Children's New Releases 

HUGE Changes Afoot

 - Tuesday, March 04, 2014

At the time of writing this issue, in mid-February, there are already h-u-g-e changes in our Glebe kids' section and for the first time since amalgamating with the adult shop at 49 Glebe Point Road we (finally) have space not only for books, but also for plenty of customers! We are thrilled that the reconfiguration has allowed ready access to all shelves, so we hope that you'll come in to rediscover your local children's shop. We know you were as frustrated as we were by the need to squeeze in, but you (and your stroller) are easily accommodated in this new incarnation. It's all still a work in progress, so if you can't find what you want please just ask our children's staff. We'll be the ones Tiggering around, celebrating our newly created space. Lynndy


FOR THE VERY YOUNG

Crocodile Beat by Gail Jorgensen (ill) Patricia Mullins ($10, BD) Newly into board book, this Australian classic simply begs to be read and hissed and growled and roared aloud. Torn tissue collage and rhythmic text combine in a joyous tale with just a hint of not-too-frightening menace as down at the river jungle animals are cavorting noisily, until the crocodile wakes in search of dinner. Lynndy


This Rabbit, That Rabbit by Jane Porter
From the school of cheek (think Mo Willems) comes a book for the younger set. In a series of vignettes, our rabbit friends illustrate a handful of simple concepts - this & that, blue & shoe, shy & dry - suited to the very young. Comically aware of each other (and the surprise armadillo at the end!!), our voguing and splendidly attired rabbits make for diverting viewing. I found myself enjoying the strong graphic illustrations and design elements - a mid-century modern chair, for example - which I think would be a boon for any grown-up who might need to revisit it several hundred times with their young person. Ideal for 9 months to 2 years of age. ($12.95, BD) Which reminds me of one of my all-time favourites. If itís sheer expressive genius you're after, do not miss Emily Gravett's hilariously surreal Orange Pear Apple Bear ($14.99 BD, or $12.95 PB) A sequence of four simple elements - an orange, a pear, an apple and yes, a bear - develops rapidly from simple beginnings through a most extraordinary emotional arc with laughter, surprise and an ambling shrug of an ending. Simplicity, elegance, economy - this reminds me more of a silent film classic than it does of any other book. And if it makes me chortle every time I read it, just think what it might do for your household!! Share regularly with someone of 18 months upwards. Liesel (In any format, this is a consensual kids' staff favourite! LB)


PICTURE BOOKS

Architecture According to Pigeons by Speck Lee Tailfeather,  (ill) Natsko Seki ($24.95, HB)
Who would have thought a pigeon whose name is Speck is now travelling around the world explaining to us all of the famous buildings and even whole cities? Some buildings around the world have some pretty peculiar names like the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia (might need Mum to help you out on the pronunciation of this spectacular building!). So Speck thought 'Boy, Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is one hard word to say and spell so why don't I just call it the Forest of Dreams!' Well Speck ends up doing that on all the buildings, even the Sydney Opera House (which is easy to say and spell), but harder from a pigeon's point of view, so instead it is called the Hungry Beaks Hall! Some of Speck's ideal names are quite weird, like what is a pigeon's ideal name for the Taj Mahal? The Palace of Ghosts! Need a quick squiz at a famous building? From pages 60-63 you will find all the buildings and bridges in the book and a paragraph about each of them. But you will get the most joy out of Architecture According to Pigeons on the inside cover: all the buildings and cities are shown in their own individual bubble with an illustration on a map of the world. Even the Great Wall of China can be seen from space and on the map!  I recommend Architecture According to Pigeons to all humans and pigeons. Persia (aged ten and three quarters)


A Single Pebble by Bonnie Christensen ($29, HB) An apt companion to the book reviewed by Persia (above), this narrative traces the silk road, illuminating major cities and cultures on the trading route. Starting in C9th China where Mei, a young girl who longs to share adventures with her merchant father gives him a jade pebble to travel in her stead, the story follows the gift of jade on its journey west, through exotic cities. Passed from Buddhist monk to trader, from performer to thief and even via pirates, the single pebble eventually reaches a boy near Venice who cherishes the unusual gift. The cyclical trek is reinforced by the conclusion showing Mei admiring a different sort of pebble from the west. Highlighting the sensory banquet and cultural differences of the time, Christensen brings to life the 7,000 km ancient conduit that played a vital role in influencing civilisations between China and the Mediterranean. Soft watercolours hinting at young Mei's wistfulness graduate to strong vibrant art representing the bold architecture of the ethnic regions en route. The tale of Mei's simple gift would capture the imagination of almost any child from 5 upwards; and older readers will glimpse an important part of human history. At the end explanatory notes by the author, plus a bibliography, provide extra details. Lynndy


Nest
by Jorey Hurley ($19.99, HB)
Using just one word per page, and accompanying pictures, Jorey Hurley has created a picture book that tells the story of birds building a nest, of an egg hatching, of seasons passing, of night and day, and of the circle of life. The illustrations are clean and bright, minimalist and yet full of life and rich in detail. They are reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, adding great resonance to the Haiku-like quality of the text. Not surprising to read that Jorey Hurley is a textile designer, but what is surprising is that this is her first bookóit is a perfect example of the fine balance between text, illustration and design, and it is also a book for all ages, from babies through to adults. Beautiful! Louise


CLASSICS


The Story of the Treasure Seekers
by Edith Nesbit The unreliable narrator has always been with us (literature does reflect life, after all), in adult books, and teen fiction, but not so much in childrenís books. The narrator of E. Nesbitís 1899 novel, The Story of the Treasure Seekers, is Oswald, one of the six Bastable siblings who make up the treasure seeking family. Oswald keeps his identity secret, although he reveals himself very early in the piece (his regular lapses into first person donít help). However Oswald is a most unreliable narrator, and his general portrayal of himself, and his place in the family, provide some of the very amusing aspects of the book. Like all the families in Nesbitís later books, the Bastables are very self-sufficientó with a widowed, shadowy father, they are left to their own devices for most of the time. E Nesbit was a highly influential author, who arguably changed the way people wrote (and read) childrenís books, and although there are definitely some very arcane features in all her books (the food, the clothes, the household staff), they are remarkably fresh, and neither the language nor the plot seem dated. The Bastables are an excellent family, loyal and true, and their treasure seeking leads them into the most hilarious and unexpected places, with Oswald being the most perfect, unreliable narrator of this enduring, and most endearing, story. ($10, PB) Louise

TEEN FICTION

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston ($17, PB) Elizabeth Hawksmith has found immortality to be more of a curse than a blessing. Hiding in a quiet village, she thinks she's managed to escape the malevolent attention of an enemy, the warlock Gideon Masters who saved her from the witch-hunters responsible for her mother's death. When outsider teen Tegan befriends her it doesn't take long for Elizabeth to realise Tegan has great potential for the hedge craft. She decides to train the young woman and shares stories of her own long and extraordinary life. The training invites the attention of Elizabeth's ancient enemy in ways she didn't expect and she is forced to draw on all her powers not only to protect herself but also her new friend. Epic in its scope, Elizabeth's story starts in the 1600s and evokes Victorian London, the battlefields of WWI and many other periods as effortlessly as it does the present day. This is a page-turning, satisfying tale that will satisfy well-read discerning teens. James