A Walk in the Bush by Gwyn Perkins

Published: 1st March 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Affirm Press
Illustrator: Gwyn Perkins
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Little Iggy doesn’t want to leave the house, but Grandad insists – they always have fun together. What follows is a wonderful journey in the great Australian outdoors with singing birds, wallaby surprises, secret caterpillar messages and oodles of grandad humour. Here is a story about the wonders of nature, the funny side of life and spending time with the ones we love.

This is a sweet book that has a beautiful story. I can see why this won the CBCA award; it’s an appreciation of the Australian environment and the possibilities to escape into nature. I will also admit is a bit adorable. Perkins’ illustrations reminded me at first of those in a comic strip, they are simple and the background is both simple and wonderfully colourful as the story goes on.

I have an affection for Iggy the cat though. His owner hunts around looking for him then dresses him up with a hat and sunscreen to go out on a walk. I love Iggy’s reluctance and shame at being made to wear a hat, and I love how interested he looks as his owner explains the surrounding bush to him.

This is definitely a book that is meant to be read slowly. There are few words on each page and the words invite you to study the pictures, to look at the images themselves and relate them back to the narrative. As the man stops and tells his cat about all about the different aspects of nature it invites the reader to study the picture and see what he is talking about.

Initially I thought it was too simple, too much of a pat on Australia’s back and that was why it won, but on my second read through a few days later I came to understand why it might have won. It is a beautiful story and one that does show off the Australian bush, but it is a lovely story and who doesn’t want to stop and just look at the wonderful scenery.

You can purchase A Walk in the Bush via the following

QBD | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

Fishpond | Dymocks


I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon

Published: August 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Illustrator: Heidi McKinnon
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

The search for a true friend is something everyone can relate to – from the very young to the very old.

“I just ate my friend. He was a good friend. But now he is gone. Would you be my friend?”

A hilarious story about the search for friendship and belonging… and maybe a little bit about the importance of impulse control… 

I was intrigued by the title and by the end of the book I was intrigued by the story as well. With no explanation for why or how the friend was eaten, the story follows the creature as he tries to find a new friend, not sure he will ever find another. What if he truly had eaten his only friend?

I liked the illustrations. The dark pages against the single large, colourful characters, it worked to its advantage and gave a sense of being in space or at least somewhere on another planet. This is unconfirmed, but it is logical based on the illustrations to think of the creature as an alien or space creature of some kind. McKinnon has done a great job with her illustrations. I found this book because it was on the 2018 CBCA Shortlist and shortlisted for the Crichton Award for New Illustrators. McKinnon didn’t win but for a new illustrator she has done a great job.

There is not a lot to unpack here. The creature goes around to everyone he can find and asks them if he will be his friend. Some of the responses are quite funny and the straightforwardness works to the story’s advantage. For a story that is not that complicated it managed to surprise me and delight me. It’s a little absurd and nothing makes sense and there is no reason but that is what makes it great. I don’t need an answer I just like a clever story and this is a clever story.

You can purchase I Just Ate My Friend via the following

QBD | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Image result for cbca shortlist logo

A Boy, a Bear, a Balloon by Brittany Rubiano

Published: 3rd July 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Disney Press
Illustrator: Mike Wall
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Retelling touching scenes from the upcoming Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming Christopher Robin film, this charming picture book finds Christopher reuniting with Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and the rest of his old friends when he returns to the Hundred Acre Wood for the first time since childhood. As he returns to the life he once new, Christopher sees the world through new eyes and discovers that even as everything around us seems to change, the most important things remain constant.

I have an intense love for Winnie the Pooh so of course I was eager to read this new picture book featuring my favourite bear. Rubiano does a good job mixing the old and the new, even putting in the dedication a quote from one of the best Winnie the Pooh films: Pooh’s Grand Adventure.

My heart did a small leap of joy as I recognised many of Milne’s quotes from the original books, reworked into this story which only brought the woods back to life and reminded me how much I adore these characters. The story also casually revisits some of the original Pooh adventures, seen now through the eyes of the older Christopher Robin which reminds us how much he has changed. He visits his old friends and they fail to see the young boy they knew in this man who has entered their woods.

Rubiano doesn’t quite catch the tone of Milne’s writing, it is very close, and you can see where it’s drawing from, but at the same time I don’t think it’s meant to mimic it exactly. This is her own story that is reflecting part of the upcoming film. With that in mind it is unfair to make it live up to the previous Winnie the Pooh books. Coming at these beloved characters from the mind of an adult like Christopher Robin, but still telling the story to children (or even those who left the woods a long time ago), it has a suitable tone and one that still manages to reignite that love and affection.

