Book Review: The Scariest Thing in the Garden, by Craig Smith, illustrated by Scott Tulloch

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_scariest_thing_in_the_gardenBig scary eyes stare out of the cover of the latest book created by Craig Smith and Scott Tulloch as the pair take children on a journey around the garden to find The Scariest Thing in the Garden.

The opening pages show a very scared Brussels sprout! What scared the Brussels sprout?
The simple repetitive lyrics build up the suspense in the read aloud book as the children meet an aphid, a spider, a ladybird, a bird, a cat, a dog, and a child.
Nothing has scared the child. Or has it?

Kids will love the surprise twist in the tale at the end of the book.

The author of the number one best seller The Wonkey Donkey, Craig Smith lives in Queenstown and performs around New Zealand and Australia, and says ‘There’s something about eating food that you have grown or made yourself that is very special.’

The book includes a CD which children will love as Craig sings his way through the book accompanied by his guitar, and children screaming in the appropriate places.

Scott Tulloch is based in Wanaka and has illustrated numerous Scholastic titles creating wacky cartoons, but also enjoys illustrating realistic wildlife. ‘I was too scared to paint a real-looking spider at first. but the publishing team at Scholastic told me I had to.’

The drawings are delightful, with big eyes staring out from all the animals, and children will love hearing this book over and over.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

The Scariest Thing in the Garden
by Craig Smith, illustrated by Scott Tulloch
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435051


Book Review: 1-2-3 Bird!, by Dave Gunson

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_123_birdAt the moment, we are so lucky to have many children’s books that tell our stories, sights and sounds of Aotearoa New Zealand.  This book is another much-loved addition to our book shelf that is proudly kiwi.

The focus, of course, is birds, as each number shares a new bird. What makes this book different is it doesn’t just focus on native birds (which we do not see everyday).  Instead, it includes the birds our children see in our backyard, at the beach or at the park too.  It makes the book really relatable – especially with the illustrations which include smart phones and other objects which clearly represent the world our children live in.

The text is simple and short, written in rhyme and moves quickly along.  This allows the readers to talk about the illustrations which contain so many prompts for conversation and discovery.  It is a picture book that allows the pictures to tell the story.  We love the emotion and scenes of what the birds get up to!

At the end of the book, the reader is encouraged to head back into the story to look for extra characters hidden in the pages.  This is a great extension for older children to explore further the numbers within the book.  This story can be revisited over and over again by readers of all ages.

Reviewed by Sara Croft, ECE Teacher

1-2-3 Bird!
by Dave Gunson
Reviewed by Scholastic NZ

Book Review: Row, Kiwi, Row Your Boat, illustrated by Stevie Mahardika

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_row_kiwi_row_your_boat.jpgThis book has become a firm favourite in our audio story collection.  It is a cheerful, fast-paced musical telling of a kiwi going on an adventure to find a taniwha.  Along the way kiwi meets many New Zealand native animals and birds who join kiwi on the adventure.

It is beautifully written in rhyming prose and has a clear storyline of the kiwi following a river out to the sea to find a taniwha.  The story includes a repeating stanza so children can quickly join in the story-telling.  Also the storyline can be re-created in magnetic puppets or dramatic play so children can recreate it in their play to build early literacy skills.

A picture tells a thousand words and these illustrations are bright and perfectly match the text. Children can easily follow along with the visual representation of the story.  We particularly love the page which locates the adventure by showing a birds-eye view of the path the characters have taken.

Our children love to join Kiwi on her adventure to find a taniwha.  The suspense builds throughout the story as the animals work together on their mission.  It weaves messages of friendship and co-operation.

The book also includes the music and words for the story in te reo Māori.  It is possible to listen to the story in te reo Māori, and as your confidence grows it is easy to insert words into your reading in English – beginning with the names of many native birds and animals.

Reviewed by Sara Croft, ECE Teacher

Row, Kiwi, Row Your Boat
illustrated by Stevie Mahardika, sung by Pio Terei
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434931

Book Review: Old MacDonald Had a Farm, sung by the Topp Twins, illustrated by Jenny Cooper

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_old_macdonald_had_a_farm_topp_twinsHow do you make an old favourite in to a new favourite? You invite the Topp Twins to record it with their yahooing enthusiasm, and you invite Jenny Cooper to provide expressive and explosive illustrations. I will admit that my previous Topp Twins story and song combination has been so well used that I would willingly have used the CDs as targets. There is something infectious about the enthusiasm they bring to what could be a tired old song. A little bit of creativity in changing the end of the song, allows for even more chaos in illustrations and sound.

It is appropriate that the American twang is clearly part of this song and the Country and Western style is well-suited to the farmyard antics in the book. I have to admit that the Alpaca was a new one for me. Hmmmmmmm? Not an easy sound to sing but they do it in style.

