Ollie’s Lost Kitten / The Grinny Granny Donkey


Ollie’s Lost Kitten
Nicola Killen
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Ollie returns for an autumnal tale that is every bit as enchanting as her previous stories.
One crisp, blustery autumn morning Ollie, sporting her cat suit and pursued by her beloved moggy Pumpkin, head outdoors. Suddenly Ollie, about to jump into a leaf pile sees that it’s moving and then a sudden gust of wind reveals, hiding among the leaves, a tiny shivery kitten.

Having warmed it up, Olllie and two felines frolic in the leaves, catching them and playing forest explorers until they’re tired out. Before long the little kitten is ready for more play so Olllie joins in, totally forgetting about Pumpkin still slumbering beneath a tree.
The two dash off deeper into the woods where they spot lots of ‘lost kitten’ posters.

The girl knows she must try to find the kitten’s home so off they go, following a path revealed by the leaves, all the way to a little cottage where the kitten lives.

It’s a somewhat tearful Ollie who heads back, suddenly realising that her very own Pumpkin has been left alone. Feeling sadder still, she sits in the dark, lost and a bit fearful, till all of a sudden, she hears a rustle,

and then an extremely welcome ‘miaow’ that she recognises …

Gently suspenseful and beautifully illustrated, Nicola’s gorgeous graphite scenes with pops of orange and occasional cut-outs, give the story an autumnal feel making it ideal for sharing with little ones, just now especially.


The Grinny Granny Donkey
Craig Smith and Katz Cowley
Scholastic

Here’s a tooth-troubled addition, in the form of Grinny Granny, who joins Wonky Donkey and Dinky Donkey in the daft donkey family delights related by Craig Smith and beguilingly illustrated by Katz Cowley.


No grey lady is this one with her swanky styled titfa and adornments of the jewelled kind.

There’s nothing this granny donkey likes better than to sit playing her banjo, sipping a cup of her favourite brew and dunking in her biscuits,

but there’s a snag of the dental kind; her false teeth just won’t stay in her mouth.

Occasionally however she does get a bit down in the mouth, not on account of her teeth (those can be put back pretty niftily) but when her family fail to visit for a seemingly long time. That makes her grumpy and cranky, until up trot her son Wonky and her granddaughter Dinky. Then back comes that toothy smile and it remains, lighting up her donkey countenance for weeks and weeks – hee haw how splendid is that!

Herein with its wonderful sounding dunks, plunky-plinks,

clunks, clinks, clanks and zonks, Craig’s ‘Hee Haw’ -ing cumulative narrative plonks along nicely in time with Granny’s banjo strumming; adorably depicted in Katz’s scenes of this gentle grinning granny jenny.

Little ones will love it especially when read by their own grannies. It’s great for developing awareness of rhyme and sound/symbol associations to boot (or maybe hoof).

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.

Willbee the Bumblebee

Willbee the Bumblebee
Craig Smith, Maureen Thomson and Katz Cowley
Scholastic

A plug for bees and a slightly crazy story of an unravelling black and yellow jersey belonging to one particular buzzy bumblebee named Willbee are knitted together in this rhyming story endearingly portrayed by Katz Cowley.

One day while out and about foraging Willbee snags his jersey on a rose thorn and as he flies away, the jersey gradually unravels until his bare bum is exposed. The now decidedly chilly little insect has to remain unprotected in the garden as he’s too cold to fly home.

Alone and scared humless, he’s spotted by kindly butterfly, Monica who flies down to his aid. She frees the wool and takes it off to spider Steve who agrees to weave the yarn into a brand new jersey for Willbee; and so he does. Back to Willbee flies Moni with the jersey.

Donning his new garment at super fast speed, Wilbee revives, gets back his hum, rewarms his bum, gives thanks to his benefactors and buzzes off happily home to his mum.

A fun, giggle inducing read aloud to share with little ones at home or in an early years setting.