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The skunk with no funk by Rebecca Young; illustrated by Leila Rudge (2015)

[Published by Walker Books Australia]

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This book might be free of funk, but I’ll tell you what it did have, a giant cockroach stuck to its cover when I picked it up from my spare room. I’m not a total wimp, but I will admit it’s taken me some time to forgive old funk-less skunk-features enough to write a review. Everything is okay again now, and hopefully all the holes in our floor (courtesy of a house renovation) are covered so we will be cockroach-free in the future. Shaking it off…

When Woody was born he was lacking a vital detail, “Not a whiff of mud, not a sniff of swamp, not a dash of dung. No smell at all. Woody was a skunk with no funk!”

Woody’s mother worries for his safety, how can he possibly survive in the wild with no nasty smell to deter predators? She refuses to let him out of her sight. When Woody follows the song of a robin one day, he finds himself alone in the middle of a meadow. With hungry owls IMG_1828coming ever closer, Woody discovers that funk comes in many forms.

A beautifully told, wonderfully illustrated story.

Check out The skunk with no funk at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The Skunk with No Funk from Fishpond.

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Hooray for Hoppy! by Tim Hopgood (2014)

[Published by MacMillan Children’s Books]

hoorayHoppy the enthusiastic rabbit arrived in my life at the perfect time. There is no other way to describe Auckland’s weather today than pants. It’s cold, grey, windy and rainy, all the bad things weather can be. We’re about halfway through winter, and today’s picture book reminded me that it’s not forever.

Hoppy wakes one morning and wonders if today is the day. It’s too cold and snowy, so he hops back into bed. A couple of failed attempts later and Hoppy wakes to a certain smell in the air. There is blossom on the trees, singing birds and lambs in the meadow. Spring has most definitely sprung. This lovely story is a celebration of the IMG_1897senses with the audience asked on the final pages What does Hoppy hear? What does Hoppy smell? What does Hoppy see? What does Hoppy taste? What does Hoppy feel?

The perfect antidote to a horrible winter’s day.

Check out Hooray for Hoppy! at Auckland Libraries (board book only at Auckland Libraries).

Or buy Hooray for Hoppy! from Fishpond (picture book version).

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The green sea turtle by Isabel Muller (2014)

[Published by North South Books]

greenI heard a fellow student teacher the other day say, “They had such a good time, they didn’t even realise they were learning!” I love this concept a lot, and today’s amazing picture book does just this, entwining fascinating facts with the story of one green sea turtle.

“Our turtle has been traveling for many years, and she can now move swiftly and elegantly through the water. Her hind legs steer her, like the rudder of a boat, and her powerful front legs help her to swim very fast.”

All sorts of underwater creatures lurk in the pages of this beautiful story, with the added bonus of labels IMG_1886allowing for future identification. Perfect for kids studying animal migration (“hi Pap South!”) or small people with a passion for information, I’ve accidentally learnt a lot in the time I’ve spent with this funky wee turtle.

Check out The green sea turtle at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The Green Turtle from Fishpond.

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The farmer and the clown by Marla Frazee (2014)

[Published by Beach Lane Books]

farmerMy wordless picture book series continues today. To call it  a series is something of an exaggeration given that there are two wordless books in total. Let’s go with my mini-series of picture books sans words. (Apologies, I seem to feel the need to fill the space left by the lack of words in this book with my own verbal explosion, I will attempt to rein myself in).

In a field, a slightly grumpy-looking farmer works alone. A passing circus train distracts him for a moment and when a small clown tumbles off the back he doesn’t quite know what to make of it. The small clown makes himself right at home initially, but when his painted smile is washed away, it turns out he’s really not too sure IMG_1875about this new situation either. Together the farmer and the clown work towards creating a delightful friendship. But when the circus train returns…

Honestly, this wordless picture book thing is messing with my head, I need someone to talk to about this one. I’m heading out the door for pub quiz, that’s it, the book is coming with me.

Check out The farmer and the clown at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Farmer and the Clown from Fishpond.

