Minton Goes! by Anna Fienberg
Ill. by Kim Gamble. Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760111960
(Age: 4-7 years) Recommended. The collaboration between Anna Fienberg and Kim Gamble has produced the popular Tashi series. The Minton picture books have also been popular as individual titles and stand the test of time in this collection of seven of the Minton adventures with the addition of The Hottest Boy Who Ever Lived originally published in 1995.
Hector lives beside a volcano on the edge of the world with his pet salamander, Minton. Hector is lonely and craves human companionship, a cuddle or a hug even from a boa constrictor, but he is just too hot to handle. When a storm comes, Hector and his pet are washed out to sea clinging to a tree. Their adventure really begins as they are rescued by Gilda and taken back to her frozen Viking home. Hector finds acceptance and love whilst Minton returns home.
The rest of the stories follow the adventurous Minton and his new friend, the cautious Turtle as they explore the world in vehicles Minton makes by recycling household containers and other items.
First he makes a boat and while the friends intend to sail around the bay they are blown away and find a new friend Bouncer the acrobat. She misses the circus where she bounced too high and landed on a far away island but can't bounce back. Minton decides to help and makes a plane in which they manage to find their way back to the circus. Minton and Turtle explore the city in the car Minton constructs and they find employment on a building site when Minton makes a dump truck. Eventually the sea and their island home calls and Minton makes a submarine and the return journey begins. They visit Hector who provides the hot air to power the balloon Minton makes for the final leg of the journey.
After each episode there are simple but well illustrated instructions on how to make Minton's vehicles, including a complete list of items needed. According to Fienberg these were all developed and constructed at her kitchen table, in collaboration with Gamble, and enthusiastically tested by her young son. Hopefully this will inspire parents to help their offspring to also have a go at making these vehicles.
The full colour illustrations remind us that each chapter was a standalone picture book, bringing the setting and characters to life. The cautious and sad looking turtle is a great foil for the ever enthusiastic Minton, reminding him to take safety measures and seeing the danger in every new form of transport, but remaining the faithful friend.