Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Children's Book Review, Alpacas with Maracas

Reviewed by Susan Stephenson,

Alpacas with Maracas is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Matt Cosgrove and published by Koala Books for Scholastic (2018.) $Au 10.00 HB. It has been chosen by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA)as the National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) book for 2019. NSS will be held at 11am on Wednesday 22 May in 2019.

From the publisher:

Macca and pal Al are the best of friends so when there is an opportunity to enter a talent contest together, they just can't resist. Sure to be a performance to remember, in the process they learn a very valuable lesson!

Alpacas with Maracas is a great picture book to choose if you are looking for a way to introduce or reinforce rhyme with kids. The story is in rhyme. I found some of it a little contrived (“duo” rhymes with “so-so”) and the words don’t always scan (‘“It’s hopeless!” Al hissed/ And then he shook his fist.’) But kids won’t give a fig for that. If you’re reading it aloud however, do practise a couple of times so there are no stumbles.

Kids will love looking at this book. The bright, colourful illustrations feature quirky characters and lots of action. The story of two alpacas trying to win a talent contest is engaging and fun, giving Cosgrove lots of opportunities for humour. We see them in tutus, we see them spangled and rocking while the audience is deafened. There is sight gag after sight gag, all showcasing two loveable friends who just keep on keeping on.

When they finally decide on maracas as their instrument of choice, we are given a rhythm: “Chika chika cha cha cha…” that I know kids will love to repeat LOUDLY. Wise adults will have their own maracas (and maybe earplugs) ready for this event! It’s a great story for having youngsters get up and shimmy and shake themselves, and I believe it will make for a very lively National Simultaneous Storytime.

Look for my suggested activities for NSS next year. You might also like to read Creative Prompt for Kids - Start with Music.  Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.

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