POSSUM AND WATTLE

MY BIG BOOK OF AUSTRALIAN WORDS

From A to Z, this introduction to Australian words and Aboriginal art brings the country to life. Every letter has its own spread, complete with bright and appealing paintings for each word (usually five to six per spread) separated by striking borders. Some words are specific to Australia (bandicoot, wattle, wobbegong); others are not (bee, apple, umbrella) but often have additional meaning or information relevant to a study of Australia, as noted in the glossary at the back of the book. (For example, the entry for the word bee explains that “there are over 1500 kinds of native bee in Australia.”) Some children unfamiliar with Australian words may not grasp their meaning based on the illustrations and will need to utilize the glossary with some frequency, but Bancroft—an Aboriginal artist—has provided eye-catching art that truly makes this selection unique. Reminiscent of wood-block illustrations and filled with vibrant color and flowing dots, each simple image offers much for children to examine and appreciate. (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-921272-58-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality.

WHAT IF...

A testament to the power of an imaginative mind.

A compulsively creative, unnamed, brown-skinned little girl with purple hair wonders what she would do if the pencil she uses “to create…stories that come from my heart” disappeared. Turns out, it wouldn’t matter. Art can take many forms. She can fold paper (origami), carve wood, tear wallpaper to create texture designs, and draw in the dirt. She can even craft art with light and darkness or singing and dancing. At the story’s climax, her unencumbered imagination explodes beyond the page into a foldout spread, enabling readers both literally and figuratively to see into her fantasy life. While readers will find much to love in the exuberant rhyming verse, attending closely to the illustrations brings its own rewards given the fascinating combinations of mixed media Curato employs. For instance, an impressively colorful dragon is made up of different leaves that have been photographed in every color phase from green to deep red, including the dragon’s breath (made from the brilliant orange leaves of a Japanese maple) and its nose and scales (created by the fan-shaped, butter-colored leaves of a gingko). Sugar cubes, flower petals, sand, paper bags, marbles, sequins, and lots more add to and compose these brilliant, fantasy-sparking illustrations.

This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39096-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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