Ling Li’s Lantern by Steve Heron, illustrated by Benjamin Johnston, MidnightSun Publishing, ISBN 9781925227673
The publisher provided a review copy of this book.
This joyous and beautiful story is about a Chinese girl named Ling Li. She had two brothers, Jingming the oldest, Miao in the middle, Ling Li was the youngest. Their dad was Da Zhi who was considered the wisest man whoever lived. At times, Da Zhi would present a challenge to nurture his children’s wisdom. In the story he gave the toughest challenge.
Early in the morning, he asked his three children to meet him at the bridge by the three pagodas. Then he told them to spend a sum of money in a small cloth pouch to fill one of the three pagodas with anything in a day. After that, the children set off. In the book I thought that they’d all finish at the same time.
I think Ling Li did the best job because she filled the whole village with something everyone appreciated. This story also makes perfect sense because you don’t have to save all the money to fill a thing up, it’s actually better if you fill one thing up, while you fill up something else as well.
I hope that children will learn a valuable lesson from this story and that they will use this story to guide them to having true wisdom. I am certain that you will also find this story useful and amazing and be ready to be sent to your future wisdom.
Tom Jellett is a Sydney based illustrator. For over twenty years he has illustrated a number of books for children including My Dad Thinks He’s Funny by Katrina Germein, Why I Love Footy by Michael Wagner, Whale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway and the Besties series with Sporty Kids author Felice Arena. His latest picture book is Shoo You Crocodile! (with text by Katrina Germein).
From the publisher:
Shoo You Crocodile! is a fun, raucous tale for imaginative young readers and small, brave adventurers. The story offers space for play, real and imagined stories, and families can use the book to play their own make-believe monster games and learn about rhyming words.
On with the questions!
What’s your favourite illustration tool when illustrating picture books?
It has to be pencil. Prismacolor ones are my favourites … I go through a lot of them, though I found sharpening them by hand slowed me down quite a bit. I only recently bought an electric pencil sharpener ($10 from Officeworks! Insane!). It has changed my life.
When you agreed to illustrate Shoo You Crocodile! what was your first step when you sat down to get to work?
The first step, after having read the manuscript a few hundred times is to start figuring out the story within the story, for example, where the story is set, who is being chased … is it a real crocodile or is it a game? Is it set in a zoo? In a jungle? I was pretty certain early on I wanted a ‘real’ crocodile in there so I started with that and ended up with museum … once these things are decided then I can start drawing.
Did you like to play monster games yourself as a child?
I’m not sure about games, but I used to like old scary movies when I was younger. When they were in black and white they were even scarier. I was probably a bit of a scaredy cat … even Doctor Who used to scare me … still does, actually …
Do you have a tip for children who would like to try drawing ‘monster-type characters?
SHARP TEETH BIG CLAWS. The other good tip I find helpful is to start with real animals, and take bits from here and there. I think I stole this tip from Sendak’s drawings in Where the Wild Things Are. If you look at the wild things they are all sorts of bits and pieces … I think one had a parrot’s head, another looked like a bull … all mixed up!
Can you tell us a bit about your next project?
It’s not out for a little while yet, but I just finished a book which has no story at all, but is all about funny sounding words. (Some rude ones possibly … )
Amber Moffatt is a writer and visual artist based in Perth, Western Australia. If you live in WA and you’ve been to the AH Bracks library in Melville you might have been lucky enough to see her illustrations decorating the windows for Book Week 2019! Amber recently launched her first picture book,I Would Dangle the Moon, in Western Australia and in New Zealand. She regularly runs art workshops for children inspired by the artwork from the book.
What would you do if you could pluck the moon from the sky? Would you scoop it up in an ice cream cone, or ride it like a snail shell across the night sky? This picture book will spark your imagination.
Today Amber Moffat stops by to chat to Alphabet Soup about creating I Would Dangle the Moon.
You’re an author AND an illustrator. When you were creating I Would Dangle the Moon, which came first – the words or the illustrations?
The words came first, but I did have a sense of the images in my mind too. The idea of a snail taking the moon for its shell and slithering across the night sky was the seed the story grew from.
How long did it take you to go from the story idea to the published book?
It took a really long time – three years! The initial text was developed quite quickly but it took a much longer time to develop the storyboard and find the right style of illutstration. I was really lucky to have author and illustrator Briony Stewart as my mentor for a year, and that helped me get the concept ready to submit to publishers. From when my publisher, MidnightSun Publishing, contracted me, it took nine months to complete the final artwork for the illustrations.
