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September 2015

October 2015

Numbers by Paul Thurby

NumbersHodder Children's Books, London, 2014

Hardback, 48 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4449-2441-1

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ***

Numbers and maths are just as important for young children as letters and language.  There are lots of ABC books already out there so it's great to see this fantastic 123.  Paul Thurby is a full time illustrator based in London and with this book he was trying to make numbers fun.  I think he succeeded!  The illustrations have a vintage vibe with some great pop culture references that parents will love - the number four is represented by the Fab Four.  So go ahead and get counting!


Mooncakes by Loretta Seto and Renne Benoit

MooncakesOrca Books, Canada, 2013

Hardback,  32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0107-3

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: **

I love this book.  It was one of the first multicultural books I discovered at our local library.  My daughters love it as well and we have borrowed it many times. Moncakes is the story of a little girl's Chinese Moon Festival celebrations with her family.  They make moon cakes, light paper lanterns and sit outside under the light of the moon telling stories about the moon.  This book beautifully weaves together traditional stories with the story of the little girl.


Night Sky Dragons by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham

Night Sky DragonsWalker Books, London, 2014

Hardback, 64 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4063-0985-0

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

Yazul is a young boy who lives in a remote han, a place of safety along the Silk Road.  He father is the lord of the han and Yazul spends his days in his grandfather's workshop learning the art of building kites.  His father wants Yazul to give up kite making with his grandfather and learn to be a lord.  Yazul is torn in two, between his love of kites and his love for his father.  Night Sky Dragons is the story of how Yazul finds a way to please his father and fly his kites.

 


Running with the Horses by Alison Lester

Running with the HorsesPenguin, Australia, 2009

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-670-86833-9

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

A fabulous tale of adventure and bravery from wonderful Australian author and illustrator, Alison Lester.  Nina and her father, Viktor the stable master,  live above the palace stables at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses.  Nina dreams of of one day becoming a rider at the Academy.  Her dreams are dashed when war rips throughout the country, forcing Nina, her father and Karl the groom to take the remaining Academy horses on a long and perilous journey across the mountains to her grandparent's home.


River Story by Meredith Hooper and Bee Willey

River StoryWalker Books, London, 2000

Harback, 32 pages

ISBN: 0-7445-2893-3

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

A beautifully illustrated story about the journey a river takes from its beginnings high up in the mountains, through valleys and plains and ending in the sea.  A nice idea, that nature has a story too and a lovely introduction for younger readers to some natural concepts like tributaries and erosion.  There's an index at the end of key words and an overview of the river's journey.


Animal ABC by Camilla de la Bedoyere

Animal ABCQED Publishing, London, 2014

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-7817-1683-0

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

Learning to read is a big event in a little person's life and there are lots of ABC books and first readers out there.  I am a huge fan of this one with its beautiful illustrations of wildlife from around the world.


Charley's First Night by Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury

Charley's First NightCandlewick Press, Massachuesetts, 2012

Hardback, 28 pages

ISBN: 13 digits

Suggested reading age: 4+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

A gorgeous story of a little boy's first night with his puppy.  I'm not a dog person but the illustration of the puppy lying asleep on a pillow under the kitchen table, legs in the air with little belly exposed makes me very tempted to get a dog.  Be warned - reading this story will make your children want to own a puppy!


Forest Singer by Sylvia Sikundar and Alison Astill

Forest SingerBarefoot Books, New York, 1999

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-9022-8360-9

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ***

Mabuti is a Pygmy who lives with his tribe in a forest on the slopes of the Mountains of the Moon.  Everyone in his tribe sings whenever they can.  Searching for berries, making a new camp and gathering mushrooms.  When Mabuti tried to sing, all his friends covered their ears and teased him.  Although he was sad at being teased, he practiced in private until he learnt to sing.  

This is a lovely story of preserving in spite of ridicule and it is something that every child (and adult!) can relate to.  The end of the book also has more information about Pygmies for readers curious to learn more.   


Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen

Tea and Sugar ChristmasNational Library of Australia, Canberra, 2014

Hardback, 36 pages

ISBN: 978-0-6422-7863-0

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

This is the story of a train that travels once a week across the desert carrying goods to remote and isolated communities.  It has the feeling of a steampunk fantasy - a train that is a travelling shop, complete with livestock and a slaughter van? - but is based on fact.  From 1915 - 1996, the Tea and Sugar train travelled once a week from Port Augusta, SA to Kalgoorlie, WA.  

Children will love the story of Kathleen who is waiting for the train to bring sugar.  The sugar ran out on Sunday and she has to wait four long days for the train to come.   Will it be on time?  Will she see Father Christmas who travels the line once a year, bringing lollies, soft drinks and presents for all the kids on the line?  For kids (and their parents!) who want to know more, there are period photos and maps at the back of the book along with some history about the train.


The incredible beauty of books

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." Cicero

A book is a miniature work of art.  The author and illustrator have poured their love, sweat and tears into creating a story.  It is a precious gift from someone's soul to yours.  All you, the reader, need do is add your imagination.  

For me there are some books that go beyond the equation of author plus illustrator equals story.  They are the books that are wonderfully packaged with gorgeous hard cover bindings, a dust cover with an illustration that beckons "read me!", a built-in ribbon book mark, textured paper with an easy to read font (no too small, not too big) and delightful line drawings.  These books are masterpieces.  I think they deserve to be in art galleries around the world, along with paintings, sculptures and performance art.

These are some of my favourite book masterpieces:

Little House on the PrairieI loved the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was growing up.  This is a gorgeous hardcover edition with full colour illustrations issued to celebrate the book's 75th anniversary.  It also contains Laura's letters.

 

 

 

 

 

We Didn't Mean to Go to SeaThe Swallows and Amazons stories are classics of English children's literature and We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea is my personal favourite.  I love these hardcover reissues of the classic stories and was super lucky to get this one for my most recent birthday.

 

 

 

 

Winnie the PoohWinnie the Pooh is well known by children all over the world.  Largely due I suspect, to the characters being used by a very famous and well known American film studio.  Nothing, however, can beat the charm of the original stories by A.A. Milne and illustrations by E.H. Shepherd.  This particular edition is a firm family favourite as you can see by the battered state of the dust jacket.

 

 

 

 

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryI have a shocking confession to make.  I didn't read any Roald Dahl books when I was growing up. I did however, see the movie of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  There seemed to be a time in my childhood when it was always on television.  Now, whenever I read the book, I see the film character's in my head.  I wish I had the chance to read it and create my own mental images.  This is another of my oldest daughter's favrouite books as you can see by the well loved cover.

 

 

 

Violet Mackerel's Helpful SuggestionI love the Violet Mackerel stories.  There's no dust cover for these books but they are still beautiful in every way.  Each story has a little picture on the spine.  The set looks lovely on the book shelf and the size is just right for little hands.  I've seen the North American editions of the books and to my mind, a lot was lost in that particular translation.