Celeste The Giraffe Loves to Laugh by Celeste Barber

Published: 25th October 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Matt Cosgrove
Pages: 24
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Celeste was a friendly, happy little giraffe. She had a kind heart and she made others laugh. But Celeste sometimes worried that she wasn’t enough. It seemed like other animals did much cooler stuff. Join Celeste the Giraffe on her hilarious journey as she finds out what it is that makes her unique.

Barber’s story is about Celeste the giraffe who is happy and friendly but worries she isn’t enough. Thus starts her journey trying new things to become cooler. It reminded me a lot of Macca’s Makeover, which I am going with it’s ok since Matt Cosgrove actually illustrates this book so he must not mind.

Celeste tries all the things her friends do in order to try and become cooler including roaring like a lion, running fast like a cheetah, or making a splash like a hippo. Barber’s story flows with a steady rhythm and the rhymes are creative, but the story is completely enhanced by Cosgrove’s accompanying illustrations.

The illustrations are typical Cosgrove – adorable, brightly coloured, and whimsical, but there is still a unique feel that doesn’t look like his typical Macca design. This gives Barber a look of her own and a style unique to her book while still being utterly adorable.

I love Cosgrove’s work so the illustrations are the real winner here. I enjoyed the story too, it’s fun and clever, not to mention great to read aloud. The formatting helps with tone and emphasis as well; the varying font styles and different sized words help get the right tone and humour across to gain the full effect.

This is a great story about using your own unique skills and talents to help other people and not to want what others have because you think they’re better. A good message for kids and told in a fun and colourful way.

You can purchase Celeste the Giraffe Love to Laugh via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Have Yourself a Hairy Little Christmas by Rosie Greening

Published: 27th October 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Make Believe Ideas
Illustrator: Dawn Machell
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Santa wants a new hairstyle for Christmas, so Elf offers to help! Help Santa choose as you explore thick woolly beards, to ones that sparkle with glitter!

I got quite excited because looking at the touch and feel cover I thought this book might be like those “That’s not my…” books where each page had a different thing you could touch, but alas ‘tis not the case. The copy I read was just a special edition and not the norm for all of them.

So what we get instead is a cool beard you can touch on the cover, but inside are typical illustrations. That is not to say they are boring. After my disappointment subsided I actually quite liked them. They are cute and funny, Machell does a great job making these characters funny and represent the story Greening is telling.

The narrative itself is straight forward and simple, Santa wants a new look and each page depicts a new style the elf barber is trying. The rhyme is also simple, great for younger readers with big clear visual accompaniments and formatting that enhances reading aloud.

Overall, it is a sweet story. Santa finds his new look and the rhyming structure is clear and flows nicely. It is a creative holiday story and getting to play with a fluffy bear on the cover is an added bonus.

You can purchase Have Yourself a Hairy Little Christmas via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

That Christmas Feeling by Lili Wilkinson

Published: January 1st 2018 by Allen UnwinGoodreads badge
Publisher:
January 1st 2018 by Allen Unwin
Illustrator: Amanda Francey
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Dottie is waiting for the Christmas feeling to arrive—that fizzy, excited feeling, where everything is a bit magical. But this year, Dottie, her brother, Jem, and their dog, Shortbread, are staying with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma and Grandpa are trying hard, but Christmas just isn’t the same . . . A gorgeous, heart-warming story about misplacing the Christmas spirit, and finding it again.

Wilkinson has created a sweet story about the hunt for the “Christmas feeling”. When Dottie and her brother stay with grandma and grandpa on Christmas Eve she can’t help but compare it to the Christmas last year which feels a lot of magical.

It’s initially unclear why the pair are at their grandparents, but by the end it’s evident and seeing Dottie go through her Christmas worries and how Jem tries to help is incredibly touching. The sibling relationship between Jem and Dottie is so adorable. The affection between them and the older/younger sibling relationship is beautiful. Jem comforts Dottie and tries to ease her worries as they make the best out of being at their grandparent’s house.

