25 June, 2014

Children's Book Council Early Childhood Short List

Children's Book Council of Australia

Now that I have finished reading the Children's Book Council of Australia's Younger Reader and Older Reader short list, I thought I would move on to their two picture book categories. The CBC has an Early Childhood list and a Picture Book list. This came about almost 20 years ago when they realised there was a good number of picture books for older readers being produced and it was not really fair to be judging them against those picture books for younger children. 

This post will look at all 6 of the Early Childhood Short listed books. It's a bit of a long one, so grab a cup of tea and enjoy!

The Swap - written by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Andew Joyner

Caroline Crocodile is jealous of all the attention her baby brother is getting from their mother. When her mother goes to swap a hat that isn't quite right, Caroline figures she can do the same with her baby brother.
As the youngest of 3, I can only imagine the disgruntled feelings a new baby can cause in older siblings. Jan Ormerod explores this sensitive topic with tact and a sense of humour.

Source: Momo Celebrating Time to Read
Andrew Joyner's illustrations beautifully compliment the text. Caroline's expression leaves you in no doubt how she feels and while many on the pictures have a lot going on (look for the white rabbit running late, a lama reading an ereader, a mouse that crashed his motorbike), they don't feel busy. A lovely book to remind parents and older siblings that brothers and sisters are important too.

Banjo and Ruby Red - written by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Banjo and Ruby red have a love hate relationship. Banjo barks, Ruby Red ignores. She goes into the chook pen when she is ready and not a minute before. On day when Banjo barks, Ruby Red is not in her customary spot on the wood heap. Banjo goes looking, but is he too late to save Ruby?
Libby Gleeson writes a lovely story about friendship without hitting you over the head with it. Friendships have different forms, but at the end of the day, you're there for you friends when they need you.

Source: Freya Blackwood Blog

Freya Blackwood's illustrations are beautiful. She portrays the chaos of the hens being rounded up, Banjo's frustration and Ruby Red's dignity in simple, but effective illustrations. Equally well drawn is Banjo's concern, his care and the cementing of their friendship. Beautiful.

Kissed by the Moon - written and illustrated by Alison Lester

Alison Lester has written a prayer that any parent would pray for their baby. It's pure, classical Lester - lyrical, heartfelt and beautifully illustrated in her trademark style. I would think the advantage of being an author/ illustrator is being able to match the vision of how the pictures will highlight the text.

Source: Alison Lester

Lester's pictures are always lovely, whimsical and fun. (If you click the link under the illustration above it takes you to a page where you can buy Alison Lester prints!) She often takes me back to the magic of the world seen through the eyes of a child. This book would be the perfect present for a new mum and bub.

I'm a Dirty Dinosaur - written by Janeen Brian, illustrated by Ann James

Fun! Perfect word to describe this book - pure, unadulterated fun! A book kids can get involved with a be noisy about - stomping, shaking and roaring. And what's more fun than getting dirty, playing in the mud and stomping about!

Source: Brona's Books

However, it's Ann James' illustrations that make this book special. The illustrations are simply but incredibly effective. I've never seen a more joyful dinosaur in my life! James perfectly captures Janeen Brian's words and lifts to the wonderful height it reaches. A must for any dinosaur lover.

Baby Bedtime - written by Mem Fox, illustrated by Emma Quay

This is what I call a ritual book. One of those books which describe a betime ritual and where the reading of it becomes a ritual itself. Mem Fox is good at them - 10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes was a staple part of our bedtime for months!
Mem Fox specialises in making the simplest words special. She repeats things we've said to our babies - I could gobble up your toes - or thought - I could gaze at you all night. Along with the gentle rhythm of the text, it's a wonderful read aloud.
Source: Emma Quay and her Books

Emma Quay's pictures a beautiful compliment to Fox's words. Soft, textured and warm. Along with pencil and acrylic paints, she has utilised op shop finds like doilies, lace, belts and baskets. To top it all off, she has finished it off with photoshop edits - a perfect moulding of old and new.

Granny Grommet and Me - written by Dianne Wolfer, illustrated by Karen Blair

Granny Grommet meets her grommet friends at the beach where they surf, soak in rock pools and snorkel over the reef. Our narrator is a little less sure about the ocean - there are strange things under the waves - but with a little gentle encouragement, they are soon discovering the delights of the beach.
Dianne Wolfer has covered many themes in this book. Being older doesn't stop you doing the things you love, friendship, fear and overcoming it and the natural environment. Any of these themes could be explored further with this book. I love the gentle nature of the narrators discoveries, Their fear is overcome by small things, insignificant by themselves, but a powerful force added together.

Source: Mumabytes
Karen Blair's pictures capture the different aspects of a beach perfectly. Wide expanses of blue, white edged water and long sandy beaches, warm shallow rock pools and the amazing world found on the reef. I also love that the gender of our narrator isn't clear in the text or the pictures, allowing children to insert themselves into the story easily.