Kirsty Murray (text) and Karen Blair (illustrator), Puddle Hunters, Allen & Unwin, July 25 2018, 32 pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760296742
Puddle Hunters follows Ruby, Banjo and Mum as they set out on a seriously squelchy afternoon adventure. It’s a rollicking childhood quest, complete with drama (getting stuck in the mud) and mischief (splashing mum, of course).
Puddle Hunters is a beautifully written and illustrated book that wants to be shared. It would be a terrific read-aloud for early primary. It has a lovely rhythm, achieved through the echolalia of Banjo repeating everything his sister says. His toddlerish mispronunciations offer both humour and a fun opportunity to play with language and manipulate sounds. The text on the whole is just a pleasure to read. The words seem to want to roll around your tongue. In terms of teaching ideas, there are plenty of examples of language conventions that would make it a good mentor text for writing lessons — from similes, to repetition, to onomatopoeia. The story has the potential to trigger many personal connections for children, and would make a great stimulus for a science inquiry (Earth Science) or work on mathematical language (location).
Puddle Hunters is also perfect for snuggles on the couch. This has been one of our most pleasurable family reads of late. It’s such an affectionate portrait of the joys siblings can share, and of the wonders and muckiness of motherhood. My boys laughed with glee at the antics and baby-talk of toddler Banjo, and it made me feel wistful for the sweet years of innocence, exuberance and childish awe before they have even passed.
Puddle Hunters is a charmingly muddy celebration of childhood, of nature, and of family. It deserves a place in your collection, wherever that may be.
Reviewed by Liz Patterson