Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


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Welcome to another week of children’s book reviews.  As ever, I hope you will enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them. Please don’t forget to scroll down the page and read them all!

Children’s Book of the Week: The Issy Books by Pat “Gigi” Calfee – Illustrated by Isybilla Gee
Available from issy.com

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to review these books, which were recently sent to me. The Issy Books are, in fact, a series of eleven short books for emergent readers. They are written by Pat Calfee and illustrated by her very creative granddaughter, 5-year-old Isybilla Gee. Pat, now an educational consultant, previously spent 15 years teaching both 2nd and 3rd grade students.

My Review

The series opens with the picture book “Meet Issy”, the talented five-year old illustrator, and we learn about her likes, her pets and her family. The series then continues with tales of Harry the Hippo, Webster the Spider and a host of other animals, each with their own little book.

Every page of every book in the series has its own simplistic illustration and a short sentence to describe it. The illustrations and the well-ordered vocabulary go hand in hand, making the meaning of every page clear, easy to follow and fun, with just enough words to help the young reader grow confidence. Specific keywords go with each  book, and are clearly listed at the start below the ‘suggestions’ for using the book. I have no doubt parents teaching their children to develop their reading skills will find these extremely helpful. The books are also produced in a nice handy size for small hands.

The fact that a young child, herself an emergent reader, has illustrated these books makes them all the more endearing, and other young children will so easily be able identify with the naïve style.
Each book is a delight in itself, but I particularly liked Oscar the Octopus where numbers are cleverly introduced, counting backwards from 8 to 1. And then there was Flossie the Flamingo where the words for different shapes were presented.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Issy Books, and I especially delighted in introducing the youngest member of the family to them, who, albeit she is not quite at the emergent reader stage, was able to instantly identify the animals in the books, and the short sentences on each page held her interest. So much so, she was happy to repeat the words and point to the pictures.  An excellent start for any child!  In my opinion, this is a fairly strong indicator of the success of the books.

It can be very difficult at first for young children to decipher the written word, therefore the vocabulary must flow and the accompanying illustrations need to speak out in a way which adds value.  It is my opinion that The Issy Books do precisely that. Added to this, there is the parental guidance factor which can only enhance the reading satisfaction and ability of both parent and child.  I am giving The Issy Books a very solid 5 stars!

Switch by Karen Prince     
Available on Amazon Kindle $1.24

The story is set in Zimbabwe and opens with the High Priest, Drogba, looking for a person to provide him with a new body. This opens the door for the introduction to the wicked and very comical witch, Gogo Maya, who is being pursued by someone unknown in the forest that she would rather avoid.  Her only escape it to ‘switch’. Through pure miscalculation she finds herself inadvertently linked to a very average young boy named Joe. Joe has an overly precious cousin, called Ethan, who is better suited to the city than the bush. Ethan is spoilt, highly germaphobic, asthmatic, snobbish, cowardly, and definitely not a risk taker. He does, however, feel able to give Gogo Maya CPR, and manages to suck in what is left of her magical powers. The witch’s leopard familiar, Salih, for some unfathomable reason, chooses him in order to telepathically communicate the witch’s needs. Throw in the very bizarre Tokeloshe tribe, some possibly helpful crocodiles, a few hyenas, a host of African children and lashings of magic, and the book has you wanting to read on.
The opening chapter of this book grabbed me instantly. I also love books about Africa, and this one did not disappoint. I felt absolutely filled with the sound and smells of the continent just reading it. The evocative settings make it quite clear the author knows the terrain well. The plot is very imaginative and highly original and the characters are well-drawn and credible.  I would definitely read this book again and am giving it 5 stars.
(This book would be best suited to ages 11 years and over)

Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone   
Available on Amazon Kindle $1.22 and in Paperback $7.50

Kiwi in Cat City is about a little girl called Amy, her brother James and their cat Kiwi.  After waking one night and seeing Kiwi leap out of the window, Amy rouses James to go with her to follow Kiwi to see where she goes and what she does at night.
Kiwi, who spots them tailing her, turns around and addresses them in their own human speak and subsequently invites them along on her nocturnal journey. After getting over the shock of hearing their cat talking to them, both children decide to do just that and tag along. Then, an even more surprising thing happens as they both turn onto cats themselves.
This book is beautifully written, with a great poetic prologue, and heaps of action, intrigue and fun. Ms. Johnstone’s vivid imagination does her a great deal of credit. I am also assuming, by the not entirely complete ending, that another book will be following soon, which I will look forward to reading as well.  5 stars for Kiwi in Cat City!
(This book would be best suited to ages 10 years and over)

