Alison Lester’s Book by Three Generations

Alison Lester, one of Australia’s most popular children’s book author-illustrators is working on a special three-generational collaboration with her daughter and granddaughter.

The Very Noisy Baby

A lot of families, at one time or another, have a VERY NOISY BABY in their home. Some of these babies grow up to be VERY NOISY CHILDREN who go from making babbling and, sometimes, baffling animal noises to finally expressing themselves through words. But in the meantime, animal, tractor, airplane and anything else that splutters, coughs, burps… well, you get the picture, works. All of this early noise making is something everyone who has a baby, had a baby or are soon to have a baby will relate to. Babies and young children, parents and grandparents, aunties and uncles, especially know and understand this universal ‘language’. So a beautifully illustrated children’s picture book about babies and their babble makes sense. Why hasn’t someone thought of this before? Well, I’m sure they have.

What’s is special about this book, is that Alison has collaborated with her daughter, Clair Hume of Affirm Press, and her granddaughter, Trixie to make this book come to life. Clair is an editor at Affirm Press and Alison’s story is based on the antics of Trixie. This alone makes this book special for this trio and now they are sharing it with all of us.

The Background

Clair and Alison with baby Trixie

‘Trixie made the most weird and wonderful noises when she was a baby, it felt like you’d walked into a menagerie when she got going.

‘I said to Clair, “She’s just a very noisy baby” and then I said, “wow, that’s a great title for a book!”

Clair is a kid’s editor so it felt like the perfect book to work on together. Trixie won’t fully understand her role in it for a couple of more years but it’s lovely to have three generations of our family involved.’     Alison Lester

The Story

‘In a little pink house on the edge of town lived a baby who made unusual sounds.

She could bellow like a buffalo, roar like a lion, and howl like a wolf for a very long time.’

This baby certainly makes a lot of noise, but can she help when some the animals in the neighbourhood go missing?

‘Alison Lester never disappoints [and] this delightful book is no exception … highly recommended.’   

Books & Publishing 

 

 

My Review (with my little off-sider, Euwing)

My grandson Euwing recently turned 18 months old and loves books, so he will be helping me review this book. His reaction to the books we share is such a great indicator to how children around his age might respond and provides great insight for me. Euwing lives on a farm and LOVES animals and is an expert NOISE MAKER, so this book should be right up his alley.

Over the past few days I’ve presented Euwing with this book and asked if he’d like me to read it. He always says, ‘Yes’! The more we read, The Very Noisy Baby, the more it is growing on him. He didn’t react to the front cover full of animals like I thought he might. I thought he would want to paw over the all various animals, but he didn’t. Each new visit with the book, he spends a little longer looking at all the animals and he is beginning to identify some of the animals with the animal sounds they make.

Euwing is still a little too fidgety to last through the whole story. When he gives up, he hops down and plays but is happy to listen to the story from a distance. His favourite part of the story is after everyone has a cup of tea and when the baby calls all the animals home. His favourite line in the story is … “The baby gurgled and the baby gooed, and then she started to …”  He loves it and connects most with the story when the animals come out from their hiding places. I believe Euwing will grow into this story as he gets a little older. This makes me think that children from two years of age to, perhaps, four or five years would still enjoy reading about what this very noisy baby does.

I am already a fan of Alison Lester’s art and illustrations, so this new release did not disappoint. The animals, characters and baby illustrations are charming and will delight young children and adults, (including everyone in between). As an aspiring picture book maker myself, I take particular note of the formatting and layout of the illustrations and text, and the way the illustrations help give clues and develop the story. The front cover is delightful and happy and, sets the tone for what’s to follow.

Through my adult eyes, one of the things I liked about this book after reading it through for the first time, is… it wasn’t predictable. A pink house! That got my attention straight away. I LOVE pink houses because the first house my husband and I bought together happened to be pink! We did eventually paint it a sandy colour, but for quite some time, it was known as the big PINK HOUSE to all our friends and family.

The next unpredictable thing about the book is the story settles on five visitors searching for their animals. It is well known that the number three plays an important role in young children’s stories; like The Three Bears, or The Three Little Pigs, or stories that use three events, but Alison has chosen five events with five outcomes. This pushes the word count out to over 600 words, but for younger readers who struggle to sit still for any length of time, the illustrations are detailed enough to engage the children while the parent can add their own creative flair to shorten the storyline. For slightly older children who have mastered the art of sitting still for longer periods, Alison’s delightful story written rhythmically with rhyme, will delight any listening ears. The story flows fluidly off your tongue and there are many opportunities to modulate your voice to enhance the text on the page and captivate your young audience.

I particularly love the variety of characters. They too were not predictable; each with cool names like Professor Tom Twitchy seeking his blue-speckled owl and Mr MacAlpine calling for his lost cockatoo, Coco the keeper, the Pony Club girls, and Frances the Farmer.

One by one, mistakenly drawn by the sounds baby makes from inside the house, these colourful characters arrive at the little pink house in search of their missing animals. When they discover it was the baby making the sounds, it leaves them all scratching their heads. Where could their animals be?

And, can a simple cup of tea solve their problems?

The thing about a nice cup of tea is, that this is something that most people do when there is a situation! A cup of tea solves all sorts of problems, doesn’t it? I think Alison is clever in including this as a device to show how people use a cup of tea to calm themselves down while trying to solve their problem.

Note, it is NOT AN ADULT who solves the problem of the lost animals. This text is non didactic and allows the baby to be the hero in her own right, with the help of a clever sibling.

There is delicious patterning and repetition in the story so children can join in, if they choose, and whilst this helps sets up the idea of what might happen next, a delightful surprise always follows. The ending to this story will satisfy all who read it.

Suitable for young listeners or beginner readers.

I highly recommend this Children’s Picture Book for any budding readers’ bookshelves, especially those with a new baby in the house.

Our Rating:

Publication Date: November, 2017

Category: Children’s Picture Book

Hardcover: 32 pages

RRP: $24.99

ISBN: 9781925475616

More about Alison Lester

In a career spanning decades, Alison Lester has written 33 picture books and two novels, and won prestigious awards including the 2005 Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year Award for Are We There Yet? and the 2012 CBCA Eve Pownall Book of the Year Award for One Small Island. Alison was Australia’s Inaugural Children’s Laureate from 2011 to 2013. In 2005 Alison travelled to Antarctica as an Antarctic Arts Fellow, a trip that inspired the book Sophie Scott Goes South. She’s currently an ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Fund and The Royal Children’s Hospital’s Education Institute.

Born in 1952, Alison grew up on a farm overlooking the sea. She still lives in the Victorian countryside and rides her horses whenever she can. Her picture books mix imaginary words with everyday life, encouraging children to believe in themselves and celebrate the differences that make them special.

Credit: More About Alison Lester – Affirm Press

Please note a complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.