My Dad’s A Dragon Catcher by Tanya Batt, illus. Helen Bacon, Clean Slate Press (www.cleanslatepress.com)
Tanya Batt is one of our most skilled and popular storytellers. All sorts of words come to mind in relation to Tanya – magic, fun, costume, story, performance – but after browsing on her website (www.imagined-worlds.net) I can definitely add books to that list. This story (and the one reviewed below) were originally recorded as part of Tanya’s first sound album of stories – and now they have been published as stand-alone picture books under the publisher’s new imprint Reading Alive.
This book definitely passed the test drive with my three and four-year-old grandsons. I know they like a book if they want it read to them several times in one day. The narrator, Toby, is ashamed when his classmates boast about their dads’ glamorous jobs – so he tells a little fib and says his dad is a dragon catcher. The little fib grows into a monster when everyone’s fathers are invited to come to school and talk about their jobs. Toby has to confess to his dad what he’s done. But Toby’s dad is very enterprising, and the doubters in the class get a big shock... It’s a theme that will appeal to four to seven-year-olds – they will all understand about little fibs that get out of control. The illustrations are cheerful, exciting and colourful, with plenty of action and enough interesting detail to occupy young minds while they listen to the words. Congratulations to the publishers for choosing hardback, and for including the delightful dragons on the end papers.
ISBN 878 1 927185 57 5 $19.99 Hb
Catching Fish by Tanya Batt, illus. Natalia Vasquez, Clean Slate Press
I can just hear Tanya reciting this friendly little story, taking great advantage of the actions and noise effects. Jake’s favourite blue shirt has five red fish along the bottom edge. But when it goes in the wash the fish disappear, much to everyone’s bewilderment. Jake looks everywhere for it. And then he spots the fish swimming around in the sky. How will he get them down? Everyone offers suggestions – but it’s only when Jake resorts to pen and paper that he gets results. The hardback book is beautifully designed, with fish on the end papers and fascinating collage illustrations throughout that reward close study. You find yourself running your fingers over the pictures with the illusion of feeling the textures. I hope this publisher continues their high standard of production. This book is great fun to read with preschoolers, and will also be useful with the littlies at school.
ISBN 978 1 927185 56 8 $19.99 HbReviewed by Lorraine Orman