Saturday, July 16, 2011

The kiwi kid’s ABC by Rebekah Holguin, HarperCollins NZ
ABC books are always popular, especially with grandmothers like me! As I read it, I was imagining how I’ll share it with my 3-year-old grandson, who already knows his ABCs. I think he’ll be most intrigued, firstly with the bright, bold, in-your-face style of the illustrations, and secondly with the distinctly New Zealand flavour. The letters of the alphabet (shown in heavy black print, both small and capital) have either a single or double spread, with the doubles being particularly striking. For A we get aroha, for D we get dolphin, for J we get jandals; also rugby for R, and ukulele for U. The double spread for B gives us bucket, bare feet, beach, ball and bay. The illustrations are done with eye-catching colours and strong black outlines (to my mind, the black outlines look rather retro).
I tried to find out a bit about the author/illustrator but couldn’t detect much, not even on the publisher’s website or her own. This is obviously her first book. Her previous work seems to lean towards fantasy illustration, and she has trained with Weta Workshops. I suspect we may see more of her work, so I hope the publishers update their website. If you’re looking for an ABC book for New Zealanders, this is a good one to try.
ISBN 978 1 86950 895 1 RRP $16.99 (pb)
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

100 Things by Masayuki Sebe, Gecko Press
This counting book (by the author/illustrator of Dinosaurs Galore) for ages 3 to 6 is typical of what we’ve come to expect from Gecko Press – bright and funky, eye-catching and very 21st century. On each double spread you will find 100 whatevers – mice, moles, children, cars. As well as exhaustive counting, you will also find other activities such as “Can you find 1 rabbit?” on the sheep page, and “Where is the other cat?” on the children page. The last double spread offers ten subjects arranged in 10s, followed by a page of extra location challenges – “Who lives in this house?” The illustrations are done in simplistic cartoon style, and are very appealing.
This book would be best shared with children who understand the concept of counting to one hundred. It would be a bit too much for children who can only go up to 10 or twenty, so not many 3-year-olds would appreciate it. But I’ll be keeping it safely on my bookshelf for when grandson Lachlan develops his counting skills a bit more – and I’m sure we’ll both have lots of fun with it. It would be a popular buy for preschool centres and kindergartens.
ISBN 978 1 877467 82 0 RRP $19.99 (pb) $32.99 (hb)
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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