Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Picture Books from Gecko Press

I pondered long and hard whether to include the Gecko books in this blog because the stories are not written by New Zealand authors. However, they are translated by Catherine Chidgey, edited by Penelope Todd and published in New Zealand so in the end I decided that was good enough. One thing for sure, Gecko Press know how to present: their books are nearly all hard backs (which happens rarely in NZ) and when they courier their books they package them in coloured tissue paper with gorgeous stickers that have pictures of the books on them - Full marks!

The Fearsome Five by Wolf Erlbruch (Gecko Press) ISBN: 978 1 877467 22 6 RRP $18.99 (paperback) $29.99 (hardback)

Toad, Bat, Spider and Rat feel disgruntled with how they look. They tell Hyena he isn't much of a picture himself but instead of feeling miserable he says:

"It doesn't matter a jot if others think you're ugly," he said warmly. 'It's what you do that matters. I advise you to do something - anything.'"

The animals reveal their talents, then decide to have a party with their offbeat music and a pile of pancakes.

A delightful tale about beauty being more than skin deep. Hans Christian Andersen Medal award winner from Germany Wolf Erlbruch is renown for his witty and winsome stories. Targeting ages 7+
Zou by Michel Gay (Gecko Press) ISBN 978 1 877467 20 2 HB$ 29.99 PB$18.99

When Mummy and Daddy wake up,
Zou is allowed to climb into their bed.
Knock, knock!
"Are you awake?" asks Zou.
"We're asleep," they say.
How can Zou wake them so they won't be grumpy?

An endearing tale of how Zou solves the situation of waking his parents so he doesn't get told off. He has a few problems at first, but he solves it in the end with a sweet twist at the end. The pictures are pared back, mostly in black and white drawings with occasional splashes of colour.

Michel Gay is an illustrator of more than 60 books for children in Europe. Target age 2+.

The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez (Gecko Press) ISBN 978 1 877467 31 8 RRP$24.99

When fox steals steals chicken, her friends set off determined to rescue her. Rooster, Bear and Rabbit have to pursue them through forests, over a mountain and across the sea to catch up but find out in the end that chicken is perfectly happy with fox. All this without words!

Beatrice has captured the look of horror, determination and bafflement beautifully on the faces of the characters. The darkness of the pictures builds the tension in the story and when you find the fox and chicken happy in their home - the colours are all yellows and reds - one of contentment. Teachers would find this an excellent book to inspire storytelling or poetry in the class.

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