Macca’s Makeover by Matt Cosgrove

Published: 1st September 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic
Illustrator: Matt Cosgrove
Pages: 24
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Macca the Alpaca desperately wants to be cool, just like his friends. Will a new hair-do cut it? Maybe a trip to the gym will work out? Or perhaps he needs the latest accessories?

Maccas makeover shows him what it is that makes him truly special.

Our favourite alpaca is back and this time he is in for a new look. Worried he might not be cool, Macca enlists the help of his friends to try and improve himself. The story is told in fabulous rhymes which flow wonderfully and are super fun to read to yourself or aloud.

Cosgrove shows off two great points in this adventure; that it is ok to try new things, but also that you shouldn’t feel like you need to change to be liked or a person you think others expect you to be. Macca shows you that it is ok to be nice and kind and being a certain type of “cool” doesn’t have to be what you strive to be.

The illustrations are bright and colourful and Cosgrove makes great use of the space whether it is with full page illustrations or something simpler. They also wonderfully work well with the text as the formatting and layout impacts how the story is read and even something as font can help with the fun.

Cosgrove’s stunning pencil illustrations are things I could stare at all day. I love his designs and see Macca’s big beautiful eyes and adorable face undergo new hairstyles, and seeing him try various things to be “cool” is funny and Cosgrove makes his illustrations look plausible and I can imagine an alpaca doing these things can be. Plus the expressions on Macca’s face are wild and so much fun you can’t help but love him.

This is another perfect Macca book; it is fun, has a positive message, and brings together all your favourite Macca pals in style.

You can purchase Macca’s Makeover via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

There’s an Alien in your Book by Tom Fletcher

Published: 16th May 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Puffin
Illustrator: Greg Abbott
Pages: 35
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Tom Fletcher and Greg Abbott have created a new interactive adventure, this time featuring an adorable alien who has crash-landed in YOUR book!

You’ll have to help Alien back up into space, because aliens don’t belong on Earth . . . do they?

What I love about Fletcher’s books is how interactive they are. They require you to blow on pages, turn the book upside down, or pretend to draw on the pages. This time an alien has crashed into our book and we have to help him get home.

I love how the narration openly speaks to the reader and asks them to participate. It makes the alien into a real creature who is tampering and having consequences in and on the book itself. The text moves and changes as the narrative instructs so if you don’t follow along you may find it hard to read if you haven’t turned the book upside down, and it certainly is a lot more fun if it feels like your actions have an effect on the alien.

Abbott’s illustrations are a stand out once again. The adorableness of his creations are one reason why I love these books. While Fletcher’s words and instructions are entertaining, there is an extra level added by seeing the character react to these actions.

The story teaches kids about being helpful and also that everyone deserves to belong no matter what they look like. Being unique and different is not a bad thing and I love that Fletcher doesn’t leave it vague, he makes a point and then changes his mind to make the message clear.

If you loved having fun with Fletcher’s dragon and his monster than you will certainly love this story as well, especially since there is a nice surprise cross over.

You can purchase There’s an Alien in Your Book via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

It’s a Long Way to the Shop by Heidi McKinnon

Published: 1st November 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Heidi McKinnon
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

They cant run, swim, fly or jump… so how will these two little rocks get to the shop? 
Find out in this hilarious tale of adventure and persistence, to reach a snack thats totally worth it.

There’s so much to love about this book. Not only are the two characters simply called Rock, but they are optimistic, hilarious, and practical.

McKinnon uses dialogue for the entire story but instead of using quotations and padding it out, she uses differentiating colours to show who is speaking. Pink rock and green rock work out the issues they have in trying to get to the shop and seeing their deliberations is an absolute delight. Pink rock is definitely the more optimistic, while green is the practical one of the two, but even so they manage to climb and float and fly their way to the shop.

There are puns and the simple humour is divine. McKinnon uses a washed out tone for the backgrounds but sticks with the green, grey colouring which makes the bright pink and green of the two rocks stand out.

