Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Favourite Father’s Day Books

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love You, A Bit Lost, Howl's Moving Castle, A Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh.

Father’s Day is almost here, with its lunches and brunches and requisite gifts of socks. But at the end of the day, what’s better than curling up with Dad for a bit of a read? 

We've rounded up a few of our favourite picks to celebrate Dad. They're perfect for giving, reading aloud, and, of course, acting out!  

Mitchell Goes Bowling, Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile 
Score one for Dad-kid bonding time with this fun foray into winning, losing, and laughter.

One Saturday, when Mitchell almost knocks down his dad, his dad catches him and puts him in the car. And when they step into the bowling alley, Mitchell feels right at home. Pizza! Giant crashing noises! Special shoes! But as Mitchell picks up the biggest ball and quickly learns the word gutter, and when Dad does a little kick with his leg and earns a big X on the scoreboard, Mitchell starts to get peevish. How can Mitchell get a chance to do a steamin -hot- potato-dance too?

Love Mitchell? Read more about him in his first book, Mitchell Goes Driving.

Faster! Faster! by Leslie Patricelli

An utterly charming board book full of recognisable Dad moments. A day at the park. A ride on Daddy's back. Run, Daddy! Faster! Faster! How fast can Daddy go? 

A humorous riff on a favourite pastime - a laugh-out-loud-funny tale of few words about doting dads and high-energy kids whose imaginations know no bounds. 

My dad says, 'I've told you fifty million times, don't exaggerate.' 

Dad is back by popular demand with more hilarious material. And yes, he STILL thinks he's funny. 

My Dad is Beautiful, by Jessica Spanyol

Let me tell you all the ways my dad is beautiful. 
My dad is beautiful because he cooks me sausages. 

Playful, tender and so very true, this beautifully illustrated picture book celebrates the relationship between a little bear and its dad, showing all the different ways that fathers can be wonderful. Jessica Spanyol's vibrant and charming illustrations, accompanied by an impeccable colour palatte, perfectly convey how love is measured in a child's eyes: in simple and unadorned terms. 

Heartwarming and perfect for fathers everywhere. 

How will you be celebrating this Father's Day?

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Sneak Peek: Big Red Kangaroo, by Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love YouA Bit LostHowl's Moving CastleA Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh. 

Kangaroos are a quintessential part of Australian life – they are emblematic, featured throughout official materials, shown on television shows, a fixture in many children’s songs. Depictions vary; often times, children see kangaroos as cute and cuddly or large and lazy. (As anyone who’s ever been to a kangaroo park at the zoo can attest.)

In Big Red Kangaroo, Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne have cast the kangaroo in a more natural light. Clear and beautiful prose details Big Red’s life; well-researched facts accompany the story, creating opportunities for discussion.

Far inland, where ocean is a dim memory, the sun floats on the waves of another bake-earth day. In the long shadows, a big red kangaroo licks his forearms and lets the early evening breeze wash over him.

Stunning illustrations of inland Australia bring depth to the story, and particularly to Big Red.

Both text and illustration highlight key non-fiction details and encourage readers to think about kangaroos and their place in the natural world. But, as with Flight of the Honeybee, this book is so much more than a story about kangaroos, or an exploration of facts. It's a pleasure to read aloud; it's exciting; it's full of opportunities for acting out what it is to be a kangaroo, or to go out into the world and consider how it would look to Big Red. It is a book that brings bush to city, and roos to heart.

Claire Saxby was born in Melbourne and grew up in Newcastle, NSW where she thought she'd stay until the end of her days. Then, while she was holidaying in Melbourne, Claire's parents decided to move to Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea. Fortunately, they waited and took her with them. Since then, she's lived in more houses than she can remember. Claire is the author of Ebi's Boat, illustrated by Anne Spudvilas, which was a Children's Book Council of Australia Notable book in 2007. Her title published with Walker Books Australia in 2010, There Was an Old Sailor, illustrated by Cassandra Allen, was short-listed for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2010, Young Children Category. (See the colouring sheet here, or find the Classroom Notes.)

Born in Sydney sometime last century, Graham Byrne did the usual school and university time, worked as an electrical engineer for years, then went into building houses and structures. The old back injury put paid to hard physical work. An interest in art as a creative adjunct to the practical nature of building led to formal education, work installing artworks at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and wonderings about other roads to explore. Wanting his art to have some 'practical' useful purpose, to be illuminating, pointed Graham to illustration and design pathways. Explorations of drawing, painting, filling sketchbooks, making books for his grandchildren and illustrating short stories have combined to prompt his journey as a book illustrator. Big Red Kangaroo is Graham’s first picture book.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Sneak Peek: Flight of the Honey Bee, by Raymond Huber and Brian Lovelock

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love YouA Bit LostHowl's Moving CastleA Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh. 
The cold is coming and Scout is on a daring flight in search of the last flowers of autumn. Scout's mission is very dangerous, but it is also vital, because the flowers provide the precious nectar the hive needs to make honey. Can the hive make enough honey to survive the long winter months?

A new addition to our Nature Storybooks series, Flight of the Honey Bee details Scout’s journey to a meadow. Yet Scout’s story is far from prosaic; in fact, it’s rather poetic, and the dangers she faces are very real to a honey bee.