Jenny Cooper is not just a gifted artist, she is a superb children’s book illustrator. She has such energy in the pictures with action in the smallest details. The Swanndri and Skellerup Redbands, the vintage tractor and the banana skin. These are the extras which keep the audience coming back, over and over again.

I think Grandparents would do well to get a copy of this wonderful book and CD and get it gift-wrapped and ready to roll. After Christmas dinner, this is exactly what you need to get the whole family singing and dancing. No wonder my kids were always terrified about what I had planned for Christmas afternoon. Watch this space!

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

Old MacDonald Had a Farm
sung by the Topp Twins, illustrated by Jenny Cooper
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434986

Book Review: Stink-o-saurus by Deano Yipadee, illustrated Paul Beavis

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_stink_o_saurusI got rather excited when ripping open this package. Stink-o-saurus is another wonderful book from this great team – Deano Yipidee and Paul Beavis. Our 3-year-old granddaughter Quinn’s great favourite is one of their previous books – Nee Naw the Little Fire Engine. She chucks it at her Mothers and says “read it”.

All 3-year olds love toilet humour so this was bound to be a winner.

“Stan was a rare dinosaur,
a one of a kind.
Most roared from their front,
his roar came from his behind.”

Nobody wanted to play with poor Stan, but one day Tommy T-Rex thumped into town. Stan was just as scared as everybody else but from somewhere came courage.

This is a stunning story with beautiful illustrations from Paul Beavis. I think what appeals to children with this story is the constant sounds made by the story teller and how Stan reacts – funny stuff and very appealing to 3-year-old Quinn. Her eyes lit up with amazement when Stan shook in his boots and “farted”. Quinn is also known for her smelly ones.

One little girl gave this book the thumbs up – so one book that won’t be coming home with me. The real bonus with this book is that it also comes with a CD – “play it again Grandma”

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

by Deano Yipadee
illustrated Paul Beavis
Published by Scholastic
ISBN 9781775434733

Book Review: Miniwings – Oceana’s Kitty Catastrophe, by Sally Sutton, illustrated Kirsten Richards

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_miniwings_oceanas_kitty_catastropheSophia is a little girl with a very special secret. She has six miniwings that come to life only when she is around. Her little sister Clara is the only other person who knows. The only problem is they keep getting Sophia into trouble.

Sophia and Clara’s parents decide to go on a date and to drop the girls off at their grandparent’s house. Their grandparents run a cattery. An inspector is due to come, and of course those darn miniwings had to cause trouble. Can Sophia get herself out of trouble and solve the problems that they create?

I turned up at my daughter’s place to stay and gave our granddaughter 6 ½ year old Abby this book to read. She ran into her room, shut the door – hours of peace. Sometime later she comes out, book in hand and says – ‘I really liked that book Grandma, can I keep it, I’d like to read it again.’ What she particularly liked about it was the mischief the miniwings created and Sophia’s solution.

Make believe is something that most children indulge in. Our daughter, being a teacher, actively encourages this through play and books.

Oceana’s Kitty Catastrophe is a lovely story and one that will hopefully activate your little one’s imagination. Miniwings aren’t a million miles from My Little Pony, so this relationship could well see this series become a hit with a lot of little girls.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Miniwings – Oceana’s Kitty Catastrophe
by Sally Sutton, Illustrated by Kirsten Richards
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434856


Book Review: 10 Greedy Goats, by Pio Terei , illustrated by Deborah Hinde

Availacv_10_greedy_goat.jpgble in bookshops nationwide.

Young children will love this sing along book by the creators of the best-selling 10 Kooky Kiwi book, as the goats set off to the fair.

Anyone who has had goats at home will be able to relate to their antics in the book as they climb trees, eat candyfloss, run away and get into mischief.

Created to be enjoyed by 3 to 7 year old children, they will love the drawings of the goats riding quad bikes, sliding down the water slide and playing on the bouncy castle, all activities kids love to do. This is also a great resource to teach children their numbers, highlighted throughout the text in different colours, as well as each page having a number included in the illustration for the reader to spot.

Ngaere Roberts enjoys the challenge of translating the texts in fun books like 10 Greedy Goats and says ‘When such texts are sung to catchy tunes they become a useful resource for young learners of te reo Māori to listen to and enjoy’.

The inclusion of the CD is a real bonus and has been a great hit with my 3-year-old grandson. Pio Terei just seems to capture the attention of the little ones who soon latch on to the lyrics and tune.

The bright cover is stunning, with 10 goats of varying colours enticing the reader to delve into the book to enjoy all the fun of the fair.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

10 Greedy Goats
sung by Pio Terei, illustrated by Deborah Hinde, with Māori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434078