Book Review: Bambi the Blind Alpaca, by Jan Lummis, illustrated by Jenny Cooper

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

Bambi the Blind Alpaca HR.jpgBambi the alpaca loves his brother Charisma and they enjoy each other company as they eat together, play together and sleep together. But Charisma is also Bambi’s support, as Bambi is blind and relies on his brother to guide him around the paddock so he avoids banging into fences and gates.

When Charisma is shifted out of the paddock Bambi finds it difficult to fend for himself, becoming sad and stops eating. Even the sheep which are put in the paddock for company don’t bring Bambi out of his misery. But when Renaldo another alpaca arrives, Bambi is thrilled and before long, ‘Everywhere Renaldo went, Bambi went too.’

This is a heart -warming book all the more so, as it is based on a true story which author Jan Lummis was encouraged to write after the report of the two alpacas on her property made headlines in the media.

The illustrations by Jenny Cooper are an absolute delight, the facial expressions on the animals will be loved by children and adults alike, and each time I have read the book I have chuckled at a different animal’s face.

Having two alpacas in a neighbouring paddock has seen my interest in these animals develop, but I still found the two pages at the rear of the book fascinating, and I am sure the facts about alpacas will provide valuable discussion points for children at school or at home.

This simple tale of friendship and love, as well as supporting someone with a disability, so will be of value to a wide age group, and with the repetition of words throughout, will soon have children repeating, “Munch, Munch, Munch, Cuddle, Cuddle, Cuddle”.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

Bambi the Blind Alpaca
by Jan Lummis, illustrated by Jenny Cooper
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435877

Book Review: There’s a Hedgehog in my Pants!, by Amy Harrop and Ross Kinnaird

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_theres_a_hedgehog_in_my_pantsAlways remember to keep an eye on your pants the next time you’re on a hike and desperately need the loo. In this crack-up tale a young boy finds out the hard way that he should never have left his pants unattended when an unfortunately prickly pal moves in. His poor bottom gets a particularly raw deal and no amount of jumping, dancing or shaking to and fro can extract the little fella. It seems only taking his pants back off will relieve his burning botty but leaves both him and the hedgehog shivering in the breeze. Luckily, the boy thinks of a solution that will suit the two of them just right.

The warning given on the front cover definitely fulfilled its promise as this story certainly contains multiple words for ‘bottom’ and we all know how much young children enjoy saying that! There’s a HEDGEHOG in my PANTS! had my preschool class giggling away and feeling highly entertained at all the different ways to say ‘bottom’! Silly stories give children an appropriate time and outlet to enjoy a laugh about the funniest part of our anatomy and this one sure delivered.

Children love when they know something that the main character in the book doesn’t and There’s a HEDGEHOG in my PANTS! ends exactly like that, leaving room for discussion about what could happen next. Ross Kinnaird’s fun and comical illustrations and Amy Harrop’s amusing and wonderfully rhyming story is sure to draw a chuckle from little ones as well as broadening their vocabulary for one particular part of their body.

Reviewed by Alana Bird

There’s a HEDGEHOG in my PANTS!
by Amy Harrop, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435655

Book Review: Keep an Eye on this Koala, by Scott Tulloch

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_keep_an_eye_on_this_koalaIn this short comic-like chapter book narrated by a smart-mouthed cockatoo we meet a “dozy” Koala who we are told to “keep an eye on”. Koala is the butt-end of all the jokes amoungst his fellow Aussie creatures. He gets tricked into hilarious situations and creates trouble for the others. However they are made to eat their words when Koala uses a clever idea to help them escape from The Dreadful Drop-bear.

Scott Tulloch has created another amusing comic with humorous dialogue in Keep an eye on this koala. His cute pencil illustrations add to the comedy with their highly expressive faces and movements.

I love when characters break the fourth wall in children’s books which is exactly what the main character and narrator of this book does. Talking directly to the audience helps engage young readers and gives the feel of being apart of the story.

Keep on eye on koala is a lighthearted book that’s perfect for beginner readers. It’ll have children chuckling at Cockatoo’s wisecracks and Koala’s dozy misfortunes. A great introduction to chapter books!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Keep an Eye on this Koala
by Scott Tulloch
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435426

Book Review: Things in the Sea are Touching Me!, by Linda Jane Keegan and Minky Stapleton

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

Things in the sea are touching me_HRUnder a shimmering, summer-blue sky, a family strolls to the beach. After dropping their towels, sunblock and snacks at their favourite spot the little girl and her two mums run into the bubbling waves feeling carefree… when suddenly something grazes the girl’s feet causing her to shriek and squeal and call out for her Ma! What could be lurking beneath the surface… a shark? a sea monster perhaps? or something more mysterious?

We can all relate to that feeling of fright when something unknown brushes against us in the waves! Things in the Sea are Touching Me! explores a few of the things we might commonly encounter at the beach that, when unseen, can seem a little scary but after learning what they are become quite a wonderful part of the swimming in the ocean!

