Review Blog

Feb 11 2016

George the bilby chef and the raspberry muffin surprise by Jedda Robaard

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Five Mile Press, 2016. ISBN 9781760067113
(Age: 3-6 years) Themes: Cooking, working together, friendship. Robaard, a Melbourne-based author and illustrator, has created some delightful children's storybooks that utilise her talent for drawing animals, and has enjoyed recent success with her Little Creature series of board books. This, the first in a new series, centres on bilby George, who lives beneath the roots of an old eucalyptus tree and loves to cook. Tucked away in a pocket inside the back cover is a recipe card for the raspberry muffins George bakes in the story. In Raspberry Muffin Surprise, George wants to bake something extra special for Betty Echidna's birthday. Unfortunately, George can be a little forgetful, so it is lucky that he has his friends to help him. Little Bee knows where the raspberry patch is, Maggie the magpie is able to shake the raspberries out of the bush and Bert the mouse has an umbrella that is perfect for carting raspberries.
Robaard uses a cast of Australian animals and lovingly brings them to life with soft, warm illustrations. A subdued colour palate of greens, browns and yellows suits the Australian setting and the animals are rounded to give them a friendly and cuddly quality while still retaining realistic integrity. The text itself is overly detailed in parts, due to its effort to highlight the characteristics of the individual animals (Bert can be very grumpy, George is a bit silly and likes to sing nonsense songs, Maggie is very helpful) and how they work together. However, it flows really well, is calm, gentle and unrushed and is not onerous to read.
There is a lot to like about this new series, including the fantastic illustrations, the focus on sharing and working together and the recipe card that encourages children to get active in the kitchen (there will be one in each of the books in the series).
Nicole Nelson

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