Children's New Releases 

April 2017

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Picture Books

Plenty of Love to Go Round! by Emma Chichester Clark ($17, PB / $30, HB)
Oh I am partial to Plum, he’s a very special dog—he has his own marvellous blog, and now his own picture books. Emma Chichester Clark’s beloved ‘whoosell’ (whippet, Jack Russell and poodle cross) is the subject for these books, all written in the first person by Plum himself. In Plenty of Love to go Around, Plum has a new neighbour—a white cat named Binky. Plum’s nose is out of joint, he simply can’t see what all the fuss is about. Binky may be a very appealing little cat, but not to Plum. With absolute compassion and humour, Emma Chichester Clark deftly describes, through Plum’s words and her pictures, the terrible sense of self-defeating jealousy that many children feel when there’s a new small person around. This book joins the ranks of brilliant picture books like Charlotte Voake’s Ginger, and Jenny Wagner’s John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat. High praise indeed. Louise

Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer ($25, HB)
Definitely my favourite Olivia book yet! After some mishaps, feisty young Olivia is alarmed by an overheard discussion between her parents about her behaviour. Misinterpreting what she hears, Olivia embarks on a campaign to discover more (most would call it eavesdropping), and her uncharacteristic subtlety as a spy is hilarious. Falconer’s charcoal and gouache illustrations of Olivia camouflaged by household items are wonderfully entertaining for adults and children alike, as is Olivia’s discovery that her birthday treat is a surprise visit to the ballet, rather than imprisonment as she feared. Add this to your collection of porcine treasures. Lynndy

Norton and Alpha by Kristyna Litten ($25, HB)
Reminiscent of the Pixar film Wall-E, this story of Norton the robot’s attempts to care for the single flower he discovers in his mechanical landscape is both beguiling and poignant. Containing subtexts of friendship, Nature and beauty, it is simple enough for young readers, with a provocative depth as well. I shan’t be surprised if Litten’s endearing picture book is an award contender. Lynndy

For Beginner Readers

Mo Willems is better known for his picture books, especially his Pigeon series, but don’t overlook his early readers. The scanty text in Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books (eg. I am Invited to a Party!; My Friend is Sad; Are You Ready to Play Outside?—$11, PB) belies the depth of story, while minimalist expressive illustrations allow focus on the text which is all in speech or thought bubbles. Best friends Elephant and Piggie encounter relatable events, such as going to a party, feeling sad, learning new skills, the difficulty of waiting, and other childhood dilemmas. These are endearingly positive books pitched at starters on the reading trajectory. Lynndy 


The Earth Book by Jonathan Litton, (ill) Thomas Hegbrook ($40, HB)
‘Welcome to a world of wonders! In this enormous book about the Earth there is so much to explore! Readers can marvel at the physical planet, travel back in time to primordial Earth, explore all branches of the tree of life, discover habitats from oceans to deserts, learn how the weather works and take a tour of the human planet from the Maasai steppe to Manhattan.’ Fascinating and beautifully presented, this is a book for all families and classrooms, with details to pore over endlessly. Lynndy

Fiction for Primary Level Readers

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
Billy Miller is starting second grade worried; two weeks before he’d fallen on his head badly, and gone to hospital. What seems to be a disaster is in fact just one of the many incidents—some big, some small—that happen to Billy in his year. Kevin Henkes has a knack of getting into the heads of all his child characters, be they mice or human, and his skill is his ability to take the reader with him. All the fears and triumphs of a small child’s life are taken into consideration, nothing is deemed unimportant. The parents and the teachers in Kevin Henkes’ books are very human, but always wonderful. And yet this is not an idealised view of childhood, just a very considered and hopeful one. The author’s own delightful black and white vignettes are throughout the book. ($15, PB) Louise

A Piglet Called Truffle by Helen Peters ($13, PB)
Jasmine loves animals, and is perfectly placed to get full exposure to them—she lives on a farm with a farmer father and a veterinarian mother. When she rescues a tiny piglet from a grumpy neighbouring farmer’s sow and her litter, she finds herself having to hide it from her family. What follows next is to be expected… but Jasmine learns there’s more to pigs than she first realises. Helen Peters captures all the fun, and really hard work of life on a farm, and Ellie Snowdon’s illustrations really add a layer of warmth and detail to the book. Louise

The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky
In sparse eloquent prose, multi-award-winning author Dubosarsky offers a different perspective of wartime, filtered through the experiences of Columba who is trying to understand and incorporate changes to her world in 1942 Sydney. Columba is the only child at her primary school who makes an effort to relate to Ellery, the German refugee with no English, and their odd friendship is far more peaceful than that she shares with exuberant, entrepreneurial Hilda and other school friends. The characters are realistic and credible; linked in varying degrees through the search for the blue cat, missing from the house of Columba’s secretive neighbours after an air raid practice. It’s easy to glean a sense of that era through the insightful writing and the inclusion of primary sources such as documents about water restrictions and national security, the Nock and Kirby’s ad, a photo from Luna Park, and the links to Ellery’s European background. Foremost is Columba’s altered innocence—while period detail is unobtrusively part of the whole, enriching both the novel and our knowledge. Astonishingly simple and elegant, The Blue Cat reasserts Dubosarsky’s skill as a writer, and will surely garner awards. Highly recommended. Lynndy

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall ($14, PB)
This is the first of a quartet of books about the Penderwicks, a family of four sisters and their father, and their dog. It runs along the lines of classic family stories, (Little Women, the Bastables, the Casson family, all spring to mind). The Penderwicks are on holiday in a marvellous cottage, next door to the intimidating owner of the cottage, and her young son Jeffrey. Each of the girls is very much her own person, but they are united as a family. This may sound very familiar, but the book is not weaker for it, in fact their small adventures seem more surprising, as it is set in contemporary times. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Louise  

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