22 October 2009

The Gobbling Tree

by Mark Carthew, illustrated by Susy Boyer

Random House. Australian, Picture Book, Young Readers. Hardback rrp $24.95

What young reader, or their parent, doesn’t love a well-written, brightly-illustrated rhyming story? Such a book is not only perfect for young listeners but makes an excellent text for young readers who find the rhyming a helpful reading aid.

The Gobbling Tree is the tale of a troublesome tree that swallows everything thrown or poked at it, accidentally or on purpose. First it swallows Zac’s ball, with a wonderful ‘Swisshhh… crick, crack!’ Then it proceeds to gulp down everything the children use to try and retrieve the ball – brooms, football boots, ladders, boomerangs and even… Simon.

The rhyme twists and turns with the story, changing its meter to suit the action:

‘Don’t worry Zac,’
Said Zac’s friend Jack.
‘I’ve got a plan to get it back.’

I’m not going to spoil the ending but there is a wonderful two page illustration detailing exactly what happens when the wind begins to blow. Susy Boyer’s artwork is glorious – like the sunrise on my favourite page. Big and bold, bright and colourful. The pages are packed with illustration. There are wide-eyed possums and cheeky children, dragonflies dodging cricket balls and a very naughty face on the tree.

The Gobbling Tree
is based on a common scenario in every playground. Young readers will immediately identify with this problem and enjoy the humour as Zac and his friends try everything they can think of to solve it. Recommended for children 4 – 8 years.

Mark Carthew's Five Little Owls was reviewed in Issue 1 of The Reading Stack and Can You Keep A Secret in Issue 13.

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