We've raised our hands for each Donovan Bixley book that's appeared on the press release list and so have built up quite a collection of his iconic work. My girls immediately recognise his illustration style and appreciate his interest in including kiwiana in his work. Esky just came up behind me and said, "Hey, it's Donovan Bixley," seeing this post.
The latest two board books are my favourites in the collection so far. Taking known songs and adding NZ-style illustrations was pretty cool (there's no doubt he's incredibly talented), but these latest books are something I really value having on our shelves.
They're bilingual! Wahoo! Māori and English words are in clear print beneath each Bixley-esque illustration (many are stars from his books, for existing fans). The board book format is not only durable, I find it nice to hold and aesthetically appealling. The bright colours and simple backgrounds are also great for me.
My favourite thing about the colours book is that *the* Māori colours song has been used! AH! It is so great! Because the words comes in the order of a well-loved childhood tune, it is more fun to read and easier to teach / promote retention. Plus there's some colours additional to the song to expand existing vocabulary.
With the animal book, I love that there's a kiwi focus on the fauna! Bats?! YUS!
And like his other books, the soprano melody is provided in musical notation. It's a nice touch.
Out in bookstores today and available on Book Depository from tomorrow. Even though all of our girls take a lot of care with paper pages, I'm thrilled to add these bright and strong books to our home library and think they'd make excellent gifts.
Nadia: The girl who couldn't sit still, Karlin Gray
I grew up watching the movie based on Nadia Comaneci. There is a lot to be taken from her story (including some things not to do). Whether you have aspiring gymnasts in your family or not, Nadia's story of exceeding expectations and striving for perfection (and persistence when she fell short) translates well for other ambitions too. It was especially nice to read this soon after the Olympics, this year.
Words are Categorical Series, Brian P. Cleary
We've worked through all the titles our library holds in this series (as well as the mammals and amphibians titles). They're great. I think we'll get them all out once a year to go-over.
Score One for the Sloths, Helen Lester
This is pun-a-licious. The word-play was better appreciated by my 7-year-old than the 5 or 3-year-old. The illustrations are impressively hilarious yet impressive. Such a funny book.
The Lion and the Bird, Marianne Dubuc
We bought this one some time ago because of the sweet, gentle style of the story and its images. It is also surprising how much story is packed into the word-free pages. The publisher has been very generous with the page-count, and it's paid off.
The Dot, Peter Reynolds
Sharp and sassy. Also a great story and lesson in one. Very modern style. We were sent this by a book fairy and it's a prized part of our collection. (Also includes one of the coolest modern art exhibitions I've ever seen.)
Hero Cat, Eileen Spinelli
Spinelli knows just how to 100% engross my girls. They were hanging on every word of this adventure. It is not an animal's talking story, but rather a well-told report based on a true heroic mother-cat. The magic is in the details.
The Princess Who Had No Kingdom, Ursula Jones
See above. Yum. I love spending time on each page. The story is also great. Since reading these two (Jones and Gibb) I've been spinning up a holds storm on the library site to get my hands on all the fairytales done in this style. Their a productive pair! Hoorah! These are the ones I'd want to own, if we're going to collect Grimm...not Disney.
Water Wow, Antonia Banyard and Paula Ayer
I love non-fiction for kids. This is laid out in a really relatable way; using comparisons to help illustrate big concepts. I like the illustration style and bubbles of information. The break-downs and clarifications in the opening are great too.
Master Pieces, Will Lach
What a fun idea! Making art history tactile? Presenting a selection of works from around the world created in varied styles? Brilliant! What a great sampler for little people (and adults, let's be honest). I'm always in favour of an informative breakdown as afterword in book's such as these, and this ticks that box. The title's play on words is the cherry on top.
Lila and the Crow, Gabrielle Grimard
This is tied for first place as the best treatment of bullying I've read to date (3, 2, 1, Go! by Emily Arnold McCully is the other champion). It is less about inducing pity (although I certainly felt for Lila), and more about empowerment and a healthy dose of magical realism. The illustrations are beautiful. Lila is stunning. The resolution is excellent. Gorgeous.
The pun-laden silliness of this tremendously fun book is what I imagine the musical show Galavant was hoping to achieve -- a mish-mosh of meta, intelligence, fantasy and frivolity. It reminds me of The Princess Bride and Ella Enchanted book (but I enjoyed it more than both of those books, and the movie I refuse to compare). It might be described as Silly Historical Magical Fiction, as a sub-genre; lots of tongue-in-cheek. There are only one or two jokes I thought failed too wholly land with me, but because I was smiling every. page. it was a very amusing book with a few less funny moments (rather than comedy that was grasping).
It is more risqué than Ella Enchanted but about the same as The Princess Bride film, which is to say there are euphemisms and low level sensual interests (a longing to kiss and some admiration of appearances), but no crossing of the line. I really, really appreciated how well this was handled. (It's much more appropriate for younger readers than The Princess Bride book.)
There are multiple points of view (and this is written by multiple authors!) but I never had a problem with it. I enjoyed each perspective plenty. There are even fourth wall interruptions, and I liked them! they matched the tone and tale so well I forgave and even enjoyed them!
There is some hat-tipping within that an unkind reader might mistake for lazy/uncreative borrowing, but I give these three lasses a lot more credit than that. They know when they've borrowed and they've done it on purpose to show you they know when a moment feels derivative. I liked that too.
Overall, this was such a fun read. More than once I checked my progress and thought, "Please go on! DO NOT END!" It's on my Book Dep wishlist. Thank you, Emma, for recommending it.
Here's another cover, which is probably a better match for the tone, but I like the first more.