Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Picture Books for 2010

Bedtime Countdown by Raymond McGrath (Puffin)
ISBN 978-0-14350-421-4 RRP$ 18.99

Twelve slinky skinks,
lurking under leaves.
But who do you see hiding, too,
playing make believe?

Young readers will find little kiwi pretending to be eleven different animals as he counts his way down to bedtime. He encounters:
12 slinky skinks
11 flighty fantails
10 timeless tuatara
9 fine black stilts
8 fluffy fruit-bats
right down to one sleepy kiwi bird tucked up tight in bed.

Raymond McGrath has used alliteration, rhyme and a bit of visual humour to bring this familiar tale with a twist. It is the artwork that really stands out in this book; each page has its own colour palette: brown/orange/yellow for the skinks, purple and greens for the bats. Young readers will enjoy finding the animals amongst all the detail. Some pages are packed to the rafters others he has paired it back. Raymond has used a mix of styles; stylistic shapes and print background juxtaposed with patterns and lines. Full compliments to the designer of the book, the text sometimes meanders across the page and sometimes its vertical or horizontal. Parents and toddlers will enjoy this book at bedtime.

Raymond McGrath is an award-winning animation director, animator, illustrator, designer and writer. He has illustrated over 45 children's picture books.

Fly Pie by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Philip Webb (Scholastic)
ISBN 978-1-86943-924-8 RRP$18.99 Recommended Reading age: 3-6 years
Once there was a frog who had been a prince.
He knew he could become a prince again
if he was kissed by a princess,
and that would not be difficult.
A princess lived in a large stone castle,
a few hops down the road.

The frog is happy in his 'fine old lily pond' and rather delighted when the cute frog from the lily pad next door proposes marriage. However, frog also feels he is destined for bigger things; kissing princesses for example so off he goes 'slippity-slop' to a castle down the road. Like all fairy tales (with frogs in them) things don't always go to plan and in the end he realises he is better off...

Joy Cowley has based the story on a well known fable 'The Frog Prince' and taken the story one step further; what if the princess isn't so nice and what if he has more chance for 'true love' with the cute frog next door. Joy Cowley is commonly acknowledged as one of the 'grandes dames' of NZ children's literature, along with Margaret Mahy.

The artwork is a delight with pastel shades, attention to detail (insects buzzing about in the foreground) and humorous undertones. I like the way he has used different angles; close-up, mid and far range, left and right to tell the story with pictures. Philip Webb is a Wellington-based illustrator, with two of his illustrated titles receiving Honour Awards at the NZ Post Children's Book awards for Dragor and Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig.

Maori edition also available.

Jonah's First Day by Feana Tu'akoi, illustrated by Samantha Asri
ISBN 978-1-86943-920-0 RRP$18.99
Jonah was excited. Today he was starting kindy.
He had everything he needed. He had a drink,
some food to eat, a hat to wear when he was
playing outside, and a bag to keep it all in.

Jonah's is looking forward to his first day at kindy. When he arrives he can see lots of children having fun with their friends then Jonah realises he doesn't know anyone and begs to go home. The next day his Grandfather takes Jonah for a walk and when they arrive at the kindy the Grandfather asks if they will let him play in the sandpit. Jonah is a bit shocked but goes with him to see if he is allowed. The two of them have a fun afternoon playing in the sand and later build a large tower with another boy. Jonah looks forward to coming the next day to see his new friend and play in the sandpit.

Kindergarten children will recognise the fear of starting something new, especially when you don't know anyone. Parents will find reading this book to their three year old will help reassure them that they will make friends and there are lots of fun things to do at kindy.
Feana Tu'akoi wrote the popular 'What is a ... series' for kindergarten children.
Maori edition also available.

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