A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker

Published: July 22nd 2014Goodreads badge
Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Kady MacDonald Denton
Pages: 40
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Bear does not want to go to the library. He is quite sure he already has all the books he will ever need. Yet the relentlessly cheery Mouse, small and grey and bright-eyed, thinks different. When Bear reluctantly agrees to go with his friend to the big library, neither rocket ships nor wooden canoes are enough for Bear’s picky tastes. How will Mouse ever find the perfect book for Bear?

“The librarian smiled, but a mother squirrel squished an angry finger against her lips, and an old raccoon said sternly, ‘Quiet in the library.’” Oh that sounds familiar. It’s never the librarian shushing anyone.

I love this book, Becker’s narrative is hilarious and I love Bear’s logic that he doesn’t need any more books because he has seven already. It’s not a nonsense book, but it is a bit silly in a serious way. Bear’s obstinate and Mouse is patient and despite Bear’s grumblings he goes along with Mouse to the library because he had agreed to go. A great case of ‘don’t knock it till you try it’, Bear’s experience of the library is wonderful, and showcases all the wonderful books a library has to offer.

Denton’s illustrations are beautiful accompaniments. She puts a lot of expression into Bear and Mouse, capturing the stubbornness and exasperation. I love the small details like Bear’s roller skates and his grumpy expressions, even when the wind is blowing majestically through his fur.

There is a great use of text and formatting to help tell the story, with different size fonts to convey tone and style. The story is simple with short amounts of words on each page, Denton’s illustrations taking up most of the page, but Becker’s story still says a lot and tells a full story that is engaging, enlightening, and entertaining.

You can purchase A Library Book for Bear via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

Angus and Robinson | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon

Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise

Published: 1st May 2017Goodreads badge
Little Hare, Hardie Grant Egmont
Illustrator: David Mackintosh
Pages: 40
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

No one listens to Archie when he says he is a bear so he leaves home and goes into the woods where he makes friends with a bear. A very small boy in a bear suit and a very large bear share the fun of pretending, adventuring in the woods, and a honey sandwich next to a warm fire on a cold day. Which is really the boy, and which is the bear? It doesn’t matter—you are who you say you are. 

I am discovering that books where big things are friends with small things are my jam and I love that so many picture books incorporate this. Louise tells the story of Archie, the bear who people keep mistaking for a boy. When Archie is sick of people calling him a boy, he goes into the woods and finds a real bear, a bear who thinks he’s a boy.

This is a wholesome story that is told beautifully. There is heart and friendship and Mackintosh’s illustrations add gravity and a touch of magic. I felt the story slow down as I looked at these beautiful illustrations and though nothing is said of time or place, it felt like it was in an older time, somewhere in some small eastern European village and while that sounds obscure, it’s where my mind went and I loved it.

Mackintosh’s illustrations offer fantastic scale in regards to Archie’s size in relation to the world and to the bear. He uses a mixture of watercolour and rough pencils and masters capturing scale and magnitude about the expansiveness of a forest as well as the confines of it. I couldn’t help but admire the skill he had in perfectly executing so many different styles and techniques and marrying them to Louise’s words.

The story explores the two new friends as they discover each other’s worlds and teach each other their skills. I wasn’t sure how this would end but Louise finds a sweet ending to a sweet story and one that makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

You can purchase Archie and the Bear via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

Angus and Robinson | Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Prue Theroux by Gillian Rubinstein

Published: 2001Goodreads badge
 Random House Australia
Illustrator: David Mackintosh
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Star

When you don’t know what to do. When you haven’t got a clue, go and talk to Miss Theroux. Who, who, who …? Miss Prue … That’s who! 

Who’s the coolest school librarian around? Miss Prue Theroux, that’s who! But when Prue Theroux falls sick and is replaced by Mr Boycott, it’s a very different scene in the library.

This is a fun book with great rhymes and repetition that kids will enjoy. It was great to show off the myriad of wonderful things librarians do, and I’m presuming Prue is a teacher librarian because she is teaching these kids a lot more than is generally possibly as a librarian alone.

