The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) is an organisation that fosters the engagement of literature in young Australians. Each year, the CBCA presents awards to exceptional books that make an immense contribution to children’s literature. In 2015 the CBCA will be celebrating its 70th year of promoting high quality Australian literature for children and young people (see www.cbca.org.au for more information).
This year an outstanding list of books have been chosen as notables and shortlists for this prestigious award. Let’s have a look at the shortlisted books in the Early Childhood category.
Snail and Turtle like to do lots of things together. They like to walk and run and read (as you can imagine, very slowly and quietly). Whilst they are good friends, Snail and Turtle recognise their differences in their habitats, diets and favourite activities. But they find common ground in their creative painting pursuits, ‘even though Snail likes swirls and Turtle likes shapes and blobs.’
A very sweet story of friendship and celebrating differences, with equally gorgeous bold, colourful and textured illustrations by author / illustrator Stephen Michael King.
Scary Night, Lesley Gibbes (author), Stephen Michael King (illus.), Working Title Press, 2014.
Ready to be horrified? It’s time to hide! Let out a scream, it’s Scary Night! Lesley Gibbes and Stephen Michael King bring us a spooktacular tale of three brave friends that set upon a journey in the dead of night. Join them for a mysterious adventure!
Hare with a hat, Cat with a cake, Pig with a parcel. Any guesses as to where they are tip-toeing to under the pale moonlight? With Pig in front, the animal friends wander far over dark, rolling hills, traipse through the whispering woods and even dare to cross a snapping crocodile-infested creek. Shivering and squeezing each other tight, they continue on their way.
But where did they end up? Read the book and you will get a BIG surprise!
Scary Night is beautifully written in poetic prose. I especially love how Lesley Gibbes draws the reader in with her interactive, humorous question and answer play and repetitive phrases. She has also provided plenty of opportunity for teachable moments, including phonic awareness, prepositional language and rhyming words. Engagement with the audience is further emphasised with Stephen Michael King’s gorgeous, Suess-like, expressive illustrations. The cool, moody colours are strong but not overpowering, with his use of accents in the bright full moon and the characters large, white terrified eyes. Just perfect to create the thrill of the night-time scene.
Scary Night, a rhyming story of courage, determination and friendship, contains all the goodness of fun, adventure, suspense, and just a little bit of bite to keep its young readers entertained many times over. This read-aloud book is a real treat!
Pig the Pug , Aaron Blabey (author, illus.), Scholastic, 2014.
You can’t go past this eye-bulging, squashed nose little pug that graces the front cover of Aaron’s Blabey’s Pig the Pug. From the onset, we learn just how greedy and selfish this dog is, as he has already claimed the book as his own on the ‘This book belongs to…’ label. True to classic tantrum behaviour, Pig blatantly refuses to share anything with friendly sausage dog, Trevor. A kind gesture by Trevor sees Pig the Pug completely ”flip his wig”. Pig doesn’t learn his lesson gently. Should we laugh at his misfortune? Ashamedly, yes.
With a distinguishable reference to the phrase, ‘When pigs can fly’, Pig the Pug cannot and receives his just deserts, which only turns out to be sweet for one… Trevor! With no choice in the matter, Pig is forced to play with his canine friend. And although not totally deserved, we can’t help but feel some compassion towards Pig, but we still sneak in a final little giggle nevertheless.
Pig the Pug is delightfully told in fun, exuberant rhyme, with vivid, amusing illustrations. A wildly funny read and a clear lesson in learning to share, suitable for all ages.
Following the original Noni the Pony the loveable pony is back and ready to set off to the beach with her companions; Coco the cat and Dave the dog. As far as cats go, Coco prefers to be nonchalant and stay dry. But like any typical energetic dog, Dave bounds off through the waves to find a whale, only to become stranded in the middle of the ocean. In her true heroic, caring manner, Noni is there to fish him out and return to the safety of the shore.
With Alison Lester’s characteristically gorgeous, endearing illustrations, and gentle, rhythmic wording, Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach is a fun, positive tale of friendship and all things magical about visiting the beach.
A little girl cannot sleep while her baby sister occupies the same bedroom…and screams. No amount of comfort and pats from Mum settle baby Jessie. No amount of sweet stories and lullabies from Dad settle Jessie. The girl is frustrated beyond words, but when Jessie is taken out and all is quiet, she still can’t sleep, and finally comes to realise the perfect solution… A little bit of sisterly love and affection goes a long way.
A really gentle and endearing story that delicately explores the struggles of sleep-time routines. I love Libby Gleeson‘s descriptions of the baby’s behaviour, paired with the raw emotions of the older sister. I also love Freya Blackwood‘s whimsical and dynamic images that show these feelings with vignettes and contrasting tones of orange and blue.
Go To Sleep, Jessie! will melt your heart. It is perfect as a bedtime story at the end of the day, and especially for children who understand the joys and angst of having a younger sibling.
A House of Her Own, Jenny Hughes (author), Jonathan Bentley (illus.), Little Hare Books, 2014.
Audrey proclaims to her dad, ”Your house is getting too small for me”. So, a most obliging father takes his little girl outside in search of a more suitable place to live. A house high up in the tree is perfect! After all, Audrey is bigger than she was yesterday.
Handyman dad gets to work on a beautiful circular staircase, a hanging bathtub for snorkelling, a spot for sipping tea, a comfy blue bed, chairs for guests and a stove – all at Audrey’s request. The tree house is magnificent! But what happens when Audrey realises that she might get cold and she’s run out of food? Once again, dad has just the right solution!
Jenny Hughes has created this wonderful dialogue between Audrey and her dad; an independent, knows-what-she-wants little girl and her accommodating father. The images by Jonathan Bentley are breathtaking as we watch via differing perspectives of this amazing renovation coming together up in the sky. The vibrant watercolours and textures add a gorgeous touch of energy that so brilliantly captures the dynamics of each scene.
‘A House of Her Own’ is an enchanting story of love and dedication, with a sense of big adventure but also affirming one’s sense of security, that is sure to get preschoolers reaching up to their bookshelves for another read, again and again.