The New Friend: Ginger Green Playdate Queen: Book One (Kim Kane, illus by Jon Davis, Hardie Grant Egmont)
The first of four titles launching Kim Kane’s new ‘Ginger Green, Play Date Queen’ series, The New Friend features the eponymous character—a bouncy, enthusiastic young fox—navigating the social challenges of a play date with a new friend. Kane’s earlier work includes CBCA-shortlisted picture book Family Forest (2011), while illustrator Jon Davis brings extensive experience to the simple, cheery illustrations, though they could do with a little more differentiation between Ginger and her other fox friends and family. The text-to-illustration ratio will appeal to the target market of early readers aged four and up, reflecting the picture-book layout they are already comfortable with; repetition, word art, varied syntactical rhythms and short chapters should also hold young children’s interest. The setting is simple and domestic, offering gentle central challenges children will find familiar: figuring out what a shy new friend might like to do, and building confidence to articulate independence from parental supervision. With slightly sparser text than similar series such as ‘Billie B Brown’ or ‘Aussie Nibbles’, ‘Ginger Green’ will be nicely accessible for that tricky stage: brand-new readers desperate for chapter books. A slight tendency towards gendered representation (in content and cover design) will likely limit Ginger’s appeal to girls rather than boys.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is an editor, writer and bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop