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A round-up of the latest picture books for children.
SKY HIGH: JEAN BATTEN’S INCREDIBLE FLYING ADVENTURES
David Hill & Phoebe Morris
Puffin/Penguin Random House
This true story (the third about famous New Zealanders by this duo) follows the life of aviator Jean Batten, the "daughter of the skies". A young Jean turned her dreams of being a pilot into reality, breaking various records for flights between England, Australia and New Zealand. This is a great book that celebrates, courage, resilience and empowerment. Dramatic illustrations capture perfectly the epic scale of her achievements. A great resource for home or school.
A big-eyed buzzy fly is preparing to feast on some rabbit poo when it gets wind of other possibilities. Sheep, dog, cow and horse all donate some tasty-looking treats, but the fly gets more than it bargained for when it wonders "how much poo would an elephant do?" Kids will love this simple rhyming story by Wanaka author illustrator Scott Tulloch about a subject of endless fascination. The expressions on the faces of the various animals delivering the goods are priceless, and there’s a message about greed in the mix, too. Be careful what you wish for!
Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones
I adore Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones’ children’s picture books. This talented duo delight in the wonderful and wacky in words and images. Here, a little boy wishes he had an elephant so he can have all manner of high-jinks — winning water fights, getting the best seats at the circus, building time machines and exploring galaxies — and being rescued when things get too out of hand. Sadly there is no elephant, but with the help of his imagination, there might be something just as good . . . Brilliant!
Duck Creek Press/David Ling/Bateman
Be warned: one of these books is not like the other ones! Nina is in mourning for her lost cat, Masaccio. One day he returns as a ghost but he is not at rest. Together they must venture to the land of the Bone Counter to collect his bones. Parental guidance is definitely recommended here as the illustrations (of mountains of skulls and a grim reaper ferryman) may scare some. This is a book about love, death and letting go — but might not be best read before bedtime!
Sally Sutton & Brian Lovelock
"Bleep, bleep. Emergency! News just through: Crash, crash, there’s been a crash. Let’s go crew!"
Ambulance staff race to the site of an accident involving a cyclist and transport the patient back to hospital. The crew is exhausted, but there’s always more work to do. This is a another simple but highly effective book from the duo behind Roadworks, Demolition and Construction.
-Helen Speirs is former ODT books editor.