“BIM BAM BOOM” by Frederic Stehr

 

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Early picture books often strive for pleasing rhythm but author Frederic Stehr celebrates the discordant mess it can be in his new book “Bim Bam Boom” (Gecko press, Sept 2017).

Bashing things together to create sound and rhythm is a primal drive – the very young understand this perfectly but grown ups lose touch with this simple pleasure.

 

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Mother Owl certainly fails to find the joy in Baby Owl and friends thrashing a miscellany of her cookware. Or as the young birds rightly assert – “making music!”. Stehr captures their delight (and the cacaphony) perfectly with his simple line drawings and clever layering of text.

 

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Baby Owl gaily bangs a pot with wooden spoons – BIM BAM BIM BAM BIM. One by one her friends join her. Canary finds pot lids – TISH TISH TISH. Sparrow returns with a bowl and ladle – BOOM BOOM BOOM. Chick and Raven join the band!

 

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But it’s all over when a slightly wild-eyed Mother owl confiscates the instruments, telling the dejected little birds she’ll be back.

 

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She’s somewhat redeemed when she flourishes a delicious cake.  Replete, the youngsters wonder what to do next… and the story ends with a twist and an amusing finale on the back cover.

 

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“BIM BAM BOOM” is a simple, playful board book for toddlers. We love it.

 

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With thanks to the Gecko Press for the review copy : )

“See You When I See You” by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson – Reviewed by Hana (9)

 

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I understood.  Really.  Who could resist that cover?  My review copy of “See You When I See You” by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Ericsson. Gone.

My sleuthing didn’t take long.  Cue defiant nine-year-old.

“I just need it back for a while,” I say.  “You can have it after that.”

“Why do you need it?” comes her careful, tinged-with-defiance reply.

“Because I’m going to read it and tell people about it on my blog.”

I’ll tell them about it.”

“O-kay… what would you say?”

“That I love it.  And Dani is me and Ella is Tessie.  Because I’ve got white hair and Tessie’s got black hair and we are best friends and the adults can’t stop us from being best friends even though she lives far, far away.  But Dad’s not Italian like Dani’s Dad and he doesn’t say “amore” when he kisses me goodnight.  And you’re not dead like Dani’s Mum.”

Her eyes flick up at me, contemplating my alive-ness.

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“In the books Dani gets sad because Ella is so far away and there are mean boys in her class and she doesn’t like her Dad’s new girlfriend because she’s still sad about her Mum.”

Her shoulders rise and sag with a giant exhalation.

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“This time they go to the zoo and she gets lost and Ella was there with her school too and they went on an adventure and they buried their friendship necklaces in a hole in the ground.  Then they got in trouble and Ella’s teacher was mean and carried her off like a sack of something.”

She pauses, aggrieved.

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“And Dani has guinea pigs called Snow and Flake and they live in her room!  Like my fish Lemon and Honey but they’re not guinea pigs.  Snow and Flake are really super-clever guinea pigs.  You can tell because their eyes glitter.”

She goggles her eyes rodent-style and laughs.

 

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“Dani is funny Mum.  And she knows about the silver lining.  You know – in the clouds?”

A grand, skywards arc of hand, a breathy sigh… then she (and the book) are gone.

“See You When I See You” is a new story in the acclaimed chapter book series written by Rose Lagercrantz and illustrated by Eva Ericsson, due out in July.   A stand-alone read, “See You When I See You” follows “My Happy Life”, “My Heart is Laughing”, “When I am Happiest” and “Life According to Dani.” 

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Lagercrantz and Ericsson (Sweden) are long-time friends and collaborators and it shows in this beautiful dance of words and pictures.  The stories are rooted firmly in the domestic world – main character Dani navigates the subterranean complexities of home and family life, school and friendship.  The adults in Dani’s life are fallible and she grapples authentically with a good measure of grief and disappointment. 

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Neither trite nor heavy-handed, the serious business of growing up is balanced by a sense of wonder and flourishes of twinkling humour.  This series will most likely appeal to 5-7 year-olds as a read-together or an independent read for 7-9.  We’ve eagerly anticipated and loved every book. Classics.

