Mini-mes

Get your dancing shoes on, winner!

I’m pleased to announce, that Rachel Griffith is the winner of That Book You Like’s October give-away.  Rachel, I’m sure you and the kids will have an absolute ball! I’d love to hear how you find it.

Just email me your details (name and email address) to info@thatbookyoulike.com.au by end Sunday, 17.10.11 and arrangements will be made! If the prize isn’t claimed, I will redraw on 18.10.11

Again, thanks so much to everyone for joining in the fun, I hope you’ll make it to the festival for a groove! And don’t forget to follow my blog around on Facebook  and  Twitter.

This month’s give-away is made possible by the organisers of the Rhymes Festival. For full details about the event, and to buy tickets, visit their website here.

Tell us a (back)story?

As you already know, at the end of October, Oscar and I are packing our kit and spending the day at Rhymes Kids Music Festival.

Further, hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to have a look at this month’s give-away prize of a family pass (4 tix) to the festival, which will give you a big chance to come along too!

In amongst all this anticipation, I got to thinking…how does a festival like this one come about? What would motivate someone to put on an event like this one?

I’m so glad that they have, it’s a wonderful chance for kids and parents to experience something really special, but I would imagine that it’s a huge job, it’d have to be quite the labour of love.

I had a chance to quiz Tour Director, Adam Coward to find out just what has made this festival tick, and he’s also very kindly given us a few tips and tricks to get us through the day…phew! Thanks!

***

The most obvious question to start with, how did Rhymes come about? What’s the back-story?
As professionals in marketing and event management, and new parents, we began going to “kids shows” for the first time and began to realise that there were a lot of things we didn’t like:

  • The price for a 1 hour performance was quite high when you added up all of us going along (vs what the kids got out of it)
  • We found that seating just didn’t work and we spent most of our time trying to keep the kids in the seats or off the stairs
  • If we wanted to go with friends, we all had to book at the same time to get seats together, which didn’t suit everyone
  • There didn’t seem to be any room to actually dance.

We thought, there must be a better way, that allows us parents to enjoy the day and of course give our kids something to remember. From here, we started the business – found the venues, brought together the artists, and the rest started to grow from there.


Do you love music festivals yourself? Is that one of the reasons that this great idea has come about?
Absolutely, the larger music festivals are something you kind of give up as a couple once you have kids and as life just gets busier. Studying the acts, setting up the “day out” and all of the other things we loved to do – we wanted to enjoy doing these types of things as a family and have others do the same.

We often say, this is a music festival for adults who have kids just as much as it is a kids festival. The future for us is bringing more mainstream adult acts into the day but with a family focus to keep everyone’s attention spans!


How did the Townsville and Sydney festivals go? What where the highlights?
Townsville was our first outdoor event (as there are no indoor areas big enough to hold us) and in Townsville’s driest month, we some how managed to get rain! It was during Hi-5’s set and what was amazing was watching the crowd who stayed and danced away in the rain in true festival spirit! Before that, Justine Clarke’s was just amazing! With Lucas Proudfoot the surprise crowd favourite playing didgeridoo songs in between acts to keep the kids moving.

Sydney was 90% indoors so, no hassle with rain and the acts again were amazing and we really loved seeing the crowds using the entire space up across the 2 stages and the Springfree Trampoline zone, the Silent Disco and Magic Light show.


It’s a long day for little ones, will there be rest spots for tired bubs and weary grown-ups?

We’ve found it’s us parents that are the ones that have trouble keeping up! So there are plenty of spots for a rest like the cafe, the outdoor picnic tables, or you can even just get a pass out, go and grab your car and go for a quick drive home and come back if need be.


Do you have any tips for this little big day out?

