Searching for Cicadas
This lovely story about a child and their grandfather searching for cicadas is part of the award-winning narrative nonfiction Nature Storybooks series.
In the summertime, Grandpa and I go cicada-watching. We put our camping gear into my wagon and walk down to the local reserve. Last year we saw five Green Grocers, three Yellow Mondays and one Floury Baker. Can we find the rare Black Prince this year? This heartwarming nonfiction picture book is written by award-winning author Lesley Gibbes and gorgeously illustrated by Judy Watson.
‘The latest title in the series is ‘Searching for Cicadas’ and (shhhhhhhhh), I think it might be my favourite to date. Lesley Gibbes is an accomplished writer and the story of a grandfather and grandchild going cicada watching is a beautiful portrayal of grandparent/grandchild relationships and the wonder of nature. The illustrations by Judy Watson are captivating and could/should be hanging in an art gallery. The layers and layers of illustration are fascinating to explore, with so many little ‘hidden’ details and interesting perspectives.’ Children’s Books Daily
‘Judy Watson’s illustrations don’t just show the life cycle of the cicada, although all the picture-elements which deal with this are very exact and easy to see and interpret, but express the atmosphere of the little camp in the bush reserve as the sun sets and the moon rises and the sense of wonder as the strange and complex elements of the cicada cycle come together in a climax of shimmering wings and ear-splitting mate-attracting noise.’ Magpies
Leonard Doesn’t Dance
All the birds are excited about the Big Beaky Bird Ball – except Leonard. His warble-warble waltz with the magpies is more wobble-wobble, and his caw-caw can-can with the crows is a can’t-can’t. The puffins are prancing, the rosellas are rocking and you should see the flamingo go-go-go! Everyone is jumping and jiving, but not Leonard.
‘Bursting with deep tones and striking colour Judy Watson’s illustrations are rich in detail and texture making the birds and surroundings seem almost alive. It is a visual delight!
The central themes of creativity and individuality offer some wonderful opportunities for classroom discussion about being proud of one’s individual talents and accepting our unique differences. Some book bird-spotting could be on the cards too!’ Reading Time
‘With stunning illustrations that take you straight to the Australian bush even though there is a range of birds from around the globe, this is a glorious story that rollicks along on the rhythm of the alliteration with a surprising and funny twist that will have the young reader’s feet tapping in anticipation. How would they dance if what happened to Leonard happened to them? An invitation to get up and move and try all the dances for themselves!
Dance, like music, is an innate human expression and this is a celebration of that. Everyone can dance, even those for whom movement is tricky, and Leonard shows that you just have to find out what works for you!’ Barbara Braxton, The Bottom Shelf
‘The story traverses a huge emotional landscape; from Leonard’s initial hope to disappointment, to despair and sorrow, right back to ecstatic joy. The text is extremely witty and playful and it reads deliciously out loud. I must say it’s so good to read a text that at no stage condescends to the reader. And the illustrations are a revelation! Such gorgeous line work from Judy Watson, with a breathtaking colour palette that is exuberant and jewel-like and immensely generous, which speaks so subtly to the fundamental themes of the book. The endpapers are to die for (swoon) and the book feels and smells good.’ Lisa Shanahan
‘This is a book to delight everyone, from the tongue-twisting text (Come do the caw-caw can-can with us) to the illustrations, like a double white page covered with a whirlwind of woodpeckers and a solitary Leonard, saying glumly, I don’t dance.’ Moira Robinson, Magpies
Teachers’ Notes for Leonard Doesn’t Dance available here.
A rollicking rhyming story about a family who dance up a wild storm while the wind and rain swirl outside. Rhythm, rhyme and family mayhem… Perfect for reading aloud, this playful, energetic story will have young children leaping into action.
