Tag Archives: Rhyming books

Pasta – Felice Arena. Illustrated by Beatrice Cerocchi.


Affirm Press

28 March 2023
RRP: $19.99
ISBN: 9781922848604

I do wish you could see how tricky this lovely cover is, with its embossed shiny strands of spaghetti twirling with temptation. There would be very few kiddos who don’t both know and enjoy eating pasta and many of them will already know a few of the different types. Spaghetti, macaroni, lasagne, fettucine spring to mind immediately. But if you have known Italians, as The Kid and I have done, you will know that these are just the tip of the steaming bowl of delicious goodness and so many of the pasta names are just glorious good fun to say. Clever Felice Arena has put them together in a joyous rhyming romp through the menu, to which all children will love to bounce along.

I have not previously seen Beatrice Cerocchio’s illustrative work but her style is well suited to this rambunctious rumbustification with its bold colours, adroit details and expressive characters – and those endpapers!! Just delightful!

If you have a focus on food itself or perhaps looking at cultural differences, (or how these have been absorbed to become a vital part of mainstream Australia) this would be a great addition to your program. But like most great picture books, it is just pure good fun as well and I can easily envisage a read-aloud session that leads to some pasta art or some menu creations for a classroom restaurant or some crazy spelling lists. I do feel you should practise your Italian accent for a read-aloud session as the kiddos will delight in joining in with you, as well as providing the emphases in all the appropriate places!

Those of us of a certain age will remember a childhood in a typical WASP home sans pasta – I know I didn’t ‘discover’ spaghetti bolognese until the very early 70s (thanks to my big brother!). How marvellous that now we have this entire delicious smorgasbord of pasta varieties and dishes to play with as a matter of course!

Let me finish with a slightly amusing story on that note. Our Italian friend came to Australia in 1971, and he, and the friend he made on the ship, arrived in Sydney and set forth to find somewhere to eat on their first day. Neither of these two Italian men (almost still boys) spoke a single word of English, but found a cafe and recognised the word ‘spaghetti’ on the menu, so promptly ordered that. You can imagine their complete bewilderment (and horror actually) when plates of toast and tinned spaghetti arrived at their table. I did laugh a lot at the recount of this experience but really, thank heavens we’ve moved on from there! (also – where would our sense of pasta humour be without the famous Spaghetti Harvest Hoax?)

Buon Appetito! Enjoy your fill of Pasta – I highly recommend it to your readers from around Prep upwards. Ciao!

Meerkat Christmas – Aura Parker


Penguin Australia

October 2022

  • ISBN: 9780143777229
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $19.99

Seriously, I’m always so in awe of creators who can do both the text and the illustrations – for someone who yearns to have even a smidgin of creativity it seems a little unfair -haha!

This is another title I shared with numerous classes over the closing weeks of Term 4 – again from Prep upwards to Year 3 and once again it was received with tumultous applause – even the older children loved the rollicking rhymes and the oh-so-cute illustrations.

We all had lots fun talking who had or had not seen meerkats yet (many in my neighbourhood have gone to Australia Zoo), where meerkats live, why does EVERYONE love them so much and imagining other funny antics they might get up to. They totally loved the reveal of the pups pyramid-ing their way to form a Christmas Tree and there was much laughter all round.

And what do I love? I absolutely adore the endpapers (as everyone knows, they are a passion of mine) and I love that the rhyming text flows naturally with rhythmic grace and ease and never sounds forced or discordant (which frankly, annoys me often in books by ‘award winning’ authors whose scansion leaves much to be desired) – this is just fabulous and the top reason for it being such a joy to read aloud!

This is truly an adorable addition to your Christmas bookshelf and for a little person in your circle particularly would make for a beautiful gift under the tree or in their wee stocking.

Highly recommended for small pups from around 4 years to 8 years old.

That Cat – Jacqueline Harvey. Illustrated by Kate Isobel Scott.


Penguin Australia

  • 1 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9781761040702
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $19.99

When the delightful Jacqueline came to my place last year (dinner, lots of talk and loads of laughs!) she told me about her first picture book which was on its way. How excitement!! And really no surprise regarding the subject matter – given her great affection for her adopted furbaby Bally Puss (who is far more sociable than our snarky Whiskers, who wouldn’t even come out to say miaow to our guest).

This is a gorgeous rhyming book which will provide much joy for the little humans in your life. It has exactly the right kind of bounce and jounce that is perfect for read-aloud for tiny toddlers, but also for those early readers who will love showing off their new vocabulary with the ‘-at’ words on offer. The simple text will provide a super platform for those emergent readers to strut their stuff whilst providing some juicy giggles with the lively and vibrant illustrations from Kate Isobel Scott.

Definitely not one to rest on her laurels with her best-selling series of Alice-Miranda (now with two animated stories on STAN), Clementine Rose and Kensy and Max, this super-talented creator and thoroughly lovely person is now adding to her impressive repertoire and I, for one, am looking forward to more entertaining and enjoyable titles.

Whether it is a brat cat or a fat cat, a scat cat or a rat cat- the kiddos will find exactly THAT cat to tickle their feline fancy!

Congratulations Jacqueline on such a hugely successful leap from novel to picture book – clever ducky!

Highly recommended for little readers from toddler-sized up to early primary years.

Whiskers the Brat Cat
Such a fun evening!