We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt / Winnie and Wilbur Around the World

We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt
Goldie Hawk and Angie Rozelaar
Nosy Crow

Based on the nursery favourite ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’, I’m surprised nobody thought of a pumpkin-themed variation before. It’s definitely a goodie.

Herein we join three fearless pumpkin hunters – a little skeleton, a witch and a slightly unravelling little mummy – as they sally forth one beautiful night. Needless to say their path is obstructed by various things that they can’t go over, under or around.

First it’s watchful green-eyed moggies meow-meow(ing); then cobwebs – the sticky spiders’ variety – just right to ‘tickle-swish’ through.

Yikes! What about those ‘Flap-flap’ flapping bats – fortunately they look quite friendly, and then the trio come to a house, old, dark and spooky of course. Could a pumpkin be hidden therein?

There’s only one way to find out and that’s in …

and over those creaky-squeaky floorboards and of course, our adventurers aren’t scared, are they? …

Happy trick or treating …

At every page turn, day-glo colours leap out from Angie Rozelaar’s anything but scary spreads showing the mock-spooky sortie, and Goldie Hawk’s clever adaptation of a popular join-in narrative, this will assuredly enchant, rather than scare, young listeners and solo readers around Halloween time. (or any time come to that.)

Winnie and Wilbur Around the World
Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul
Oxford Children’s Books

Inspired by a visit to the library and animal books in particular, Winne and Wilbur embark on a world trip with the aim of visiting all the animals featured in the book they’d seen (and decided to borrow).

All it takes is a hastily packed suitcase, duly attached to the broomstick, a glance at the book and a wave of Winnie’s wand;  up and away they go to land in a tree house surrounded by giraffes – very hungry ones.

Prompted by picture two (and sans lunch) they whizz on to an oasis where dates, camels’ milk and an exceedingly hot, bumpy ride await.

A spot of kangaroo bouncing (Wilbur) comes next, followed by some panda spotting (Winnie finds the creatures dull); then a too close for comfort encounter with an enormous whale …

and a polar bear.

An elephant, an aardvark and meerkats (not cat eaters happily) rendezvous leads them on to the final page and a jungle full of monkeys. Their mischief-making might well have caused the demise of both our plucky travellers but fortunately, all ends happily. With thoughts of their favourite animal in mind, and with the book duly returned to its place in the library, its time for the intrepid adventurers to relax.

What more can the countless fans of the duo want than this high-octane world trip by their favourite witch and her trusty moggy. Probably another reading of same, followed by further adventures. Perfect for Halloween and other story times.

The Colour of Happy / Some Days / A Thank You Walk

The Colour of Happy
Laura Baker and Angie Rozelaar
Hodder Children’s Books

This sweet, simple rhyming story of a boy finding a dandelion seed head and what happens thereafter is the means for an exploration of feelings for young children around the age of the child narrator, using a rainbow of emotions and the fluffy seed head.

The child, out walking with a pup, spies a dandelion clock: ’Yellow is for happy when I spot a special thing,’ he tells us and having picked it, hops and skips along. But when a gust of wind whisks his treasure away, the boy is engulfed in dark blue sadness.

His emotions then run through the colour spectrum: red for anger as he watches it sail away;

green for feelings of envy when he sees a girl with the seed head; grey when he cannot believe things will be okay; gold for the kindly response from a little girl, and the return of hope as they play together chasing the dandelion clock while it sails off again;

purple for the proud feeling when the boy again holds his treasure safe and bids his friend farewell; orange for the mounting excitement as he heads home and finally, pink as he reaches the front door with his somewhat depleted, love-filled offering …

Little ones will certainly relate to Laura Baker’s lovely story, which offers a great starting point for becoming mindful about their own responses to situations. With a foundation stage class, I envisage children talking about the book, their own feelings with regard to a particular happening; and then perhaps responding with paints or whatever medium they feel right, in music or a dance with coloured scarves perhaps.

Some Days
Karen Kaufman Orloff and Ziyue Chen
Sterling Children’s Books

We all experience different feelings at different times and so it is with young children and this book, with Karen Kaufman’s lively rhyming text and Ziyue Chen’s warmly hued illustrations, conveys that huge gamut of emotions through the course of a year.

Through two young children, we share in their everyday highlights such as ‘chocolate pudding pie day’s’, ‘Kites up in the sky days. Jumping super high days’; the joys of swimming and sunbathing;

as well as the downs – a nasty cut knee for instance.

