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.


Bye-bye grumpy fly by Ruth Paul (2015)

[Published by Scholastic New Zealand]


As I read Bye-bye grumpy fly aloud for the first time, I felt as if I needed an accompanying beat. There is something so satisfyingly rhythmic about the language. Why not suggest your audience clap and tap along as you read this cheeky wee number aloud. Be warned, there are some tongue twisters in there, so you might need to cross your fingers that the beat doesn’t increase in speed!

On a rainy grey day, a grumpy fly enters stage left. Pursued by a frog, a crocodile and a tiger, the fly zips and zaps out of their way leaving mayhem in his wake. While the others discover there is fun to be had in all their scrambling and tumbling, the fly remains stoically grumpy, eventually buzzing away forever.IMG_1878

The grumpy fly’s grumpiness is a delight. How he manages to keep a straight-face when the tiger ends up soggy and underneath a lily pad, I’ll never know.

My prediction is that you will have as much fun reading this aloud as your audience has listening to it!

Check out Bye-bye grumpy fly at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Bye-Bye Grumpy Fly at Fishpond.


Mr. Tiger goes wild by Peter Brown (2013)

There’s nothing like a tiger in a morning suit to brighten your day.

The world is all just a bit too up-tight and up-right for Mr Tiger, it’s time for him to bust out. “Mr. Tiger became wilder and wilder each day.” His friends are not so keen on the transformation, and the polite suggestion that the wilderness might be the best place for him is greeted with unveiled enthusiasm.IMG_1326

From a dull grey town we are greeted by the glory that is the jungle. Of course the real world is tricky to let go of entirely and Mr. Tiger inspired by loneliness returns home. To his delight it seems that while he’s been gone, the wild bug has bitten his town and everyone is now free to be themselves.

If you’ve ever been in a meeting and wanted to jump up and yell, “Enough talking, let’s dance,” then this book is for you. Too, too good.

Check out Mr. Tiger goes wild at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Mr. Tiger goes wild from Fishpond.


The tiger who came to tea by Judith Kerr (1968)

There are some picture books that everybody remembers from their childhood, and I’m picking The tiger who came to tea is up there for most people.

Since I’ve started this blog, several people have mentioned it as their favourite picture book of all time, so here she is, for everyone who loves this voracious tiger.IMG_1321

Sophie and her mummy are having tea when the doorbell rings. To their surprise the door is opened by a big, furry, stripy tiger who is very hungry. A festival of eating ensues. The tiger departs, leaving a house empty of anything edible.

I’ve been musing on the timeless appeal of this book, and I think pretty much it’s all just about the gorgeousness of the tiger. Any other opinions?

A lovely classic.

Check out The tiger who came to tea at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The tiger who came to tea from Fishpond.


Tiny little fly by Michael Rosen; illustrated by Kevin Waldron (2010)


Is this not a truly magnificent cover? I’ve gotta say, I had a sneaking suspicion that this book wasn’t going to end well for the fly. Okay I should probably admit I pretty much hoped things were going to end badly for the fly (hey, we’re heading into summer here in New Zealand and flies are buzzing around the edge of my equilibrium again.)IMG_1112

Tiny little fly lands on Elephant’s nose.

“Great Big Elephant

Winks one eye,

Says to himself,

“I’m going to catch that fly!”

Because flies are sneaky and speedy, and very hard to catch, in spite of the determination of the hippo, elephant and tiger, Tiny Little Fly remains entirely unscathed. This is a beautiful combination of a great repetitive story, and amazing illustrations. It is in a lovely large format making each page particularly striking.

A librarian told me she created her own fly on the end of a satay stick and buzzed around the audience while telling this story. Another good one!

Check out Tiny little fly at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Tiny little fly from Fishpond.