Saturday, May 4, 2013

A new picture book from Joy Cowley

Breakfast by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Amy Lam (Clean Slate Press)

"Hurry, hurry, hurry!"
said the jug to the cup.
"It's time for breakfast.
The children are up."

Breakfast with young children (been there, done that) can be a shambolic time and Joy Cowley has captured that in this cute rhyming picture book.  However, the story is told from the angle of the breakfast table settings: cup saucer, milk jug, cutlery etc. They must hurry to set up in time for the messy children's invasion. And the children live up to their name - creating havoc with the cereals, pancakes, egg and ham, toast and jam (gosh, I wish we had breakfasts like that). There's the oldest daughter absentmindedly eating while texting, and the three boys throwing food and having a fight. You can imagine the mess that gets left behind. I'm not going to tell you the twist at the end - pure Joy Cowley storytelling skill.

A story for early childhood and Junior Primary school classes to read during a Health study on manners at the table.  Children will delight in seeing all the naughty things the children do and unintentionally pick up another person's perspective when a breakfast table is left in such a mess.

I remember using 'reverse psychology' on my son to try to get him to do things at time - this is exactly what Joy Cowley is doing with this book; giving kids the opportunity to see from the outside-in table manners-gone-riot. It will get kids thinking and perhaps changing a few of their own bad habits. If Joy had written a story where children behaved at the table she would not get the message across so effectively.

The illustrator has captured the look of fear, anticipation and surprise on the setting's and boredom and mischief on the children's faces. The breakfast table with its colourful settings is the sole focus of the story. White/cream space around it enables the text to have its space and tell the story. From a teacher's point of view this is perfect for younger children because they can show and read it aloud to their whole class. Amy Lam is a talented young illustrator and designer. She has designed hundreds of books for children, many of which she has also illustrated.

Dame Joy Cowley has been writing for children for more than 50 years. She is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and successful authors, having written more than 600 books.

The book is available as hardback with colourful end papers, which librarians will be pleased about (because it will last heavy-duty school wear) and softcover. A must for all school and kindy libraries, and homes.

RRP: Softcover $19.99,  ISBN: 978-1-927185-97-1, Hardcover $24.99, ISBN: 978-1-927185-58-2

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