Animals dominate this month’s picture book roundup. We’ve had all kinds of fun with books about tigers, wombats, penguins, dinosaurs, seals, cats, a moose, a pig in a wig… we have even had a book about a whole house becoming a zoo! Hannah loves animals of all shapes and sizes, so she has been well-and-truly spoilt for choice. Welcome to the June 2018 Picture Book Roundup!
The Secret Sky Garden – Linda Sarah and Fiona Lumbers
Funni loves spending her days at the abandoned airport car park. It’s a great place to observe the planes, fly her kite and play her recorder. But something was missing, so Funni makes a plan. Every Saturday for three months she drags a huge sack of soil on to the rooftop car park. Then she plans some seeds, transforming dilapidated space in to a spectacular garden. But still something was missing.
Flying home from his Dad’s place, Zoo spots Funni’s rooftop garden – it’s colourful flowers like fireworks in stark contrast to the grey tones of the rest of the city stretched out beneath him. Back on solid ground, Zoo seeks it out, and there he finds Funni and her colourful wonderland. Now Funni and Zoo fly their kites and play their instruments together. Nothing is missing anymore.
A beautiful story of the magical spaces to be found and created in ordinary places, and the comfort of a warm and comfortable friendship.
Zoo House – Heath McKenzie
Oscar wakes up to find his house is a zoo. With a gorilla or two in the loo, bears all over the stairs and lions in the lounge room, the house has gone wild! Upon funding Mum cleaning up all the mess, Oscar thought that the madness must be causing her distress. But never fear, Mum has a plan to reign in the chaos. The animals can stay but they have to pitch in. The elephants are to mop the floors, monkeys and apes are on dish cleaning duty and the bears are set to work vacuuming carpets and drapes. Will Mum’s plan work?
With busily detailed, bright and bold illustrations and playful rhyming text, this new picture book is a delight to read aloud. Share in the joy with the kids – pull up a comfy chair, settle in and let you imagination run wild!
Thimble – Rebecca Young and Tull Sulwannakit
When Mabel’s Grandma dies, she leaves behind an unfinished blanket. At a time when Mabel and her family are processing this loss, Mabel finds a beautiful way to honour her Grandma’s memory, powerfully drawing her family even closer together during this sad time.
Thimble is a beautiful story of love, loss, change and the healing power of family and the memories made. It explores the upending situation of losing a grandparent and does so with integrity and respect for its child readers. The sadness, grief, and feelings of loss are evident in the pages of the book – both the text and the illustrations – without dwelling, over-emphasising or catastrophising. The warm and emotive illustrations suit this book perfectly.
You can find Thimble here. Ages 4+
We Wear Pants – Katie Abey
We Wear Pants is an engaging, interactive picture book all about getting dressed. Each double page spread contains a new funny scene with a bright and bustling illustration of a new location with animals wearing clothing and activities for readers to complete. The ‘We wear coats’ pages illustrate a bus stop scene on a rainy day. In the subheading the reader is asked “What are all the animals doing?” and characters in the illustration prompt further interactivity through speech bubbles and shout outs. “Who has the same coat as me?”, asks the frog on the bench. “Count the umbrellas”, calls the turtle on the bus stop roof.
We Wear Pants is a lot of fun. It is great for encouraging vocabulary, imagination and story telling. With so much going on, don’t expect your little person to put this book down in a hurry. As I found out with Hannah, this is not your ‘quick story before bed’ book!
It’s Hard to Love a Tiger – Anna Pignataro
It’s Hard to Love a Tiger is a rhyming story about a little girl and a vexatious but very lovable tiger.
A little girl wishes she had a tiger from the zoo, but once she does, the trouble begins! Tiger finds it a little tricky to fit into the little girl’s life. He roars at everyone he meets, makes a sticky mess at the fancy pastry store, gallops in a fluffy pink tutu during ballet class and pounces on the bus.
Filled with fun rhyme, engaging similes, and illustration of the humorous scenarios, It’s Hard to Love a Tiger is perfect for reading and laughing aloud. A perfect conversation starter for imaginative “I wish..” scenario with the little person in your life.
