. In the end we see that Leo (older and stronger now) makes a new friend; a younger friend much like himself in the beginning of the story for whom he can share his now bountiful fund of knowledge about the mountain with.

Being curious is a wonderful thing that should be encouraged in children and Up the Mountain does just that. It is a beautiful and heartwarming story about trying new things, seeking adventure and enjoying nature. Lovely messages of kindness, caring and friendship are woven through this story as it explores the importance of helping others, sharing the beauty of nature with a friend and stopping to take in the world around us. As the main characters make their way up the mountain we also learn interesting facts like, what mushrooms are delicious in a stew, the perfect walking stick and what we can make with sumac leaves!

The vibrant watercolour illustrations are just as sweet as the story and emphasise all the different aspects of nature from tiny insects flitting about the trees to long grasses and peaceful bodies of water. Children will enjoy searching the pages to unearth all the different animals and plants.

Passing knowledge on to our younger generations – especially about the natural world – is so important and Marianne Dubuc illustrates just that in this touching story with along with its charming artwork. Up the Mountain encourages curiousity and kindness and promotes the message that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to if you’re willing to work for it!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Up the Mountain
by Marianne Dubuc
Published by Book Island
ISBN 9781911496090

Book Review: Inside the Villains, by Clotilde Perrin

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_inside_the_villains.jpgWe know all about the backgrounds, skills, and cleverness of the “good guys” in our beloved fairytales. Inside the Villains provides a behind the scenes look at the top three ‘bad guys’ from well-known stories in this uniquely crafted and awesomely oversized book.

Children (and adults!) will delight in lifting the flaps to reveal the surprises hiding inside the villains. Peeling back the fur of The Wolf will reveal Grandma’s nightgown and his brilliant ideas. You can find an assortment of fairytale characters by pulling open his ‘misery guts’ and see that Fresh meat is always in his heart. Be careful when loosening the buckles on The Giant’s coat as he keeps sharp knives in his pockets alongside his magic harp and sack of coins. A heavily tattooed chest tells us that this Giant is HANGRY for meat and lots of it! When you push aside The Witch’s feathery cloak you will be met with a surprisingly sweet frock and an adorable black cat but don’t be fooled because when taking a peek under the frilly layers you’ll soon uncover her terrified captive and terrible trophy case as well as her knickers!

This book is truly amazing and needs to be read and played with in order to be fully appreciated. The dark but vibrant cover illustrations drew me in immediately but what I found inside was a real treat. After the amusement of lifting all the flaps I was happy to discover a fold out spread accompanies each villain which includes strengths, weaknesses, top foods, favourite pastimes, prized possessions and physical attributes. As well as a library of other stories that you can find The Wolf, The Giant and The Witch in, each villain character spread includes one full and uncensored story — The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats, Jack and the Beanstalk and Alyoshka and Baba Yaga — that are sure to capture the attention and stimulate the imagination of young audiences and readers. These tales are not for the faint of heart though, as our villains meet their untimely demise at the hands of their cunning victims in some truly gruesome ways. Which may leave you thinking who are the real victims of these stories?

The villains truly are the stars of these dark fairytales and Clotilde Perrin has made them come alive with this remarkable interactive book.  Children will be enchanted (and just a little horrified) by the three stories told in this book but the real magic and pleasure will come from lifting the flaps to reveal the villains’ darkest secrets. A perfect gift for for any child who loves fairytales!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Inside the Villains
by Clotilde Perrin
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776571987

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 bedtime story!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

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

 

Book Review: Worlds Strangest Ocean Beasts, by Lonely Planet Kids

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_worlds_strangest_ocean_beasts.jpgHave you ever wondered about the bizarre creatures that live in our oceans? From the well known seahorse to the rare goblin shark, World’s Strangest Ocean Beasts shines a light on the unique and unusual biology and behaviours of 40 weird and wonderful creatures from the deep.

Lonely Planet Kids has compiled their own list about the extraordinary creatures who call the ocean their home. But these creatures aren’t just any sea creatures: according to Lonely Planet’s animal experts, these creatures are the 40 strangest creatures that roam the deep sea. Each animal is displayed on its own page boarded by facts about what makes these creatures so weird. A “strangeometer” accompanies each creature that gives a ranking of its appearance, weird abilities, rarity, strangeness and overall strangeometer score.

Saturated with colour the bright photos illuminate the strange and sometimes scary appearances of these creatures of the deep. With so little known about the earth’s vast oceans, this book is a great opportunity for children to explore the multitude and variety of animal species that live below the waves. As an avid watcher of wildlife documentaries some of these facts even surprised me!

Children will enjoy poring over the images and hearing the weird and interesting facts about each creature. A perfect book for any child with a love of animals and an excellent resource for parents and teachers.

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Worlds Strangest Ocean Beasts
by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781787013018

 

Book Review: Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale, by Ruth Paul

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_little_hector_and_the_big_blue_whaleHector was a small but daring dolphin. But Hector was too small to go anywhere. One day Little Hector decides he had had enough of being told he’s too small to venture past The Point so he decides to follow the bigger dolphins out into the open ocean where he quickly gets left behind. Little Hector learns about the dangers of boats first hand and why his mother warned him to never trust an orca! Lucky for Hector he meets a friend who safely escorts him back to The Point and teaches him a valuable lesson; being the littlest is just as special as being the biggest! And size definitely doesn’t matter when it comes to friendship.

Author-illustrator Ruth Paul introduces us to her latest character Little Hector in Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale. The softness of the illustrations compliments the ocean setting of the story and the characters are charming with their friendly expressions, especially, Little Hector!

This story includes enough suspense, possible dangers and problems to be solved to keep young children captivated as well as putting a spotlight on New Zealand’s Hector’s dolphin. I especially enjoyed the ‘All about the Hector’s dolphin’ facts included at the end. The health of our oceans and the creatures within it is very important and it’s something that children should be aware of from a young age.

Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale is a wonderful new book that teaches children about the rare Hector’s dolphin. Children will love reading all about Little Hector’s big adventure into the deep sea and meeting all his marine friends. I can’t wait to read about Little Hector’s next adventure!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale
by Ruth Paul
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143771524