compiled by Lynndy Bennett
Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer ($20, HB)
Once again, Olivia makes a stand for individuality, and her right to express herself freely. This time she is questioning the trend towards Princesses, pink ones, and wondering why no-one ever wants to be a Thai princess, or an African, or an Indian princess? With his usual restricted palette Ian Falconer has once again created a picture book that is intelligent, thought provoking, and funny. Olivia is a sophisticated pig, and expects a certain amount of worldliness from her readers. Some Olivia books are better than others, they can be a tad too clever, too knowing—but this one really is good, and if there are a few difficult words (like malfeasance), they don’t detract, but add a depth to the book, as do the drawings of Olivia in Martha Graham mode. Louise
Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon ($25, HB)
Herman and Rosie live next to each other in New York, but they have yet to meet. Herman plays oboe, and Rosie sings; they enjoy the buzz of the city, however sometimes the city is a cold and lonely place. But music can lead us to each other, and both Rosie and Herman are destined to make music together. The great joy of this story is its illustration—playful drawings with watercolour wash, different textures digitally dropped into the pictures, collaged papers and photo montages. Gus Gordon has successfully captured the energy of New York while creating Rosie and Herman’s neighbourhood. My guess is the author/illustrator is a music lover, his pictures certainly convey this, as well as telling a good story. From the fabulous cover, to the map endpapers, this book is a testament to its creator’s imagination and the city it is set in. Louise
Harper and his little brother have a baby sister, Tiggy, and they’re very excited. Babies Don’t Bite by David Bedford and Tor Freeman is a lovely new picture book, perfect for small children who are expecting a new addition to the group. Hegley the horse’s mother is expecting a new baby, and all of Hegley’s friends are less than positive about the experience. But Hegley discovers the joys of babies all by himself, and by the time his baby sister is born, he is completely converted to the joys of new babies, as are his friends who are revelling in their own newborn siblings. Bright, clear pictures of very expressive animal characters accompany the text, which has a counting theme, and is fun to read aloud. This is a cheerful, reassuring book, with lots of interesting detail; the characters may be animals, but the illustrator has captured the essence of a group of children. Harper already knows that ‘Babies are fab and they love their big brothers and sisters to bits’, but it’s always nice to be reminded. ($17, PB) Louise
How To Train Your Dragon: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock (ill.) Cressida Cowell, narrated by David Tennant ($35, CD)
Even David Tennant fans know what a terrible ham he can be. Pleasingly, that turns out to be pretty well exactly what’s needed here. Vocal versatility, boundless enthusiasm & sheer overacting bring Ms Cowell’s wide cast of characters to life—from the stupid & menacing to their petrified, downtrodden and/or stupendously courageous victims. For those unfamiliar with the reminiscences of chieftain’s son Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, there’s a tremendous amount of Vikingy, dragontastic fun to be had. Chortle & wheeze to tales of unassuming Hiccup’s childhood adventures, misadventures, trials, tribulations & general scrapes as he himself grows to become a splendidly fierce chieftain of renown. This series of books deserves a wide readership for its wit, inventive language & joie de vivre. I hope some will come to it via these terrifically entertaining readings. Don’t neglect the books themselves though—diagrams work less well in audio form and they are scattered throughout all nine books. We also have stock of a bonus hard-to-get short story written for World Book Day in March 2012 ($5, pb). Whether in audiobook form on long car drives or as a parental bedtime story, this is for listeners from 5 and up. For the self-propelled reader of 7-ish and up. Liesel
EARLY FOR XMAS
As ever, there is a wealth of choice and far too little space to promote notable books, so here’s a quick roundup of some of our October favourites, with an abundance of Christmas possibilities. Lynndy
(ill.) Lisbeth Zwerger ($8.99, PB)
Multi-award winner Zwerger’s distinctively classical art graces a selection of 12 well-known fables, making this an ideal introduction to Aesop’s cautionary tales. Lynndy
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse: An Aesop Fable retold and illustrated by Helen Ward
I’ve long been an admirer of the enhanced realism style of Ward’s illustrations, so it’s a thrill to see this addition to her award-winning canon. Aesop’s story has been re-set at Christmas in 1930s New York, highlighting the contrast between rustic seclusion and big city seasonal profligacy through the reactions of the mouse cousins, delicately rendered in watercolour. This sumptuous version of the fable is a gorgeous keepsake, showcasing the grace of Ward’s art, finessed by meticulous details in ink. ($25, HB)
Illusionology: The Secret Science of Magic
by Emily Hawkins (ill.) David Wyatt & Levi Pinfold
