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  • Writer's pictureSandy

Food or Friend? by Rebel Challenger

Mr 4 and I are huge fans of Larrikin House's fun and engaging picture books - and this new picture book by Rebel Challenger is no exception. Food or Friend? has become a firm favourite, with Mr 4 asking for it to be read daily - after all, it does combine two of his favourite things - animals and food!

Ever wondered where the Honey Badger or the Mandarin Duck get their names from? Is it because these fierce badgers like honey? Are mandarin ducks the same colour as the mandarins that we eat?

This vibrant picture book shines a light on foods and friends that share the same name. On one page we are shown a picture of the animal (for example, the Tomato Frog) then on the opposite page we are shown the corresponding food or fruit (a picture of a tomato with the caption 'also a tomato but not a frog.')

The clever use of rhythm and repetition through the narrative makes for a fun read, inviting audience participation. Mr 4 loves 'reading' along with me, with the pictures providing clues as to what the narrative will say, and makes him feel like he can join in and 'help' me read.

The brightly coloured illustrations are full of humour, designed to capture the attention of a young audience and keep them engaged. I had a chuckle at the sometimes startled expressions on the faces of the animals (the pumpkin spider looks quite bewildered at being compared to a pumpkin!) Kids will most certainly enjoy the warmth and humour in both the story and the illustrations.

At the back of the book is an illustrated list of all the 'foodie friends' who appear in the book, with explanations as to why the animals are likely given their particular names. Mr 4 and I both found this page quite fascinating and learnt a lot - for example, I didn't know there was a type of worm called an ice cream cone worm, who get their name from the long tube-like shells they create, which resemble tiny ice-cream cones!

This is a unique picture book that we absolutely adore. Rebel's passion for all the strange and fascinating animals in the world is apparent through the work she displays in this book.

With its clever use of wordplay, Food or Friend? would make the perfect read-aloud choice for Storytime - both in schools and at home. I imagine this book will open up some colourful conversations about both food and animals!

Published by Larrikin House



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