'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 23 September 2011

KBR Recommends: Picture Books, September 2011

More gorgeousness is flooding the shelves in the lead-up to Christmas. Enjoy this peek at some fabulous new books you'll want to stock up on for Santa's stocking.

Bugs in the Garden by Beatrice Alemagna
(Phaidon, $14.95)

The next in Alemagna's adorable series of books, Bugs in the Garden showcases some pretty serious felting artwork, in the form of some sweet little bugs who live in a blanket on an old bed at the bottom of the garden. Each of the bug books hosts a moralistic tale on friendship, togetherness, accepting differences and other kid-friendly topics - and the message of Bugs in the Garden's message centres on the fact that you'll never make new friends if you don't try. Warm, sweet and visually satisfying.

Ten Little Babies by Rose Impey
(Bloomsbury, $22.99)

Ten little babies are happy at play, but what if one up and crawled away? There's be nine little babies left on the grass to play. Told in rhyme, this book for toddlers is relateable and charming, as each little one floats, slides, trots, climbs and sails away, only to be gathered up at the end and coddled into bed. Gorgeous, pastelly illustrations by Nicola Smee and a padded front cover make this a lovely gift book.

T-Bot and Peabody Explore by Jonathan D Fluck
(JD Fluck, US$8.46)

T-Bot and Peabody are futuristic robot brothers with a hankering for adventure. They love to explore, and in this first book in the series, the robots are taking in the local zoo. Featuring a combination of photographs, graphics and typesetting, kids will not only come along for the ride, they will learn more about a series of animals, with stats and fascinating facts, all presented on T-Bot's special video screen, There is a glossary at the back of the book and kids are invited to learn more at www.tbotandpeabody.com.

No, Baby, No! by Grace Nichols
(Bloomsbury, $15.99)

This adorable paperback follows the travails of a wee baby as he crawls towards the cat food, 'unpacks' mummy's handbag, dissects and taste samples the newspaper, reaches for a book (and mountaineers the bookshelf) and creates a miniature flood in the bathroom. And of course - he always hears the same old catch cry - 'no, baby, no!' You can imagine the child's relief when, at the end of the book, his family change their cry to 'go, baby go!'

Why? You'll just have to see for yourself. Gorgeous illustrations by Eleanor Taylor will make this a go-to book for many a toddling post-no-baby-no baby. The book comes with an audio CD reading by the author.

Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever by Julianne Moore
(Bloomsbury, $14.99)

Many's the actor who has made the transition to book writing - and more often than not it's a picture book format because, well, actors are usually just actors not writers, and the belief that picture books are 'easy' to write seems to be alive and well.

Freckleface Strawberry and Windy Pants Patrick are best friends and look as different as can be, but they love being together. They have so much in common... but their friends at school don't think so. One is big, one is small. One stinks, one has freckles. One plays sport, the other doesn't. After much deliberation, the two best friends start to wonder whether being best friends is the right thing after all.

A story about staying true to oneself and not worrying about what other people think, Julianne Moore writes her Freckleface series with wit and candour and delicate humour that makes you smile all the way through. Her use of speech bubbles and random thoughts and kidlike charm is just gorgeous, and the illustrations by LeUyen Pham just take things to an even greater, retro-inspired level. Love.

Winter's Blanket by Phil Cummings, illustrated by Donna Gynell

When an autumn leaf lands on Lilly's nose her mother tells her winter is creeping in. Lilly has never seen winter; she has a lot of questions. Does winter creep about like a ghost? Does it roar like a monster? And when it drapes a cold, glittering white blanket across the mountains, how will Lilly ever survive?

Winter's Blanket is a story of innocent discovery and a story full of hope, knowing that, no matter how harsh a winter may be ... spring will always follow.

Warambi by Aleesah Darlison, illustrated by Andrew Plant
(Working Title Press, $24.95)

When the home of a little bent-wing bat colony is destroyed, Warambi becomes separated from her mother and the other bats. Lost and alone she finds shelter in an unusual place far away.

Scary sounds are all around her. Danger is ever present. Will she find her way home?

A dramatic story based on a real event, Warambi has been published in the Year of the Bat - 2011.