Is it a Mermaid?
Candy Gourlay (text) & Francesca Chessa (artwork)
(Otter-Barry Books)

Benji and Bel come across a strange creature on the beach, which they recognise as a dugong. However, she claims to be a beautiful mermaid and sets on proving it, yet Benji remains unconvinced. Gourlay’s dialogue-focused, playful narrative is a beautiful tale of acceptance, respect and self-perception . It offers a subtle lesson in empathy that will help children understand that the way they perceive people might not be what those people want to be perceived. Chessa’s artwork is  full of stunning tropical colours and landscapes; her depictions of underwater flora and fauna are gorgeous, which all set the scene perfectly and makes the information in the peritext about the ecological threat to dugongs’ habitats all the more poignant and potent. A wonderfully multi-layered and fun read-aloud!


The Rhythm of the Rain
Grahame Baker-Smith
(Templar Publishing)

It is such a treat to finally read a new picturebook by Baker-Smith and this lyrical, spellbinding tale of the travels of water across the world. From a mountainside pool to industrialised sceneries, and from the deepest darkest oceans to the vast African landscapes, water continues on its way, taking several shapes. Plentiful in one place, precious and rare in another, this book portrays the water cycle in a truly special manner. Full-bleed spreads are used to great effect, echoing the majesty of the natural world they are portraying, whether it is flora or fauna. Baker-Smith’s use of light in his illustrations is just mesmorising and so very special. He has always excelled in those little details; every reading reveals something that has not yet been uncovered. Truly exquisite!


Bob’s Blue Period
Marion Deuchars
(Laurence King  Publishers)

Bob and Bat are best friends and do everything together, particularly painting, so when Bat suddenly goes away (hibernating most possibly), Bob finds himself so sad, all his paintings end up blue! Thankfully Owl and Cat are on hand to help him and find his colours again. Marion Deuchars’ second Bob book is another celebration of drawing and painting, not only as an art but also as a form of therapy. It explores the nature of friendship, its ups and downs, and how important it is to express one’s emotions. The metaphorical use of colours is clever and easy for the youngest of readers to grasp, and Deuchars’ style is accessible and fun. With a nod to Picasso’s wondrous blue period, this gorgeous book will facilitate lots of discussions about art and its power.


Ready to Ride
Sébastien Pelon, translated by  Vanessa Miéville
(words & pictures)

When his mother encourages to go and play outside, a little boy encounters a strange creature riding a rather small bicycle. They go for a ride together where the strange and cuddly creature encourages the  little boy to get rid of his stabilisers. Beautifully illustrated with an unusual, effective palette of colours, the rite of passage that is riding a bike unaided is expressed in a charming and ludic way. The dynamism of the narrative is particularly well executed; the speed and lack of control when first cycling without stabilisers is expressed wonderfully through series  of small vignettes which illustrates the sudden acceleration.  It is full of humour and tenderness, highlighting the benefits of perseverance and the importance of imaginary friends when it comes to confidence.