Sunday, February 25, 2018

Notables are coming

Next week our CBCA will announce their Notable titles for 2018. From this selection the short listed titles will be announced in March and then in August we celebrate the winners of the Australian Children's Book of the Year award in various categories.

I thought it might be interesting to look at some picture books published over 2017 - titles that are all eligible for this award - and try to predict some books that might make the cut.

Here are some I have already talked about. Click the title to read my thoughts:

Eddie Frogbert
Hark, it's me, Ruby Lee!
Once upon a small rhinoceros
Storm Whale

I borrowed a small selection of other 2017 picture book titles from my friend's beautiful library so here are a few more which might be on the Notable list.

Stitches and Stuffing by Carrie Gallasch and Sara Acton

Bunny Bear is left behind after a day of fun and sunshine at the beach.  He is left behind and suffers great injury at the hands of the family dog. Nana fixes him and adds new buttons so he can see but Bunnybear feels like a stranger. He languishes on the shelf until one day Adeline picks him up again. Each day they play together "and even though he was different to how he once was, Adeline knew Bunnybear was just the way he should be."
This is a gentle affirming book for a very young child and I would pair it with Ducky's Nest and Arnold the Prickly Teddy by Kym Lardner.

Nanna's Button Tin by Dianne Wolfer and Heather Potter

This is the perfect book to pair with Stitches and Stuffing.  Once again Grandma rescues a precious Teddy. This one has lost an eye and so it is time to explore Nanna's button tin and enjoy all the memories associated with some of the special buttons they find inside. This book has a simple repetitive story pattern which is perfect for a young child. The button has to be the right size - the tiny yellow one from her baby jacket is too small.  The button has to be the right shape - a bear shaped button comes from a birthday jumper but it is not right for teddy's eye. The button has the be the right colour - the green button is pretty but Teddy needs a brown one. I would enjoy sharing this book with a group of pre-school children because I could bring along my button jar which has buttons collected over three generations.

Gus dog goes to work by Rachel Flynn illustrated by Craig Smith

Gus is a working dog. He has a house, a yard, a Ute and a man. Craig Smith is the perfect illustrator for this book. I love the way he draws dogs and authentic scenes of rural life in Australia. Gus loves his daily routine. He does not understand every word used by Tom but he can follow words like gidday, getup, getoutovit and gohome. Something goes wrong one morning and Tom does not appear. Gus decides to follow his daily routine without Tom but he becomes very lost.  At the school the teacher shouts at him, he finds some chooks but again someone shouts, and then he comes to a set of delicious smelling bins. After a full day of wandering he finds a ute that looks familiar but is it? This book will appeal to Kindergarten and Grade One children especially city kids who are curious about farm life. I would compare this book with My Dog's a Scaredy Cat, The Windy Farm and one of Craig's earliest books The Black Dog by Christobel Mattingley.

Pea Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard illustrated by Stephen Michael King

In my view this is not really a book for the Early Childhood section. Older children will make deeper connections. Flipping through this book you might think it is a simple story with gentle illustrations by Stephen Michael King but Glenda Millard (who I adore) has a deeper story to tell.  Night time, barbed wire, red flames, a family on the run.  These are the images on the title page. The tiny family climb onto a little green row boat. Their voyage takes them out into the open ocean where they find a stranded polar bear.  Glenda Millard has written another lyrical text that surely began as a poem.

I am the windblown husk
you are the jewelled rain
quench me
I am the sapphire night
you are the lantern moon
light me

They take the polar bear back to his icy land where he is reunited with his family and then our group sail on until their journey also ends with a reunion. This is a philosophical tale about our place in the world, about care of others, about the cycle of life, and love and family.  Here is a set of teaching notes and Kids Book Review describe this book as breathtaking. The back cover says this is "an inspiring and timely story of courage, endurance, and hope for a world in which we can reach out and embrace one another."

Other titles which might/should be included on the 2018 Notable list are Florette by Anna Walker, I'm Australian Too by Mem Fox, Sloth who came to stay by Margaret Wild, Feathers by Phil Cummings, Mopoke by Philip Bunting and Swan Lake illustrated by Anne Spudvilas. I was excited to see so many fabulous Australian picture books which were published in 2017. In my next post I will make some predictions for the Younger Readers category.

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