School for Dads

With Father’s Day in mind and because I missed this one when it was published:

School for Dads
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Ada Grey
Egmont

Like a number of others, punctuality isn’t a strong point for Anna’s dad; indeed when he turns up late to collect her from school yet again, she strikes a bargain with him. “I’ll forgive you if you go to School for Dads,” she says.

Time for a spot of role reversal. Next morning it’s all the tardy dads who have to spend the day as pupils and their teachers aren’t going to make things easy for them. First of all some bad behaviour needs sorting out: “Don’t ignore us when we’re talking, and stop looking at your phone.”

That’s only the first of the list of misdemeanours, and they must definitely never answer “NO.”

The dads have to use the little chairs, and sitting on the floor proves pretty challenging too. On the plus side though, playtime is fun and the art session releases their inner creativity.

Come lunch time, the hall turns into a rowdy place where sweet treats are off the menu; and the afternoon’s PE lesson is let’s say interesting …

By home time, it isn’t only the pupils who have had a trying day; everyone – children and adults – have learnt a lot. On reflection, Anna decides that dads really deserve to be celebrated for all the great things …

This witty, reflective rhyming tale has a great read aloud rhythm and is just right to give dads a good giggle on Fathers Day especially. Assuredly they’ll enjoy too, Ada Grey’s lively illustrations that perfectly capture the humour of the Guillain’s telling.

Oh, Christmas Tree! / The Twelve Unicorns of Christmas / Oscar the Hungry Unicorn Eats Christmas

Oh, Christmas Tree!
Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet
Macmillan Children’s Books

There’s seasonal silliness in abundance in team Sue and Paul’s rhyming tale of a Christmas tree that doesn’t want to be. Said Tree is determined not to be dressed in baubles, tinsel and other festive fripperies so it decides to take a stand; or rather it decides to do anything but. Instead it’s dashing madly away from its decorative pursuers.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not Christmas the tree hates, rather it’s the idea of being instead of doing that’s really needling its branches.

“I truly love Christmas” asserts the tree and the idea of presents is appealing and that’s what gives Belle an idea. A new outfit might just suit the occasion especially if it equips the recipient to participate in winter sports. But perhaps there’s more to Belle’s clever gift than meets the eye …

The Twelve Unicorns of Christmas
Timothy Knapman and Ada Grey
Egmont

With the seemingly never waning enthusiasm a certain section of the population has with unicorns, I have a feeling there’s an inevitability about this book.

Narrated by a character who is pretty close to those I refer to, clad in her unicorn onesie a bright eyed miss starts the countdown informing readers that on the first day of Christmas she receives, courtesy of mum and dad, along with 1 sparkling tree, ‘a real-life unicorn’.

From then on, said unicorn is included in the festive giving both as giver and receiver of surprise presents. Unsurprisingly with a high-spirited unicorn on the scene there are a few mishaps as the days go by

and the creature begins to lose some if its sparkle. Come Christmas morning though a big surprise awaits him …

With her zesty illustrations that offer plenty of things to count, Ada Grey captures the inherent humour in Timothy’s telling ensuring a giggle at every page turn of this festive romp.

Oscar the Hungry Unicorn Eats Christmas
Lou Carter and Nikki Dyson
Orchard Books

It’s Christmas Eve and as usual Oscar the Unicorn is hungry, exceedingly so. He’s already started scoffing the stockings belonging to the royals, not to mention a large part of the Christmas tree and to Santa’s horror he’s had a go at the presents too. Then shock horror Santa discovers that the magic reindeer food has disappeared

and without food the creatures won’t be able to fly, which means Santa can’t complete his delivery round. I love Nikki’s exuberant scenes of Oscar’s chaos creating frolics and especially the sight of the far from happy reindeer on the final spread.

But we know where that food has gone; so perhaps little Princess Oola’s suggestion for a substitute sleigh puller might just save the special day.

Delightfully daft but Oscar’s fans will relish it for sure.

Party for Dads / Molly’s Magic Wardrobe: The Mermaid Mission

Party for Dads
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Ada Grey
Egmont

For this follow-up to their School for Dads, the Guillians have created another joyful picture book and it’s just right for celebrating Father’s Day as well as a Dad’s birthday.

The particular dad in this rhyming tale has no time in the morning for birthdays, barely paying heed to his daughter’s “Come on – it’s time to play! … You should be having fun.”

Instead he dashes out leaving young Anna and the friends she summons to plan and bake for a special surprise evening celebration.

Later in the day, Dads of all kinds arrive and are instructed to cast aside their phones and don fancy gear ready for some fun party celebrations and games both inside …

and outdoors.

