Tag Archives: Caterpillar Books

The Big Beyond

The Big Beyond
James Carter and Aaron Cushley
Caterpillar Books

Using rhyming couplets, Poet James Carter blasts readers off in a rocket and whizzes them into deep space and backwards into history, to early stargazers and their telescopes.

We read of early attempts at flight in kites, balloons, gliders and aeroplanes, pausing in 1957 to watch Sputnik 1 orbiting, and in 1969  to see ‘Saturn Five’ rocket blast off and the lunar module from which two men emerged onto the moon’s surface.

We’re reminded of the various roles of satellites, spacecraft (sending home information), probes (exploring Mars), and crafts to land (air testing, soil sampling and more).
James’ final future suggestion is likely to tempt young readers’ rockets … will head through the atmosphere. We’ll need an astronaut (or two_ / so what do you think? / Could it be YOU?

In like fashion to his previous Once upon a Star the author concludes his whistle-stop historic foray with an acrostic – ROCKETS this time – that provides additional pointers for possible investigation by small space enthusiasts.

Cool endpapers and some enticing art by Aaron Cushley complete this package tour of the cosmos.

From Tiny Seeds … / A Walk Through Nature

From Tiny Seeds …
Émilie Vast
Thames & Hudson

Seed dispersal mechanisms and subsequent growth are showcased in Émilie Vast’s series of predominantly visual stories of how plants travel.

Ten different methods are documented, each story being allocated several pages. Some such as flying, that is used by the dandelion (and other composites) will be familiar to many children, since they love to play dandelion clocks.

In contrast, other methods like ‘Being eaten’ as happens to berries including blackberries and elderberries, will be less well known. The berries are food for birds or animals and are passed through the eater’s digestive system.

and excreted partially digested in their droppings, which then nourish the excreted seeds once they’re ready to germinate.

I particularly like her device whereby the respective plants introduce themselves and go on to tell their own stories.

It’s good to see how the important role of humans in distributing seeds to various different parts of the world is documented. Did you know that the green bean was originally only found in Central and South America but now grows all over the world.

Émilie’s love of nature is evident from her beautiful, stylised illustrations for which she uses predominantly black and white with limited bursts of colour on each page.

A Walk Through Nature
Clover Robin and Libby Walden
Caterpillar Books

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare –

So begins W.H.Davies’ famous poem Leisure. Perhaps with these opening lines in mind, as well as concern over the 2015 revelation of some 50 words relating to nature and the countryside, that are no longer included in the Oxford Junior Dictionary, the creators of this book aim to increase young children’s engagement with, and understanding of, the natural world.

The walk takes us through the seasons in addition to a variety of natural landscapes and habitats. We visit a meadow; a tree wherein birds are nesting; a pond with tadpoles, ducks and fishes swimming and water lilies and bulrushes growing.

We home in on minibeasts as they move over, under and sometimes through, an ancient log of wood;

and wander on the sandy beach in the early morning sun noticing the multitude of shells and crabs.

We’re shown seemingly magical changes – the hatching of a blue tit’s eggs, the emergence of a butterfly from its chrysalis,

and in the woods and fields, delve down beneath the earth where burrowing animals live.

We witness the gradual change from summer’s greens to autumnal hues; visit a mountainous region where a fresh spring begins its flow to the sea; and follow the migrating swallows as they depart for warmer climes.

Then back to what looks like the original meadow, snow falls transforming the landscape in ‘winter’s frosted cloak, sparkling, clear and bright.’

Finally as dusk spreads its rosy glow, day and night merge into one …

For each stopping place comprising a double spread with a gatefold perforated by small die-cuts, there’s an introductory poem by Libby, the final verse of which is revealed by opening the flap, beneath which are also small vignettes and accompanying factual snippets.

Clover’s collage style illustrations are gorgeous; each one merits spending time over and I really like the way the poems are each framed by a naturalistic collage that uses elements from the full page illustration.

Let’s hope that this ‘ Peek-through’, ‘first book of nature’ paves the way for youngsters to begin a life-long habit of going outdoors, walking and observing the beauties of the natural world.

Everybunny Dream! / Hop Little Bunnies / This is Owl / Sleep, My Bunny

Everybunny Dream!
Ellie Sandall
Hodder Children’s Books

Ellie Sandall’s latest Everybunny tale is essentially a bedtime story.

Through a gentle rhyming narrative and a sequence of captivating scenes, some frolicsome, others more peaceful, we share in the bedtime ritual of the little bunnies as they respond to their mother’s instructions,

until they’re tucked up cosily under the covers.

Who should appear suddenly though but another creature with a long orange bushy tail, also clad in night attire.

Before long there’s a host of baby fox cubs sitting with the little bunnies – who have now all hopped out of bed – avidly listening to a good night tale

and then it really is time to snuggle down altogether for some shut-eye and perhaps some pleasant dreams.

A lovely way to send your little ones off into the land of nod at the end of a busy day.

Hop Little Bunnies
Martha Mumford and Laura Hughes
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Based on nursery favourite Sleeping Bunnies, Martha Mumford has written a jaunty text that includes not only the bunnies of the original song but also fluffy lambs, tiny chicks, kittens and ducklings

all of which sleep until noon and wake up and make lots of noise.

They then go on to play for the rest of the day before a bedtime song sends them all off to sleep once more.

With plenty of flaps to investigate and sounds to make, Laura Hughes charming rural illustrations add to the springtime bounce of Martha’s words.

This cheery charmer is likely to become a much requested book for young listeners be that at home or in an early years setting.

After an initial sharing I’d suggest an action packed story session with sleeping, hopping, leaping and swimming, not forgetting baa-ing, cheeping, mewing and quacking.

Another book that invites interaction is:

This is Owl
Libby Walden and Jacqui Lee
Caterpillar Books
The sun is shining, Owl is fast asleep and doesn’t want to wake up but the book has to start so the reader’s help is needed to rouse our feathered friend.

Tummy tickling is only partially successful so the sun needs to be extinguished and replaced by a moon.

Hurrah Owl now has both eyes open but Beetle further along the branch is causing a distraction.

A considerable amount of page flapping is required to help Owl reach Beetle but then they both disappear. Oops! Where can Owl be?

With the help of several more birds Owl is eventually located and it seems one has become two for alongside is Other Owl.

Strangely the pair of them are doing a little uncharacteristic nest building so a bit of twig collecting from reader’s won’t come amiss.

