Saturday, April 26, 2014

Raining Cats and Dogs

Purrs, Paws and Claws by Errol McLeary, Scholastic NZ

This picture book and the following one arrived together, so it’s fitting to review them together. From the publisher’s website: “Errol McLeary grew up in Auckland and has been a magazine designer, a television designer, an art director at an advertising agency and a newspaper illustrator and cartoonist with the NZ Herald, as well as doing freelance work. Errol then set up a graphic design business, eventually concentrating on book design, but it was always his dream to illustrate, and over the years he has become more interested in illustrating his own books, using traditional techniques.” I’ve quoted this extract because it’s always interesting to know the background of a picture book creator who’s come to the market fairly recently.

Each page offers a humorous feline version of a limerick or nursery rhyme. The rhythm of the verses has its occasional rough bits, so do a bit of preparation before you actually read the book aloud to a young audience. Children won’t notice the bumps if you read with plenty of gusto. They’ll be intent on looking at the brightly-coloured, jovial cartoon pictures of the various cats. This book would do well for a read-aloud in pre-school centres and new entrant classes.

 ISBN 978 1 77543 227 2 $19.50 Pb

Doggy Ditties from A to Z by Jo van Dam, ill. Myles Lawford, Scholastic NZ

Jo van Dam is the librarian at two Auckland primary schools, so should have an excellent knowledge of successful picture books. This is her first book. Myles Lawford is a designer and illustrator who illustrated Scholastic NZ’s The Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas in 2013. Together they have produced a book to fascinate young dog lovers. Each letter of the alphabet heads up a short humorous poem about a breed of dog - Affenpinscher, Boxer, Chihuahua, Dalmatian, English Setter, Foxie - and so on. Would you believe there’s even a dog for the letter X! The rhymes are bouncy and fun to read. The illustrations were created in Adobe Photoshop so have a crisp and colourful appearance, with some very appealing dog faces. Like the previous picture book, this is one that would be good for reading aloud to groups of pre-schoolers or young primary classes.

ISBN 978 1 77543 188 6 $19.50 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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