Book Reviews: Happiness in some classic, simple themes

Some recent releases and two Australian classics brought back to introduce their story to a new audience are the features of this month’s books.

Grandma’s Guide to Happiness
by Andrew Daddo and Stephen Michael King, pub. by HarperCollins, imprint ABC, H/B, RRP$22.99 Ages 3+

This book is delightful and just the recipe for our current troubled times. Every page has some wonderful ideas for having fun using what is easily available around us.

This small child and his Grandmother go from page to page, delighting in the happiness that simple things bring.

“Grandma’s fairy garden makes my heart sing“.

Stephen M King’s whimsical drawings simply illustrate the fun this child has, doing things with their Grandma.

“Grandma says that even with all the new things old-fashioned happy still feels pretty fantastic”.

The author, Andrew Daddo, is a well-known columnist, broadcaster and TV presenter in Australia. He has dedicated this book to “his old-fashioned mum”, who delighted in the same simple things of this book (like muddy puddles and gumboots!).


Amazing Mum
written and illus. by Alison Brown, pub. by HarperCollins, H/B RRP$19.99 Ages 2+

This sweet book has lovely, heart-warming illustrations and simple rhyming words. It celebrates all the various types of mums and is perfect for a mother on Mother’s Day. The author has illustrated her book using anthropomorphic animal types in various situations that a small child would easily understand.


You Two, You Two
by Brooke Hill, Elin Matilda Andersson, pub. by Hachette/Lothian Children’s Books, H/B RRP$19.99 Ages 3+

This unusual book uses simple rhyming words and introduces words a child may not know, such as ruffling, snow-angels and higgle. This book is described as “two little people growing up together”, such as siblings or even twins, who “can share as they grow through life”.

The situations illustrated on each page are full of interesting things, using lots of block colour and simple lines.


Little Treasure
by Chanelle Gosper illus. by Jennifer Goldsmith, pub. by Hachette/Lothian Children’s Books H/B, RRP$24.99

From a mother talking to her daughter, this lovely book is about the joy of a beach outing with their little dog and all the interesting things they can do together, collecting items as they venture around and using that ‘treasure’ in imaginative ways. The illustrator uses watercolours and white space to highlight some of the small treasures they find, such as the ‘seaweed strand with beads so fine,’ that looks like a string of beads on every page.


written and illus. Tania McCartney, pub. by HarperCollins, H/B, RRP$24.99 Ages 3+

This book is very different from the others in this group as it’s about a real person. Tania McCartney has taken the life of Dorothy Wall, the creator of the book character Blinky Bill.

Dorrie is a story for littlies about a little girl of her era who loved art, craft and all things outdoors. Dorrie arrived in Australia from New Zealand at a young age to find a koala in the tree outside her house.

Dorrie rushed to the window.

She blinked.

The koala blinked back.

She called the koala Blinky Bill.

Another Aussie classic book celebrates 50 years in print this year.

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle was a poem written by A.B (Banjo) Paterson in 1896 and published as a children’s book (1973) with illustrations by the twins Deborah and the late Kilmeny Niland.

Their hilarious illustrations of Mulga Bill’s (‘Penny Farthing’) bicycle ride match Banjo’s poem beautifully. The bulging eyes of the scattering animals as Mulga Bill rides dangerously out of control match the facial expressions of Mulga Bill himself! A wonderful book to have in a home library. Reprinted as the 50th Anniversary Edition hardback by HarperCollins. (RRP$24.99).

Two other new books to look out for:

From David Walliams for dinosaur fans is Grannysaurus pub. by HarperCollins, h/b RRP$24.99 Ages 3+

And for The Bum Book fans, a new one by Kate Mayes and illustrated by Andrew Joiner called The Easter Bum Book pub. by HarperCollins, h/b RRP$19.99 Ages 3+.