The Three Cattle Dogs Gruff by Chris Gurney, illus. Myles Lawford, Scholastic NZ
This is the latest title in Scholastic’s long-running and popular picture book series called Kiwi Corkers: Great New Zealand Yarns. We don’t need any hints about which story inspired this New Zealand version – you just need to look at the title, and the cover which shows something nasty lurking under a bridge… Chris’s bouncy rhyming text takes us through the traditional format, providing a local version of the chorus: “Cross my bridge, you silly mutt, I’ll suck you with a slurp, up my tongue into my gut and finish with a burp!” I won’t give away what exactly is hiding under the bridge – children will enjoy the moment when they finally see the owner of the very long tongue. Myles Lawford’s crisp and colourful Adobe Photoshop illustrations catch the New Zealand rural landscape and the frisky natures of the three dogs. This would make a good read-aloud for a preschool or junior primary school class.
ISBN 978 1 77543 340 8 RRP $12 Pb
I Am Doodle Cat by Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott, Beatnik Publishing
It’s hard to resist the bright red face of Doodle Cat smiling out from the front cover. Further investigation reveals that Doodle Cat likes lots of unusual things, not just cat-type things as you might expect. Doodle Cat loves dancing, noise, the ocean, maths, lentils, baths, fractals and small animals, to mention a few. In fact, the chosen objects and activities could easily be the favourites of a young child… The end papers offer a kind of explanatory text on why these particular objects were chosen: eg. “A fractal is a never-ending pattern that looks exactly the same at any size. These guys are everywhere! Don’t believe me? Go and investigate a cauliflower.” The stylised illustrations are strong and bright, with an emphasis on red. Teachers and parents need to be aware that this is more of a concept book than a story book, and would probably be best used to stimulate discussion with children of about 4 to 7 (who may even want to draw their own Doodle Cat)… This book won the 2015 Best Children’s Book in the PANZ Book Design Awards.
ISBN 978 0992 264826 RRP $24.99 Hb
Tyranno-sort-of-Rex by Christopher Llewelyn, illus. Scott Tulloch, Scholastic NZ
The first pairing of this author and illustrator produced Scholastic’s engaging picture book How Does the Giraffe Get to Work? Reviewers, me among them, agreed it was an inspired combination. They’ve now come out with this rhyming story that’s bound to appeal to the thousands of young dinosaur fans out there. Some recently dug-up dinosaur bones get mixed up on board the ship during a wild storm. The courier company dumps the bones outside the museum, and it’s up to the poor old curator to sort them out. This strangely fishlike gentleman doesn’t do too well. “Whizz went the drill, and his hammer went Whack! Checking his work, the curator stepped back… The bottom resembled a Tyrannosaur… but the top of the neck had one major flaw. He knew for a fact that he’d definitely read that all dinosaurs had only one head.” The muddled-up sets of bones presented to the public on the last page are amusing, but personally I’d have like a bit more of a funny twist at the end of the tale (pun intended!). However dinosaur fans (mainly small boys) will follow the curator’s efforts with fascination, and will appreciate the puns in the names. Scott Tulloch’s illustrations, mostly double-spreads, are expansive, complex, and reward closer examination. This will work well as a read-aloud for 4 to 7 year-olds.
ISBN 978 1 77543 311 8 RRP $19 Pb
Ta Daniel Hakari Matariki by Rebecca Beyer and Linley Wellington, illus. Christine Ross, Duck Creek Press
This appealing story was first published in English in May 2014, and many teachers and parents will welcome this release in te reo. Amidst worries about Maori being a dying language, resources such as this book need to be supported so I hope it goes into every public and primary school library. Follow this link for KidsBooksNZ’s review of the English version:
ISBN 978 1 927305 02 7 RRP $19.99 Pb (distributed by David Bateman)
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman