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May 2015

Meet the Parents by Peter Bently and Sarah Ogilvie

Meet the ParentsSimon and Schuster Children's Books, London, 2014

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 9780857075819

Suggested reading age: 4+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

This book starts out with a list of all the annoying things your parents do, like boss you around and tell you what to do.  Luckily it then moves on to all the great things about parents - targets for ketchup,  tent poles for wonky dens and dustbins for bits you don't want to eat.  Once they've sorted out all your pickles, there's always time for...


Red Butterfly by Deborah Noyes and Sophie Blackall

Red ButterflyCandlewick Press, Massaachuesetts, 2007

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 9780763624002

Suggested reading age: 8+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

This lovely book tells the story of how the secret of silk was smuggled out of China by a young princess.  Her parents arranged a marriage for her with the Prince of a nearby desert kingdom.  She was young and did not want to leave home.  Her maid buried within her elaborate hairdo the seeds of the mulberry tree and the eggs of the silk worm so she would have something from home to comfort her.  


Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton Trent by Lauren Child

Hubert HoratioHodder Children's Books, London, 2005

Paperback, 50 pages

ISBN: 9780340877890

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

This is another hilarious book from the award-winning author, Lauren Child.  Lauren Child is a genius.  It's true - in our house her books are much loved by all of us, adults and children alike.  She has a deft turn of phrase, an eye for the absurd and a unique style of illustration.  Her stories are fanciful, absurd and funny.  Her characters are likeable and spot on.

Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton Trent is the story of a rich, little boy who is a genius.  His parents are frightfully, frightfully rich socialites.  They love buying lavish things, entertaining and playing games.  What will happen when the money runs out?  Can Hubert save the day?  Read this book and find out.


Show Day by Penny Matthews and Andrew McLean

Show DayOmnibus Books, Central Coast, Year

Hardcover, 32 pages

ISBN: 9781862916890

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Show Day beautifully captures the quintessential nature of an Australian country show.  It's the day when all the farmers and their families show their prize animals and enter competitions for the best produce, flowers, cakes, jams and pickles.  As well as the fun of the competitions, there are also rides, games of chance and show bags.  

In this story, Andrew Mclean's beautiful drawings compliment Penny Matthews text as we follow a farm family and their luck at the show.  Will they win biggest pumpkin and what is the girl's most unusual pet?


Ayu and the Perfect Moon by David Cox

Ayu and the Perfect MoonWalker Books Australia, Newtown, 2011

Paperback, 32 pages

ISBN: 13 digits

Suggested reading age: 4+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

This is the story of how Ayu is chosen by the Prince of her village in Bali to dance the Legong dance.  It is the dance of the angry bird and is danced under the light of the full moon.  The dancers wear elaborate costumes and head dresses.  

This is a special story in our family as the girls' nana and siya spend winter in Bali each year.  They also love the beautiful drawings and lively tale.


The Milly Molly Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley

Milly Molly MandyKingfisher, New York, 2001

Hardcover, 224 pages

ISBN: 9780753453322

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

This is a collection of stories about Milly Molly Mandy, the little girl who lives in the nice white cottage with a thatched roof.  They were originally published in several different books and were reissued in this edition.  Milly Molly Mandy lives with her mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, uncle and auntie.  The simple black and white illustrations by the author bring the stories to life and speak to us of life in an English village last century.  

Although the stories were written a long time ago, they manage to capture the innocence and sweetness of childhood and are still relevant today.  The language is a little quaint and it does take some getting used to but it is well worth the effort.  I have read and reread these stories to my girls and they still love them (even the nine year old!).


Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallow and AmazonsJonathan Cape Ltd, London, 1987

Hardcover, 384 pages

ISBN: 9780224606318

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Swallows and Amazons is a classic of English literature in the grand old adventure style.  You know the books - ones where the kids go off on amazing adventures with nary an adult in sight.  The difference with the Swallows and Amazons series of books, however, is that they are eminently believable.  The adventures are thrilling and daring, filled with imagination but not so far-fetched that they appear ludicrous or unbelievable.  A family friend lent me this book when I was twelve and I gobbled it up, nautical terms and all.  Learning to sail a boat is still on my bucket list!

In Swallows and Amazons, the first book in the series, we meet Susan, John, Titty and Roger who are on holidays at Dixon's farm with their mother and baby sister.  Their father is away in the navy and they are all keen sailors. They manage to convince their mother to let them camp out on an island in the river.  They use their boat, the Swallow, to ferry across to the island their tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and food.  Fresh supplies are rowed to them daily by the "natives" at the farm.  The story describes how the Swallows meet the Amazons and the adventures they have together.

Older readers will be able to read this book, younger readers may need to have it read to them.  It is quite dense and doesn't talk down.  You may find yourself frantically googling nautical terms to explain them to your curious child!

Other titles in this series - Swallowdale, Winter Holiday, Peter Duck, Secret Water, Coot Club, We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea, The Picts and the Martyrs, The Big Six, Great Northern, Pigeon Post, Missee Lee.


How to get your kids to read books

Books

"I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book."  Groucho Marx

I was really lucky when I was growing up in the 1970s.  That was when my parents decided not to buy a television so I would learn to read instead.  Growing up I always thought we didn't have a television because we couldn't afford one but a few years ago my mum told me that it was so I would learn to read instead.  They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams and I became a total bookworm - hooked on the written word and the turning of the page.

When I had kids I knew that I didn't want them to have a television as they were growing up.   When my daughter arrived, it was a little harder by then to imagine and create a life without television as it was already in our lives.  Luckily, around the time she was two, our television broke and there's been no looking back.  There are many reasons why I read to my daughters.  The main ones are I love reading to them and getting that wonderful connection as we share our imaginary worlds.

So my advice for reluctant readers?  Turn off the television and computer.  Strew interesting books in key locations around your house.  Read to them.  Read books yourself where they can see you doing it.  Spend hours at your local library reading to them.  Find out what they are interested in and borrow a book about it.  There is literally something in a library for everyone.  And the best thing is - it is free!  The more you share your love of reading, the more they will want to read.  Its contagious!


The Secret Remedy Book by Karin Cates & Wendy Anderson Halperin

The Secret Remedy BookScholastic, New York, 2003

Hardcover, 40 pages

ISBN: 978-0-4393-5226-0

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

In The Secret Remedy Book, Lolly goes to stay with her aunt, on her own, for a whole month.  It is something that she has been wanting to do for a very long time.  But after her parents drive away, she begins to feel sad and homesick.  Her lovely Aunt Zep knows just why to do.  Together they search for The Secret Remedy book and set about completing each remedy in the book before the first hoot of the owl.

After reading this book, I wanted to create a Secret Remedy book just like the one that Lolly and Aunt Zepp use.  Full of good remedies such drinking apple juice so fresh that you could taste the blossoms of the apples, take a walk as far as you can to see something you've never noticed before and feeding a wild thing.


The High Street by Alice Melvin

The High StreetTate Publishing, London, 2011

Hardcover, 52 pages

ISBN: 978-1-8543-7943-6

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Alice Melvin is the talent behind this beautifully written and illustrated book.  I just loved everything about it.  The wonderful, read-a-loud rhyme accompanies some gorgeous fold-out drawings as Sally visits the High Street to buy all the things on her shopping list.  The High Street seemed quintessentially English to me.

My five year old daughter loved the way that the pages opened to reveal what was inside each shop.  The ending has a delightful twist as Sally tries to find the last thing on her list- a yellow rose.