Review Blog

Nov 07 2011

Ten blue wrens and what a load of wattle! by Elizabeth Honey

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2011. ISBN 978 1 74237 787 2.
(All ages). Recommended. Picture book. Australian themes. Counting book. Counting from one to a thrillion has never been such fun as when Elizabeth Honey brings her considerable skills with paint and words to the fore. Combine this with a love and exploration of Australian themes, there is much to like, play around with and most importantly share, in this Aussie showcase.
From one to twelve, Honey takes us through a catalogue of Australian icons, including a nipper at the beach, artists creating dot paintings, blue wrens and meat pies, all in sentences full of rhyme and rhythm, fun and curiosity. Children will love to read along with each page, finding the things on the page that reflect the sentence and number given. They will love to predict what is coming next and I can imagine many children learning off by heart the pages that they most love to say along with the reader.
Kids in new arrival programs can be easily introduced to some aspects of  Australian culture and customs, kids in the city can be introduced to some of the staples of the bush and rural kids can be exposed to some of the things that city kids take for granted. Iconic Australian structures, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the houses with iron lace, sit well alongside the natural environment, blue wrens, bowerbirds and Uluru, as well as the adapted environment, meat pies, kelpie dogs and sheep stations.
The end papers extend the use of this wonderful book.  Inside the back cover the endpapers have the numbers one to twelve over again, asking kids to recall and remember what they have just read, while the front endpapers, with their sprigs of wattle in bottles, show the class just how Elizabeth Honey painted the illustrations. When the details on the publication page are read, many students may well try the stencilling for themselves. By including such detail, Elizabeth Honey has ensured that her book, the methods she has used and the lesson given to the class will make this a more than memorable book to read.
On the back page is a stanza summarising the words inside. Some may like to read this first as a teaser, before venturing inside.
Fran Knight

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