8 Amazing Picture Books for Christmas

There are so many wonderful picture books being published at the moment, but I’ve selected a variety to review that would make great Christmas presents.

BOOKS FROM ACROSS THE SEA

THE LION AND THE BIRD

Unknown The Lion and The Bird by international bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Marianne Dubuc is the tender story of the unlikely friendship between a lion dressed in denim and a bird with a broken wing.

One autumn day, a lion finds a wounded bird in his garden. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Then one day spring arrives, and so too do the other birds. Will Lion and Bird have to say goodbye to the friendship for the summer?

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 7.34.23 amThis moving story is so relevant in today’s times when the world is full of vulnerable people like refugees who have been damaged by circumstances, and are looking for a safe haven and a new life.

As well as compelling text, this book is beautifully presented in hardback with the pictures left to tell the story on some pages.

It’s no wonder that The Lion and The Bird has been published in 15 countries across the world.

It’s a beautiful book that can be shared at leisure, and it features themes of friendship, waiting and change.

The Lion and The Bird is published in Australia, New Zealand, UK and Ireland by Book Island.

UnknownAZIZI AND THE LITTLE BLUE BIRD

In this contemporary fairytale, a young boy and escaped blue bird free their country from the rule of tyrannical despots.

This picture book for children aged five-years plus, explores ideas of freedom and justice and meets the demand for more culturally diverse picture books in an increasingly multicultural society.

Unknown-1

Every illustration by Mattias De Leeuw is a work of art in this book.

It compliments the lyrical text by Laila Koubaa.

At the door, he breathed in the sweet smell of Jasmine. The front of the house was like one big flower. 

The richness in both the text and illustrations make this book an enticing read. It is beautifully translated into English by David Colmer.

Azizi and the Little Blue Bird is another wonderful book for opening young minds to the world around them. It is also published by Book Island.

FOR FAMILIES AND CLASSROOMS

UnknownAUSTRALIAN KIDS THROUGH THE YEARS

Australian Kids through the Years is a wonderful book written by Tania McCartney and illustrated by Andrew Joyner.

It takes readers on a leisurely tour through history starting with Australia’s first children, through the 1800s, 1900s and into modern times.

There are so many fascinating facts in here about things like the way children lived, how they dressed, how they did their hair, what they ate, what they did for fun and what they read.

This book is a feast of fabulous illustrations and easy to follow text with interesting language and information that young readers can pore over for hours.

Unknown-1At the back is a summary of the years, and National Library references for all the illustrations.

Adult readers will also be able to reminisce as they meander through history in these colourful and lively snapshots of Australia’s past.

Australian Kids through the Years is a great way to bring history into both the family and the classroom.

Australian Kids through the Years is published by the National Library of Australia.

PICKLE AND BREE’S GUIDES TO GOOD DEEDS

9781760067229_COVERI’ll admit upfront that I’m biased about these beautiful books because they were written by my crit buddy, Alison Reynolds, and I have watched their progress from initial idea to finished product.

But right from the start, I was drawn to the two compelling characters and their special friendship. Bree is a feisty little girl who likes to get her own way, but who has a good heart and is able to recognise her own faults. Pickle is a gentle, slow moving and very large bear who admires those qualities in his friend that he doesn’t possess himself.

In The Decorating Disaster, all about teamwork, Pickle and Bree have very different ideas about how the home they share should be decorated, and this leads to humour and disaster, but also some important revelations.

Even though they are the very best of friends, Pickle and Bree are very different, but they soon realise that some jobs like hanging wallpaper and painting, just aren’t supposed to be done alone.

At the end of this adventure are some tips on teamwork that both teachers and parents/guardians will find helpful to share with young readers.

In The Birthday Party Cake, all about welcoming differences, it’s Jason’s Birthday and Pickle is planning a special bear surprise for his friend. But when Bree decides to lend a hand, her idea of a perfect party is not what Pickle had in mind. But can Pickle and Bree find a way to save Jason’s birthday?

This adventure carries tips at the back for welcoming differences and considering the feelings and wishes of others.

9781760067236_COVERPickle & Bree’s Guides to Good Deeds are wonderfully illustrated by Mikki Butterley whose humorous pictures are a perfect match for the rollicking text.

They are great for reading in schools and homes to introduce children to concepts like sharing, accepting others and getting along.

Two more Pickle & Bree’s Guides to Good Deeds are coming soon.

They are published by The Five Mile Press.

WHERE’S JESSIE?

Bertie Bear was going on a long journey. He didn’t realise it would be on a camel! And he never imagined he would be having adventures of his own, far away from Jessie.

UnknownThis delightful story of a real bear’s outback camel and train journey has been cleverly woven into a work of fiction by Janeen Brian.

The rhythmic text along with Anne Spudvilas‘ stunning illustrations introduce young readers to the vibrant colours of the outback and its characters.

I also like the way the story is told from the lost toy’s point of view.

