Saturday, October 16, 2010

Three new Picture Books

Daisy’s Maze by Kyle Mewburn, illus. Michaela Sangl, Scholastic

Daisy the mouse lives in a tower, surrounded by a maze. Whenever she invites her friends to tea, they are grumpy and exhausted by the time they navigate the maze and climb the tower. Unfortunately Daisy doesn’t realise this and decides to cheer them up by making the maze more difficult and the tower higher. This results in her frustrated friends failing to arrive. Daisy goes down to look for them – guess what happens to her? In the end, of course, the friends are able to once again enjoy each other’s company – but Daisy has learned a lesson. This light, entertaining story is considerably enhanced by the imaginative illustrations done in watercolour, pencil, acrylic and collage, using Adobe Photoshop. The pictures offer a whole new layer of entertainment if the reader studies them carefully. There are lots of appealing little extras to be spotted in the backgrounds – such as the penguin sailing past Rangitoto in a boat made out of paper with German text on it. Best for sharing with children of about four to six.

ISBN 978 1 86943 960 6 RRP $19.50

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Dear Toby by Diana Noonan, illus. Linda McClelland, Scholastic

Teddy bears are extremely important to a great number of people (I have actually lost count of how many teddy bears live with me!). So Diana Noonan taps into an almost universal theme with this picture book about coping with teddy bear disasters. Toby the bear runs a kind of teddy bear agony column, and replies to children who write, email, or phone with some desperate question about their bear. Toby reassures anxious inquirers that teddy will definitely survive the spin in the washing machine, and that teddies don’t really need clothes because their thick fur keeps them warm. The illustrations are done in pencil and warm pastel watercolours, and their friendly style reminds me a lot of Shirley Hughes’s classic picture books. This will be a favourite with any teddy-bear fan aged about four to seven.

ISBN 978 1 86943 946 0 RRP $19.50

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Time For Bed Little Kiwi by Bob Darroch, Puffin

Most New Zealand children will be familiar with the Little Kiwi series. This new title in the series has the added advantage of being a lift-the-flap book. However I will put on my librarian’s hat here and say that lift-the-flap books are VERY hard to keep undamaged by eager little fingers. The story is simple – Mother Kiwi can’t find Little Kiwi, so she seeks him all through the bush. Each double spread illustration shows a different bush scene with a flap, and under the flaps we find creatures such as weta, morepork, kakapo, and so on - but no Little Kiwi. I won’t give away the story, but of course Little Kiwi turns out to be perfectly safe. Bob Darroch’s cheerful illustrations are true to the bush environment, and the book could be used with a classroom nature study. I can also see it as being useful as a bedtime story for two to five-year-olds.

ISBN 978 014350430 6 RRP $15.99

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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