We have a full page of tips at http://www.rhymesfestival.com.au/info-mel.html, but our top tips would be:
  • Bring a comfortable Picnic Rug – extremely important so you can easily set down anywhere you like and be comfy
  • Don’t go right up the front – you can get great views from the sides and towards the back with more room to dance (much like any festival)
  • Grab one of our kids ID wristbands where you can put your name and phone number in cast of any lost children
  • Bring some of your own snacks and food along – to keep costs down
  • Pack light – so you don’t have to lug lots of stuff around
  • Be flexible – there’s so many little things you can go and do, so, we suggest not camping down too much so you can experience everything available


Will this be an ongoing event?
Yes – it will be ongoing and we’ll change it up from year to year as it grows to cater for more or less people coming. We really need the big support in the first few years to get it off the ground, so, we’re hoping to see more families get on board leading into these last 30 days.

***

For more information about this exciting event, check out the Rhymes website here. Also, I’d love for you to enter our give-away, it’s super-easy to go into the running to win free tickets. Entries close 12.10.11.

If you’re in Brisbane, don’t forget to check for the tour’s Brisbane show, 22 January 2012.

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter

October give-away: Rhymes!

I can’t quite believe that another month has come around so quickly, but for give-away’s sake, I’m really glad. This month is a doozy!

A couple of weeks ago, I was carrying on about how happy Oscar and I were to get our tickets to the Rhymes Kids Music Festival – you can read all about it here.

Excitingly, I’ve got a family pass (4 tickets) to give away to a lucky reader! You need to be able to attend the Melbourne show at the Royal Showgrounds, 30 October 2011.

To go into the running to win, all you have to do is:

1. Visit www.rhymesfestival.com.au and check out the Melbourne line-up

2. Leave a comment on this post, or

3. Visit That Book You Like‘s Facebook page

…and tell us which performer you’d be most excited to see!

The winner of this month’s competition (selected at random) will receive 4 tickets to the Melbourne Rhymes Kids Music Festival.

Entries close Wednesday, 12 October 2011. The winner will have four days to claim their prize, or a redraw will be held.

This month’s give-away is made possible by the organisers of the Rhymes Festival. For full details about the event, and to buy tickets, visit their website here.

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter

Not much sleepin’ going on…

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I really love school holidays.

And this is why…it gives me time to hang out with my two favourite little people, and to help them create wonderful memories of an ever-so-slightly magical childhood.

Part of doing this is through simple things like trips to the movies, or a lunch with friends. Other times it’s a bit more adventurous, like last Friday’s trip into the city to see Still Awake Still! at the Art Centre, Melbourne.

We gave ourselves plenty of time, enjoying the train trip into Flinders Street and took our time weaving through the crowd of football supporters who were eagerly awaiting this year’s grand final parade. Ignoring grand final fever and the sea of blue, black and white, we wandered into the stunning, much quieter, Arts Centre.

After picking up our tickets (big thanks to Little Melbourne!), we paused for a little heavenly entertainment, courtesy of The Fallen Angels. They caught my eye and brought to mind Wings of Desire (another of my guilty 1990s pleasures). For Oscar, he just enjoyed the music and the Angels’ simple game of follow-the-leader around the foyer of the Kids at the Art Centre set-up.

This was followed by a little lunch in the last of the Melbourne sunshine, a browse through a display of original illustrations from the book on which this production was based, I’m Still Awake, Still, by Elizabeth Honey and Sue Johnson and a quick cruisy groove to some of the book’s lullabies.

And then (some ten-year olds might say ‘…finally’) the show itself: Still Awake Still!

It started off quietly, as you might expect, with Miss Tinklefinger working hard to put the theatre-full of rowdy kids to sleep. ‘The Queen of Sleep’ twinkled her fingers on the keyboard, sang and hummed soothingly but to no avail…

The audience wasn’t having a bar of sleepy-time, and told Miss Tinklefinger in no uncertain terms that her magic was most definitely not going to work on them! After this, it wasn’t long before things went just a little bit silly.

What looked to start with to be an impressively large grand piano, fit for many a lullaby, turned out to be a magical playground for two clownish imps and a cast of furry friends. Kids and parents alike laughed and giggled along with these whimsical boys. Miss Tinklefinger was a tougher nut to crack, and it took some time to get her to enjoy a little bit of creative chaos.