Francey’s illustrations add a lot to this story too, they are realistic pencil drawings with wonderful detail. The style she has used brings out emotion and heart which is perfect for the story Wilkinson is telling. There’s lots of colours but suitably subdued and not overbearing. The bright scenes and the beautiful scenery add a wonderful feeling of a special night and anticipation.

This is a beautiful story about how different Christmases can be just as wonderful as past Christmases and that the Christmas feeling can be found in the most unlikely of places.

You can purchase That Christmas Feeling via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Wordery

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Naughty List by Holly Lansley

Published: 1st October 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Make Believe Ideas
Illustrator: Lara Ede
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Bookpict
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A brand-new picture book told in the form of a letter to Santa. The letter is written by a boy named Tom, who is trying to convince Santato put him on the Nice List, even though his behaviour has been bad all year! Hear all about the things Tom has done and the ways he tries to spin them to Santa.

This is a fabulous book written in the style of a letter to Santa which is hilarious, clever, and even at times very sweet.

There is so much to love about this book. From page one I was in love and seeing the colourful and decorative formatting makes it even more enjoyable and brilliant. The formatting is big and bold, filled with colour and decoration with emphasis placed by the letter writer which in turns helps when reading and shows how passionate Tom is in his belief and his reasonable explanations.

The rhyme is fantastic, it’s a great poem about all of Tom’s well intentions but essentially naughty adventures through the year which may have got him on the Naughty List. I loved how Tom explains his actions and how insistent he is that he wasn’t actually being naughty at the time he was having an adventure or quite often just trying to help.

The illustrations are woven into the story with the text appearing on lined paper reminiscent of a child’s Christmas list and reflects the story of this complaint letter to Santa. There are drawings on the letter which are from Tom’s hand but there are also drawings on the adjacent page in a more defined style depicting the action he’s defending himself against. I liked Ede’s style of bright and cartoonish drawings. Tom’s cheeky nature comes through as well as those suffering around him.

This is a brilliant book not just for the story and the rhyme but the creativity of the formatting and the presentation was a huge bonus. This is a funny and clever book that is a wonderful spin on why one may find themselves on the naughty list this year.

You can purchase The Naughty List via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

While You Are Sleeping by Alexis Deacon

Published: 5th September 2006Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Farrar Straus and Giroux
Illustrator: Alexis Deacon
Pages: 26
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Being a plush toy might sound like an easy job, but when a newcomer joins their group, the bedside toys show him everything that goes into taking care of a child while he is sleeping. Every night, they make sure that he isn’t too hot or too cold, and that he stays safely in his bed. They chase away bedbugs and bad dreams. And on Christmas Eve they have the very important task of making sure the child does not awake until morning. The new toy and the reader will find a lot to learn before the night is over. 

I picked this up because when I saw it I was immediately reminded of one of my favourite pictures “Sweet Halloween Dreams” by begemott. The image shows the power of the toy and this story is one in the same vein.

Deacon tells the story through the voices of the bedside toys. The text addresses the reader and tells them what their toys get up to when they are sleeping. They explain that after sitting and waiting all day, and once they are sure you are asleep, they get up and make sure you have a good night. Whether it is checking for things in cupboards and under the bead, or helping if you are too hot or cold, these toys will be there. With an adorable new lion toy added to the ranks he helps them work in a bid to join their crew and they show him their routine. The toy’s job is to keep you safe while you sleep, to keep monsters and bad dreams away.

The words are simple, but extra information is provided in the illustrations. They demonstrate how these toys help without having to explain it in the text. I would have loved the illustrations to be slightly clearer. They were wonderful and there were little sweet and fun moments in the background that made me smile. I understand that was Deacon’s style but I would have loved the same heart but with less haziness. The pencil illustrations are detailed and coloured, and seeing the different sized animals doing different things is quite adorable. The new toy acts like a new toy would, not as confident or as brave, but you also see the current toys helping out and showing him how their job works. These extra details made me enjoy the story a lot more and added another unspoken layer of the story.

I can see this being a great comfort to children who may be worried about going to sleep or being in the dark. Having this story that reassures them that their favourite toys are there to protect them would be a great comfort.

You can purchase While You Are Sleeping via the following

Book DepositoryAmazon | Amazon Aust

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