The Tiny Woman’s Coat

The Tiny Woman’s Coat
Joy Cowley and Giselle Clarkson
Gecko Press

This is a heart-warming autumnal tale of need and kindness.

A tiny woman shivering in the chilly wind wants a coat, a coat she resolves to make herself. There might be something of a problem though, for she lacks the necessary tools and materials with which to do the job.

However, happily for her, there are plenty of offers from things natural. The autumn trees provide leaves – ‘Rustle, rustle, rustle.’ Then a grey goose offers its beak in lieu of scissors and ‘Snip, snip, snip’ the leaves are cut into a body and sleeves.

A porcupine’s generosity takes the form of one of its quills

but then this needs to be threaded with something suitable.

A friendly horse provides the thread and then all that’s needed is a means of fastening the garment. The three buttons are seeds given by the ‘wild wet weeds’ and finally hurrah! Out to face the storm, ‘snug as a bug in a rug’ goes the tiny woman clad in her new warm coat of kindness.

Simply constructed and written, Joy Cowley’s folksy story is sheer delight to share and also, with its repeat patterned text, ideal for beginning readers. sheer delight too, and the perfect complement for the text, are Giselle Clarkson’s detailed illustrations with their gentle humour, autumnal hues and close observation of the natural world.

The Gobbledegook Book

The Gobbledegook Book
Joy Cowley illustrated by Giselle Clarkson
Gecko Press

This is an a smashing anthology that brings together twenty of New Zealand author Joy Cowley’s much-loved stories, poems and nonsense rhymes, newly illustrated by Giselle Clarkson whose witty, energetic art is full of fun – a kind of visual poetry.

Open the book anywhere and you’ll find something to love be it the bizarre Nicketty-Nacketty, Noo-Noo-Noo that begins thus;
‘There once was an ogre called Gobbler Magoo / who lived in a swamp where the wild weeds grew. Nicketty-naketty, noo-noo-noo.’

It continues in this sing-song fashion for a further 13 verses, each spread with a splendid illustration.

Or perhaps The Tiny Woman’s Coat about an old woman in need of a coat who is helped by the kindly animals she encounters will tickle your fancy: I love the swirl of rustling autumn leaves and the happy snug-as-a-bug final scene.

How many young listeners will know what a singlet is but they surely will having encountered Uncle Andy and his multi-purpose garment.’Uncle Andy bought the singlet / from an army surplus store. It was the only upper garment / Uncle Andy ever wore. That’s as maybe but it also doubles as a foot warmer, a carrying pouch, a wire substitute, a fire extinguisher and a tea towel. This item has one snag though but to discover what, you’ll need to get your hands on a copy of the book for book yourself.

You’ll also meet several felines including Greedy Cat,

Grandma who owns not spectacles but Goggly Gookers and gives other crazy answers to children’s questions, an exploding pumpkin

and The Jumbaroo that gets a pain in its woggly and more.

Everything about this book is perfect. For those who love to read aloud and those who listen, it’s an absolute cracker: utter zany joyfulness – a treasure for family and school collections. Buy it to keep and buy it to give.

Read it here, read it there, read it pretty much anywhere.

Song of the River

Song of the River
Joy Cowley and Kimberly Andrews
Gecko Press

In this new illustrated Joy Cowley story first published 25 years ago, Kimberly Andrews re-imagines a journey of a little boy, Cam and his adventure as he follows a river from its trickling source all the way to the sea.

One spring morning the lad decides not to wait for his grandfather’s promise to take him to the sea but instead he listens to the watery voice of the first trickle, the waterfall, the leaping trout, the green and gold frogs as the stream becomes a river

that widens, deepens and joins other rivers. Then its voice is that of ‘big brass engines soaked in oil’,

growing louder at the wharves to become ‘the voice of salty wind and crying birds and deep, secret places where whales swim with their young.’ And all the while the river urges Cam to continue his journey until eventually there before him, ‘wild and blue and beautiful … and going on forever’ is …

A sea whose song is deep and wide and truly wonderful.

Back home again, the boy tells his grandfather of his adventure and once again receives the ‘One day we will go there,” response.

No matter whether the boy’s travels were real or imagined, his journey was filled with wonder.

Joy Cowley’s poetic narrative truly sings throughout and is made all the more powerful in the company of Kimberly Andrews’ superb landscapes executed in muted, natural earthy hues.

An awe-inspiring tribute to the natural world and to storytelling itself.