Spotlight on books for kids

Spending some time in the children’s book section of a library or bookshop, is a good method of sizing up what is happening in the arena of kids publishing. While finding something without glitter on the front cover may require a little digging… thankfully there are lots of interesting combinations of writers, artists and designers working on conceptually and artistically satisfying kids books.

The Family Hour by Tai Snaith is such a title. Written and illustrated by the Melbourne-based artist, the book depicts the curious and wonderful characteristics of Australian animals, using watercolour drawings and playful facts to encourage discussion about animal – and human – behaviour and habitat.

Amazing Babes is another Australian production that educates both young and old minds of the contribution towards social change by a number of women across generations and countries. Written by Eliza Sarlos and illustrated by Grace Lee, the book encourages discussion by depicting the women in drawings, and allowing the reader to flip to the back of the book to find out more about their backgrounds. The women featured range from poets to activists to musicians to writers – including Gloria Steinem, Audre Lorde, Aung San Suu Kyi and Malala Yousafzai.

It’s a Secret! by John Burningham is a beautifully rendered story evoking the mystery and whimsy of childhood, as the main character, Marie Ellaine is invited to explore the secret nighttime world of cats. The style will be familiar to the generations brought up reading this well-known British writer and illustrator’s work: there’s something to be said for the enduring power of simple drawing and story-telling.

Counting in the Garden is a nice little board book designed by LA brother and sister team Patrick and Emily Hruby, that partners in a simple and engaging way, the processes of counting and gardening.

Some classics remain vividly relevant: BOOKS!, from 1962 has been recently republished by AMMO, and continues to pop, exploring the cutting-edge design, palette and typography from the period, while answering questions about what it is that makes a book, a book. And Le Petit Prince still inspires children from around the world, although these days has, of course, its own website.


Page from The Family Hour, by Tai Snaith. Copyright Tai Snaith.


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