The Snow Wombat – Susannah Chambers and Mark Jackson
A wombat ventures out of his burrow on a snowy winter day. On his journey through his Australian High Country home he takes in the marvellous surroundings: the stockman’s hut, the mountain peak, the gums, the riverbank and several animals characteristic of the location. As the weather becomes fierce, the wombat heads back to his snug burrow for a sleep.
The simple rhyming text will delight toddlers. The beautiful illustrations capture the Australian High Country wonderfully. The inside covers display a stunning illustrated map of the land the wombat travels through in the story. I would have adored this map when I was a child!
The Penguins Are Coming! – Meg McKinlay and Mark Jackson
Down at the zoo all the animals are all a flutter. The penguins are coming! But, wait… what’s a penguin? The zoo animals put their heads together to piece together what a penguin is. Well, they’re birds, so they fly. Oh you should see them soar… flying thousands of miles south for winter never stopping… except for pizza…and a sunbathe on the beach… in their colourful bathers… even though they are hopeless at swimming… and…and…
Luckily the zoo keeper finally sets them straight: penguins are very sensible birds. Aren’t they?
The Penguins Are Coming! is an absurdly fun and outrageous story that will keep you guessing about what happens next.
Errol! – Zanni Louise and Phillip Bunting
Mum is taking the shopping home. “Come, Errol.”, says Mum, but Errol doesn’t come. Not even when she counts to three. Errol stays right where he is. But Errol is not there after all. All that is left where Errol used to be is his hat. Where has Errol gone? Errol has sunk through into a tunnel in the snow…
Errol! is a beautifully illustrated funny story about a cheeky and stubborn penguin and his independent adventures.
I Love You Dino-Daddy – Mark Sperring and Sam Lloyd
Dino-Daddy is so much Dino-fun, he always find the time to play a game. At home he blows up balloons and ties them on to strings. At the park, no one can spin you faster or swing you quite so high. Best of all he turns into… a tickling machine!
With catchy rhyming text and the comical illustrations, I Love You Dino-Daddy entertainingly captures the special, fun relationships that often develop between kids and their dads.
Pig in a Wig – Chrissie Krebbs
Pig in a Wig is a hilarious slapstick comedy style story of mistaken identity.
When a wig falls off the back of a wig truck, pig is delighted and places the glorious wig on his head. He shows off to his farmyard neighbours, but he doesn’t quite get the responses he expects.
Having angered a big, fat bull with his strange wigged appearance, pig in a wig seeks safety in a tree. Pig in a wig is then flung out of the tree when the tree’s resident hungry kitty wants to make a meal of him. Onward still Pig must dash when the guard dog in the yard he lands in doesn’t like to look of him either.
As the bull, cat, dog and farmer all give chase to the wig wearing pig, pig dashes away but as he darts through a prickly bush, the wig comes off. When he comes out the of the bush, the chasers are confused. Where on earth did that wigged pig go? Just as they are all standing by the roadside puzzling over this mystery, a hat truck drives by and a hat falls off…
We have had a lot of enjoyment reading this book together. Hannah favourite part is joining in when Pig screams “Aggggggghhhhhhh!” as he runs away from each of the animals that chase him.
Let’s go ABC!: Things That Go, from A to Z – Rhonda Gowler Greene and Daniel Kirk
Let’s Go ABC! is an alphabet book with vehicles for every letter from A to Z. Search each page to find the letter in large font in amongst the illustration that displays a scene containing the vehicle (and many other items) that begin with the same letter. With twenty-six vehicles to be discussed, there is plenty of variety: a fire truck and an aeroplane, but also some more unusual vehicles such as a dog sled, gondola lift and an ice boat. We are unlikely to see some of these in sunny Sydney any time soon so this has opened up even more conversations of far away places and holiday adventures to be had.
Hannah is a vehicle-loving toddler. The local construction site is a place of joy for her, causing delighted sequels of ‘Digger!’ and ‘Roller, roller!’ and we can’t drive near a railway line without hearing calls of ‘Where’s the train?’. Let’s Go ABC! is perfect for Hannah and her vehicle-loving ways, expanding her vocabulary, letter recognition and imagination as we read.
