Mice in the City: Around the World
Thames & Hudson
Busker, Stanley Mouse is off on his travels. Pigeon has booked him a place aboard Mrs Crombie’s Skyship; he’s got his passport, a snack, his banjo and is ready for the off: first stop Paris. What Mrs C. doesn’t know is that beneath the deck is an extra passenger.
Unsurprisingly with his penchant for cheese of the whiffy Camembert and Roquefort varieties, this city is one that assaults Stanley’s sensory organs, but he overindulges and then pays the price.
Brazil, with its streets teeming with Samba dancing mice is the next stop. It’s Carnival time and so everyone has to keep moving to the beat: Stanley is soon quite worn out and in need of sustenance and a quiet place to partake of same.
From there it’s on to New York where Stanley plays for some mice to spin to on the dance floor but this almost makes him miss the ship’s departure to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – a great place for a swim with the tropical fish.
China, Etosha National Park in Namibia,
Moscow, Tokyo, India – in particular Agra’s Taj Mahal, Germany’s Black Forest, Mexico City. Amsterdam, Seoul and one of my favourite cities – Barcelona, are also on his itinerary before the Skyship touches down once more in Trafalgar Square.
I’m surprised he isn’t too Skyship-lagged so to do, but Stanley is eager to share his new songs and regale his experiences to those that greet him after all the excitement.
My goodness! What an exhausting adventure. It’s one that’s jam-packed with visual treats to amuse young readers and keep them engrossed for hours. Those who are already familiar with previous titles in the series will be happy to add this tale of two intrepid travellers to their collection; newcomers will also want to explore Mice in the City: London and Mice in the City: New York.
Mango & Bambang Superstar Tapir
Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy
I have to admit that I’m a great fan of the Mango & Bambang series, this being the fourth book; and they seem to go on getting better and better.
What is the snowiest meal you can think of: whatever it is I’ll bet it’s not half as delicious as that consumed by the little girl and her best friend and tapir, Bambang in the first of these four linked, although separate, stories. It happens because, Mango is trying to provide the best possible experience of snow for her pal without there actually being any likelihood of the chilly precipitation in their neck of the woods, especially as it’s summer. Instead she decides to ‘bring snow to the tapir’; and they end up breakfasting on lemon sorbet, cream soda, crushed ice topped with whipped cream plus meringue chunks and marshmallows – white ones naturally. That of course is only part of their snowy Saturday outing, which does get more than a little hairy at times …
The whole episode is sheer delight though, especially the finale that you’ll have to discover for yourself by getting your hands on a copy of this enchanting book.
In the other three stories, they spend a night at the fair and poor Bambang ends up with Bambang sustaining a rather nasty injury, inflicted by one of the duo’s arch enemies when Bambang puts his own safety second in order to protect Mango.
Being quick to recover though, its only a few days before the two are ready for their next two adventures, the final one of which sees them reunited with Bambang’s somewhat sassy, diminutive young cousin Gunter at the international premiere of his new film.
I absolutely love Bambang’s assessment of the canapés offered as ‘just normal food, made too small.’
Charm simply oozes from these wonderfully uplifting, fun-filled tales; but what over-arches everything is the bond of affection between the two main protagonists, one of which has an unfailing capacity for innocent havoc wreaking.
As always, Clara’s delectable, retro-style illustrations – this time with touches of orange – add visual charm to Polly’s stories; the combination once again creating the perfect book for newly independent readers, or for sharing with those not yet ready to fly solo.
If you’ve yet to be delighted by this team, get a copy of this book right away; I suspect you’ll then want to read their previous stories too.
I’ve signed the charter
The Everywhere Bear
Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb
Macmillan Children’s Books
Those of us who work with young children have probably had at some time, a travelling ted or other soft toy that either went home in a storysack, with each child in turn, together with a book for drawing/writing their experiences; or one that accompanied individual pupils when they went away on holiday, again accompanied by a diary or similar for photos/notes, tickets and other things of interest to be added, and shared on their return. I recall a lurid pink one named Roamin’ Ted that went to places as varied as rural Punjab, Dubai, Disney Land Florida and Canada. (Yes, in term time; but that was the whole point of the book.)
This story, penned by Julia Donaldson, is one of the former kind and he belongs to the pupils of Class One. Their arrangement is that each child in turn takes him home on a Friday and brings him back on the following Monday, regaling his experiences to the rest of the class.
He certainly has all manner of adventures – bus rides, horse riding, tasting lots of new foods; he becomes a pirate, a king and tries some active pursuits such as soccer, handstands and den making. In fact there aren’t many things he doesn’t experience, hence his name.
One rainy day though, while in Matt’s care, The Everywhere Bear accidentally escapes into the wide world …
is washed down a drain and ends up on the high seas.
Will Class One ever see their favourite roving bear again? And, if so, where will he turn up?
This is a thoroughly engaging book for a multitude of reasons; not least Rebecca Cobb’s wonderfully warm illustrations. Packed with so many captivating details to pore over, adult readers will want to give listeners plenty of opportunities to explore each spread after they’ve heard the story all through; and, as one would expect, Julia Donaldson’s rhyming tale is sheer pleasure to read aloud; and it pays homage to a very important place which is sadly under threat throughout the country.