Book Review: Doodle Bug – written and illustrated by Bruce Potter

Available at selected bookstores nationwide.cv_doodle_bug

The author, Bruce Potter is a musician and composer of both adult and children’s songs. He also tours schools with his shows. He is also an illustrator and author.

This is a very unusual book. We’ve all doodled at some point in our lives, but I can honestly say I have never in my life managed to produce doodles that are in this book. The idea behind it is to foster children’s and adults imaginations, and it does this very cleverly.

Doodle Bug is a green frog dressed in orange overalls. The illustrations on the first few pages show a frog, a mug of tea/coffee and a biscuit and then a hand holding a ball point pen. The fun then starts with the pen and hand doodling – some incredible doodles. Doodle Bug dives into the swimming pool that Bruce has doodled. .

“Doodle Bug was walking through the doodles one day.
He saw a scary dragon and tried to hide away.
We’ve all got to find him.
Oh where can he be?
Where’s little Doodle Bug?

The small person I was reading this to spent a lot of minutes with me trying to find Doodle Bug. Abby’s Pa was a lot cleverer than Grandma or Abby – he found it in quick smart time. When Abby and I found him, we thought – oh yes, of course.

The illustrations are quite stunning. While I think Abby at 3 years of age is a tad young to really appreciate this book, I know of children in our family over 4 years of age that really would love it.

Well done Bruce Potter. To inspire and encourage children with their imagination is quite a tall order, but I think you have “cracked it”.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Doodle Bug
by Bruce Potter
Published by Draconis Books
ISBN 9780473281137

Book Review: The Last of Maui’s Dolphins, by Maria Gill and Bruce Potter

cv_the_last_of_mauis_dolphinsAvailable now in bookstores nationwide.

As a resident of Raglan, one of the last places Maui’s Dolphin can be found, I was keen to get this book for my five-year-old daughter, to help her understand the importance of protecting these unique and beautiful animals.

The book consists of two parts: a fictional story about a young Maui’s dolphin, Hiriwa, and a couple of reference pages at the end with factual information about the dolphins.

Hiriwa’s story was easy to read and follow, and thankfully the writer did not fall into the trap of trying to rhyme, which many educational children’s books do, usually poorly. This is not one of those children’s stories that is a particular delight to read – the sentences are short and prosaic and the vocabulary basic. The story is also basic, and there are no real surprises or twists in the tale. However, it does what it sets out to do – it explains in an engaging and age-appropriate way the plight of the Maui’s dolphins, and the reasons for their being endangered.

The illustrations are appropriate and interesting, and help tell the story well. The dappled effect of light coming through water is particularly well captured.

My daughter enjoyed listening to the story, and asked lots of questions about the dolphins and how we could help them. It helped that we recently had “Maui’s Dolphin Day” in Raglan, so it tied in nicely with that experience, and helped me to explain to her what the day is for and why it is important. It’s not a book she has reached for over and over again, but she is happy to listen to it whenever I offer it.

Hopefully one day we won’t need books like this, as our waters will once again be teeming with plenty of beautiful native species, but until then I applaud the efforts of the writers and illustrators writing environmentally themed children’s books. Maybe my daughter’s generation will get the message and do something before it’s too late.

Reviewed by Renee Boyer-Willisson

The Last of Maui’s Dolphins
by Maria Gill and Bruce Potter
Published by New Holland
ISBN 9781869664107

Book review: New Zealand Hall of Fame by Maria Gill, illustrated by Bruce Potter

This book is in bookshops now and is a finalist in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

I found this book extremely interesting and enjoyed reading about all the famous New Zealanders and what they have achieved. I liked the way the book was laid out, catergorising people by their area of interest or expertise.

The pictures and page layouts were eye catching and exciting and kept me wanting to read on. I like the passport idea for each person, as it made it easy to indentify who they were and what their key information was.

This book would appeal to children aged six and over and would be a very useful book to have on hand for homework and general knowledge quizzes. My family have had several quiz nights now, taking turns at asking questions about our knowledge of the subjects in the book.

I did feel that there were a number of important New Zealanders that should have been included in this book and I wondered why they had been left out. I was also very impressed with how many Kiwis have achieved great things in the world. It made me feel very proud to be a New Zealander.

It is a fun and informative book, written at the right level for children and designed to engage them in New Zealand history and general knowledge.

Reviewed by Brittany Luhrs (aged 12).

New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis
by Maria Gill and illustrated by Bruce Potter
(New Holland Publishing)
ISBN 9781869663124

See our other review of this book.

Book review: New Zealand Hall of Fame by Maria Gill, illustrated by Bruce Potter

This book is in bookshops now and is a finalist in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

A couple of years ago I tried to find a book on famous New Zealanders that my children could use for school projects. I failed miserably as there seemed to be a real gap in the market, so I was thrilled to come across Bruce Potter drawing caricatures for a new book on famous New Zealanders at the Storyline Festival.

I had to wait for it to be published and it was well worth the wait. Maria Gill has identified an interesting mix of 50 New Zealanders, both living and dead, who’ve all done something remarkable in their field.

The table of contents is split into sections: adventurers, leaders, pioneers, scientists, inventors, artists and sportspeople, so when my daughter was looking for a scientist to do a school project on, it was easy to identify four likely candidates.

I like the way that the four people are all quite different and specialise in different areas so there is bound to be someone of interest to all readers. My daughter chose Steve O’Shea (world-renowned squid expert) for her homework assignment and found plenty of information in the book.

Each page has some specific sections – Trophy Board, Timeline and Passport (with a photo and facts like name, date of birth and place of birth). All information is written in a very child-friendly way and includes information that children would find interesting.

Bruce Potter has drawn a caricature of each person and this takes pride of place on each double-spread. These are complimented by smaller photos and other drawings. One thing I don’t understand is why small drawings have been made from photographs on some of the pages. I don’t think these drawings have been done very well (poor Dave Dobbyn looks like Shrek in the picture on Tim Finn’s page), and the original photos are easily found on the internet.

My daughter has enjoyed flicking through the book and reading snippets of information. She declared she likes the book because ‘it tells you lots of interesting things about people.’
The book includes web addresses, and references to documentaries and films that can be found online.

I think this book is a ‘must have’ for any family with young children and I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by Niki Bailey, Facebook fan

New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis

by Maria Gill and illustrated by Bruce Potter
(New Holland Publishing)
ISBN 9781869663124