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Graeme Base

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan & Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester

December 2013–January 2014, no. 357

Never ruin a perfect plan’ is one of the masterful Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer (Lothian, $24.99 hb, 52 pp). On a bone-strewn landscape, four thimbles with legs, tails, and horned heads are caught mid-procession. Two of them carry a knife and fork twice their height. The smallest one has turned its Ned Kelly visor head to salute. In doing so, he has trodden unaware on the tail of the one in the lead, who is carrying a strawberry as big as himself. The tip of the tail lies under his foot, dropped like a skink’s. A crow watches from the shadows. The narrative in this one picture would be enough to keep a reader absorbed for hours. The many colours of summer are textured contrasts.

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Tohby Riddle’s Unforgotten (Allen & Unwin, $35 hb, 123 pp, 9781742379722) will be appreciated by aficionados of Shaun Tan’s sophisticated illustrated works and Riddle’s impressive books. This atmospheric book is allegorical and metaphorical, and the structure is cyclic. It begins and ends in the heavens; and gradually revea ...

Many Australian picture book authors and illustrators continue to develop the genre in exciting and unusual ways...

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Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury & Enigma by Graeme Base

February 2009, no. 308

While the children’s picture book is a relatively recent literary phenomenon, most picture book authors still tap into the strong traditions of oral storytelling. Multi-award winning author Mem Fox is particularly good at this. Fox’s picture book texts are firmly grounded in the three R’s – the traditional rhythms, rhymes and repetitions found in children’s songs and verses throughout the ages. This, combined with Judy Horacek’s inspired illustrations, was what made Where is the Green Sheep? (2004) such a success.

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Changes in the composition of the family or friendship group are among the most challenging situations to confront children, so it is no surprise that many books for the upper-primary-aged reader address this theme.

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