05 Sep Book reviews: Concepts of friendship, kindness and inclusion for littlies
Concepts of friendship, kindness and inclusion are becoming more important in our increasingly angry world. These picture books for the young offer a range of ways that we can look at improving their understanding of these concepts as they grow up.
Who’s Afraid of the Quite Nice Wolf?
by Kitty Black, illustrated by Laura Wood (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
This is a book about not fitting in with the (wolf) pack. Wolves are meant to be ‘big and bad’ but this story shows that the stereotype can be broken. Wilfred has to pretend to be a ‘very bad’ wolf whilst the others plan to attack the sheep. He thought of ways to get out of the plan but in the end, he has other ideas. And it involves Mildred and the rest of the sheep!
Twelve Days of Kindness
by Cori Brooke, illustrated by Fiona Burrows (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
This is a beautiful book with illustrations that show diversity and inclusion developing at a small school. The difference amongst the children is shown through skin colour and hair styles but they all wear the same school uniform. Friendship and kindness amongst children at the school develop through sport. These children are definitely Aussies with their recognisable local uniforms and soccer as the glue to their friendships.
The Caveman Next Door (October release)
by Tom Tinn-Disbury, (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
‘Penny lived on a street just like any other but recently it had changed a little. A caveman had moved in next door.’ The caveman can only grunt it seems but one day Penny decides to befriend him and show him around her town to the amusement (and annoyance) of everyone they meet.
This improbable story is delightfully told with illustrations to match the quirky story by the author-illustrator.
Little Puggle’s Song
by Vicki Conley, illustrated by Helene Magisson (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
This is a really delightful story set in the Australian Bush, about Little Puggle the echidna who’s desperate wish to sing a beautiful song like the other animals (mainly the birds) of the bush shows how perseverance can win. A special concert occasion comes up and as misfortune befalls one of the concert stars, Little Puggle has his chance.
The illustrator, Helene Magisson’s background as a painting restorer and medieval illumination specialist gives her a great eye for detail. With the Aussie bush in its glory staring as the story unfolds. The sounds of bush music is the concept that ties this book together.
Pip Finds a Home
Written and illustrated by Elena Topouzoglou, (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
The author/illustrator’s previously reviewed book Mr Pegg’s Post was a delightful story of a lonely girl living on a Greek Island. Pip Finds a Home is the story of a lonely penguin-like bird (Pip) looking for its true home. This book highlights a few topical issues with facts about penguins and the meaning of being different. Using the extinct Great Auk as the main character called Pip, the story develops as Pip looks for other animals like him and a home at the South Pole.
The Great Auk was a flightless bird hunted to extinction in the mid-1800’s (the only one in the species Pinguinus, which is very similar sounding to penguin although they do not seem to be related!).
A Home for Luna
by Steph Gemill, illustrated by Mel Armstrong (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
Luna, the cat, is shipwrecked and ends up being washed ashore into a world of penguins. Different types of penguins. She finds her new home very strange and full of interesting new potential friends. Hunger drives her to investigate more thoroughly and when a fishing boat lands and tries to take her away she decides that she wants to stay in her new home with her new friends instead.
The textured illustrations give life and movement to the ocean, the beach and the rocks, although I do wonder if cats and penguins actually do get on!
Scruffle-Nut (October release)
by Corinne Fenton, illustrated by Owen Swan (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 4-8 years.
An elderly women, sitting on the park bench, dreams back in time to a wintery park visit when she was younger with her Nanny. Back then the older girls shunned her for being different, so Olivia knows what it feels like to be the odd one out. Amongst the snowy park surroundings, she encounters a small stumpy-tailed (different) squirrel amongst a group of squirrels searching for nuts.
The Nanny tries to stop her feeding this squirrel but Olivia can tell that the squirrel is lonely. Olivia is illustrated wearing glasses which you notice at the beginning so she seems different from the other children. The muted colours perfectly illustrated a neutral palette of a past era.
Under the Same Sky
by Robert Vescio, illustrated by Nicky Johnston (New Frontier Publishing, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
It wasn’t obvious until you are a few pages into this whimsically illustrated book that you realise the two (unnamed) children of the story, live across the ocean in different time zones. “I rest with the stars as you rise with the sun.” There are plenty of opportunities to discuss long distant friendships; time zones and just keeping friendships alive.
The Furfins: TinyTail and the Lost Treasures
by Alison Ritchie, illustrated by Aless Baylis (Bloomsbury Publishing, paperback, $12.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
TinyTail is one of the many imaginary creatures floating in a watery sea world. She has lost her first scale (akin to a tooth) and visits all her friends to see if they can help her find it. They eventually do but it takes a while and a lot of words!
by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury Publishing, paperback, $14.99) Age Group 3-7 years.
This is a book about managing emotions and building self-confidence. Ravi is the youngest in an Asian family. He always seems to come last or miss out. When there were no ice creams left after his family had all been served ‘Ravi Roars’. ‘Ravi was FURIOUS! He growled…and a stripy tail popped out from the back of his shorts.’ He eventually finds out that being angry with everyone doesn’t help especially when he cannot remember what made him angry in the first place.
by Debi Gliori (Bloomsbury Publishing, hardback, $21.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
Max is desperate for a pet but all his suggestions: puppy, fish, even flies are rejected by his parents. He finds a pet, a worm-like one in the garden. One who loves books. ‘Then, one night, the bookworm sneezed… and smoke began to pour out of its head.’
Full of imaginary situations involving the love of books, Max finds his bookworm is not what he thought of when he asked for a pet!
My Unicorn Farts Glitter
by Suzanne Barton and Shannon Horsfall (Lothian Children’s Books, hardback, $24.99) Age Group 3-6 years.
All kids love the ‘fart’ word and to ‘fart’ glitter is sure to amuse! This is a playful tale about a little girl and her ‘unicorn’ who is constantly mischievous, playful and silly. ‘But when I’m sniffly and get sick in bed, he makes rainbows in my room’. The illustrations are colourful (yes, with lots of glitter) and the story ends with a surprise that the ‘unicorn’ is her little brother.