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Pete the Cat and his four groovy buttons by James Dean & Eric Litwin (2012)

[Published by Harper]

pete-the-cat-19gbgmg

Hello again world. I know I know, it’s been far too long. All my promises of continuing to blog after my year was up fell apart slightly. However, in good news, I have now completed my Grad Dip in Teaching, have a job lined up for next year (teaching new entrants!) and am officially on holiday. I won’t do anything rash and make any blog-frequency promises, we’ll just see how it goes. Okay with you? There will probably be more “teacher stuff,” but I can promise there will always be picture books.

Pete the Cat is such a stunner and today’s Pete book is full of maths. Hooray, love maths! Pete begins his day with four buttons. After several popping incidents, he ends up entirely button less, well apart from one special body button that is. With a super groovy song, a nice message and numbers galore, this is picture book party central.20151130_153440

There are heaps of great ideas for using this book in the primary school classroom, with a particularly fantastic selection on this blog.

It’s nice to be back, if I’ve missed any picture book gems in the last few months, feel free to let me know.

Check out Pete the Cat and his four groovy buttons at Auckland Libraries.

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One year, 365 picture books… success!

All the books

This is what 365 picture books look like.

Woohoo! I have made it to the end of my 365 days of picture book reviews. To celebrate I’m not going to review a picture book today. I tricked you all! Instead, I am going all Oscars on it, excuse me while I try not to stumble up the stairs to the microphone.

Firstly I would like to thank my lovely husband John who has put up with mounds of picture books in our lounge for the past year, random requests for his opinion on particular titles, and me saying “Just give me five minutes, I haven’t posted my review yet for today.” You are a good man John.

Next up, mum and my mother-in-law, Marilyn. Combined, their powers of proof reading have (hopefully) made my blog error free. It did lead to some slightly cryptic text messages including the following from my mother, “Does a light bulb go off or on?” which turned out to be an editing suggestion for this post. Thanks mums, you are officially my number one fans.

Sammy  having "the grumps".

Sammy harrumphing, like Pom Pom the grumpy panda.

My sister and her three awesome children, have been a willing and enthusiastic audience for many of the books I have reviewed. Two hours babysitting Sammy (aged 2) was filled entirely by me reading books to him (okay so we did have a short break to dance like Gerald). Your kids are great Emily, and so are you!

Thanks also to the lovely staff at Panmure Library for processing my hundreds of book requests and for occasionally letting me blow my 35 book-borrowing limit. And a big shout out to Auckland Libraries’ Collections team who unquestioningly bought all of my new picture book suggestions, I love you guys!

Geez this is starting to become a little epic so I’ll wind things up. Congratulations to all the amazing picture book authors, illustrators, designers and publishers who work so hard. My mind on many occasions over the past year has been blown by the creativity, humour and beauty present in the pages of picture books. Keep up the good work, you are making the world a better place.

And finally thank you to everyone who has popped on by, commented, suggested titles, offered advice, contributed reviews and been generally enthusiastic about myfriendlucy. I have had an amazing year, and look forward to continuing to review in the future, albeit on a far less frequent basis.

Big high fives and pats on the back all round,

Lucy (your friend)

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Whoops! by Suzi Moore; illustrated by Russell Ayto (2015)

[Published by Templar]

whoops-

The out-loud-reading-speed-test is a wee invention of mine, that gives a fairly accurate indication of how fun a picture book is to read aloud. It’s pretty scientific/mathematical, so I won’t bore you with all the formulae, but, in simple terms, if I find myself reading a book really fast by the end, it means it’s a winner.

As I trial-read Whoops! to my husband while he cooked dinner, I accelerated to such speeds, he nearly lost his eyebrows. A definite A+ on that test paper.IMG_1913

“This is the cat
who didn’t know how,
she didn’t know
how to say MEOW.”

It’s not just the cat with vocalisation issues, her friends dog and mouse are also decidedly voiceless. The owl recommends a visit to the old lady at the tumbledown house who will have just the spell for the silent trio.

“She went to look at her big spell book.
She cast a spell but the whole house shook.
Then the wind blew in.
And the rain came down.
And the tumbledown house
turned round and round.”

Her first attempts at spell casting are not hugely successful, so the whole process is repeated… several times. Finally everything is right with the world again, the cat miaows, the dog barks and the mouse squeaks. And the little old lady? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out what happens to her!

A whole bunch of fun in a very stylish package.

Check out Whoops! at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Whoops! from Fishpond.

[Recommended by Pranita – thanks Pranita, excellent taste as always!]

