Upside Down Friday / The Art of Words

Upside Down Friday
Lana Spasevski and Nicky Johnston
EK Books

Unlike his mum little Hugo monkey hates Fridays. That’s the day when his usual routine changes. Consequently he walks to school with a sad face, butterflies in his tummy and a rapidly beating heart as he anticipates spending his time doing sport. 

On this particular Friday though things turn out a whole lot better that expected thanks to Maddison who announces that she’s Hugo’s buddy for the day. She goes on to give him a bright red balloon 

and tell him that just like Hugo she didn’t like Upside Down Fridays and later she reassures him that ‘after a while, it will feel the right way up.” And those kind words make all the difference … 

A sweet story for the very young about the power of friendship.

The Art of Words
Robert Vescio and Joanna Bartel
EK Books

Author Robert Vescio and illustrator Joanna Bartel present an exploration of the playful possibilities of words and their power to generate a variety of emotions, feelings and ideas. 

We see two children (accompanied by a dog) reading, relaxing, climbing, gardening and much more as they snip, 

squash, expand and collect words, weaving them together (along with some punctuation), and creating stories to bring magic, joy and excitement.

The art is a delight and a wonderfully imagined presentation of the author’s engaging narrative.

Amira’s Suitcase / Dandy & Dazza

Recent hardcover publications from New Frontier Publishing – thanks for sending them for review

Amira’s Suitcase
Vikki Conley and Nicky Johnston

Set in what looks like a shanty town, this is a lovely story about what happens when a little girl makes an unlikely and unexpected discovery.

What is poking out from the corner of an old suitcase? Amira is intrigued to find a tiny seedling while searching for a hiding place. She makes friends with the little plant, tending it carefully: ‘Amira smiled at the sprout. She felt something blossom deep inside her.’

She takes the suitcase outside into the sunlight and is reminded of a pear tree she misses. The following day she takes her friend Nala to see the sprout and for her too, a memory is triggered.

When she comes on a subsequent visit Nala brings something with her, something tiny that she drops into the suitcase. News of the enterprise spreads among the other children and they too add seeds to the case.

These thrive on the children’s tender care and a small green world is the result. Eventually the plants grow too big for their container and then it’s time to find them a new home.
Sensitively told and beautifully illustrated (each spread reflects the inherent warmth of the text), this hopeful tale of kindness and friendship is just right for sharing with foundation stage listeners.

Dandy & Dazza
Mike Dumbleton and Brett Curzon

Meet dogs Dandy and Dazza. Dandy is well-behaved – a pampered pooch no less while Dazza is a mongrel – a rule-breaking, go crazy mongrel that can barely wait to get off his lead. One day they encounter one another at the park and despite their differences, a friendship is forged. To his pal’s surprise, Dandy discovers the fun in being a little bit crazy from time to time, while Dazza learns to keep his super-abundance of energy under control – sometimes at least.

With high energy illustrations that bring out the contrasting personalities of the two creatures this is an entertaining book about friendship and difference canine style.

Under the Same Sky / Little Puggle’s Song

Under the Same Sky
Robert Vescio and Nicky Johnston
New Frontier Publishing

Two young children living on opposite sides of the world yearn for friendship.
The boy resides in a city, the girl in a rural area yet it’s he who uses metaphors of the natural world to express his longing – “We are like the sky and sea … always apart. Never touching.’

As he stares out through the window one night, there’s a pigeon sitting on the ledge and that gives him an idea.

Creativity takes over as, with its help the lad finds a way to bridge that seemingly impossible distance and light up the world of the little girl.

The gentle, softly spoken words of the boy demonstrate how with imagination and determination true friendship can endure against the odds and across the miles. Not only does he touch the heart of the one he reaches out to but also that of the reader. The inherent tenderness of the text is reflected in Nicky Johnston’s gorgeous watercolours, which provide a perfect complement to Robert Vescio’s narrative.

Little Puggle’s Song
Vikki Conley and Hélène Magisson
New Frontier Publishing

Puggle the echidna longs to sing but no matter how he tries there’s only silence. Deep down he knows that echidnas can’t sing, nor even make a sound;

but is there perhaps a way he can become a part of the bush choir that has been asked to sing a welcome song for the emu chicks that are soon to hatch.

As the days pass Puggle can merely look on as the other animals under the leadership of Brown Feather, practise their rendition.

Then on the night before the special performance he hears the news – Brown Feather is sick. Can he possibly save the day?

Lyrically told, Vikki Conley’s heartfelt story of determination and fulfilling your dreams reads aloud well and with Hélène Magisson’s beautifully painted scenes of the fauna and flora of the Australian bush, this picture book will introduce Australian wildlife to youngsters outside the antipodes.