Enthusiasm for partying duly fired up, they then start bopping and before long their less than skilful moves are being scored in ‘Strictly’ style.

After that it’s time for Anna’s Dad to embrace the true party spirit, which he does by becoming a stand-in magic bunny when his daughter performs a spot of prestidigitation.

Over indulgence is inevitable after all the playful party-poppering papas tuck in to the feast on the table that culminates in the appearance of …

Then candles extinguished, it’s award presentation time: but will Anna’s dad be a prizewinner?

Fun and a certain amount of silliness prevail in this exuberant book, made all the more effervescent by Ada Grey’s funky illustrations

Molly’s Magic Wardrobe: The Mermaid Mission
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Garry Parsons
Egmont

The second story starring Molly and the enchanted wardrobe she discovered at her Granny’s house sees the little girl’s attention being drawn to a mermaid costume.

Having stepped inside and counted to three, she’s off whizzing down into the depths of the ocean for a new adventure.

Her frolics with mermaids are soon interrupted by snarling sharks claiming ownership of a wreck and swooshing the girl and her new friends down to where more friendly creatures – a turtle and octopus are taking tea.

The mermaids relate what’s just happened and suddenly Molly has an idea. She challenges the sharks to a race, the prize being the shipwreck.

The sharks are confident they’ll be victorious but will they?

Lessons are learned, apologies given and accepted; and after a game of hide-and-seek, it’s time for Molly to bid her new friends farewell.

The Guillains’ magical rhyming tale is complemented by Garry Parsons’ bright, expressive, eye-popping scenes of the sub-aquatic frolics.

 

The Light in the Night / The World Book Day Monster

The Light in the Night
Marie Voight
Simon & Schuster

Young Betty absolutely loves the night time for it brings with it the most amazing stories, one of which features Cosmo.
Cosmo is a bear that is terrified of the dark and just when Betty is wishing that she could tell him that he has no need to fear it, POP! There he is.
Together they set off, hand in hand, on a journey of discovery. Led by a firefly they walk into the woods where they find a cave
Betty reassures her friend and they follow the firefly inside towards an inky lake whereon a rowing boat awaits to take them further.
The cave grows ever darker as they go deeper within until they come upon a sign.

Overcoming her own initial fear, Betty does as the sign says. An amazing sight meets their eyes and it’s anything but scary.
Once back outside, it’s Betty’s turn to feel anxious; she makes a confession …

With roles reversed, Cosmo now does the reassuring until the two reach Betty’s house safely once more.
Back indoors over hot chocolate (what else) the two talk of their journey until it’s time for Cosmo to leave.

Betty gives him her lantern and a special message.

In the morning she wonders if it had all been a dream: what do you think? You’ll need a copy of this magical book to find out.

Rising star, Marie Voight’s illustrations are adorable and her two characters totally endearing making this a thoroughly reassuring, warm-hearted bedtime story for you and your little ones as well as a lovely one to share in an early years setting.

The World Book Day Monster
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Ada Grey
Egmont

World Book Day is fast approaching, her school is celebrating but Anna has a dilemma. What should she dress up as?

Dad’s suggestion that they pay a visit to the bookshop proves fruitful and thanks to a helpful suggestion from the bookseller, Anna goes home fired with enthusiasm, carrying a book.

After multiple reads she enlists parental help to make her costume and next day she excitedly rushes off to school to show her friends.

Their response however isn’t particularly positive; they all ask, Anna, what are you?” over and over throughout the day.

Happily her head teacher’s reaction is very different; it was a favourite of hers when she was a child and she’s eager to share the book Anna is clutching with the class.

A magical story time ensues that is much appreciated by all her classmates, which leaves Anna thoroughly satisfied, and so she should be as she demonstrates the power of story to thrill and enchant.

Adam and Charlotte’s rhyming text coupled with Ada’s spirited scenes make for a fun book to share around World Book Day or at any time one wants to attest to the power of a story and the importance of the imagination.

Being a Princess is Very Hard Work

Being a Princess is Very Hard Work
Sarah Kilbride and Ada Grey
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

If you ever thought being a princess was fun, or even easy, then this funny rhyming picture book will set you straight.
Imagine having to sit for ages on a throne, or smile benevolently and wave at your subjects when all you feel like doing is having a nap.

Think of having no time to play, of trying to keep all those body noises inside and definitely no nose-picking. Table manners have to be immaculate and fussy eating is not allowed.

Worse still are all the spinning wheels and dragons you might have to contend with and what about all those frogs just waiting for a kiss to be bestowed upon them.

You’d have to look neat and spotlessly clean at all times which makes pretty much anything fun strictly off limits.

