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Words, Rhymes, Imagination: Review of A Banana is a Banana by Justine Clarke and Josh Pyke, Illustrated by Heath McKenzie

November 26, 2019

Justine Clarke is back with another fun book that uses the lyrics from her original song “A Banana is a Banana,” which was co-written with Australian musician Josh Pyke. If you’re not familiar with the song then you must not have a pre-schooler in the house as this song is unbelievably popular as is Clarke with this age group. You can listen to it here.

Justine Clarke is the ultimate children’s entertainer. An acclaimed actor in film, television and on stage, she frequents Play School and now has her own programs on ABC 2 called Ta-Da! and The Justine Clarke Show, which won the 2018 ARIA Award for Best Children’s Album. She even has her own You Tube channel.

The gorgeous illustrations which accompany this funny tale are drawn by Heath McKenzie. McKenzie is an illustrator who most recently worked on the Do Not Open This Book Series by Andy Lee which many readers will be affectionately familiar with. The illustrations are dramatic and colourful, forcing you to stare at all of the details long after you’ve finished reading the written word. We love a good children’s book with surreal eggplant trees laying eggs and flies flying planes!

Josh Pyke co-wrote A Banana is a Banana with Clarke, as well as Words Make the World Go Round, and five other songs for Clarke’s ABC2 children’s program Ta Da! Pyke is an Australian song writer best known for his indie/folk albums. Pyke and Clarke make a wonderful writing duo with this latest book.

A Banana is a Banana uses a play on words to encourage children to start considering the science behind the objects around them. For example, “If a catfish was really made of cats, then it might get chased by a dog,” which hilariously points out that a catfish is in no way linked to the species of a cat. Another fabulous one liner includes, “If a butterfly was really made of butter, its wings would melt in the sun,” with hilarious accompanying pictures of melting butterflies flying around. We love the way A Banana is a Banana plays on the English language and points out the differences between nouns and verbs. Humour is a wonderful way to introduce this concept to young children.

Afterall, is there anything better than cosying up to your little one, reading a funny book to them and watching them giggle?

Purchase a copy of A Banana is a Banana | Download an activity pack | Watch an interview with the authors

Copyright Steve Baccon

Justine Clarke is one of Australia’s most accomplished and admired performers: a best-selling children’s singer; acclaimed film, television and stage actress with credits that include Tangle, Love My Way, Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome, Japanese Story and Hedda Gabler. With this is also her constant, reassuring presence on the ABC TV institution, Play School and recent critical and commercial success The Time of Our Lives.

Justine’s live shows include sing-a-long favourites from her three ARIA nominated albums, I Like to Sing, Songs to Make You Smile and Great Big World, accompanied by a live band of fine musicians.

Josh Pyke is an Australian singer and songwriter known for his six award-winning indie/folk albums, including a best-of album released in 2017. He is committed to representing the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, as one of only six lifetime ambassadors for the charity (and the only non-author lifetime ambassador). He launched the initiative ‘Busking for Change’ in 2009 to raise support for the ILF. Josh co-wrote the ILF song ‘Words Make the World Go Round’ with Justine Clarke, as well as co-writing, producing and mixing five songs for Justine’s new ABC2 TV show, Ta Da!
Lights Out, Leonard 
is his first picture book.

Heath McKenzie is an award-winning Melbourne-based author and illustrator who specialises in stylised digital illustrations (aiming to make them look as non-digital as possible). He has written and illustrated 15 picture books and illustrated a whole lot more across numerous forms of print media.


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