Book Review: new picture books

Some unusual picture books this month especially the one on Synaesthesia. Sometimes described as a handicap and often as a gift.

Who am I? coverWho am I?

by Percy Shozi & illustrated by Maren Mia du Plessis p/b, RRP$24.(available directly from the author at Percys Poems) Ages 5+

The author grew up in South Africa and now lives in Melbourne where he has two daughters. Since becoming a Dad he has discovered that there are not many books for kids that describe life for his multicultural family blending their African and Australian heritage. Zola’s identity and culture makes Zola who she is. The prose is positive and uplifting for any multicultural child.

This is a beautifully illustrated story about Zola, who is different from her friends—she is multicultural and that makes her special!

Dream Big Little Mole coverDream Big, Little Mole!

by Tom Percival & illustrated by Christine Pym (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, p/b, RRP $12.99) Ages 5+

This beautifully illustrated book features English animals in the Woods. Little Mole’s animal friends can all do something special like flying, swimming or climbing. Owl wisely suggests to Little Mole to “Dream big … Be brilliant. Be YOU!” but it’s not that easy. The rhyming prose throughout the book makes it a great read-aloud story, as Little Mole discovers her talent for digging can be a problem Everyone has something that they’re good at even if it takes a while to discover what that might be!

Colour of music coverThe Colour of Music

by Lisa Tiffen & illustrated by Matt Ottley (Midnight Sun Publishing, h/b, RRP$29.99) Available June 2021.

This unusual book describes how young Molly feels as she listens to music. The author is referring to Synaesthesia where people may see colours when they hear, smell or taste something. Molly can see the music as bright colours that change when the mood of the music does. The author is a musician as well as a writer and describes how Molly feels in great depth as she listens to music of “weeping broken chords wail their hollow strains, echoing like a lonely drop of water”.  Some of the words may need defining for younger children (eg.arpeggios, bass, triads).

Wolfboy coverWolfboy

by Andy Harkness (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, p/b, RRP$14.99) Ages 5+

I’m not a fan of dark illustrations for a picture book however this book is most unusual. Wolfboy comes out at night under the full moon stomping around howling for the ‘rabbits’ as he walks through a swamp, a dark meadow and across the steep ravine. He needs food! He is always hungry. His mood changes when he is. Are the rabbits what he has in mind? You’ll have to wait till the end of the story.

The author, Andy, has two very hungry young boys which was the concept for this book. You can also tell that he has worked in movies such as Moana, Frozen, and Wreck-it-Ralph. The illustrations are computer generated with a 3D look using a clay modelling texture which makes this book so unusual. Watch behind the scenes of this book with the author.

Before you were born coverBefore you were Born

by Katrina Germein & illustrated by Héléne Magisson (HarperCollins Publishers. h/b RRP 19.99) Ages 2+

It is easy to imagine reading this delightful book to a small child who has asked ‘where did I come from?’ The rhyming prose anticipates the arrival of a new baby from the ‘baby shower’ and the excited relatives, through to the love felt as we imagine what the new baby will be like. Multicultural images drawn by award winning illustrator Héléne Magisson bring each thought and stage of the pregnancy to life with a range of smiling faces as the story progresses.

The author is recognised for her work in encouraging literacy and reading, as a literacy ambassador.

Arno and his horse coverArno and his Horse

by Jane Godwin & illustrated by Felicita Sala (Scribble Publishing, h/b RRP$24.99) Ages 4+

This is a poignant story about a young boy who has lost his special toy horse. All the town helps him search for his horse but to no avail.

Set in a rural part of Australia, that is wonderfully illustrated by Felicita Sala, Arno’s horse was carved for him by his late grandfather. The toy horse had a very special connection for Arno to his grandfather. He treasured it above everything else. One night Arno dreamed of his grandfather and his connection to horses, eventually jogging Arno’s memory of where the toy horse might be.

Small children will enjoy having this book read aloud to them especially if they have a favourite toy.