This is a work of fiction, but the real Bertie makes a ‘star appearance’ at the back of the book.

Where’s Jessie? is published by the National Library of Australia.

FOR FUN

REMARKABLY REXY

UnknownI love Craig Smith‘s work so I was so excited when I heard a picture book was about to be released that he had both written and illustrated – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Remarkably Rexy also just happens to feature one of my favourite animals, a cat.

Rexy is a typical cat, but he’s also a bit of a dancer, and quite proud of himself because he’s always being praised for his good looks and talent.

But his perfect existence is shattered when Towser the barking dog next door escapes.

Unknown-1The text is hilarious and Craig’s vibrant illustrations are beautiful.

Remarkably Rexy is so much fun for cat lovers of all ages. It also has a link to a free audio reading.

Remarkably Rexy is published by Allen & Unwin.

TIME FOR BED, DADDY

This hilarious book written and illustrated by Dave Hackett (Cartoon Dave) is one of my favourite picture books this year because it’s so relatable.

“Come on Daddy. It’s time for bed.”

“But I’m not tired,” says Daddy.

How can a little girl put her daddy to bed when he doesn’t want to go?

imagesTime for Bed Daddy is so funny because it’s a complete role reversal, and so much fun at bedtime.

I remember how hard it was to get my kids to bed when they were small, and how tensions often rose.

This book is a great tool for turning bedtime into a playful occasion that’s fun for everyone.

Time for Bed Daddy  is published by University of Queensland Press.

 

 

New Digital Books Add Another Dimension to Reading

iTunesArtwork.225x225-75Doctor Frankenstein’s Other Monster is written by Nigel Gray and illustrated by Craig Smith, and was first published by Random House in print form.

Recently, this book was made into to an iBook and audio book, and a whole new dimension has been added to the reading experience.

Doctor Frankenstein’s Other Monster is a kid’s book about someone who just wants to belong, but is hounded out of town because he’s different.

Frank is just like any other kid – he wants a friend to play with, but everyone is scared of the way he looks and people react towards him with fear and anger.

SS_1_DFOM_Chpt_One_1024x768.480x480-75Finally, Frank the little monster finds someone who doesn’t care what he looks like, someone who just wants to play.

The issues faced by Frank could easily relate to a classroom discussion about the plight of today’s refugees in Australia – or issues of exclusion and bullying.

Doctor Frankenstein’s Other Monster uses fabulous humour in both the text and illustrations to provoke readers to think about the themes behind the story.

This modern take on Frankenstein’s monster hilariously reprises Mary Shelley’s original novel, following the same themes of a search for companionship, and – sadly – of rejection. Frank Junior finds the world to be a very unfriendly place, but happily he has been imbued with qualities that are able to see him through the awkward times.

SS_2_DFOM_police_1024x768.480x480-75What’s also great about this book is that it has a lively narrator (Erick Mitsak), and the whole text is accompanied by amazing sound effects from a violin – specially created to meld with the text and pictures.

Doctor Frankenstein’s Other Monster provides a truly engaging experience which reminds the reader that there’s more to reading than just what you can see on the page – that reading can be a multi-sensory experience.

MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT

The music and violin by Veren Grigorov evolved spontaneously during the book’s development process and they help capture the mood of the story.

SS_3_DFOM_tanks_1024x768.480x480-75The violin provides a happy melody as Frank goes out to play, and hopefulness as he hops on the bus. Then there’s the more sinister sound of the police coming, and the arrival of army and marching soldiers. Finally at the end, there’s the happy violin that seems to be almost dancing as Frank plays with his new friend.

The music gives Doctor Frankenstein’s Other Monster an extra dimension. It adds tension and vitality that work harmoniously with the illustration and text.

More about Doctor Frankenstein’s Other Monster is available here.

You can find out more about Nigel Gray here and Craig Smith here.

For me, Doctor Frankenstein’s Other Monster is a great example of how multi-media can be used to create a  complex and complete experience for young readers and listeners.

cover.225x225-75PICTURE THIS 

Picture This takes readers through the fascinating step-by-step process showing how Craig Smith created his amazing pictures for Doctor Frankenstein’s Other Monster.

It’s extremely visual, and everything is explained in simple steps, which is great for new illustrators like me.

This book covers the complexities of creating even the most simple illustrations and explores topics like:

  • research
  • style
  • movement
  • type of person
  • clothes
  • persona
  • point of view
  • facial expressions
  • body language
  • scale and size
  • techniques
  • background
  • adding colour

 

10.480x480-75I have a five year plan to one day illustrate my own children’s books and Picture This got me thinking about illustrating in a completely different way.

07.480x480-75Picture This takes you through the stages of planning a drawing and working out what questions to ask yourself as an illustrator to help you identify what you’re trying to achieve, and to help you achieve it.

23.480x480-75

There are simple, easy to follow steps, and Picture This can be downloaded to your iPad,making it a great tool for student illustrators.

Find out more about Picture This here.