Max + Xam / I’m Not a Mouse!/ Best Friends, Busy Friends / New Shoes, Red Shoes

Thanks to Child’s Play for sending these ‘catch-up’ books for review

Max + Xam
Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar
Meet next-door neighbours and long-time friends Xam and Max. They live alongside one another spending much of their time together until comes a day when an amicable teatime turns nasty bringing to a halt their sharing of pleasurable encounters.
Max gets to work on a plan fashioning his own set of friends from bits and pieces; Xam does a similar thing

but creates even more inanimate friends than Max. Pretty soon both of them learn two things: firstly that such friends offer no fun at all; secondly that they miss one another very much.
Time for reparations. Gifts in the form of edible and floral treats are exchanged and after a bit of a mishap, amicability and happiness resume.
A lively, playful tale of the highs and lows of friendship presented through a straightforward text and enchantingly detailed illustrations. Perceptive youngsters will enjoy the nominative wordplay, likely relish the explosive falling out and the occasional surprises in this feel-good look at enduring friendship.

I’m Not a Mouse!
Evgenia Golubeva

Parents can sometimes really irritate their offspring by inventing and insisting on using pet names and so it is for the young narrator of this book. Her mum annoyingly calls her Mouse all the time the effect being that the little girl morphs into a mouse whenever she’s so called. Thus far this has caused at best inconvenient, at worst, extremely dangerous situations. There was the birthday incident, the occasion of the soccer match,

the time the two were out roller-skating and the life-threatening occasion in front of the family cat.
Enough is enough decides our protagonist, refusing to respond to the next “Mouse!” calls that greet her after school the following day. It’s not until she uses “Olivia” instead that the little girl is happy and reacts accordingly.
But then it turns out that she’s not the only one whose parents or adult relations use embarrassing nicknames creating similar problems.
Highly entertaining, with splendidly exuberant illustrations this is a fun story to share and a playful reminder to adults that not all children are happy to be called anything other than their given name. There’s more visual pleasure to be had by exploring the endpapers – the front ones showing Mouse, the back ones an assortment of pet names none of which I suspect, would be happily received.

Best Friends, Busy Friends
Susan Rollings and Nichola Cowdery

Interestingly during a walk I was having a discussion with a young relation about the various things her friendships offer and got home to find this book among those that had arrived for review.
Essentially it’s an inclusive rhyming observation by what look to be twins, of their friends that takes us through their school day from wake-up time to a final celebration. We meet among others, friends fast and slow, tall and small, messy and tidy, kind and caring, not so kind; some are funny, other silly, those who enjoy sharing a story. Some might be sad, some happy, there are even feathered ones needing a feed and fluffy ones that can be over-playful.
This inclusive presentation of friendship with its simple text and Nichola Cowdery’s bold, lively, illustrations of young children and their care-givers offers lots of possibilities for discussions with toddlers and preschoolers.

New Shoes, Red Shoes
Susan Rollings and Becky Baur

Here’s a simple story of a child going with his mother to buy new shoes. Their journey to the shop is an opportunity to observe all manner of shoes being worn in Becky Baur’s scenes – by people at the bus stop, on the bus, in the park, in the street at a friend’s and in the market.
When they finally reach the shoe shop there are so many possibilities: which ones will they buy and for what special occasion are they getting them?
With a simple rhythmic text and inclusive illustrations, in particular that the family comprises two mothers and a child, this is a good one for beginning readers and young listeners.

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