A Tale of Four Birds and Their Quest for Food and Happiness by Gramps Doodlebug    
Available from Amazon Kindle $1.22

Four hungry birds set out together in search of food. Though of different species, their combined voices garner a lot of attention. No-one, however, rewards them with the food they are singing for. On their rounds they visit the house of a rich man who, although he has no suitable food to give them, offers them directions to find a man with a straw hat who will provide for them. Their next port of call is the house of a poor man, with a straw hat, who turns out not to be the one they are seeking, and who has nothing to offer them either. At this point one of the birds leaves the quartet thinking he will do better by himself. The others travel on. At different points two others go their separate ways leaving the last bird to carry on the mission alone.
The simple, beautiful illustrations drew me to this book and the story reminded of some of those I had read as a child. The descriptions of the birds and their voices are quite charming, and I am sure will enthral many a bird-loving child. There are both facts and lessons to be learnt here, all of which are meaningful and easy to understand. I give A Tale of Four Birds 4 stars.
(This book would be best suited to ages 5 years and over)

***

All my reviews can be found on Amazon and, where possible, Goodreads.

Please note: Authors frequently offer their books at lower prices and often they are free.  These prices were correct at the time of publishing, but it is worth checking for price changes.

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Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


 

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Hi everyone, having decided to change the format of C.B.W., I am pleased to say that the highlighted Children’s Book of the Week is still here,  but there are now also three other children’s book reviews for you to read, so please don’t forget to scroll down the page.

Children’s Book of the Week: Pibbin the Small: A Tale of Friendship Bog by Gloria Repp
Published on Amazon Kindle $1.24 and Paperback $5.99

I consider this book a wonderful find. ‘Pibbin the Small’ is the sort of book any child will surely enjoy. It has all the right ingredients; a great plot, action, a hero, a villain,  loads of endearing characters, bucket loads of kindness and friendship, and marvellous illustrations by Tim Davis.

Pibbin the Small by Gloria Repp featured as Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.me

My Review

Pibbin the Small is the most delightful story about the reluctant adventures of a small tree frog – one filled to the brim with the sort of kindness found only in those who care deeply about others. The opening chapter finds Pibbin shocked to discover his dear friend Sheera the Turtle has been hit by a truck and her leg is badly damaged.  Various opinions are offered as to how to alleviate Sheera’s suffering. ‘The Carpenter’ even mentally sizes her up for a wooden leg. But Sheera herself tells Pibbin there is only one cure – a wrap made of Sweetberry leaves.

Unfortunately, Sweetberry leaves can only be found far away in the garden of Sheera’s friend, the Doctor, who lives near the Silver Sea, and Pibbin must make a perilous journey to get there.  The very thought of the long and hazardous trip strikes terror in Pibbin’s heart. But he is quite determined to pluck up the courage to go, and in doing so, save his friend from the terrible fate of a wooden leg that won’t bend, or, worse still, death. He is given two pieces of advice by Gaffer, an old tree frog: “Get the Doctor’s name” and “Find yourself a pal who’s quick and smart.” Both of which he does! Pibbin is only small and does not think of himself as being brave, but his friend needs the leaves or her leg will not recover. So he puts his fears behind him and concentrates on the task in hand, and he and his new-found pal go off in search of the leaves. The journey is far from uneventful, but not once does he shy away from his mission, ever motivated by the thought of his suffering friend – a friend who had been so kind to him and shielded him from harm when he was even smaller. This is the story of his journey.

I cannot imagine any child or adult not enjoying this book. I am a bit of a lover of animal stories and this ranks very highly amongst my favourites. Beautifully told with gorgeous illustrations, this would be an ideal addition to any child’s library. The author skilfully weaves the tale around the importance of friendship and throws in a pretty good plot to boot. We are taken straight into the story and soon introduced to Pibbin’s colourful friends, all of which are well enough described for the reader to imagine them, and their boggy environment, even without the illustrations. Pibbin displays tremendous courage in the face of danger and finds out he is a much braver frog than he thought and all because his love for his friend was far greater than his fear of the unknown. A marvellous lesson in courage for children! And the lesson is subtle rather than preachy – which works very well. Gloria Repp has created a story which is faultlessly written, perfectly structured and an ideal fit for the age group it is intended for, though I am quite sure older children will enjoy it just as much. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work in the future. Definitely a 5 star read!

