When you are buying picture books to read to your grandchildren, it's nice to choose ones that both of you like and feel a connection with. These are the books you'll want to read together again and again.
If you have a dog in the family, books about dogs are sure to be favourites.There are plenty by kiwi authors to choose from.
That Dog at the Beach
My granddaughters immediately recognised the dog in Jane Cooper's story "That Dog at the Beach!" On Sunday mornings they are up early, dressed in their winter woollies to go down to the beach with Abby, our golden Labrador pup. Despite our best efforts to train her, Abby can still cause mayhem. She chases after other dogs, leaps up at entire strangers in an overly friendly way, and snatches balls which other dog walkers have brought for their dogs to fetch.
The dog in "That Dog at the Beach!" is equally mischievous. While all the other dogs in the story are well behaved and do as they are told, this dog has a mind of its own. Curious and sneaky, he hides sticks in the sand instead of fetching them and stealthily helps himself to picnic food.
"He's a nuisance and should go home," they say. But the little girl whose dog it is disagrees. She insists her dog is gentle and kind . He helps to get the sand off her feet and licks the ice-cream drips before they get on the car seat. He is perfect just the way he is.
Pre-schoolers, especially those who own a loveable but slightly unruly puppy, will enjoy being read this story and looking at all the different dogs on the beach.
That Dog at the Beach!
Author: Janene Cooper and illustrated by Evie Kemp.
Publisher: Duck Creek Press RRP $19.95 (paperback)
The Dragon Hunters
On a rainy afternoon a Mum has had more than enough of the boisterous games her two boys Flynn and Paddy are playing with Coco, their chocolate lab. She chases the dog outside with a broom.
As the boys peer out of the window at Coco, a fearsome dragon snatches him up in its claws. They decide to give chase. After making some marmite sandwiches to sustain them, they embark on a hazardous journey up a steep and rocky mountain trail. Once there, they must devise a cunning plot to rescue Coco from the dragon's lair.
Kids will love the rhymes in this adventure story. The moody comic style illustrations are enchanting. They were created by Link Choi who has also designed props for the Hobbit Films.
At the front of this book is a map on which kids can find all sorts of magical places such as the dragon hatchery, the tree of wailing witches, and a meadow of dreams.
James Russell, the author, has two dragon hunters of his own. This book met with their approval. Small boys especially will enjoy it.
The Dragon Hunters.
Author James Russell.
Pictures by Link Choi.
Dart of Castle Hill
It will come as a surprise to many city kids that some dogs actually have to go to work. Dart of Castle Hill is one such dog – he leads a busy life on a Hill station in the Southern Alps mustering sheep. When a gate is left open the sheep escape. Dart must find their hiding place.
On the way he meets other farm animals, cows, horses and deer but none can tell him where the sheep have gone. In his haste he falls bottom first into a spiky matagouri bush, then splat! into a cowpat. But finally he discovers his sheep cosily sheltering from the icy blast in an old mustering shed where they have a big surprise for him.
Dart of Castle Hill is a book that educates as well as entertains, Children will learn about the spectacular high country landscape and Castle Hill Station (which belongs to Christine Fernyhough) from John Bougen's photographs.
They form the backdrop to the delightful collaged illustrations of Dart and the other farm animals created by Susan Elijas.She has cleverly hidden a tiny sheep on each page that little kids will love to find.
Young children will love the rhymes and the humour and discovering "those little round marbles that the sheep leave behind l
At the end of this hide and seek story there is a glossary of high country farming words that will build their vocabulary.
Dart of Castle Hill
Authors: Christine Fernyhough and Susan Elijas
Publisher: Random House