This Way To Treasure Island

This Way to Treasure Island
Lizzy Stewart
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Award winning author-illustrator Lizzy Stewart introduces us to two completely contrasting characters, young Matilda and her dad; he tends to be slow, messy and noisy whereas she is fast, tidy and quiet. No matter how different they are though, they almost always have fun together.

One day at the beach Matilda, in possession of a map, announces that she’s off to find treasure. Her dad, she tells him, can accompany her so long as he agrees to follow the map.

Off they go in an old wooden boat with Dad rowing and Matilda giving directions.

Sometimes, Dad becomes distracted and as a result the two drift far out to sea. Dad’s all for taking short cuts but Matilda isn’t sure. She’s even less sure when the nice big rock they’re circling does this …

Fortunately however, the turbulence takes the boat right close to the shore of their treasure island destination. Thereon more map reading is required and almost immediately the two agree to part company; “We’ll see who finds the treasure first!’ says Dad.

Inevitably without his daughter as guide, Dad is soon totally lost.

Matilda meanwhile, although she finds things a tad on the boring side, continues following the map. Eventually she finds the place where according to the map, she should find the treasure but despite looking under, over and inside things, she can’t find it. Time to return to the boat she thinks.

Dad however is still looking and wondering until …

In case you’re wondering, yes they do discover treasure although perhaps it’s not what they were expecting. And then it’s time to go home, maybe without taking any short-cuts however.

Yet again, Lizzy has created a winner with this. Her characters are convincingly portrayed and their treasure island with its rainbow hued flora and fauna, totally gorgeous.

Rich in classroom potential, this smashing book will be requested over and over.

Dino Wars: The Trials of Terror

Dino Wars: The Trials of Terror
Dan Metcalf, illustrated by Aaron Blecha
Maverick Arts Publishing

This, the second in a series of four, will be welcomed by those who relished The Rise of the Raptors but equally, new readers will quickly be sucked in to this new adventure of Adam Caine, sister Chloe and friends. They’re still on that quest to obtain all four Dilotron crystals and thus disarm the lab. producing the biological weapon that will wipe out all dinosaur life on their planet; the lab. with the computer that Adam had accidentally activated. Thus far the adventurers have two of those crucial catastrophe-preventing crystals and the hunt is on – urgently.

Their possible location is Pteratopolis, city of pterosaurs, unknown territory for Adam and his gang.There’s a slight snag though, these particular dinos. are flying creatures and Pteratopolis is a fortress with enormously high, wooden walls. Climbing skills are crucial if the friends are to enter. Or, alternatively what about Dag’s suggestion that he makes use of his heli-kit, albeit with some modifications to the metal blades. In other words, the proposal is that Dag turns himself into a living saw mill; it might just work.

adventure,

It does; now all they have to do is locate the next crystal. What could be easier?

A spot of tree-scaling is needed and inevitably, adventurous Adam is on his way up before his companions can utter, “… break his neck”. But then having reached his destination, he finds himself, courtesy of imprinting, the adopted mother of a newly hatched pterosaur. Oh dear! Consequences again Adam …

Co-existence, co-operation, kindness, diplomacy and daring are all part and parcel of this absorbing, fast-moving,  turning twisting tale; so too are Aaron Blecha’s super comic style illustrations that are scattered throughout the story.

As for securing the object of their quest? You’ll need to secure yourself a copy of the book to find out what happens when Adam and Chloe enter the labyrinth …

The Queen’s Lift-Off

The Queen’s Lift-Off
Steve Antony
Hodder Children’s Books

Those of us who watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics will probably recall that Her Majesty the Queen was, so we were led to believe, parachuted into the stadium.
Who would have thought that just a few years later she’d find herself blasting off into space aboard the rocket she’s just helped the little prince and princess to build?

WHOOOSH! goes the Queen, zooming faster than the speed of light, first to Mercury. After which, comet-like she soars to Venus,

before coming to land on the Moon’s surface

from whence it’s merely a matter of a single giant leap to the Red Planet.

Then she boldly takes flight towards Jupiter before she’s off again to spin rings around Saturn.

Zipping on past Uranus and Neptune, not forgetting little Pluto, she’s suddenly sucked into an enormous black hole.

Surely that cannot be the end of Her Royal Highness?

Not so: thank the universe then, for a passing spaceship that succeeds in safely beaming her up and depositing her safe and sound and none the worse for her awesome adventure, back in the palace garden, where it just happens to be afternoon tea-time. Hurrah!

And who, or what, should be there to serve it up …

Into his seemingly simple story Steve manages to weave some wonderful textual references to Star Trek and the American moon landings.

As always however, it’s the awesome illustrations that carry not just one, but many stories (as well as visual starting points for children’s own storying). However many times one looks at them there always seems to be something new to discover and enjoy. In this story there’s the ever -increasing number of loyal companions the Queen has on her journey, as well as a little alien and his flying saucer which appear from time to time.
Oh and of course, in each and every scene there’s a royal corgi complete with space-helmet, looking as though he’s thoroughly enjoying every minute of the adventure, Oddly enough, her highness just happens to have some dog biscuits (along with her lippy, perfume spray, specs and the various other necessities she carries in her handbag).
I’m guessing since its near loss, she’s never parted from this vital article of personal storage.

I think this series just keeps on reaching new heights; this one is my favourite thus far, although I was probably predisposed so to think because I was lucky enough to have my review copy signed and handed to me by Steve himself. You can’t get better than that – until the next one, perhaps.

The Yark / The Island of Horses

The Yark
Bertrand Santini and Laurent Gapaillard
Gecko Press

Meet the Yark, a voracious child-guzzling monster that restricts his consumption to the flesh of ‘very good’ children on account of his delicate digestive system. Consequently it doesn’t do, if you’re a child, to be good or even compliant
The creature has a problem though, for in our modern times, the supply of such well-behaved, and thus gobblable youngsters, has become increasingly hard to come by. The present crop yields virtually no nutritional value so far as this particular monster is concerned and Yarks as a species are on the verge of extinction.

Yark is now wandering the forest in the dead of night, hungry, weary and seeking shelter when an idea pops into his head. Santa Claus has a list of all the well-behaved children in the entire world.

Donning a polar bear disguise, the creature pays Santa a visit:

Santa however sees through the disguise but still the dastardly Yark escapes the North Pole with the list in his clutches.

His first port of call thereafter is France where in Provence resides the altogether desirable little Charlotte. Surprisingly instead of being petrified of the marauding intruder, the child is positively thrilled to find this thing she’s read of staring down at her. Seemingly at this particular moment she no longer wants to be on that list of good children; rather she intends to be the complete opposite. And so she is; thus putting paid to the Yark’s anticipated meal.

