Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion by Stephen W. Martin

Published: 12 October 2021Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Illustrator: Dan Tavis
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Meet Fluffy—an adorable kitten. So adorable, in fact, that anyone who sees her will spontaneously explode into balls of sparkles and fireworks. KABOOM! Poof.
Poor Fluffy doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, but everything she tries, even a bad haircut, just makes her cuter! So Fluffy runs away someplace no one can find her. Find out if there’s any hope for Fluffy in this funny and subversive story about self-acceptance and finding friendship in unlikely places.

This was instantly in my Top Five picture books of the year because this book is AMAZING. I laughed so much, I loved every page, I loved the words, the illustrations, the premise, the humour. I loved every single thing and I need other people to love this book.

Highlights begin before you even open the book. In lieu of author and illustrator it has ‘Explosions by’ and ‘Cuteness by’ which is FANTASTIC. Loved that. From there the greatness only went up.

It is filled with some dark humour, well as dark as a picture book can really go – animals and people do technically explode a lot in this book, but there are reasons, it is done in an adorable and hilarious way, and honestly it’s that wonderful absurd humour that makes this a brilliant book.

The illustrations are brilliant, Tavis captures the essence of Cuteness for Fluffy McWhiskers and with Martin’s blunt writing, the high logic of the situation and the lengths this poor burdened cat must go to it is the perfect combination to enhance the tone they’re aiming for.

I could reread this story multiple times and love it each time. This poor cat, who is doing the best she can, through no fault of her own, is trying to help people, to save their lives but nothing is working. I love Martin’s solution at the end and I love that there isn’t actually a solution either. It was the best way to end the story.

If you want something funny and clever, something kids will certainly love as there are many, many explosions on the page, this might be the book for you.

You can purchase Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion via the following

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The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser

Published: 1st October 2021Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Peachtree Publishing Company
Illustrator: Kate Hindley
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

On the tip of the top of a mountain all snowy, where the ice-swirling, toe-curling blizzards were blowy, in a herd full of huddling yaks, big and small, lived Gertie . . . the littlest yak of them all.

Gertie is the littlest yak in her whole herd, and she’s feeling stuck in her smallness – she wants to grow UP and have bigness and tallness!

But when it turns out that there are some things that only Gertie can do, might she come to see that she’s perfect, just the way she is?

I was immediately won over by the cute cover, it basically sealed the deal and I am so glad the story held up to the same standard.

Being the smallest in the herd and feeling like she needs to be bigger, Gertie is a great character for all those kids who wish to grow up faster. They are tired of being small, and they feel useless and just too small to be of any help. Gertie is told numerous times that she will grow up eventually but of course she doesn’t listen and seeing her montage of activities to get big was fantastic. I love Fraser’s rhymes and accompanied by adorable pictures this book could do no wrong.

I loved the illustrations so much, Hindley’s pictures are beyond adorable and the contrast of Gertie and the bigger yaks is wonderful. I loved the detail and colour scheme of her surroundings and the little knitted hats the yaks wear are delightful. I could easily steal a few of these pages and put them on my wall they are so cute.

The story is told with wonderful rhyme and there is a great flow that keeps you engaged and turning the page. The story itself has a great message about being yourself, not wishing to grow up too soon and that bigness can come in all shapes and sizes. Seeing Gertie try and grow up and be big is endearing but it’s wonderful when she learns that she is just right the size she is now.

You can purchase The Littlest Yak via the following

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Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

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Memory Jars by Vera Brosgol

Published: 25th May 2021 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Roaring Brook Press
Illustrator: Vera Brosgol
Pages: 48
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

 A young girl finds a clever way to keep her favourite things–and people–close to her forever.

Freda is devastated when she can’t eat all the delicious blueberries she’s picked. She has to wait a whole year before they’re back, and she doesn’t want to lose them! Then Gran reminds her that they can save blueberries in a jar, as jam. So Freda begins to save all her favourite things. But it turns out that saving everything also means she can’t enjoy anything, and Freda realises that some things are best saved as memories.

