Title: Let's Build a Backyard
Author: Mike Lucas
Illustrator: Daron Parton
Publisher: Lothian Children's Books
Publication Date: 27th April 2022
For ages: 3+ years
Type: Picture Book
Themes: Family, Backyards, Gardens, Gardening, Sustainability, Rhyming
Let’s Build A Backyard is the newly published companion book to Let’s Build A House, both written by South Australian author Mike Lucas. This latest release is a lively and vibrant account of a time spent in the backyard of the father and his young daughter from the first book, working together to create a very special place.
From the very beginning of this delightful and energetic book the young reader will enjoy the action that the clever rhyming words impart. Each step of the building a backyard journey is labelled clearly, followed by the short rhyme, and with three action words highlighted across a double page spread.
Mix in some compost.
“Use your fork to turn, turn, turn.
A little help from all the worms.
Watch them wriggle, see them squirm.”
Squirm! Squirm! Squirm!
The bright and colourful illustrations by Daron Parton complement the text perfectly and showcase the steps needed to create the new garden. This book has a very welcome and gentle introduction to the topic of sustainability for young children with mention of looking after a tree, making a possum box and a bee hotel, installing sprinklers, creating a vegetable patch, as well as adding compost.
This is a perfect book to read aloud to young children and engage them in the story by allowing them the opportunity to do the actions as it is read. A welcome addition to a home, school or public library.
Reviewed by Kathryn Beilby.
So, Danny Snell, what’ya reading?
I’ve just finished reading ‘The Mermaid of Black Conch’, by Monique Roffey, which I quite enjoyed. And at the moment I’m in between books, so I’m rereading ‘Wildwood’ by Colin Meloy and beautifully illustrated by Carson Ellis. It’s a middle grade fiction book that I bought because I loved the illustrations, but it’s a great story too.
You recently illustrated The Fire Wombat, written by Jackie French. I imagine you looked at a lot of wombats. Was there something strangely unique about their anatomy that you never noticed know before?
Yes, wombats have tails! I remember double checking this just before I was due to do some school visits, as I knew it was a question that I’d probably get asked by one of the kids.
What kind of illustrations most interested you as a child. Do you still feel inspired by that style in your picture book illustrations?
One of my favourite books growing up (and which I still have) is ‘Goggles!’ by Ezra Jack Keats. I love the way that he applies paint. I don’t paint as much as I used to but when I do I’m always searching for those same bold brush strokes. I also loved looking at details in pictures. I remember enjoying scenes where there was a lot happening, like the worlds that Richard Scarry created. Though this is the opposite of the way that I tend to illustrate. I usually try and keep things simple and uncomplicated.
Is there a young, up and coming writer you would love to illustrate for?
There are so many good writers out there. It’s always nice when I get to work with writers from South Australia. Our local creative community is very talented and very supportive.
What’s something about you that most people don’t know, but would make a great illustration?
When I was in my 20s I had a lot of very long and very curly hair. By contrast it’s now very, very short.
What’s one piece of advice would you give to an emerging young illustrator?
Always observe the world around you, and draw as often as you can. I once heard an author say, “Write what you know.” I think the same is true for illustrating. Illustrate what you know. Draw what interests you.
What do you most like to do for fun that’s not illustrating?
I enjoy swimming and riding my bike (push bike). Both are good ways to get out of the studio and clear the head.
If you were elected president of the world, what would be the first thing you would change?
I’d shorten the working week. We’d then have less time to worry and more time to wander (and wonder).
Have you ever got an illustration completely wrong, but kept it and ended up secretly liking it?
I’m my own worst critic, so there’s often some element of my work that I wish I’d done differently. But I’m learning to worry less about these details (and it’s usually something that no one else can see).
What pet would you prefer, a wombat or a dog?
I’d be happy with either. But as I’ve always wanted a dog (ever since I was little) I’d have to say a dog. Apologies to our cat.
Title: Big Love
Author: Megan Jacobson
Illustrator: Beck Feiner
Publisher: Walker Australia Studio
Publication Date: 27th October 2021
For ages: 2-5 years
Type: Picture Book
This gorgeous picture book has been nominated for 2022 CBCA Book of the Year - Picture Book, and it's easy to see why! The gorgeous illustrations are bright, bold and layered. Big Love describes how big some things are—the house, the town, the world—but none are as big as my love for you! Parents reading stories to children promotes bonding, and facilitates important conversations, including answering the question, 'but how much do you love me?' Big Love answers just how big a parent's love is, in a beautifully lyrical, well designed picture book that is likely to be a favourite to read over and over again!
Title: Your School Is the Best
Author: Maggie Hutchings
Illustrator: Felicita Sala
Publisher: Affirm Publishing
Publication Date: 29 December 2021
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book
Cockroach returns in this fabulously funny tale of a school day with a difference. He loves to experience all the things that his favourite human does, so he and the family hitch a schoolbag ride, ready to be part of show and tell…
After discovering activities such as counting, reading, and science, the cockroach family decide to join in hide and seek, much to the teacher’s dismay when she discovers them in her lunch!
The illustrations are hilarious in this book. Look closely at the detail for the perfect Australian schoolyard scenarios… right down to the “Shapes” in the teacher’s lunchbox!
Cockroach and family hide and play all around the school, sharing much of their story with enthusiasm and humour through the pictures. The story text is short and sweet, with themes of resilience and humour when things sometimes don’t go to plan.
Highly recommend – 5 Stars *****
Welcome to my first review for 2022. Both of the fabulous books I am reviewing have a South Australian connection and were published in 2021.
Ngarrindjeri yanun Kraiyi is retold and illustrated by the students of Goolwa Primary School with Cedric Varcoe and Amanda Westley. Published by Goolwa Primary School.
The students of Goolwa Primary School have cleverly illustrated the pages of this wonderful book that explains the meaning of the kraiyi (snake). Through the explanation of each segment of the kraiyi you are able to learn the language of the Ngarrindjeri people as well as learning how they lived and cared for the land in the past and continue to do so now.
Where birds sing and wildflowers dance written by & illustrated by Jason Tyndall. Published by Nature Play SA.
This very special book has been written as a guide for exploring South Australia’s National Parks. Throughout the book are stunning photographs and hand drawn images of nature. There are detailed explanations of the plants, flowers and creatures in the parks as well as poetry and other interesting information. If you have a family member or a friend that loves walking in nature in SA this is the perfect book for you and them to share.
Who Fed Zed? Who knew there were so many words that rhyme with “Bread”? I loved this fast-paced, comical, rhyming picture book from Amelia McInerney. The award-winning author tickled my funny bone with a tale about a group of friends who unknowingly feed pet goldfish Zed some bread – ending in his near demise due to a food allergy! Although the serious message of the book is to raise awareness of food intolerances and food labelling, it is framed within a funny story that will assist children in the basic understanding of why we need to read labels carefully. (Do not feed fish flea powder...!) The story highlights how food can affect people, and indeed animals, differently. It is an easy read aloud that will have young children joining in with a giggle whilst repeating the mono-rhyming words. The illustrations by Adam Nickel are bright, colourful and simple - almost reminiscent of a fifties style American family comic. This book is sure to be a hit with parents, teachers and children!
To learn more about this book, follow the link: