Saturday, October 1, 2011

Scholastic's Picture Books for Christmas!

Marmaduke Duck and Bernadette Bear by Juliette MacIver, illustrations by Sarah Davis

On Hollyhock Hill, at the very tip top,
Marmaduke Duck had a marmalade shop.
Marmalade jam, from the roof to the floor!
A matchless, marvellous marmalade store!

Marmaduke Duck's marmalade store is a roaring success. Animals queue up for miles to buy his wares until Bernadette Bear opens up a honey shop next door.  Then everyone troops to the newest and trendiest store to buy Bernadette Bear's honey. Poor Marmaduke is devastated. He closes his shop and walks off in despair until he sees something that makes him stand up and fight for his store. But sometimes what you wish for doesn't feel that good when you get it. How do Marmaduke and Bernadette resolve the issue? Read and find out...

What a wonderful story to show children that being cooperative and not always competitive helps everyone be happy - a win-win situation for all.  In today's competitive economic market people sometimes do resort to devious means to get attention from the public - at the expense of others.  Though this message will be lost on the very young - they'll enjoy it just because it is a good story, older children will possibly see the moral link.

The book is even more likeable with Sarah Davis's illustration:  the expressions on the animal's faces, and the wonderful bright use of colour. I love it when the duck is reading a book on 'Know Your Predators' while a fox and a stoat walk into the shop. Instead of being scared of them, Marmaduke Duck hand feeds them some marmalade. There's lovely touches of humour in the pictures and the text. Highly recommended for kindergarten and Junior-Middle School children.

This is the second in the Marmaduke books. 'Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam' was a finalist in the NZ Post Children's Book Awards in 2011.  The judges said it was, 'A real romp of a story ... gorgeous and vibrant ..."
Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig and the Christmas Baby by Diana Neild, illustrated by Philip Webb

Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig
was a festive-y name for a small sort of pig.
His home was emblazoned in red, gold and green
and quite dazzled the eyes with its tinselly sheen.

Piggity and his clan get ready for Christmas. Relatives arrive with presents and children prepare for the concert. Though, Piggity is clearly not pleased with the role he is given. Who will take his place and will there be another role for Piggity?

A lovely story about families getting together and everyone working co-operatively to make an event happen.  Diana Neild expertly jiggles the language to make it rhyme and keep to the rhythm - making it fun to read.  A great read-aloud story for kindergarten and Junior School children.

This is the fifth story in the Piggity-Wiggity (not including the Book of Pigtivities) series. Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig was a NZ Post Book Honour award, plus Storylines Notable Book in 2009. Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig Goes to Dad's Cafe was a finalist in he 2010 NZ Post Book Awards.

On the Road to Tuapeka by Ben Brown, illustrated by Scott Tulloch

Heka the weka
and Reka the weka,
on the road to tuapeka,
saw a bus ...
a double decker!

The two wekas jump on board the bus along with several other animals along the way. None of them know where they want to go but are content to enjoy the view along the way. When Possum Pete pulls into the caravan park for the night they meet a strange little man with a barbecue and pan. He invites them for dinner - they are thrilled, until they find out they are on the menu. Will they get away or will the funny little man have a delicious stew?

The story reminds me of Wombat Stew but is a thoroughly kiwi version. Kindergarten and Junior school students will enjoy the rhythm and and rhyme and will have a chuckle over the amusing illustrations.

Ben Brown writes children's books, non-fiction and short stories for children and adults. Ben Brown's 'Fifity-Five Feathers' was shortlisted for Te Kura Pounamu and Russell Clark Awards in 2005, A Booming in the Nigh won Best Picture Book award at the 2006 NZ Post Children's Book Awards. Scott Tulloch is the author/illustrator of the recent Scholastic title 'Tom and the Dragon' as well as the Willy books. He has illustrated for other authors numerous other books too.

The Elves and the Cloakmaker by Chris Gurney, illustrated by John Bennett
Kahu the Cloakmaker toiled night and day,
an honest and hard-working man,
weaving his cloaks in his own special way
with his knotted and gnarly old hands.
There is a lot to do weaving cloaks - it keeps Kahu and his wife busy all day. So much so, they are exhausted at night and fall asleep during their toil. Over the night, four little fairy elves come  and finish the cloak, weaving special bird feathers into it. It's a beautiful sight and the owner is thrilled. Soon lots of orders come in for their cloaks and luckily for them the elves come in and finish them off. One night Kahu and his wife hide in the pantry and watch the elves at work. They hatch a plan to thank the elves ...

The Elves and the Shoemaker tale is transformed into a New Zealand story with not shoes but Maori cloaks as the magical product.  Instead of elves it's the special fairy folk from Maori tales called the Patupaiarehe - pronounced: Pah-too-pah-ee-ah-reh-heh.'The Elves and the Cloakmaker' is bound to be enjoyed by Kindergarten and Junior-Middle Primary School children. They'll love the language and humorous illustrations.

This is Chris Gurney's sixth book in the Kiwi Corker series. That's half of the books in the series plus she has written another two books: 'Hester's Blister' and 'Giraffe Attack'.  Chris writes with a faultless sense of rhyme and rhythm and shows great humorous talent.

Former BBC animator John Bennett has illusted two other books: Hinemoa Te Toa and The Boxing Day Test.  He now works full time as a cartoonist and illustrator.

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