Tag Archives: Brian Won

Wild Imaginings by Day & Night


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 …


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.)


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.


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.


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.


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 …


until things begin to get out of control …


Finally Fred has to take matters in hand …


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 …


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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Spread a Little Happiness

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Hooray For Hat!
Brian Won
Andersen Press pbk
If, like Elephant, you ever wake up feeling grumpy then this is definitely the book for you. When said pachyderm awakes in a very bad mood he discovers a parcel on his doorstep. Perfect timing; its contents have an immediate mood lifting effect. “HOORAY FOR HAT!” he cheers and off he goes to show Zebra, but Zebra too has the grumps,

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until that is Elephant gives him a hat. Guess what they say …
There are several other grumpy animals that day and there follows a kind of cheer-spreading domino effect. Before long Turtle, Owl, Lion all have hats but why is Lion still looking glum? Giraffe is poorly, he explains. “What can we do?” Young audiences will supply the answer forthwith …
Great art work: I love Won’s slightly whimsical style. He has used contrasting light and dark to effect with animals emerging from dark backgrounds (Turtle his shell, Owl his tree trunk and Lion his cave) into brightness as they join the ‘hat-fest’. And how well Elephant chooses each time – a party hat for Zebra, a wacky broad-brimmed panama for Turtle, a mortarboard for Owl,

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a crown for Lion.
Great message – no matter how you feel – embrace the day and with simple acts of kindness you can spread goodwill and cheer.
Great ending –

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Moreover, with its patterned language, predictability and bold clear print, learner readers will soon be able to take over and read the whole thing for themselves and I’m sure they will, over and over with great delight.

Great debut; I look forward eagerly to the next book.

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Roman Milisic and A.Richard Allen
Harper Collins Children’s Books pbk
The pristine town wherein this story is set is hoping to win the ‘Tidiest Town Competition’ for the third year running. That is before the pernickety mayor notices an oversized flower in one of the beds, complains out loud and is overheard by Fussy Great Ape. His delicate touch fixes the flower but in so doing, he trashes the whole flowerbed.

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CUPPA COCOA! APES-a-GO-GO!” he calls and thus begins a concatenation of repair and destruction as ape after ape responds to the call: there’s Mucky Great Ape, Sopping Great Ape, Thumping Great Ape, Sweeping Great Ape. Then who should turn up but Baking Great Ape, experienced in disaster fixing and what better way to fix this particular disaster than with an enormous chocolate cake. Mmmm! Before long, the mayor and all the townsfolk are tucking in and having a great time. Meanwhile those apes are busy setting the town back to rights – well almost. But who is going to clear up after the party wonders the mayor – Smashing Great Ape perhaps?

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Completely crazy: as those apes pile disaster upon disaster, their capers cannot fail to lift your mood . I can guarantee that if you share this one with a class of infants the whole lot will soon be shouting that ape-summoning refrain with you and that call might well spread out into the playground and beyond.
Order with a slice of chocolate cake for complete satisfaction and feast your eyes on those ape-filled retro illustrations.

Find and buy from your local bookshop:


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The Squawks
Ruth Thorp
Raw Mixture Publishing
Meet the Squawks – a troop of birds of many different shapes and sizes, mostly blue with an occasional red or yellow feathered one. These happy-go-lucky creatures get up to all manner of crazy antics such as telegraph wire teetering, dancing

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and keeping fit. Avoid them though in squally weather and when they engage in board games; that’s when their tempers become frayed.
With a limited colour palette and a plethora of tongue tingling words, Ruth Thorp has created a playful picture book that demonstrates to young listeners that words are fun – fun to hear, fun to mess about with, fun to write and fun to invent. I love the way the print twirls and swirls across some of the pages in harmony with the Squawks. Just the thing to help foster a love of language for its own sake.
Buy from http://www.thesquawks.co.uk/