Mama’s Bayou

Mama’s Bayou by Dianne de Las Casas, illustrated by Holly Stone-Barker

Take a sound-filled tour through the bayou as the animals that live there prepare to sleep.  Using the repeated phrase of “Mama’s by you on the bayou” the book moves from animal to animal offering the sounds they make.  Crickets chirp, frogs slurp, snakes hiss, mosquitoes (skeeters) buzz, and more.  Every few pages, there is a double-spread given over just to the accumulated noises of the animals.  These small breaks in the pattern of the book keep it from being too rhythmic and also give readers a place to pause and consider the noises of the night.

De Las Casas has written a book that is a lullaby directly from the bayou to you.  Her use of repetition is nicely done.  Also the cumulative nature of the animal noises makes for a fun read.  Stone-Barker’s illustrations are done in cut paper collages.  The papers have dimension and texture, offering a depth that is exciting.  She also uses deep colors of night very successfully.

A lovely way to celebrate the sounds of the night whether listening to the mosquitoes in the bayou or all the way north in Wisconsin.  We do have fewer crocodiles though.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Pelican Publishers.

Frankie Works the Night Shift

Frankie Works the Night Shift by Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Jennifer Taylor

Frankie the cat, works during the night at the hardware store.  Counting from one to ten, he cleans counters, waters plans, climbs ladders, and then spots a mouse!  Dashing headlong through the store, he wakes up the entire family who are trying to sleep.  By the time he has chased the mouse off the premises, it is almost morning.  He may work the night shift, but he naps during the day.  So the book ends with ten huge yawns.

Peters writing is straightforward and easy to read aloud.  She has created a counting book with plenty of action which is unusual.  Additionally, her writing keeps the book from becoming sing-songy because each counting page is phrased differently.  Nicely done.

Taylor’s illustrations really take this book to another level.  The first pages of the city street had me hunkered over the page and delighting in the small details.  Then I had to know what medium she used to create the photographically clear but whimsically created images.  Her use of digital photography has created an intriguing look and feel that is never disjointed.  Beautifully rendered, I hope to see more from this debut book illustrator.

A counting book filled with gorgeous images and friendly text, this book with its furry and busy main character will delight young readers.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Children’s Book Council of Australia 2010 Book of the Year Shortlist

The 2010 Shortlist and Notables have been announced by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. 

Here are the titles on the shortlist for the various age groups:


Book of the Year – Older Readers

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

The Winds of Heaven by Judith Clarke

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Jarvis 24 by David Metzenthen

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark by Glenda Millard

Loving Richard Feynman by Penny Tangey


Book of the Year – Younger Readers

Matty Forever by Elizabeth Fensham

Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool by Odo Hirsch

Running with the Horses by Alison Lester

The Whisperer by Fiona McIntosh

Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Heather Potter

Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children by Jen Storer


Book of the Year – Early Childhood

The Wrong Book by Nick Bland

Kip by Christina Booth

The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andrew Joyner

Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Bear & Chook by the Sea by Lisa Shanahan, illustrated by Emma Quay

Fearless by Colin Thompson, illustrated by Sarah Davis


Book of the Year – Picture Book

Isabella’s Garden by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Rebecca Cool

Schumann the Shoeman by John Danalis, illustrated by Stella Danalis

To the Top End: Our Trip across Australia by Roland Harvey

Mr. Chicken Goes to Paris by Leigh Hobbs

Fox and Fine Feathers by Narelle Oliver

The Hero of Little Street by Gregory Rogers