Three very different picture books here, all by Australian authors.
Giinagay Gaagal (Hello Ocean) by Gumbayngirr artist Melissa Greenwood (who also created My Little Barlaagany (Sunshine) among others.) It’s a celebration of the ocean and its pleasures: swimming, fishing, running on the sand, collecting pipis and shells. In the story the aunties share cultural knowledge and wisdom as well as fun:
But first, before walking on Country, we talk to the landGiinagay Gaagal (Hello Ocean)
and let her know that we are here to play.
We are grateful for what she has to offer,
we promise to take care of her during our stay.
I’m always delighted to see new books incorporating First Nations languages. It’s a gentle way to introduce young readers to the multiplicity of cultures and languages that flourished in Australia before colonisation, some of which are still in use or are being revived.
The illustrations are gorgeous, incorporating the colours of sea and sand.
Fans of Jackie French will welcome her latest picture book, The Turtle and the Flood, a companion to the wonderful The Fire Wombat. Fire and flood are the bookends of natural disaster events in this country, and our children experience them all too often.
Learning about how native animals have evolved to survive these events is one way of coming to understand the natural cycles of our land.
We are introduced to Myrtle the long necked turtle, who can sense a coming flood (even before the rains begin) and makes her long slow climb uphill to a safe spot, out of the reach of the water.
She is joined by others (snakes, wombats, water dragons, wallabies.) The animals are guided by Myrtle’s wisdom and understanding of her environment.
There are lovely soft illustrations by Danny Snell which bring Myrtle’s journey to colourful life.
The third book in my selection is a change of pace. The first in a new series featuring Bunny and Bird, How to Hatch a Dragon is a sweetly hilarious story about the importance of observation and paying attention. The two friends are so engrossed in the instruction booklet that came with their dragon egg that they completely miss most of the action!
Little ones will get the humour, as they can see in the pictures what’s going on behind Bunny and Bird’s backs.
Three new books to delight: Giinagay Gaagal, The Turtle and the Flood, and How to Hatch a Dragon are published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in September and October, 2023.
My thanks to the publishers for review copies.
Most Australians will know Jimmy Barnes as the lead singer of the rock band Cold Chisel, belting out songs in his powerful voice. Perhaps you have read one or both of his best-selling memoirs, Working Class Boy or Working Class Man. You might be surprised, as I was, to discover that this Aussie legend has now turned his story-telling skills to writing a children’s picture book.
The author’s note (in the form of a pink postcard) tells us that the idea for this book came from his granddaughter, Rosie, a big, strong girl for two and a half years old. In her mind, Rosie was a unicorn, delicate and colourful, and nothing could change her mind on this.
So Rosie’s granddad wrote a story about a rhinoceros called Rosie, who believed she was a unicorn, with a pretty horn and dainty hooves. Rosie could never understand why everyone else thought she was a rhinoceros, so one day she decides to make an announcement to all her animal friends and neighbours that she was a unicorn.
Now, don’t get me wrong,’ Rosie continued. ‘Rhinoceroses are some of the nicest animals in the savannah, but I am clearly a unicorn.’Rosie the Rhinoceros
‘If you don’t believe me, look at my beautiful horn and my delicate hooves, which allow me to walk so quietly.’
The animals all looked and smiled.
Luckily for Rosie, the other animals allow her to believe in being a unicorn and Rosie continues to live happily, waking up each day eager to explore the marvels of her world. Imagine if they had insisted that she was not a unicorn or, worse, made fun of her belief?
This lovely story is about self-belief and also about acceptance of difference by others. It is beautifully illustrated by Matt Shanks, and the pink theme throughout will appeal to many younger readers, especially those who love all things pink and sparkly.
Rosie the Rhinoceros is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in October 2021.
My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.
If you had a sibling, or more than one child, you’d be familiar with the tendency of brothers and sisters to try to outdo each other. Sometimes this is a bid for parental attention and approval, and at others it can be put down to plain old competitiveness. Parents the world over have been irritated and amused as their children vie for ‘top dog’ status.
Can You Do This? brings such situations to life, with a younger brother performing all sorts of antics to impress his older brother, who dismisses him each time with a casual wave, wink, laugh, or ‘too easy’.
The illustrations are in bright, bold colours; the brothers are depicted as mice, though other animals appear in scenes throughout.
The feats of the little brother become more and more daring and skilful, and the punchline comes in a laugh-out-loud moment on the final page.
The moral of the story is ‘Don’t believe everything you’re told’ which feels especially relevant just now!
Can You Do This? is a fun, light hearted look at sibling rivalry that children – and parents – will enjoy.
Can You Do This? is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in February 2021
My thanks to the publishers for a copy to read and review.