Monday, April 16, 2012

Three Trans Tasman Books

Waiting for Later by Tina Matthews, Walker Books Australia

Nancy “feels small” and keeps on asking members of her family to do things with her. The answer is always, “Later.” Frustrated and rejected, Nancy climbs a tree where she invents her own tree-based entertainment. By the time she comes down, she’s feeling much more confident – and her family are all waiting for her. In today’s busy, bustling world it’s a theme many small children will identify with. The illustrations are done in an unusual style using Japanese wood cuts and stencils. I’d call it old-fashioned, though the proper phrase could be 1950s retro. The colours are subdued, with much use of  dense, textured backgrounds and stark silhouettes. The formatting is repetitive, with each double spread consisting of a page of plain text opposite a full-page illustration.
I suspect this quiet, subtle story will need some explaining if you’re reading it to a child of four or five (it’s not suitable for younger children). Nancy herself looks to be about seven in the illustrations, but it’s a very large tree she climbs and she goes right to the top – so I’m not sure what age she’s logically meant to be...
Tina Matthews is a New Zealander living in Australia.  'Waiting for Later' is shortlisted for the 2012 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.
ISBN 978 1 921720 05 5 RRP $27.99 Hb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Fearless in Love by Colin Thompson, illus. Sarah Davis, HarperCollins Australia
Many readers of children’s picture books know and love Fearless the bulldog – this second title will not disappoint his fans. “Fearless was not a complicated dog,” it begins, and goes on to explain that Fearless’s mother told him, “Life is much nicer if you love everyone.” So that’s what young Fearless sets out to do. But loving (and eating) his bed, and loving (and eating) the winning lottery ticket just makes his family cross with him. Poor Fearless is getting very confused – until he meets Primrose from next door, who turns out to be – you guessed it, a beautiful bulldog! At last Fearless has found true love.

Children will identify with Fearless, who only wants to do the right thing but gets into continual trouble. They’ll love the big, bright illustrations full of action and humour (and bulldog drool). You don’t have to be a dog person to enjoy this book. It would be okay to read to a small group, but especially good to read to individual children of about four to seven because of the interesting detail in the pictures.
Illustrator Sarah Davis is another New Zealander living in Australia.  Many of her books have won awards in Australia and been shortlisted or Honoured in New Zealand and overseas.
ISBN 978 1 921720 7333 2951 7 RRP $29.99 Hb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman 
Seesaw Po by Kyle Mewburn, illus. Katz Cowley, Scholastic New Zealand

A group of animal friends (hippo, orang-utan, giraffe and armadillo) visit a playground. They’re keen to play on the equipment, but big, kindly hippopotamus Po makes sure a tiny ant gets a proper swing first. Uta, Raff and Madi have a fabulous time on the swing and the slide and the roundabout and the seesaw. But poor old Po is just too big and heavy. He can’t even have a play on the seesaw. But when his friends go home, Po sees the ant returning – with millions of other ants – and his kindness is rewarded.
Children will enjoy the simplicity of this little fable with its easy-to-understand message. They’ll also appreciate the spaciousness, clarity, and humour of the illustrations with their friendly cartoon animals. I’m looking forward to reading it to my four-year-old grandson - I’m sure he’ll be intrigued by the clever ending. The book could be comfortably read aloud to a pre-school group, and should be enjoyed by children of about four to six. The Maori edition is called E Pīoi e Po!     
Kyle Mewburn is an Australian living in New Zealand. He has won many awards for his picture books in New Zealand and overseas. Katz Cowley is a New Zealander now living in Australia. She illustrated the bestselling book The Wonky Donkey.
ISBN 978 1 77543 026 1 RRP $19.50 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

No comments: