Where’s Will? / Spot the Dinosaur on the Island

Where’s Will?
Tilly and Anna Claybourne
Ivy Kids

Published a while back but new to this reviewer (thanks to the publishers for sending it now) this is a Shakespearean search-and-find extravaganza that presents the bard in an accessible way for young audiences; and let’s face it none of us is going to be able to see a live performance of any of the plays featured in the foreseeable future.

Anna Claybourne has chosen what are arguably, the ten most popular stories show-casing each one through a context setting summary, for instance ‘Twelfth Night is a comedy, and once again Shakespeare’s plot involves the mix-ups caused by people wearing disguises‘, and a story board outline of its plot, along with its cast, that she and artist, Tilly, present on the first of two spreads.

The second is a busy panoramic scene wherein the characters are hiding in plain sight for readers to find; so too is the playwright himself who insists on putting in an appearance in each of his featured works (as does a pig for some reason).

The original language isn’t retained in the storyboard texts – probably an impossible task – but readers familiar with any of the plays could try choosing an appropriate line or two for each vignette, thus adding a further dimension to using the book.
The artist has chosen different tones for each play, thus helping to capture both the drama’s setting and the spirit of its performance.
Some Shakespeare aficionados will likely throw up their hands in horror at all this, but it’s a case of ‘to see, or not to see’ and this bard enthusiast recommends seeing; it’s a case of the more you look, the more you see.

Books such as this could be a boon in the forthcoming weeks, and this one is surely both immersive and entertaining.

For younger search-and-find enthusiasts try:

Spot the Dinosaur on the Island
Stella Maidment and Joelle Dreidemy
QED

Again not brand new but worth getting hold of and sharing with little ones at that dinosaur-mad age most of them go through.

Herein, Joelle Dreidemy’s alluring, bold, bright scenes offer plenty for youngsters to see including a playful baby T. Rex that hides on every double spread while Stella Maidment’s brief narrative guides users, giving snippets of information throughout the adventure.

We visit first the island in its entirety, followed by a sequence of closer-in views of dinosaurs feeding,

moving, hatching, showing off their protective features and some even enjoy a dip, while others take to the air. Then there are those like Pleiosaurus that actually lived in the sea, so there’s plenty of visual information to absorb, as well as five items to spot on each spread.

The last scene is a busy archaeological dig and this is followed by ‘More to Spot’ – an invitation to take another look, a ‘Did you know?’ page and finally, some crafty fun.

 

The Surprising Lives of Animals

The Surprising Lives of Animals
Anna Claybourne and Stef Murphy
Ivy Kids

The author of this look at animal lives talks in her introduction of the close link between humans and other animals, dividing the book into five aspects of behaviour that we all exhibit. She then goes on to explore elements of each one through a wide variety of animals both large and small, using playfulness (Having Fun), Thinking and Feeling, Everyday Life, co-existence and community (Living Together), and Settling Down and reproducing, as themes.

Adults as well as young readers will find plenty of interest: I was surprised to learn for instance that seagulls have been observed playing catch by dropping a stick or a stone from high up in the sky then swooping down to catch it before it reaches the ground – an aspect of playfulness so some scientists think.

Did you know that octopuses are highly intelligent and are able to work out how to undo screw-top jars and childproof containers to get their tentacles on tasty snacks?

Or that that an African grey parrot named Alex, studied by animal brain scientist Dr Irene Pepperberg was able to identify different colours, shapes and materials, and sort items into categories? This is just one of the numerous things she discovered during her 30 years of training and working with the bird.

Equally clever in their own way are the Army ants found in South America that are able to build bridges out of their own bodies. Then having done so they use the bridges to get across gaps and work co-operatively until all members of a colony have traversed the gap. That’s teamwork for you.

Anna Claybourne mentions the work of a number of animal scientists in her ‘Scientist Spotlight’ insets. Her narrative style makes the entire book highly readable as well as informative; and Stef Murphy’s illustrations illuminate not only the animals’ fascinating behaviours but also their habitats and characteristics.

Recommended for family bookshelves as well as primary school collections.