Ask First, Monkey!

Ask First, Monkey!
Juliet Clare Bell and Abigail Tompkins
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Mischievous Monkey considers himself Tickletastic – the world’s best tickler – but in so becoming he’s most definitely been invading the personal space of others.
Goat was decidedly unhappy about being tickled; he certainly didn’t give consent and, to Monkey’s surprise, quite rightly tells him to stop.

Paying little heed however, the tickler continues to be a disrespecter of boundaries, demonstrating various other tickling styles and causing his fellow animals to show him their ‘frowny faces’

and to say how much they disliked his actions.

Eventually the message gets through; Monkey apologies to all his friends – goat, giraffe, panda, rabbit, dog, lion cub and goose, frog …

and cow.

Then comes the light bulb moment, ‘Ask first!’ And that applies to hugging or any other form of touching: No need for reasons why, no coercion; consent is crucial.

Written by Juliet Clare Bell, the story is simply and succinctly told with gentle humour yet without being overtly didactic, and illustrated with Abigail Tompkins’ vibrant, colourful portrayal of actions and reactions.

A book for sharing, discussing and acting upon that definitely should be in all nurseries, child and parent groups, early years classrooms and families with young children.

Mr Mustachio / George Pearce and His Huge Massive Ears

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Mr Mustachio
Yasmin Finch and Abigail Tompkins
Maverick Arts Publishing
I’ve never seen a moustache quite like that of the star of the show in this funny story. He’s very, very tall and thin, sports a maxi camel hair coat and pointy black boots; and on the day we meet him, is off for a picnic in the park …

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This he enjoys but then his eyes light on one of those roundabout things and that’s when the trouble starts- well it would, wouldn’t it? Before long the hirsute Mr M. is in a bit of a fix …

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Various children attempt to release him by pulling and soaping and a granny trio try tooling a rescue but to no avail: even the gang of builders can’t do the trick …

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so it looks at though it’s down to one of the teachers to snip him out (not sure what they’re doing walking in the park wielding scissors but no matter). Mr M is finally released but there’s something about his appearance that’s not quite as it used to be … Can our resourceful Mr Mustachio find a replacement for his missing facial filaments: perhaps he could choose from those wonderful endpaper ideas.
A crazy tale for sure, but it’s one that will elicit giggles from young audiences: Abigail Tompkins’ subtle-toned scenes of the moustachioed Mr M are a hoot.

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George Pearce and His Huge Massive Ears
Felix Massie
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
George Pearce is an ordinary sort of boy except for one thing, or rather two – his ears. They are enormous and protrude – wing-like – from either side of his otherwise ordinary head. George doesn’t use them for flight though, for him, they’re secret sound catchers. The only trouble being that pretty soon, George’s head is stuffed full of words – some good, others decidedly not …

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So much so that his head is so muddled, he just doesn’t know how to sort right from wrong, or what to think at all. Opinions seem to be crowding in on George everywhere he goes and it’s impossible to please everyone.

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There’s only one thing to do and George does it. He puts a finger in each ear, pushing them in hard to block out everyone else’s ideas and words.
Suddenly there comes a very tiny voice from deep within George’s own skull; this voice doesn’t tell him anything, rather it provides a thinking space for George’s own thoughts to form and at last, there’s no need for pretence. The real boy can finally emerge and yes, his ears still stick right out, but now there’s only one person who can make up George’s mind and that is George himself …

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Sad, funny and insightful, this is a cautionary tale to share with those who are easily swayed by what others say and think, especially, though I suspect it will bring a smile to the faces of most youngsters particularly if they enjoy a bit of quirkiness.

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