Lewis is next on his list, a London dweller; will he too thwart the creature’s plan to make a meal of him? If so who, or what next? …

Suffice it to say that our Yark does finally redeem himself thanks to a doting little girl, Madeleine.

Laurent Gapaillard’s fine gothic style drawings of the shaggy, toothy Yark complete with his ridiculously diminutive wings set in richly detailed landscapes, against murky cityscapes or intricately rendered interiors are sometimes scary or shocking, at other times comical or endearing. Rich language, dark humour and equally rich art combine to make an enormously enjoyable read.

The Island of Horses
Eilís Dillon
NYRB Kids

This is a re-issue of a novel by respected Irish author Eilis Dillon that focuses on two teenage boys, Danny MacDonagh, 15, and Pat Conroy, a year older, residents of Inishrone, an island three miles off the coast of Connemara, near the mouth of Galway Bay and offers a view of village life in the first half of the 20th century.

The two boys take off in a boat on an adventure to the forbidden Island of Horses. Thereon they need to hone their survival skills and are thrilled to discover in a valley, a herd of beautiful wild horses.

What happens thereafter is an exciting tale, eloquently told, of colt-capture, kidnapping and more that may well still grip some readers as much as it did me when I first read a Puffin Books edition as a child many years back.

A Different Boy

A Different Boy
Paul Jennings
Old Barn Books

Following on from the wonderful A Very Different Dog, Paul Jennings has written a second very different, equally gripping book.

Orphan Anton has recently arrived as a resident at Wolfdog Hall, a terrible place where no-one even knows his first name, lessons are miserable affairs, the teachers thoroughly unpleasant.
Pretty soon, the boy makes a break for it, and surprisingly, despite threats to the contrary, he isn’t followed. He is however without money or friends.

Hearing the horn sounding from a ship down the hill in the harbour the boy makes his way to the pier. The ocean liner has yet to leave and Anton watches people making their way up the gangplank, bound for a new land of promise, peace and plenty.

One of the passengers is Max, a rather strange-looking boy with a face resembling a porcelain doll and wearing a jumper absolutely covered with ribbons, labels and badges looking like, so Anton thinks, nothing less than a noticeboard. He’s also wearing a black arm band.
A peculiar exchange takes place between the boys after which at Max’s instigation, they exchange name labels and Max leads him aboard. Unlike Anton, the lad is accompanied by his mother.

Thus begins Anton’s new life as a stowaway.

During the voyage he gradually comes to know more about the rather strange seeming Max who has identical bald-headed boy puppets, one wearing a green jumper, the other a red one.

In tandem readers discover through text printed in italics that he once had a brother, Christopher, who died in a fire while Max was rescued.

Later in the main text Max’s mother explains that this was a recent event, and that now her son needs someone to look out for him in his twin brother’s stead. She also posits the idea that when they arrive in the ‘New Land’ Anton could live with them. A deal is made.

Shortly after, disaster strikes, there’s a rescue, a startling revelation concerning the identity of who had really died in the fire, another startling revelation, about Anton this time. And, there’s a satisfying ending; what more can you ask? Oh yes, there are occasional slightly spooky line drawings too.

Like all books by Paul Jennings, this one (based very loosely on the author’s experience of emigrating to Australia from England as a boy) draws you in immediately and grips you throughout . Like the author’s previous titles too, it’s superbly written without a wasted word. Having said that, it’s also quite unlike any of his previous titles.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Aleksandra Artymowska
Big Picture Press

Graphic designer and illustrator Aleksandra Artymowska has taken Jules Verne’s novel and created an absorbing picture book puzzler.

At the invitation of Captain Nemo, readers are invited to set sail seeking adventure and a treasure beyond price. All they have to do is to enter the hatch of the Nautilus and descend, then search the seven seas for seven locks with which to open his secret sea chest.

Easy enough surely? Not quite, especially as there’s a giant squid lurking somewhere ‘neath those seas.
Those who embark on the treasure hunt will however be participants in a unique sub-aquatic experience taking them deep, deep down under the sea..

First of all there’s the correct button to find that will get the submarine started and of course, the steering wheel, to make sure you stay on your chosen course.

With a variety of challenges including hidden symbols and keys to detect, mazes to navigate, art works to locate, corals and shells to compare,

a reef to steer through, weird and wonderful creatures aplenty to surprise and perhaps alarm, all of which are part and parcel of the host of strange seascapes and labyrinthine mazes explorers encounter. Surreal sights abound.

Dive down in Nautilus and you’ll more than likely remain submerged for several hours, before you surface, with or without having spotted the compass hidden in plain sight in each and every scene. And just in case you haven’t solved all the posers, the author/artist has provided the answers at the back of the book. Happy exploring.

Robinson

Robinson
Peter Sis
Thames & Hudson

Drawing on an episode from his childhood as well as the Robinson Crusoe story that he loved as a boy, award-winning author/illustrator, Peter Sis has created an absolute dream of a picture book.

The narrator and his pals’ favourite game is pirates so when their school announces a costume party it seems as though everyone will go in pirate gear. Until that is, Peter’s mum suggests he should go as Robinson Crusoe and he does.

His excitement as he walks to school is quickly shattered when his classmates make fun of him for having the confidence to be different. (Presumably they aren’t familiar with the Crusoe story.)

Peter’s mum takes him home, tucks him up in bed and at this point in a feverish state, Peter’s imagination takes over.

There follows a dream-like sequence where, in stages, his bed is transformed into a three-masted sailing ship heading towards an island.

On the next spread Sis seems to be paying homage to Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are when he says, ‘I float in and out of hours, or maybe days, until I am cast upon an island.

On this island, Peter encounters verdant tropical landscapes, one a maze comprising amazing flora and fauna.

He builds himself a protective shelter, makes his own clothes, finds food and becomes friends with the resident animals;

and all the while the lad is growing in self-confidence, though he still keeps his eyes open for pirates.

Finally, with new-found fortitude, the boy does connect once more with his friends and the story ends in a wonderfully satisfying way.

Sis experiments with several artistic styles in his pen, ink and watercolour illustrations and this serves to intensify the fantastic quality of his island landscapes and his whole journey, both inner and outer.

Thoroughly immersive: this is a book to linger over, read and re-read, and a wonderful demonstration of the power of literature to shape and expand the imagination.

Baabwaa & Wooliam

Baabwaa & Wooliam
David Elliott and Melissa Sweet
Walker Books

Wooliam is a sheep – a sheep with a penchant for reading: how cool is that!
Baabwaa is also a sheep: she enjoys knitting – a more likely activity for a farm resident. These two are best friends. ‘Sounds kind of boring. But they like it.’ so we’re told.
One day the friends decide they should inject some adventure into their lives; so, it being perfect sunny weather with birds singing, off they set. However their field is surrounded by a wall; and circumambulating the field seems a rather dull kind of adventure. Nevertheless it’s what they do – three times. “Is this what adventures are like?” Baabwaaa asked. “All this walking, I mean.
It certainly leads to an appetite for grass and while they’re munching their lunch another sheep appears. Or is it? This particular one has a long tail, a whiskery snout, dirty wool coat and ‘horrid teeth’. A pathetic attempt at a sheep disguise methinks.
Suddenly the whole adventure gains pace.
It’s that Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing I’ve read about,” says Wooliam knowingly,

producing a book he just happened to have in his rucksack, to prove it to the sheep/ wolf.
Woe is me! The lupine creature can’t read as he tearfully admits. “It’s not my fault, I’m just not the reading kind.” No matter: Wooliam can teach him and thus begins a highly unlikely friendship. Baabwaa meanwhile knits their new pal a replacement for his awfully dirty coat.
Learning to read is rather a protracted business, broken up as it is by bouts of wolf chasing sheep around the field.

He ‘s merely following his nature: “We can use the exercise,” is Baabwaa’s philosophical take on the interruptions. Eventually though, the wolf is sufficiently proficient to be horrified at the way he’s billed in books: ”It says here I’m cruel and sneaky!” he complains. “And your point?” said Wooliam. Deliciously droll humour such as that pervades Elliott’s entire comical narration, which is an absolute gift to readers aloud and an equal delight for those on the receiving end.
Equally brilliant are Melissa Sweet’s mixed media illustrations, which extend the telling and breathe additional vitality into the three players,

all of whom are a mix of opposing characteristics.
You can dine on this one over and over …

The Real Boat

The Real Boat
Marina Aromshtam and Victoria Antolini
Templar Publishing

The little paper boat has ambitions – big ones. As he floats on the pond, he hears a duck talking of ‘real boats sailing on the ocean’ and decides that just like the other ‘real boats’, the ocean is the place to be. Prove himself he must by leaving the safety of his home surroundings and heading off into waters unknown.
Getting to his destination though, that is going to be tough. Many of the river boats whose help he seeks – the rowboat,

the motorboat, the riverboat and the barge – are singularly unhelpful.
The tugboat however is encouraging and assists him down to the harbour.
There the paper boat is mesmerised by the tall cranes,

the cars coming off the ferry and the lights of a huge passenger liner.
Further help and encouragement though, come from a fishing trawler in whose wake the tiny paper traveller follows as they venture further and further out on the ocean waves.
Then a fierce storm breaks battering the little paper boat and separating him from the friendly trawler. Is all lost for the intrepid journeyer?

Not quite: in fact all ends in a totally unexpected and highly satisfactory manner for the tenacious little adventurer.
From its brilliant cover you know you’re in for a real visual treat with this one: it’s wonderfully tactile and intricately detailed. Then there’s the number of pages: it’s twice as long as the usual picture book length, one of several I’ve seen of late; just the thing to snuggle up with and relish along with a hot chocolate on these long wintry evenings.
Lyrically told and with illustrations that are arresting and demand exploration for their artistry and technique, this modern fable is a thoroughly rewarding read.

Cap’n Rex & His Clever Crew / Pirates in Classroom 3

Cap’n Rex & His Clever Crew
Harry L. Herz and Benjamin Schipper
Sterling

Shiver me timbers, I cannot imagine how many crews of piratical dinosaurs there be a’sailin’ the high seas, however here’s one more to add to their number. Meet Pat, Terry, Kyle and of course, their captain, Rex. A right troublesome journey it is they’ve embarked upon too.
First the ship’s rudder becomes fodder for a giant shark; then down comes a fog and having survived those mishaps thanks to some clever steering on Pat’s behalf …

and Terry’s navigation skills they find themselves on dry iand and faced with a volcano at the bottom of which, the treasure might just be buried.
And buried it is but having unearthed same, there follows the question of ownership of the booty. Cap’n Rex doesn’t want to share: his crew think otherwise and let him know in no uncertain terms …

Who is cleverer, Cap’n or crew: that’s the vital question?
With its pepperings of “Arrr“, “Aye” and “can’t ye?”, this is a fun read aloud with plenty of silliness, a bounty of comical illustrations and a final author’s note of piratical words just a few of which come up in the narrative.

Pirates in Classroom 3
Alison Donald and Ben Whitehouse
Maverick Arts Publishing

Still those pirate tales keep on coming; here’s one that starts off in a class of lively children.
When Ms Bitsy leaves her classroom unattended, the children are more than a little surprised by the sudden appearance of Captain Calamity who claims to be searching for treasure; treasure which according to his map is located ‘under the sea’ in their classroom.
The children are eager to help in the search …

but can they locate the booty before the dreaded Pirate Bloodloss gets his hands on it?
Perhaps the clue is in the alphabet frieze, there’s certainly a C there.
Before you can say, ‘Ms. Bitsy’, their teacher has returned and is ready to join them all in an underwater hunt.

A teacher who throws herself into a piratical adventure and is willing to stand up to a bullying pirate will surely win over early years listeners.

Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx

Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx
Joe Todd-Stanton
Flying Eye Books

Yay! A new addition to the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection series is certainly something to cheer about.
Herein the Prof. recounts the gripping tale of how young Marcy decides to try and prove herself a real adventurer by following her father, Arthur, to Egypt on his quest to find an ancient book trapped in the belly of the Sphinx.
It’s a journey that will surely test not only her fear of the dark, but much else besides.
Marcy’s first Egyptian encounter is Thoth who demands she bring him Ra’s magical moon eye in return for her father’s release.
Acting quickly …

she manages to haul herself aboard Ra’s sun boat and soon finds herself face to face with the great god himself and pouring out her story to him.
To reward her honesty Ra, offers his help in her rescue efforts and before they part, gives her his left eye to guide her through the darkness.
Still though, she has to solve the Sphinx’s riddle, gain entry to the tomb and attempt to complete her quest.

It’s going to test more than just her fear of the dark; and it’s as well she doesn’t suffer from ophidiophobia .

Even with her father safely outside once more, there’s still Thoth waiting for what he’s asked Marcy to bring him. …
The young girl really does prove herself a worthy daughter to Arthur, star of the Golden Rope adventure, demonstrating that by drawing on our inner reserves, we can achieve the seemingly impossible.
Gripping, fast-paced and illustrated with pizzazz, this is likely to win more fans for the series as well as pleasing existing ones.
Love the gentle humour and detail in this …

A Snoring Giant, A Favourite Witch & Knights Galore

The Giant Who Snored
Mike Nicholson and Amy Lewis
Little Door Books
In the hills close by a town lives a gentle giant. He’s a great favourite of the townsfolk especially the children who look forward to his daily visit and the fun it offers …

Everything is tickety boo until the day the giant, suddenly overcome by tiredness, falls asleep during his visit. The loud snores he emits rock the whole town causing absolute chaos on land and sea and driving the residents absolutely crazy.
The hullabaloo must be stopped, announces the mayor offering a reward to anyone who can wake the slumberer. However, despite the best efforts of the blacksmith, the tailor and the chemist, the giant remains sound asleep. Is there anybody who can rouse the snorer? And if so, how?
Here’s a clue as to the who …

As for the how, suffice it to say, it’s pretty disgusting and likely to cause young listeners to emit delighted ‘eeuugh!’s in response; and everything ends satisfactorily for all concerned.
Apart from the very occasional slight creak, Mike Nicholson’s rhyming text slips nicely off the tongue -read it through to get the phrasing right before sharing it though. In combination with Amy Lewis’ digital scenes of the stentorian snores of the giant and their effects, you have the makings of a lively, enjoyable story time session.

Winnie and Wilbur The Naughty Knight
Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul
Oxford University Press
In their latest magical escapade Winnie transports Wilbur and herself back in time into a medieval castle where, for a change, her faithful moggie takes the starring role in the grand tournament, with Winnie as a lady-in-waiting.
Can the gallant knight, Sir Wilbur outshoot the famous Sir Roderick in the archery contest? And what happens when the two come face to face in the jousting?

Let’s just say that Winnie has her magic wand neatly stowed away about her person and thanks to a few deft flourishes of her arm, Sir Wilbur cuts Sir Roderick down to size in spectacular fashion, just in time to attend the magnificent banquet in the Great Hall. No need for magic there surely? …
Even after 30 years, Winnie and Wilbur’s magical charm never seems to wear off and it’s especially good to see Wilbur as the star of the show; love those split page layouts especially.
This one brims over with zany humour and is full of potential for primary classroom themes.

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks: The Dinosaur’s Return
Kristina Stephenson
Egmont
Sir Charlie Stinky Socks is back to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his first adventure in what I think is story number nine.
When Charlie’s pet cat Envelope unknowingly hatches a dinosaur’s egg, the young knight together with his faithful friends, set out on a quest to return the ‘little something’ to Thunder Mountain.
A quest that sees them sucked into a swirling watery tunnel, diving into the vent of a volcano and more, before landing up on an island and in so doing, precipitating a dinosaur stampede.

All ends happily however with grateful dinosaurs and a spectacular display of fireworks.
Fast moving, fun, full of action and with dino.-sized flaps to explore, Sir Charlie and friends continue to delight.

Pirate Baby

Pirate Baby
Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith
Otter-Barry Books

Yo ho ho! me hearties, there’s a brand new crew a’sailin’ on the high seas and we all love a good pirate yarn. This one though is altogether different and an absolute humdinger.
The crew of the Ramshackle are more than a little discombobulated when they discover a bawling baby bobbing about on a raft;

all the more so when they find out that the object they’re trying their level best to feed is actually a girl baby.

That’s only the start of their adventures however. The crew become the owners of a nanny-goat which they aptly name Nana; very useful when it comes to providing nourishment for the babe. Spoons the cook turns his hand to stitching nappies and other baby attire; and Red Bart the bosun even makes the infant a toy squid from a pair of old gloves.

None of your stereotypical pirates these.
As time passes and the babe, now named Isla, becomes mobile, the pirates, bothered by their lack of piratical action, resolve to plunder the next ship they spy. They think better of their plan though, when they discover the crew is all women.
Then an enormous sea monster looms up from the deep. The crew fear for their ship and their lives; and it’s Isla who saves the day with a truly selfless deed.
Thereafter, she’s recognised as “a true Pirate Baby” with a dazzling piratical future to look forward to.
No pirate crew is really complete without a parrot and a cat; these vital bit parts are admirably played here by McSquark and ship’s moggy, Plunderpuss.
Who better than Ros Asquith to bring out the humour of Mary Hoffman’s salty story? Awash with chucklesome details, her jaunty, swashbuckling scenes are set fair to create a splash with landlubbers young and not so young. A real treasure.

I’ve signed the charter  

Dinosaur Detective’s Search and Find Rescue Mission / Wilfred and Olbert’s Totally Wild Chase / Animazes

Dinosaur Detective’s Search and Find Rescue Mission
Sophie Guerrive
Wide Eyed Editions
In his plane, which looks more like an inflatable toy than anything capable of carrying a dinosaur, famous Dinosaur Detective sets forth on a mission: to find five missing items as requested by the likes of a dog, a princess, a teacher and a distraught wife, hidden somewhere in eleven different locations including what looks like a Medieval European village, an underground cave network, atop a mountain,

a funfair, a forest, a completely crazy-looking outer space neighbourhood and a city.

It’s difficult to know where to start each search as your eyes keep getting drawn to features of interest – mine did anyway – and some of the spreads are so densely packed, it’s mindboggling, and easy to get absorbed in the surreal nature of the whole thing rather than the task in hand. It’s just as well there’s an answer spread at the end.
Dinosaur Detective’s plane transforms into a kind of tank (to find the missing toad) and a flying saucer – another fun feature.

Wilfred and Olbert’s Totally Wild Chase
Lomp
Little Tiger Press
Herein we meet natural history explorers Wilfred and Olbert and follow them on a quest to discover a new animal and thus win the coveted Nature Discovery Prize. And when an unidentified butterfly just happens to float through the window, they decide their chance has come. Off they go in hot pursuit but who will be the one to claim the prize?
Their journey has them dashing through forests, diving into oceans, crossing deserts, and wild grasslands,

scaling mountains and delving into tropical jungles …

as they battle to reach the butterfly first.
In the end teamwork wins out and mission complete, they claim their trophy.
The whole adventure is perilous and it’s something of a task to keep track of the two competitors and their antics en route – almost being the next meal of a lion, or being engulfed by ice, for instance – but the whole crazy drama is totally engaging, full of funny moments, things to search for, and of course, wild animals.
Wild too are Lomp’s hilarious, cartoon-like illustrations, full of daft doings and silly speech bubbles making every spread a treat to linger over.
Action-packed they surely are!

Animazes
illustrated by Melissa Castrillión
Big Picture Press
This unusual book of mazes follows the journeys of fourteen animal migrants from Antarctic krill and Monarch butterflies to Humpback whales and Mali elephants.
For some of these creatures such as reindeer, finding food is the reason for their journey; for others, such as Rockhopper Penguins, it’s to seek a suitable environment for the survival of the next generation.
In tracing their journeys, the aim is to discover the one safe path for each animal and in so doing, readers will discover a host of fascinating facts about the creature. Did you know for instance that Mali elephants all pass through one narrow passage, The Porte des Éléphants on their migratory travels? Or that Wildebeest participate in the largest mass migration of mammals on earth?

It’s Katie Howarth who provides these and the other interesting snippets of information that support Melissa Castrillión’s intricately detailed illustrations through which the mazes are woven.
Absorbing, fun and educational.

Sir Ned and the Nasties

Sir Ned and the Nasties
Brett and David McKee
Andersen Press
Who or what are the Nasties? Their screeching, howling sounds emanating from the deep dark wood are driving the King in his castle crazy and making the village houses shake. The King sends for the bravest of his knights, one Sir Ned the Noble who sets off into the woods in search of whatever it is that’s making his highness ill and scaring the daylights out of the villagers. Before long he encounters a troll who offers to act as his guide; so the two proceed together.
Encounter number two happens soon after …

The witch too offers her assistance in the search for those Nasties. They cross a bridge and come upon Wolf. Now there are four in the search and Wolf leads the way … towards a cleverly concealed cave entrance. “Enter here, if you be brave!” says the sign.
Then Sir Ned gets a nasty surprise for the Nasties are none other than …

But luckily for him, Ned has a song in his head and a plan up his sleeve: a plan that will change the lives of all concerned; and for the better …

That though, is not quite the end of this rhyming tale penned by Brett, the illustrator’s son …
That Ned is completely oblivious to the dangers posed by his fellow seekers is sure to have your audience wriggling with anticipatory delight. David McKee’s mock-scary Nasties are deliciously funny: who can take seriously that hairy, trainer-wearing troll with his pink braces and striped cut-offs or a wolf sporting cravat and purple pants?

I’ve signed the charter  

Sun

Sun
Sam Usher
Templar Publishing
First came Snow, then Rain and now we have the third of Sam Usher’s enchanting days with Grandad and small boy narrator. Herein, what starts out as a fairly normal day, albeit the hottest of the year: “hotter than broccoli soup“, hotter even than “the surface of the sun“, Grandad deems it perfect for an adventure; and so having collected the necessary items for their foray, the two venture forth in search of the perfect spot for a picnic.
The sun blazes down and pretty soon, Grandad needs a rest, while his designated ‘lookout’ does just that …

You can almost feel the sun scorching them as they trudge on and pause for another rest. Shade becomes the second ‘must’ for their picnic spot, which is hardly surprising, as the landscape has now become incandescent.

Grandpa has added a cool breeze to his list of requirements by the time they reach what looks a likely place.
However, it appears that their perfect picnic spot is already in use.

So it’s a case of all hands on deck; let’s share resources and party …
Once again Sam Usher captures to perfection the closeness of the bond between Grandad and boy, while at the same time portraying the spirit of adventure and utter exhilaration that is brought on by being in the great outdoors, even on such a scorching day.
A sure-fire winner this.

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The Snugglewump / Pearla and her Unpredictably Perfect Day

The Snugglewump
Lou Treleaven and Kate Chappell
Maverick Arts Publishing
Molly has a host of toys and sitting side-by side awaiting her arrival one day, each claims to have pride of place in her affections. There’s Ted, an antique doll, Alien, Robot and Action Andy …

all strutting their stuff so to speak. It’s no wonder that Snugglewump lies forgotten on the floor feeling less than confident about his lot. But then, having seen and heard the others showing off, it ups and snugglewumps away through the catflap and off down the road.
Thanks to a free ride on a postman’s shoe, it ends up spending the night, damp and virtually shapeless contemplating the possibilities offered by having limbs and a countenance, or batteries, and generally rueing its lot.
Is it Snugglewump’s fate to be cast so it thinks, into the dump or could there perhaps be an alternative ending for this brightly coloured, albeit amorphous thing which, thanks to a couple of pigeons is, as the sun rises, hanging across the branch of a tree in the park?

Told through Lou Treleaven’s jaunty rhyming text with its fun descriptive phrases, and Kate Chappell’s beautifully expressive, quirky illustrations (she even manages to imbue that Snugglewump with a personality) this is great fun to share with young listeners either at home or in an early years setting.

Pearla and her Unpredictably Perfect Day
Rochel Lieberman and Lloyd Jones
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Ten year old Pearla likes nothing better on Sundays than to help her father in his bakery. She’s something of an expert herself, cooking up perfect cupcakes and cookies that people come from far and wide to buy.
One Sunday however, having so she thinks whisked up the usual perfect mix for her cookies and cupcakes, and put them into the oven to bake, she realises that she’s left out a vital ingredient. Disaster for one used to a perfect baking outcome.

But then as she paces up and down, Pearla starts out on what is to be a huge learning curve: “I’m a person, People are not perfect. I did my best. I know I will be helped with the rest,” she tells herself.
Out come the far from perfect confections some time later and rather than throwing the whole lot in the bin, Pearla decides to sell them at half-price.
What happens thereafter is a big surprise for the girl and after the odd sales setback, every single item is sold. Thank goodness Pearla managed to stay calm and turn her mistake into something positive. Even more important she learned the crucial life-lesson: that mistakes are a vital part of the learning process; something all teachers worth their salt would agree with, and that all youngsters need to take on board early on in their education. That way lies success.
Full of important and empowering lessons. Written by a speech and language specialist, this is a book to share with all young learners, especially those who, for whatever reason, are averse to risk-taking. Lloyd Jones’ illustrations add gentle humour to Pearla’s plight.

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Ice Boy / Stack the Cats

Ice Boy
David Ezra Stein
Walker Books
Meet Ice Boy, the hero of Stein’s latest book. Rather than being restrained by his freezer existence and frequent “Never go outside” parental warnings, the young ice-cube leaves the safe enclosed environment and ventures down to the ocean’s edge and thence discovers a whole new world of exciting adventures is to be had.
His first incarnation is ‘Water Boy …

and thereafter Vapour Boy; after which, having tap-danced upon a thunderstorm and freezing …

a tiny pellet of summer hail.
In solid form once again, he hurtles off a roof-top and ‘BLOOP’ –is reunited with his parents who just happen to be chilling someone’s drink.

Suddenly it looks as though extermination is to be the outcome for all three cubes but fortunately, the thirsty human’s first taste is of the little lad who, after all his adventures has become a taste-bud disaster; and Ice Boy and parents are summarily tossed from the tumbler onto the grass.
Then, with an infusion of worldly knowledge, Ice Boy leads the trio off on a new water-cycle adventure …
This clever tale of risk-taking, transformation and re-incarnation is such a fun way to introduce a sclence lesson on the water-cycle. Stein’s mixed media, largely blue and grey illustrations are littered throughout with witty speech bubbles (‘Oh, Ice Boy! You’re a sight for sore ice.‘ Or, ‘Am I dense or did I just become a liquid again?‘and peppered with POPs, PUFFs, BLOOPs and other appropriate noises off.

Stack the Cats
Susie Ghahremani
Abrams Appleseed
Much more than a mere counting activity, this playful picture book offers opportunities for youngsters to expand their mathematical thinking to embrace simple division and multiplication; and a spot of height comparison. We start with ‘One cat sleeps.’ // Two cats play. // Three cats?/ STACK!’ Followed by …

After which the pattern alters thus:

Clearly the six have found this process a little wearying so ‘Seven cats nap.’
Then, the revived felines plus another try their paws at a spot to towering , which rapidly turns to a tumble. It’s as well cat nine is there to even things out and for the first and only time, numerals make their appearance …

What happens thereafter is that Ghahremi decides that ten cats are ‘just too many’, dispersing the gathering to hide, sleep, climb and generally have a playful time (a subtraction discussion opportunity) and finishing with an open-ended, ‘How will you stack the cats?’
The eye-catching cats are given the opportunity to show their playful personalities while youngsters are offered a plethora of mathematical possibilities. A purrfect prelude to some mathematical activities: fun and educative and also, great for beginning readers.

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Three Pirate Tales

There appears to be a plethora of pirate picture books at present: these three arrived in a single postal delivery:

The Treasure of Pirate Frank
Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham and Jez Tuya
Nosy Crow
Taking the rhythmic pattern of the nursery rhyme The House that Jack Built, the authors have woven a lovely lilting tale of a young boy set on discovering the hiding place of Pirate Frank’s treasure.
He has a map so show him the way, a trusty ship in which to sail,
To the island with spices and gold and tall mountains all snowy and cold,
On which is a forest with monkeys bold, and a swamp with lilypads topped with frogs.

He must beware of the volcano, spitting out fire,
As he ascends the steps going higher and higher;
then crosses the bridge to the tall palm tree; there to behold – my goodness me!
Who’s this standing atop that chest?

It seems there’s only one thing to do. What would that be if the boy was you?
Jez Tuya’s imaginative perspectives and creature crammed spreads are worth revisiting once the treasure has been found and the tale completed.

Pirates in the Supermarket
Timothy Knapman and Sarah Warburton
Scholastic Children’s Books
First there were Dinosaurs in the Supermarket; now the place is beset with pirates hell-bent on creating mischief and mayhem among the groceries as unsuspecting shoppers go about the task of filling their trolleys with goodies. They leave plenty of clues but nobody save one small boy is aware of the piles of rubble appearing in the aisles,

the cannon-wielding gang on the rampage, or the piratical accoutrements appearing around the store. Fortunately for all concerned just when it seems things might be getting somewhat out of hand, the aforementioned boy springs into action and before you can say, ‘shiver me timbers’ he has things under control – well and truly so methinks …

Which all goes to show that you need to keep your eyes wide open whenever you embark on a supermarket shop; you never know who might be lurking …
Fun, fast and full of crazy characters, oh and the odd observant one too.; and they’re all colourfully portrayed in Sarah Warburton’s comedic supermarket scenes. What more can a swashbuckling child ask?

Pete’s Magic Pants: Pirate Peril
Paddy Kempshall and Chris Chatterton
Egmont
Another pair of Pete’s snazzy magic pants come out of the suitcase for a wearing – pirate’s stripy ones in this instance – and before you can say ‘Avast’, with a wiggle and a wobble, the lad is off on the high seas aboard the Flying Fowl with Cap’n Ted and his trusty, clucking crew. They’re on the trail of Long John Silverside the most feared buccaneer on the high seas; he who has seized the treasure rightfully belonging, so we’re told to Cap’n Ted and his pals.
Can they escape the jaws of the sharks and the clutches of the soggy-suckered octopus, find their way to where the treasure is stashed and then get past the loutish-looking Long John himself?

Perhaps – with the help of Pete’s brain and the odd touch of brawn thereafter.
Fans of Pete’s previous adventure will welcome this second tale, which is pacey, pant-revealing and full of high drama and I suspect it will capture some new pants followers too.

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Let’s Find Fred

 

dscn9950Let’s Find Fred
Steven Lenton
Scholastic
It’s early evening in Garden City Zoo; all the animals are snuggled up ready for sleep, all that is except one. Fred is anything but ready for his bedtime story; in fact he’s off on an adventure … albeit with zookeeper Fred on his trusty old motor scooter, in hot pursuit. The latter’s view is more than a little impeded by a large bus allowing the escapee to have a whole lot of fun making new friends, enjoying a musical interlude and sampling some yummy ice cream while his pursuer makes himself look somewhat silly with a spot of mistaken identity at the market.

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Next stop for Stanley is the park where his requests for help in his search for Fred result in his having to negotiate the complex Pand-a-Maze.
Fred’s thirst for fun isn’t yet sated so he heads for the dizzying delights of the Funfair – from which he suddenly needs to make a hasty exit.

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There follows a frantic chase through the Art Gallery and out towards a panda party. But is Fred there? That is the question. …

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With plenty of Panda-puns and other word play scattered throughout the action-packed scenes; and visual references to famous paintings including a Warhol and the Mona Lisa; as well as the Fab. Four …

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there’s plenty to absorb and delight both child audiences and adult readers aloud.
PAN-TAS-TIC fun from start to finish.

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Jamal’s Journey

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Jamal’s Journey
Michael Foreman
Andersen Press
Young camel, Jamal does little else but walk, walk, walk across the desert following his mama and baba, the boy and other riders; he watches the falcons too sometimes, as he plods along. Then one day a sandstorm blows up – roaring, whooshing and whirling sand into Jamal’s mouth and eyes. When it’s passed, the little camel finds himself alone looking up at a star-filled, moonlit sky …

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The sand has been completely smoothed: of his Mama or Bapa’s footprints there is no sign, let alone their riders.
As dawn breaks Jamal discovers that other animals are close by – a jerboa, a spiky monitor lizard and a brown hare;

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but Jamal’s request for help goes unheeded: the animals are too busy fleeing. What can have frightened them?
Looking skywards, Jamal spies a tiny dot – a falcon is spiralling towards him. Jamal though isn’t scared and he follows the falcon’s looping flight across the sand, up the hills towards the distant dunes and the shining sea before which stands a huge city. Then coming towards him out of the dust cloud, there emerges a wonderfully welcoming sight: his Mama, Baba and, joy of joys, his friend, the boy.

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After the reunion, it’s time to explore the city …

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and one day perhaps, even more.
Michael Foreman created this book after a visit to Dubai and in his introductory note writes, ‘When you are in Dubai, among its glistening towers, it is easy to forget that this city was built in a desert and its roots are firmly in the Bedouin culture. Central to that culture … the camel.’ Everything about this tender tale of friendship, determination and adventure evokes, and pays tribute to, the desert and to that Bedouin culture: one can almost feel the shimmering heat and respond to an urge to cover eyes and ears as the sandstorm approaches
Little Jamal’s feelings – panic, fear, hope, surprise, delight, and finally, joy, are all shown through Foreman’s superbly expressive camel eyes. The word ‘jamaal’ in Arabic means beauty and some people think there is a link between its J-M-L root structure and ‘jamal’ meaning camel (which has the same root). True or not, Foreman certainly, in this book, has created something beautiful.

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Message in a Bottle

There have been several personalised books launched in the past couple of years and as far as I know this is one of the most recent. Here, established picture book author Tom Percival joins forces with Finnish book publisher/illustrator Tuire Siiriainen in a project for adults and children together and the outcome is:

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Message in a Bottle
Tom Percival and Tuire Siiriainen
Blueberry & Pie
Meet Kiki, a Scarlet Hawaiian Honeycreeper who longs for adventure. When a bottle containing a message is washed up on the shore of her island home, it seems she’s being offered an opportunity to fulfil her dearest wish, to travel and see the world beyond her own tropical environs. Kiki resolves to deliver the message – bottle and all.
Now what this message is, and who is to receive it, is where the personalised part comes in: the giver of the book presumably already having decided upon its recipient, now creates the message that Kiki finds. This can be written in English or one of the other European languages offered: French, Polish, Luxembourgish or German. The message can be one of those suggested by the publisher or composed entirely by the sender of the book.
References to the recipient and their address are made throughout the story helping to heighten the engagement as Kiki’s journey progresses. That’s getting ahead of things though, for Kiki has no idea which way even to start flying.
With assistance – or not – from a somewhat confused clackety-clawed crab …

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a whale, a grizzly bear, a plover with no sense of direction, a sailfish, a troop of monkeys who squabble over the bottle, and a wise owl, Kiki and bottle meander their way across the globe from her Pacific island via North and South America, the Atlantic, Africa and Europe to England’s shore, and finally, onto the windowsill of the recipient’s bedroom.

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For Leo, only just four, this was the climax of the book. Having been riveted throughout the story, absorbed by the vibrantly coloured, cartoon style illustrations, and excited at the references to his address and name throughout, as well as listening avidly to the message in the bottle, he was less engaged with the final part about Kiki’s return home.
Older recipients of the personalised book will I suspect, be fascinated to discover Kiki’s Kids online club where, by clicking on the interactive map, they can find out more about the fourteen animals from the story.

To order your own personalised copy of the book visit the Message in a Bottle website.

Otto the Book Bear in the Snow

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Otto the Book Bear in the Snow
Katie Cleminson
Jonathan Cape
If you didn’t meet library book residents Otto and his pal Ernest in their first adventure, then take the opportunity to do so now in this wintry one. Otto and all his library friends are getting ready for their annual winter party, an occasion Otto eagerly anticipates. But then Otto’s book is borrowed and the family doesn’t seem very eager to return it – worrying because that party date is looming ever closer. Even worse is to come though: the family departs for a holiday leaving Otto and Ernest all alone in the house, a house that’s right across the city from their library home –and a great distance for the two book bears to carry their book. Another strategy must be found and fast. All it needs is an envelope, some stamps and …

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That WAS the plan but things don’t quite go as they’d hoped. The postman drops the sack as he cycles along the snowy road and CRASH! The friends find themselves hurtling into the path of an on-coming car. Phew!

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Narrow escape but the library’s still a long, long walk away. Can they ever make it home, let alone in time for that party?
A real treat for lovers of books, reading, libraries and of course, bears. Katie Cleminson’s scenes, executed in pen and ink, watercolour and pencil, have something of a vintage feel to them.

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Return

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Return
Aaron Becker
Walker Books
This is the finale to the wonderful wordless picture book trilogy that began with Journey and Quest, and an absolute MUST to complete the story.
We’re taken once again to that world where , in the right hands, crayons command power taking readers and protagonists to exotic lantern-lit landscapes with that purple-plumed bird, dragons, castles and architectural wonders.
It begins with a father hard at work over his drawing board upstairs while downstairs the little girl seizes her red crayon and draws a door. This time though, it’s not only the child who passes through; her father too steps into the magical landscape …

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joining the girl on another adventure with some familiar friends, and inevitably, adversaries, notably an evil, horned warrior who invades the castle …

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seizing the magical coloured crayons from the hands of the crown wearers (king, girl and boy). Father and the two children set off in pursuit …

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Like the father herein, readers are captured and captivated by Becker’s elaborate watercolour and ink kingdom as each new page of the adventure is explored until finally, the villains are vanquished …

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and then it’s time for father and daughter to make their way back home through that same door from whence they came.

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This is a book to spend time over for sure, and to revisit over and over, with every reading adding to and enriching the whole amazing experience. It’s one of those reading experiences that every child should have, an enormously rewarding journey that I urge you to give every child you know the opportunity to undertake.

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Wild Imaginings by Day & Night

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Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes
Tim Wynne-Jones and Brian Won
Walker Books
Who wouldn’t want a pair of funky tiger-striped trainers like those acquired by the young hero of this delightfully quirky book? That’s getting ahead of the story though. First, meet S.A.M. Secret Agent Man, a boy with a fertile imagination …

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Oops! That’s getting ahead too but that’s the way this Wynne-Jones’ story works. Let’s get back to the start with K. and the lad in question. K. – his carer? Mum? – or sidekick? is busy … when she decides her charge needs new footwear.
Off they go to the shop and eventually, despite his original thoughts on rocket shoes or vanishing ones, S.A.M. decides on ones with tiger stripes. (They have laces, but that’s part of the challenge when you’re a super hero.)