Sometime later, once that threatening raincloud has gone, Owl has something in the nest to show off to readers.

By the time the sun starts to come up once again, two owls have become three and it’s time to bid them all farewell.

Feathery fun with a tad of scientific learning included, Libby Walden’s gently humorous, guiding words, in tandem with Jacqui Lee’s eye-catching, funny illustrations will certainly make for an active animal shared book experience.

Sleep, My Bunny
Rosemary Wells
Walker Books

Here’s a lovely way to wind down with your little one(s) at the end of the day.

Rosemary Wells’ gently flowing text reads like a lullaby as it talks of the sounds of evening: the simultaneous song of owls and crickets; the night wind that has ‘taken the moon for a ride’, the first soft summer rain.

Alongside we see, in Van Gogh-like impressionist style, a sunlit tree outside and then as the sun goes down, a series of gradually darkening skies shown through the window, foregrounded by scenes of a little bunny going through his night-time routine with his mother and father.

On each spread the textual border mirrors the sky seen outside.

There’s obvious love and tenderness in this bunny family so adorably depicted in this lovely bedtime book.

My Town’s (Extra) Ordinary People / This Love

My Town’s (Extra) Ordinary People
Mikel Casal
Prestel Publishing

Everybody, no matter who they are, or where they’re from is worth valuing; that is the inherent message in Mikel Casal’s amusing look at examples of humankind residing in a seaside town.

Theo, the boy narrator introduces first himself and then another 22 characters, each unique and special, who also live in the town. Some are young, others old and many in-between.

There’s Theo’s best pal Felix an expert skateboarder, aspiring jazz guitarist Kim, Alexandra the potter (who ‘shapes beautiful and useful objects that please our senses’), Dave the gentle giant, cool Mike who loves to surf, bookstore owner Sara, Jalen creator of art from geometric shapes.

We also meet Abigail, someone after my own heart who is always immersed in a book;

and Lorca accompanied by Deshaun his dad who insists on reciting poetry as they walk to school together.

And I’m sure readers will take to free-spirited Ayaan who one hot summer day, filled the back of his pickup truck with water for his much-loved nephews Rashid and Ismail to frolic in.

Each and every one and the others not mentioned here have something to admire, not least being Zaza. This elegant guy receives numerous invitations because ‘when he has arrived, so has the party!’ There’s even a Labrador, Nickel owned by Felix’s grandpa.

Spanish artist Casal’s retro style screen print illustrations are arresting and delightfully playful.

Adults might try inviting youngsters to contemplate those in their own lives and doing as Theo suggests and looking for the extraordinary something in them all. This would make a super class project especially if those involved illustrated their ideas.

For younger children is:

This Love
Isabel Otter and Harriet Lynas
Caterpillar Books

The universality of love and its power to unite is celebrated in Isabel Otter’s rhyming text and Harriet Lynas’s richly coloured illustrations of children and adults showing and sharing love around the world and through the seasons.

There’s parental love expressed both outdoors and in: love of a playful loyal pet; love of friends whatever the weather;

the love shown by a patient grandparent; and love towards a new-born sibling.

No matter who, no matter where, urges the rhyme, ‘join hands and stand up tall. / Love is a special language / that’s understood by all.’

A book to enjoy and discuss with little ones.

The Song of the Dinosaurs

The Song of the Dinosaurs
Patricia Hegarty and Thomas Hegbrook
Caterpillar Books

Dinosaurs are endlessly fascinating to young children and for every book on the topic published there’s a new audience ready to lap it up.

This one with its rhyming narrative and alluring die-cut illustrations immediately transports readers back to the prehistoric world with Patricia Hegarty’s opening lines, ‘I am the song of the dinosaurs, / For millions of years my tune filled the air … / In the whisper of leaves, caught up on the breeze, / Travelling unseen, but I was still there.’

They are introduced to a line-up of dinosaurs set against richly coloured landscapes and the cleverly placed die-cuts on each spread invite the reader to turn the page forwards.

Thomas Hegbrook’s vibrant scenes are a visual treat for your little dino. enthusiasts as they follow the evolutionary story from the depths of the sea, up into the skies and over land, ‘through rocks and sand.’

The back endpapers show an illustrated time line.

Patricia’s lyrical text is both atmospheric and factual; and in combination with Thomas’ illustrations, creates an exciting educational adventure to share at home, nursery or school.

Zoology for Babies / Architecture for Babies & Look & See: Fun with Shapes

Zoology for Babies
Architecture for Babies

Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

Here are two new additions to the Baby 101 series, the zoology one being billed as ‘science’ and the architecture book as ‘Art and Design’.
Zoology acknowledges the ubiquity of animals, and their varying sizes; introduces the idea of herbivores and carnivores (although not in those terms).
Birth and life cycles are also touched upon

as is movement.
We’re shown several different habitats and the animals living therein; and the fact that animals can be nocturnal is also given a spread.
The final spread asks somewhat tongue-in-cheek: ‘Are you a little zoologist? And has a drop down flap to investigate.

I’m not sure how many babies would be interested in buildings – it depends on the skill of the adult mediator – although I can certainly see the Architecture book being a useful addition to a nursery topic box.
It embraces history, geography, the role of an architect and builders

as well as introducing various building materials. Architectural designs for different functions including homes, schools and shops are also introduced. It’s good to see a bookshop included.
Like Zoology, the final spread herein asks ‘Are you …’ and has a final flap to investigate, beneath which is to be found what I suspect will be of most interest to the very young …

Bold, eye-catching illustrations and design, minimal wording and simple facts characterise both books.

Look & See: Fun with Shapes
Emanuela Bussolati and Antonella Abbatiello
Sterling

Youngsters are presented with ten basic 2D shapes to touch and explore in this playful board book.

A sequence of bright die-cut collage style illustrations featuring a girl and boy show in turn a square picture frame,

the circular body of a peacock, a triangular boat sail, a hexagon-shaped space craft and a host of other colourful objects on the recto pages and on the verso is an engaging text and three possible items that might be created using the particular featured shape as a starting point.

Inspiration for further creativity perhaps.

Happy / As We Grow / We Are Together

Here’s a trio of books from Caterpillar Books one of the Little Tiger Group imprints that I was excited by on my return  home after three weeks away in India.

