Sunday, April 22, 2018

Two quirky picture books…

Wildboy: the boy who walked around New Zealand by Brando Yelavich, illus. Donella Yelavich, Penguin Random House

You may have already heard of Wildboy because he has published two books for adults about his Bear Grylls-type adventures. The first, published in 2015, was called Wildboy, and the second was called Wildboy: to the edge and back. In 2013, as a restless young man, he set off to do the first circumnavigation of the New Zealand coastline on foot. He carried a 50 kg pack, walked 8,700 km, and took 600 days to do it.

He has teamed up with his mother to produce this strangely appealing children’s picture book. Strangely – because the illustrations are very modern and edgy with unusual proportions. And appealing – because I think youngsters will like the provocative mix of familiar landscapes, favourite wildlife, and Wildboy’s smiling face staring up from every page – even while he’s eating an insect…
The text is casual and friendly, with plenty of significant and/or amusing moments. Some advanced pre-schoolers might be interested, but I see the book being of most use in primary school libraries, where it will appeal to all age levels. It would lend itself to studies of the New Zealand environment, as well as being a source of inspiration in lessons on self-esteem. I’m giving my review copy to my almost-six-year-old grandson; he will probably decide to set off on his own adventure trek...

ISBN 978 0 14 377245 3 RRP $19.99 Pb

Muddle & Mo’s Rainy Day by Nikki Slade Robinson, Duck Creek Press

Many readers will already be familiar with Muddle the duck and Mo the goat, with their angular but very expressive lines. Preceding titles are Muddle & Mo, and Muddle & Mo’s Worm Surprise, which I particularly liked.

The minimal text matches the simplicity of the illustrations. Muddle loves the rainy day – naturally. Mo is not keen at all – naturally. Eventually, with the promise of an extra cuddle, Muddle persuades Mo to go out and play in the rain. The message lies in the developing happiness portrayed on Mo’s face as they jump and splash and slide. Can goats smile? Well, this one does.

Winter is nearly here, with plenty of rainy days, so this will be a handy book for pre-schoolers at their learning centre and at their home.

ISBN 978 1 927305 40 9 RRP $19.99 Pb (also Hb for $29.99)

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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