Saturday, September 4, 2010

Three new Picture Books from a new imprint

The Mountain who wanted to live in a House by Maurice Shadbolt, illustrated by Renee Haggo (Duck Creek Press)
ISBN: 978-1-877378-42-3 RRP$29.99

Once there was a mountain who lived all by itself.
Sometimes people came to climb it. In winter they came to ski and make snowmen.
In summer they came to have picnics and watch the birds in the trees.
But did anyone ask the mountain how it liked living high in the sky?
No one ever did.
As a matter of fact the mountain wanted to live in a house.

Mountain with a 'woho woho' kind of laugh walked towards the town. Of course, in the process it made a rumbling tumbling sound and scared all the town people away. Lucky for Mountain a sensible little boy stayed behind. He listened to Mountain's wish to live in a house and helped to make it possible.

Well, this is the first time I've read a story about a 'mountain wanting to be a house'. Maurice Shadbolt successfully creates a story arc; the two main characters make three attempts to achieve their goal, and the story ends with a satisfactory resolution. It's a story about 'thinking outside the square'. Teachers could use it to launch their thinking skills or health programme. Primary aged children will enjoy reading the story and exploring the illustrations. It might lead to discussions about whether New Zealand has a similar looking mountain and town - possibly, Edgecumbe...

Maurice Shadbolt (1932-2004) is one of New Zealand's best-known writers and the author of twelve novels, four collections of stories and a number of works of non-fiction. This is his only known children's book and it is published here for the first time. Publisher David Ling says he was given the script by Maurice Shadbolt fifteen years ago but up until now he hadn't found the right illustrator for the book. He came across Renee Haggo by chance. David gave a lecture to students at AUT University in Auckland and gave them the task to illustrate two children's books. He was so impressed with Renee's illustrations it inspired him to publish the book with her illustrations.

Renee Haggo primarily illustrates with pen and ink, watercolours and acrylics. She has a keen eye for realism in her characters and is an avid sketcher and life drawer. This is her first children's book. It wouldn't have been an easy brief to bring a mountain to life but Renee has brought character to the mountain. Like a face with expressions it changes; sometimes Mountain sports a tear, a smile, and an expression of pain, horror, sadness and even exhaustion.

A dog like that by Janene Cooper, illustrated by Evie Kemp (Duck Creek Press)
ISBN: 978-1-877378-41-6 RRP$29.99

Uncle's dog is clever.
He does what he's told.
'Dogs should be like that,' they said.

No!
My dog's not like that.
He does what he likes.

We learn that the narrator's dog is not obedient like other dogs - he does what he likes - which just so happens to fit perfectly with the owner. Her dog sleeps in her bed, he's friendly and licks everyone, he waits for her, eats her dinner when no one is looking, and licks her tears when she's sad. He's her best friend.

A book for preschoolers - a simple story with pared back text and illustration. Bound to be popular with 2-4 year old animal lovers.

Janene Cooper has a background in education and is currently working as an Education Consultant based in Auckland. Her writing is influenced by the experiences she has shared with the many children who have touched her life.

Evie Kemp is a recent graduate of AUT University in Auckland where she studied Graphic Design and illustration. Evie used collage for A Dog Like That! as part of a graphic design/illustration project set by David Ling. David thought Kemp’s concept work was so exceptional, he contracted her immediately.

Kindy teachers could read the book as inspiration for collage art activities with the children. You could even read the story and show the pictures to babies; they won't understand it but they'll like the bright colours and one figure per page illustrations.

Farmer Beetroot's Birthday by D. Butler, illustrated by Lyn Kriegler (Duck Creek Press)
ISBN: 978-1-877378-43-0 RRP$29.99

Molly Muffin was going to Farmer Beetroot's birthday party.
She had bought a present for him.
It was a lovely red bucket.
The sun was shining and Molly Muffin was hot and tired.
Huff-puff, huff-puff, down the road she went and onto the bridge.

Farmer Beetroot's two guests come brandishing gifts but unfortunately fall through the hole in the bridge and into the stream. Instead of being bothered - they're delighted. It's cool in the water and they can use the farmer's present - a bucket - to wash water over themselves. Farmer Brown is tired of waiting for his guests to arrive so goes looking for them...

A story about accepting the unexpected and going with the flow. Preschoolers and junior Primary students will enjoy the story and its brightly coloured illustrations.

As with all three Duck Creek Books, this book is hardback, colour co-ordinated with endpapers and back covers. Some pages are full colour illustrations and some are half page (right) illustration with text on white pages (on the left).

Dorothy Butler is an internationally recognised authority on children's books and literacy. She is a graduate of Auckland University and was awarded an OBE in 1993 for services to literature. She has won numerous New Zealand, British, American and Japanese awards.

Lyn Kriegler is an American-born graduate of Victoria Commonwealth University and holds an honours (BFA) degree in Fine Art and Illustration. She settled in New Zealand in 1974 and formed a happy working partnership with Dorothy Butler in 1978. They have since collaborated on many books together.

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