3.06 Bronwyn Bancroft, W is for Wombat, My First Australian Word Book, 2008

Bronwyn Bancroft, W is for Wombat, My First Australian Word Book, 2008

This books is 26 bright pictures of individual Australian animals. It’s really for babies, rather than kids and my children ho-hummed it.

3.05 Sally Morgan, Bronwyn Bancroft, The Amazing A to Z Thing, 2014

Sally Morgan, Bronwyn Bancroft, The Amazing A to Z Thing, 2014

This picture book is illustrated with Bronwyn Bancroft’s trademark bright colours and contemporary Aboriginal art. The kids liked it a lot more than the muddy art in the previous picture book I mentioned (Annaliese Porter's The Outback),

It is basically an ABC as anteater tries to find another Australian animal to be interested in her surprise. None of them will look at it. My children guessed that it might be a game but it was really a book.

They liked the final page, where all the animals admire the book. My three year old also liked the ‘H’ page where the Huntsman spider was counting its legs. She had a go as well, and got to six.

3.04 Annaliese Porter, The Outback, 2005, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft

3.04 Annaliese Porter, The Outback, 2005, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft

This book was written by an eleven year old girl from the Gamilaraay group, which is really neat. I praise her for her accomplishment. I expect she is the youngest published author in Australia.

However, I must say that I could not get my kids to read this book. The prose was too complicated for them and the illustrations were rejected as ‘yucky’ and ‘brown’. It’s rare for them to totally refuse a book but this one I could not read to my target audience (aged five and three).
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)
[personal profile] dorothean2012-09-10 12:12 pm

Vandana Singh, Younguncle Comes to Town

After I read The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet, I immediately sought out any other books by Vandana Singh available at the libraries to which I belong. This turned out to be only one -- a children's chapter book called Younguncle Comes to Town.

Younguncle is the youngest uncle of the three children in the story, but he was called Younguncle even when he was a child, because it just seemed to fit. Younguncle is a very jolly young man who is very good at making friends with everyone. He is impulsive and unconventional and very good at making everything around him more interesting and imaginative. This makes him terrible at adult things like holding a steady job or impressing with his sister's stuffy future in-laws, but it means he's a wonderful uncle. (And a wonderful brother, too, when the sister realizes that she really doesn't want to marry that guy after all.)

After Younguncle, my second favorite character is his baby niece, always referred to as the baby. She cannot talk yet but she always listens. Although she loves Younguncle, who entertains her by reading her physics textbooks, she is also his worst adversary because she is determined to eat one of his shirts.

Younguncle's adventures often begin with charming mishaps, such as his short-lived career as a railway station manager (during which period his greatest interest was in learning to imitate all the different sounds that trains make), but end by his righting an injustice (his sister's unfortunate engagement, the theft of a cow, and even the reign of a family of criminals). He maintains that one good reason for all of his adventures is to collect stories to tell his nieces and nephew.

He's sort of a combination of Mary Poppins and Robin Hood.

Books 6-27: various authors

Haven't posted in a while. Here's a series of mini-reviews with some spoilers. Also, some of the books contain potentially triggering content.

6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

Mention (not counted)
Josias, Hold the Book by Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren (white); illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (person of colour)

Read more... )

2.32 Ambelin Kwaymullina, Caterpillar and Butterfly (2009)

2.32 Ambelin Kwaymullina, Caterpillar and Butterfly (2009)

This is another children's picture book, produced by the Fremantle Arts Press. The author and illustrator is from the Baigu and Nyamal people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

It is a morality tale about a caterpillar who learns to be brave and thereby becomes a butterfly. It has simple, clear illustrations.

At first I was put off by the lack of pronouns. There is 'Sunset' instead of 'the sunset' and 'Rock' instead of 'the rock', but as I finished the book it was intended to convey a respect for nature.

It was shortlisted for the WA Young Readers Book Award, which is always a good sign. On the other hand, my daughter, now three and a quarter, was unimpressed. (But this might have been because she is currently obsessed with *The Wizard of Oz* and this book was noticeably lacking in the Scarecrow, Dorothy, Tin Man and Lion department).

A La Carte, by Tanita S. Davis

This begins as a sweet, fluffy YA novel about Lainey, a shy, socially awkward teenage girl who wants to become the first African-American vegetarian female celebrity chef, but gains unexpected emotional force as it goes along.

Lainey has been content for years to hang out in the kitchen of her mother’s restaurant, chopping vegetables and bringing in her own recipes for the staff to try, and dreaming about leaving roses at Julia Child’s kitchen in the Smithsonian. But her long-time friend and secret crush, a popular boy named Sim, starts stirring up messy, uncomfortable feelings in her, and finally gets her to help him run away - a favor that seriously disrupts her life and even her relationship with her mother.

This is one of the more realistic depictions of teenage emotions, relationships, and sometimes terrible decision-making I’ve come across in a YA novel. (But don’t worry, it ends happily.) While the basic story has been told many times, it’s still worth telling and this is a good version of it. Many of you may identify a lot with Lainey’s social difficulties and determination to pursue her own quirky interests. Plus, it has a number of tasty-sounding recipes included.

While Lainey is nearly 18, this novel is suitable for preteen readers as well as teenagers: the writing itself is fairly simple, and the concerns aren’t ones limited to older teens. It’s definitely the sort of thing I would have enjoyed at nine or ten, and still enjoyed now.

A la Carte

2.17 Yih-Fen Chou, Mimi Loves to Mimic, illustrated by Chih-Yuan Chen (2010)

2.17 Yih-Fen Chou, Mimi Loves to Mimic, illustrated by Chih-Yuan Chen (2010)

Because Pearl liked the previous book by this author so much, I searched for the other books by her in our library.

*Mimi Loves to Mimic* is just about perfect in text, tone and illustrations for a nearly three year old. It's about a little dog who copies her mother, father, and grandparents. Very very sweet.

2.14 Yih-Fen Chou, Mimi Says No (2010)

2.14 Yih-Fen Chou, Mimi Says No, illustrations by Chih-Yuan Chen (2010)

My two and three quarter year old daughter adored this book. She has requested it again and again.

Of course, the subject matter is just right for her. It is about a toddler doggy who wants to do everything by herself while her long-suffering mummy doggy cleans up behind her.

The illustrations are cute and she has been able to describe what is happening (with prompting). It is definitely aimed at the do-it-myself toddler set.

2.10 Arone Raymond Meeks, Enora and the Black Crane (1991)

Arone Raymond Meeks, Enora and the Black Crane (1991)

This is another traditional story retold for children. I read it to my little girl but she was not thrilled. It was, perhaps, too advanced to her. Or perhaps she sensed my hesitation in reading *yet another* traditional story which revolves around spearing animals.

2.8 Christopher Fry, Djomi Dream Child (2004)

2.8 Christopher Fry, Djomi Dream Child (2004)

This story was too complicated for my two and a half year old. It's about a dream child who floats downstream towards the coast of Maningrida in Arnhem Land. It starts out as a dream vision that an old man has and then turns into the story of the girl in the dream realm and then in the natural world after she is born. That's quite a lot of meta and I'd say the readers would need to be five to seven for it to make sense.

She did request it again and got more out of it when I simplified the story and just related it to the pictures. She liked the one of the dream children in the pool. As she said several times, they were happy because this was where they belonged.