The Singing Seal – Merv Lamington and Allison Langton
The Singing Seal is the first book in the True Animal Tales series. It is a fictitious story, inspired by the famous New Zealand Fur Seal who lives on the Sydney Opera House steps.
Florence, the fur seal, is no ordinary seal. She isn’t very good at seal things, but she can sing. Singing is Florence’s passion and, despite many setbacks, she is determined to realise her dreams of singing opera for an audience. She tries and tries and tries, until one day… an opportunity arrives.
The final page of The Singing Seal is full of information about the real Sydney Opera House seal, as well as some interesting facts about New Zealand Fur Seals.
Being a Princess is Very Hard Work – Sarah KilBride and Ada Grey
Many little girls dream of being a princess, but have you ever thought about what princesses do all day long? Having everyone at your beck and call while wearing beautiful dresses? Basically doing whatever you want whenever you want? Oh no, uh-uh! Set in a princess training academy, this book will set you straight!
There is sitting on thrones for hours, smiling and waving even when you’re tired, and that’s just the beginning. Perhaps being a real girl is better after all. You can be yourself, have lots of fun smiling and frowning, climbing and falling, being noisy and making a mess. Best of all people love you just the way you are. Sounds like much more fun than being a shiny princess.
Filled with fun scenes of princesses in training, Being a Princess is Very Hard Work is all about seeing the positives and loving your life!
We’re Getting a Cat! – Vivian French and Salvatore Rubbino
When a family move to a new flat in an old house the find it has loads of mice. As he is terrified of mice, Dad announces “We’re getting a cat!”
We’re Getting a Cat tells the story of how the family chooses a cat from a rescue centre, sets up their flat to make it cat-friendly and describes life for this family during the first few weeks with Kevin the cat as he becomes a part of their family. It tells of the highs and the stresses, such as the anxiety of the first time of letting Kevin explore outside alone. Will he come back? As time goes on it becomes evident that Kevin is rather useless at catching mice, but he has solidified his place in the family by then!
We’re Getting a Cat is a cheerful non-fiction book that reads like a lovely story book. Many of the pages also have information boxes filled with practical information – the types of bowls cats like to eat and drink from, the food they like and how to clean a litter tray. A great book for teaching you children about the day-to-day of pet ownership. A wonderful resource for young families planning on getting a cat. On a personal note, I hope it is not too encouraging for those of us that aren’t planning on getting a cat!
Missing Marvin – Sue deGennaro
Marvin is a moose. He loves his job as a baggage handler, and he diligently does his job. Barry, Shelly and Ivan also work as baggage handlers, but they are not so diligent. Instead, they like jokes. To Barry, Shelly and Ivan, the jokes are a bit of harmless fun. But Marvin begins to notice that the jokes are always on him.
Eventually, Marvin decides he has had enough. Will his co-workers realise that they have gone too far? Will Marvin figure out a solution to the problem?
Missing Marvin is a thoughtful insight into problems of perception that can lead to alienation and feelings of being bullied. Sue deGennaro tactfully presents both sides of the equation, and she highlights the importance of communication in resolving problems. Great for children who are beginning to develop social skills.
The Lost Dads Home – Éric Veillé and Pauline Martin
This is a quirky book, there’s no denying it. The Lost Dads Home is a light-hearted take on the different types of dads that can be found around us. When a dad is lost by their child, they end up at the Lost Dads Home. If the dad is lucky, the child comes quickly to retrieve them.
While dads wait to be collected, they wait around with other, similar, dads. There are the dads in striped sweaters, bearded dads, older dads and dads who cry (they are given cookies and juice).
The moral of the story is that there are all types of dads, but the best type of dad is the dad you have right there at home with you… the one pretending to be a coat rack!
Disclosure – these books were provided to Blog of Dad free of charge for the June2018 Picture Book Roundup. For further information, please visit my disclosure statement.