But when she did, the fun really began!

The music, the singing, the puppetry of this performance was fabulous, and both my boys loved it from start to finish. They were intrigued by the seemingly never-ending supply of silly props and dug the funky double bass. Oscar yelled loudly with the crowd, in true pantomime style “It’s behind you!!” which made me giggle under my breath.

And just when you would have been forgiven for thinking that peace and quiet, fit for sleep, was worlds away, Still Awake Still! offered a surprise. A wordless and haunting tune turned Miss Tinklefinger’s piano into a Jurassic garden, lit with blues and greens and spinning chrome. I LOVED IT! It was beautiful, soothing and a garden fit for a queen, of sleep.

...with Sue Johnson

The production, by Jump Leads, is inspired by the songs from the children’s book I’m Still Awake, Still! by Elizabeth Honey and Sue Johnson. I’m really looking forward to getting hold of a copy of the book and music. I’m thinking it might make for a nice gift for a little girl I know…

Thanks again to Little Melbourne for helping me get the boys to this show, I love your give-aways!

Join us: Facebook and Twitter

Gettin’ our groove on at Rhymes

Oscar really loves me at the moment.

I am a very popular Mum, and all I had to do was arrange a big day out for a groovin’ three-year old at Rhymes Kids Music Festival.

I’m not sure if it’s the promise of Yo Gabba Gabba! or Lazy Town, or whether it’s all about the silent disco and the magic light show but regardless, Oscar and I are both extremely excited about having tickets to go along to this one-of-a-kind music festival.

You can find the complete line up for Melbourne here, and for Brisbane here.

Music is such an important part of childhood, helping kids to learn and of course, to have fun. Rhymes hones in on this, and takes advantage of the fact that kid’s music has come along way of late:

Rhymes Tour Director Adam Coward says “Kids Music has made massive leaps forward with modern musicians becoming parents and wanting to create new genres and styles that not only their kids will like, but, they can enjoy just as much.” Exciting new styles such as “K(indie) Rock” and “KidHop” have emerged bringing the musical world’s of parents and their children together.

“We’ve seen this convergence happen in kids movies” says Mr Coward. “Shrek, Toy Story, Madagascar, Megamind, they are engaging the adult mind as well, allowing parents and children to sit together and enjoy the movie experience. We’re now seeing the same thing with music and it’s very exciting”.

It’s a fantastic chance for parents and kids to enjoy a day out together, it’s a real adventure:

… for all the parents who thought you would have to hang up your festival boots forever after having kids… Rhymes music festival is helping parents relive their festival glory days and giving their kids their very first festival experience with great music running on multiple stages all day.

So watch out Tweenies, here we come!

I’ve put it on my calendar in big red pen… 30 October 2011. I’ve made plans to get to the Melbourne Showgrounds early, and I’ve already made a mental list of the supplies required to get us both through a day of rockin’ out!

Tickets are available here, and if you buy before 30 September they’re cheaper – get in quick for a nice little discount.

You can check out full details about Rhymes Kids Music Festival at their website. Show the kids, they’ll be rapted!

Stay tuned for more on Rhymes as I’ll be chatting soon with Festival Director Adam Coward about just how this great festival came about.

Join us: Facebook and Twitter

Entertain them, the Little Melbourne way

I really enjoy school holidays, but even so, kids bouncing off walls is no fun for anyone. So, I asked Jo from Little Melbourne if she’d like to suggest some fun ideas for the school break. To my delight, she did, and so here are some really different, fun ideas for keeping the kids entertained.

***

If you’re in search of something that ‘little bit different‘ these School Holidays then check out Little Melbourne’s recommended activities and events happening in and around Melbourne.

