Welcome to another children’s book review. This month, we went back to the library for some new titles, and we also went to the Children’s Book Festival to meet John Marsden, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. (And to eat sausages in bread, dance to songs about pirates and play with Play-Doh and hula hoops.)
Here are our thoughts!
Smarty Cat series / Jeannette Rowe and Louise Park
Smarty Cat is not as smart as his name would have you believe. Or perhaps he is – he’s very curious, and has surrounded himself with some clever friends to answer his questions. Patiently.
Yes, quite smart after all.
Smarty Cat wants to know where Rain comes from, what Bellybuttons are for, why Snails leave shiny trails, and why we need Sleep. And that’s just the start. We borrowed six of the twelve available Smarty Cat books, and Ashleigh loves them. They are mostly factual, although sometimes veer into the cute to get their message across (in the Rain book, the water droplets ‘hug together’ to form clouds).
And they have helped me answer some of Ashleigh’s relentless why questions. So Smarty Cat gets a big fat tick from me!
My Country / Dorothea Mackellar and Andrew McLean
If I asked you to recite the first line of My Country, what would you say?
I would have said ‘I love a sunburnt country, a home of sweeping plains…’ But it’s not the first line. It’s in there, but not on page one. Nor on page two.
Mackellar’s beautiful poem about the country I feel lucky to call home is timeless. McLean’s illustrations are beautiful, and some of them give you almost as much to think about as the words on the page. Highly recommended.
The Fabulous Foskett Family Circus / Quentin Blake and John Yeoman
I love Quentin Blake’s illustrations (Roald Dahl’s books just wouldn’t be the same without them, would they?). And The Fabulous Foskett Family Circus is cute. Each page rhymes, and the characters do all sorts of fun circus things. It’s fun. It’s cute. And it’s not nearly as repetitive as this paragraph.
But it bothers me. I know it sounds like I’m clutching at straws, but the rhyme rhythm is different on each page and it throws me every time I read it. I have to read the whole page to myself before I read it aloud to make sure I get the emphasis right.
Ashleigh loves it though, and tries to perform the circus acts. Which is fine until we get to the fire-breathing page. Thank goodness none of the Fosketts like to juggle knives!
The Cat, the Rat and the Baseball Bat / Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
This book is fantastic. (I tried to think of a suitable word to rhyme with cat, rat and baseball bat, but could only think of ‘phat’. Yuck.)
The Cat, the Rat and the Baseball Bat is a single story taken from The Cat on the Mat is Flat, which gives you a clue as to the book’s finale. Very Seussian, it’s a delight to read. And after the first reading, Ashleigh had it down pat. (There’s the rhyme I was looking for!)
Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton are a great team, and this story is no exception. And our copy is now signed! Lovely to meet you, gents.
What books have you and your children read lately? Any recommendations?
And did any fellow Melburnians make it to the Children’s Book Festival on the weekend?
This post is the seventh in a series of children’s book review posts. Check out the others here:
Children’s book review (February)
Children’s book review (January)
Children’s book review (December)
Children’s book review – family favourites (November)
Children’s book review (October)
Once upon a book review (September)