Panthers, Bravehearts and You!

I reviewed these books on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with Louise Maher on Tuesday July 20 2010

Deborah Abela, National Literacy Ambassador and Author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series, The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen and Grimsdon.

You written and illustrated by Stephen Michael King


Picture book ages 2+

As one of the most well-loved children’s writers and illustrators here and around the world, there is even more to love about Stephen Michael King in his latest book, You. Our small creature hero with his big yellow ears, curly tail and bright red nose, has a lot to love about the world: the fact that it’s a colourful place, coloured with big things and small things, but, he declares, ‘The most colourful part of my world is…you.’ In this case, a small birdlike animal with curls and skinny legs and a bright orange body. The world is also a musical place with high notes and low, ‘But the most musical part of my world is…you.’ And finally, the world is an exciting place with its ups and downs and far-far aways, ‘But the most exciting place in my world is with…you.’ This book is a beautifully illustrated tribute to the world, that for all its beauty, music and excitement, is made all the more special because of the friends and family we share it with. Lovely!

The Princess and her Panther written by Wendy Orr and illustrated by Lauren Stringer

(Allen and Unwin)

Picture book ages 4-8

Set in a suburban backyard, two sisters, one dressed as a princess, the other as a panther, load up a small cart with blankets, teddy bears and lanterns. As we turn the pages, their cart becomes a camel and the backyard becomes desert sands, deep woods and the shores of vast oceans and all the while, ‘The princess was brave and the panther tried to be.’ The princess pitches a red silk tent, before the sky grows purple and there was night ‘as far as they could see.’ Soon, they hear noises outside: of snakes slithering, of an owl-witch swooping and a roaming frog-monster. As the princess tried to be brave and the panther tried to try’ and they leap from their tent and cry, ‘Enough is enough!’ And just like that, the monsters vanished. The illustrations are like a delicious swirl of colourful cushions you want to dive into as the story moves from suburban backyard to exotic locations and back home again as night falls, the girls find courage in each other and they fall contentedly asleep.

The Heart of the Forest written by Barry Jonsberg and illustrated by Craig Phillips

(Omnibus Book Scholastic)

Junior novel ages 8+

A Barry Jonsberg story is always something to look forward to. In this, Keely, a young girl, trails behind her parents as they take their monthly walk through the Blue Mountains. A ritual they began to find a little peace and escape from their stressful city lives. On this walk, mum and dad are arguing about the prospect of Grandad coming to stay for a month. So much for the peace and quiet. With her annoying brother trailing behind, pleading for her to wait, Keely missteps and falls down a small hill. She is surprised to find she’s okay. Aaron is soon beside her, but now they are lost and Aaron is panting hard. There’s something wrong with his heart and even though he’s had loads of operations, he still finds it hard to breathe. Keely tries to find the way out but night falls and a bitter panic covers her. After a restless sleep, Aaron insists he’ll look after her and leads her to what they hope will be a way out of the forest. The fear of being lost in a vast bush is so wonderfully captured as well as the gentle annoyance and love between a brother and sister and this has a surprise end that delights just like a Jonsberg story always does.


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