Amazing Babes by Eliza Sarlos

Published: 1st November 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Scribble Kids Books
Illustrator: Grace Lee
Pages: 56
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Star

A unique picture book for young and old that celebrates inspirational women from around the world and across generations. You will recognise some and be delighted to meet others.

Amazing Babes was originally written as a gift from a mother to her son. It introduces women such as Gloria Steinem, pioneer of the American women’s movement; Kathleen Hanna, lead singer from 1990s seminal punk-rock act Bikini Kill; Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s pro-democracy leader; Miles Franklin, 20th-century Australian writer and feminist; and Malala Yousafzai, a passionate advocate of worldwide access to education. All the women in this book had the ideas, determination, and creativity to bring about change in the world, and in learning about their stories we honour their achievements. 

This is a beautifully simple but empowering book that is an ideal start for children to discover history’s greatest women as well as start them on a path to strive and be the best people they can be.

The women in this book include Hedy Lamarr, Bertha Lutz, Leymah Gbowee, Edith Cowan and Mum Shirl. The 20 women highlighted are from around the world and from a range of eras. The words are simple and the illustrations from Lee are beautiful painted portraits. Sarlos does not provide a page long biography of these women like other books of this kind, instead the focus is on their attributes like determination, bravery, dedication and curiosity. At the end there is a mini biography of each of these amazing women which highlight their achievements but the inspiration initially comes from the main story.

The cover says “for kids and adults” which is important because there are lessons and goals for everyone to take with them and live their life by. The story starts with a simple prompt “As I grow…” which has much more impact than “As I grow up…”, limiting this to a child’s aspiration. Sarlos reminds us that we are always growing and there is always time to start striving to be better people.

What I loved about this book was it wasn’t just a focus on these women and their achievements, because that doesn’t come until the end. Sarlos wants the reader to aspire to be wonderful just like those in the book. Their commitment and fortitude that made them change their world and the world around them and it’s letting the reader know that they can do the same too.

You can purchase Amazing Babes via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

Schnitzel Von Krumm’s Basketwork by Lynley Dodd

Published: 3rd December 1996Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Puffin
Illustrator: Lynley Dodd
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Sausage dog, Schnitzel von Krumm, is outraged when his family decides to replace his worn out, beaten up old basket. The new bed doesn’t look right, feel right – or smell right! Something must be done.

This might be my favourite of the Hairy Maclary and Co. books that Dodd has put out. I love Schnitzel von Krumm and not only is he adorable, I love how Dodd describes him. I think why I also love this one story in particular is because I have experienced the exact same situation with my own puppy. She loved her first bed so much it was a whole thing trying to get her to use the new, bigger one.

One particular joy of this story is of course Dodd’s illustrations. She captures Schnitzel von Krumm’s adoration of his bed and his loss when it is taken from him in humorous ways. His expressions are excellent too at expressing his mood and displeasure at his predicaments as he hunts for the ideal cosy spot.

In true Dodd style it’s not just the pictures that shine through because the story and rhymes are fantastic. Dodd’s use of repetition give a wonderful lyrical and melodic read whether aloud or to yourself. I loved how Schnitzel von Krumm’s bed is described and how the same description works for his love of it and the family’s displeasure.

I love this book so much, I have gotten emotional reading it in the past because I read too much into everything and become invested in picture book dogs but it is so sweet it’s hard not to. Plus, having my own experience behind it I am now very conscious that maybe my dog is happy with her too small bed and seeing her squished in there might just be the highlight of her day.

You can purchase Schnitzel Von Krumm’s Basketwork via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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

Two Bad Teddies by Kilmeny Niland

Published: 27th October 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Simon and Schuster
Illustrator: Taeeun Yoo
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Gruffy Ted and Tilly Ted loved Mollie-Sue. And Mollie-Sue loved her teddies. They did everything together. One day, a present arrived from Grandma. It was Bendy Bill. Mollie-Sue showed Gruffy and Tilly. “Isn’t he handsome? Look at his long stretchy arms,” she said. “And listen . . . ” She pressed Bendy Bill in the middle. “Oo-oo,” he squeaked.

“I don’t like his silly smile,” said Gruffy. “I don’t like his silly arms,” said Tilly. 

“Mollie-Sue still loves us best,” said Gruffy.

Niland’s warm, affectionate story explores a theme familiar to all—sometimes we only get what we want when we stop trying so hard.

My favourite pair of teddies are back! After we left them in Two Tough Teddies I was surprised to find them again because I didn’t know there was a sequel.

Niland brings us back to the teddies to see how they are faring after the end of the last book and all is not well. With the arrival of a new toy, Gruffy Ted and Tilly Ted become jealous and start plotting on how they can rid the house of this intruder.

With a plot similar to Toy Story, the teddies try different ways to get Molly to stop loving the new toy, fearful that she will no longer love them.

The illustrations are as cute as before, the personalities of Gruffy and Tilly wonderfully explored through their faces and their behaviour. I liked that the new toy Bendy Bill doesn’t become animated, he remains silent and ever-staring. This makes the two teddies’ actions even funnier because Bill continues to stare out blankly.

This a great story about accepting changes and making new friends. It shows that love is shared and while there may be new things, it doesn’t push the old things aside, or make them any less loved.

If you have read the original book there are valid reasons why Gruffy and Tilly may worry they are no longer loved, but Niland doesn’t recap any of that, instead focuses on their jealousy.

I am glad I got to see the continuing adventures of the two tough teddies and as much as I enjoyed this one, it doesn’t quite tug at the heartstrings like the first book does.

You can purchase Two Bad Teddies via the following

QBDBook Depository

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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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