Tooth Fairies, something lost, surprising stones and a forgotten bear

The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story by Bob Graham

The Corner of My Eye by Colin Thompson

The Book of Stone by Mark Greenwood & Coral Tulloch

Nop by Caroline Magerl

Bob Graham is undoubtedly one of Australia’s and the world’s best picture book creators. The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story is his new companion story to April Underhill, Tooth Fairy.

The children’s tooth fairy parents need to collect a molar urgently so Grandma and Grandad help by looking after April, Esme and baby Vincent. It is lovely staying in their teapot house, “Where the tea is always hot, there’s a bed of feathers for weary wings and pancakes with syrup for breakfast” but a job comes in that April and Esme may be able to do themselves.

Young Akuba is flying in from Ghana with a baby tooth in her pocket. The busy airport is a contrast to the whimsical teapot setting although, to heighten the fantasy element, angels and cupids are waiting there as well. The cupids’ role is to help meetings between people and the angels “do the sad arrivals” and assist by pushing trolleys.

Humour gently infiltrates the story. Grandad punches a bag to keep in shape and the young tooth fairies rush to find a coin to exchange for Akuba’s tooth. The pastel colours enhance the tender, magical atmosphere in The Underhills, which is a tale equal to Bob Graham’s best work.

Sally’s grandfather in The Corner of My Eye by Colin Thompson has lost something. Sally wants to look for it but “its name was one of the words that the old man had lost.” He could almost see what is missing but couldn’t quite remember a clear picture of it.

Sally tries to find the lost thing and Colin Thompson’s inimitable detailed illustrations create a world of wonder for readers to pour over as they join Sally on her quest. They may even find things they have lost, forgotten or never known themselves.

Colin Thompson is in top form with his tale of memory loss, told with warmth and understanding and with surreal touches and brilliant use of colour to ease pain and help imaginations soar.

The Book of Stone by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Coral Tulloch, invites the young reader into a fascinating, original journey about stones. “It begins one stone at a time – reaching down turning pebbles over searching for a story stone.” Stones are seen and described in new ways through the often-poetic language that also tempts children to explore volcanoes, fossils, tools and treasure.

Caroline Magerl’s toy bear Nop “was not plush in places. He had no button, no ribbon, no scarf or spangle. Nothing to tell where he belonged.” He is part of the pile of leftovers at Oddmint’s Dumporeum. At night-time toys are mended in readiness for sale but nothing suits Nop until he finds a red bow tie. This makes him believe he can go anywhere so he stitches something special that can take him into a wonderful future. Both the words and pictures in this story are allusive and fanciful.

These four beautiful picture books are published by Walker Books Australia.

They would make memorable Christmas gifts for young readers and families.

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