A Day at the Circus – School Holiday Program
Roll up the circus is coming! During the September School Holidays, the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) is offering a series of full-day activities comprising circus skills workshops, performances by renowned children’s entertainers, fun circus games and classic circus films.
When: 26th September – 2nd October

Arts Program
Let the budding young artist in your family explore a world of creativity with three jam packed days of fun, facilitated by leading artists, including classes in music, puppetry, circus, animation, and visual arts. Held at the Footscray Community Arts Centre.
When: 4, 5 and 6th October

Northcote Kids Festival
With 55 performances over 13 days, and workshops in theatre, music & performance, there’s something inspiring for all ages at the Northcote Kids Festival.
When: 25th September – 9th October

Georgie Porgie Cooking for Kids
Georgie Porgie Cooking for Kids is a hands on and interactive introduction into cooking aimed at the 8-12 year old crowd. George will teach you about how to find the best ingredients, and the secrets behind making a delicious meal.
When: 3rd October

Petit Atelier + Twisted Tastes Holiday Program
Get your kids out of the house and into the studio, with one of Petit Atelier’s inventive Art and Craft Workshops! There’s an exciting range of activities to stimulate your blossoming artist and solve the “Mum I’m bored” dilemma!
When: 26th September – 7th October


Little Picassos in the Garden at Babycinos Cafe
Gardening 4 Kids and Mini Picassos are teaming up these September school holidays for some gardening and art workshops for the kids. Your creative little green thumbs will be kept busy with planting, garden art and story time activities.
When: Wednesday 28th September and Friday 7th October

Bollywood Workshop at The Arts Centre
Learn how to move your body and twirl your hands to the exotic sounds of India in this simple and energetic Bollywood routine with Parvyn Kaur Singh & Josh Bennett. While taking a breath from dancing, you can listen to the soothing sounds of instruments such as the sitar and dil ruba (bowed sitar) and learn how to beat-box Indian-style on the table.
When: Wed 28 September – Sun 2 October

Looney Tunes Live! Classroom Capers
This hot new musical will have you on your toes. It’s a barrel of laughs for the whole family. Starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Sylvester, Taz, Marvin the Martian and Porky Pig. Don’t miss this fun-filled up-close-and-personal lesson of classic gags that made Looney Tunes a must-see class act!
When: Scattered dates over September – October

Is this where Thomas the Tank Engine Lives? Natured Kids Program
Sessions have related songs, stories, activities, craft, with time afterwards for you to relax, play and picnic in nature.
When: Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st September

The Enchanted Maze
An explosion of mind blowing 3D fun, giant twisting tube slides, towering topiary hedges, a spine tingling indoor maze, an sweet filled lolly shop serving old fashioned humbugs, acid drops and hand made boiled sweets, a cafe and stunning gardens and you’ve got yourself a great family filled day out!
When: Throughout the Holidays and beyond

The Living Library
True stories from real people.

In The Living Library you’ll meet a friendly librarian, borrow a ‘living book’ (or two or three!) and discover all kinds of true stories. Sit down together in the cosy library to hear about books’ lives, adventures and misadventures!
When: Wednesday 28th September – Sunday 2nd October

Reptile Encounters at the Queen Victoria Market
It’s not every day you come across pythons and crocodiles at the Market. But when you visit the Market during the first week of the School Holidays, you can expect to meet these as well as lots of creepy crawlies!
When: Tuesday 27th and Thursday 29th September

Crayola Creative Hub at Harbour Town Melbourne
Calling all creative kids! For the first time in Melbourne, the colour of Crayola, Australia’s number one children’s art and craft brand comes to life in a fun and interactive LIVE event. Kids can check out the ‘Lights, Camera, Colour’ tool that turns photos into a black and white colouring page for printing, then road test the latest Crayola products and take home their completed works-of-art, FREE!
When: 3rd – 9th October

By the Pond Launch at Spring Open Day
By the Pond‘ launch is being held at 10.30-11.30am at the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens, Spring Open Day on Sunday September 25th. Alex Papps (fabulous Play School presenter, also very fondly remembered as Frank on Home and Away) will be launching ‘By the Pond’. We’ll also have an indoor/outdoor screening with live entertainment to get the kiddies hopping, buzzing and quacking about, and finish up with some craft activities.
When: 25th September

***

Little Melbourne is a great place to find out about what’s on and happening in Melbourne for parents and their little ones.

