Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman

Published: January 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 HarperCollins Children’s
Illustrator: Adam Rex
Pages: 30
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Chu is a little panda with a big sneeze.
When Chu sneezes, bad things happen.
In dusty library, diner pepper, circus tent,
Will Chu sneeze today?

This may be the shortest review I’ve done yet, even for a picture book. I just don’t have much to say about it. After seeing Gaiman talk about writing and publishing this book for so long I was excited to find it at the library. Having now finished it, I have to say I’m a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was cute. But I also kind of expected more.

The layout is nice, it’s suspenseful in how Rex and Gaiman have set out the text and the illustrations, but there is just something missing. I don’t even think I know what it is, but I finished and kind of went, is that it? I’ll give it credit, it’s cute, the story I can see would appeal to some people, but I found it a tad anti-climactic unfortunately.

I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell

Published: 14th April 2015 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

What’s not to love about a cute, cuddly…creepy toy koala? This is the story of a boy and the stuffed animal he just can’t seem to shake.

Adam does not like Koala. Koala is a little creepy.

Adam tries explaining this to his parents. He tries putting Koala away – far away. He tries taking Koala on a long, long walk. Nothing works. Will Adam ever be rid of Koala?

I had to really think about this review. My first reaction was confusion about this book and why anyone would write it. It wasn’t until I was writing down my thoughts and I got to think about it more that I altered my view.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think this is a creepy book about a demonic stuffed koala, but I can see in a very small way that it might be funny to some seeing this kid try to get rid of his koala to no avail.

I thought this was going to be a cute story about a kid not liking a toy and then learning to love it but this reads like something from a horror novel. Adam describes to us all the reasons why he doesn’t like his toy koala and from a little kid point of view the reasons are justified. Adam hides Koala around his house and then we assume his parents return him to Adam’s room. But it gets weird when Adam leaves Koala at the top of a hill and it still manages to return to Adam’s house.

Maybe it’s the way I interpreted it but it isn’t that cute. This kid doesn’t like his toy, Koala, and his parents keep bringing it back to him ignoring his protests. Then something happens and he suddenly loves it? Even if I can see the reasons I don’t know, it just seems odd.

Looking at it another way, if we embrace the possessed stuffed toy angle, Adam has secured himself a demonic toy that is actually a guardian of sorts against the other evil of the world while giving off the creepy vibe. Why not, I can work with that, even if it’s exceptionally peculiar.

From an illustration angle, Santoso does an amazing job. The illustrations of Koala are effectively creepy and Adam is adorable and Santos captures all the moods and tantrums and gives Adam excellent facial expressions. Even while we’re creeped out by the story itself, you can’t help but admire the fantastic illustrations that accompany it. I am upping the stars on this purely based on Santosa’s fabulous illustrations.

You can purchase I Don’t Like Koala via the following

Book Depository | Booktopia

ABC Online | Fishpond | BookWorld

Wordery | Dymocks

The Gentle Lion and the Little Owlet by Alice Shirley

Published: 1st March 2012Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Pavilion Children’s
Illustrator: Alice Shirley
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A plucky young owlet decides to try and find his own dinner one day and so flies from the safety of his nest into the unknown world surrounding him. Little does he know that his nest is in a tree in the middle of a zoo – and he quickly finds himself face-to-face with a lion. Yet, instead of being eaten, the owlet and lion become friends.

The art in this book is stunning! I chose this book because of the lion on the cover and I fell in love with it because of the artwork (and the story, but mainly the art).

This fictionalisation is based on an actual event that happened in Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in 2010. While the actual incident was much briefer than those depicted in the book, it is still a wonderful story.

In Shirley’s version, a young owlet, impatient to see the world falls from his nest into the paws on a lion below. Instead of being in danger, the lion and the young owl start an unlikely friendship which is the basis of this story.

I loved the relationship between these two. I loved the owlet’s ambition to fly the world and his friendship to the lion that he would take him to Africa, back where he remembers growing up. The illustrations make this story to much more meaningful I think because you can see the beauty in the detail and it enhances the story.

I think if Shirley has chosen to do a more comical, or casual style illustration, then the sentiment and beauty of this story wouldn’t have the same impact that it does. It is a short story, but I’m so surprised at just how beautiful Shirley has managed to make it.

You can purchase The Gentle Lion via the following

Booktopia | Bookworld

Book Depository | QBD

Dymocks | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon

Publisher

The Day the Crayons Came Home (#2) by Drew Daywalt

Published: 18th August 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Philomel Books
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Pages: 36
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

I’m not sure what it is about this kid Duncan, but his crayons sure are a colourful bunch of characters! Having soothed the hurt feelings of one group who threatened to quit, Duncan now faces a whole new group of crayons asking to be rescued. From Maroon Crayon, who was lost beneath the sofa cushions and then broken in two after Dad sat on him; to poor Turquoise, whose head is now stuck to one of Duncan’s stinky socks after they both ended up in the dryer together; to Pea Green, who knows darn well that no kid likes peas and who ran away—each and every crayon has a woeful tale to tell and a plea to be brought home to the crayon box.

The crayons are back and better than ever! This series of books is fast becoming my favourite picture books ever.

This time the crayons that have been abandoned and lost by Duncan are sending him postcards and pleading to come home. They tell tales of being melted in the sun, sat on, bitten, or yearning for adventure.

Drew Daywalt uses the same great style from the first crayon story, with adorable little crayons and their letters of complaint to Duncan. Jeffers’ illustrations are comical and adorable and really bring to life the lives of these crayons. I think this book is as good if not better than the first. It’s cute, it’s clever, very funny, and I loved the creativity of the crayon’s complaints and debacles.

I hadn’t thought about it in the first book, but this could be a great story to get kids to tidy up their messes, add a bit of guilt about the poor items being left behind. If you haven’t already read the Crayon series, then I suggest you do right away. You won’t regret it.

You can purchase The Day the Crayons Quit via the following

Book Depository | QBD

Fishpond | Wordery

BookWorld | Booktopia

 

 

 

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

Published: 27th June 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Philomel Books
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Pages: 36
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Poor Duncan just wants to colour. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: We quit!

Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown. Blue needs a break from colouring all that water, while Pink just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other.

What is Duncan to do?

If you haven’t heard of this book yet you are properly missing out. I love this book. It’s a great story about crayons who quit because they are tired of how their owner Duncan treats them. They write letters of complaints about being overused, colouring outside the lines, and neglect among other things.

I love everything about this book. On one page are these great handwritten notes from the crayons to Duncan, and on the other side are some of the examples of the pictures Duncan has drawn alongside the crayon in question. It’s a fabulous story as well with each crayon complaint unique and often quite funny.

This is a clever story and one that also can teach kids about diversifying their own colour endeavours. Duncan listens to his crayons and it’s a gorgeous story that is sweet and simple for all ages.

You can purchase The Day the Crayons Quit via the following

Book Depository | QBD

Fishpond | Wordery

BookWorld | Booktopia

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