Other books I have read this week

The Incredible Escape of the Sly Little Fox by Lily Lexington
Published on Amazon Kindle 99c

The Incredible Escape of the Sly Little Fox is a wonderful rhyming story from which many children may learn about kindness and sharing.
The little fox starts out as a very mean little fox that has no consideration for anyone but himself. Until, that is, he finds himself in a bit of bother! The only help available comes from sources the little fox would have least expected – the animals he has hurt. But, as you would imagine, the story develops and the little fox, following his wake-up call, learns to be a not-so-sly little fox.
The most delightful part of this book is the nigh perfect rhyming verse throughout. It’s clever and it flows beautifully. The same phrase is repeated as each animal moves on by, adding to the joy of the book. The lively illustrations are sweet and very well done. The moral is good and clear, and children will have no difficulty understanding it, whether a parent is reading aloud to them or they are reading by themselves. I would say this book would be most suited to 3 to 6 year olds. A fun and enjoyable read worthy of  5 stars.

Nimpentoad by Josh Herz, Henry Herz and Harrison Herz
Published on Amazon – Kindle $2.45 and Paperback $10.50

The story begins in Grunwald Forest where the Niblings live. Niblings are dexterous little creatures who love to cook. They are not, however, very popular with the others of the forest.  In fact, they are continuously picked on and pushed around. The forest is also inhabited by Orcs and Goblins and Neebles, to name but a few, and each and every one has had a go at the Niblings. The Niblings are tired of this and decide to seek help from the Goofus, the giant who lives in the castle.  Where Niblings are very nimble-fingered, Goofus is downright clumsy. They sensibly decide they each have something to offer the other.  They could help Goofus around the castle with the everyday tasks he fails at so often, and so miserably, and he in turn could protect them from the mean bullies. The challenge is to get through to the castle before anyone has them for supper. There are many tests along the way, but Niblings, it seems, are very clever and resourceful, and the large mean bullies are not.

This is a sweet little adventure story with appealing illustrations.  It is well written, original and funny. There are some great names for some of the creatures and the descriptions are wonderful. It shows how teamwork can overcome the bullies and how using your brain is often better than fighting. This is a great little book for readers aged 5 to perhaps 9 or 10 years old.  Great book! 4 stars for Nimpentoad!

Gnit Wit Gnipper and the Ferocious Fire Ants by T J Lantz
Published on Amazon Kindle 99c

This is a story about a gnome called Gnipper who longs for a ‘real’ hat to gain kudos in the community and shake off the added name of Gnit Wit.  The community is very science orientated and to gain her hat, and lose her added name, she, like all the others, must invent something which will enhance the lives of all gnomes. Gnipper’s invention (still in its experimental stages) is to be a growth potion, largely so she can reach the cookie jar, but also because she feels it will be useful to others of the same stature.  But, needless to say, the experiment backfires when she tests it on her pet ant, which does indeed grow – out of all proportion, in fact – and becomes very hostile. And if that is not enough, she is expecting lots of little ants in the very near future, hence an impending disaster is born. But can Gnipper undo what she has done!
This is a fun and imaginative read and I can see it keeping children engaged with its quirky characters, amusing dialogue and original plot. I also thought it was well-crafted and reasonably exiting.  Younger children may need a bit of help with some of the vocabulary though, but that is not a bad thing as long as there is a parent or older sibling there to help out. I would see this book appealing to ages 6 and upwards. I give Gnit Wit Gnipper and the Ferocious Ants 4 stars.

All reviews can be found on Amazon and, where possible, Goodreads.

Children’s Book of the Week: Lionel’s Grand Adventure (Lionel and the Golden Rule)


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This week’s choice for Children’s Book of the Week is the delightful read, Lionel’s Grand Adventure (Lionel and the Golden Rule) by Paul R Hewlett. With its well-constructed text and its light touch, it has all the right ingredients for the intended reader; originality, humour, a touch of magic, a likeable hero, and above all a sound lesson in how to treat others. Please read my full review below.