The wide range of activities means there is a little something for everyone, and budget conscious suggestions are frequently included. If you’re keen to get the kids out of the house, have a browse on this great site.

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter

Galanti – a perfect finish to a perfect day

We found a wonderful new restaurant in Highett last night, a lovely trattoria and bar called Galanti. Well worth sharing…

Before I start, to be fair, you should know that we were in a very good mood when we arrived. It had been the most incredible day, with Evan’s basketball team winning their grand final and Evan scoring MVP for the game. Matt is their coach, so it’s fair to say that the whole family was pretty over the moon. I was so proud of Evan, for all his hard work and so pleased that Matt had had such fun helping this great group of boys to leave the court with a winner’s trophy.

The win was followed by a team lunch, noisy and celebratory, after which I needed a little sit-down. After I caught my breath, I thought it only fitting that we took Evan out to celebrate his win. But where to go?? We racked our brains… an old faithful? Somewhere new? Junky or fine dining? I’ll admit we’d still not quite decided where we were going when we piled into the car.

Then Matt threw out a wild card – how about this new little place, Galanti’s that he’d seen being renovated in Spring Road, Highett? An unlikely spot for a restaurant, but it had looked impressive from outside…

We drove a few minutes around the corner, and parked outside the Italian eatery. It looked good, but I still wasn’t quite sure so I got out of the car and had a look for a menu in the window. No menu, but they were playing Coldplay, and the waitress gave me a smile. I was was convinced.

We were greeted warmly and shown to a cosy booth in the corner. The kids were made really welcome, always a good start when dining with small ones and Oscar was thrilled to be given his own menu to peruse.

The service was friendly, prompt and careful. The menu offered a wonderful range of authentic Italian fare, including a nice selection of kids meals. We indulged in entree, mains and dessert, wine and coffee and we were all extremely satisfied with each course. Matt raved about the prawns, Evan asked for more pasta, and I loved, loved, loved the tiramisu. It’s rare that everyone at the table is equally happy with their meal, but in this case even Oscar finished off a whole plate of meatballs (no small feat, as seen here.)

The restaurant itself is spacious, and set-up beautifully. No detail has been overlooked, and as such you feel that real pride has been taken in this family establishment. There is even a little private dining booth, perfect for parties and cosy dates, a nice touch.

You can find Galanti at 23 Spring Road, Highett (just around the corner off Highett Road). Their phone number is 03 9553 1573, if you want to chat to them about a table. Pop on by, I’m sure they’d love to see you.

Join us: Facebook and Twitter

Ladies and gentleman, kids of all ages…

Thanks to the kind folks at Rushcrowds, the boys and I made a spur of the moment decision to go along to Silvers Circus, Sunday just gone.  I was lucky enough to pick up a free double pass from Rushcrowds which meant that all I had to do was pay the kids’ way, making it a really affordable outing.

On entering the tent I realised that we were extra lucky, as we were shown to ringside seats. This meant that we were wonderfully close to the action. We were only centimetres away from being hit by flying hula hoops and rouge juggling balls and it made acts like the ‘Globe of Death’ particularly thrilling, being close enough to hear the crazy metal globe creak and sway as three motorbikes spun wildly inside it, sounding very much like a bottle full of angry bees.

I’ll admit, I mainly agreed to go on this outing because Oscar kept shouting ‘circus, circus, circus’ like a madman every time we drove past Southland shopping centre, but I’ve got to say, once I was there I had as much fun as the kids. It’s been a very long time since I went to the circus,  but the glitter and stage make-up, the costumes and general carny-culture immediately reminded me of what a big deal it is to go to the circus when you’re a kid. I was entranced and thoroughly entertained.

Evan was too cool for school…he’d been to the same show this time last year and as such he kept offering up spoilers, telling me what was coming next. Oscar was wide-eyed, absolutely transfixed. He laughed at the clowns and clapped along on cue, but more often than not he sat with eyes wide and his little hand covering his mouth agape,  a real mixture of enjoyment and trepidation. He had an absolute ball.

