It’s Not Scribble to Me by Kate Ritchie

Published: 29th October 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Penguin Random House Australia
Illustrator: Jedda Robaard
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Have you ever had so many wonderful, wild and beautiful ideas that paper isn’t enough to hold them all?

Bear has. Upstairs and downstairs, outside and in, the whole house is covered in Bear’s colourful art – even Bear’s little sister. Can Bear convince her parents that she’s creating more than just ‘scribbles’?

All families will relate to this funny story of toddler cheekiness and charm, written by Kate Ritchie, author of I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You and illustrated by Jedda Robaard.

This is a very sweet book and I quite enjoyed this. I like seeing Ritchie come out with more picture books as they are filled with love and emotional connections. I picked this up because of Jess’ review over at Never Ending Book Shelf and I agree it is a lovely book and certainly filled with heart.

This story is a wonderful reminded that what looks like a blotch or a random scribble on a page is a picture perfect image to a child. They can see exactly what it is and it’s always a little heartbreaking not to understand what they have drawn.

The story is told through the voice and perspective of a child and the innocent voice is strong because it brings out the purity in their actions and the heart behind their intent. You feel their pride when the little bear talks about what they have drawn, and the disappointment when they are chastised for their art. It is a story that explores both sides of the situation but gets deep into your emotions about crushing the soul of this tiny artist.

The narrative is lyrical with rhymes as each page flows seamlessly to the next, accompanied by pictures that suit the words. There are only a sentence or two on each page but they explain the story remarkably well and you get easily caught up in the flow and rhythm of the tsory.

Robaard’s illustrations are adorable and I think her style choice is ideal. The cartoon depictions make the story cute without making it silly, but doesn’t make it too serious either. There is humour in the drawings, something for both the adult and the child to enjoy. Plus having a family of bears separates it from being a child and a fault on a child, but there are common themes and scenarios which can be drawn upon when reading.

I think this is great book for kids and parents because it helps to understand one another in a small way and this is a great stepping stone to help drive creativity but in welcomed places. Ritchie is writing about an area that you don’t often see and I think it is wonderful how she keeps putting these stories out that help to appreciate and understand children.

You can purchase It’s Not Scribble to Me via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Jack Jones: The Haunted Lighthouse (#2) by Zander Bingham

Published: 18th September 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Green Rhino Media
Pages: 102
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction/Adventure
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Could the old lighthouse that Jack’s aunt bought to turn into a guesthouse actually be haunted? Mysterious figures in the windows…strange noises…flickering lights. Is this really the work of ghosts? 

Join Jack Jones and crew as they investigate the ghostly events taking place during their stay at The Point Danger Lighthouse in this modern-classic adventure. 

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

With a small holiday at a lighthouse offering a chance for excitement, the ghost stories have the kids intrigued but also a little wary. With more mystery than adventure this second Jack Jones book offers the kids a chance to be ghost hunters and detectives.

The trio are back with their enthusiasm to explore and have fun this time with an old lighthouse the locals believe is haunted. While I still enjoyed the story, and enjoyed seeing how the kids logically worked through problems, I think I enjoyed the adventure style of the previous book more than the mystery, it felt like there was something missing this time around. There didn’t feel like as much going on in this story. Whether this is because this was more mystery than adventure I’m not sure. Certainly there is less wonder and discovery, replaced with more modern and common issues like power failures.

Bingham adds in a few more characters this time, we see some of the local residents and their stories and experiences add to the narrative and makes them more rounded characters and pads out the story some more making it flow better.

There was still intrigue to find out the culprit to all the strange happening around the place, and with logical explanations or a Scooby Doo villain the only choices I was keen to find out more, either being welcomed. Bingham shows the kids bravery and determination to solve the mystery and while there is less danger present than before, it is also more relatable. The relatable fears and situations make the characters experience understandable, especially for younger readers, but Bingham makes sure to show that being scared doesn’t stop the trio from choosing to go on regardless.

The writing felt more natural but still in the same Bingham style; short sentences, explanations and simple language for easy reading and comprehension. This is one you can read alone but there is certainly a lot more backstory provided in the previous book; this story works well as the continuing adventures of Jack Jones and company.

You can purchase The Haunted Lighthouse via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

WorderyFishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Publisher

Book Face Pacific Fair | Readings Kids

I Want to Be in A Book by Narelle Oliver

Published: 1st July 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Narelle Oliver
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

For most of his life, Cecil waited patiently on a pinboard, dreaming of being in a book, like all the other creatures he saw come and go. Cecil is only a sketch, but he has a name, and he wonders, if just maybe, he might be destined for greater things. 

Cecil is the reader’s eyes as we see books created in front of us. Cecil’s imagination soars as he dreams of what book he might land in. And then one day, he does land in a book. And a new, exciting, and even dangerous, adventure begins. 

