Review Blog

Nov 21 2018

The puffin book of summer stories: eight favourite Australian picture books

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Penguin Random House Australia, 2018. ISBN 9780143793540
(Age: 3-7) Highly recommended. Themes: Summer, Beaches, Ocean, Grandparents, Dogs. This is a stunning collection of eight outstanding picture books about summer. The titles include many classics stories that will be familiar as well as some that have not been in print for some time:
Summer by June Factor, illustrated by Alison Lester (1988)
Grandpa and Thomas by Pamela Allen (2003)
My hippopotamus is on our caravan roof getting sunburnt by Hazel Edwards, illustrated by Deborah Niland (1990)
Eve and Elly by Mike Dumbleton, illustrated by Laura Wood (2016)
Castles by Allan Baillie, illustrated by Caroline Magerl (2005)
Seadog by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Tom Jellett (2013)
There's a sea in my bedroom by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Jane Tanner. (1984)
Max by Marc Martin (2013)
All the stories are wonderful and have been carefully selected by the publisher to bring alive summer in Australia. The Australian experience of the seaside is evoked vividly in Grandpa and Thomas, as the pair build a sandcastle and cavort in the waves, while June Factor's text in Summer, brings to life Australian Christmas traditions, with gorgeous evocative illustrations by Alison Lester. Eve and Elly is a personal favourite, depicting the dismay of a child who has lost her favourite toy elephant and the problems that her loving parents have in trying to replace it. Castles by Allan Baillie was new to me and I love the fantasy elements in it as a young girl, a Princess, built a castle on the beach and enjoyed it until a Pirate came along. Caroline Magerl's illustrations show a soaring castle in the clouds and galleon with cannons that toppled the castle's towers and both illustrations cleverly combine the ordinary day at the beach with the imaginative world of the two children. Our dog is a seadog will particularly appeal to children who own dogs as he scatters gulls and jumps and chases the waves. The story of the little girl in My hippopotamus is on our caravan roof getting sunburnt by Hazel Edwards is a celebration of the imagination, as she tries to convince everyone that there is a hippopotamus on the caravan roof or riding a surfboard making waves. There's a sea in my bedroom by Margaret Wild has all the fabulous aspects that one expects from this author and illustrator as an exuberant little boy imagines he has unleashed the sea from a large seashell he had found and discovers that he is no longer afraid of the sea. Children will be delighted as Max the seagull finally finds Bob who has left his fish and chip shop for another location.
This collection contains an outstanding group of picture books. It would be a wonderful gift for young children and would greatly enhance any unit of work about summer and the seaside in the classroom.
Pat Pledger

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