This was a surprising book because what I thought was going to be a fun book about wanting to keep all the special things in jars, it actually manages to have a great lesson at the end. There isn’t a great focus on the lesson, it wraps up fairly quickly, but there’s enough there to provide a satisfying conclusion.

It is certainly a relatable feeling wanting to capture all the good things and experiences and look back on them again and again but Brosgol shows us that if that were possible, not only does it mean others can’t enjoy them, but if you enjoy it all the time the magic of those moments is lost a little too. You even see from a few of Brosgol’s illustrations that Freda’s desire to capture all the good things means she actually never gets to enjoy them. Unplayed with toys, uneaten lollies, and other pleasurable experiences aren’t actually being enjoyed because they are being safeguarded in a jar.

The full page illustrations are detailed and colourful, reflecting the accompanying text on the page. We see Freda’ story play out and Brosgol shows us each of Freda’s preservations in colourful images. There is a sense of magical realism because of course you can’t put the moon and the stars in a jar anymore than you could a cloud or your friend, but it doesn’t take away from the story as we follow Freda on her mission.

There is a sense of not wanting things to change, and if it was kept in a jar it will remain just as it was, but seeing Freda realise that once she has captured everything in a jar it isn’t as wonderful as she thinks is a great lesson. It’s a great book to help kids understand fleeting moments like special occasions, good moments and other enjoyable things don’t always last, and helping them to see that even if the moment has past that the memory of the good times and the special feelings still remains and gives them something to look forward to.

You can purchase Memory Jars via the following

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Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

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Mini Rabbit Must Help by John Bond

Published: 25th June 2020Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Illustrator: John Bond
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Mini Rabbit has a VERY important letter to post.
Mini Rabbit is being VERY helpful.
Mini Rabbit will NOT lose the letter, WILL be very careful, and definitely will NOT be late…

This was an absolutely adorable book. Bond’s writing captures Mini Rabbit’s desire to help, as well as the innocent child logic that tries to problem solve and can end up creating more issues than solutions.

The illustrations are beautifully coloured and detailed, the colours are strong but not distracting from the story and Bond creates an entire world around Mini Rabbit with background detail and people for them to interact with.

It was the perfect length, with multiple problems and solutions for Mini Rabbit to explore and I loved how there is actually suspense on whether the letter will be posted. The humour is fantastic and is subtle in both the illustrations and the text, and I loved going on this journey with Mini Rabbit on the Very Important Job.

You can purchase Mini Rabbit Must Help via the following

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Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

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The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name by Sandhya Parappukkaran

Published: 18th August 2021 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
Illustrator: Michelle Pereira
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

When Zimdalamishkermishkada starts a new school, he knows he’s got to do something about his long name. ​

When no amount of shrinking, folding or crumpling works, he simply settles for Zim—but deep down, it doesn’t feel right. It’s not until a new friend sees him for who he truly is that Zimdalamishkermishkada finds the confidence to step boldly into his long name. ​

A warm and uplifting picture book that encourages young readers to celebrate their individuality, and shows how no-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.​

This is a wonderful book. It is sweet and lovely but at the same time has an important story about being your true self.

The story is filled with metaphors but they don’t distract from the story instead it allows you to see similarities, something helpful for younger readers who might understand the reference better. The comparison of practising skateboard and slowly learning the name is beautiful and while it would be easier for people to have a short name (easier for who I would argue), it is unfair to make people change who they are to make things simpler for other people.

The illustrations are a great mixture of muted colours without making it dull and lifeless. Pereira does a wonderful job illustrating each page so we see a visual of what is happening with the story and see the progression of learning Zim’s real name.

The book is told compassionately and with no judgement which is excellent. There is no criticism of not being able to pronounce Zimdalamishkermishkada instead it becomes a place to learn.

You can purchase The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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