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Saturday, 7 October 2017

On my TBR pile

Nella’s post several weeks ago made Maureen Mann think that she would follow her categories, but in fact she has ended up with just one category, though hers is a list. Some of Maureen's  To Be Read (TBR) pile has been devoured and is shared here with you for inspiration.

I have just made an all too brief trip back to Launceston and took advantage of being able to read some of the books which haven’t been available to me in the UK. Because of time constraints, and fitting in reading with our hectic schedule, I have only managed to remove picture books from my list. They are my favourite genre, so it wasn’t a hardship. Here are some I have enjoyed – not in any particular order.

Pea Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King
The spare, lyric text of this book is beautifully enhanced by King’s illustrations. Mother, baby and dog set off on a fantasy voyage across the seas, joined briefly by a polar bear, watched by whales and occasionally by a red bird until they reach their safe destination. “I am the castaway, you are the journey’s end, welcome me. I. You. We.”

My Brother by Dee, Oliver and Tiffany Huxley
Sparsely worded, monochrome illustrations tell the story of a gentle creature searching for a lost brother in magical places, moving from grief to acceptance of loss. When finally he’s found, the world changes as reflected by the bright yellow added to the illustrations. It’s thought-provoking for adults and older children who will understand the many layers and for younger readers who will accept it on face-value. Great cover summary of the story.

Image result for wolfie deborah abela
Wolfie, an unlikely hero by Deborah Abela and Connah Brecon
I really like fractured fairy tales and this is a good one. I, The Wolf, am sick of being the bad guy. I’m taking over this book.” Each traditional story, which usually ends with the wolf eating his victims, is interrupted by the wolf who wants to be part of a happy story where he rescues the princess. Even in this version he is foiled when the princess rescues herself. Wolf finally becomes Dragon’s pet.

There is No Dragon in this Story by Lou Carter and Deborah Allwright
Another fractured fairytale. Dragon wanted to be a real hero, not just one who rescues princesses. So off he goes to persuade (unsuccessfully each time) well-known characters to let him join their story: the three little pigs, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood. But when Dragon makes the giant sneeze and blow out the sun, he alone can rescue the darkened world.

My Friend Tertius by Corinne Fenton and Owen Swan
Based on historical fact, this is the story of Arthur Cooper working in pre-World War II Hong Kong and the long-armed baboon, named Tertius, he adopted. The latter accompanies Cooper on each escape from invading forces during the war – to Singapore and eventually to Fremantle where Tertius was an illegal immigrant. Eventually the authorities caught up with them and Tertius spent the rest of his life in Melbourne Zoo.  Great story, lots of discussion especially for older readers, and interesting illustrations, but I would have liked to see more emphasis on the quarantine aspect of Cooper’s decisions.
Was Not Me! by Shannon Horsfall

“I have a naughty twin brother who only I can see. He is Not Me.” And so starts the tale of mischief and mayhem caused by the narrator who denies his actions each time, saying “Was Not Me”. There is humour throughout especially as the reader knows who the culprit is. As a parent I enjoyed this, having had 2 children who had invisible friends and accomplices.

Ruby Red Shoes Goes to London by Kate Knapp
Ruby and her beloved Babushka now find themselves in London. I loved the play on words linking hares with London locations, eg Harethrow for Heathrow, as well as the info on London landmarks and transport. From this perspective it is a great introduction to London. I had been looking forward to this one, but not being a great fan of anthropomorphic animals, I found it all a bit twee, despite the good points. Younger readers should really like its cute pictures.

The Great Rabbit Chase by Freya Blackwood

Gumboots escapes while Mum is in the shower so the chase begins. Each person they pass joins in the pursuit. They include John, the lonely zebra crossing man, the busy man in a suit, Mrs Finkel and her wrinkles, everyone part of the community. Once they all reach the park with trees “like giants with their long legs stuck in the ground”, the disparate group relaxes. Finally, everyone follows Gumboots and his/her discovered family back home, Mum still wrapped in just her towel. Great fun.

Invisible Lizard by Kurt Cyrus and Andy Atkins
This is a strange mix of cartoon concepts and reality. The skills of Napoleon, the chameleon, to camouflage himself is well portrayed as he searches the jungle for someone to be his friend, but the environment he is in is far too fairy-like and the anthropomorphism is too great for me to rate it as an excellent book. The use of the phrase “spiffy limb” bother me – what does it really mean?
Pig the Star and Busting! by Aaron Blabey, who has woven his magic again with both these books, though neither quite reaches the heights of Pig the Pug. I enjoy Blabey’s sense of fun.
Though I could keep going, it’s time to stop. Hope your interest has been piqued by some of these titles to go search for them if you haven’t already read and shared them.
What’s on your TBR pile?

Maureen Mann
Retired teacher librarian and avid reader

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