Scout zigs and zags from flower to flower, spreading pollen around. The pollen clings to her fuzzy body – a sprinkle of sun-powder.
As with all the Nature Storybooks, factual details provide a counterpoint and encourage deeper reading and discussion. At the end, there’s an author’s note, about honey bees, and their status as an endangered species. (There are also classroom notes available for Flight of the Honey Bee.)

But for me, the thing about this book isn’t just how very real Scout’s journey is, or even how it could encourage children and adults alike to learn more about colony collapse disorder and how we can save the bees. It’s that the story is very much a reflection of a child’s day, filled with almost timed phrases for how kindy and primary school kids journey through their own days. There’s leaving home for adventure (and knowing one will return home again); dealing with something difficult (and overcoming it); pausing for breath; telling everyone at home about one’s day; and reflecting (often with a parent) on the day, and how even the difficult parts were worth it.

It’s rare to find a book which is so inextricably tied to events children can relate to while at the same time presenting a story so unlike theirs. It’s something to glory in, that togetherness – and the facts alongside provide a rather lovely set of grace notes. (The illustrations, too, are truly gorgeous. The first one, where “a bee the size of a cherry pip”, sets out, is my favourite.)

Learn more about Nature Storybooks: Flight of the Honey Bee here or learn more about honey bees with our classroom notes.

Raymond Huber lives in Dunedin. He has been a social worker, gardener, primary school teacher, lecturer, and is currently a writer and editor. He's written Science and English textbooks and short stories for children. Sting, his first novel for Walker Books Australia, was short-listed for the NZ Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults, Junior Fiction Category, 2010; and the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, Young Adult Category, 2010; as well as being a Storylines Notable Book, Junior Fiction Category, 2010. (Read more of Ziggy's adventures in the sequel, Wings.)

Brian Lovelock is a scientist working in the power industry in New Zealand. He has painted all his life but has only recently ventured into the world of book illustration. His previous titles with Walker Books Australia include Did My Mother Do That! and Roadworks, which won the Picture Book category in the 2009 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults. Brian was recently long-listed for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Award for his work on Demolition.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Father's Day Pick: My Dad Still Thinks He's Funny

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love You, A Bit Lost, Howl's Moving Castle, A Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh. 

Father’s Day is almost upon us again – it is just three weeks away. In our family, there are gifts (socks, homemade cards, books, something incredibly-tasty-but-very-unhealthy-and-cholesterol-raising), a meal, sometimes a walk, and, always, dad jokes.

I’ve been fascinated by dad jokes for a long time. After all, they’ve been around as long as…well, as long as Dads. But what makes a dad joke a dad joke?

Is it the groan-worthy punchlines?
Is it the unadulterated joy of dads everywhere as they deliver groan-worthy punchlines?
Or is it simply that a dad’s jokes never change, because even after years, Dad still thinks he’s funny?

Truly, I’m not sure.

More importantly, though, as an adult I’ve come to appreciate dad jokes. They are a quintessential dad thing. (I've told you fifty million times, don’t exaggerate.) When life does its lemony thing and you’re left with a pile of citrus one side and are completely out of sugar on the other, a true dad will be right there with you, cracking a joke about it being all right, because you’re sweet enough. And therein lies the brilliance of the dad joke: sure, they’re groan-inducing, but, for a split second at least, they’re a laugh-worthy reminder that we are loved. 

Text © 2013 Katrina Germein/Illustration © 2013 Tom Jellett.

This Father’s Day, we’ll eat, drink, and hand over the requisite pair of argyles. We’ll also retell some old chestnuts – there is something wonderful to be said for well-worn jokes, because they are warm and cosy, like a favourite pair of slippers – and perhaps read a few new ones. After all, it might be possible – might – to teach an old dad new tricks.

Learn more about My Dad Still Thinks He’s Funny here, or hop over  to read more about its bestselling companion, My Dad Thinks He's Funny.

Bestselling picture book author Katrina Germein writes stories that delight children and adults alike.  In 2011 Katrina's book My Dad Thinks He's Funny was short-listed for children's choice awards across Australia as well as being Highly Commended in the Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

Tom Jellett's books have included: Hot Stuff by Margaret Clark, Fuzz the Famous Fly by Emily Rodda, and Australia at the Beach, a picture book by Max Fatchen. Tom now lives in Sydney and works as an illustrator for The Australian. My Dad Thinks He's Funny was shortlisted in the 2011 APA Design Awards.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Corinne Fenton Shares Her Love For Picture Books

Corinne Fenton is the author of 25 books for children but her passion is picture books about social history. Her classic picture book Queenie: One Elephant’s Story, illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe, was an Honour Book in the 2007 Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards. The Dog on the Tuckerbox, also illustrated by Gouldthorpe, was named a Notable Book in two categories of the 2009 CBCA Awards. Flame Stands Waiting, illustrated by Sebastian Ciaffaglione, was on the 2011 Queensland Premier’s Reading Challenge. Corinne has also published many educational books, some translated into other languages.

For me the best way I can describe my passion for picture books is by reminding everyone that picture books can be read and shared by 0–95 year olds. I regularly speak to babies and pre-school groups about my picture book Hey Baby! and, at the other end of the spectrum, to seniors groups about Queenie: One Elephant's Story, The Dog on the Tuckerbox and Flame Stands Waiting.

Whether it's the joy of watching a baby smile at the images of baby animals (in Hey Baby!) or watching an elderly lady sigh as she remembers her ride on Queenie, 80 years ago, the feeling for me is the same. Only picture books can do that.