Book Review: Fizzy Pop, by Emma Vere-Jones, illustrated by Kate Snushall

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_fizzy_pop.jpgLizzy McNay LOVES fizzy drinks, in fact she loves them so much they make up much of her daily diet: “Soft drinks for breakfast, soft drinks for brunch, soft drinks for dinner, soft drinks for lunch.” She ignores parental urging to give up her fizzy habit and, despite feeling grotty and her expanding tummy, she continues guzzling at a ‘furious pace’.

Things come to a head when one day at school her teacher announces a cross-country run and firmly tells Lizzy ‘You don’t have a choice’ (good on ya Miss Bunn!). Off goes Lizzy in the race, fizzy drink in hand, when… uh-oh. Her tummy feels queasy, she has to dash to the loo…

And here is where the young readers will absolutely howl with laughter… all the fizz erupts ‘in a fart of such size it sets Lizzy in motion’. All the way to the moon in fact! Thank heavens for kindhearted classmates who determine to save Lizzy and bring her back to earth. Off they go in a fizz-powered rocket made by clever Max Martin, and they tow Lizzy home.

Has she learned her lesson? Is she tempted by a bottle of fizzy? Tempted yes, but wisely she instead puts it to use in Max’s machine, reiterating Dad’s earlier plea that “There are places to go, there are things to be seen.”

There is much to enjoy in this funny rhyming tale that will appeal immensely to youngsters – fart jokes, a heroic rescue and a happy ending are a sure way to delight early readers. Equally appealing are the bright and enticing sketched cartoon illustrations; full of action and fun, they draw the reader into Lizzy’s adventure. It is sure to be a hit, with many a request for another reading.

Fizzy Pop cleverly uses humour to introduce young children to the idea of making healthy food choices. There are other messages to pick up on too; kindness and helping others even when they may not have been very nice, and getting off the screen and outside adventuring – Lizzy definitely looks much happier ‘venturing forth’ in the flying machine at the end (sans fizzy of course).

Emma and Kate have co-produced a great book that shows how to successfully get a message across without moralising or talking down to your young audience. Their expertise with words and illustrations has clearly been put to good use in this, their first collaboration. Fizzy Pop is Emma’s second picture book, following Stan the Van Man which won the Storylines Joy Cowley Award for 2014.

Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen

Fizzy Pop
by Emma Vere-Jones, illustrated by Kate Snushall
Bookhead Press 2016
ISBN: 9780473350826

Book Review: Stan the Van Man, by Emma Vere-Jones, illustrated by Philip Webb

cv_stan_the_van_manEmma Vere-Jones received the Joy Cowley Award for this, her first book. She lives in Auckland and holds a BA from Victoria University in Theatre and Film and a Certificate in Journalism from Whitireia.

Philip Webb has received Honour Awards at the NZ Post Book Awards with two of the books he illustrated for Scholastic NZ – Dragor and Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig. He lives in Wellington and works full-time as an illustrator.

Stan enters the story when Miss Mickle, the boss of the Post Office is in a pickle. Bob her van driver has walked off the job. Stan, who doesn’t like to turn people down, intercepts and agrees to take the job. He does try to tell Miss Mickle that he has a secret, but Miss Mickle ignores him and implores him to please go and deliver all the parcels and letters that have piled up.

Stan sets off but soon becomes distracted by a little boy stuck up in a tree. Stan stopped the van and helps the boy down. As Stan continues on, he continues to help people out. With his secret still intact he makes his deliveries, but he makes some interesting mistakes along the way, making this a rather lovely story. I read this story to 4-year-old Miss Abby. She wanted to know what Stan was doing delivering a skate board, knee pads and helmet to old Mrs Vine at 79 and what was she going to do with them? Abby got even more perplexed at the lady’s pants delivered to Professor John Moore. We then got onto a discussion about why Stan the Van Man was making such terrible mistakes with the deliveries. What was very interesting about the story was the fact all the recipients of Stan’s deliveries wanted to help him learn to read.

Abby starts school March next year and knows the importance of reading. She can write her Christian name and with help write her surname (double barrelled to complicate things!) so the idea of perhaps an adult not being able to read isn’t something that she would have even thought about. This book opened up an interesting discussion with her reasoning quite interesting for a 4-year-old. “Grandma, maybe Stan couldn’t go to school because he lived a long way from a school”. We also discussed why we should help people and when this is appropriate. Abby thought everybody was very kind to Stan, but he had been kind and helped others in need.

The illustrations and text in this book work well together. It’s a bright colourful book with rhyming text which keeps a child’s interest. Grandma (me), plus Pa and then Mummy had to read the book to Abby before she was satisfied.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Stan the Van Man
by Emma Vere-Jones, illustrated by Philip Webb
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775433071