10 August, 2011

Children's Book Council 2011 Early Childhood Shortlisted Books

This post will review all six shortlisted books for the Early Childhood Category of the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Awards. I also select what I think should be the winner and the two honour books. The awards will be announced on August 19, and it will be interesting to see how my judging matches those from the CBC!

The Early Childhood Category is made up of books intended for children in the pre-reading to early reading stages. The six shortlisted books are:

The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies by Tom Niland Champion & Kilmeny Niland; Illustrated by Deborah Niland
The Deep End by Ursula Dubosarsky; Illustrated by Mitch Vane
Noni the Pony by Alison Lester
It's Bedtime, William by Deborah Niland
Look See, Look at Me by Leonie Norrington; Illustrated by Dee Huxley
Maudie and Bear by Jan Ormerod; Illustrated by Freya Blackwood


It's Bedtime, William! by Deborah Niland

William has a hundred reasons why he shouldn’t go to bed, but his parents (like all good parents do!) will not have a bar of it. One night, there is a lion in his room, but he his parents don’t believe him. Together the lion and William tire themselves out until it really is time to go to bed!

This book is gorgeous. I  have kids and the excuses they come up with are pretty impressive. The pictures are stunning, especially the two page spread of when William first finds the lion asleep in his bed. The story is quick paced and would be a fantastic read a loud with both children and parents getting a lot out of it. In the end, you too will wish you found a lion asleep in your bed!

Look See, Look at Me! by Leonie Norrington; illustrated by Dee Huxley

“Look see, look at me I’m so much bigger now I’m three.” Begins Look See. A wonderful list of all the things you can do when you are three.

This story needs to be read with a boastful tone. Full of all the wonderful things a three year old is impressed with, you can hear the pride in the child’s voice in this story. But for me, what really makes this book is the illustrations. I love Dee Huxley and she has excelled in this. Using pastels on coloured paper, she has set the illustrations in the Australian outback, using deep rich ochre colour for the red earth. Her characters are Aboriginal and each illustration gives a feeling of space and warmth. Stunning.

 Noni the Pony by Alison Lester

Noni the Pony lives on a farm with her best friends Dave Dog and Coco the Cat. Together they play and look after each other as they romp through the day.

A classic Alison Lester. A lovely rhythmic story that just begs to be read aloud and lovely simple illustrations that are bright and cheery.

 Maudie and Bear by Jan Ormerod; illustrated by Freya Blackwood.

Maudie and Bear is a collect of 5 short stories (approx 9 pages each) starring of course, Maudie and Bear. Covering the extensive preparations needed for a bike ride, a lovely homage to the three bears, making sure snacks are made just right, making up and telling stories, this book is perfect for a quick read of one story or a more committed story time of the lot.

This is gorgeous! Blackwood’s illustrations add a lovely whimsical feel to the book and Maudie and Bear’s warm, close relationship just oozes off every page. My favourite would be Home, Sweet Home where Maudie enters a (cubby) house, tastes the porridge, sits in the chairs and tries the beds before running back home when the bears come back, “arriving in a bit of a tizz!” Blackwood dressed Maudie is a red hat and coat for this delightful tale, lending it a true three bears feel.

 The Deep End by Ursula Dubosarsky; illustrated by Mitch Vane

Becky is almost ready to move from being a frog to a platypus at her swimming lessons. All she has to do is go in the deep end. But the water down there is dark and wavy, is she brave enough to go in the deep end?

Dubosarsky manages to put a lot of feeling into a very short chapter book in this. I could really feel Becky’s fear of going in the deep end. When Becky uses her imagination to get to the end of the pool, it was perfect. I have taught swimming and one of the hardest things is getting a child who is scared of not being able to touch, to venture past that point. I often used noodles and said they were horses, cars, motorbikes, anything to get them down the end. Durbosarsky doesn’t make light or fun of Becky’s fear, but lets her character conquer it in her own way, showing other children that really, there is nothing to be scared of.
The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies – Tom Niland Champion and Kilmeny Niland; illustrated by Deborah Niland

A tall man, twelve babies (called Alistair or Charlene), one cat, one tiny apartment and a very funny story!

Love it!! This is what I would call a rollicking good read. The story flows, the illustrations are gorgeous! I love the fact that all the babies are named Alistair or Charlene – makes it so much easier when there are twelve of them!