Longy Han (text), Elinor Hagg (illus.), Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya, Self-Published, Oct 2015, 36pp., $22.95 (hbk), ISBN 8780994341303
Han’s crowd-funded self-published picture book follows a simple story of adventure that will keep young readers occupied throughout, and maybe a little scared.
Gusto and Gecko are two young dinosaurs who spend their Sunday afternoon finding out where their time machine can take them. Today it is to the wildlife of Africa and they immediately land (literally) in trouble, right onto the back of a grumpy lion.
Great descriptive writing that readers will want to dance along to, my favourite is ‘the rock… stretched and stretched like pizza dough”.
I found a pleasant tension building as I tried to guess how the explorers would escape the chasing lion. They race for their lives into other groups of animals and we learn a lot about natural habitats. The text is perfectly matched by Hagg’s beautifully simple and kindly graphic-styled computer generated artwork. Limited flat colours and child-like drawing lend a gentle humour, as do the changes in perspective as we look to see where the two friends are hiding in each page spread.
A cheerful expedition with a happy ending. Supporting information is on the Gusto & Gecko website, and Teaching Notes and Activities are on the Lamont Books website.
Reviewed by Liz Anelli