Clancy the Quokka by Lili Wilkinson

Published: 1st October 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Allen & Unwin
Illustrator: Alison Mutton
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Here’s Clancy the quokka. So friendly and charming.
His innocent face is truly disarming.

Clancy the Quokka is super cute, but also has a super cheeky habit of raiding picnic food, so when he spots a magnificent birthday cake, how can he resist? After the mayhem he creates, will Clancy learn his lesson?

Clancy is a tiny adorable quokka and his thieving proclivities are the main focus on this book but Wilkinson also manages to highlight his charming and adorable nature. I liked the direction this story took, we’re introduced to Clancy and his world initially but as the story goes on we see the wider world and the bigger picture and his role within it. There’s humour and laughs from both story and illustrations, not to mention a recognition about many traditional Australian party pastimes that Clancy inadvertently takes part in.

I enjoyed this story because it makes Clancy a little villain which is hilarious and so enjoyable to read about. The rhymes are lovely and flow really well as you read them, plus the devilishly adorable illustrations show exactly what is going on alongside the words.

Mutton’s illustrations take up the entire page and are realistic but have a fun cartoonish quality as well. The colours are natural and depict the real world, the Australian bush as well as people and other surroundings. They are beautiful addition and they help bring our Clancy’s personality and his expressions show us how he’s feeling.

This is an absolutely adorable story that is filled with fun and cheekiness, with a few lessons learnt along the way. It is simple but fun and it’s a great celebration of one of amazing native animals.

You can purchase Clancy the Quokka via the following

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Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

 

Meerkat Choir by Nicki Greenberg

Published: 27th September 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Allen and Unwin
Illustrator: Nicki Greenberg
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

The meerkats are excited. They’re ready for their very first rehearsal with their meerkat choirmaster. But just as they’re about to sing their very first note, they’re interrupted by a steady stream of other animals who want to join in.

The meerkat choirmaster insists his choir is only for meerkats. And he gets grumpier and grumpier at each interruption.

There is a lot of humour throughout this story which is a marvellous feat considering how few words there are. There is a lot of enjoyment to be gotten from the illustrations and the reactions of those involved too.

The story starts as the meerkat conductor is about to begin rehearsals only to be interrupted by others who wish to join. After rejecting a few animals who ask, the conductor starts sending away animals that come and start singing unprompted. I thought this was incredibly clever because it breaks up the monotony of “Can I join” “No” through the whole book, and demonstrates how different animals make sound.

Seeing the conductor get crankier with each interruption is delightful. Greenburg’s illustrations add a lot of emotion and frustration when there are few words to the story. The traumatised faces of the meerkats as each animal joins in is funny, especially when they are of the more dangerous kind.

There is a wonderful message to be learnt too that excluding others is not only mean and discriminatory but may also be detrimental to your ambitions.

You can purchase Meerkat Choir via the following

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Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

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Giraffe Problems by Jory John

Published: 25th September 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Random House Books
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Pages: 42
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Can you guess what’s making this giraffe self-conscious? Could it be…HIS ENORMOUS NECK Yes, it’s exactly that–how on earth did you figure it out?

Edward the giraffe can’t understand why his neck is as long and bendy and, well, ridiculous as it is. No other animal has a neck this absurd. He’s tried disguising it, dressing it up, strategically hiding it behind bushes–honestly, anything you can think of, he’s tried.

Jory John is back with another fabulous book. Giraffe Problems is a brilliant book that much like Penguin Problems, has a giraffe who is unhappy with his absurdly long neck. This seems to be his only problem, but John explores this singular issue with humour and style.

The narrative is hilarious. The short sentences and the quick words sound just like the complaints of the key character, all beautifully presented in and around Smith’s illustrations. There are no rhymes, but you don’t need them as John writes a great story that reads like a funny list of complaints and grievances by Edward and the annoyance as he interacts with those around him.

There are more words to the story as it goes on and you see how this poor giraffe has tried to cope with his long, long, super necky neck. There are beautiful moments too and I loved the interactions with all the various animals he comes across.

Smith’s illustrations deserve attention on their own. The dark earthy colours on the page bring out the feeling of nature and the expressions and actions on the animals are realistic but have a comical tone as well. The design of each page enhances the story because it makes you move your eyes around to follow the words, or rotate the book or open a flap. It adds another level of interaction beyond only reading the words on the page.

I loved the surprises at the end, sweet but still having that humour seen throughout. It is a wonderful example of understanding the benefits to being different and what may be a problem for you, may be a solution to someone else. I love Penguin Problems and I am a huge fan of Giraffe Problems as well. I am looking forward to seeing what other ideas John comes up with because I’m sure it will just as delightful.

You can purchase Giraffe Problems via the following

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Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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

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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

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