Thunderstorm dancing by Katrina Germein; illustrated by Judy Watson (2015)

[Published by Allen and Unwin]


Dance with me everyone, today is my 265th review which means I’m into the final 100 countdown! Thank you for popping on by, it’s lovely to have a look at my blog stats and see regular visits from as far afield as Japan, Russia and Canda. “Hi everybody!” Feel free to give me a cheeky “Hi” back.

To help you get in the mood, we’ve got the joyful Thunderstorm dancing to enjoy. “Shh. Listen. What can you hear?” A watchful group on the beach look to the horizon where dark clouds gather. The storm builds momentum, bringing with it wind, rain, thunder and lightning. “Poppy is the thunder, stamping and thumping, clapping and bumping, ga-bang and ga-boom, it’s LOUD in this room”.IMG_1702

The illustrations, paired with members of the family who are represented as storm-features, are wonderful.

After dodging downpours all day, reading this delicious story aloud has been the perfect way to unleash a little cabin fever.

[No longer available at Auckland Libraries.]

Or buy Thunderstorm dancing from Fishpond.


Aunt Ellie’s beach house by Raewyn Caisley; illustrated by Lisa Allen (2014)

[Published by Duck Creek Press]

ellieBeach holidays were an essential part of my summer holidays as a child, and this beautiful New Zealand picture book sent me on a merrily nostalgic journey.

Leyla visits her aunt’s beach house every summer. She loves everything about her time there, from being able to run around like a wild thing, to falling asleep to the hiss and crash of the waves.

But one night she hears her aunt say something terrible, “I’m going to sell the place,” Auntie Ellie said. “The city’s moving too close. I need to find somewhere else.”

It feels like the worst thing in the world to Leyla. She tries really hard to follow her mother’s advice and notIMG_1534 make her final memories sad ones, but on the last night she just wants to leave. The moon draws them down to the beach where the beauty of the place heals the hurt. “Suddenly Leyla’s heart felt as light and bubbly as foam.”

The final page shows us that change can be okay. The illustrations, particularly the night-scenes are magical, and the language bursts with all sorts of lovely features, like “sucking sand” and “scrunchy, crunchy shells.”

The exploration of loss and change is gentle and reassuring. A wonderful book to share in the classroom.

[No longer available at Auckland Libraries of Fishpond! You’ll have to use some tracking down skills for this one.]


The promise by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Laura Carlin (2013)

[Welcome to my week of Sophisticated Picture Books]

promiseThis week it’s all about my most recent obsession, picture books for an older audience. They will come under the category “sophisticated picture books,” let’s say an audience of aged about 8+, although as always this is a suggestion only.

In a mean and hard and ugly city lives a young girl. “Nothing grew. Everything was broken. No one ever smiled.” The hardness of the city has seeped into the hearts of its inhabitants.

One night out thieving, our hero/villain encounters an old lady whose bag she steals. The IMG_1400victim makes the thief promise “to plant them.” Not knowing or caring what this means, the thief agrees. When she discovers a bag full of acorns she understands the implications of what she has promised and her heart changes.

From this point on the dull, depressing palette shifts slowly, along with the environment, and finally the hearts and souls of the people.

There is beautiful language in this story, in particular its use of similes, “A gritty, yellow wind blew constantly, scratching around the buildings like a hungry dog.” The message of hope and the importance of the environment would be wonderful to share and explore with an older school class.

[No longer available at Auckland Libraries.]

Or buy The promise from Fishpond.