What have you been reading recently?
I’ve been enjoying Trouble in the Surf, written by Stephanie Owen Reeder and illustrated by Briony Stewart. The way Briony has used colour in the illustrations is really beautiful, and I keep going back to it to admire her technique.
When you’re doing illustration work, what’s your favourite medium?
Acrylic paint is definitely my preferred medium. I like the way it dries fast and you can paint over it easily. I also like to be able to scan images and alter them digitally. I often use computer editing to piece different paintings together and play with scale and composition.
Are you able to tell us something about your next writing project?
The picture book I’m currently working on explores the science of light, and it’s been a new experience for me to convey scientific ideas in the form of a picture book. I am also working on a novel for young adults, in which medical science is important to the story, so that seems to be a theme for me at the moment.
I Would Dangle the Moon is written by Amber Moffat. A mother and daughter explore the moon and relate it to normal events in life. The daughter imagines she could keep the moon forever. Little things matter in this book. Every page is mysterious, for example, what would she do if she was a jeweler? The mother and daughter talk about what they would do with the moon if they were different people.
This book was a perfect blend of imagination and creativity. The pictures in this book are wonderfully illustrated for younger readers.
I think this book would be suitable for younger kids of ages 3 to 5, who have just started to build their imagination. It is a good bedtime story book that younger readers would prefer with their parents or grand parents.
Hannah received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
“They hunt, but they are also hunted. Carted away. Sold for bounty. And then, one careless night – the last thylacine is gone.”
This beautiful picture book portrays the story of the last known living thylacine. The thylacine has been an endangered species since the year 1936. It begins with the basic life of the featured young thylacine and her mother, listening to the whispers of the night and running to keep up with them. Hunting, playing, growing. They are living a normal life, that is until they become the hunted. She’s kept captive in an unknown forest, one of concrete and cold floors.
The illustrations in the book are absolutely stunning. They perfectly show the expression of pain and agony of the two thylacines, as well as the pure elegance and beauty of the wild and silent nights that they are sharing together. The writing of the book is also wonderful. It makes you feel like you’re right in the moment, running with the thylacines, amongst the mist of the mountains and the cold night air.
It is definitely a good book to read to older children, aged 10 to 12. It didn’t seem to be a book aimed at smaller children as the overall themes were quite dark and scary. I believe smaller children (aged 4 to 9) may find the book overwhelming, so I do not recommend the book for that age group.
Get excited for the release of One Careless Night, written and illustrated by Christina Booth, this month!
Tom and Tilly want to play lion games with their dad. The story is told poetically — it rhymes and it’s very rhythmical. The phrasing allows you to use lots of expression so it’s good to read out loud, like this:
Will he come? Won’t he come? Will he come and play?
Will the mighty lion come and play with us today?
The illustrations are by Briony Stewart who has written and illustrated other books like the Kumiko series and The Red Wheelbarrow. The illustrations are done in colour pencils and I like how you can see the pencil strokes because you can see that it’s not computer done. I was lucky to meet Briony Stewart at the Fremantle book launch, where there were also fun activities related to the book like making lion masks, lion face painting, and making paper lions.
This picture book will be great for kids aged 6 and under who love playing and being imaginative.
This picture book is an information book about germs — how small they are, and where you’ll find them. This is an interactive book and as part of the story you have to take Min (a microbe) on an adventure. Do not lick this book includes photographs taken with a microscope to show close-ups of paper, teeth, your shirt, and your belly button (your skin), as well as comic-style illustrations.
I like how it turns a serious topic into a fun story with cute germ characters. I found the teeth page very interesting with the close-up view of your teeth.
This book is bright, funny, and child-friendly. It’s great for ages 4+. I’m 11 and I still found it entertaining and interesting. So did my mum (and she’s 43).
Chip by Kylie Howarth, The Five Mile Press, ISBN 9781760400736
Nicholas borrowed this book from his school library.
Every seagull loves chips and Chip is a cute little seagull who loves fish and chips especially. However, when he gets banned from his favourite chip store near the Beach, he tries to form a plan with his friends to get access to his precious chips again.
How will they get their chips back so they don’t starve?
I think this book will be wonderful for children aged 3 and over. It has excellent pictures to show the little ones what is happening and describes the setting in detail. I personally think it is a magnificent book.