Book Reviews: Fun (and one serious) picture books

Arriving across our desk this month have been quite a few new books for the younger age group of which our favourites are reviewed. Generally picture books and other books for the under 6’s seem to be more carefully printed and positioned to be kept  on your bookshelf, whereas many of books for the over 6’s seem to be printed as if for a quick read. Generally not designed to last!

Board Books

Gregory Goose Up Mountain smallGregory Goose is on the Loose! ‘Up the Mountain’ also books about Gregory Goose ‘At The Fair’; ‘In The Jungle’ and ‘On The Moon’

by Hilary Robinson & Illustrated by Mandy Stanley (New Frontier Publishing, Catch a Star Board Book, $12.99) Age Group 0-5 years

All these fantastic board books will keep you coming back often to look for Gregory Goose! ‘Is he wearing skis?’/ ‘Is he throwing snowballs?’ Each activity is beautifully illustrated requiring you to search the pages for Gregory Goose in a ‘Where’s Wally’ style, from easy to find to nearly impossible!


Lets go On a train smallLets Go! ‘On a Train’  also ‘On a Rocket’ ‘On a Ferry’ and ‘On A Tractor’

by Roslyn Albert & Illustrated by Natalia Moore (New Frontier Publishing, Catch a Star Board Book, $12.99) Age Group 0-5 years

Another set of board books perfect to read to littlies. Beautifully written with rhymes to match the illustrations that change as the two children travel on a steam train (do kids know about steam trains these days?). Past sheep, towns, children waving; ‘The driver blows her whistle/And we help her stoke the fire/The chimney snorts into the air/The black steam cloud shoots higher.’

Whos your real mumWho’s you real mum?

by Bernadette Green and Illustrated by Anna Zobel (Scribble Publications, HB RRP $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years

This is one of the loveliest books we have seen that covers the non-traditional family of two mothers.

The question “but who is your real mother?” is one that is most often asked of kids with two same sex parents or those who don’t live with their biological parent. This book gives the best answers we have heard in a long time to this question.  Nicholas wants to know the answer from Elvi and the story uses imagination, humour and practical answers to show who is her ‘real’ mother.  Beautifully illustrated in pen and watercolour throughout—now we just need a version ‘Who is your real father?’ done in the same sensitive and humorous way!

the Giant and the sea smallThe Giant and The Sea

by Trent Jamieson and Illustrated by Rovina Cai (Lothian Children’s Books, HB RRP $26.99) Out May 26, 2020

Wonderful but dark illustrations fill this book to give the feeling of doom and gloom which seem popular with books about Climate change at the moment. A mysterious Giant stands looking out to the sea watched by a little girl nearby, until one day the Giant says to her that the sea is rising and she must go to the town and turn off the large (polluting) machine. She is laughed at by the towns people even though she stood up for what she believed in and the inevitable happens. Fortunately, the message is clear, there is a good ending for the girl, her family and those who listened. A story of hope, bravery, and activism.

I dont want to be quietI Don’t Want to be Quiet

Written and Illustrated Laura Ellen Anderson (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, PB RRP $14.99, HB $24.99) Age Group 0-5 years Also, I Don’t Want To Be Small and I Don’t Want Curly Hair by Laura Ellen Anderson (reviewed here)

“Tins are for clanging”/ “Balloons are for popping”. This is another wonderfully funny book from Laura Anderson whose illustrations and imaginative use of text give this book a chance to be read aloud with lots of animation. What child doesn’t love to yell and shout out loud! The little girl in this story learns that being quiet can also be very useful and that she can be loud and quiet at different times.

bear was there smallBear Was There

Written and Illustrated by Sally Anne Garland (New Frontier Publishing, HB RRP $26.99) Age Group 3-6 years

There are extensive teaching notes for this book online.

The wonderful illustrations in this book really do bring this story to life. Little mouse loves the protection, warmth and comfort that his mother provides until it’s time for Little mouse to leave home. His mother always reminds him that ‘Bear’ is dangerous until Little mouse finds out that Bear is not as scary as he seems.

The scratchy crayon and watercolours used for the illustrations make the scenes, especially the wintery ones towards the ending, scary for Little mouse as the story builds to its climax.

Extraordinary smallExtraordinary

by Penny Harrison & Illustrated by Katie Wilson (New Frontier Publishing, HB, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years

There are extensive teaching notes for this book online.

Another beautifully illustrated picture book with easily recognised scenes to illustrate the theme of wonder and awe at all things big and small. Watch a small beetle up closely; feel the cool breeze; listen for the bird song…How you can look more closely at ordinary things making the experience ‘extraordinary’.