‘This is a vibrant, high-energy and love-filled book. You want to dive into its pages and dance alongside this fabulous family, as they rollick and romp about. Judy Watson’s superb illustrations hoist the energy of the text and fling it on high, pulling the reader along at a breathtaking pace. I particularly loved the suspense-building beach scenes.’ Kids Book Review
‘From the lyrical, flowing language to the gorgeous illustrations, this was a sumptuous read.’ Buzz Words
‘The descriptions of the sounds, movement and lightning are very evocative and Katrina Germein’s poetry makes for a great read aloud, she really captures the feeling of a summery thunderstorm and Judy Watson’s illustrations dramatize the event with lots of exuberant joie de vie.’ Readings
‘Judy Watson’s mixed media illustrations, with their defining ink lines and dramatic watercolour washes, are superb, highlighting movement and intensity and taking the rollicking narrative to another plane…. The elements feature large in these artworks which never lose touch with the human experience at the story’s heart. The endpapers are worth savouring.’ Magpies
Germein has gifted us with lyrical prose carefully constructed to create tension. Each word contributes to the intense drama of an approaching storm, and yet this is all language kids will understand and relate to. What fun they will have using words like “flicking and flashing – tricking and dashing – crackling zap! – sizzling snap!” in their own poems to create word pictures and sound bites for an audience!
The choice of Watson as illustrator for this enthusiastic text was an inspired one. She has chosen unusual backgrounds and perspectives to nudge us toward an understanding of point of view. There’s lots to think about in each illustration. How has Watson used colour to communicate with us? How has she showed movement? What artistic techniques has she used throughout the book? Look carefully at the lines and decide what effect they have.
Germein has used lots of metaphors in the story: Granny is the sun, Mum is the rain. Can kids create metaphors about their own family members?
I love picture books that celebrate the sheer joy of playing with words. Watson’s illustrations make Thunderstorm Dancing a visual feast as well. Do seek out this wonderful children’s picture book for your home or school. It will make a fine text for reader’s theatre and suits a unit on Families. I can visualise it being brought vibrantly to life as a performance by children using dance, body percussion, voice, language and art work. The Book Chook
With its fantastic vocabulary, rhyme, rhythm and repetition the story is the storm full of the most amazing and inspiring energy – you just want to get up and move and make noise and join in the fun. It is a joyous celebration of something that can be scary and intimidating and is the perfect example of how careful colour choice and the use of line and expression are integral to creating mood and atmosphere. Just like a storm, it builds to a crescendo and then suddenly there is peace and serenity until… Even without yet having read it to my Year 2 audience, I can hear it in my head and know they are going to adore this and it will add so much to what they have been learning about setting, characters and plot.
But apart from that it’s just a rollicking good read that encourages us to embrace our fears, stare them in the face and poke fun at them by making ourselves their master. Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, Cooma NSW
Written by Katrina Germein and published by Allen and Unwin, this book was named a Notable Book in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards, 2016 (early childhood) and achieved a Highly Commended Award, in the Illustrators Australia Awards 2015 (children’s books).
Buy copies here.
Kiss Dad once.
Cuddle Mum twice.
′Goodnight, Mum and Dad.′
It′s time to say goodnight — but the four cheeky mice skittering, scampering and scurrying to bed don′t seem very sleepy!
This warm, affectionate story is the perfect bedtime book for the whole family to share.
‘The collaboration of writer and illustrator in this case makes for an almost perfect bedtime book. Watts’s words sing with rhyme and repetition, making them excellent linguistic tools for small children, while Watson’s impish, affectionate illustrations speak to families from every type of background.’ Judges’ comments. Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (Children’s Fiction) 2012
′the perfect bedtime book … told at a cleverly thought-out pace that should ensure a yawn before the final page … Illustrator Judy Watson′s detailed expressions on the four mouslings are fun, funny and rewarding upon further visits′ Courier-Mail
′a story filled with warmth and family love … This is sure to become a book young children and parents will be happy to read again and again′ Aussiereviews
′Watts knows how to break up a story′s rhythm by using a refrain, making a story which will be read again and again. Watson′s mice are individuals and the many untold stories in the pictures will be pored over by avid three and four-year-old listeners.′ West Australian
Written by Frances Watts and published by ABC Books, this book won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award (Children’s Fiction) 2012 and was a Notable Book in the CBCA awards 2012.
Buy copies here