I CAN’T KEEP THEM ALL BUT…
As a book reviewer, I receive more books than I can possibly keep. In my small house with its choc-a-bloc bookshelves, if I keep a new book it means getting rid of an old one. Never easy to do! Most of the books I receive for review are eventually donated to school libraries. That suits me as I firmly believe good books belong in the hands of their intended audience, not on my bookshelves. But every now and then a book comes my way that I can’t let go. This is one of them.
The ABC Book of Lullabies is not only a great bedtime read aloud book for very young listeners but a treasure trove collection of work by some of Australia’s leading childrens book illustrators. Inside its pages you will find Tamsin Ainslie, Johnathan Bentley, Gaye Chapman, Janine Dawson, Wayne Harris, Ann James, Stephen Michael King, Alison Lester, Caroline Mageri, Kilmey Nilamd, Anna Piignataro, Cheryl Orsini and Emma Quay. It’s by no means a complete list. I could name quite a few more very easily.
I’ve never met any of these illustrators except Wayne Harris who did the cover for my book, Polar Boy. I stalked him at two events (the Walker Books Australia 15th Anniversary bash and the 2008 Lady Cutler Award presentation) before I finally found the courage to say hello. There was of course the incident of the map due to my inability to get the Arctic Circle in the right place – I shifted it during a rewrite! – and Wayne having to keep redrawing it do to my lack of geographical skills! *sigh* But that’s another story for another day and Wayne saw the funny side. Nice guy and a great illustrator!
And now for the review:
ABC Book of Lullabies, ABC Books, Picture Book, Hardcover $24.95 Australian
This book is so many things.
First and foremost it’s a wonderful book of traditional lullabies magically brought to life by some of Australia’s best known and best loved children’s illustrators. Young children will enjoy the bedtime stories. They will listen to ‘Rock-a-Bye-Baby’ and look for the faces of the children hiding in Alison Lester’s night-time blue tree. They’ll count the children Emma Quay has drawn in bed and laugh at the silliness of ‘The Man in the Moon.’
Parents will remember their own childhood when the same rhymes and stories were read. Perhaps they will find memories to share with their own children. I’ll tell my children how their grandfather and I would look out the window and count the stars, then he would recite the poem ‘Star Light, Star bright’. I think it was the only poem Pop knew.
Those with an interest in children’s literature will treasure the match of story to artist and the short biography of the thirteen illustrators at the back of the book. The ABC Book of Lullabies is a celebration of artistic talent. I know two children’s librarians who sat turning the pages and trying to guess which artist had drawn each picture.
Lastly, this is a must-see, must-read, got-to-have-in-the-library book.