Shapes and Colours by John Canty
Whose Bones? by Chihiro Takeuchi
Sneaky Shadows by SC Manchild, illustrated by Sam Caldwell
Readers, collectors, librarians and book aficionados will recognise John Canty’s beautifully designed and executed illustrations in his new book Shapes and Colours. The concept is deceptively simple but this picture book is a standout and will help children enjoy recognising the colours of the rainbow and the living creatures and inanimate objects often found in those colours.
Each colour features in two double pages. The first poses the question: “WHAT’S RED? (or whatever the designated colour is) with the items shown in red silhouette. Children can guess what the items are, e.g., fire truck, tomato, ladybug, balloon … before turning the page. The following double page shows the items in detail with labels and some extra colours. The colour orange includes a pumpkin, autumn leaf and popsicle. Yellow features a banana, chick, lemon and taxi; green a frog and tree; blue a whale and jeans; indigo a beetle and snake; and violet a sea star, grapes and violets.
The page composition also elevates this book. This is the work of a talented artist and designer.
John Canty also created the multi-awarded Heads and Tails and Heads and Tails: Underwater.
Whose Bones? by Chihiro Takeuchi continues the interactive guesswork. The refrain, “Whose bones?” introduces each double page of scattered bones and skull. Children have the opportunity to guess what the animal on the following page will be. When they turn the page, they will see an illustration of the skeleton with the bones in the correct place and also a picture of the animal. The animals include a snake, lion, crocodile and koala and culminate in a melange of several animals.
Fun Facts at the end of the book explain that all the animals are vertebrates and give further information about some of the creatures, concluding with human babies.
Author Chihiro Takeuchi is a Japanese paper cut artist who consulted with the Museum of Natural History in Osaka to create a scientifically accurate work. She demonstrates an arresting artistic sensibility.
Sneaky Shadows by SC Manchild, illustrated by Sam Caldwell is another fun guessing book, this time with shadows. A cheeky humour is evident throughout the book. It begins with what seems to be a straightforward silhouette of two penguins. Over the page it surprises with colour pictures of the penguins wearing clothes and an explanation that they’re named Dave and Michelle and are dressed up for a work Christmas party.
The next page cleverly waylays the reader’s predictive expectancy with a giraffe, albeit an unusual giraffe, before tricking the reader with what looks like a camel but is actually a llama carrying two jellies on its back to practise good posture.
The author addresses the reader in a smart, humorous voice, the illustrations are clear and bold and the puzzles become more and more outrageous. Sneaky Shadows is enormous fun and will inspire children to create their own pictures.
Sneaky Shadows is shortlisted for the Russell Prize for Humour Writing for Young People (of which I am a judge).
These three books are published by Berbay Publishing. Berbay is an Australian company producing quality picture books, each with something out of the ordinary.
Keep them in mind as appealing Christmas and other gifts for young readers and their families.