Book Review Wednesday: Kittens and Wombats, Oh my!

And now for a quick update in book review land… I’ve reviewed two books this week. However, this is the third week I’ve written book reviews and while I’m enjoying it and keeping up, my other work (critical essays and my novel for my MFA program) is falling behind. Therefore, I’ve decided that each week I’ll only do one review and it will either be a picture book or a book for middle grade kiddos. I’ll try to alternate but I don’t want to promise anything.

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Newbery, Linda. Illo: Rayner, Catherine. Posy. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. New York, 2008.

Posy is a delightful picture book for the youngest children in your life. Linda Newbery’s sparse, rhyming text describes different situations that Posy the kitten gets into. “She’s a whiskers wiper, crayon swiper…”

Catherine Rayner has created a sweet-faced kitten to embody the text. The mixed media illustrations have a lovely texture. Heavily applied, metallic, acrylic paint makes up Posy’s fur and is paired with a fluid India ink line that captures the playful gestures of the kitten. The design of the book is simple and classic with a brown serif font and plenty of white space.

This is one of those books that, if it was picked off the slush pile, an editor might call “slight.” However the author’s history as an award-winning novelist probably helped make this manuscript into a book. Young children don’t always need complex and they don’t always need story, sometimes play: word play, and image play is enough. This is one book that your toddler will ask for over and over and you will be happy to oblige.

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French, Jackie. Illo: Whatley, Bruce. How to Scratch a Wombat: where to find it…What to feed it…Why it sleeps all day. Clarion Books. New York, 2009.

How to Scratch a Wombat: where to find it…What to feed it…Why it sleeps all day is the perfect book for all of the animal lovers and “infokids” out there. Infokids like to find out how, and why, and they hang out in the nonfiction section of the library. While the book is a republication of an Australian edition published by Harper Collins in 2005, this edition features a humorous word list in the beginning so that you can translate between the Australian bum, pong, rubbish, scat, and torch to the American bottom, stink, trash, dung, and flashlight.

The book keeps kids reading and laughing with funny sidebars: “Are you a wombat?” and “Who’s the greatest- you or a wombat?” French has made her home on the edge of the bush in New South Wales and she intersperses nimbly written information about wombats with wonderful stories of the personal relationships she has had with these wild creatures who live around her home.

If your kiddos are anything like mine, they will be acting like wombats for days, trying to bite each other on the bum and head butting you in the stomach. Enjoy!

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