Book Reviews: Brachio, by Jill Eggleton, illustrated by Richard Hoit; Don’t Think About Purple Elephants, by Susan Whelan, illustrated by Gwynneth Jones

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

Brachio, by Jill Eggleton, illustrated by Richard Hoitcv_brachio

Jill Eggleton will be familiar to many New Zealand teachers and parents for her literacy programmes and her huge catalogue of poems. Brachio is a picture book for up to 7 year olds which showcases Eggleton’s rich writing style.

Brachio is much bigger than the other dinosaurs and mouse lizards, so there’s bound to be a few problems when he heads out to join in a dance party. Being a kind and thoughtful kind of dinosaur, Brachio has a few solutions in mind.

Eggleton’s language is full of poetic language, with onomatopoeia, alliteration, rhythm and rhyme, and simile dripping off the page. This is helped by clever text design, which gives the reader lots of clues about where the emphasis should be, and adds visual interest for young readers. Not that visual interest is lacking – Hoit’s illustrations are vivid and colourful, full of the joy of dancing with your friends, and the problems that occur when dancers get a little too enthusiastic!

My class of 5 and 6 year olds love listening to the language as I read to them, and the book was in high demand afterwards, because, dinosaurs! This book also comes with a CD, read by Eggleton, with loads of expression and a fun backing track of dinosaur noises.

Don’t Think About Purple Elephants, by Susan Whelan, illustrated by Gwynneth Jonescv_dont_think_about_purple_elephants

Sophie is a busy, happy girl. She likes school, enjoys her loving family, and has good friends. The problem starts when she’s not busy. At bedtime, as she tries to go to sleep, worries crowd in on her, keeping her awake. All of the suggestions to help her sleep – a special book or teddy, or a drink of warm milk – just give her new things to worry about.
Children’s worries are often dismissed by adults; adults often don’t consider the things children worry about as important when compared to adult concerns. Most children do have worries, however, and to them they feel very real. A quick survey of my class of 5 and 6 year olds showed up common themes: not having someone to play with, someone being mean to them, something bad happening to a loved one, forgetting a book bag or lunch for school, not making it to the toilet on time, not being picked up at the end of the school day.

Whelan and Jones have put some thought into Don’t Think About Purple Elephants; they clearly know children, and they don’t dismiss Sophie’s worries, but try to resolve them. The illustrations are lovely – brightly coloured and happy when Sophie is busy, and grey and ominous with oversized objects when she is worried. The resolution to Sophie’s worries is relatively simple and one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments that parents and teachers have.

This is an enjoyable picture book to read together for children up to 8 or 9 years old, regardless of whether or not the child worries – but it would be a particularly good book to read with a child who is suffering from anxiety, it might just do the trick.

Reviews by Rachel Moore

Brachio
by Jill Eggleton, illustrated by Richard Hoit
Published by JillE Books
ISBN 9781927307809

Don’t Think About Purple Elephants
by Susan Whelan, illustrated by Gwynneth Jones
Published by EK Books
ISBN 9781921966699

Review: Duck Feet, by Jill Eggleton

Available in bookstores nationwide.

cv_duck_feetJill Eggleton’s name will be familiar to many teachers. A writer and researcher of early literacy, she is highly regarded by many for her expertise. In this slim volume of “ridiculous rhymes”, Eggleton gifts parents and teachers with fun, fairly short rhyming poems that will be enjoyed by young readers.

They rhymes are whimsical in nature, from a too-cool-for-school monkey to a king suffering from bubble trouble. The illustrations are lively and will definitely add to young readers’ delight in the poems.

Playing with language such as rhyming words is an important way for children to develop their early literacy skills. Books like Duck Feet are a great way to introduce children to the fun that can be had experimenting with rhyme and rhythm. A CD of the poems being read with helpful chimes to tell the reader when to turn the page, is included with the book.

I shared this book with the other new entrant teachers at my school within minutes of opening it. It is perfect for our “poem of the week”, which we share with children daily over the course of a week, so they can move from listeners to joiners/readers as they develop familiarity. I was just as excited to share the book with a class of 5 and 6 year olds. The children particularly enjoyed the poems ‘Clever Monkey’ and ‘Egg on My Be’ when I shared the book with them, and ‘Popcorn’ elicited lots of comments about home experiences with popcorn. ‘Growing’, a lament from a child about how slowly s/he grows, will strike a chord with many parents and educators who know children who just want to be bigger.

Perfect to be shared with very young children to 5-6 year olds, I recommend Duck Feet for anyone who enjoys having a chuckle with small people. The kids won’t even realise that they’re learning.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Duck Feet
by Jill Eggleton
Published by Global Education Systems Ltd.
ISBN  9781927307977

Book Review: Sneaky Snake, by Jill Eggleton, illustrated by Terry Fitzgibbon

cv_sneaky_snakeAvailable in bookstores nationwide.

Jill Eggleton is a New Zealand author of over 850 titles, with her books being found in schools all over the world. Terry Fitzgibbon is a New Zealander who has illustrated for other authors as well as his own books.