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Zippo the Super Hippo by Kes Gray; illustrated by Nikki Dyson (2015)

[Published by MacMillan]

zippo

I am no child psychologist, but I can tell from the cover alone that Zippo is going to be a hit with the young ‘uns. “How Lucy? How do you know this?” Well team, I can guarantee that any book with the phrase “Bottom Power” on the cover, which features a large hippo in underpants will be instant “read it again” material.

Zippo the hippo has a hankering for being super, for having a super power to be more precise. By process of elimination, he and his friend Roxi hit upon flying as the perfect power for him.

“You’re right!” said Zippo. “If I could fly, I could get a super cape and some super boots and I could fly 20150729_082518around the world being Zippo the Super Hippo!” Zippo’s attempts at launching himself elegantly in the air fail miserably, ending each time with a giant splat, and an animal squashed beneath his admirable bottom. In good news, it turns out that super bottoms can be quite a weapon against misbehaving animals. And so, Zippo the Super Hippo is born.

There are all sorts of goodies hidden in the pages of this beautifully illustrated, hilariously told story. Come on down Zippo, we’ve saved you a place in the inner circle of friends here at myfriendlucy!

Check out Zippo the Super Hippo at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Zippo the Super Hippo from Fishpond.

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Leo the late bloomer by Robert Kraus; illustrated by Jose Aruego (1971)

[Published by Windmill Books]

leo

It’s probably not very respectful, but I find Leo in his pre-blooming stage absolutely adorable. His father however is a little concerned by Leo’s inability to do anything right, he can’t read, write, draw or even talk. He is however the master of staring forlornly with his great big tigery eyes. That’s gotta count for something, surely?

“What’s the matter with Leo?” asked Leo’s father.

“Nothing,” said Leo’s mother.

“Leo is just a late bloomer.”

“Better late than never,” thought Leo’s father.”IMG_1885

It takes a long time, but finally after a lot of active non-watching by his father, everything comes together for wee Leo, and he does indeed bloom.

This delightful picture book is one you may remember from your own childhood. With its great message and wonderful illustrations, it is every bit as relevant today as it was when it was first published back in the 70s.

Check out Leo the late bloomer at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Leo the Late Bloomer from Fishpond.

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Fabulous Pie by Gareth Edwards; illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees

[Published by Alison Green Books]

pie

“Deep in the forest
Where the trees meet the sky,
A very bad bear
Baked a very big pie.”

In spite of his badness, I have to admit to a certain fondness for the sneaky old bear. He hatches a cunning plan, asking the animals of the forest to help him fill his fabulous pie. Mouse provides ripe berries, and squirrel adds delicious hazelnuts. It’s all sounding rather tasty. Badger brings honey and then otter offers the slightly less-traditional salmon.

At this point the bear shows his true colours, shoving the mouse, squirrel, badger and otters into his pie. IMG_1908With a little ingenuity the pie-filling/animals engineer a rather slippery escape. I must say the character I feel sorry for in all this is the salmon, look out for his doleful eyes as the escapees celebrate with a delicious slice of pie.

Fabulous Pie is heaps of fun to read. Told in bopping rhyme, its illustrations are almost as delicious as the pie.

Check out Fabulous Pie at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Fabulous Pie from Fishpond.

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Tyranno-sort-of Rex by Christopher Llewelyn; illustrated by Scott Tulloch (2015)

[Published by Scholastic New Zealand]

dinoHave you spent hours scratching your head over the instructions provided with kit-set furniture? Now imagine you have no instructions, and rather than a bookshelf, you’re putting together a dinosaur skeleton. Yup, that’s right, hilarious.

A ship’s cargo of three neatly packed sets of dinosaur bones arrive at the dock in a sad state, having weathered a violent storm. No longer divided, the bones are now merrily higglety pigglety.

Their delivery to the City Museum museum late at night and the day before an advertised exhibition of dinosaurs creates something of a challenge for the curator.

After a long night of sweating over power tools and unidentified bones, the curator creates three… um… sort of dinosaur skeletons.IMG_1907[1]

“Through half-closed eyes, it sort of looked fine,
but scattered around were spare bits of spine.
The leftover bones he’d just have to hide,
as people were already queueing outside.”

His various attempts at dinosaur creation are fantastic, and while regular dinosaurs are fairly crazy, these things are off the scale wacky. Told in fabulous rhyming verse, this story will have your audience in fits of laughter.

Check out Tyranno-sort-of-Rex at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Tyranno-Sort-of Rex from Fishpond.