Books from the Basement
Welcome to Children's Corner book reviews from 4MBS Classic Radio FM in Brisbane. Here you will find short annotations of the children's books reviewed by Kerry Neary in Children's Corner on 4MBS, together with the details you need to find them at your favourite bookstore. Any prices shown are the publisher's Australian recommended price and may vary depending on where you shop. You are welcome to use these reviews for newsletters and the like with appropriate acknowledgement.
May 15, 2013
Omnibus Books (Scholastic Australia)
ISBN: 9781862919310 RRP: $26.99
This charming piece of nonsense is about what might happen if certain Australian birds were taken to various places, as in the title. See the chaos of a cormorant in the laundry, a pelican at the airport, a jacana in a shoe shop and successively a stilt and an osprey. I’ll leave it to you to guess where they shouldn’t be. In each case there is a feature about the bird that makes it risky to take it into a particular place: part of the fun is working out that match. Most of the fun is in the joyous rhythms and sound play of the words and the playful lines of the illustrations, which include signature lino-cuts in a broader collage of colour. This burst of boisterous energy for early readers was launched by the Governor General at the Brisbane Square Library on George St.
Frances Watts, illustrated by David Legge
ABC Books (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 9780733328916 RRP: $24.99
A box lands in a forest like a Trojan Horse. Strange noises emanate from it but who is game enough to open it? One by one, brave animals approach, only to retreat fearfully at the sound of a new noise and a scary rhyme coming from the box. Finally they decide to open the box together, and there’s a flap for readers to lift – if they dare. Rich vocabulary describes the animals and the features of the hidden creature; each warning from the box is written in repetitive rhyme. Hidden within the vibrant illustrations are six other animals for readers to find; the most prominent of these is the next one to face the box. This is a book with a lot of things happening; children will enjoy the story as well as the playful distractions throughout.
May 5, 2013
Lothian Books (Hachette Children’s Books)
ISBN: 9780734412744 RRP: $24.99
Two brothers, inseparable as they grow up, are separated by the Vietnam War when the younger brother is conscripted and the older brother remains behind with friends who claim the war is not Australia’s. Eventually the conscripted brother finds himself at Long Tan; his diary provides much of the story. The text is spare but the themes make it important to share this book. The illustrations are arresting, mixed media with a foundation image vigorously laid down in black then overdrawn with wax crayon and acrylics. It’s a very expressive and emotionally evocative style, breathtaking in its honesty.
Phil Cummings, illustrated by Owen Swan
ISBN: 9781742838694 RRP: $24.99
While father is caught in battle in the trenches, mother and child have decided to make some Anzac biscuits for him from home. The stories are parallel and told through alternate pages; this sharpens the contrast between the peace and hopefulness of home with the misery of war. While we empathise with the mother and child for the absent father, we despair for the safety of the father at war. The watercolour washes soften the distress of separation, though the grey tones of the battlefield emphasise its anguish.