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Squishy squashy birds by Carl van Wijk and Alicia Munday (2014)

[Published by Potton & Burton]

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New Zealand really does boast a most spectacular array of native birds. If you’ve never hunkered down in the bird-viewing hide at Nugget Point in the Catlins and delighted in wobbly hoiho making their way across across the beach, then I insist you add it to your bucket list immediately! (I have been known to describe the Catlins as New Zealand’s Disneyland. Admittedly this is a pretty obscure comparison, based mostly on the fact that in a small area there are all sorts of natural wonders to behold. Please don’t go expecting rollercoasters).

In Sammy’s backpack, lives his favourite book, Endangered Birds of New Zealand. When closed, said endangered birds are forced to squeeze themselves into its pages, creating all sorts of undignified shapes.IMG_1893

“Kōkako then chimed in,

“There’s no room for my trilling!

My beak’s jammed in the corner.

I’d hardly call that thrilling.”

When Sammy finally makes it to school and unleashes the beauty of his favourite book on his classmates, the rainbow-coloured mayhem is a delight to behold.

The rhyming language is beautiful, the pictures magnificent. You will want to share this gorgeous story on a regular basis.

[Recommended by Phillippa – thanks Phillippa!]

Check out Squishy squashy birds at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Squishy Squashy Birds from Fishpond.

[Oh boy, in a quick update, I’ve just discovered the amazing Squishy squashy bird merchandise. Check out the shower curtains. Stay strong Lucy, stay strong.]

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Sparky! by Jenny Offill; illustrated by Chris Appelhans (2014)

[Published by Random House Kids]

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As I hit the final month of this magical reviewing journey, I spent a little time reminiscing this morning about the variety of picture books that have crossed my path over the past year.

According to my slightly hit-and-miss method of tagging each book by its subjects, there are a couple of clear winners in terms of hot topics. Some picture books staples are, bedtime, birds, families, feelings, imagination, bears and pets.

Today’s pet story is original in that rather than featuring a cat or a dog, Sparky is a sloth. Probably less surprising is the fact that sloths are something of a challenge in the pet department. They don’t bark, or get into fights, or leave deposits on your front lawn, the problem is that they don’t do a whole lot of IMG_1872
anything. When you’re trying to show your pet off to the neighbours, and he just sleeps, it’s all a bit of a fizzer. What makes it worse is when your neighbour is Mary Potts, a high achieving stickler for the rules.

“We stood there for a while, watching him sleep. His fur ruffled gently in the breeze.”

“I feel sorry for you,” Mary said. “My cat can dance on her hind legs. And my parrot knows twenty words, including God and ice cream.

In spite of some great attendance at trick-training, Sparky’s showmanship never really makes an appearance. What this adorable, gentle story teaches us is that that’s okay.

The language, story and illustrations are beautiful and quirky. I loved it.

Check out Sparky! at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Sparky! from Fishpond.

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Room 20 you have been awesome!

Today I hung out with Room 20 for the last time, which was sad both because they are awesome, and also because I can no longer pester them for book reviews. Here are their final two reviews, thanks guys!

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Hello world! by Tracy Clarry (2013)

[Published by Tracy Design]

Hello person that I have never met. This story is about knowledge and colours and personality. It is a great book for people under the age of six about stuff they have never known in their lives.

It has great and beautiful pictures that are the same as in the real world.

By Daltan and Jacob.

Check out Hello World! at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Hello World! from Fishpond.

 

Squinty the seagull by Janet Martin; illustrated by20150624_101058 Ivar Treskon (2014)

[Published by Jampot Productions]

This book is really good for ages seven and under, with bright and colourful illustrations.

Squinty the seagull learnt how to surf.  There is one good thing about this, even though he only has one eye to look, he was still the champion. It’s a happy story, because he did not have to be perfect. Even though he had a disability he still achieved something and he was determined. There is also a beautiful song that goes with the story.

By Paige and Eh Thaw Kue.

Check out Squinty the seagull at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Squinty the Seagull from Fishpond.