Happy
Nicola Edwards and Katie Hickey
Caterpillar Books

Mindfulness is a popular theme at present and we’ve had several books on the subject for children in recent months, possibly as a response to the growing concern about the pressures even very young children are under in their everyday lives both in school and at home.

I know from experience that offering youngsters a brief period of quiet, calm time each day when they can be in the here and now away from the stresses and strains of life leads to a happier, more relaxed classroom or home atmosphere.

This beautiful book encourages children to become mindful, offering them some ways to be in the moment, to explore their emotions by tuning in to their senses in a meditative manner. They can listen to the natural sounds around them; or tune in to and focus on their feelings. Tension can be released not only from our minds but also our bodies in a manner similar to that at the end of a yoga session when participants are encouraged to tense and relax the muscles in their bodies one by one until the whole body is completely relaxed.

How many of us really pay attention to what we eat, to savour every mouthful noticing the texture and flavour as we chew: it’s a really great way of being mindful and perhaps more appreciative of our food.

Touch too is a way of connecting and calming, particularly when outdoors in natural surroundings; looking with awareness too works to calm and connect as do smelling and deep slow breathing.

The gorgeous illustrations and gentle, rhyming text herein will surely encourage children to slow down and become mindful, to discover that place of peace that’s deep within us all.

As We Grow
Libby Walden and Richard Jones
Caterpillar Books

This Walden/Jones collaboration is a great way to look at life as a journey full of changes, challenges and joy, that begins as a very tiny babe totally unaware of what is to come as we grow and travel through the years. What we can be sure of though, is that each stage will be different, full of excitement and new adventures. There’s that toddling stage that opens up a myriad of new experiences and quickly gives way to the more assured young child full of imaginative ideas, when language develops rapidly and words are a toy and a tool. Fuelled (one hopes) by mind-opening books a plenty that help with those ‘hows’, whys’ and whats’.

The transformation into a teen is a dramatic one when times are unsettled, restless and confusing, a time of self-discovery prior to adulthood; in the early stages of which independence and challenge go hand in hand before perhaps settling down and maybe even becoming the parent of a new little one.

Like life, this entire book is full of beautiful, memorable stopping points

richly portrayed in Richard Jones gorgeous scenes and Libby Walden’s lyrical text.

We Are Together
Britta Teckentrup
Caterpillar Books

Britta Teckentrup celebrates human diversity through a rhyming text and her inimitable vibrant style illustrations with their peep through cut out pages.

What better way to encourage young children to value togetherness than these opening lines: ‘On our own we’re special, / and we can chase our dream, / But when we join up, hand in hand, / together, we’re a team.’

Readers are then presented with a sequence of gorgeous scenes of children out together in the natural world that will surely encourage positive feelings in youngsters both about themselves and others.

Perfect for sharing in foundation stage settings and a great starting point for a circle time discussion.

Once Upon a Raindrop

Once Upon a Raindrop
James Carter and Nomoco
Caterpillar Books

With his opening lines, ‘Do you know why the Moon’s so dry / and yet our world is wet?’ poet, James Carter invites readers to dive into a watery world of oceans, rivers, streams, snow and ice, clouds and steam.

How did it all begin, this wet stuff: was it a single raindrop, or flake of snow; or perhaps an enormous wave braking on the shore? Nobody can be certain, we’re told.

It might perhaps have come as huge blocks of ice from distant outer space, born by meteorites that crashed down to Earth …

and became liquid, then gas, then clouds that sent forth rain to form the oceans that preceded the land that contained rivers and lakes.
As in Earth’s eternal dance around the Sun, so it is with the endless water cycles:

it’s those that produce that amazing life-supporting, life giving element we all rely upon for keeping ourselves and our clothes clean, for cooking, to swim in, sail on and refesh ourselves; so it is too for plants and other creatures.

Our very survival depends on it as it drips, drops, gushes and pours, endless shape-shifting, sometimes flooding, sometimes a trickle, but always on the move.

Our planet Earth, so James reminds us, is the wettest of all and we all are a part of that “WORLD WIDE WET!’

Wellies on everyone. I’m just off to India to catch the tail end of the monsoon.

This verbal celebration of water and its story is made all the more wonderful by Japanese artist, Nomoco’s watercolour washes, swirls, meanders, blobs, drips, drops and splashes.
A beautiful seamless amalgam of words and watery inks, it’s a must have if you’re going to explore any water-related topic with a class, as well as for individual readers who will find the book immersive and informative.

Mind Your Manners

Mind Your Manners
Nicola Edwards and Feronia Parker-Thomas
Caterpillar Books

The creatures in this junglee tale need a lesson or two in minding their Ps and Qs and that is exactly what they get in Nicola Edwards’ rhyming advocacy for politeness and good manners. After all, if they’re all to live together in peace and harmony they need to listen to the wise words of advice offered herein.
Snatching pandas need to say a polite “please” while ungrateful tigers should always offer a pleasant “thank you” when they receive a gift or an act of kindness.
“Excuse me” is required vocabulary for stomping, clomping pachyderms, whereas ‘sorry’ is thus far lacking in the snake’s speech.

Not invading another’s space is also strongly advised, especially when that space happens to be a quiet reading spot.

Merely parroting another’s words is a definite no, no, as is dropping rubbish and thus upsetting the balance of nature. Oh my goodness these animals DO have a lot to learn.
Selfishness is thoroughly undesirable, as are disgusting food consuming habits,

as well as careless words that might hurt another’s feelings: sweet words are much, much better.

So too is knowing when it’s okay to be noisy and when quiet is the order of the day, while grouchiness and unkindness need to be replaced with warmth and sharing.

Look how much more desirable that jungle home is now that the animals are finally putting all that sound advice into practice.

Spirited scenes of animal behaviour good and bad (including that of the artist’s favourites, bears), executed in watercolour and pen, along with Nicola Edwards’ wise words delivered in rhyme; you have to get the rhythm right to share it effectively so I’d suggest a practice run first. There’s some fun alliteration concerning that silly snake and the  messy monkey to get your tongue around too.

More bears (along with foxes) grace the lovely endpapers – the front ones showing undesirable actions; the back ones, good  behaviour.

The Garden of Hope

The Garden of Hope
Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse
Caterpillar Books

Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse have created a touchingly beautiful picture book story of loss, love, sadness, hope, transformation and beauty.

Maya’s mum is no longer on the scene (we’re not told if she has died or absent from the family home). Those remaining though – Dad, Maya and dog Pip are feeling bad and seem surrounded by desolation; that’s certainly so in the now overgrown garden.

