Hello, and a warm welcome to the last Children’s Round-Up for 2019.
I’ve really enjoyed sharing so many children’s book reviews with you over the past twelve months and can’t believe how quickly the year has flown!
November has been a quiet month, with only five books reviewed. However, the summer holidays are almost here, so there’s plenty of time to catch up on your reading and reviewing. And with Christmas around the corner, don’t forget that books make great gifts — especially those by Australian woman writers! There are plenty of great suggestions if you search through previous round-up posts.
Onto this month’s reviews:
This funny, whimsical and heartwarming tale will delight readers far and wide. A book about travel, and self-belief, Top Koala is a loving tribute to one of our most iconic native animals.
Koala dreams big and must be at the very top of absolutely everything. From the need to be at the top of every tree, to the iconic flagpole in our nation’s capital, and big red Uluru. It seems no place or animal is unable to be conquered by this mighty Koala.
Jackie French has employed simplistic, but on-target prose, which is perfectly in tune with the audience level. The book is punctuated by rhyming text, which rolls off the tongue with ease, especially if you are conducting a read-aloud. There are some variances in the text, with selected words highlighted in different fonts and colours, emphasising key moments of the text. The narrative was gentle, but at the same time it was full of adventure and promise.
The illustrations by Matt Shanks perfectly offset Jackie French’s engaging prose. The vitality and authenticity of the watercolour artwork is so very easy on the eye. Amanda’s favourite was the Tasmania tribute double page, featuring the Tasmanian devil and a gorgeous owl.
Amanda believes there is a great deal to be taken from this text. Self-worth, self-determination, confidence, personal attainment, goal setting and resilience. And from an educational point of view, Australia’s geography and mapping skills could easily be covered, using this book as a stimulus. There are also plenty of opportunities to discuss the variety of native fauna and flora that is carefully inserted within the rich text.
Cub Reporters Pippa is slowly settling into her new life on Kira Island. When her primary school announces they will be starting a school paper, Pippa and her friends sign up – but when it comes to choosing a story to write for the paper, they can’t decide – each girl has a different idea, and ever the peacemakers, Pippa and Meg try to help the group come to a compromise.
The second Pippa’s Island book is just as fun as the first, with the addition of a naughty puppy, and takes place within weeks of the first book — a good pace, keeping the links and feelings of the characters working well as the series progresses. These are fabulous books that appeal to middle grade readers and older, celebrating family, friends and being yourself whilst showcasing a variety of interests and a spectacular Australian landscape.
Kira Dreaming Pippa is still waiting for her new home to be built above The Beach Shack Café. Whilst waiting, the school announces a talent contest. CiCi and Charlie are keen to enter, but whilst Pippa and Meg are reluctant, they join their friends despite their stage fright.
At the same time, Pippa must deal with her feelings about her father leaving the family, and find out who, or what, the mysterious food thief in the café is.
Cass says this is a delightful board book for toddlers. Each page is a fun suggestion for movement – ‘Fly with your arms’; ‘Smile with your mouth’; ‘Hold with your hand’ – that can be imitated by children and parents as they read the book together. Simple, attractive illustrations in bold, primary colours ensure children will return again and again to this book that encourages action and play.
The companion book, Dressing Your Family also by Beci Orpin, is another bright and simple book that illustrates the diversity of families through clothing choices, depicting different family members from grandparents to stepbrothers to aunties wearing everything from scarves to overalls to underpants. Toddlers will enjoy recognising their own clothes and using the text to prompt discussions about their own family structure.
Thank you for linking your reviews to the AWW database throughout 2019.
The next round up in January 2020 will look back over 2019 — a very busy year for children’s book reviews! I wish you all a happy and safe holiday break.
In awe of words from an early age, reading, writing and banter have become an obsession of mine. As a mother of two (who are growing up faster than I’d like), I am passionate about instilling a long-lasting love of reading in children.