I love the ending of this because it was exactly what I wanted and I had an absolute blast getting there. What is even better though is McKinnon takes it one extra step further and it becomes even more hilarious.

You can purchase It’s A Long Way to the Shop via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Amazon Aust

Blossom Possum by Gina Newton

Published: March 2007 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic Press
Illustrator: Kilmeny Niland
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Early one morning, Blossom Possum gets such a fright she thinks the sky is falling down! She has to tell someone, so she sets off with her news. On the way she meets her bush mates. But she also runs into trouble. This retelling of a favourite folktale has a delightful Aussie twist and a refreshingly positive ending.

I found this for a storytime at work and was actually genuinely in love with this by the end. I was curious how the story of Chicken Little would go being adapted for Australian context but Newton did a great job.

There is great pacing and the use of repetition is great as you fall into a natural rhythm as the story progresses. The story is filled with fun characters with great tongue twisters and rhymes for characters like Rocky Cocky and Toey Joey. It works well for most of them, some are a slight stretch but are in the spirit of the fun tone of the story. With the repetition the kids know what to expect and each page is left hanging as to who Blossom will find next which allows anticipation and gives them a chance to guess who will be on the next page.

There are some familiar Aussie phrases like beyond the black stump and round the back of beyond and it was the little details that made me smile. It wasn’t a giant flashing banner that tried to be Too Australian because that is cringey and it is tiring to read, but the inclusion of the Australian landscape and wildlife was nice.

There is a shift towards the end where it becomes a bit more perilous and a minor threat of being eaten, but the animals all escape with a small bit of animal violence and a boxing of the ears. I wasn’t expecting this and it alters the story a bit as it changes direction. Newton brings is full circle though in the best way and it makes for a delightful surprise ending.

The illustrations are both adorable and admittedly strange but I enjoyed how Niland has portrayed the Australian animals and has incorporated their environment in beautiful scenery. She also matches the illustrations to the mood: when there is danger the scene becomes black and when all is well there are stunning landscapes the animals traipse across.

There are surprises and it’s a cute story that brings the well-known story to a new audience with a wonderful Australian twist. It’s funny and a delightful tale that I really enjoyed.

You can purchase Blossom Possum via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Franny’s Father is a Feminist by Rhonda Leet

Published: 28th February 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 POW!
Illustrator: Megan Walker
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Star

Franny’s Father is a Feminist. It’s simple, really! He knows that girls can do anything boys can do, and raises Franny to believe that she deserves all the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities to fulfill her dreams that he had. Through sweet, straight-forward prose, Franny’s Father portrays the loving bond between a young girl, and her father who isn’t afraid of bucking gender norms in order to ensure that his daughter grows up smart, strong, and full of self confidence. From teaching her to fix her own bicycle and splashing in the mud, to cheering at ballet recitals and supporting Franny’s mother in her career, Franny’s Father displays what it means for a man to be a Feminist, and how male Feminism can play a vital role in the empowerment of young women. 

The narrative is simple and the sentences are short and to the point. There is an educational style in the writing but it still flows like a story. Leet manages to directly explain what feminism is as well as showing it in everyday circumstances. Franny’s father cries openly and unashamedly, he helps Franny with anything she wants to do whether that is ballet or playing with tools, and he is all about empowering her.

It’s a wonderful move that more picture books are having these kinds of messages and I love that Leet is so obvious about it. She breaks down what being a feminist means and the fact she uses Franny’s dad, a man illustrated to be a big, burly, bearded man who some might think can be nothing but “manly” and “masculine” is even better.

This story breaks down the notion that there are boy jobs and girl jobs, girl interests and boy interests. It also promotes equality in housework and reminds kids that there’s nothing stopping them from being anything they want when they grow up. Leet uses storytime to educate the reader as well as Franny about real life feminie heroes from history and show the importance representation has on Franny and her friends.

This is an excellent book that everyone should read because while it is simple and uncomplicated, I think that is a great starting point in taking away the fear some people have of the F word and help them understand what it actually means.

You can purchase Franny’s Father is a Feminist via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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