There’s a lot to enjoy with this story. It’s clever, very meta about the author process where they might create a character but not have an idea yet where to put them. I liked Cecil’s awareness and the illustrations are great because it mixed the real with the drawn.

It wasn’t as good as I thought it might be story wise but it has appeal. It’s a different type of story, very creative and Cecil is a unique character who has dreams and aspirations which were fun to explore. Cecil makes the adventures sound fun and exciting and you can certainly picture the little sketch exploring Oliver’s desk and understand how there are numerous other drawings and stories to interact with.

I liked the contrast between the illustration styles. Aside from the photos, the “in progress” iguana interacting with finished drawings shows the process of illustration and how beginning sketches become completed illustrations. The pages are filled with notes and drawings and the collage style is creative and enhances the crowded desk notion.

Overall a good story, certainly a different type than I’d seen before and it shows that there are many different and unique ways to tell stories that play with formatting and structure and still be cohesive and entertaining.

You can purchase I Want to be in a Book! via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Fishpond

Angus and Robinson | Amazon Aust

Jack Jones: The Pirate Treasure by Zander Bingham

Published: 20th September 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Green Rhino Media
Pages: 103
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction/Adventure
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

When a message-in-a-bottle washes up on their local beach, Jack Jones, his sister Emma and best buddy Albert discover that it just might lead to a Spanish galleon ship that has been lost for centuries! Will Jack and his crew decode the clues left by pirates to reveal the hidden location of the ship? Can they succeed where many have failed? Or will they fall into one of the traps left behind by those trying to protect the ship, and the priceless treasure believed to be aboard?

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

At 103 pages this is a quick read but one that suits this kind of story. The focus is on the adventure rather than offering long and detailed back stories of characters or the environment. We are given a few details about each of the characters but not a lot of time is wasted on filling in unnecessary details. Bingham includes enough to fill plot holes and explain away lack of parental supervision but the majority of the character back story and description is kept brief. This was something I didn’t mind; I didn’t need all the extra information. There’s enough there to know the characters but the focus is moving plot along.

Even though this is short it’s filled with mystery and adventure that kids would love to get lost in. It combines the modern and the old and showcases what kids can achieve when they work together. The narrative is not complicated and it’s sprinkled with lessons and morals about being kind and helpful. There is adventure and danger but no enemies to defeat or violence to endure. There are challenges the characters face but with teamwork and the support of friends the trio are able to succeed.

The style of story could easily suit any age, it is very Treasure Island and having independent kids but still having them be responsible and knowledgeable offers good lessons too. I can easily see kids from even the age of six enjoying this kind of story, especially with the simple language and layout. The layout is basic, the story told in a collection of short paragraphs with large text. This formatting actually would lend itself to younger kids reading it as well as the chapters are short and the words simple to read. There are also detailed black and white illustrations throughout the book as well to help kids visualise the story. With the intention of having a book that helps transition kids into reading chapter books and more complicated stories, this is a great starting point. Even older kids who simply want a good adventure story will love this.

I am keen to see what other adventures this trio get up to. Having gotten used to the writing style, the innocent adventures are reminiscent of The Famous Five where it is about having experiences as friends and not about fighting villains or having overly complicated narratives.

You can purchase The Pirate Treasure via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

WorderyFishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Publisher

Book Face Pacific Fair | Readings Kids

Piggy by Trevor Lai

Published: 20th December 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Illustrator: Trevor Lai
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

An irresistibly adorable debut about a lonely little piglet who makes his first friend–perfect for anyone who has felt the joy of new friendships.

Piggy loves books so much that he never has time for friends. But his favourite story has always been about two friends and the special times they share together.

One day, Piggy sees a girl reading alone. And he wonders, perhaps, if they could be best friends? Try as Piggy might–in increasingly spectacular ways–the girl just doesn’t notice him. Will Piggy ever be able to tell her how he truly feels?

She was busy reading her book. So Piggy decided to get her attention” Oh no Piggy. She’s busy, don’t interrupt her!

I am a bit confused by the story. Piggy loves to read and wants to save his last book so he goes out and plays instead. There he stumbles across a potential friend. Because he has read so much he has never had a friend and then tries to get the attention of this new person.

Instead of leaving the cat to read peacefully by herself, Piggy tries to get her attention. After failing, he offers to share his book with her which works. Then somehow, unexplainably he realises she can’t see and gives her glasses and they read together.

It is a cute story about sharing and finding friends with common interests but there were too many things unexplained. How this cat could be so into her book if she couldn’t read? Why Piggy pestered her while she was reading in the first place.

Lai’s illustrations are beyond adorable though. I love Piggy’s design and the bright bold colours catch your eye. The formatting was well planned and favours the story. I picked this book up because Piggy looked so sweet on the cover, and while the message is cute, the logistics of it are a bit off.

You can purchase Piggy via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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