Saturday, October 9, 2010

Two new books illustrated by Katz Cowley

The Fidgety Itch by Lucy Davey, illustrated by Katz Cowley (Scholastic)
ISBN 978 1 86943 967 5 RRP $19.50

the fru-fru trees,
Timpkin was gleefully
gobbling his cheese,
when something began to
bother his knees.

Twas only a niggle ...
the teensiest titch ...
but that fidgety feeling grew to an ITCH!

What is a mouse going to do with an itch? He calls out feverishly for someone to give him a scratch.Thankfully for him Feather McDoo comes to the rescue but then he develops an itch, and so on it goes on down the line - everyone scratching someone elses' scritch - but who is going to scratch the last person at the back of the line?

Lucy Davey's text is playful and rhythmic. A joy to read aloud. Children will delight in her made-up words and names. For example, "Now I've got an itch, a terrible twitch, a bubbly, fizzly, twinge-y, twizzly, horribly hiffle-ish, howlish patch ..." The designer has added emphasis to some of the text by changing the size of the words. The illustrations add charm to the story. Katz Cowley has used water colour to paint the scenes and characters; depicting characters you might find in real life with fantasy characters such as Feather McDoo and the Fru-fru trees. The embossed cover ensures the book is going to be picked up by its target audience 4-6 year old children. Junior and Middle Primary teachers could use the book as an example of team work in action.

Lucy is currently based at home in Auckland with her three young children who provide her with first-hand knowledge of the current preferences and interests of young readers (and their
parents). Her other books include: Pandora's Potato Romp, Fifi la Belle, Fifi la Belle Takes a Bath, Fifi la Belle Ship's Cat, Mr Mayor s Pavlova Palaver, A Right Royal Christmas. In March 2010 she was awarded the Storylines' Joy Cowley Award for her story, “Out of Bed, Fred!” (due out in 2011). Lucy has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and a Bachelor of Technology in Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering.
British-born Katz Cowley has a degree in Illustration from the University of Northumbria. She spent a year and a half travelling around SE Asia and living in Australia before arriving in NZ in
2000, where she has been ever since. Winner 2010 NZ Post Children s Book Awards Children's Choice Award with Wonky Donkey.
Children go here for some printable activities.
Reviewed by Maria Gill

Willbee the Bumblebee by Craig Smith & Maureen Thomson, illus. Katz Cowley, Scholastic New Zealand
Following on from the runaway success of The Wonky Donkey, we now have this production in a similar format – a picture book with rhyming text, accompanied by a CD of Craig Smith singing the words. I imagine the hordes of parents and teachers who bought (and are still buying) The Wonky Donkey will be delighted to find this new book. It will be interesting to see if it is as successful as its predecessor.

I found the story cute, the illustrations appealing, and the song catchy. Children of about four to seven will enjoy the striking, close-up pictures of the insects involved in the story (Willbee loses his yellow and black jumper and friends provide a new one), especially the wide-eyed, slightly goofy bumblebee. However the text works much better in a song than it does as a rhyme for reading aloud. The scansion does not flow well in many places, and I found myself tripping up as I read it aloud. My advice is to play the CD and sing along to the song as you turn the pages and follow the text. One small word of warning for teachers – the word “bum” is used a couple of times in the text.
ISBN 978 1 86943 943 9 RRP $26
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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