This is Not a Unicorn / Ruffles and the Red, Red Coat

Two fun picture books from Nosy Crow Books – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

This Is Not a Unicorn
Barry Timms and Ged Adamson

This is a wonderfully silly tale of a ‘NOT’ unicorn with a very special horn that is able to morph into all sorts of incredible things. So, be ready for a truly magical adventure wherein, along with a little girl, readers participate in a hilarious corn-u-copia of delight as they experience the appendage that becomes, among other things a trumpet, an ice cream scoop, a pump, a wishing wand, a ginormous fishing net, a feather duster, a helicopter rotor blade, an angle poise lamp,

an x-ray machine, even a space rocket – awesome!

Central to this rhyming romp of a book, replete with fun wordplay, is the warm friendship between the two main characters as they let their imaginations take flight.

Ged Adamson portrays the creature with a rainbow-hued mane, the dayglo pink and other colours being picked out in other details in every one of his wonderfully imagined scenes.

With unicorns remaining one of the favourite characters among younger children, Barry Tims and Ged Adamson created a winner here.

Ruffles and the Red, Red Coat
David Melling

Adorable pooch Ruffles loves to do the usual doggy kind of things such as playing, sniffing, fetching, digging and chewing; but there’s one thing he does NOT love at all and that’s his new red coat. He absolutely hates the thing to the extent that he manages to extricate himself from it and cast it aside. But then he decides that he really wants to go outside in the rain, play in the puddles and have a jolly good time.

Out he goes and soon along comes his friend, Ruby sporting her brand new blue coat. Together they romp, frolic and jump

until some large bully dogs arrive and that’s the end of their puddle. Now Ruffles is wet, cold and grumpy but Ruby is still in a playful mood and tries to encourage Ruffles to play again – with no success.

Off she goes leaving him all alone but then back she comes carrying something red. Can she persuade her Ruffles to think again about his hated garment?

David Melling’s combination of simple text and illustrations that positively exude charm, work really well in what is sure to become a favourite with under fives. Slightly older children might start reading some of the words themselves.

Afraid of the Dark / Noah and the Starbird

Here are two picture books  about dealing with difficult situations – thanks Little Tiger for sending these warm-hearted stories

Afraid of the Dark
Sarah Shaffi, Isabel Otter and Lucy Farfort

Moving to a new home is often scary and so it is for the little girl, Amy, who does so with her Dad and dog, Pickle in this story.
Dad is very positive about the move, but not so Amy and Pickle; it just doesn’t feel like home. Her bedroom seems full of strange sounds and shadowy creatures waiting to leap. A night’s sleep might have sent the monsters packing but still that queasy feeling remains.

A visit to the library helps a little,

especially when the kind librarian finds just the right book to transport Amy to a faraway land of adventure when her  dad reads it to her that night. But once he’s gone from her bedroom, back come those monsters.

Next morning seems a little brighter. Children outside wave and invite Amy to play with them in their den. It looks a bit dark inside, but Pickle is willing to go inside so she follows and lo and behold inside a wonderful warm welcome awaits thanks to Sofia and Bilal.

Could this be the beginning of the banishment of those scary monsters. Can Amy send the lurking shadows packing once and for all? …

Sensitively told, this story, demonstrates beautifully how it always takes time to adjust to new situations; and how love and friendship can make all the difference when it comes to coping with first experience fear. Lucy Farfort captures Amy’s fearful feelings perfectly in her illustrations, as well as her dad’s concern and warmth, and the wonderful kindness of the children who welcome her.

Noah and the Starbird
Barry Timms and Faye Hsu

Noah’s dad is ill and has gone to hospital, so Noah is staying with his kind, reassuring, Granny. As they unpack Noah’s things together, the boy notices a lamp inside which is a bird.
Granny tells him it belonged to her grandma and at bedtime Granny suggests to Noah that the bird might have magical powers.

As the boy lies wide awake in bed worrying about his dad, he’s startled by a sound. It’s the bird from the lamp. She introduces herself as Starbird, promising that his father is safe. She sings a lullaby, pulls out one of her tail feathers and gives it to Noah who eventually falls asleep.

The following morning, on hearing what happened Granny tells Noah he has a special magical friend but even she cannot hasten the process of his Daddy getting well. Instead Starbird provides a listening ear again that night before Noak goes to sleep.
Next day the news from the hospital isn’t what Noah hopes, but with some special strength from the magic feather, he and Granny create a collage bird to keep up their spirits.

Can Starbird use her magical powers to help Noah’s Daddy get well again?

Kindness, courage and friendship shine forth from this gentle story: I think right now, the entire world could do with a feather like the one therein.

Impossible! / I’m Sorry

Here are two recently published picture book from Little Tiger:

Impossible!
Tracey Corderoy and Tony Neal

Dog runs a laundry in a busy city but has a longing to see the ocean.

One day he comes upon Ocean Magic, a new kind of washing powder. The product promises ‘seaside freshness with every wash’ but apparently there’s something else within the box too.
Into the machine goes the powder and out later, along with the clean washing, emerges a crab suffering from a bad attack of nausea.

Dog and Crab discuss the situation over a cuppa

and eventually after declaring several times that driving Crab all the way back home is impossible, Dog lets himself be persuaded to undertake the trip.

