I have recently arrived back in Melbourne after spending some wonderful weeks back at home in the UK with family and friends. One of the best things about returning is opening all of the book post that has arrived in my absence. Walker’s latest selection of picture books is superb; with vampires, delightful duos, history, sea creatures and life lessons there is something for all young readers to enjoy.
Vlad, the Fabulous Vampire; Flavia Z. Drago
Fashion-mad Vlad is a vampire with a colourful secret. Like all of the the other vampires, Vlad dresses head to toe in black. Unlike all of the other vampires, Vlad is hiding something underneath his collar. Vlad’s bright pink cheeks are very much not vampire-like and make him look different and feel uncomfortable. Desperate to fit in, Vlad does his best to hide his cheeks from the world. But Vlad isn’t the only one with a colourful secret. Will Shelley be the key to helping Vlad embrace his fabulous self…
Flavia’s books, that began with with the brilliant Gustavo the Shy Ghost, are just like Vlad…fabulous! With brilliant endpapers that, just like the story, transform from dreary greys to vibrant pinks, this feel-good and spooky celebration of uniqueness, the joys of being yourself and embracing who you truly are will be welcomed by parents and children. For anyone who has ever felt different or that they don’t fit in, Vlad’s story is comforting, reassuring and empowering. It’s hard to blend in when you’re born to stand out!
Recommended for 3+.
Mr Clownfish, Miss Anemone and the Hermit Crab; Sean E. Avery
Mr Clownfish and Miss Anemone are the best of friends. Miss Anemone keeps Mr Clownfish safe from predators and in return he scares off would-be snackers, cleans her tentacles and gathers sea morsels for them both to eat. Underwater life is perfect until one fateful day when something terrible happens…Miss Anemone is kidnapped! Or is she? No rock, sand or seagrass will be left unturned as Mr Clownfish vows to track down the anemone-napping fiend. Can he find his friend…
They say that two’s company and three’s a crowd but there’s room for everyone in a fun and lively underwater adventure that light-heartedly explores the symbiotic relationships between ocean dwellers. With creative storytelling and captivating underwater scenes, the tale of friendship and friends both old and new is fin-tastic!
Recommended for 4+.
Always Never Always; Meg McKinlay, Leila Rudge
It is a big world out there and one little girl, accompanied by her toy duck, is excited to explore. With the words always and never guiding the adventures a carefree day of discovery and playing, friendship and kindness, and performing and relaxing awaits. There will be risks to take and leaps to make, places to go and friendships to grow, paths to explore and so much more. Life is one big adventure and the world is waiting for you…
Full of wisdom, wonder and the joys of being young, Meg and Leila’s recipe for a rich and rewarding childhood is perfect for sharing together. Bursting with valuable life lessons and mantras that resonate, Always Never Always is a wonderful day spent with a girl and her toy duck as they adventure into and explore the world. Alternating always and never lyrical rhyming couplets accompanied by beautiful illustrations will inspire children to follow in these adventurous footsteps as they are encouraged and empowered to embrace childhood and make their own way in the world. Whimsical, charming and utterly delightful!
Recommended for 3+.
Bear and Bird; The Stars and Other Stories; Jarvis
Spending most of every day together, Bear and Bird are the best of friends. But sometimes even a friendship as strong as this one can have its troubles. Will breakfast plans bring new friends? Has Bear’s hunger ruined a surprise picnic? Where has the rock taken Bird? What is needed to make the perfect night? Whatever happens, Bear and Bird are sure to remain the best of friends…
Bear and Bird are back in four more short stories in the second instalment of Jarvis’ endearing early chapter book series. Always there for each other, this adorable pair will steal hearts in four short bursts as they fall out, bake inedible cakes, encounter rocks with legs and dream big under the stars.
Gorgeously illustrated and written with warmth and gentle humour, the escapades perfectly capture the highs and lows of friendship with laughs, frustrations, dreams and forgiveness. Solidified in delightful misunderstandings and warm-hearted mishaps, Bear and Bird is sweetness by the bucketload. The pair ambling through life in high spirits and with good-hearted intentions, blissfully unaware of much of what is going on, is highly amusing and readers will delight in knowing what is happening long before the protagonists do.
Recommended for 5+.
Madame Badobedah and the Old Bones; Sophie Dahl, illustrated by Lauren O’Hara
Ever since meeting Mabel and the marvellously eccentric Madame Badobedah at The Mermaid Hotel in 2019 I have longed to go back. Finally, four years later, I have my wish. If you’ve not read the first book then it is well worth seeking out although this can be read perfectly as a stand alone.
Welcome to The Mermaid Hotel. For an adventurer like Mabel it is the best place to live. All manner of guests visit the hotel but none is more special than Madame Badobedah who has been on exciting expeditions and daring adventures to rival the best of them. She has sailed with pirates, skated across rivers, pirouetted through pyramids and even helped a dinosaur with a toothache. Her latest adventure may be the most challenging yet; a reverse jewel heist at the Natural History Museum. Adventure, and a very, very old friend, awaits…
Charming, imaginative and with a magical friendship that transcends generations, the second Madame Badobedah story is a wonderful, timeless adventure that will captivate and delight. Playfully poetic words and soft watercolour illustrations carry readers away on a whimsical journey where the impossible is possible and where dreams really do come true. It is the kind of story that children will be wishing could happen to them. A very special read that is enhanced further with a hardback binding and extra thick luxury pages. Beautiful!
Recommended for 5+.
Our Country: Where History Happened; Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Frané Lessac
From the deserts to the towns, the mountains to the caves, the rivers to the oceans, and along the coastal plains, every corner of Australia holds clues to an ancient past. History can be found in the stories painted on rocks and the artefacts left by explorers. It exists in the actions of settlers from overseas and those that came searching for riches in gold. Experience the past in the walls of a convict prison, relive it at a commemorative rock and remember it at a memorial tree. Feel resistance in a cave and the fight for justice and ‘fair go’ under a flag. The story of a country is out there just waiting to be discovered…
Journeying through tens of thousand of years, the second book in the Our Country series explores sixteen important historical moments that have shaped Australia. Sometimes brutal, at times inexcusable and deeply regrettable, often heroic, the accessible and insightful look at the shaping of a nation is a vital history lesson for children (and adults). Eye-opening, challenging and sure to arouse curiosity, Where History Happened needs to be in all classrooms, libraries and homes.
Recommended for 7+.
With huge thanks to Walker for the copies I received in exchange for honest reviews.