Dad struggles to keep things going; Maya’s loneliness is in part compensated by Pip’s company but still she feels the loss, despite Dad’s stories.

One day when Maya feels particularly sad he tells her a story about Mum, relating how her remedy for down days was to go outside, plant seeds and wait for them to grow, by which time her worries would be replaced by something of beauty.

On the table are some packets of seeds.

A decision is made: it’s time to transform that neglected garden.

Little by little Maya prepares the ground for planting, her first seeds being Mum’s favourite sunflowers. Gradually along with the burgeoning plants, gardening releases something in Maya, allowing calming thoughts to grow.

From time to time, Dad too takes comfort in gardening alongside his little girl. Lightness grows and with it some happiness. The flowers bloom attracting tiny creatures,

then larger ones until the entire garden is alive with hums, buzzes, flutters, flowers and, the first bursting of transcendent hope and … joy.

In a similar way Mum’s absence has left gaps in the family’s life, the author leaves gaps in the story for readers to fill. Her heart-stirring telling has a quiet power that is echoed in Katie Rewse’s graceful scenes.

Poignant, powerful: an understated gem.

Anatomy for Babies / Botany for Babies

Anatomy for Babies
Botany for Babies

Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

Here are two absolutely lovely board books that are part of the Baby 101 Science series.

Anatomy for Babies starts by introducing basic body parts such as head, hair and foot.
It then takes little ones inside to look at bones

and muscles, and back out to see the skin.

Next comes the brain, followed by the lungs and the heart.
The alimentary canal comes next with a quick look at digestion.

Thereafter we move to the outside again for a focus on the five senses. Each part introduced has a sentence describing its function.
The final spread celebrates the notion of growth and has a lift-up flap.
And don’t miss the opportunity to do the action song ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes’ when you look together at the front cover.

Botany for Babies explores the world of flora starting, after a general celebratory introduction, with seeds of various kinds.

Roots and shoots and their respective functions come next and then an opportunity for some height comparison using a daffodil, a sunflower and a deciduous tree.
The following spread is devoted to root systems including some mouth-watering vegetables: it’s never too soon to introduce the idea of eating healthy veggies to little ones.

The focus then moves to trees of both the deciduous and coniferous kind, after which comes the role of leaves in photosynthesis (no that term isn’t used!).

Bees buzz merrily on the next spread where their role in pollination is mentioned.

A fruiting apple tree is shown bearing juicy red fruits and there’s also a cross section where you can see the seeds, which takes readers full circle back to seed dispersal on the final spread. There too is a flap to lift with a surprise beneath.
Adding to the enjoyment, insects and other small creatures form part of the illustration on almost every spread.

Both books have terrific STEM potential as well as being wonderful for language development; it all depends on the adult mediator.  Thoroughly recommended.

Secrets of the Mountain / Rock Explorer: Minerals & Rock Explorer: Fossils

Secrets of the Mountain
Libby Walden and Richard Jones
Caterpillar Books

The mountain referred to in the title of this breathtakingly beautiful book is I think, part of the Rocky Mountain Range.

Libby Walden’s narrative takes readers to spend a day on the mountain observing the plethora of animals that make it their home be that on the plains, the slopes or the mountaintop.

It begins as the sun rises and starting at the summit, day dawns. A breeze moves down the mountainside waking the furry pikas to look for their morning food.

At midday, the forest erupts with birdsong and sunlight glows among the trees.

Animals large and small are on the move.
Then come sundown, the air is cool: night is drawing in and the bears can sense it …

Then is the time to seek a place to sleep and let the nocturnal hunters take over in the shadows of the night-time forest while, watched by the patrolling wolf, the moon illuminates the rolling plains and the mountain lion stands waiting for yet another dawn to awaken the chorus of birdsong.

Everything has changed, yet everything is the same: evolving and ever constant, both.

From gorgeous front endpaper to back endpaper (the final one comprises 48 small named pictures of the mountain fauna), every one of Richard Jones’ spreads is simply stunning in its beauty.

Rock Explorer: Minerals
Rock Explorer: Fossils

Claudia Martin
QED

These are two titles of the four in a series of very visual books that introduce aspects of geology to younger readers. This is an under represented topic and yet once children are introduced to it, they are often fascinated.
Minerals looks at their formation, location and use. Did you know for instance, that fluorite is used in toothpaste and feldspar is used in making glass and pottery?

Fossils explains what a fossil is, outlines how they form, where to hunt for fossils and what we can learn from them. I was intrigued to discover that the Victorians first discovered fossilised Dinosaur poo – hmm.
Clearly and invitingly presented with good quality photographs, both are worthwhile additions to a primary classroom or school library.

Picture Book Poetry: One Upon A Star and Nature’s Lullaby Fills the Night

Once Upon a Star
James Carter and Mar Hernández
Caterpillar Books

Here’s an opportunity to go on an amazing journey without moving from the comfort of your own sofa, courtesy of poet James Carter and illustrator Mar Hernández who take us on an awesome ‘poetry and art meet science’ trip through time and space with a focus on our Sun.
First we head back through history before this happened …

And after a long slow cooling period: ‘A sea of stars at last were born / gradually they fired and formed / out of clouds of dust and gas / each a mighty sparky mass / and one of these became our Sun / our solar system had begun!’
Thereafter Carter’s compelling narrative verse touches upon the growth of our planets, in particular the Earth with its oceans and amazing life forms that rely upon the sun for their continuing existence. His final focus is each one of us, unique individuals – stars and stardust every one.

James Carter’s lucid poetic account of these awesome events, when integrated with Mar Hernández’s dramatic artwork, makes an exciting and impactful book.

Much more down to earth is:

Nature’s Lullaby Fills the Night
Dee Leone and Bali Engel
Sterling
The sun is gone; the moon is out: bedtime is nigh.
The author draws listeners into a nocturnal world of fluttering moths, spinning spiders, chirping crickets, flowers closing their petals, floating seeds and swaying willow branches;

past moonlit lakes,

and down to the sea where dolphins cease their leaping and oysters shimmer from the depths, towards farmlands where the animals are beginning to slumber; through a forest and finally into a child’s bedroom with the repeated refrain, ‘Nature’s lullaby fills the night’ punctuating every sequence.

With her gentle, soporific verses Dee Leone transports little ones towards sleep. In tandem with Bali Engel’s tranquil scenes of the bedtime rituals of parent animals, large and small in their natural settings executed in a colour palette of dark blues, purples and greens creates, we have an engaging, calm-inducing bedtime book for little ones.

Under the Same Sky / This Is How We Do It!

Under the Same Sky
Britta Teckentrup
Caterpillar Books
I’m a big fan of Britta Teckentrup’s work especially her books with cut out pages so I eagerly anticipated this one. With its theme of connectedness, it’s absolutely beautiful.
We live under / the same sky … / … in lands / near and far.’ So begins the lyrical text, which accompanies superb, soft-focus animal images set against natural backgrounds.
Hugely impactful with its spare narrative and its strategically placed die-cuts on alternate recto pages, through which we see  elements of scenes of universally shared games, feelings,

hopes and dreams, this is uplifting and full of hope. Timely, and exactly what is needed when our world seems to be growing increasingly intolerant, fractured, and with too many people focusing on differences rather than what binds us all together – our common humanity.

Fuelled by this powerful and lovely book, let’s seize every opportunity, transcend those differences and come together for the ultimate good of everyone.
Share, ponder upon, delight in and discuss: it’s a must for every family, early years setting and KS1 classroom collection.

This is How We Do It
Matt Lamothe
Chronicle Books
Children are the focus of this fascinating book, children whose ages range between seven and eleven; children from seven different families, backgrounds and diverse situations tell their own stories. Let’s meet, Romeo (Meo) from Italy; Kei from Japan; Daphine from Uganda; Oleg from Russia; Ananya (Anu) from India, Kian from Iran and the eldest, Peruvian, Pirineo.
These narrators share information about their particular homes, their families, their clothes – in particular what they wear to school; breakfasts, lunches and evening meals (each meal has a separate spread); mode of travel to school.

We meet their various teachers and see how they learn (almost all classrooms looks very formal). Each child shows how his/her name is written …

We also see the children at play, helping at home and finally, sleeping.
Yes, there are differences, each country, each family is unique; but the most important message is that no matter where we are from, we all have similarities: we eat meals, we play and we go to school (at least those children we meet do) and all under the same sky.
At the end of the book we meet all seven families in photographs; and there is a final glossary, an author’s note on how he came to create the book and the endpapers have a world map showing where the children (and author) live.
This predominantly pictorial presentation celebrates our commonalities and our uniqueness. With world travel a commonplace nowadays, the book offers a great way to expand children’s horizons giving them insights into particular ways of life in addition to those in countries they might themselves visit.

I’ve signed the charter  

Town Mouse, Country Mouse

Town Mouse, Country Mouse
Richard Jones and Libby Walden
Caterpillar Books
There are numerous versions of the Aesop classic tale to be had; I have a fair few myself, but this has now become my favourite. Libby Walden renders the story in a measured, beautifully readaloudable rhyming text telling of the house swap between the mouse cousins: the ideal solution to Town Mouse’s hectic bustling life fatigue and Country Mouse’s yen to become ‘a mouse about the town!
Invitations are sent, received – love the postie frog –

and responded to, bags packed (don’t you love Town Mouse’s roller-wheels and little black bag); with high expectations the two sally forth …

and the swap begins.
Less than twenty-four hours later though, all is not well: Town Mouse is disturbed by the dawn chorus, and the never-ending ‘beeps and creaks and clinks’ result in a sleepless night for Country Mouse. Food is problematic too: Town Mouse almost breakfasts on poisonous berries;

and the tasty chunk of cheese Country Mouse has set his sights on for his morning meal, is in a trap.

Their walks are equally stressful: Town Mouse is totally unenthusiastic about country rambles in the rain: Country Mouse finds the whizzing wheels and lurking cats downright alarming. It’s time to return: farewells are said and with heads whirling with unforgettable memories, the cousins head for home. Assuredly it’s a case of ‘thank you’ but ‘no thank-you’ to one another’s ways of life.
This particularly resonated with me and my present struggles with having moved out of London to the country a few years ago, and now feeling the call of London life pulling strongly at my heartstrings. Richard Jones’ truly beautiful artwork makes both town and country look wonderful places to live. I love the cleverly conceived, strategically placed die cuts and the cutaway page, making the reading experience all the more pleasurable. A totally gorgeous fable reimagining to share and discuss, over and over.

We Are Family

                              I’m excited to be part of Caterpillar Books blog tour for We Are Family.

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We Are Family
Patricia Hegarty and Ryan Wheatcroft
Caterpillar Books
This all-inclusive rhyming celebration of family life really does offer each and every child the possibility of seeing him or herself in a picture book: Ryan Wheacroft’s multitude of vignettes ensure that.
Whoever we are and whatever we do, / Our families hold us together like glue.
These opening words of Patricia’s text caused me to reflect on my concept of family and I concluded that it means many things and includes many more people than those I’m related to by blood.
Our family comes / From round the world: / Our hair is straight / Our hair is curled, / Our eyes are brown, / Our eyes are blue, / Our skins are different/
Colours too.

So begins a poem by Mary Anne Hoberman that I included in my compilation, Family Album published some 20 years ago and it resonates with my own view of family. At that time, I’d been given a six-month sabbatical from my job as deputy head of an outer London Primary School. I was to look at primary education in India in order to try and understand why the parental expectations of the majority of families from the Indian subcontinent whose children were attending the school I worked in, and others in the borough, were so very different from those of our teachers.
I stayed in Udaipur, Rajasthan in a small hotel – owned and run by a Rajput Indian family I very soon felt I had become a part of. At the time there were two brothers – one managing the hotel, the other a tour guide, both residing in the haveli (large family home) with their parents and downstairs, grandparents as well as various other people employed to help with the latter.
From the outset, the grandmother would send to my room at suppertime, dishes she thought I’d enjoy. Soon though, I was invited to share evening meals in the haveli: “You’re family now” I was told.

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During those months I went to Navratri celebratory Garba Dandiya dances with female members of the family and shared in the family celebrations of Diwali.
That was the start of a family bond that has deepened, although altered (the grandparents and father are dead now) over the subsequent 24 years. Both brothers, (one of whom, Ajay, now truly is like my blood brother), have children of their own, two apiece. I hesitate to say they have their own families as, like many Indian families, they tend to grow into a larger extended family, rather that separate ones. And that’s due in part the to the fact that they still live in the same complex.
I also feel very close to Anu. Ajay’s wife and in particular, their two daughters, whom I’ve watched grow up. I saw both of them as tiny babies and one is now at university and the other at school and training, she hopes, to become part of the Indian shooting team for the next Olympics.

