An Amazing Australian Road Trip, Jackie Hosking, illustrated by Lesley Vamos. Walker Books, Hardcover. Isbn 978 1 760650 76 6, 2021.
It is aunty’s 60th birthday and her family decide to celebrate her special day with a picnic and birthday cake at an amazing locale.
So the family pack up the car with everything they may need as well as an enormous birthday cake and leave their home town Melbourne to journey west.
There is also a statement on the opening double page spread that hints that there will be so much more to discover in this book when the reader is asked if he/she can find some of the… ‘…19 World Heritage listed properties…’ listed in the book.
The first stop is the 12 Apostles where the family bring the cake to the viewing platform but don’t eat it.
From here the family journey further west, discovering more interesting places along the way, including Coober Pedy (I particularly loved the illustrations here, especially the toilet scene). Then they change direction and head north to Broome, from here changing direction again in order to visit many other famous Australian landmarks, all the while trying to find the best place to wish aunty a Happy Birthday and eat the cake.
As well as the story of the family’s birthday journey, Hosking has added extra information about each location they are in. For example when the family are in Kakadu some of the information includes …‘Kakadu is home to more than 10,000 crocodiles…and 2000 different types of plants.’
The book is choc-full of vibrant illustrations, with each location featured on its own double page spread.
Like any good picture book the illustrations both serve to underline and enhance the existing text, for example when aunty decides she will climb the stairs to the moon (love the faces on the grown ups) or the majesty of Uluru is so richly illustrated.
As well, Vamos has added extra humorous drawings within the story which children and their readers love to find. As I said, I loved the Coober Pedy section of the story particularly, both for the humour and geological extras included, or going back to the beginning the things the family pack seem a little excessive!
There is a lot in this book, it features many stunning places of Australia as well as the story of an Australian family wanting to share a special celebration.
Oh and where, or if ,does aunty eat her cake?
You will need to read the story but for me it was such a suitably Aussie ending to this tale.
Goodnight Little Bunny, Goodnight Little Duckling, Amanda Wood, MAGIC CAT PUBLISHING, ISBN 9781916180505;9781916180543, hardcover, each RRP $18.99
These two books are part of a series of simple bedtime stories for younger children.
Each main character is shown as a photograph of a young animal against a background of paintings and drawings that include creatures, foliage, water and all the other characters they encounter in their individual story.
Little Bunny is scared to leave her safe burrow. Her friend, Mouse encourages her to explore the world outside of her burrow, explaining that Little Bunny is fully equipped to handle anything she may encounter.
Suddenly Little Bunny is alone so she begins to practice all the skills she has: twitching her nose and hopping through the …spring grass and so on.
I don’t wish to spoil the rest of the story suffice to say Little Bunny ends up realising she can leave her safe burrow the next day and the day after because she is …very good at being a bunny…
Little Duckling is newly hatched and despite his mother’s warnings he leaves the safety of their nest when Big Duck goes off to find him some food.
Little Duckling encounters adventures along his journey to get back home, ending the story safe and sound.
I enjoyed the story of Goodnight Little Bunny to the Little Duckling. As well I thought the illustrations were more complex with the Little Bunny blending in better with the combination of photographs and painting/drawing illustrations.
Still not sure about this illustrative technique, preferring a better ratio, rather than just the main character being a photograph.
Once in a while a picture story book comes along that touches my heart. My Mama is one such book.
The story is about the relationship between a young elephant and his mother. The story is told in the first person and is so delightful and innocent in its telling.
Perhaps my favourite line in the story comes at the beginning… ‘I’ve known my mama for a long time. For my whole life actually…’
As to whether the protagonist is male or female is irrelevant to the story. For those who would like to know they need to enjoy a lot of the story before finding out when the young elephant is helping to water the garden. (For those who have boys in their family they will be able to appreciate this scene particularly.)
Mama and the young elephant are the best of friends. They have wonderful times playing cars, reading books, going shopping or playing peek a book. However there are times when Mama has to be Mama and teach what is right and wrong to the little fella.
Apart from the opening page that shows Mama with a pregnant belly, each double page spread features Mama and the young elephant. Set against a white background it serves to give the sense of a safe cocoon wrapping the two into a special unique bond.
The end papers feature the stars from the elephant’s clothes which are discarded at the end of the book, to be worn the next day.
I am not sure as the significance of this, but it doesn’t spoil the story for me.
The Stone Giant, Anna Hoglund, translated by Julia Marshall, 2020. Gecko Press, ISBN 978 1 776572 73 1, hb, $24.99
I love the tactile nature of the cover of this book. Before you even open the cover, the embossed title, gold lettering on the fabric covered spine reminds you of classic fairy tales of years gone by. The stone like mirror on the back cover adds to the intrigue and so the reader wants to know more about the tale of The Stone Giant.
The hero of this book is a young girl left alone on a small island while her father goes off to fight the stone giant.
Days and nights pass and the girl’s father does not return. Finally the brave child sets off to find her father, armed only with her mirror and a knife, and accompanied only by a little blue bird. She plunges steadfastly into the waters that surround her island, swimming until she gets to land. From here the child needs to travel far, encountering only one living helpful soul on her way, until at last she meets the stone giant.
Does the child beat the giant? You will need to read for yourself this tale for yourself.
The reader never gets to know the child’s name which is I think is unusual in modern children’s literature; but at the same time it can encourage any child to put themselves into the shoes of the hero.
And a hero she is. Can you imagine what it would be like to be left alone while your father goes off to fight a monster? And to then decide to take on the battle yourself?
The illustrations serve to enhance the feeling of loneliness and fear the hero would have been felling. They are such a contrast to the bright marbled end papers compared to the largely monochromatic illustrations within the book. The child is dressed in red which once again gives a nod to that well known fairy tale ‘Little red riding hood’.