Book Reviews: New books to read to kids

It’s great that so many of our books for small children have won Awards for their authors and their illustrators. Most authors will tell you it’s hard to keep writing fresh books for kids that keep them interested and thinking about their world.


Happy All Over
by Emma Quay, pub. ABC Books h/b RRP$24.99 Ages 3+

English writer/illustrator Emma Quay has many awards for her book as well as those for her happy and simple illustrations. This much-loved creator of the Rudie Nudie books (amongst many others) has a new book celebrating the small joys to be found in the everyday. Easy to read out aloud, it will also help youngsters understand many new descriptive words and sayings they may not know. ‘A race to the bottom’; a ‘piggy in the middle’ for example. Happy All Over will be one to keep for the home library.


The Garden of Broken Things
written and illus. by Freya Blackwood, pub. HarperCollins h/b RRP$26.99 Ages 3+ (available in May 2024)

The Garden of Broken Things is an intriguing story about a dilapidated house on a neighbourhood street that the local kids find scary. Not Sadie, though. She ventures into it’s backyard jungle and finds a mysterious old woman…

Freya’s illustrations are very atmospheric. The children are intricately shown, so you know exactly what they are doing and feeling.

Freya illustrated her first picture book in 2003 for the author John Heffernan. Prior to that, she worked on special effects for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy from 2001 to 2003 and ever since then, she has expanded her artistic work to over 27 books, some of which she has written herself. (The Boy and the Elephant). She won the Kate Greenaway Medal for British children’s book illustration in 2010 – very well deserved.


In My Garden
by Kate Mayes (also writes as Ruthie May), illus. by Tamsin Ainslie, pub. ABC Books h/b RRP$24.99 Ages 3+

This is a completely different story about a garden: there are 11 gardens in Kate’s story. Every garden describes the garden of a young child in a different part of the world, from Iceland to Syria to Australia. The intriguing illustrations show how each garden is different and how each child has adapted to the caring of their individual ‘gardens’, some of which are more expansive. Tamsin has included in her illustrations all the wildlife of the country of each child and indications of some of their daily life.


How to be Invisible
written & illus. by Nick Bland, pub. HarperCollins h/b RRP$24.99 Ages 3+

Nick has written many children’s books, including one with Freya Blackwood called ‘The Runaway Hug’. How to be Invisible is one of the ‘Bunny and Bird’ series (How to Hatch a Dragon). It’s a funny book that any small child will relate to, especially if they have tried hiding, thinking they cannot be seen! Bunny thinks grandpa’s red hat makes him invisible. Of course, his friend Bird can still see him however hard he tries to be invisible- the hat is not a magical one, after all!


The Turtle and the Flood
by Jackie French, illus. by Danny Snell, pub. HarperCollins h/b RRP$24.99 Ages 3+

Jackie French is one of Australia’s most prolific writers for all age groups. Her books for older children bring history to life, and many of her books for the littlies tell stories about Australia and its interesting and unique wildlife.

This is the story of Myrtle, a long-necked turtle who lives in a waterhole by a creek. Myrtle (as can many animals) naturally senses the weather changes and can adapt fairly quickly. After all, turtles like Myrtle can live for up to 50 years, so they get to see lots of weather! Myrtle senses a change in the weather as the creek starts to rise. It’s going to rain hard, so she needs to move to higher ground. Simple pencil and watercolour illustrations show all the waterhole animals preparing for a flood.