Just being yourself- a real little girl – moody, energetic, noisy, messy yes of course, but also kind and generous is much better. That’s the opinion of one would-be princess’s mum and dad, and they want their daughter to know that they love her for who and what she is.

Read-aloud entertainment for would-be little princesses especially, but also for all who have imagined what taking on such a role might entail.
Ada Grey’s scenes of the trials and tribulations involved in so doing are full of amusing details – the frogs that invade almost every page are a real hoot – and the little royals, a delight.

I’ve signed the charter  

Rockabye Pirate / The Tooth Fairy’s Royal Visit

Rockabye Pirate
Timothy Knapman and Ada Grey
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Don’t expect loud shouts of ‘Avast me ‘arties’ and similar in this pirate tale; far from it, for Knapman’s text is a lilting, under the covers-luring, lullaby for mummy pirates or daddies for that matter, to share with their pirate offspring at bedtime.
Yes, it’s full of freebooters, the likes of Black Bearded Brewster, Sea Dog McPhail and Freddy the Fright, but they’re not doing the wicked deeds upon the seas, rather they’re performing their ablutions

albeit with some maternal assistance in preparation for the most important part of their daily ritual …

After all, their day has been packed with mischief and mayhem, so now it’s time for some tucked-up-cosily-under-the-duvet dreams. I wonder what those might feature …

Ada Grey’s piratical characters, far from alarming, are portrayed as an endearing bunch of marauders as befits the inhabitants of a gentle bedtime story. Having said ‘bedtime’, this fun picture book could equally be shared with an early years group especially if they’re engaged in a pirate theme.

The Tooth Fairy’s Royal Visit
Peter Bently and Gerry Parsons
Hodder Children’s Books
The Tooth Fairy returns for another adventure, this time responding to a missive from Her Majesty the Queen informing of the loss of her great grandson’s first tooth. Come nightfall, the little fairy is palace bound but has a few obstacles in her path

before she finds a way in.
Once inside there are still further hazards – corgis, a cloth-wielding maid and some undies …

Finding the little prince’s bedroom is none too easy and the Tooth Fairy finds herself assisting in another ‘toothy’ search before receiving assistance for her troubles.

Will she ever make that all-important coin/tooth exchange and get home for some shut-eye?
Bently’s rhyming text is full of read-aloud fun with some unexpected encounters and, some expected ones: the corgis seem to find their way into every Royals’ picture book as do members of the Queen’s Guard. Garry Parsons’ exuberant illustrations provide gigglesome details at every turn of the page. All in all, a right royal chuckle.

I’ve signed the charter  

Whiffs, Pongs and A Foiled Robbery

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Poo in the Zoo
Steve Smallman and Ada Grey
Little Tiger Press pbk
Young children simply revel in all things slightly whiffy; I know one two year old girl who became fascinated by the various poos she saw in the countryside even saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to the sheep droppings in a particular spot.
This poo-centred picture book is an absolute hoot – or rather, toot, if you like that kind of thing and I’ve yet to find a four or five year old who doesn’t. (So long as it isn’t their own of course). Herein we meet Zookeeper Bob who is finding his muck-shovelling duties rather too much as he goes around collecting all the dollops, drippy droppings, plummeting splats, steamy pongy pats and ducking from Monkey’s speedily tossed poops.
When he goes to clear Iguana’s mess, the creature gives him the slip, escaping to create havoc around the café as it gobbles everything in sight including some sparkly fireflies (‘he fancied something light’ you see.)

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Imagine the surprise when next the creature plops a poop: a glowing extra-terrestrial poo, thinks Bob. News quickly spreads, and the zookeeper receives a visit from a fellow poo collector who simply has to have the Iguana’s illuminated wonder. Will Bob part with it though? Well, let’s just say that he no longer has to do that poo-picking up for himself thanks to …

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This rhyming super-stinker just cries out to be read aloud; indeed it only really works if you do. Ada Grey’s scatological scenes induced howls of delighted laughter from my audience of 5s to 10s, several of whom wanted to paw over the pages for themselves

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after the immediate re-read they all demanded.

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Rex and the Crown Jewels Robbery
Kate Sheppard (illustrator)
Walker Books pbk
This amusing canine caper is loosely based on a real historical event that happened in 1671, during the reign of King Charles ll. It tells how scruffy mongrel, Rex, excavates a litter bin chock full of deliciously stinky rubbish and finds himself somewhere totally unexpected…

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… where his nose detects a wonderfully meaty aroma, which of course, he must follow. It takes him to an old tower wherein he spies some shiny objects closely guarded by …

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But there’s a dastardly plan afoot to steal those shiny objects aka The Crown Jewels. Can the two dogs foil the plotters and save that priceless crown, orb and sceptre?
There follows a frantic dash and much more until eventually Rex finds himself back more or less where he’d started on Tower Green.
Funny, fast and full of comical scenes that are sure to appeal to young time travelling enthusiasts especially.

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Sir Scallywag and the Battle of Stinky Bottom
Giles Andreae and Korky Paul
Puffin Books
King Colin has another mission for six-year old Sir Scallywag – to locate the giant Golden Sausage – an object that could confer immortality on the king so he’s heard. The probability is that said sausage is located in the centre of Lake Stinkybottom, a truly malodorous place. Off rides bold Sir Scallywag on his trusty steed, deep into the woods and beyond, to the troll-infested swamp where, in the gloaming he locates the sought article. Outnumbered one hundred to one though, can the young knight outwit the troll king and his army? Yes; and he does duly deliver the glowing object to the royal kitchen but that’s not quite the end of this madcap rhyming romp of derring-do …

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It’s great fun to read aloud;Korky Paul’s hilarious action-packed scenes are an absolute riot and brim over with witty details.

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Hooray! It’s a New Royal Baby!

 

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Hooray! It’s a New Royal Baby!
Martha Mumford and Ada Grey
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk
There’ll be giggles aplenty over this latest addition to the ‘Royal Baby’ series.
Baby George is apprehensive at the thought of a newcomer to the family. Suppose the New Royal Baby has designs on his jammy sandwiches, wants to play with his toys and worst of all, dribbles on his favourite dinosaur toy? Will the anticipation be worse than reality; or is it possible that the new wrinkly, crying bundle might prove to be someone to celebrate after all? Could it possibly be more exciting than that new pet goldfish delivered as a special thank you gift for being a big brother?

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Martha Mumford’s telling beautifully captures the fears of any older sibling – royal or otherwise – about the arrival of a new baby; and the growing love of course.

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Once again, Ada Grey has packed a multitude of amusing details into her portrayal of the Royals and their activities: George is a real little character and as ever, those corgis manage to get themselves into many a scene.

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Hippobottymus

DSCN4189 (600x800)Hippobottymus
Steve Smallman and Ada Grey
Little Tiger Press pbk
There’s a pleasing circularity to this rhyming tale; and not just because of the bubbles – or maybe it is, on second thoughts. It all begins with a little mouse and a bubbling creek. Then, during the course of the performance – for that is essentially what the book is all about (though that too is arguable), add to the squeaks (mouse’s) and the bubbles (the creek’s), a tweet (a bird’s), Centipede’s beat ‘Tip-tap-a-tippy-tappy’,

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a ‘Woo-hoo! courtesy of Monkey, a big bass drum (Warthog’s bum) and the PLINK PLINK PLINK-A-PLONK! – of a bone along Crocodile’s teeth.

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The result? Music to dance the day away for sure; and with so many contributors to the band too. But there is another animal as yet to be announced as contributor to the cacophony. No, it’s not that small rodent basking there in reflected glory.

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Why is Hippo claiming credit? Let’s just say, his involuntary bubbling contribution to the whole caboodle came courtesy of his erstwhile bean feast: ‘ TRUMP-PARP-bubble-bubble! TRUMP-PARP-POP!’
What a hoot – or should that be, toot?!
This daring duet from Smallman and Grey is surely destined to become a firm favourite among early years audiences who will definitely demand repeat performances and may well want to orchestrate the whole thing themselves – BEWARE! You didn’t hear that from me …

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Happy Birthday, Royal Baby!

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Happy Birthday, Royal Baby!
Martha Mumford and Ada Grey
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk
I have to admit to putting this to the bottom of the pile when it arrived, thinking here we go – cashing in on THAT baby again. But, when it re-emerged I thought I really should take a look and I’m glad I did. It’s actually a highly entertaining follow up to Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby! and very knowing about what amuses babes – royal or other.
What can those frenzied activities in the Royal Palace mean? Of course, it’s the Royal Baby’s first birthday. His auntie is on hand to ensure everything is just so. There’s that enormous cake being baked – a very jammy one naturally, hundreds of balloons to be blown up,

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not to mention a bouncy castle and more.
Eventually the party begins; there are presents and crazy games but “Waaaaaaah! Waaaaaaah! Waaaaaaah!” Surely the birthday boy can’t be unhappy, can he? Even opening that mountain of presents doesn’t bring a smile to that chubby countenance of his. Wait though. Who is that parachuting to the ground? And what is it that’s strapped to her front?
Great Grandma knows just the thing that will engage the royal toddler…

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Now let the party begin – in earnest.

 

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Ada Grey has managed to capture all those Royals beautifully and the corgis’ antics are an absolute hoot.
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