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

Tuesday 22 November 2011

KBR Recommends: Picture Books, November 2011

New picture books are flooding in, just in time for the festive season - some from established talent, some from lesser known, but all well worth perusing and adding to your groaning PB collection.

Ten Blue Wrens by Elizabeth Honey (Allen & Unwin, $24.99, ages 2 - 6)

A playful counting book that celebrates the special things we know and love about Australia. Start with 'one little nipper', then count the pies, potaroos and blue wrens ... all the way up to 'twelve kelpie legs'.

Iconic Australian images (thankfully beyond the koala and the kangaroo) are a joy to flick through, as are the stunning illustrations, created from hand-cut stencils. Even the endpapers are a visual delight.

The Carousel by Ursula Dubosarsky (Penguin, $24.95, ages 5 - 10)

One winter's day my dad and I
Went down to see the carousel.
We stood and watched as round and round
The little horses rose and fell.

So begins the magical journey of a small girl and a wooden horse. A journey of music and mirrors, of green hills and sunlit skies, of wishes and freedom. From this much-loved author and brilliant new illustrator comes a  glowing, timeless picture book that celebrates the enduring wonder of the carousel.

Enormouse by Rebecca Gerlings (Hardie Grant Egmont, $16.95)

Long, long ago there lived a kitten. He was tiny. But he had BIG ideas ... When the kitten drops into a caravan filled with circus squirrels, they do their very best to build him into their act. But the kitten can't quite get the hang of it.

However, his big ideas soon become ENORMOUSE, and the kitten - with help from a few mice - conjures up an amazing spectacle that will wow audiences around the world. A beautifully-illustrated anduplifting tale about the teeny, tiny things the BIG things are made of - perfect for young readers everywhere.

Lives of the Great Spiritual Leaders by Henry Whitbread (Thames & Hudson, $25.95, 8+)

From Moses and Buddha to Mother Teresa and the current Dalai Lama, this book takes children on an extraordinary tour across the world and across the ages, looking through the eyes of thinkers, philosophers, spiritual adventurers and courageous leaders, from ancient Egypt to the contemporary West.

A visual feast and a treasury of ideas about history, religion and culture for young and curious minds everywhere. It's also important.

How Do You Feel? by Anthony Browne (Penguin, $27.95, ages 1 - 5)

How do you feel? Sometimes you feel happy, sometimes sad. Sometimes you even feel surprised.

Supreme artist and Children's Laureate Anthony Browne brings all his understanding and skill to bear in this exploration of emotion for very young children. This book will reassure and help them understand how they feel, using simple words and pictures.

Monster Day at Work by Sarah Dyer (Frances Lincoln Children's Books, $16.95, ages 3 - 7)

Little monster spends a day at work with his father. First he has to dress and choose which tie to wear. Then he must travel with Dad and all the other commuters. At work he eats the biscuits at the meeting, colours the graphs his father makes on the computer, goes to the canteen for lunch and even stops off for a drink on the way home. Monster thinks his father has it easy at work.

Sarah Dyer's highly entertaining portrayal of a child's-eye view of the adult world of work is full of wit and charm and will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson, Scholastic UK, $24.99, ages 5 - 8)

Life is not safe for the other animals, as the villainous Highway Rat gallops along the highway, stealing their food. Clover from a rabbit; nuts from a squirrel - he even steals his own horse's hay.

Then he finally meets his comeuppance, in the form of a cunning duck...

Featuring lustrous, iconic illustrations by Axel Scheffler, this is a story about karma - rhyming-woodland-animal style.

Poo Bum by Stephanie Blake, Gecko Press, $16.99, ages 3 - 8)

This adorable little rabbit is loved by his family, even though whenever they ask him a question, he answers most rudely.  In the morning his mother would say, "Time to get up, my little rabbit!" He'd reply: "Poo bum!"  At lunchtime his father would say, "Eat your spinach, my little rabbit!" He'd reply: "Poo bum!"  One day, he meets a hungry wolf. Will the little rabbit learn his lesson once and for all?  Bright, adorable illustrations and a kooky edge, you can bet your bottom dollar young kids will love echoing the rabbit's words. Be warned.
Slightly Invisible by Lauren Child, Orchard Books, $16.99, ages 4 - 8)

Charlie and friend Marv are in search of strange and tricky creatures. And they would like to search without Lola bothering and interrupting.  Luckily, Lola knows exactly how to catch strange and tricky creatures and enlists a little bit of help from her invisible friend, Soren Lorensen, and, of course, one or three drops of pink milk.  Lauren child's beautiful images and ability to immerse her literary voice so deeply into childhood is as inspiring as ever. A must for collectors.
Pink by Janet A Holmes (Little Hare, $24.95, ages 2 - 6)

Lily loves all things pink - her boots, her bicycle, the food she eats - but she has no one to share them with.  She begs an assortment of animals to play with her, but none of them is quite right. The snail is too slow, the chicken is too silly and the goat eats her clothes.  Then along comes a perfect friend...who is perfectly pink, too!  Gorgeous illustrations will delight children.