Book Review: The Longest Breakfast, by Jenny Bornholdt, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_The_longest_breakfastI loved this. It’s just delightful, and the language is great.

The baby wakes his father with the word “Toot” and dad tries had to find the toy train, but decides that breakfast should come first.

The somewhat frazzled father manages to cope with all the (apparently unexpected!) guests and their wishes for what to eat, but the baby almost gets the better of him with his constant tooting, and then a bit later he starts saying “Bzzzz” and poor Malcolm, the harassed dad, just can’t see a bee anywhere!

By the time all the neighbourhood kids have arrived and contributed their ideas on what’s good for breakfast, it all becomes quite chaotic but you’ll be happy to know that, at the end, everyone gets breakfast!

It’s a whole lot of fun. I found it interesting that the two primary school teachers to whom I showed it were unimpressed. Clearly its target audience is preschoolers and those who read to them. I can see it going over very well, and will test it on the next pre-schooler I happen upon!

Reviewed by Sue Esterman

The Longest Breakfast 
by Jenny Bornholdt & Sarah Wilkins
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776571673

 

Junior Fiction Shorts #2: Life According to Dani, Rona, and The Sam & Lucy Fables

There are a number of strong independent publishers based in Wellington, and these three books prove the point. Each of them is individual and necessary, and a lot of fun.

Life According to Dani, by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson

cv_life_according_to_daniThis is the fourth in this beautiful series exploring Dani’s life, and the emotional world our children have within them. Dani is in her happy place, with her best friend Ella on Ella’s part-time island, swimming in the sea, and making cookbooks, and selling buns and tea to the tourists who come by on the ferry. But the reason she is there is not so happy: her dad is still recovering from being run over by a car, and has been in hospital for months. Then one night, dad doesn’t phone…

As with many of Gecko’s writers, Lagercrantz and Eriksson have an uncanny way of getting under the skin of children and understanding their complicated lives – not underestimating them. I have most of the books in this series (and hadn’t realised I had missed one), and my son has benefited from them in times when he has been unsure of himself. The joy, and the sadness, of childhood is beautifully captured. Highly recommended for kids aged 4 – 9.

Life According to Dani
by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776570713

Rona
by Chris Szekely and Josh Morgan

To be Released on 30 November 2016
cv_ronaIn contrast with Frankie Potts, Rona is a thoroughly New Zealand heroine, who when born was ‘so busy arguing she forgot to cry.’ She lives with her grandparents, and is part of a fantastic whanau. As the book opens, her cousin Jessie has come to stay for the school holidays. They go bridge-jumping and swimming in the local river, and Rona takes joy in playing pranks on her cousin, who is under her thrall. One of these pranks goes awry, with Rona’s pride & joy, a gold-trimmed Royal wedding mug, breaking in half as a result. Easy enough to fix, if it wasn’t for Granddad’s dog Snuffy…

There are two stories in this book, and the second story sees Rona tell some tall tales about her name’s origin at school, and deal with the consequences of plagiarising her uncle’s poem, while at home she helps nanna get the house ready for Christmas, with a brilliant bunch of family members. This is all about the comfort of routine, as Rona helps grandma bake the Christmas cake, granddad mow the lawn – and they go and buy a tree from the service station for once, which Rona keeps secret from grandma. Illustrations throughout from Josh Morgan add another element of fun to a very enjoyable story. This is a hugely relatable and comforting story, perfect to share with or gift to a child age 5-8.

Rona
by Chris Szekely and Josh Morgan
Published by Huia Publishing
ISBN 9781775501985

The Sam & Lucy Fables, by Alan Bagnall & Sarah Wilkins

cv_the_sam_and_lucy_fablesSam & Lucy are some pretty darn wise pigs. These are their stories, slightly reminiscent in format of Snake & Lizard, but with a fable that sees us learn something new about why the world is as it is at the end of each story. Every story has a guaranteed ‘is that true?!’ at the end of it, and Sarah Wilkins’ illustrations add wistful joy to each of the tales, each of which is more outlandish than the next.

My favourite fables are those with just the pigs, putting the world to rights – my absolute favourite being the Bus Stop story (hint: there’s always a bus there.) I highly recommend this for a book to read this holidays, perhaps in the back of a car on the way to a camping trip, where you may just see some flying carpets.

The Sam & Lucy Fables
by Alan Bagnall & Sarah Wilkins
Published by Submarine, with the help of Whitireia Publishing
ISBN 9780994129987

 

There are a couple more books I’d like to mention in the independent vein of things, which have landed on my desk more recently. Snails, Spells and Snazzlepops by Robyn Cooper is another from the Submarine imprint of Makaro Press, and looks like great fun; and if Lily Max: Slope, Style, Fashion from Luncheon Sausage Books is as good as the first Lily Max, (Satin, Scissors, Frock) it’s sure to be a hit. Jane Bloomfield has created an addictive character in Lily Max, and I look forward to reading this excerpt in her adventures.

All books reviewed by Sarah Forster 
And check out the first part of her junior fiction round-up here! 

 

Book Review: A Book is a Book, by Jenny Bornholdt, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins

This title will be available in bookstores from 1 November.

This book is being published to celebrate thecv_a_book_is_a_book twentieth anniversary of the Whitireia Diploma in Publishing, of which I am a graduate. There is no more fitting a celebration of this programme than a book about books, and this one comes with all the trimmings – a hardback, the dust jacket, and a cover as beautiful as the dust jacket.  It even includes a bookmark with trees on the world of it – inserted in the appropriate place, of course.

This beautiful little book acts as a philosophical treatise about books and their place in people’s worlds. This is poet Jenny Bornholdt’s first book for children, and the illustrators’ whimsical work fit Jenny’s her beautiful, light, meaningful words seamlessly.

Each page of this book is unexpected, as I read and re-read it I fall in love with new pages. My 3yo loved the verse ‘A book is a door because it opens into a house. A house is like a book because it has a door.’ I think the pieces on where you can read a book are my favourites. I have often wished somebody would come up with a waterproof book, so that I could read safely in the bath. I can’t remember how often I dipped a corner of a book into the bath by mistake as a kid, and how sad I was when it never quite fitted the bookshelf again.

I was pleased to see that illustrator Sarah Wilkins has not stuck with the traditional form of the book throughout – it is I am certain much easier to climb a tree holding an e-reader – this nod to the now is welcome to those of us that divide our reading between e-readers and paperbacks.

I am very happy that there will be an exhibition of the art from this book, which is by Sarah Wilkins, and it is certainly an exhibition that every bibliophile in Wellington (and further afield) should hustle themselves and their children along to. This book deserves to be treasured by generations to come, and I am certain the overseas market will enjoy it just as much. A perfect gift for booklovers of all ages.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

A Book is a Book
by Jenny Bornholdt, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins
Published by Gecko Press & Whitireia Publishing
ISBN 9781877589929