Lionel's Great Adventure - Lionel and the Golden Rule featured Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.emAbout the Book

Lionel’s Grand Adventure is a beginning chapter book about a twelve-year-old boy who is constantly subjected to ridicule from his mom and older brother. Things change when he makes a seemingly innocent discovery, and the magical, yet unpredictable, Three-Toed Pot-bellied Walbaun takes him on the adventure of a lifetime, with some surprising consequences.

About the Author

Paul R. Hewlett is the author of the Lionel’s Grand Adventure series. Lionel’s Christmas Adventure: Lionel Learns the True Meaning of Christmas is the third book in the series. His debut book, Lionel’s Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule, was released in December of 2011, followed by Lionel Turns the Other Cheek in March of 2012. In addition to writing the Lionel’s Grand Adventure books, Paul co-authors a children’s /young adult blog called Sher A. Hart: Writing As Art. Paul is a US Air Force vet who is married and has a “senior” dog named Joe that he and his wife adopted from the local rescue facility. His aim is to increase and foster children’s interest in reading by combining entertainment and values.

 

My Review of Lionel’s Grand Adventure (Lionel and the Golden Rule)

 

Lionel’s Grand Adventure (Lionel and the Golden Rule) is a story about a short, chubby, ill-coordinated twelve year old boy who is often the butt of other’s jokes. Badly treated by his own brother and suffering a mother who constantly yells at him and criticises him, Lionel often looks for peace. Seeking refuge in his new bedroom one day (he and his family have just relocated from the Massachusetts to a small town in Missouri) he discovers what he thinks is a larger than average rabbit’s foot in the closet. He soon finds out the foot has magical powers. He also soon finds out, from the local candy store owner, an old eccentric few take seriously, all about the legend of the Three-toed Pot- bellied Walbauns,  and realises it is not a rabbit’s foot he possesses at all, but a foot of one of the very same creatures.   But will Lionel put this to good use!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and particularly liked the magic weaved by the Three-toed Pot-bellied Walbauns, which never quite worked the way it should, but always seemed to achieve the right results.  This book is extremely well-written and very readable and held my attention throughout.  With its well-constructed text and its light touch, it has all the right ingredients for the intended reader; originality, humour, a touch of magic, a likeable hero, and, above all, a sound lesson in how to treat others. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – The Golden Rule.

I think parents could read this aloud to younger children whilst enjoying it themselves, and those old enough to read will have no problem.  Either way, it is an excellent book.

I highly recommend Lionel’s Grand Adventure (Lionel and the Golden Rule) for children aged 5 to adult. I will certainly be reading more of Paul Hewlett’s books myself, in the future.

    Buy on Amazon              Other Books by Paul R Hewlett                Sher A Hart Blogspot

Lionel's Great Adventure - Lionel Turns the Other Cheek featured Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.em

Lionel's Great Adventure - Lionel and the Golden Rule featured Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.em

Lionel's Christmas Adventure -  featured Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.em

Also available in paperback

Children’s Book of the Week: Who Will Hug the Sun by Ey Wade


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Who Will Hug the Sun - Book cover - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Short, sweet, and uplifting. Those are the first words which spring to mind about Who Will Hug the Sun by Ey Wade. This informative, and somewhat touching little book which will surely engage any child and I am delighted to able to feature it this week. You will find my full review below.

About the Book

Who Will Hug the Sun, tells the story of a little girl who loves hugging. She is told the story of the antics the sun went through to get her first hug. It is the first in a series of picture books titled ‘In My Sister’s World’

About the Author

Ey Wade considers herself to be a caged in frustrated author and self-publisher of nine thought provoking, mind bending books, an occasional step-in parent, a fount of  knowledge, and ready to share. The single mother of three grown daughters and now the ‘Lovey’ of a beautiful grandson. Find out more about Ey at Wade-In Publishing

My Review of Who Will Hug the Sun

I love books from which a child can take something away with them, and this one offers just that.  A little girl called Mhia wants to hug the sun and finds herself listening to her mother’s tale of how the sun had wanted a hug too, and how difficult it had been for her to get one. The narrative cleverly gets around to explaining a total solar eclipse in ways little ones can easily understand.  A valuable and simple snippet of science for the young! The sketches within the book are nicely executed and go well with the story. The story itself is endearing and actually quite moving and, as Mhia says, everyone needs a hug! This is a well-written and enjoyable book which I would recommend to parents as a read aloud book for their younger children.

