Children's New Releases 

Our October Picks

 - Thursday, October 03, 2013
Picture Books

Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Farm by Axel Scheffler
Harper and Jett think Axel Scheffler’s new animal flip book is very funny. The German illustrator’s strong outlines and bright colours lend themselves beautifully to this form of book. His humour is also perfect for the amusing animals the reader can make just by turning the split pages. Very young children will enjoy the many different creatures that appear, while older children will enjoy the corresponding lines of verse. I particularly like the 'Dicken' (a cross between a dog and a chicken—a cheery dog on the top of feathered body, with chicken legs). There is apparently also an app as well. Louise

Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller, (ill) Anne Wilsdorf
In this most original book, Sophie makes friends with Bernice, and they become inseparable —they go to the library together, practise somersaults together, and every night Sophie puts Bernice to bed with a bottle and a hug. Bernice is a squash, and sadly, when winter comes around she gets a little soft, and then very squishy. Reluctantly, Sophie gets advice from a farmer, and tucks Bernice into the soil in her favourite part of the garden. This is a very life affirming, cheering story of friendship, and ultimately, the circle of life. Drawn with fluid lines in pen and ink, with watercolour washes, the pictures hark back to the golden age of picture books, when artists like William Steig and Jean-Jacques Sempé put their drawing pens to children’s books. Friendship is a tried and true theme in children’s books, but this is the first book I’ve read about a vegetable based relationship. I love it! Louise

Journey by Aaron Becker

This wordless picture book is a tribute to an imagination that takes flight. A little girl has no luck enlisting her family to play with her, so with red crayon she draws a doorway in her wall and steps through to a wonderful forest, filled with Chinese lanterns and fairy lights. She draws herself a rowing boat and floats down the river to a magical city, filled with aqueducts and waterfalls. A flying balloon comes next, and a sinister airship. In pursuit of a beautiful bird, she draws a magic carpet and flies into a violet night sky. This is a wonderful picture book, rich in detail and with the promise of a hundred different stories, Journey is very aptly named. Louise


This month our Classics segment is by our co-bibliophile colleague Stephen, whose fresh approach to some timeless books might encourage you to ponder anew these and other favourites.

Here are some short selections from three enjoyable children's books where young people are changed into another creature and undergo various exciting adventures. At the end they are (usually) returned to their human form, having learnt both wisdom and lessons in growing up. I hope you read them yourselves and find out what happens to each character.  
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
One of my favourites from the seven volume Chronicles of Narnia series. Look at the change to bossy, rude Eustace Scrubb when he enters a cave on Dragon Island:
'He had turned into a dragon while he was asleep. Sleeping on a dragon's hoard with greedy dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself. His first feeling was one of relief... He could get even with Edmund and Caspian... but the moment he thought this he realized he didn't want to. He wanted to be friends... An appalling loneliness came over him... He began to wonder if he had been such a nice person as he had always supposed... When he thought of this the poor dragon that had been Eustace lifted up its voice and wept...'

The Witches
by Roald Dahl
The witch-hunting hero of the story is turned into a mouse by The Grand High Witch using an entire bottle of the magic potion - Formula 86 Delayed-Action Mouse Maker: 'It felt as though a kettle of boiling water had been poured into my mouth. My throat was going up in flames!...The next thing I felt was my skin was beginning to tighten from the top of my head to the ends of my toes!..  After that was a fierce prickling sensation all over my skin... as though tiny needles were forcing their way out through the surface of the skin, this I realise was the growing of the mouse-fur.'
The Abandoned by Paul Gallico
In London a lonely young boy is knocked unconscious by a truck while trying to rescue a cat. When he wakes up again:  'The head was square, the slant eyes set large and staring... 'Oh' thought Peter 'that is how I would look if I were a cat. How I wish I were one!'... it was a little frightening. To wish to be a cat was one thing. To seem very much to be one was another... he managed to look down at his paws. They were pure white, large and furred, with quaint, soft pinkish pads on the underside and claws curved like Turkish swords and needle sharp at the end.'
Remember the cat motto: 'When in doubt, wash'. Stephen Reid


Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell
Visually striking from the cover to the atmospheric black wallpaper-y endpapers adorned with silver skulls, from the insert of the booklet relating the mouse’s tale (à la Gulliver’s Travels) to the iridescent-edged pages and distinctive internal drawings, Riddell’s most recent book is a frolic noir brimming with literary allusions. Haunted by her resemblance to his late wife, grief-stricken cycling poet Lord Goth insists that his only child Ada be heard but not seen, thus she wears heavy cumbersome books to clop about their castle home. Abandoned by a succession of nannies (including Hebe Poppins who ran off with a chimney sweep, and Jane Ear who tried to burn the west wing) Ada is dreadfully lonely until the ghost of a mouse “Call me Ishmael” appears, becoming her companion and confidante. With young visitors Emily and William Cabbage, Ada and Ishmael explore every hall and hidey hole of Ghastly-Gorm Hall, discovering in the process a plot by indoor gamekeeper Maltravers to ruin Lord Goth’s famous annual Metaphorical Bicycle Race and Indoor Hunt. This gorgeously produced mystery adventure is faithful to the true Gothic tradition, complete with footnotes, suspense galore, and personal triumph. It must have been such fun to write; it’s certainly terrific fun to read – sheer inspiration from start to finish, and has plenty to satisfy readers aged from 8 to adult. Very highly recommended! Lynndy

Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Unlike his older brothers, 12-year-old Kyle isn’t gifted at sport or academia, but he can easily claim his place when competing with his family in his passion: board games. Learning that the new library in town was designed by his hero, games-maker Luigi Lemoncello, who will stage a special overnight lock-in to celebrate the opening, Kyle is determined to be one of the twelve children attending. The eccentric billionaire has more in mind than a simple opening ceremony; his library sleepover confounds everyone’s expectations when it turns into a gigantic 24-hour puzzle, the objective being to escape from the library by following clues based on books. Co-operate, or compete? Adopting differing tactics the chosen twelve race to impress the benefactor by winning the prize at stake—the coveted position as spokesperson for Mr Lemoncello’s Imagination Factory.  The ensuing adventure with the entire library itself as a game board and the contestants as game pieces incorporates elements of Kyle’s favourite board games, along with computer games, myriad book references, holographic librarians and abundant plot twists by Lemoncello, master of surprises. Those readers who enjoyed The Mysterious Benedict Society books will find this mystery resonates closely, while others are sure to be ensnared in solving the plot before the characters manage their escape. Puns, shades of survivor TV, and inventive touches leaven in this enjoyable biblioromp. Lynndy


We have a range of new spinning tops. Hand made, and hand painted in Austria, the tops come in several styles—from the robust bumble bees (rounded, with yellow and black stripes), to the elegant trumpets (made from an assortment of fine grained woods), to the delicate 'spaghetti' tops (the prettiest of all, with painted stripes, and delicate spindles). All of the tops are very hardy, and can spin for several minutes each. Prices range from $4.95—$14.95.