The First Slodge
Jeanne Willis and Jenni Desmond
Little Tiger Press
Learning to share is at the centre of this book that begins beautifully thus:
‘Once upon a slime, there was a Slodge.’ Now this Slodge is the first of her kind, the only one of her kind – so she thinks – and thus she’s entitled to claim ownership of everything she sees – the sunrise and sunset, day and night, the first star and the first moon, the first thunder and lightning, even the first flower and fruit.
It is with this fruit that her problem begins for when she goes to take a second bite (having set it aside for the night after her first), she discovers that somebody, or something, has got there first. Shock horror.
A fight ensues – the first – during which the fruit rolls away and down the hill into the sea, closely followed by the First Slodge who finds herself face to face with the First Snawk and this creature’s thoughts are on supper.
Slodge number two, meanwhile – he too has a problem with ownership – plunges into the ocean, rescues the First Slodge, and a beautiful friendship is forged. A friendship that proves prolific and fruitful …
Almost a kind of creation story; it’s beautifully and simply expressed verbally and beautifully portrayed visually and, one to share as widely as possible.
Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Andersen Press pbk
Meet Bully: doesn’t your heart immediately go out to him as he’s shunned by an angry-looking bigger bull (parent?) even before the title page? Down, but not out, off he goes, now knowing how to hurt others, on a bullying cycle that has thus begun. When asked by some farmyard animals if he’d like to play, the young bovine assumes the bully role. “No!” he retorts then proceeds to insult (merely by telling the truth) and see off, a rabbit, a chick, a turtle, a pig,
a bee and a snunk. All the while, with each insult hurled, the little bull grows larger – puffed up by self-importance until a little goat stands up to him, speaking the truth in no uncertain terms. …
“Bully?” repeats the bull and as the truth begins to dawn, the protagonist‘s gradual deflation causes him to whirligig around the farmyard as all that hot air slowly dissipates. Then, back to his normal size once again, a tearful little chap makes apologetic advances to his would-be friends and all is finally well.
Bold, stylised illustrations on a textured background (very effective for the farmyard setting) and minimal words make for a powerful message: peaceful actions are preferable; there is NO place for bullying.
Andersen Press pbk
Deep in the ocean lives a school of happy little fish – red fish, all except one that is: Swimmy is black and he’s the fastest swimmer among them. One day however, a huge, hungry tuna fish gobbles up all Swimmy’s friends leaving him scared, lonely and sad. Not for long though: Swimmy soon discovers many wonderful creatures living in the ocean world,
including, joy of joys, a school of tiny fish just like those lost friends of his. But these fish are too scared to leave their shadowy hide-away on account of the huge hungry fish whose next meal they might become.
Swimmy muses on the problem and then comes up with a clever collaborative solution: “We are going to swim all together like the biggest fish in the sea! ” he tells them and proceeds to teach them to swim as one, before taking his own place as the eye.
I still have a much loved and much read copy of this beautiful book from way back before I became a teacher.Those print-style illustrations of Leo Lionni – one of my all time favourite picture book creators – have inspired many a piece of art work from the countless children with whom I’ve shared this wonderful book over many years.
I’m thrilled to see this back in print: a must buy for anyone who wants children to be lovers of books and art.