Naughty Kitty by Adam Stower

 

Published: 1st July 2012Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Templar Books
Illustrator: Adam Stower
Pages: 33
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Star

Lily’s mum finally agrees to buy her a new pet – but it’s not a doggy, it’s a kitten. When things start to go wrong around the house, Lily is quick to blame her new furry friend.

One. Kitty is the cutest kitten ever. Stower’s illustrations are the best. I love how he has managed to convey a confused kitty, a perplexed kitty, and a kitty looking innocent in the face of accusation.

Two. The actual story is wonderful as well.  Reading this story is fun on numerous levels, not only are the pictures fun to look at, but each page gives us a chance to see what “Kitty” actually did, and seeing poor Lily become exasperated at her poor disobedient cat is delightful.

Genuinely I could stare at the illustrations all day. Combined with Lily’s desire to punish her kitten, the cat itself looks bewildered and the true culprit lurking adds to the humour and certainly my delight.

Stower’s captured the tone and voice of a small child and I could hear Lily’s voice as she scolded her kitten and I pictured this child berating her cat as she tried to stop its destructive behaviours. The story is adorable, especially when the dramatic irony comes into play. Who doesn’t love it when picture books contain dramatic irony?

This would be a great book to read aloud because with such wonderful and detailed illustrations, there is a lot to unpack as you read and it becomes interactive as kids see who really caused the messes.

I discovered this is a sequel when I’d finished, I may have to track down the first one because if it’s anything as good as this, I’ll be quite happy.

You can purchase Naughty Kitty via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Published: 23rd October 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Macmillan Australia
Pages: 362
Format: Paperback
Genre: Crime
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

This is definitely my new favourite Jane Harper book. From the start I was immediately pulled in, the voice and tone drew me in and I wanted to stay in this story and keep reading.

Nathan doesn’t set out the solve the mystery of his brother’s death, but a few things don’t sit right with him and little by little he tries to fill in the gaps. This is not a police procedural story however, the focus is on trying to come to terms with his brother’s death and while the family wonder about what happened to him, it is also about getting through the grief together.

Harper hints at secrets and events, baits us into keep reading and honestly it works. Not quite so much to get answers, the anomalies are not followed up like a detective would, but the tone feels so comfortable that you want to keep following this narrative. She lays down clues and hints that you don’t even realise long before but at the same time once she has planted a seed the tone shifts and a whole other component is explored. It never felt out of place, or unconnected, and I couldn’t help but marvel at how she mixed everything together so seamlessly, never breaking from the flow of the story. She doesn’t focus constantly on speaking in riddles, she gets on with the story while making well placed and relevant hints about characters throughout which could easily mean nothing as they could everything.

Harper captures the outback environment brilliantly without resorting to long details and descriptions. She uses the characters and the story itself to reflect the harshness of the land and the dangers it holds. One great surprise was the blink and you miss it reference to some familiar faces from Harper’s debut novel, The Dry. I enjoyed the connection to the two stories but Harper also uses it to add an entire new layer to the characters as well.

I loved being in this story and I loved everything about this story. I loved these characters and their honesty and their secrets. I loved Nathan and his fractured, broken self but still with a strong family commitment buried deep inside. His character is one of honesty but also one of damaged resilience. Harper could have gone so many different ways with his personality but she dances on the edge of the line skilfully instead of making him cross it which I adored.

People are right when they say this is Harper’s best book to date because there is a comfortableness about this book, but it is one that still contains mystery and heartache, and complications that don’t overwhelm one another but coexist side by side remarkably, balanced back and forth as the story progresses.

You can purchase The Lost Man via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Published: 11th October 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Candlewick
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Pages: 56
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat. . . . Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this brilliantly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy and deceptive simplicity. The delicious buildup takes an unexpected turn that is sure to please loyal fans and newcomers alike. 

This is such a sweet book! And nobody dies! Not that that should stop you from opening the book. It is fantastic in all the other ways.

This is the final book in the delightful hat trilogy and Klassen is as strong as ever. From bears and hats, to fish and hats, we’ve come to turtles and hats.

In a different approach there are multiple parts to this story. I was curious about this change in formula but it works so well. There is a wonderful message about friendship, but also the same cheeky, slyness that Klassen works so well into his story. There is drama and suspense, but there is also heart. I loved the message and I loved that it remains a hat story even though it differed slightly.

At its core it is a book about sharing, greed, and friendship and with a lot less murder than before.

Once again, Klassen puts all the expression in the eyes. So much is said in a pair of unblinking eyes, a shift to the left, a shift to the right. It’s brilliant. I have come to love his illustration style and I am so glad there are three books in this series because one was never going to be enough.

You can purchase We Found A Hat via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Published: October 9th 2012Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Candlewick
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened…

I have so much love for this book. Klassen tells a brilliant story, there are two layers and it’s hilarious how they contradict one another. This is the second book in the Hat Trilogy and it’s clear from page one it is as wonderful as the first hat fiasco.

The narrator is a small fish who has stolen a hat, and reading about how he is going to get away with it is wonderful because the illustrations show you the exact opposite. I love the illustrations of both fish. Klassen puts so much expression into an expressionless fish and the attitude of both parties is amusing.

The text is simple and on top of the page and the illustrations are dark like the ocean and it works well because it focuses your eyes on the two fish without much distraction. The story is simple, straightforward, and yet Klassen has told a thrilling underwater tale all the same.

You can purchase This is Not My Hat via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

 

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Published: 27th September 2011Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance.

This is the first book in Klassen’s Hat trilogy and it is a brilliant story that both children and adults can enjoy. Ideal to be read alone or out loud the story is told entirely through dialogue with Klassen’s wit and straightforward sentences as Bear asks everyone he meets if they have seen his hat.

I loved the call back to the earlier dialogue and I liked that the bear politely went through all the animals he found, each having a different response. It never gets repetitive and Klassen includes enough animals that it is long enough but also has a few surprises.

The illustrations are part of the charm because the expression Klassen gives the animals are fantastic, and a lot is said through staring. The colours are dulled but still stand out on the page, the focus is on the animal interactions with only a little background but it isn’t missed. A lot of the time too the narrative is a companion to the dialogue, one not quite working without the other. There is something magical about Klassen’s work that makes the entire experience delightful.

The dialogue is the real gem and Bear is a great character. As the story progresses you see that Bear is not a bad bear, he just wants his hat back. He is polite and helpful and no one surely can blame him for anything that happens. If anything even happened at all. Which is doesn’t.

A fantastic beginning to a trilogy. It’s simple, yet clever, and it is certainly unexpected.

You can purchase I Want My Hat Back via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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