Off they go together on a journey that takes several weeks during which they create a special memories map of their trip.

En route they encounter other travellers with seemingly impossible challenges of their own.

Now it’s Dog’s turn to utter the ‘nothing is impossible unless you say so’ maxim and with the assistance of their new friends, Dog and Crab finally reach their destination.

Both are delighted with the ocean paradise but then Dog declares he must return to his city job – or must he?

Follow your dreams and don’t allow obstacles to stand in your way, is the message Tracey’s tale imparts to youngsters. Equally the ‘it’s only impossible if you say so’ message is one we all need to remember especially in challenging times.

Tony Neal’s bright, lively, illustrations inject additional humour into the telling offering fun details to enjoy on every spread.

I’m Sorry!
Barry Timms and Sean Julian

In Walnut Wood live best friends, Scribble (squirrel) and Swoop (owl) and each morning they walk a considerable distance bringing their special things to their regular meeting spot.

Scribble has a special pencil that acts as word assistant in his play script writing, the finished dramas entertaining his friend. Swoop’s special thing is a toolbox that enables her to build anything and everything.

One day they decide to move in together; their place has ‘room for two and a little left over’.

It’s the left over bit – the veranda – that causes a rift, for each has designs on it.

A huge row ensues over the ownership of this: should it be a stage or a workshop?

Scribble decides to try and make amends with the aid of his trusty pencil but can a single word apology fix things or is something else needed?

There’s food for thought and discussion with little ones in this story that demonstrates that sometimes actions speak louder than words. Sean Julian’s beautifully expressive watercolour illustrations are for me the true show-stealers in this book.

The Wonder Machine

The Wonder Machine
Barry Timms and Laura Brenlla
Little Tiger

Something of a reclusive character, Wolf is an inventor, the world’s greatest so we’re told.

One day she decides to make a machine that will be a world changer and with that in mind she consults a large nameless book wherein she finds these words, ‘The wonder machine! / The wonder machine! / A gadget like nothing that / you’ve ever seen! From mittens to music, / from cushions to cakes, / The thing you most need / is the thing that it makes!’
Her search for the components required to construct such a marvel take her for the first time ever, away from her home and across onto the mainland.

Once there, she encounters, and helps in turn Squirrel,

Owl and a family of foxes. For each kind deed she receives a gift of thanks. First a garden rake, then a fishing reel and finally, a silver spoon: the very items she needs to complete her Wonder Machine.

Back at home she sets to work next morning, toiling all day until her creation is ready. Although from it there comes wonderful music, Wolf doesn’t feel the satisfaction she’d eagerly anticipated. But then as she sits downheartedly

there comes a realisation and a wonderful surprise …

All of which shows that stepping outside your comfort zone, paying it forward and sharing your talent are enormously rewarding.

Barry Timms’ tipping, tapping text flows along nicely sweeping readers along with it, eager to find out everything about Wolf’s invention, while on the way they’ll enjoy her exchanges with the other characters and empathise with her highs and lows as the story builds to its satisfying musical finale. All this is appealingly shown in Laura Brenlla’s rural scenes with their peepholes, flaps and foldouts.

Where Happiness Lives / One Day So Many Ways

Where Happiness Lives
Barry Timms and Greg Abbott
Little Tiger

What is your idea of a perfect house; perhaps it’s similar to one of the three we visit courtesy of their mouse owners each of which thinks they have the perfect home, to begin with that is.

First off we visit Grey Mouse’s residence: it’s just the right size for him and his family and it’s built in the shade of a wonderful oak tree. In short, it’s just perfect.

 

But then out walking one day, he comes upon an impressive-looking residence with a balcony belonging to White Mouse. What more could any mouse want, thinks Grey Mouse. But he’s soon to find out, for his new acquaintance too has his sights set on a bigger, better residence.

Together the two set off to climb the mountain whereon this amazing place is to be found. Herein lives Brown Mouse who is quick to invite her visitors in for a guided tour of her luxurious home.

A surprise is in store though, for Brown Mouse has a telescope and what she shows her visitors through its lens causes them to stop and rethink the whole notion of home and contentment.

Greg Abbott’s mice are truly enchanting and there’s a plethora of cutaways and flaps to explore and delight little ones in the splendid illustrations that accompany Barry Timms’ engaging, gentle rhyming narrative.

One Day So Many Ways
Laura Hall and Loris Lora
Lincoln Children’s Books

None of us adults spends their day in exactly the same way and so it is with children and the latter is the focus of Laura Hall and Loris Lora’s splendidly diverse close up on the lives of some 40 children from different parts of the world over 24 hours. Readers will be able to compare and contrast as they follow the youngsters as they wake up in their various homes, have breakfast and go to school.

We watch them as they learn, play, get together with friends, enjoy quiet times;

eat lunch, engage in sports, participate in creative activities and more.

After school there’s the inevitable homework for many; but there’s also time to spend with the family; time to read, to sleep and to dream.

Every spread in this lightning world tour focuses on a different aspect of the day with bright engaging artwork and brief descriptions. It’s a great book for opening up discussion among primary children and enormous fun to pore over particularly with another person.
Good to have on a family bookshelf or in your classroom library; either way it’s engaging and delivered with style.