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We visit them at least once a year, usually during the Christmas holidays; it’s more tricky during the summer now as even the two girls’ holidays don’t coincide, let alone Indian school holidays and English ones. They have stayed with us in the UK several times too.
During that same period of time I became involved with another Indian family too, more by chance this time. It started with a visit to an art gallery run by one member of an artist family, also in Udaipur. This family too took me into their home and hearts and the bond is still very strong. I visit the galleries of both brothers frequently when staying in the city as well as sharing meals and much more. For instance, I tie a raki around the wrist of the brothers at the festival of Raksha Bandhan (a festival of brothers and sisters), as well as being a source of books for both Shariq and Shahid’s children.
Sometimes we go on holidays or happy fun days out,
Doing things together is what families are about.

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Both brothers have stayed at our home in the UK several times for recreation and more. One visit that sticks in my mind is when Shahid, (who was to have some of his paintings exhibited in the UK) his wife and young son came one Christmas time and we had frost and a scattering of snow. Their little boy was around 4 (he’s now 17) and had never experienced such cold. Stepping outside he said, “Papa, I’m smoking” as the freezing breath came from his mouth.
In addition to being an artist, Shariq, who while visiting us in UK, did some art workshops in my own school and several others I was connected with, is also a musician and has invented and crafted, an amazing instrument

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and his two young sons are pretty awesome tabla players.
One thing that struck me almost immediately is the great respect accorded to older generations of a family in the Indian culture. Both Ajay’s and Shahid’s families found it strange that our parents did not live with us though my partner’s mother had her own house just ten minutes drive away. She invited them to tea and she shared meals with them at our home. On subsequent visits it was always obligatory for them to meet Marjorie to pay their respects. When, in her 80s, she accepted an invitation to Udaipur, she was treated like royalty with a party in her honour at Ajay’s hotel and requests to go for lunch, dinner and, in order to fit them all in, even breakfast at the homes of members of a cricket team Ajay had previously brought to play in the UK. All this very much echoes Patricia Hegarty’s final words of We Are Family:

Each family is different, it may be large or small.
We may look like each other – or not alike at all.
Money doesn’t matter, nor colour, creed, nor name –
In each and every family, the love we feel’s the same.

Feelings

Red Reading Hub is Happy that Caterpillar Books invited me to be part of the FEELINGS blog tour and thanks too, to the book’s creators, Richard and Libby for …

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Feelings
Richard Jones and Libby Walden
Caterpillar Books
Emotional literacy and well-being are at the heart of the Early Years Foundation Stage and Every Child Matters, and yet still, as we’re told in the PR for this book, ‘One in ten children aged between 5 and 16 (have) a mental health problem.’
So what happens once children move into primary school at age five? Here is not the place to discuss this issue although I have strong views on what I see to be some of the contributory factors: rather, I welcome anything that can help children to explore their own feelings and emotions openly and within a safe context. Many picture book stories offer this possibility; now here we have a lovely, specially written and illustrated book to this end.
Richard Jones, the illustrator, places the child right where he or she should be: at the heart of this book …

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and then, after the introduction, assigns a double spread to the exploration of ten different feelings/emotions: Brave, Sad, Angry, Happy, Jealous, Alone, Embarrassed, Excited, Afraid and Calm. Each one is beautifully atmospheric.
Vitally important as personal feelings are, it is also essential, in order to function well in society, to be able to see things from other people’s viewpoints. So after acknowledging that we’re all different and that this is mirrored in our own personal feelings, Libby Walden (or rather her child narrator) makes this final suggestion: ‘Try to walk in someone’s shoes to see how they might feel, /For though you cannot see them, their feelings are still strong and real.’ How many times a day or week do those of us who teach in the foundation stage or spend time in Early Years settings say to individuals after an incident, something like “Now how do you think so and so feels about that?”
The rhyming text makes use of metaphor to look at what happens when one is overwhelmed by a particular emotion: Sad is a ‘river … bursting through its banks’ covering the land and creating a ‘sea of salty tears with no sign of the shore.”

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Angry is ‘a fire-pit in the ground ‘blazing, spitting, bubbling and swirling and finally, erupting …

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Jealousy, in contrast, is a rolling ‘emerald mist’, churning, seething and eating away at you from inside, blurring your vision and fixing your mind on something you don’t have.
For many children, particularly younger ones, pictorial representation is the easiest (and for them, safest) way to explore their feelings. With this in mind, I shared the book and asked some children to talk, reflect and respond in their own way: here are a few of their pictures.
Angry seemed to be the one feeling that was all-engulfing: Gracie has become an enormous bear with jagged teeth and claws …

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Interestingly Richard himself mentions jagged shapes and fiery colours in his discussion of illustrating Angry for the book. Saba too has jagged lightning in her Angry scene …

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Happy for Daniel is doing sport …

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for Shahan lots of sweets to eat, especially his favourite gulab jamun …

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For Lexi, it’s celebrating a birthday …

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Sad, for Shifan is broken toys …

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for Frankie it’s bullying …

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Excited for James is activities that allow him to release his boundless energy …

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If these responses are anything to go by, Feelings should certainly prove to be a very valuable resource for teachers and other working with children.

The River / Wilderness: Nature’s Wonders

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The River
Hanako Clulow and Patricia Hegarty
Caterpillar Books
‘In snow-capped mountains among the firs/ The north wind blows; something stirs./ Through icy water, a small fish darts -/ This is where her journey starts …
We join that shimmering, glimmering fish as she journeys down river starting from the snow-capped mountain peaks, swishing past dense mountain woods …

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and pine forests, through ever-changing landscapes as she travels by day and night …

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and through the seasons, on her epic swim to the vast, deep open sea ‘where she’s meant to be!’ – a sea populated by a shoal of sparkly fish.

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Readers delight in joining the fish on her journey, making her swim faster or slower by tilting and angling the book, viewing her as an ever-in-motion hologram (set inside the back cover) through a die-cut hole that keeps her, mid-stream, on every spread. Read it first to play with the fish and then turn back and re-read the whole, savouring Patricia Hegarty’s lyrical rhyming text and being spell-bound by the wonderful wildlife scenes rendered in soft, matte textured, illustrations. The richly detailed, painterly style shows feathers and fur as if close up …
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as well as the gorgeous hues of the surrounding flora of the landscapes.
What a superb testament to one particular river, and to the rich abundance of flora and fauna through which it flows and of course, to one little fish on its migratory journey. SO much to see, SO much to think about, SO much to relish.