Some days are extra special like that for ‘picking out a pup’ or winning a cup. Then come fussy mum days

and days when raincoats just won’t do, and there are  too wet to play football days with glum stay indoors faces; better though are snow angel making days and watching a warm fire days.

The author acknowledges those bad days when everything feels wrong

and those when it’s best to be alone.

Finally comes ‘Learning to be me days’ which is really the essence of the whole, a book that celebrates the positive but doesn’t gloss over the negative feelings. It’s a good starting point for discussion in an early years setting, or after a one-to-one sharing at home, perhaps about how best to respond to and deal with negative emotions. After all, being mindful of, and being able to talk about, our emotions and feelings helps us best deal with them.

Helping to develop mindfulness in even younger children is:

A Thank You Walk
Nancy Loewen and Hazel Quintanilla
Words & Pictures

Nancy Loewen’s brief story of a mother and little girl walking their dog, Duke, is one of the Bright Start series aimed at developing emotional intelligence in the very young.

Simply expressed it tells how as they stroll hand in hand mother and child interact with the animals they encounter. The barking sounds of Duke, the chirping of birds eating seeds, a neighing pony fed carrots, an overturned beetle that they rescue, which flies off with a buzz-buzz,

are, the child is told, the creatures’ ways of saying thank you.

Cutely and expressively illustrated in black and white with orange pops, by Hazel Quintanilla the book demonstrates the importance of showing appreciation and thankfulness. It’s never too soon to start saying thank you and as an introduction to being mindful about expressing gratitude it offers a useful starter for a circle time session with a nursery group, or for individual sharing at home.

Monster Tales

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Love Monster & the Last Chocolate
Rachel Bright
Harper Collins pbk
On his return from holiday, chocaholic Love Monster discovers a large box of chocs by his front door. Who can have left me these he wonders as his mouth waters at the thought of its contents.

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Should he share them with his friends though, is his next consideration especially as there might not be sufficient or even worse, if someone choses his favourite or leaves him only the most disgusting flavor – unthinkable! Best to keep them all to himself decides Love Monster creeping indoors. But then, his guilty conscience strikes and out again shoots our LM to find his pals …

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Their response to his ‘generosity’ however comes as something of a surprise for when at their behest, LM opens the box, what does he find?

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A treat for chocaholics and monster lovers everywhere. Rachel Bright’s Little Monster – this is his third story – is indeed lovable. We all know several ‘Little Monsters’ I’m sure and they too will love to share in his thoughts and deeds. Follow your heart Little Monster.
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Don’t Call Me Sweet!
Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Angie Rozelaar
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk
What would you call a small, pale blue hairy monster with large round eyes and small white teeth that looks like this? – Whatever you do, as the title tells you, never, ever call him sweet. No matter that he accidentally falls into a muddy swamp while practicing stomping moves (then the name is SMELLY), or spatters himself with goo when making or rather messing, bug-eye stew. (SLIMY is the name this time.) Well, get ready to meet that stinky, slimy character as he sets out to do a spot of SCARING …
But what, are those enormous, hairy feet and huge toes?

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Who do they belong to and what are they waiting for?  …
Time to bring out that alter ego little monster.

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Despite his best efforts, this little monster, as created by his author and illustrator, is undoubtedly SWEET. But then that’s the whole point of this charming story. He’s just the kind of creature that small children love to create in their own pictures and models and I have no doubt that hearing this story will lead to a whole host of painting, drawing, collage creating, model-making, storying and more.
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DSCN2051Elmer and the Monster
David McKee
Andersen Press
Elmer seems unperturbed when, on his morning walk, his jungle friends in turn warn him of ‘a monster’ at large in the jungle. The birds, monkeys, tiger, the crocodiles, lion and even his fellow elephants are convinced it’s close at hand; they’ve all heard its fearsome roar. Then suddenly Elmer hears the roar too, very, very nearby. Into the clearing he peeps and there atop a rock sits its perpetrator – sobbing.

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Bloo-Bloo explains all to Elmer and then they both set off to find the other animals so the ‘monster’ can demonstrate his powerful vocal chords.
This time, it’s not just Elmer who has the last laugh – that is shared by everyone.
Young listeners too delight in the silly ending especially, because it provides an open invitation to join Bloo-Bloo in an almighty, resounding ROAR!

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Another winning addition to the Elmer series and a good one with which to join in Elmer’s 25th Anniversary celebrations – ROAR for little Bloo-Bloo and an even louder one for the wonderful ELMER.
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