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August 2015

Eddie's Kitchen: And how to Make Good Things to Eat by Sarah Garland

Eddie's KitchenFrances Lincoln Publishers, London, 2008

Hardback, 40 pages

ISBN: 978-1-8450-7588-0

Suggested reading age: 4+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

"Its good.  A bit funny." - Phoebe Perera, aged 5

In this charming book, Eddie's grandad is coming to dinner for his birthday.  Eddie, his mum and sister Lily have to hustle to get all the food cooked in time for the party.  While they are busy trying to cook, Mum has lots of interruptions.  First their neighbour with the new baby comes visiting, then the cat brings a mouse into the kitchen, next Mrs Beamish needs a band aid and finally Martin calls and needs to be cheered up. Luckily, Eddie knows just what to do and with some help from Lily they manage to get ready for the party just in time.

This is an inspiring read for kids who love to mess about in the kitchen.  The back of the book has recipes for all the food that Eddie makes as well as some tips for cooking with toddlers.

Other titles in this series: Eddie's Toolbox: And How To Make and Mend Things, Eddie's Garden: How To Make Things Grow

A picture tells a thousand words

It is so wonderful to be reading picture books to my daughters.  I can vividly remember when I was a child and graduated from picture books to chapter books and the illustrations largely disappeared.  I remember asking my parents why the pictures had gone and not really getting a very good answer.  Because, really, why do the pictures have to go when the books get longer?  Surely we can still have some illustrations to go with our stories as we get older and hopefully wiser.

But I digress.  Picture books is where we are at.  And the new breed of chapter books (I'm thinking of the Mariella Mystery series of books by Kate Pankhurst here) with lots of fun and funky illustrations scattered through the books.  Anything that helps kids graduate from picture books on their parent's laps to reading in front of the heater on their own is fine by me.  

This post is my homage to the best illustrators in the business, past and present.  This list is by no means exhaustive, and please, leave your favourite illustrators in the comments section.

Some of my favourite illustrators include:

Freya Blackwood

Freya Blackwood has a gorgeous floaty style that perfectly compliment the picture books she illustrates.





Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis ia another Australian author and I especially love her pencil drawings in the Violet Mackerel series of chapter books.




Robert Ingpen

Robert Ingpen is an Australian illustrator who was illustrated a while collection of classic children's fiction including, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Treasure Island.




Stephen Michael KingStephen Michael King is one talented guy.  He has written and illustrated pictures for himself and others as well as illustrating chapter books.  Milly, Jack and the Dancing Cat is my favourite picture book and I love the illustrations he did for the Glenda Millard series of chapter books, The Kingdon of Silk.




EH ShepardE.H. Shepherd's illustrations for the Winnie the Pooh books by A.A. Milne are classics for a very good reason.  They capture the joy, silliness and heart of the stories perfectly.

One Beetle Too Many by Kathryn Lasky and Matthew Trueman

One Beetle Too ManyCandlewick Press US, Massachusetts, 2009

Hardcover, 48 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7636-1436-2

Suggested reading age: 10+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

This is a great book for budding naturalists and history buffs. In One Beetle Too Many x and x recount the life of Charles Darwin. From his childhood, his school years, travelling for years on the Beagle, exploring South America and experiencing earth quakes and fissured sea shells high in the Andes to his publication of the origin of the species.

I have to confess that I knew very little about the great man until I read this meticulously researched and very informative book. Clearly Kathryn Lasky loves her subject. Did you know that one one ocassion when Charles Darwin went beetle hunting and found three new beetles, he popped one into each hand and the third one went into his mouth to get is safely home?

Dot to Dot by Malcolm Cossons and Neil Stevens

Dot to DotThames and Hudson, London, 2013

Hardcover, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-5006-5015-8

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

This is a cute book about a little girl and her grandmother.  They share the same name and the same birthday but unfortunately live on different sides of the world.  How will they manage to spend their birthday together?  The illustrations have a retro feel to them with a limited colour palette.  The book itself is a flip-over book.  One side is Dot's story and the other side is her grandmother's story.  Neat idea, nicely done.

North: The Greatest Animal Journey on Earth by Nick Dowson and Patrick Benson

NorthWalker Books, London, 2011

Hardcover, 56 pages

ISBN: 978-1-8442-8-7758

Suggested reading age: 8+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

Every year, in the northern hemisphere spring, thousands of animals from all over the world journey to the Arctic. Grey whales from Mexico, teens from Antarctica and caribou from Canada all head north to eat, feed and breed.

Join wildlife author Nick Dowson and award-winning illustrator Patrick Benson on this epic journey.

When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest and P.J. Lynch

When Jessie came across the SeaEcono-Clad Books, Topeka, 2003

Hardcover, 40 pages

ISBN: 978-0-6136-9484-1

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Set at the turn of the 19th century, this is a tale of immigration and finding a new home in an alien land.  It is beautiful, haunting and heartwarming.  As I read it, I shed a tear or two over the story of Jessie, sent from Europe to America at the tender age of thirteen.  She leaves behind her grandmother to live and work as a lacemaker in New York cit.

Magnificently illustrated with wonderful sensitivity and compassion by Kate Greenaway medallist P.J. Lynch.  It is rare to find a children's book so beautifully illustrated.  The pictures could easily hang on a gallery wall.  Both my daughters (aged 9 and 5) loved this story and begged for it to be read again and again.

The Sailor Who Captured the Sea by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

The Sailor who captrued the seaHarperCollins Publishers, Place, 1999

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-0602-3710-3

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

In this lavishly illustrated book, Ms Lattimore tells the story of three Irish brothers who worked on illustrating the Book Of Kells. The brothers lived in a time invasion from Viking lords and Irish kings. Beautiful Celtic knot work and sensitive illustrations compliment the story of an artist finding his voice. 

Other books in this series: The Flame of Peace: A Tale of the Aztecs; The Prince and the Golden Axe: A Minoan Tale; Why There is No Arguing in Heaven: A Mayan Myth

Where's the Pair? by Britta Teckentrup

Where's the Pair?Templar Publishing, Surrey, 2015

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-7837-0169-8

Suggested reading age: 2+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Your toddler will love trying to find all the animal and insect pairs in this gorgeous hardcover. The text rhymes and flows beautifully and is accompanied by delightful illustrations. A wonderful addition to any collection.

The House of Wisdom by Florence Parry Heide, Judith Heide Gilliland and Mary Grandpre

The House of WisdomDK Publishing, London, 2000

Hardback, 48 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7513-7217-5

Suggested reading age: 8+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

This is the true story of Ishaq, a young boy who lived in Baghdad in the ninth century. At that time the west was struggling in the dark ages while in the east, scholars discovered and translated the works of the great Greek philosophers.  Ishaq becomes a scholar like his father and travels far to collect manuscripts for the house of wisdom. The House of Wisdom was the centre of new ideas and learning, drawing scholars from all over the works. 

I loved the glimpse into another culture and time that this book offered.  As a lover of books, I wish that I could have visited or worked in the House of Widsom.