This is a story about Bubba Kanga and how he gets bounced out of his mother’s pouch. When Bubba Kanga tries to find his mother, he comes across Snake. Snake tries to convince Bubba that she could be his mother. Bubba Kanga is not totally convinced, but Snake perserves. The birds in the tree try and warn Bubba Kanga that he is pursuing a very dangerous course of action.

I read this story to my 4-year-old granddaughter Abby. She was totally absorbed with the story with questions every now and then thrown in. The reader needs to use their imagination with trying different voices and it really doesn’t matter if the singing parts are out of tune. Small children don’t seem to notice these things too much.

Sneaky Snake is a lovely story with lots of beautiful illustrations throughout. This book also comes with a CD, which is a great addition.

Any success with books has to come from how many times a small person gets you to read a story. Abby got me to read this book twice and when we got organised with a CD player that also had to be played twice. So in all I would say reading this book to this 4-year-old was a resounding success. This is high praise for any book, in my opinion.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Sneaky Snake 
by Jill Eggleton, Illustrated by Terry Fitzgibbon
Published by Global Education Systems Ltd.
ISBN  9781927307823

Book Review: Oh Me, Oh My! Written by Jill Eggleton, illustrated by Richard Holt

cv_oh_me_oh_myAvailable in bookstores nationwide.

Jill Eggleton is a New Zealand author with over 850 literacy titles which can be found in schools all over the world.

Richard Holt is a freelance illustrator based in New Zealand. He has been illustrating children’s books for over twenty years.

Parrot was not happy. It was very black and it had been raining for days and days with his feathers getting very wet. Owl opened one eye and announced in a sleepy voice “The sun has fallen from the sky.” Parrot, not being very bright, was totally convinced that this pronouncement was correct. Parrot flew away squawking –

“Oh me, oh my,
Oh me, oh my.
The sun has fallen from the sky!”
Elephant was trying to keep dry by standing under a tree. Parrot flies by squawking –
“If the sun has fallen out of the sky,
I’ll have to find it and put it back.”

The story continues with Parrot trying to find the sun, looking in various places. Finally he finds what he thinks is the sun and with help tries to put it back.

This is a delightful book with beautiful illustrations. I read this story to my 4-year-old granddaughter Abby. She loved the story, commenting on various aspects of the story. The real proof is in the pudding, so to speak. I ended up reading this book twice. This book also comes with a CD – this also had to be played twice.

In my opinion the real success of any children’s book is how many times you are asked to read a book aloud. Abby loved this book commenting at the end, “Grandma, can I please keep this book?” Being a fairly indulgent Grandma, it’s a resounding, “yes”.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Oh Me, Oh My!
Written by Jill Eggleton, illustrated by Richard Holt
Published by Global Education Systems
ISBN 9781927307861

Book Review: Bud-e reading series Books 1 – 8, by Jill Eggleton and Richard Hoit

Available in bookstores nationwide.bude_starter_system

My 4-year-old will begin school later this year, and he is very proudly beginning to read. So when this new reading series came to my attention, I figured it would be perfect to share with him.

Bud-e is a reading system that helps to teach your child high-frequency words to encourage their reading skills gradually. The books that are in this, the first series, are Silly Billy, Tricky Mouse, Hungry Ducks, Hop it!, What a Muddle!, Alien in the Park, Junk Car, and Mice Mischief. Also included in the starter set is the full picture book Out of Bubblo, which introduces Bud-e himself.

Dan enjoyed learning to read each of these books aloud with me. He didn’t need me to read all of them aloud before having ago, as his reading and comprehension was advanced enough to begin at around book 5. He seemed very confident with the first few books, and we had good conversations around the images in the book and what was happening in them. We read a lot with Dan, and he has always understood that the story can be in the pictures as well as the words, as it is very clearly in this series.

Dan spent a good hour on the app that came with the books, and enjoyed the interactive elements of it. I could see the app coming in useful on a long car journey, for when parents can’t help with the reading of the books. A very innovative approach to literacy learning.

The instructions for parents and teachers are very clear, and the explanation is interesting without being too jargonistic. Both Dan and I enjoyed the brief stories, and found plenty to talk about within the pictures. The story of the Tricky Mouse was a particular favourite, as were the stories featuring the aliens.

I saw this series for sale in a bookshop soon after I received them to try. I would recommend them to any parent who wants to invest in a reading collection to encourage their children to read independently. It is good to have this type of book in your collection, at the same time you could perhaps identify some of the books you already have in your collection that your child may wish to help you read aloud. We have several shorter books that Dan enjoys tackling himself now, and reading to his little brother.

Whether the app is appealing to you, or the books themselves, this is a great new series from celebrated educational writer Jill Eggleton, and illustrator Richard Hoit.

Books 1-8 are available in a box set from a bookstore near you.

Bud-e Starter Kit
by Jill Eggleton, illustrated by Richard Hoit
Published by Global Ed
ISBN 9781927307656