Kids' picture books
THE CURIOUS AR-CHEW
by Sarah Grundy, Ali Teo and John O'Reilly (Scholastic New Zealand, $18)
A hedgehog, a goose and a rabbit wonder what the weird creature standing in the hollow of a tree could possibly be. Each of them sees a bit of the tree-bound animal and wrongly assumes what it is. First-time author Grundy won the 2016 Joy Cowley Award for this story and the artwork is pleasingly polished.
by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
Triangle winds up his distant neighbour Square in a playful tale of geometry and petty rivalry. Jon Klassen's cool illustrations are the real star - as with some of his previous work (notably, We Found A Hat), the artist shows a fine knack for characters who give a knowing look to the reader.
DOUBLE TAKE - A NEW LOOK AT OPPOSITES
by Susan Hood and Jay Fleck
(Walker Studio, $28)
A nameless boy and his elephant pal explore matters of size, relativity and perspective. Don't worry: it's nowhere near as pointy-headed as it sounds. Double Take is one of those neat books that can start a pretty deep conversation without losing the kids' attention. The retro, 1950s-style illustrations work nicely with the public announcement, old-school educator tone.
CAN'T CATCH ME
by Timothy Knapman and Simona Ciraolo
"Jake was far too fast for Old Tom Cat." Actually, the little mouse also proves to be far too fast for a fox, a wolf and a bear - all of whom want to eat him. "I'm faster than lightning!" declares the skiting rodent. Maybe, but Old Tom Cat is more sly and ends up wearing a cat-that-got-the-cream grin. This handy lesson about not being too big-headed comes with a gently macabre ending.
I JUST ATE MY FRIEND
by Heidi McKinnon
(Allen & Unwin, $28)
"He was a good friend, but now he's gone," wails the Henson-ish monster who's just committed an act of cannibalistic "friendicide". So he goes looking for a new friend, never finding a perfect match, worrying - as we all do at some point - that he'll be friendless forever. Eventually, he finds a suitable match . . . and then the story repeats. Another nicely macabre ending with some really fun, primal artwork.
I WANT TO BE IN A SCARY STORY
by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien
(Walker Books, $28, out September 1)
Little Monster isn't as tough as he thinks he is. He wants his story to be a scary one until he's confronted with actual ghosts, a scary forest and a witch. Happily, the little tyke overcomes his fear by finding the fun in it. A handy book for a parent needing to talk to their kid about night fears or the monster that lives in the basement.
Short takes is a weekly round-up of books from specific genres and appears on Saturdays in the NZ Herald's books section.