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

[Published by Windmill Books]


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.


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

[Published by Walker Books Australia]


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.


Poppy Pickle, a little girl with a big imagination by Emma Yarlett (2015)

[Published by Templar Publishing]
Poppy Pickle is imagination central, she just bubbles and fizzes constantly with interesting ideas.

Mostly she manages to function as a normal girl, until the day she is sent upstairs to tidy her room. Not surprisingly, instead of tidying her room, she gets to work with some high quality imagining, and suddenly, the flying pig of her brain materialises before her!

It all gets chaotic after that. Well you’d want to see how far you could take it wouldn’t you? The cycling worm is probably my favourite Poppy-creation.IMG_1837

A room full of imagined beings gets noisy and eventually, out-of-control. When Poppy’s parents head upstairs to find out what’s going on, Poppy panics. And her room? Well let’s just say it hasn’t exactly benefited from Poppy’s “tidying” session.

Chock-a-block with wonderfully imaginative good times, today’s picture book made me very happy.

Check out Poppy Pickle at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Poppy Pickle from Fishpond.


The memory tree by Britta Teckentrup (2013)

[Published by Orchard Books]


“There was once a fox who lived with all the other animals in the forest. Fox had lived a long and happy life, but now he was tired. Very slowly, Fox made his way to his favourite spot in the clearing. He looked at his beloved forest one last time and lay down.
Fox closed his eyes,
took a deep breath
and fell asleep forever.”

The animals in the forest begin to gather. Unable to imagine life without Fox, their sadness is silence. Eventually they begin to share their memories of Fox, and as their memories flourish, so does a tiny orange plant that grows from the snow where Fox was lying. “The more they remembered, the more the tree grew, higher and higher and more and more beautiful, until it was the tallest tree in the forest. A tree made from memories and full of love.”IMG_1770

This is a wonderful story, perfect for parents foundering themselves, needing help in supporting their small people through early experiences of death. Death is really hard for everyone, and to be honest, some days it doesn’t feel so easy to share those we have lost with the world. So today I will simply say, this one’s for you Dad.

Check out The memory tree at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The Memory Tree from Wheelers.


I’ll catch you if you fall by Mark Sperring; illustrated by Layn Marlow (2015)

[Published by Oxford University Press]
fallThe tagline to this delightful circular story is, “We all need someone to keep us safe.” What I love is that we are shown this is not just the domain of adults, kids can play their part too.

“Who will keep the boy safe?

“I will,” said his mother.

“I will hold him close…

and never let him lean too far.”

The boy and his mother are kept safe by the captain of the boat, who is watched over by the star. But who will look after the star? If you examine the cover, you may find the answer reveals itself very sweetly to you.IMG_1831

If you’re a librarian looking for a new starry picture book to read for Matariki, then this is a lovely preschool choice.

Check out I’ll catch you if you fall at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy I’ll Catch You If You Fall from Fishpond.


The nowhere box by Sam Zuppardi (2013)

[Published by Walker Books]

nowhereI’ve got to confess I’m a little jealous of George’s box. The rain is bucketing down outside, I’ve got loads of things I should be doing, a wee jaunt to “nowhere” for a few hours would be quite pleasant.

George’s problem is of the small-sibling variety. He just wants to get away from his two younger brothers for a while. In good news, a giant refrigerator box makes the perfect means of escape. With the press of a button he finds himself… Nowhere. For a while Nowhere is mighty fine, but eventually the alone-ness of Nowhere doesn’t feel so great and it’s time to set a course for home, and family.IMG_1821

George’s adventures are loads of fun, and the message about appreciating family is a good one to be reminded of on a regular basis.

Check out The nowhere box at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The nowhere box from Fishpond.


It’s only Stanley by Jon Agee (2015)

[Published by Dial Books for Young Readers]


Stanley is quite the remarkable dog. Aside from normal canine activities like howling at the moon, he also turns his hand to fixing the oil tank, making catfish stew, repairing an old TV and clearing the bathtub drain. Unfortunately all this activity takes place during the night, which is most upsetting for his family, the Wimbledons, who are trying to sleep.

The reason for Stanley’s nocturnal activity is finally revealed in an explosive intergalactic journey. As always, I missed the sneaky wee clues along the way, I’m sure you will be far more astute viewers than I was.

This is a hilarious story, that will have you looking at the family dog justIMG_1809 that little bit more carefully. My advice? If your pooch starts clearing your bathtub drain, buckle up and get ready to enjoy the ride!

Check out It’s only Stanley at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy It’s only Stanley from Fishpond.