With its jaunty rhythm and rhyme, repetitive sentence pattern and fun language play, this book is a joy to read aloud. Minky Stapleton’s multi-layered underwater seascapes that depict mysterious hands reaching up from the ocean bed will keep children wondering about what could be hiding under the water. My preschool class loved making guesses about what was touching the little girl and enjoyed being introduced to the filter-feeding salps, bobbing mangrove seeds and slimy kelp forests.

Things in the Sea are Touching Me! is a delightful picture book that addresses the fear of the unknown in a light-hearted and humorous way. An awesome book for young children which is also available in Te Reo Māori: Ngā mea kei rō Moana e whakapā mai ana!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Things in the Sea are Touching Me!
by Linda Jane Keegan, illustrated by Minky Stapleton
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435709

Book Review: Keep an Eye on this Kiwi, by Scott Tulloch

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_keep_an_eye_on_this_kiwiA young kiwi sets out to find his dinner but some clever insects are determined to not be on the menu and trick our kiwi. With each turn of the page, the silliness increases, along with the laughs from young readers!

A series of comical anecdotes are told through interactions between the narrator and the kiwi. While it is set up as a chapter book it is intended to be read as a whole with the story all connecting together. The focus is on toilet humour, taboo words and practical jokes, which young children love.

The illustrations are pencil sketches and become part of the text. There are little speech bubbles and characters which speak directly to the reader. The line drawings are a refreshing change from busy pages. They are full of life, with the kiwi seeming to jump off the page as he attempts to talk to the reader.

Adults might get to the end of the story and wonder about what just happened.  But that seems to be the point. It is a nonsensical story which gets crazier and crazier – until you might just believe that a kiwi can fly.

It is best suited for 4 to 7 year olds – or even those children who are reading independently who will be scaffolded with the pictures. The antics of the kiwi make this story a funny read which will engage the most hesitant of readers.

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Keep an Eye on this Kiwi
by Scott Tulloch
Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435310

Book Review: Keep fit kiwi: Head and shoulders, knees and toes

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_keep_fit_kiwi.jpgOur children love Row, kiwi, row your boat so we were excited to get the next instalment from Lynette Evans and her team. The three kiwi friends are back and ready to get fit. This time we are at the farm, stretching up and preparing to move.

The three kiwi invite their farmyard friends to join in dancing to Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes. The familiar nursery rhyme is tailored to their animal friends, for example, kiwi points to her wings, beak and nose; and lamb finds his hooves and tail. Finally, our kiwi and friends are ready for a nap as the music winds down.

The focus is on being active and this is reflected in the illustrations. There is so much movement, colour and vibrancy! From the moment we see the kiwi in their aerobic sweatbands pumping and dancing, the pages come alive with action. We used the pictures as inspiration for other fitness ideas too – skipping, yoga and kick boxing.

There are so many kiwi sing-along books available for young children but they are a popular format for a reason. Connecting language to music helps us learn vocabulary and are a lot of fun! Children will fall in love with the upbeat tune. It’s like a catchy Jump Jam song and could easily be sung alone at group times when young children need to get their wriggles out.

This is a toe-tapping, body-stretching feel-good book that makes us smile and dance every time we turn on the music.  Don’t read it at bedtime because it is sure to wake up any sleepy reader!

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Keep fit kiwi: Head and shoulders, knees and toes
by Lynette Evans, Pictures by Stevie Mahardhika
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435464

Book Review: A Kiwi Day Before Christmas, by Yvonne Morrison & Deborah Hinde

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_a_kiwi_day_before_christmasWe all know the classic story about Santa Claus living at the North Pole along with Mrs Claus and of course not forgetting those wonderful reindeer, but now we have our very own Kiwi version.

Santa was down at the bach fishing when Mrs Claus comes along and reminds him that he needs to get cracking as the big day isn’t far away. He then remembered that it was Christmas tonight so he had better get himself organised. He packs up his gear and heads up the hill at full speed on his quad bike after a quick brekkie of toast and yeast spread (maybe marmite??). Santa’s helpers were having lots of fun and all the gift wrapping was almost completed.

All the finished pressies were stuffed in a sack and he got out his tractor. It needed a spruce up first, so Santa took it to the petrol station taking it through the car wash. With everything organised it was now time to get the team together. Where were the sheep? The last time he’d seen them was on Main Street at the Christmas parade. They’d all gone off to have a break before the big day. Santa was starting to feel a bit concerned. Shaun had gone diving and swimming with the seals while Buffy had gone shopping to find the best deals. Jason and Flossy had gone wine tasting while Bossy went zorbing and onto a zip line.

This is one heck of a story and one that will be received with a bit of trepidation by young ones, as they know that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole and it’s reindeer, rather than sheep, involved in getting the sleigh through the night, delivering presents all around the world.

I read this story to 4-year-old Quinn. A look of disbelief on her face with lots of questions forthcoming. Where are the elves in this story Grandma? ‘I don’t believe this one’ – clapping a hand over her face very dramatically. ‘Are you telling porkies Grandma?’ Who knows, I might be, but then I may well not be!

A fabulous story and one that I think will be a hit this year with young ones. The illustrations are just great, capturing just the right tone, and bringing the story together.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

A Kiwi Day Before Christmas
By Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Deborah Hinde
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434108