 

Buy on Amazon                    Buy on Barnes and Noble                   More Books by Ey Wade

Picture of the sun watching children with their pets - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

“She saw the children hugging their pets”

Picture of the sun holding fluffy clouds - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

“One day the sun grabbed the fluffiest cloud and held it close”

picture of the moon watching the sad sun - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

“The moon watched the sun from afar and felt saddened by her tears”

Children’s Book of the Week: Amazing Matilda – A Monarch’s Tale by Bette A Stevens


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This week I would like to share the work of Author Bette A. Stevens. Bette has both written and illustrated her ‘amazing’ book, Amazing Matilda – A Monarch’s Tale, and here you will be able to get a taste of what to expect – a wonderful story with beautiful illustrations.

Amazing Matilda - A Monarch's Tale - Book cover - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

About the Book                                                                                                                                                             This inspirational tale of a Monarch butterfly and her meadowland friends is the second children’s book written and illustrated by Bette A. Stevens. AMAZING MATILDA becomes discouraged when she is unable to fly during the early stages of her metamorphosis. But, this amazing Monarch never gives up on her dream. Encouraged by her meadowland friends, MATILDA learns that if she tries long enough and hard enough, she can do anything that she really wants to do. AMAZING MATILDA will inspire readers and listeners alike, not only to follow their own dreams, but to encourage others to do the same! – Courtesy of  Bette A. Stevens

About the Author

Bette A. Stevens received her B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Orono before embarking on graduate courses in Curriculum Studies at Chapman University in California. Following a rewarding career in the business world at a Maine-based construction company, she taught in elementary and middle school classrooms in California and Virginia. She and her husband are now retired and living in Central Maine, where they enjoy trips to the coast and gardening when they’re not renovating their 37-acre farmstead. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. Stevens enjoys gardening, walking, reading, writing, drawing, painting and  Read more…

My Review of  Amazing Matilda – A Monarch’s Tale                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      From the very first illustration I was hooked on this book. I am an absolute sucker for unique, hand-painted art work. The author did not disappoint here. And then came the tale; an engaging, informative and  touching tale about a caterpillar who became a beautiful, self-assured butterfly (full story from egg to imago).  When we first meet Matilda she is just emerging from her egg and her first and only wish is to fly, which, of course, she cannot do.   Her meadowland friends, seeing she has no wings, encourage her to be patient and not to give up, but to rely upon her instincts and to keep trying. They reinforce this advice by relating stories of their own efforts as youngsters. This book conveys a wonderful message to children. A message about patience and self-belief, and that if you have your heart set on something, and try hard enough, you will get there in the end. It is a beautifully written book and a worthy addition to any child’s bookshelf.

Get Your Copy on Amazon           See more books by Bette A. Stevens           Blog

Butterfly illustration from Amazing Matilda - A Monarch's Tale - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Up, up, up went Matilda, soaring high above …

Sparrow illustration from Amazing Matilda - A Monarch's Tale - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

“Why Matilda, me dear, you are amazing!”

An illustration of Matilda as an imago - from Amazing Matilda -A Monarch's Tale - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Before long, a green coverlet surrounded every bit of …

Children’s Book of the Week: Ode to Icky by Maranda Russell


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Another great find!  This week’s featured work is the delightful, Ode to Icky by Maranda Russell, which will undoubtedly appeal to young children and parents alike. With its lovable and lazy protagonist and its very resourceful heroine, I think many a young reader may be set to thinking about how to bulk out their pocket money – so keep a vigilant eye on the pets!

Ode to Icky by Maranda Russell - Illustrations by Nicolas Peruzzo - Book cover - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorAbout the Book                                            

Geared for ages 4-9, this is a cute, funny picture book about a stinky cat and a little girl who finds a way to cash in on her pet’s hygiene issues.

About the Author 

I am a 29-year-old foster parent, children’s writer, poet and writing teacher. I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and of the Western Ohio Writers Association (WOWA). I spend most of my time reading, writing, hanging out with my family, playing with my 5 cats and organizing author presentations & writing workshops at schools... read more about Maranda

My Review of Ode to Icky  

Ode to Icky is a well-constructed story about a creative and resourceful little girl and her ‘banished to the backyard’ cat, who is, to say the very least, somewhat lax about his personal hygiene. Candy, the little girl, inspired after smelling the
newly purchased perfume of an older sibling, comes up with a money-spinning plan to utilise the disgusting Icky’s odour by turning it into ready cash. Sneaking up on Icky to put the plan into action is the simplest part, due to the fact that the cat is so lazy, all he does is eat and sleep all day. The rest takes a bit more imagination.                                           The wonderful illustrations, placed on every page, can almost tell the story by themselves, which is good for small children unable to read yet. Though I am quite sure many parents WILL be reading this to their children. So either way, the story will be delighted in by all.                                                                                                                                             Maranda Russell’s tale of Ode to Icky is sweet and funny, and will no doubtless be enjoyed by many a young child. Thoroughly enjoyable!

