Children's books

On the Road to Tuapeka, by Ben Brown and Scott Tulloch.

Heka the weka and Reka the weka are on the road to Tuapeka in a double-decker. Along the way they pick up some other animal friends, Hedgy Hog, Dodgy Dog and a Whistling Frog, and they set off on an adventure. But their adventure ends when they meet a strange little man who's quite keen to try some weka stew, a roast of Dodgy Dog, and a pudding made from Hedgy Hog. Will they be able to escape?

There's lots of wonderful tongue-twisting in this very likeable story. It's a fun book to read out loud. The illustrations, which were created using pencil, ink and watercolour, are very appealing too. Children of all ages will love this.

Suitable age: 2+

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth, by Don Gardner and Katz Cowley (free CD performed by Craig Smith), is a novelty Christmas song written in 1944 by Donald Gardner after he asked his class of second-graders to complete the sentence, "All I want for Christmas is ..." and noticed almost all of them were lisping wishes because they had front teeth missing. Inspired by the song, Katz Cowley teams up with Craig Smith (Willbee the Bumblebee and The Wonky Donkey) to create a book and CD set.

Katz Cowley's vibrant illustrations are perfectly suited to the magic of Craig Smith's voice (my favourite song is his second one, Toothless). Children of all ages will love the extremely cute and appealing monkey who so desperately wants to receive his two front teeth for Christmas.

Suitable age: 2+

The Elves and the Cloakmaker, by Chris Gurney and John Bennett, is a Kiwi spin on the original story. Kahu the Cloakmaker spent day and night weaving a cloak. Christmas was coming so there wasn't much time left, but Kahu was so tired he fell asleep. And when he woke up he found the cloak was finished. Kahu couldn't believe his eyes. It was woven with the finest feathers he had ever seen. The buyer was overjoyed by what he saw so he paid Kahu double the price. That night Kahu was able to start on two cloaks, but again he fell asleep before they were finished. Who was the kind-hearted person who was helping him, and what is a patupaiarehe?

This is another great book from the Kiwi Corkers series. The Cloakmaker and his wife are very endearing (the affection between them is gorgeous), the illustrations are superb, and there are even some opportunities to pronounce te reo Maori.

Suitable age: 2+

A Kiwi Jingle Bells, by Yvonne Morrison and Deborah Hinde, tells the story of the traditional Jingle Bells song (mixed with a Kiwi twist) which most Kiwis have grown up with and love. From my experience I can honestly say children adore this book - particularly when it comes with a CD so they can sing along to the tune. Unfortunately, there's no CD with this story (although there is a larger version of the book which does contain one). I do like the illustrations though - but you have to be able to ignore how stereotypical they are (the mums serve dinner and lie on the beach chairs while the dads pitch the tent and play sport).

The small size of this board book is great for little hands and would be wonderful for a fun bedtime read/song.

Suitable age: birth+

Bruiser, by Gavin Bishop, is dedicated to the rebuilders of Christchurch after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

Bruiser is a machine on a mission - he ploughs up hillsides, tramples down paddocks and crushes rocks as he builds his motorway. But one day he inadvertently bumps into a tree and a mother bird and her baby fall out in front of him. Bruiser can only think of his own mother. Suddenly he starts to do things quietly and softly without disrupting the landscape (which is a good lesson about environmental issues). Young children love tractors so this book is sure to be a big hit. The illustrations are different in that there's a real collage feel to them which I really like. I'm not so keen on the week stopping at Friday before it starts back at Monday again. What a strange thing to do.

Suitable age: 1-4

Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig and the Christmas Baby, by Diana Neild and Philip Webb.

The Jigs are preparing for Christmas.

Their grandparents are going to stay with them so they decide to put on a play based on a Christmas theme.

Piggity-Wiggity is told he has the leading role and he's so excited. He imagines himself as a prince, with attendants and jewels, or even a renegade pirate, renowned for his duels. But poor Piggity is utterly disappointed when he finds out he's to be the baby in the manger.

Will the play be as bad as he thinks?

I love these books because they're so rhythmical and clever, and they always treat children with great respect by their advanced use of language. The illustrations in this story are as eye-catching and delightful as ever.

Suitable age: 2-7 years


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