Latest in the vastly popular ‘Ology’ series, Illusionology is presented as a collection of diary entries by the mythical Albert D. Schafer, a magician and illusionist who vanished in 1915. Accordingly, the book mimics early C20th publications and promotional flyers, revealing through pop-ups, flaps, pocketed mini booklets and interactive pages many of the secrets of great magical illusions through history. Just as visually extravagant as preceding ‘Ology’ books, it offers experiments and magic tricks to engage the reader, and through these, clues to Schafer’s disappearance are progressively unveiled. Can you solve this 100-year-old puzzle? Or keep the esoteric secrets of magicians through the ages, from ancient Egyptian tricks through Houdini’s greatest acts to Penn & Teller’s suave mastery? (PS Helen Ward—see above—is a major contributor to ‘Ology’ artwork.) ($29.95, HB)
The Fairytale Princess: Seven Classic Stories from the Enchanted Forest retold by Wendy Jones, with paper sculptures by Su Blackwell, photographed by Tim Clinch ($29.95, HB)
WOW! The extraordinary complexity of Su Blackwell’s magnificent paper sculpting, dramatically lit in Clinch’s photographs, brings a truly fantastic element to retellings of classic fairy tales such as Snow White and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Each tale has its own palette and evocative mood in the images specially created for this book of Jones’ lively retellings. Gorgeous—a true collectible for artists and booklovers!! Lynndy
MOMA Play Town by Museum of Modern Art (ill.) Laura Ljungkvist ($29.95, HB)
We know Laura Ljungkvist’s work through her inventive picture books; now she steps into 3-D with this colourful cityscape kit of slot-together pieces, enough for eight assorted buildings and landscapes. The design allows you to further colour these pieces, and to reconfigure the play town over and over again. Fun for all ages 7+. Lynndy
gleebooks Children's Gallery expands
In addition to the wistfully beautiful watercolours by Caroline Magerl, we are now selling work by Shaun Tan. Highly acclaimed both here and internationally, Shaun is one of the most sought-after Australian children’s author/illustrators amongst overseas tourists visiting Gleebooks, and I am thrilled to have his art in our shop. We have a selection of limited edition prints from his well-known books The Red Tree, The Lost Thing, and The Arrival, as well as some from a forthcoming book Greetings from Suburbia, at $180 each, unframed. In keeping with our continuing commitment to literacy we will donate $20 from the sale of every Shaun Tan print to the Fred Hollows Literacy Foundation. Enrich your own life, and help people in need! (To learn more about Shaun Tan, check out www.shauntan.net)
Focus on Children's Reading and Australian Literature
At gleebooks Children's we share years of experience and knowledge and cater for all ages: from newborns - with toys, cloth and audio books - through to young adults with fiction for 16-17 year-olds.
To Browse, Search & Order Children's Books
You can search and order books from our website by using Quick Search above. Or use Advanced Search and choose Children's from the range of departments. Have your books delivered to your address or third party Australia-wide or overseas. Overseas delivered orders are GST-free!
You can also order or make an enquiry by sending a Customer Service Form - or by phone or fax, See details at left for our Sydney location and opening times. gleeclub Members receive their usual discount.
The True History of Stuff Event
For those who missed out on our most recent children's event, here is a brief overview. Collaborators in The True History of Stuff Volume One, James Valentine and Reg Mombassa, played electric guitar and amplified saxophone, sang, read and drew, providing an uproariously entertaining experience both for the performers and for their audience. Sincere thanks to those at St John's Church Glebe, who allowed us to stage the event in this beautiful and acoustically impressive church.
Some audience comments:
"...wonderful event. The setting was just incredible. And James & Reg were so entertaining!" Vicki
"James made me laugh so much that my stomach tingled!" - My Linh
"The story was so funny it tickled my funny bone!" - Emma
"The illustrations were these weird creatures with three eyes & rats with flying wings!" - Jaylene
"The story had cool parts in it. It was a bit naughty too!" - Warray
"I liked the story because it was really disgusting!" - Ananto
"I thought the story was very funny & it was interesting. I would recommend this book to all ages." - Melesisi
If you want to be notified of our free children's and family events in future, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll make sure you stay up to date.
John Burningham Visit
Last year Gleebooks Children's shop was honoured by a visit from John Burningham, one of the world's most renowned and highly awarded children's picture book creators. Among others sharing this memorable experience were some luminaries of Australian children's literature and we all appreciated the rare opportunity to meet him - all the more so as he is a quiet, gentle person who doesn't participate in the round of highly publicised bookshop tours. Intrinsic to picture book history, John Burningham's books are favourites in many countries and languages for their humour and child-oriented outlook. His visit was a high point not only of the year, but of my bookselling career.
Libby Gleeson, Julie Vivas, John Burningham and Duncan Ball
(photo courtesy Judith Ridge, 25-1-2005)