The Colouring Competition
Heath McKenzie (2020)
Oscar and Henry are in it to win it. Then they take their eyes off the prize.
Oscar learns of the colouring competition in a shop window. He is determined and wants to begin colouring immediately. Very quickly, however, he discovers that he has competition. Henry is just as determined. Their colouring takes them on a wild adventure through the park, the zoo and the city. They colour everything that stands in their way, creating hilarious scenarios of painted prams, trees, animals and buildings.
This book will have readers falling in love from the moment they lay eyes on the front cover (I did!). The illustrations are spectacular due to the expanse of black and white with vibrant splashes of colour helping to tell the story of where the boys have been. These splashes of colour also appear strategically within the black text, creating novelty and variety for the reader. Also entertaining, are the facial expressions on the characters as they vary from unaware, to shock, anger and laughter at the boys’ antics.
This is a picture story book that will be loved for different reasons depending on age and context. Young children will delight in following the colourful trail the boys make, while early primary school students will appreciate the lessons on friendship and fun. At an older level, the illustrations can be analysed in more depth by using the pictures to understand story structure and plot.
Heath McKenzie is well known for many of his author/illustrator books. You may recognise his unique style in his illustrations for Anh Do’s ‘There’s a big green frog in the toilet’ and Andy Lee’s ‘Do not open this book!’
Heart and Soul
Carol Ann Martin (2020)
A story about friendship, loyalty and a love of the arts. Carol Ann Martin has added this exquisite tale to her large collection of published picture books. Louis, a rescued dog, forms a loyal and loving friendship with his jazz loving owner Charlie. Together they connect over their passion for music; Charlie plays the trumpet and Louis sings along. The reader is immediately captivated by the two precious characters- their personalities evident within reading the first page. Readers then fall straight into the tension of the story by page two when one of the lovable characters fall ill.
Heart and Soul follows a narrative structure beautifully through the introduction of characters and setting, followed by tension, then problem, and eventual unravelling of the resolution. Throughout the story, Martin continually revisits the message of ‘heart and soul’, a reference to being true to oneself and feeling the music. She uses interesting and unique adjectives to build connection to the characters such as ‘scrambled-up, no-name pup’, and evocative verbs such as ‘drifted’, ‘rushed’ and ‘floated’.
Tull Suwannakit, a Melbourne based illustrator from Thailand, complements the story with stunning water colour pictures and expressive faces. Both the theme and illustrations are reminiscent of Mem Fox and Julie Vivas’ ‘Wilfred Gordan McDonald Patridge’ and would pair perfectly for teaching text-to-text connections. With flowing sentences and unique word choices, ‘Christmas was coming, all bustle and dash’, the story appeals to a range of age groups starting from four.
A joyful book that can be enjoyed by all.
What's this about?
As a lover of books and a teacher, I read widely. Here you will find book reviews of many genres including picture story, middle grade fiction, graphic novels, women's fiction, short story anthologies, non-fiction and anything else that takes my fancy.