The show itself includes a great variety of acts, and is suitable for all ages. In keeping with circus-norm, there are no animals, just a lot of clever people.

The two-hour show was filled with juggling, extreme hula hooping, and magic tricks complete with white doves and beautiful vanishing magicians assistants.

There were insane daredevils too, which had me on the edge of my seat. Evan thought I was a real dag when I covered my eyes, quite certain that the showy young man running the ‘Wheel of Steel’ was going to plummet to his death. Evan assured me that his stumbles were all part of the act, but I still I wasn’t so sure. I was quietly relieved when the act was over and done with, his feet firmly planted back on the ground.

There really was something for all of us, and I’m really glad that we went. It was nice to do something a little unplanned on the weekend, and the boys really seemed to enjoy the afternoon out.

Check out the Silvers Circus website for show times. On the weekends, Silvers Circus run day-time shows, which are pretty perfect for the little ones. Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on Rushcrowds for discount tickets and free passes!

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter

The Midnight Zoo, war-torn magic…

A little while back, I read and reviewed Sonya Hartnett’s Of a Boy. At the time, this novel surprised me with its impact, its subtle realism and its quiet sadness.

I was also fascinated by the fact that Sonya is one of those rare authors who very successfully writes for both adults and children, and this fascination lead me to push the award-winning, The Midnight Zoo to the top of my reading pile.

One of Hartnett’s most recent publications, The Midnight Zoo is the haunting story of three gypsy children Andrej, Tomas and little Wilma:

Under cover of darkness, two brothers cross a war-ravaged countryside carrying a secret bundle. One night they stumble across a deserted town reduced to smouldering ruins. But at the end of a blackened street they find a small green miracle: a zoo filled with animals in need of hope.

We are immediately endeared to Andrej and his siblings, worrying for them, as they pick their way through a war-torn landscape. The town is nameless and now devoid of life…or so they think.

Magic and myth are present from the outset, but it is not until the children come across the Zoologicka Zahrada, the Zoological Garden – that the real magic of this story begins. After yet another air-raid, seemingly waged to ensure not a single thing is left standing in this cursed little town, Andrej and Tomas awaken to voices. Voices in the lifeless town come as a shock, as does the fact that it is the lioness, the bear, the monkey that are sharing their concern, their resentment and their life-stories with the children.

This novel is magic realism used to full effect. The fairytale narrative makes this a compelling read for older children, and a surreal experience for adult readers, requiring a refreshing suspension of disbelief for the duration of the story.

And, like many traditional fairytales, this story has a very dark side. The contrast between these dream-like conversations, and the memories of Andrej – horrible recollections of the day that the gadje war impacted his gypsy clan, and stole his parents – is stark and confronting.

Reading The Midnight Zoo reminded me a lot of some of the more serious books that I read as a child, and most particularly of  I am David, by Anne Holm. The impact of I am David has stayed with me for decades, and I’m fairly certain that this story would make a similiarly lasting impression on a young reader.

It is beautifully written, perfectly paced, and Hartnett skillfully balances the multiple stories and character-developments throughout.

The resolution to this novel is open-ended, and bittersweet. It felt very much to me like when you wake from a very vivid dream, just before it finishes…

Sonya Hartnett was this week awarded the ‘Older Readers Book of the Year 2011’ by The Children’s Book Council of Australia for this wonderful novel. In my humble opinion, I think it is a most deserving winner.

I’m a bit hooked on Harnett now, and am keen to read some more of her work…I’m thinking Thursday’s Child  might be next on the list. I’ll also put The Midnight Zoo on the pile for Evan to read in a year or so (I think he might be just a little bit too young now) and I’ll be very keen to hear what he thinks of it.

***

Excitingly, Stories Unbound, the Melbourne Writers Festival starts tomorrow. Don’t forget to check out their website for details of all their wonderful events!

