Book Reviews: 10 New Illustrated Books for Young Kids

Arriving across our desk this month have been quite a few new books for the Primary age group of which our favourites are reviewed. All have something to tell us whether it be via the story itself or the illustrations that accompany it.

Land of the EchidnaLand of the Echidna People

by Percy Trezise,  illustrated by Mary Lavis (Allen&Unwin Children’s, hardback, RRP$24.99) Age Group 6+ years

The author Percy Trezise AM (28 January 1923 – 11 May 2005) was an Australian pilot, painter, explorer and writer as well as a historian of Aboriginal rock art.

Last in the 8 books of the saga ‘Land of the…’ (‘…Kangaroo’, …Snake, …Dingo, …Kangaroo’,…Kadimakara  People), the ‘Land of the Echidna People’ was published after the author’s death. Fascinated by aboriginal art and culture, his many books illustrating and telling the stories about the Dreamtime in Australia’s North, have been favourites for over 40 years.

Set back in the Australia of 30,000 years ago and encompassing the land and animals that existed at that time, this story covers how the land was used for survival (a boomerang drops flying bats down to ground to be eaten) and the dangers that lurked along the way. In the end, the three children of the Kadimakara people find their way home.

Illustrator Mary Lavis was able to pay homage to Percy’s original illustrations to keep these stories true to the originals in the series.

Bear Out ThereBear Out There

by Jacob Grant (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, paperback, RRP$14.99) Age Group 0-5 years.

Following on from ‘Bear’s Scare’, Bear likes to relax in his cosy house with a cup of tea (the author is UK based!) but his friend Spider’s kite has blown away and he needs help. Bear likes the cosy indoors but Spider likes being outside and reluctantly, as a good friend would do, Bear ventures outside to help find the kite. Through the dark woods and cold rain, they go until the kite is found.

Good Night Little Tough GuyGood Night Little Tough Guy

by Michael Wagner, illustrated by Tom Jellet (ABC Books, HarperCollins Children’s Books, hardback, RRP$24.99) Age group: 0-5yrs.

Written to be read prior to going to bed, this book’s ‘Tough Guy’ is the young child at the centre of the story. The author uses alliteration with the language to show every type of ‘tough guy’ preparing to go to bed (or sometimes already asleep). ‘The SOLDIERS are slipping silently into slumberland’ or ‘The beefy BUILDERS are giving their bulging biceps a break until breakfast time’ are examples of the language used with wonderful illustrations to match by Tom Jellet.

Baby's First JailbreakBaby’s First Jailbreak

by Jim Whalley, illustrated by Stephen Collins (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, paperback, RRP$14.99) Age Group 3-6 years.

This is a follow-up book to ‘Baby’s First Bank Heist’. It is really pitched at toddlers even though ‘Baby’ is in the title, as the wonderful rhyming language used for the story will be enjoyed best by them. There are some longer words used that may need explaining but it’s all part to the rich language that makes this book so interesting. It’s very funny with manic illustrations of acrobatic deer, dancing penguins and other assorted zoo animals in the imaginative home zoo developed from the original ‘Bank Heist’ story of Baby Frank. Along comes a competitor though–Baby Bruce–greedy for fame and a zoo just like Baby Franks.

leapinglola-smallLeaping Lola

by Tracy Hawkins, illustrated by Anil Tortop (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.

Australian author Tracy Hawkins has chosen farm animals for her beautiful rhyming story about the Jersey cow who loves to dance. There’s a farm-yard Ball approaching; Lola has been practising but ‘no dance for you’ said mother with a frown. ‘it’s the Black and White Ball… and you are brown’.

The illustrator’s background in animation helps to bring the dancing movements and fun actions to life. To find out how Lola gets to go to the Ball, you will just have to read ‘Leaping Lola’!

maxs-dinosaur-feet_smallMax’s Dinosaur Feet

by Lana Spaseveski, illustrated by Penelope Pratley (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.

Max has an older sister called Merida, a baby sister called Molly as well as Dinosaur boots. As a typical boy, he loves stomping around with his Dinosaur feet.

‘Shhh, you’ll wake Molly’, whispers mum. ‘Walk softly, Dinosaur Max’, she adds. Max looks at his Dinosaur feet. ‘How?’ he asks.

Richly illustrated we follow Max and his family around the house as he tries to keep his feet quiet and not wake the baby.


by Neil Gaiman,  illustrated by Divya Srinivasan (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, paperback, RRP$14.99) Age Group 3+ years.

‘It’s a story I wrote about 20 years ago, inspired by a Lisa Snelling’s carousel sculpture of a girl called Cinnamon, with pearlescent eyes, riding on a Tiger.’ says Neil.

Brought to a new audience via a paperback and beautifully illustrated in the style of India, Princess Cinnamon is blind and seemingly mute. Her parents, the Rajah and Rani, offer great rewards to anyone who can help their daughter to speak. None seem to be able to help until a fierce tiger announces that he can.

SLOWSlow. A Story about Sustainability for Children

by Tess Sibbel, illustrated by Leila Ashtiani (, Little Steps Publishing RRP$21.95) Age Group 6+ years

Tess and Leila wrote this book to allow a discussion about sustainability to take place for all who read it. Nessy learns about plastic bags and other rubbish at school but tells her mum ‘I’M GOING TO SAVE THE PLANET’. The colourful naïve illustrations by Leila compliment the easy to read story for an emerging reader or could promote a group discussion about the subject of sustainability.

I Don’t Want To Be Small

by Laura Ellen Anderson (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, paperback, RRP$14.99) Age Group 0-5 years. Also, I Don’t Want Curly Hair by Laura Ellen Anderson

Lots of children can’t wait to grow and get bigger and this little boy is no different.

‘I’m always on tiptoes. In crowds I can’t see! And ALL of my friends are MUCH taller than me.’

The cute illustrations, the rhyming language and thin, tall font chosen by the author help to bring the story to life and to prove, in the end, that tall and small can work well together in any situation.

Can you find 12 busy beesCan You find 12 Busy Bees?

by Gordon Winch, illustrated by Patrick Shirvington (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years. Also, Can You Find Me?

Out in this Australian backyard lurk lots of interesting flora and fauna to search for. The exquisite watercolour illustrations of the back garden and its inhabitants really bring this simple ‘find and count’ picture book to life.

‘We are 5 bright butterflies. We live in the garden. We flutter through the flowerbeds. Can you find us?’