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Wilderness
Hannah Pang and Jenny Wren
360 Degrees (a Little Tiger imprint)
Subtitled ‘An Interactive Atlas of Animals’ this has visual appeal in bucket loads and it’s highly informative too. It introduces readers to a variety of habitats in both Eastern and Western Hemispheres and then focuses on different habitats in turn allocating a double spread to each one. We embark on a tropical rainforest ramble (visiting various locations as not all the animals featured are found in the same part of the world),

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a safari in the hot grassy savannahs of Africa, join an ocean dive and search, visit a freshwater location, the desert dunes, polar regions and high mountain pastures and forests, complete with pop-up mountain …

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Snippets of information abound on every location spread and there are flaps to lift enabling readers to discover more about the various animals resting upon them; there are even mini booklets on Bugs, Creatures of the Deep, the Honeybee and the salmon life-cycle.

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There’s a tiny life-cycle book on the left …

So, we have some desert dunes populated by Arabian camels, Addax (rare creatures also called Screwhorn antelopes), a vulture, a Namib Dune Gecko, a rattlesnake that leaves tell-tale tracks in the sand, hairy, scary giant scorpions and tarantulas; and there’s a side wheel which when turned shows the enormous range of temperatures of the habitat. (sub zero at night and 45 degrees C at mid-day).

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Rotating wheel top left …

Chock-full of details, rich in the colours of mother nature’s palette, and sturdily designed and built to withstand frequent handling, this is one to engender a sense of awe and wonder about the natural world, and highly recommended for the family bookshelf and a must-buy for early years and primary school classroom.

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Hallowe’en Frights, Spooky Skeletons and Boos

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Fright Club
Ethan Long
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
It’s the night before Halloween; a final meeting has been called for Fright Club members and it’s in full swing when …

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The little bunny on the other side of the door is quickly sent hopping and it’s back to business, Vladimir’s being to train his fellow members in ‘The 3 Traits of HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL MONSTERS’, not very successfully it seems but then there’s another knock.

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That bunny has returned bringing her lawyer along to back her anti-discrimination cause but again the would-be entrants are sent packing.
A third knock is opened to …

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And it seems these determined ‘cute little critters’ are not for turning: and they’re jolly well going to prove their point to boot …

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So come Halloween and Operation Kiddy Scare it seems the more the frights, the better the night.
With Long’s aptly gloomy, largely grey toned palette, he has created just the right mock-scary atmosphere in which to place those would-be scary monsters and would-be club member animals.
A Halloween laugh out loud, not scream out loud, treat packed with visual humour and with a multitude of opportunities for joining in with growls, groans, cackles, claps, boos, whooshes and more, this silly tale is great for an atmospheric story time session around the end of October especially.
What ghoulish faces, scary moves and chilling sounds can your listeners come up with; I’m sure they can outdo those Fright Club members.

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Ten Spooky Skeletons
Garry Parsons
Caterpillar Books
We start this cumulative rhyming ‘peek-through’ picture book with a single lonely skelly setting out in search of some friends and finish at the day’s end with ten merry skeletons together in a rattling song and dance extravaganza before it’s lights out and …

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In between, the second skelly’s a pirate, three become a circus act, four are fortune telling, five do magic tricks, six are time travellers, seven go ice-skating …

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eight enjoy a feast and nine are bedding down for some pre-party shut-eye.
With it’s glow-in-the-dark finale, this one is sure to hit the mark around Halloween time and is likely to inspire some skeleton creativity from enthusiastic young listeners.

Finally a couple of playful board books for the very youngest:

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Peek-a Boo!
Nina Laden
Chronicle Books
A handful of Hallowe’en sights and sounds are up for guesses as toddlers are offered a series of peeps through the die-cut holes and can then try to guess what follows that rhymes with BOO on each of the subsequent pages. (Supplying the correct word is quite tricky even when the full picture is revealed.) And there’s a special final surprise provided by the mirror on the inside back cover.

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Boo!
Jonathan Litton and Fhiona Galloway
Little Tiger Kids
Were you the one who shouted BOO?’ That is the question in this bright, holey board book. With its patterned, repeating text that takes the form of a question and answer chain

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with the answerer becoming the questioner on the following page until the small wizard changes the question demanding ‘Who’s hiding out there in the night…?’ and all is revealed on the final spread.
Yes, this might be aimed at the very youngest children but the simple repeat pattern text herein makes this an ideal book for beginning readers too.

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Books to Play With

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Bizzy Bear Dinosaur Safari
Benji Davies
Nosy Crow
Toddlers will enjoy accompanying Bizzy Bear on safari. Having parked his jeep, he’s ready for his dino day. Off he goes with friend rabbit to spot all manner of dinosaurs along the trail, some large, others hungry and one baby just hatching out. Then it’s time to head to the diner for a spot of refreshment: watch out though BB – what’s that with big sharp teeth behind the diner, ready to pop out? A sturdy board book with a brief rhyming text and sliders to pull, push or turn to reveal those prehistoric creatures in their brightly coloured jungly landscape.

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There’s an abundance of flora and fauna for young eyes to find in addition to the dinosaurs; and what can have made those enormous footprints?

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Snip-Snap
illustrated by Kasia Nowowiejska
Caterpillar Books
Five small animals in turn invite toddlers to guess the identity of five larger ones lurking in various places in the African landscape. The latter are revealed by lifting the flaps, thus allowing the animals to pop out from their respective hiding places.
Young listeners can absorb the simple concepts (‘high amongst the leaves’ or ‘beside the jungle path’ for instance)

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as they discover in turn, the roaring lion, chittering-chattering monkey, the elephant splashing,

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the giraffe stretching her neck and the snippy-snappy crocodile lurking in the swamp as they listen to the accompanying playful rhyming text.