Buy your own copy of The Midnight Zoo at the TBYL Store!

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter

That author you like…

I’m so rapt to be able to feature a post by today’s Be My Guest, Jackie from My Little Bookcase. I love Jackie’s work, and her love for kid’s reading is unsurpassed. I share her love of Nick Bland’s Twinkle, and really enjoyed hearing more about his work. I trust you’ll enjoy it too. Thanks so much Jackie…

That Author You Like…Nick Bland
I’m thrilled to be one of Mandi’s guests this month. I was also a little excited to write about something that wasn’t necessarily related to children’s books or reading with children.

Alas, it seems I’m not making enough time for ‘me’ moments (I will have to change that), so I’m sticking with children’s literature for now.

There is a children’s book author and illustrator who has captivated me with his work of late. In my eyes, he is absolutely kicking goals.

This picture book creator is Nick Bland. He has been around for a number of years now but his latest books have caught my eye. His first published book, A Monster Wrote Me A Letter, was published by Scholastic in 2005. Scholastic were definitely onto a good thing because each book he produces just keeps getting better and better (well, I think so.)

Information on him is hard to come by but I understand that while working in a bookstore he devoured picture books to help him refine his story-telling and illustrations.

The first Nick Bland book I read was The Wrong Book (2009). It made me giggle, out loud, as do The Very Cranky Bear (2008) and the The Very Itchy Bear (2010). They are easy reads, but great for reading aloud.

Then I read Twinkle (2010), which could possibly be my very favourite picture book. It made me cry, happily. I’ve actually written an official review of this book so you can read about it here.

The Aunties Three (2011) is a rambunctious hoot which has my daughter and I roaring with laughter at every reading. Grug and The Gruffalo are making it big on the screens and stage, but The Aunties Three is one picture book I’d love to see adapted as a play script. Three high-spirited toddlers are trying to reclaim order in their house as they host a visit by their three aunties who are stern and demanding. It’s a recipe for success isn’t it?

The Runaway Hug (2011) is his latest book, illustrated by Freya Blackwood. I instantly thought this book was clever and warm. A young girl asks her mother for a hug. Before giving her daughter a hug, the mother announces that it’s her last hug. Lucy protects this hug fiercely and passes it around to each family member before giving it back to Mum. It simply captures the warmth of family life.

You will also have to look out for Some Dads (2011) which has only just been released this month in time for Fathers’ Day. It’s bright and colourful. Poking a little fun at dads, the book is humorous and comforting at the same time. The rhyming text is short and simple but the full-page illustrations will make you laugh out loud.

That leaves the following books for me to track down, and I will track them down: A Monster Wrote Me a Letter (2005), Aussie Jingle Bells (2006), I’ve Lost My Kisses (2007), Donald Loves Drumming (2008) and When Henry Caught Imaginitis (2008). One thing is for sure, he’s got a fan in me and I’ll be keeping a close eye on him.

What is it about his work that I love?

  • His illustrations are rich and complex (Most of his illustrations are oil paintings). There is so much going on in the illustrations that you need to spend time pouring over the pages even after the kids have gone to bed.
  • His stories are written to entertain children and he knows what makes them laugh, but there’s another layer to his stories that entertain the adult reader also.
  • His rhyme is not forced. It’s so natural that you hardly know you’re reading rhyme. This makes reading them aloud so enjoyable. I doubt that they were as easy to write as they are to read.
  • I think he understands children so well. He captures them so accurately (physically and behaviourally) in his illustrations and parents relate to that.
  • The concepts of his storylines are so clever and unique, but at the same time they resonate with families. There is so much depth in his stories.

Have you read a Nick Bland book yet? Any favourites in your home?

***

Jackie’s website My Little Bookcase celebrates the value of a traditional book, the joys of reading and quality time shared between parent and child. It is one of my personal favourites, and I’d encourage you to pop over for some great reading ideas. Thanks Jackie!

P.S. Don’t forget, this month’s give-away is a short one! To go into the running to win a double pass to MWF’s Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, see details here.

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter