Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Three Holiday Picture Books

Three picture books for the holidays…

Scarface Claw, Hold Tight by Lynley Dodd, Penguin Random House NZ

He’s back! And he’s in trouble. Scarface Claw is one of the favourite Hairy Maclary characters in my family. But I think he’s getting on in years – in this story he’s snoozing happily in the sunshine, when suddenly his warm metal bed begins to move. You guessed it, he was sleeping on top of the car! They travel through town, with poor old Scarface Claw desperately hanging on to the top of the windscreen. People yell and point and wave and faint – thank goodness Constable Chrissie is in her car and turns on the siren. Tom jams on his brakes, and you-know-who slides down the windscreen looking as angry as any cat who has lost his dignity can look.
The book is designed in the tried-and-true format of picture on the left and large text on the right. As always Lynley’s rhyming text is impeccable – it’s a delight to read aloud. Definitely another book to add to your Hairy Maclary collection both at home and at the pre-school centres.
ISBN 978 0 14 3770985 RRP $25 Hb

1 – 2 – 3 Bird! By Dave Gunson, Scholastic NZ

Well, it’s a counting book, but there’s a lot more to it that will keep children occupied with looking and locating. The rhyming text starts off with one noisy seagull asking to be fed, and finishes with 13 sleepy moreporks slowly waking in each tree. But wait, there’s more. All the way through, each double-spread illustration includes references to the pictures before and after. Children can start spotting the picture parts which refer to the following page. There are other puzzles as well – such as Dave painting himself into a picture as the illustrator, and including lots of little sparrows “being painted by … ME!” The last double spread lists animals, fish, birds and insects that can be identified in the pictures.

Dave’s double-page illustrations are large and lively – so much so that I found myself holding the book out at arm’s length while I read it, in order to appreciate the impact of the pictures. This book will be excellent for reading aloud in pre-schools and junior primary classes, and the fauna and flora aspect will support New Zealand nature studies.

ISBN 978 1 77543 394 1 RRP $17.99 Pb

Max and His Big Imagination: The Race Car by Chrissy Metge, illus. Dmitry Chizhov, Duckling Publishing (www.ducklingpublishing.com)

This is the fourth book in this series, all titles focusing on the power of Max’s active imagination. I reviewed the third book (The Sandpit) earlier this year, and commented on the fact that it was very short, with only eleven pages of story (the industry standard being 32 pages). The same comment applies to this book. The shortness of the text does mean that the story is undeveloped. However the illustrations are modern, bright and eye-catching, and the book has a pleasant glossy feel to it. It will be enjoyed by (mostly) small boys who like racing cars but don’t want to spend much time on reading a book. Parents and teachers may find it useful to read it with reluctant boy readers who can’t sit still through a standard-length picture book.

ISBN 9780473401757 RRP $16.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman 

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