Auntie Ellie’s Beach House by Raewyn Caisley, illus. Lisa Allen, Duck Creek Press
This gentle, thoughtful story will strike a chord with New Zealand families – many of us have fond memories of time spent at a bach or beach house somewhere on our beautiful coastline. Leyla loves spending her summer holidays at her aunt’s house – so when Aunt Ellie says the city is moving too close and she’s decided to sell up, Layla is devastated. But a big bonfire and a sparkling moonbeam painted on the sea manage to cheer her up. “The moon will always know where we are,” said Auntie Ellie. “No matter where we go or what we do…” The last double spread illustration leaves us in no doubt about the truth of this wisdom. The style of the illustrations, done in fine black pencil and watercolour, matches perfectly with the tone of the story. The pictures are soft, subtle and dreamy, with many painted in a range of sea colours – green, blue, turquoise, lavender. I see this book being enjoyed by girls of about four to seven – especially those who are celebrating Christmas at the seaside!
Hardback, ISBN 978-1-877378-95-9, RRP: $29.99
Paperback, ISBN 978-1-877378-96-6, RRP: $19.99
Bye! Bye! Bye! By Juliette MacIver, illus. Stephanie Junovich, Scholastic NZ
People who love Juliette MacIver’s Marmaduke Duck books (like me) will find this charming picture book is totally different. It will probably appeal more to the little girls in your family. Written in rhyming text with assonance and escalating repetition, the story uses a first-person point of view to show a child’s sadness at going on holiday and leaving her numerous pets behind. There’s a pleasant surprise for the narrator at the end – which is more like wish fulfilment than reality, so parents planning Christmas holidays may need to do a bit of explaining… The illustrator (twice short-listed for the Storylines Gavin Bishop Award) has produced lush, realistic illustrations using watercolour and watercolour pencils. Everything about the pictures is soft and gentle, with much use of calming white space. The publishers say the book is suitable for age three to seven - but I would tend to recommend it more for the younger end of the scale. Book-loving two-year-olds will enjoy it, and I think it will be especially useful in pre-school centres that include younger children.
ISBN 978 1 77543 225 8 $19.50 PbReviewed by Lorraine Orman