The illustrations are a beautiful mixture between Shepherds and the ever familiar Disney. I loved how Wall has brought his style to the characters while still keeping them familiar. The colours are beautiful and his designs are simplistic and elegant, showing just enough detail.

There is a lot of responsibility to writing and illustrating for Winnie the Pooh (in my view anyway), but this book does a beautiful job in presenting a story for those of us who are a little but more grown up and find ourselves wandering back to the Hundred Acre Woods.

Because of the popularity and endearing nature of Winnie the Pooh there is always going to be reminders about other adaptations and in those final pages. On that final page I found my mind immediately going to a quote from the masterpiece 1977 film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:

“Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in their enchanted place on top of the forest, a little bear will always be waiting”.

*cue Amy sobbing*

You can purchase A Boy, A Bear, A Balloon via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository |

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

 Fishpond | QBD

Peas and Quiet by Gabrielle Tozer

Published: 19th June 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 HarperCollins Australia
Illustrator: Sue deGennaro
Pages: 34
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Best friends Pip and Pop live in a peapod, but sometimes it can get a little too cosy – especially because they are so different!

Pip loves to sing, while Pop won’t stop snoring. How are they ever going to work out how to live together?

Pip and Pop are very adorable. In an Odd Couple situation Pip likes to sing and Pop likes to snore and while most of the time they get along, sometimes they do not. The rhyming narrative is fun and Tozer explores the relationship Pip and Pop have and how they can have fun but it’s not always the way.

This book explores how everyone is different and sometimes the things that other people do can annoy you. But it also shows you that while these differences can be frustrating, there are ways to remain friends and get along. I was totally caught up in the cuteness of this book and I liked how Tozer takes some drastic action and have not only disagreements, but actual separation. I was surprised but I liked that she also showed that having some time apart is good, but can also make you realise what you’ve been missing.

deGennaro’s illustrations are adorable as well. The little peas in overalls remind me of the beetroots in gumboots and zucchinis in bikinis from the bananas in pyjamas books in the 90s. This is a great book about accepting differences but aside from that it is just a sweet little book that is a fun read.

You can purchase Peas and Quiet via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

Fishpond | QBD | ABC Shop

 

Penguin Problems by Jory John

Published: 27th September 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Random House Books for Young Readers
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

What?!

Oh, you’re going to read this book? Somehow I seriously doubt that. I bet you won’t even finish reading this flap. 

Don’t worry about it. Why would you want to learn about some penguin’s problems when you have plenty of problems of your own? Just look around. The world’s a mess!

Besides, you probably don’t even like penguins. Heck, I barely like penguins and I am a penguin.

Seriously, I’ll understand if you put the book back on the shelf. Go ahead. It’s for the best. 

I’m sure you’d just get a bunch of paper cuts, anyway. And you’d probably bend the pages. And you’d get your little fingerprints everywhere.

When was the last time you washed those grubby hands of yours? No offense.

Sigh.

Listen: I’m going back to bed. Read, don’t read. Buy, don’t buy. Whatever. 

Just try not to wake me up. 

I’m a light sleeper. 

And I have a lot on my mind.

The first cute thing about this book is the front cover. The second cute thing is the little blurb on the inside of the cover. I was in love with this book before I’d even gotten to the title page to find out what it was even called. The book is in fact called Penguin Problems and it is fantastic! I fell deeper in love with Smith’s beautiful little illustrations, they are simple and yet convey so much at the same time. I felt the hardships of this little penguin and I loved him for that.

The little penguin complains about the cold, about how his beak is cold and it gets dark. He has problems like orca and leopard seals and he doesn’t know who his mum and dad are. I adored this little penguin who complained so much. It is a funny book that make me laugh multiple times. The words are simple but they tell a story and the illustrations make the experience even more fulfilling,

The illustrations are a combination of single images and large full page ones. Smith balances these out wonderfully to match the needs of the story. The single image of a penguin lying on his back on a small mound of snow is the perfect representation for the start of the book.

Another thing I loved about this book is that it doesn’t go where you expect it to. I wasn’t expecting to read about a penguin who hated the cold, and as I read on there were more surprises and by the end even when you think you know where it’s going, you don’t. I loved that in this picture book that has so few words and so few pages that this great little journey could be gone on so successfully and with such wonderful humour and cuteness.

You can purchase Penguin Problems via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

Fishpond | QBD

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