Monday, September 30, 2013

Joy Cowley Award winner and shortlisted picture books

Alphabet Squabble by Isaac Drought, ill. Jenny Cooper, Scholastic NZ
This picture book is the winner of last year’s Joy Cowley Award (awarded by the Storylines Children’s Literature Trust) so it has to live up to  high standards. It does this admirably. The story is set in Alphabet Land, where the busy and popular letters such as A and C look down upon the much less popular letters such as X,Y and Z. When the downtrodden letters protest, they are commanded to discover five words that start with their letter. Y and Z do this with no problem, but the Xs have difficulty - until a young X comes up with a word that neatly illustrates the theme of the story (I’m not going to tell you what the word is). The text is dramatically brought to life by Jenny Cooper’s fabulous cartoon illustrations. She used pencil and watercolour paints to create letters with real personality, and the intriguingly detailed pictures will reward close study by child readers (and adults). The book will be useful for primary-level lessons relating to the Health Curriculum because of its focus on tolerance and acceptance of others. But it’s still a delightful picture book in its own right, and pre-schoolers who are learning their alphabet will be fascinated.
ISBN 978 1 77543 124 4 $19.50 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Adventures With Daddy by Cathy Kearse, ill. Gabriella Klepatski, Scholastic NZ

Shortlisted for the Joy Cowley Award, this picture book is a first for Cathy Kearse. It impresses with its simplicity - the rhyming text is minimal. Try this: “We go to the park to eat some old bread, but Daddy gives his to the ducks there instead.” At the end of an activity-filled day for the preschool narrator and his father, it’s obvious that Daddy has simply run out of steam. Most of the time the rhy 
thm bounces along happily and makes for a pleasant read-aloud experience. The pictures by Gabriella Klepatski, an experienced illustrator, are delightful. I’ve probably said this before, but her style reminds me of the superb Shirley Hughes. There’s plenty of reassuring white space, and the use of coloured pencils and subdued colours creates a soft, calming effect. It’s a perfect bed-time book for preschoolers, especially boys. I’m going to give it to my worn-out son and my three-year-old grandson - they’ll love it. PS. There’s also a Maori edition.

ISBN 978 1 77543 126 8 $19.50 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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