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Children’s books round-up

If you’re looking for a good read for the little ones, here are our thoughts on a selection of books (which the adults can enjoy too).


The Forest Fable

Gelyn Ong

Marshall Cavendish | 64 pages

“Would you like to write a book one day?” I asked my five-year-old daughter after we had enjoyed reading The Forest Fable together.

“Yes!” she yelled. But then her expression changed. 

“Actually,” she said, “no I wouldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I wouldn’t know where to put all the full stops.”

Fair enough: Punctuation can be tricky – ask any greengrocer.

Still, I doubt that Gelyn Ong was daunted by commas or apostrophes as she crafted this, her debut book. After all, she not only penned the story, but also painted all the pictures.  

The Forest Fable is a relatively straightforward tale – like many children’s books, it riffs on counting and patterns, along with the fun of identifying animals. More importantly, through its depiction of a hesitant lumberjack and his interaction with wildlife, the story presents a clear environmental message: save the forests. Gelyn has been an ambassador for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) since last year, and all proceeds from The Forest Fable will be donated to the fund.

In case there were any lingering doubts about Gelyn being a high achiever, note this: since 2010, her artworks have raised almost half a million dollars for charity.

Oh, by the way, she’s nine.

Shamus Sillar


Paw Prints on the Magic Sofa

Written by Sarah Mounsey, illustrated by Jade Fang

Brindal Books | 26 pages

The second story in the Paw Prints series, Paw Prints on the Magic Sofa fuels the imagination as Oscar the dog, Eddie and his somewhat troublemaking friend William head off on an adventure on a magic sofa. The sofa collects a menagerie of animals as it lands in different destinations: an African plain, a desert, an ocean and a jungle. Each animal leaves its paw prints on the sofa, which is brand new of course. How is Mum going to react when she sees the sofa?

The book is filled with rhyme, repetition and onomatopoeia – “bump, bump, bumpity, bump”, splash, whoosh, clunk, ping, thump – which children aged two to six will enjoy. Jade Fang’s colourful illustrations bring the story to life.

Harriet Empey

Where The Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak  

Bodley Head | 20 pages

First published in 1963, this classic has spawned numerous adaptations, from opera to animation to a feature film. Sendak’s illustrations lack that pop of colour that is so often associated with modern children’s books, but they are refreshing, and there is beauty in their complexity and darkness. His stories are written poetically yet simply, with a lesson behind the tale. This book is timeless in the way it pushes boundaries – 50 years on, and it still captures both children’s and adults’ imaginations alike.

Beate Baldry


This Moose Belongs To Me
Oliver Jeffers

Harper Collins | 16 pages


Like many others, the author grew up with Sendak as his hero. Escaping that writer’s influence was something Jeffers had to do consciously, he admits, though he did allow a small nod to him in this, his first book: the protagonist wears a red-and-white striped jumper like that of Jeffers’ favourite monster in Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are.

Published in 2012, This Moose Belongs To Me conveys a thought-provoking message: Does any of us really own anything? His tone is akin to that of Sendak, and his theme is successfully explored through both prose and his renowned talent for illustration. In short, here’s another successful story that will entertain both the reader and listener.

Beate Baldry