Book Reviews: Where Illustrators shine

These books all have unusual and compelling illustrations to accompany their text. Although they are aimed at young kids, one book is definitely for adults as well!

Look What We Can Do! (Archie & Reddie, #3)

written and illustrated by Candy James, pub. HarperCollins Childrens Books (ABC Books) h/b RRP$16.99 Ages 4+

This is the third book in the series of themed, large graphic, early readers for young children, based around the authors daughter’s soft toys! The simple graphics and associated text are perfect to read aloud to a child or to encourage an emerging reader. This book is based around a talent show with Archie and Reddie excited about entering the competition, but will they be able to come up with a winning act?

Candy James is a husband-and-wife creative duo originally from Hong Kong and New Zealand, but now living in Ballarat, Australia.


Aussie Baby Animals

illustrated by Julia Murray pub. HarperCollins Childrens Books (Angus&Robertson) h/b RRP$9.99 Ages Under 2

This unusual board book contains beautiful illustrations—all in black and white—of kangaroos, emus, wombats, dingoes, echidnas, koalas, kookaburras and quokkas!

The theory is that it encourages young babies eyesight, cognitive and gross motor skills. There is also a book about  Aussie Water Babies (little penguins, green sea turtles, brolgas, great white sharks, platypuses, saltwater crocodiles and clownfish!)


Mrs Koala’s Beauty Parlour

by Catherine Jinks, illus. Tania McCartney pub. HarperCollins Childrens Books (Working Title Press) h/b RRP$19.99 Ages 3+

Mrs Koala runs a very popular beauty parlour, and it takes a few moments to realise that this beautifully illustrated, colourful and amusing book, is a counting book of the clients to the beauty parlour! Starting with ‘10 fancy frogs getting facials’ down to 1 ‘kaput koala’ there is a really a lot to look at on each page, including a mystery item to look for.


The Curse of the Vampire Robot

written and illustrated by Graeme Base pub. HarperCollins Childrens Books (Angus&Robertson) h/b RRP$24.99 Ages 5+

Lastly, an hilarious book from the English/Australian artist illustrator Graeme Base, whose classic book, Animalia (1986) has sold over three million copies. Now nearly 30 books later something very different with The Curse of the Vampire Robot.

The intricate black and white illustrations follow a weirdly funny vampire story about the Curse of the Voltoid and the hero, ‘Gertie’, a cleaning droid who comes to the assistance of the Scottish Highland village of Loch LAN.

The rhyming text is dotted with computer speak which gives it a level of humour aimed at an older digital age group too. If you know the history and usage of Comic Sans, for example, you will be nerdy enough to laugh out loud at Graeme Base’s story.

“You’re right,’ said Voltoid. “but there’s more…’

He ran some back-up scans.

“no wonder I feel better—

You’ve deleted Comic Sans!’

Included in the service,’ Gertie Smiled.

‘A total clean.

And no more bootleg fonts.

You never know where they’ve been.’