Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Librarian Zac Harding's Favourite Walker Books

Zac Harding is a Community Learning Librarian at Christchurch City Libraries in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has been blogging for Christchurch City Libraries since 2009, highlighting children and young adult's literature on and running the Christchurch Kids Blog, aimed at 8-12 years. In late 2011 Zac also started his book blog, My Best Friends Are Books, where he features news, reviews and interviews from the world of children's literature.

It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate 20 years of Walker Books Australia because Walker books had a huge impact on me growing up.  It is those classic Walker books that I had when I was a kid and the beautiful books that they continue to publish that have made me in to the librarian and booklover that I am today.

I have strong memories of my parents sharing Walker books with me when I was very young.  Whenever my parents bought books for me when I was growing up, they would always look for the Walker Bear because they knew it was the sign of a great picture book.  Some of my favourite picture books were those by Jill Murphy.  The Large Family books were ones that struck a chord with my mum, because she felt that Jill Murphy really understood what it was to be a parent.  She perfectly captured both the joys and the frustrations of being a parent, whether it was trying to get the kids to eat their dinner or trying to get Five Minutes' Peace.  I loved these books too and still do to this day.  The Jill Murphy book that I loved the most though was Peace at Last.  I still know the opening lines:

"The hour was late.  Mr Bear was tired, Mrs Bear was tired and Baby Bear was tired." 

Poor Mr Bear can’t get to sleep and tries sleeping in different places, but nothing helps.  

"Drip, drip went the leaky kitchen tap.  Hummm went the refrigerator."  

The last page, when Mr Bear finally falls asleep and gets woken up by Baby Bear, always made me laugh.  The look on his face said it all.

When I was at primary school, we would go to our local public library as a class each month.  The wonderful librarians (some of whom I now work alongside in the library) introduced us to the marvels of both Anthony Browne and Jeannie Baker.  They taught me to not only pay attention to the story, but also to the beautiful illustrations that helped tell the story.  I loved Anthony Browne’s books because they were so funny and there was always something interesting to find in the illustrations.  Jeannie Baker’s books were absolutely fascinating to me!  I couldn’t believe the detail that went into each of her illustrations and I pored over each page, trying to figure out how she created them.  Every time I see a new book of Jeannie’s I fall in love with her books all over again. 

Every time I read a new Walker picture book it’s like holding a work of art in my hands.  They are beautiful to look at, as well as read, and you want to share them with as many children and adults as possible.  Some of my recent favourites have been Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat and I Want My Hat Back, Chris Haughton’s Oh No, George! and Demolition by Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock.  I look forward to many more years of Walker books and to sharing my favourites with my own children some day.

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