Penguin Pete by Marcus Pfiser

Published: 1st September 1994Goodreads badge
Illustrator: Marcus Pfiser
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Pete the penguin has a good time playing on land with his fellow birds and learning how to swim in the sea.

Like Pfiser’s other creation, the Rainbow Fish, Penguin Pete has a range of adventures and friends to meet in other books, but this is our first introduction. Pete is the smallest of his friends and wishes to go swimming in the sea. While he waits he plays with his friends, and meets a new friend who can fly. Steve the bird plays with Pete and they become friends until it is time for him to move on.

It is a nice story but there isn’t much too it, despite it being a tad wordy. There could be a lot more depth, this was written early in Pfiser’s career and long before The Rainbow Fish so maybe he just needed to find his groove, but I felt this lacked a bit in plot. Not much really happens, and it just explains events that don’t really feel connected. Just when you think Pete’s problems might have a moment of growth it fizzles out and we move on to the next thing.

I didn’t need there to be an overarching lesson or plot, but it did feel disjointed, like the events had little to do with one another, especially since you get the sense that Pfiser is building up to something as you read. Knowing the kind of writer Pfiser turns into, it feels wrong to judge something he wrote so early n his career. It was enjoyable, I think maybe I expected more that’s all. Nevertheless it is a cute little story and a good introduction to Penguin Pete.

You can purchase Penguin Pete via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks | Fishpond

There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins

Published: 2nd August 2016 Goodreads badge
 Nosy Crow
Illustrator: Ross Collins
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

We do not make a happy pair

a mouse and a bear

with just one chair

Sometimes it is the smallest things that draw me to a picture book, sometimes it is the title, other times it’s the illustration on the cover. This time it was a bit of both, the disgruntled mouse on the cover in his knitted jumper was all it took, coupled with the title and I picked it up.

The story is what it is, there is a bear on the mouse’s chair. In clever rhyme, Collins explains the many ways the mouse has tried to remove the bear from his chair. There is a style of Dahl and a touch of Seuss in the rhymes which are fun and create a great flow as you read, coupled with great visual text to help with emphasis on certain words and highlight the mouse’s frustrations.

One of the joys of reading picture books are the accompanying illustrations. The simplest expression on a character can be the highlight for me and this is no exception. The irritated mouse and the obliviously happy bear make you joyful even before you read any of the words.

The story is fun and the rhyming gives it great rhythm as you read. There was no explanation about why there was a bear on the chair, and it doesn’t really matter it’s an enjoyable read with light humour. The biggest mystery of all though, is why this mouse had a chair that was big enough to fit a bear on it in the first place. If he had done his shopping better he wouldn’t have this problem at all for the bear would not fit on his tiny mouse chair.

You can purchase There’s a Bear on my Chair via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository | Wordery

QBD | Dymocks | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Angus & Robertson

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

Published: 26th August 2014 Goodreads badge
 Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Illustrator: Scott Campbell
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Who have YOU hugged today? Open your arms to this delightfully tender, goofy, and sweet tale.

Watch out world, here he comes! The Hug Machine!

Whether you are big, or small, or square, or long, or spikey, or soft, no one can resist his unbelievable hugs! HUG ACCOMPLISHED!

This endearing story encourages a warm, caring, and buoyantly affectionate approach to life. Everyone deserves a hug – and this book!

I love this book because it is simplistically sweet, a great story about a boy who just likes giving hugs because it makes him feel good and he thinks people will enjoy them as well. There is humour and heart, and it’s great to see the Hug Machine embrace (pun 100% intended) all manner of people and things in the effort to make them feel good. The Hug Machine takes us through who he hugs, why he hugs, and the ways he keeps his energy up whilst hugging all day long.

Campbell’s story is a delight to read but it is supported wholly by his illustrations as well. The expressions of the Hug Machine make this book because while the people and animals he hug may look confused at times, the serious and loving expression on his face while he hugs adds another great level.

What I love about this is that it is pure. It’s not moralistic or filled with lessons, not that some can’t be learnt from this, but it reads solely as a fun story about a little kid who loves to improve people’s mood and day with a hug.

You can purchase Hug Machine via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Wordery | Fishpond

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Internet is Like A Puddle by Shona Innes

Published: January 2015Goodreads badge
 Five Mile Press
Illustrator: Irisz Agocs
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The Internet is Like a Puddle attends to the wonderful aspects of electronic communication as well as gently discusses some of the possible pitfalls of sharing, chatting and using data. There is a need to be mindful of those who are naive to the potential problems without denying them the wonderful opportunities. The Internet is Like a Puddle describes ways to stay safe and enjoy learning and chatting time on the Internet and to keep life balanced.

In an age where toddlers can be more proficient navigating the internet than a lot of 40-year-olds, this book is a great introduction to the joys and pitfalls of using the internet. Innes looks at how the internet lets us do great things and we can access these things in many different ways whether it is on the computer or on phones. She compares the internet it to a puddle, fun to play in, can be used to play games and have fun, but puddle can be deceptive and tricky. This is a great analogy which works in teaching about water safety as a side benefit.

It’s a great educational book that clearly and simply explains how it’s easy to get in too deep when using the internet and how the deeper we go the more dangerous it can become. Innes always compares it back to stepping in puddles, and how that too can be dangerous without an adult there with help and guidance.

Agocs illustrations are cute animals playing in nature and with technology, with pictures matching with words for easy comprehension. This is a nonfiction book that reads like a story. It’s a great book for kids teaching them about using the internet for fun and in moderation. Innes never wants to deter children from playing on the internet, it’s impossible to avoid and can have many benefits; instead, she is trying to teach about safety in terms kids can understand. This is a must-read for all parents in this day and age where children have such easy access to the internet and when it’s so easy to get into trouble.

You can purchase The Internet is a Puddle via the following

Booktopia |  Amazon

Book Depository

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

Published: 30th May 2017Goodreads badge
Philomel Books
Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.

She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.

When I first heard of this book I knew I needed to read it. I will also happily admit that I started tearing up when I was reminded of these important American women. I knew some of their stories, but some I hadn’t heard of. Clinton has told the story of these women in simple but important terms and includes one of their famous quotes.

She Persisted is an important story because it points out how these women persisted through their struggles, often when men told them they couldn’t, or when society tried to stop them. Clinton had written this in a way that not only highlights the great work that these women did through history, but she points out that when they were blocked (typically by men let’s admit it) they kept going, despite the hardship. I think that is an important lesson too, not just that these women did these remarkable things, but they ignored those who told them no.

One of the best inclusions is Claudette Colvin, an African American who refused to get up for a white woman on the bus. Clinton mentions this inspires Rosa Parkes, a few months later, but recognises Colvin was the first. There are thirteen remarkable women in this book: Harriett Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief’s, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey and Sonia Sotomayor. All who changed the world by never giving up on their dreams and doing what they felt was the right thing.

These stories of important historical women cover all kinds of professions of trailblazers and women who wouldn’t let other people tell them what they could and could not do. They persisted, and Clinton has made this book an important resource in teaching girls (and everyone) that no matter what they want to do, they shouldn’t let anyone tell them they can’t.

You can purchase She Persisted via the following

Wordery | BookWorld

Dymocks | QBD

Book Depository | Booktopia

The Nile | Fishpond

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