Author – Kate Banks

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Kate Banks lives with her family here in the South of France. Because of her geographical proximity, when I was librarian at our school, I was able to invite her to do an author’s visit with our primary classes. What struck me in person is what strikes me in her books; a gentle, curious, sensitive spirit. Kate so clearly enjoys children and childhood. I have been looking for an email address to try and set up a mini interview with her for my blog, but have had no success as yet.

Kate has written over 20 books, from picture to middle grade+. I, of course, have my favourites. As a cat-lover and Francophile, I love The cat who walked across France – a determined, lonely cat makes the long journey from Normandy in the very north all the way down to the Mediterranean coast and his old home. I also recently reread Dillon, Dillon, an introspective, intriguing middle grade novel, where one lonely summer, Dillon comes to understand his embarrassing nomenclature. Touching scenes with some Loons by a lake have me reminiscing about On Golden Pond. Kate has won many awards and is possibly most known for the classic bedtime book,  And if the Moon Could talk – winner of the 1998 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for best picture book.

As a fellow nature lover, I want to review a couple of her animal books here.

Baboon by Kate Banks, pictures by Georg Hallenesleben

Kate describes the inspiration for this story as follows, “Other times just watching him interact with the world will give me an idea. Baboon began like that. Peter was four months old. We were sitting together in his room, and he was staring at a photo on the wall of a mother baboon carrying her baby across the bush. The picture was a gift from my sister, who had taken it in Africa, and it was an image I’d always treasured — full of spontaneity, confidence, and love. That day, as I looked at the picture with Peter, a dialogue began in my head, and that dialogue became Baboon. »

This simple dialogue between Baboon and his mother explores a youngster starting to discover the world, with all his questions, fears and conclusions. Though the world is sometimes dark, and sometimes slow.. the one thing we can be sure of is the world is big. Though not rhyming, there is a soft, poetic lilt to the text, accompanied by Hallensleben’s muted, washed tones softening the dangerous croc and thundering elephants and welcoming the reader into Baboon’s exploration of his jungle world.


The Turtle and the Hippopotamus by Kate Banks, pictures by Tomek Bogacki

This is an appealing Rebus book for pre K – Grade 1.  Turtle wants to swim cross the river but is afraid to do so because of Hippo in the middle. Various animals all come to her aid, all depicted with simple hieroglyphs and a key at the bottom of each page. All suggestions fail until one graphically unsuccessful attempt has a rope breaking and turtle landing on dreaded Hippo’s back, who is more than happy to carry Turtle to the other side. While not an easy rebus book as Bogacki’s illustrations do fill up all the space on each double page, I think inquisitive preschoolers will rise to solving the puzzle with appreciation. The animals all look so friendly, I want to play with them, even the ants.

Books # 43 & 44 in the Read to me Reading Book Challenge.


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8 Responses to Author – Kate Banks

  1. I *thought* that this was the first time I’d encountered this author, until I looked her up on the local library’s website. As I scrolled down the list of titles, I saw Little Tiger’s wide open eyes, and thought “Oh! That’s written by Kate Banks!”

    I was hoping we’d have The Cat Who Walked Across France, but we don’t. Sigh. However, I will be able to read Close Your Eyes, The Turtle and the Hippopotamus, and And If the Moon Could Talk. Perhaps I should finish the library books that are already on my shelf, though! The books you review always sound so very good — both because you choose excellent books,, and you write excellent reviews.

    Thanks, Joanna!

    • Joanna says:

      Thanks Beth, I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with any from Kate. Dillon Dillon really touched me as the 10 year old protagonist is such a lovely, sensitive, nature-loving kid… it has an almost magical feel about it.

  2. Alexis says:

    Hi Joanna: Kate just recently joined Facebook, or if you want I’ll send you her address. Great post – I completely agree with you! A.

    • Joanna says:

      Hi Alexis, just returned from two awesome days with your son and the others in the mountains; what a great group! Yes please, I would love Kate’s email address. x

  3. Diane says:

    Thankyou for a lovely post Joanna. You have reminded me that I have a review lying around that I mean’t to post ages ago about a giraffe. I’ll get there eventually.

  4. Patricia Tilton says:

    You are a child at heart Joanna!. I like Kate Dillon’s two books and I would imagine children delight in them. I certainly hoped you get to inerview her. What fun, especially since you’ve met her. From what you’ve described, she sound like she’s sensitive to the natural world.

  5. Joanna says:

    I am so excited; I am interviewing Kate tomorrow. I was thrilled that she replied immediately in the affirmative to my request.

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