The story itself was ok, it was fun to see the great things Prue did. I can see the appeal to kids and it would be enjoyable to read aloud. The rhymes were clever and made sense in context. The story was a bit long but had a few adventures, a three part kind of story which is rare in a picture book. The books listed from Prue recommendations are real books too which was clever because kids can then look up those books now if they wanted.

You can tell Prue is a Cool Librarian because the illustrations make her look cool with her clothing and design on top of the things that she does. Mackintosh’s drawings are unique with a simple colour scheme and quirky character designs.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, it might have been a bit long because I wasn’t totally into it but I still found it clever and certainly a great display of how awesome librarians are.

You can purchase Prue Theroux The Cool Librarian via the following

QBD | Book Depository

Jasper & Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle by Kevin Rudd and Rhys Muldoon

Published: 1st October 2010Goodreads badge
 Allen and Unwin
Illustrator: Carla Zapel
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

It was a special day at the Lodge. There was going to be a party. A big party. Abby the dog was there. Jasper the cat was there. But so was a scruffy little dog. The Prime Minister receives many letters and emails from children asking about Jasper and Abby, and he often tells his friends, colleagues, and staff stories of the antics of his family pets.

With Australia Day tomorrow I thought I would review a fun picture book all about our national day. This book was written by one of our Prime Minsters many years ago and it is inspired by the PM’s own cat and dog who lived in the Lodge with him. The book is co-authored by Rhys Muldoon and together they have created an enjoyable adventure about an important party and a slight kerfuffle.

With the premise of an Australia Day party at the PM’s house, the story manages to celebrate some wonderful things about our nation without going full Australian in our face either. There is a wonderful celebration of the resources of our nation and in a style that reminded me briefly of Possum Magic, they are listed with alliteration and short sentences that show off our produce, not to mention the wonderful regions around our country. All of this works within the story and the narrative is not pushed aside to just start listing great things about Australia nor is it overly simplified.

Jasper and Abby are the definite heroes of the story, and there are a few liberties taken in their understanding and capabilities. But they are still animals, talking to one another but not talking to the people.

Zapel’s illustrations are realistic and you can even see real pictures of Jasper and Abby at the fron of the book and see the resemblance. There is a lot of great detail in the fine line drawings, and I really loved how active all of the people appear to be. Kids aren’t standing straight, they are hanging off parents, and animals are mid scratch on chairs. It’s the small details like that which made me really focus on the pictures because it brought everything alive.

With short sentences often for each action or person there is a chance at a matching illustration so the mix of full page, double page and multiple small illustrations suit this story incredibly well because not only does it suit the action, but it allows a lot more to be visually explored than simply selecting a single scene.

I quite liked this story, I had forgotten that Rudd had even written it until I came across it at work. I’m glad I have read it now. This is a fun story filled with drama and chaos, and honestly a bit of suspense and tension too as you wonder will the culprit be caught before anything else goes wrong.

You can purchase Jasper & Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Eric the Postie by Matt Shanks

Published: 1st July 2017Goodreads badge
 Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Matt Shanks
Pages: 24
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Eric had a dream . . .he knew he could be the best postman ever. There was one big obstacle-he didn’t have any mail to deliver. Eric is not going to let that stop him . . . An adorable, heartwarming story about chasing your big dreams, no matter how little you are.

This is one of my new favourite books. I loved everything about this book; the story, the illustrations, everything. Eric the echidna is the cutest thing ever and his dreams are so simple yet so sweet.

The story is so heartwarming, little Eric doesn’t want to be a cricketer or a scientist or anything like those in his family have been, instead he wants to be a postie. He details all the reasons why he would be a great postie, his natural deterrent to dogs, his ability to lick stamps, and his ability to keep mailboxes pest free. His only concern is he has no letters to deliver but he soon finds a way around that.

Shank’s narrative is inspiring as Eric doesn’t let anything stop him fulfilling his dreams. The words are simple and there’s only a sentence on each page, accompanied by Shanks fabulous illustrations. There is a perfect match between the words and the illustrations. It adds so much to the story and the illustrations are truly divine, detailed but simple. On a mostly white background the characters are the main focus, a range of colours and Shanks unique style. Eric is adorable and the other animals act naturally as well as anthropomorphically. The best thing in the end is when Eric achieves his dream and makes the absolute cutest postman imaginable.

You can purchase Eric the Postie via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust

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