Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You! / A Cat Called Trim

Allen & Unwin offer some unusual ways of presenting information in these two non-fiction books

Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You!
Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost
Allen & Unwin

Quog (a blobbly armless thing) and Oort (a gas cloud) are in their spacecraft going to a party but mechanical issues hold things up. They need to get out and fix the problem but without hands or arms, opening the door isn’t possible. Or is it? That’s when the narrative becomes interactive – the reader turns the page and … out they come.

‘Give Quog and Oort a wave,’ we’re told and a page turn reveals Quog has grown arms and hands. That’s a good start but there are further issues.

Little by little youngsters are then introduced to the bones,

muscles …

and nerves of the hand – their form and function.

With simple, bright, lively illustrations, this, zany mix of fact and fiction is enormously engaging: little humans will love the idea of helping the little aliens reach their destination, and in so doing learning some basic human biology – anatomy and physiology – as presented by the clever human team Idan Ben-Barak (author/scientist) and illustrator Julian Frost.

A Cat Called Trim
Corinne Fenton and Craig Smith
Allen & Unwin

‘Trim was a cat born for adventure.’ That he surely was having been born aboard the sailing ship Reliance bound for Botany Bay and then not long after, finds himself hurtling over the side of the ship into the inky depths of the Indian Ocean.

Happily for the kitten and his saviour Matthew Flinders, a special relationship is forged, with Trim accompanying his master on all his expeditions until the fateful day when Flinders was accused of spying, his precious books, charts and journals confiscated and he became a prisoner on the Isle de France (Mauritius).

After a while Trim disappeared and his master never saw him again.

Both educative and entertaining, Corinne Fenton’s telling of this true story is compelling and accompanied by Craig Smith’s dramatic, detailed illustrations, and maps, makes for an absorbing starting point for primary readers interested in Australia and its history.

Scruffle-Nut / Hugless Douglas Plays Hide-and-Seek

Here are two very different stories with a theme of friendship:

Scruffle-Nut
Corinne Fenton and Owen Swan
New Frontier Publishing

‘As winter leaves tumble and twirl / a wisp of memory / wraps itself about me / and whispers me back / to long ago … ‘

So begins a gentle tale told by Olivia whose childhood memories we share in this sensitively told, equally sensitively illustrated story with its soft-spoken bullying theme.

As a young child her Nanny Clementine would take her to the park and there one day she sees a shy stumpy-tailed little squirrel that is chased away by the squirrels with large bushy tails.

It’s the beginning of a friendship that develops between child and squirrel – a squirrel that is, like the girl, a little different from others.

Time passes, the days turn colder until the snow falls and visits to the park come to a halt and Olivia is left wondering whether Scruffle-Nut, as she calls her friend, will be able to ward off attacks from the Bully-Bunch, the name she gives to the bushy-tail squirrels.

Although she never sees her squirrel friend again, he stays in her heart along with the lesson she learned from him so long ago.

Hugless Douglas Plays Hide-and-Seek
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books

Playing hide-and-seek with his woolly friends is somewhat problematic for Douglas; he’s always the one to be found first.

But when Little Sheep invites him to team up and become a seeker, he certainly proves his worth; in fact he’s a little too good.

The game continues apace until there’s only Flossie left to find and then in his enthusiasm Douglas picks up the only possible hiding place remaining, in its entirety, which has the desired result. They locate Flossie but then find that Little Sheep is missing.

Can they discover where their friend is before it’s dark?

Another eventful episode from the adorable Douglas to please his fans and more than likely win him a whole lot more.