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With thanks to Gecko Press for the lost and found review copy.

“Feast of Content” for 9-12 year olds

Sooooooo looking forward to “Gecko Annual” edited by Susan Paris and Kate De Goldi (Gecko Press). Due October 2016.

Here’s what Booknotes Unbound have to say: –

Gecko Annual
Edited by Susan Paris and Kate De Goldi
Gecko Press, October 2016

The Gecko Annual is a 136-page miscellany – a contemporary spin on the much-loved annuals we all remember, with a good dose of sophistication and subversiveness. We wanted to give 9-12 year olds – an age group currently under-served – a heady mix of fiction, comics, poetry, essays, how-to’s, art, games, satire, and a film script. It’s a feast of content that can be dipped into, pored over, returned to again and again – and like all good annuals this one has something for everyone in the family. The content has been commissioned exclusively from New Zealand writers and illustrators and introduces a number of new names – a feature that will be ongoing. It promises to be smart, dynamic, elegant and playful – a timeless and beautiful package thanks to the exemplary design and production values of Gecko Press. We can’t wait!

 

Hello World!

  2544Time has passed in the Mo household since the arrival of the little blue monster who, like a rumbustious toddler, crunched, munched and chewed his way into the orderly lives of Mr and Mrs Mo in “Mrs Mo’s Monster” (2014).  Author/illustrator Paul Beavis continues his droll depiction of the little monster in “Hello World” (Gecko Press, September 2015).

Little Monster is bored.  Mr and Mrs Mo are busy with no time to play – in classic parent fashion, Mrs Mo tells him “we’ll do something fun tomorrow.”  That doesn’t cut it with the monster for whom, like most human children, it’s all about the now.    2546
Surveying the (now tidy) miscellany of attic junk he has the brilliant idea to pack a bag and head “off to see the world.”  Mrs Mo’s reaction is perfectly understated.  “How exciting,” she says.  “Can I make you a sandwich?”

He sets off with a spinning globe under his arm and knapsack heaving with attic-tat; trumpets and trophies, rackets and bats.  Heading for the hills, he’s having a brilliant time, oblivious to both the trail he leaves as things fall out of his bag and the furtive Mrs Mo who is follows at a safe distance, gathering it up behind him.
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But the landscape looms and the shadows lengthen and the little monster begins to tire.

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Forlorn, he tosses the globe aside and regards his now empty rucksack. Beavis’s use of visual foreshadowing is brilliant here.  It’s the “all is lost moment” for the monster but little readers will delight in spotting the long shadow of Mrs Mo (and the collection of junk) just behind a nearby rock.

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Equally delightful is the monster’s facial expression as he clutches her with relief.  Ever-cool, Mrs Mo says she thought he might be “missing a few things” and offers him a sandwich.  The monster gratefully accepts “just the one.”  Restored, he leaps up from amidst an impressive pile of crusts and sweeps Mrs Mo forward on the adventure.  Together they climb, the monster reassuring Mrs Mo all the way to the top where they are rewarded with a glorious vista of fiery sunset and patchwork fields.

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There’s an amusing reversal here as Mrs Mo appears unsteady and moots heading home. Little monster’s torch beam cuts impossibly through the darkening sky as he bravely declares “I can show you the way!”.  Parents will love the monster’s childish provocation at the end and Mrs Mo’s benign response (and Mrs Mo, cuppa in hand, literally on top of the world).

Beavis has a strongly narrative and striking illustrative style. The perspective shifts are brilliant – from the tiny, trailing Mrs Mo who ultimately (and heroically) fills a page, to the confines of the rock landscape that opens to an climatic epic vista of land and sky.  Judicious use of colour heightens the sense of intensifying menace with benign blue skies and green fields at the beginning of the adventure giving way to the the fiery reds and ochres in the canyon.

This charming fable is warm and exuberant.  Young readers will love looking for the steadfast Mrs Mo on every page almost as much as they will identify with the kaleidoscopic emotion and energy that is Mrs Mo’s Monster, growing up.

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With thanks to Gecko Press for providing a review copy.