Amazon review from C. Chapman

“Creativity is at its best here. Candy is no doubt my hero, what’s a girl to do when a problem arises? Solve it creatively of course. Occasionally it does come with a few setbacks. Candy is a free spirited innovator who takes matters into her own hands to make the best out of an already stinky situation, until consequences rears its ugly head. However, Candy strikes me as the type who will learn from her mistakes but she won’t let it stifle who she is at heart. A free spirit. I enjoyed this wonderful story. Once again hooray for Ode To Icky.”

Get your copy on Amazon                See more books by Maranda Russell                Website        

Picture of Icky from 'Ode to Icky' - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

He hated doing anything other than sleeping

Picture of Candy and Icky from 'Ode to Icky' - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Candy sat down beside him and quietly cut off some of
Icky’s stinky, matted-down hair.

Children’s Book of the Week: Old Man Gapu’s Bark Painting by Kyle Maplesden


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It was the simple illustrations of Old Man Gapu’s Bark Painting which first caught my eye, especially the portrayal of the gathering round the camp fire at the ceremony. The well-chosen genre of naive art makes the perfect partner for a tale of primitive customs and legends. What could be better – in simplicity there is often perfection!  And, as you will see from my review below, I thought the story was pretty good too!

Old Man Gapu's Bark Painting by Kyle Maplesden - Book cover - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorAbout the Book

In Northern Australia’s Top End, when Old Man Gapu needs to illustrate the important creation story he’ll be singing about at the upcoming ceremony he sets out to harvest some tree bark to paint on.  Follow Old Man Gapu as he journeys into the forest to collect the supplies needed to create his story-telling masterpiece!

About the Author

Kyle Maplesden grew up in Canada where his interest in the world’s indigenous peoples was sparked by childhood visits to First Nations Reservations in Ontario. An intensive, lifelong study into the art and culture of indigenous tribes ensued with a defined focus on Australia’s Aboriginal peoples. Read more… 

My Review of Old Man Gapu’s Bark Painting

The first of Kyle Maplesden’s books, Old Man Gapu’s Bark Painting, tells the short and enjoyable story of Old Man Gapu as he searches for bark in the forest to make a painting for a forthcoming ceremony.                                                                                                                 After despatching his friend Luku to seek the materials needed to make a didgeridoo, Old Man Gapu sets off to the forest to find a tree to cut bark from for his painting. He decides only the Stringybark tree will do, so he selects the right one and proceeds to cut the bark in a way handed down through the generations. He then prepares the bark for the paint. At this point we have already learnt about early instruments, location and traditions, and primitive bark painting techniques.                                                                              Bit by bit, we see Old Man Gapu complete his handsome painting and go on to the ceremony to sing the ancient Creator legend of Wititj, the Olive Python, with Luku accompanying him on the didgeridoo he has made.                                                                         Knowledgeably told with charming illustrations, Kyle Maplesden’s short, educational and entertaining tale will delight any child.

A Review of Old Man Gapu by Adam Bard

Kyle Maplesden’s children’s books Luku Makes a Didgeridoo and Old Man Gapu’s Bark Painting are beautifully illustrated educational stories told with a warmth and kindness that makes them accessible to all ages, as enjoyable for the parent to read as the child to follow. It was really only after finishing and thinking about the stories for this review that I realized we learn about the aboriginal culture in the best way possible, the way they themselves pass on learning generation to generation: though the pleasure of story telling. I hope these books reach the huge audience they deserve and that Kyle Maplesden has more stories for us from Luku, Old Man Gapu and many other characters we’ll come to know and love. Buy and enjoy.

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An illustration of Gapu painting his bark - from Old Man Gapu's Bark Painting - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Gapu starts to paint his bark for the ceremony

An illustration from Old Man Gapu sitting round the fire at the ceremony -Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Gapu sings at the ceremony as Luku plays the didgeridoo