Read these reviews from the Picture Book Category submitted to the inaugural LIANZA Book Review Competition and pick up a copy from your local library...
Category Review Winner:
Written by Linda Jane Keegan and illustrated by Minky Stapleton
This rhyming picture book for young children, 3-7, confronts a fear that faces many when at the beach: 'Something in the sea is touching me!'
For this young child, Ma is not just a calming influence but also takes the opportunity to inform:
They drift through the water
and feed like a filter.
No need to let them
put you all off-kilter.
A crab, salps, a mangrove seed and kelp are encountered in turn until:
'I splashed and I paddled
found courage within,
ignoring when stuff touched
on elbow or shin.'
But next it is Ma shrieking in fear and the youngster's turn to laugh, explain and console. Yes, a fun day at the beach for 'Mum, Ma and me.'
Minky Stapleton incorporates the text into her illustrations with large white letters on a black background for the shrieks. This contrasts well with the soft water colours of most pages. Another interesting technique is the juxtaposition of distance and close-up views on opposing pages. For example the crab appears small beside their feet, but is large and more detailed on the facing page.
With both English and Maori versions available, this is a book for all Kiwi kids. Author Linda Jane Keegan handles this nuclear family with a difference as a normal situation which, increasingly, it is. Well done.
Reviewed by Chris Wright (Bookrapt)
Judges comments: We particularly appreciated the insightful analysis of typographical and illustrative techniques used in the book.
Mini Whinny: Happy Birthday to Me
Written by Stacy Gregg and illustrated by Ruth Paul
This is a story about the importance of friendship and sharing, and the fun of togetherness.
It's nearly August 1, birthday time for all horses, so up go the decorations in the stable as excitement mounts.
But Mini Whinny wants her own party, not a shared one with all the other horses. Even the wisdom of Berenice her friend the cat cannot calm her. While the other horses sleep in their stalls, Mini Whinny wreaks havoc by dragging all the preparations into her stall for her very own party – but it's just not the same:
But there was nobody to pass it to.
There was no one to light the candles on the cake.
And no one to cheer when she blew them out.
In her softly coloured illustrations Ruth Paul has captured the personalities of the various animals as well as the changing moods of young Mini Whinny with her increasing confusion and disillusionment. When the friendly Palomino finds her, sad and alone, her quick-thinking plan leads to everyone having a happy time together. Even Mini Whinny acknowledges her selfishness with a few tears when the others present her with a new rosette.
Stacy Gregg is a prolific writer of stories about horses, up till now for slightly older readers. This is her first picture book and her first New Zealand publication. I'm guessing this might not be the last we read of young Mini Whinny!
Reviewed by Chris Wright (Bookrapt).