Picture book love: The Rabbits

The Rabbits

 

The Rabbits, written by John Marsden, illustrated by Shaun Tan, Lothian Books, 1998

A sparsely narrated yet immensely powerful text, The Rabbits depicts a long ago invasion echoing white settlement of Australia. It emphasises the differences of an unrelenting stream of rabbits arriving by ship to a desert-like land, with those already inhabiting it depicted as kangaroo-like creatures. The rabbits’ unstoppable nature is stated in a clear, matter of fact tone, yet Tan’s complex illustrations delve deeper into their dominance and their impact. The grey-toned industrial scenes and use of black space in many of the later pages depict a harshness, as though colour has been replaced. The final statement and image offers little in the way of hope. A haunting, thought-provoking book that breaks the children-only boundaries of the perceived picture book audience.

Picture Book Idea Month 2015

piboidmo2015participant

 

Because NaNoWriMo isn’t enough of a writing challenge each November, there’s a simultaneous challenge particularly for picture book writers. Enter PiBoIdMo, the brainchild of US picture book author, prolific blogger and motivator of all the picture book people, Tara Lazar.

The premise sounds simple on the surface – think of an idea for a picture book each day in November (and perhaps win prizes like books and manuscript critiques in the process) – yet in practice, conjuring ideas on demand (well, good ones) is no easy task. If you succeed, you’re left with a bank of ideas to refer to over the following months to develop into manuscripts. After loving last year’s challenge I’ve signed up for a second round, and if even one good idea shines through, it’ll be worthwhile.

Picture book love: A bear and a tree

A bear and a tree

 

A bear and a tree, written and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Viking/Penguin Group, 2012

In A bear and a tree, a kind bear about to hibernate helps his friend Ren understand why a tree has lost its leaves. Seasonal changes and the passing of time are depicted largely through the illustrations. Gentle watercolour images reflect the soft, heartfelt narrative, and white space is utilised to highlight moments of action. Some double page, full frame spreads feature few or no words, allowing for quiet contemplation of Ren and Bear’s journey. A satisfactory resolution is reached when the bear helps Ren attach remnants of each season and their adventures to the tree, suggesting themes of team work, friendship, creativity and reassurance. This is a poignant story with a gentle strength, by one of my favourite author/illustrators.

Snapshots 20.08.15

Luna Park

Daytripping – Luna Park fun

 

August so far has seen hot weather hopefulness with trips to the beach, lots of good reads, much picture book love and some delicious Sydney food finds for good measure.

Kids’ books

We are fully aboard the Andy Griffiths train in this house, with the obligatory purchase of the latest Treehouse book (made all the more exciting after meeting Andy at the Sydney’s Writer’s Festival this year!). Here are a couple of great articles post 65-Storey Treehouse release: the importance of humour in kids’ books, and why Andy Griffiths thinks many children’s stories are boring.

Other favourite kids’ reads right now: Lulu by Georgie Donaghey, Lisa absolutely loves art by Sophie Norsa, The Cleo Stories by Libby Gleeson, The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo and Why I love Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft (you can read my review for Buzz Words here).

 

Kids books we love - August

 

Lulu author Georgie (who signed her book for my kids at the recent CYA Conference) sent us a lovely package of Lulu-themed craft and fun things (like chocolate) – the kids were super impressed to receive something in the mail from a real-life author!

 

All things Lulu

 

Other reads

I recently devoured Bejing Tai Tai by Tania McCartney, an expat memoir of the now kids’ author (and brains behind Kids Book Review, one my favourite go-to kids’ book sites) on her expat years in Beijing. I felt swept up in her story as it was so relatable, There were many things that mirrored my own time living in Asia in the late 2000s – everything from maid dramas and navigating expat friendships, to cultural differences and bringing up kids ‘elsewhere’. It’s humourous, warm, insightful – a bit like reading someone’s diary. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of expat or travel non-fiction.

Current reads

I’ve also just read Motherhood and Creativity by Rachel Power, a collection of stories by Australian women who grapple with juggling motherhood with a creative career, whether it be acting, art or writing. It was so interesting to read insights into these women’s lives, especially admired writers like Sally Rippin and Nikki Gemmell. Such a great read for anyone balancing all things kids with a passion pursuit.

Now, I’m reading Emily Bitto’s The Strays (loving so far), with a side detour into YA for uni (Risk by Fleur Ferris and Just_a_Girl by Kristen Krauth – both engaging yet chilling in their own ways).

 

Weekend wanderings // Sydney

Smalltown

 

Daytrips, food loves and fun things of late have included:

+ an exploration of the far northern beaches (winter denial), including a pitstop at a great Avalon cafe, Smalltown (like a slice of the inner-west, transported to beachland)

+ Luna Park on a blue sky day, with a side serve of Americana at Batch burgers in Kirribilli

+ a sushi train restaurant with iPads for ordering (new favourite city sushi)

+ oysters at The Gretz and dinner at Hartsyard (balancing all the ‘heartiness’ – ahem, fried chicken – with their amazing broccoli dish)

 

Wanderlust wishlist

+ this cafe

+ this hotel

+ this restaurant

 

Picture book love: The important things

 

The important things

 

The important things, written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas, New Frontier Publishing, 2010

The important things is the tale of Christopher and his mother, who are navigating the world together after the boy’s father has disappeared from their lives. Their sadness is depicted in their slumped bodies in front of a photograph featuring a faded image of the father positioned between the mother and the boy. When the mother decides they should take the father’s belongings to a second-hand store, she is mystified when they begin reappearing at home. This nostalgic tale uses a mix of sepia tones and bright colour for mood and emphasis, and suggests that what’s insignificant to some can have powerful meaning for others.

 

Picture book love: The tiger who came to tea

 

 

The tiger who came to tea

 

Picture book love is a series of short picture book reviews, spanning old favourites on high rotation in our house, to newer releases/future classics.

The Tiger who came to tea by Judith Kerr (William Collins Sons & Co Ltd., 1968)

One day, young Sophie is visited by a tiger who eats and drinks everything in her house. Sophie and her parents are left with nothing, so head out to a café for dinner. They buy groceries in case the tiger returns, ‘But he never did’. The tiger could be seen as threatening, however this is countered by his impeccable manners and affection with Sophie. Sophie appears a trusting character, implied by illustrations of her offering cakes to the tiger, and clutching a tin of tiger food anticipating his return. The imagination and innocence of childhood is portrayed in this timeless classic that remains in print almost fifty years after publication.

More: Judith Kerr and the story behind The tiger who came to tea

 

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