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In fact two pairs are purchased – one child sized, the other adult – K. gets the same kind; then off they go for a spot of lunch.

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The day continues with all kinds of danger and attempted dastardly deeds (someone tries stealing the Plans for World Domination, no less), spy meetings and the disappearance of K.

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But, nothing’s too difficult for S.A.M. now he’s sporting those tiger trainers and off he goes. Did I just see him tie those laces himself? – to undertake a rescue mission of the trickiest kind. ROAR!
As the story moves between the boy’s imagined, ‘undercover’ life, and his real one, Brian Won switches from shades of blue and black to a full-colour palette in his retro-style illustrations. Cleverly conceived and skilfully executed, this shift between the boy’s two worlds is effectively managed and I particularly like the restaurant scene wherein child and adult become co-conspirators and fellow roarers. Hurray for childhood’s imagination and for all those adults who manage to retain their playful inner-child.

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Is That an Elephant in My Fridge?
Caroline Crowe and Claudia Ranucci
Scholastic Children’s Books
I liked Fred from the outset: he’s a divergent thinker. When his mum suggests counting sheep to help the boy drop off to sleep, Fred instead, decides to count elephants: he visualises them too. Visualises them in all manner of exciting scenarios …

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until things begin to get out of control …

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Finally Fred has to take matters in hand …

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After all the exhausting action, unsurprisingly as soon as Fred’s head hits the pillow again, he’s fast asleep: no more counting elephants for him.
A book to induce delight for sure: it’s certainly true of those I’ve shared it with. I suggest you don’t use it as a bedtime story however; you never know what might ensue …

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Claudia Ranucci’s energetic illustrations – this is her UK picture book debut – highlight the humour of Caroline Crow’s telling splendidly.

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Take Flight: The Sky Guys & Treats for a T.Rex

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The Sky Guys
Madeleine Rogers and Jason Hook
Button Books
Cleverly conceived and beautifully designed and presented – a simple rhyming text by Jason Hook and strikingly bold illustrations by Madeleine Rogers – combine to make a book that will attract young readers but more than that, one that will keep those readers engaged throughout. It presents basic information about five bird species – the majestic albatross, the elegant flamingo, the wise owl, the guzzling pelican …

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and the tiny hummingbird, each of which is given two double spreads to display itself in all its glory.

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Did you know that an owl’s head can turn to face backwards  – impressive, or that the hummingbird uses its long beak like a drinking straw to sip nectar from flowers?
And if that’s not enough to bring these wonderful creatures to life, inside the back cover is an envelope containing press out templates of the five birds that are easy to make with a bit of folding and sticking (the youngest fingers might need a little adult support). Then once constructed, these can be used, along with the basic scenery, similarly made, to act out the narrative using the inside back cover as a fold-out backdrop.

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What a cool idea for a book that is bound to result in maximum young child-involvement.

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Treats for a T. Rex
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Lee Wildish
Egmont Books
George embarks on his sixth adventure with his doggie pal, Trixie and he’s hoping to discover a real live T. rex. Off the two fly on a hang-gliding contraption, soaring above cities and far out over oceans to their destination, a volcanic island.

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Thereon Trixie spots what she thinks is a ball but turns out to be a huge dinosaur egg. It’s not the T.rex though, but a baby pterodactyl. This is only the first of their alarming dinosaur encounters; but after some tricky teaching by Trixie, the two friends finally find themselves face to face with the object of their search …

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Can they pull off one more trick or will George and Trixie become the next meal for that hungry T.rex towering above them?
George already has many young fans who follow his adventures eagerly; this latest will please them and likely win him more. There’s plenty going on in Lee Wildish’s bold, bright illustrations to entertain; and the Guillains’ rhyming text is a fun listen to.

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Claude All At Sea

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Claude All at Sea
Alex T.Smith
Hodder Children’s Books
What joy! A Claude picture book and it’s a corker of a one too, methinks. If you don’t know Claude, these are the essentials: he’s a small plump pooch who sports, in normal circumstances (if there are such with Claude), a red beret and jumper and lives with his owners, Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes and his best pal, Sir Bobbysock. He and Claude have an adventure every day, once Mr and Mrs S. have departed for work, that is.
On this particular day Claude has got himself into a right painty mess and is in dire need of a bath; so having stashed his painting gear and grabbed his bath toys, off he goes up to the bathroom to turn on the taps ready to perform his ablutions. Or rather, that’s the plan. What actually happens is something altogether else. Before anybody can say ‘You both forgot about the water’ here’s the result …

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which, they quickly discover is ‘very wet and stonking good fun!’
Hang on; what are all those signs that have caught the eye of Sir Bobbysock about?

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The pair quickly discover when they find themselves in a very dark, damp place; and they’re not alone down there. Three people, not to mention a steam-boat, desperately require some Claude style assistance; and helping is one of Claude’s favourite things to do.

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Out comes his trusty red beret into which he just happened to have stashed all manner of potentially useful stuff …

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However, nothing quite works and just when it seems they might be stuck, in Sir B’s words ‘for ever!’ he’s smitten with an attack of hiccups and THIS gives Claude a brilliant idea; one involving a paintbrush and a spot of tickling.
Is this idea sufficiently brilliant to effect a successful rescue though? Well that would be telling and story spoiling now wouldn’t it …
Let’s just say that one of the other objects in Claude’s beret eventually makes a certain large, voracious guzzler a very happy creature.
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant fun; every spread brims over with visual and verbal delights. If you enjoy quirky; don’t miss this one … Actually, just don’t miss it.

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We’re in the Wrong Book

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We’re in the Wrong Book!
Richard Byrne
Oxford University Press
Ben and Bella (plus her dog) from This Book Just Ate My Dog return for another crazy adventure, or rather, a whole host of adventures as their jump-in-a sack game results in them – Ben and Bella that is – being unceremoniously bumped right off the page …

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and into …

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They don’t stop there though: another jump takes them to a comic book housed in a library where a very helpful librarian, having heard the description of their book, sends them off to one that matches their criteria – tall buildings and an enormous dog but …

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And even the puzzling mazes don’t lead to ‘their’ book; in fact a dinner invitation is issued at their next port of call …

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Fortunately we readers are able to come to their rescue here and the friends undertake a nifty bit of paper folding , not to mention a spot of creative colouring to get themselves to safety

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– almost anyway  …

 

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But let’s give the final word to that dog of Bella’s …

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Totally engaging and full of diversions that are best kept to a second or third reading. If not, their plea will go unanswered and the two pals will be forever stuck between the pages of ‘the WRONG BOOK’ …

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