A companion title with a farmyard setting is Cheep Cheep

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Doctor Molly’s Medicine Case
Miriam Moss and Deborah Allwright
Walker Books
Young Molly loves to dress up and has decided to be a doctor. She dons her doctor’s outfit (lifting the flap reveals the transformation) then finds her magical medicine case. Therein are all the things required to make her patients feel better. Molly is prepared

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and soon there’s a knock at her door. It’s Polar Bear with a bad case of the sneezles and shivers; seemingly he’s caught cold playing in the snow. A reassuring Dr Molly opens her case and takes out a thermometer and hot water bottle – just what’s needed to make Mr B. feel much better. (Children will love to open Molly’s bag, remove the items, tuck the hot water bottle into Polar Bear’s arms and take his temperature).
Dr Molly also successfully treats Crocodile (whose tail is injured as a result of a skateboarding accident) and Pelican (suffering from a sore throat caused by the consumption of too many bony fish)

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so why have all her patients returned? It’s a case of rumbly tums so it’s just as well that, in her magic case, Dr Molly has everything required for a cure. And a very tasty one it looks too.

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Picnic time everyone.
A fun, interactive treatment for the very young when they are suffering from a bout of ‘I- need-a-storyitis’.

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Christmas Books for the very youngest

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Five Christmas Penguins
Steve Lenton
Little Tiger Press
There’s fun and frolics penguin style in this jolly rhyming counting book wherein the polar pals prepare for the big day, wrapping, decorating, singing, baking and finally wishing “Merry Christmas, everyone!
A sturdy seasonal board book for the very youngest: with simple, gently humorous images, illustrated in bold, bright colours.
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Santa’s Beard
Matilda Tristram, Tom Duxbury and Nick Sharratt
Walker Books
Santa complains that his fluffy beard is making him feel hot and bothered one summer’s day, so the offending article takes flight in search of a more congenial face.

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However, none of its temporary hosts is at all interested. What’s an unwanted beard to do far from home and with the snow starting to fall? Luckily, said beard decides to stop for a rest and finds himself hurtling straight towards a large red rear end protruding from the snow. A red rump that just happens to belong to none other than his original owner, Santa, who is more than happy to have his old chin warmer back, just in time for that chilly present delivery.
Sharratt’s characteristic brightly coloured, bold images thickly outlined in black are immediately attractive to young children who will enjoy moving the snow-white beard onto the various characters: I suspect it will quickly become a rather mucky beard.
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Jolly Snowmen
text by Annette Rusling
Caterpillar Books
Toddlers can enjoy joining in a chilly countdown as five little snowmen engage in a snowball fight, four go sledging, three try ice-skating – oops one falls through the ice, leaving two to go trekking till a polar bear scares off one, and the final one? He has to go searching for his friends for a Christmas ‘Snow Ball”. Anyone for a dance?
Tactile, rhyming fun, with cheery seasonal colours.
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Witches, whales, washing and wandering

Rich Witch Poor Witch
Peter Bently and Jim Field
Macmillan pbk.
Meet twin witches, poor Rose who provides her services free to the ordinary folks and rich Rita whose wealthy clients include royalty. Indeed it is the King himself who calls asking for help to cheer up the young Princess Anna Lucinda Cecelia Grace who just will not smile. However, no amount of wand wielding and magical trickery makes one iota of difference to the gloomy miss. Before long the whole palace is in utter chaos with drapes aflame and tables trashed but what of the princess? It’s left to butler Mort, to announce not only the arrival of Witch Rose but also the whereabouts of the missing Anna Lucinda. Both are outside playing chase and yes! the Princess has an enormous smile on her face. Magic or what? Definitely not explains Rose; all that the princess needed was someone to play with.
This rhyming tale fizzes and sparkles with energy and the appropriately gaudy illustrations abound with visual jokes.
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The Storm Whale
Benji Davies
Simon and Schuster pbk.
Noi lives a rather lonely life in a beach-side house with his fisherman father and their six cats. One morning after a stormy night, he goes down onto the seashore and as he walks he comes upon a small whale left high and dry by the storm. Noi manages to get the whale home and into the bath where he tells it stories about his island life. Concerned about his dad’s reaction to the newcomer, Noi keeps quiet all evening but finally his secret is discovered. Then he has to face the fact that his new friend belongs in the sea and together father and son return the whale to its rightful home.
A gentle tale of loving and caring enough to let go. I love the fact that Noi is shown playing records of Sounds of the Sea and Handel’s Water Music to the whale in the bath. Understated as it is, this warm-hearted book packs a powerful punch.
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How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth
Michelle Robinson & Kate Hindley
Simon and Schuster pbk.
Presented as an instruction manual, a small girl narrator provides a step-by-step guide to performing a very tricky and likely to be, protracted, operation – Woolly Mammoth washing or rather, bathing. Should your mammoth need this treatment, make sure you don your mackintosh and wellies and have to hand: a broom, spooky mask, skateboard, heavy-duty crane, cake, and of course, shampoo. Just make sure the latter doesn’t go in its eyes though. Oh, oh! … for STEP EIGHT: To get said ‘wet woolly mammoth down from a tree you’ll need … a very STRONG trampoline.’ To discover the remaining steps, you’ll just have to get hold of a copy of this delightful book. Beautifully understated, simply told in dead- pan style, the text leaves Kate Hindley plenty of scope to exercise her sense of the ridiculous in both her full-page scenes and smaller comic cut capers.
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Pi-Rat!
Maxine Lee
Caterpillar Books pbk.
Meet the fearless Pi-Rat and his mates as they sail the high seas. Seemingly nothing daunts them be it crocodiles, sharks or the darkness but when the brave pirate captain sights a hairy paw through his telescope it seems the hearty crew are about to meet their doom.
The visual clue to the setting of this adventure is the name of Pi-Rat’s craft on the back cover and the first spread. This bath-time tale of the imagination is told almost entirely through speech bubbles and bold visuals that zoom right in on the action. There is plenty to laugh at in the larger than life illustrations inspired by the treasure trove of bath-time and everyday toys; I love the space- hopping and pogo-sticking crew members as they leap and bounce across the crocodile-infested waters. I envisage this one being asked for over and over again.
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Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo
Amy Sparkes and Sara Ogilvie
Red Fox pbk.
When the boy narrator receives a letter announcing he’s won a prize, off he cycles to run a zoo for the day. And what a strange, chaotic place this turns out to be. Its inmates include the growling Grimblegraw, the dangling Dinglebee, the Morph, Quees, Furry Furbles and horror of horrors, the child gobbling Squirgal, to mention just some of the crazy creatures he encounters. But in our small, prize-winning hero, those recalcitrant rioters more than meet their match.
Crying out for audience participation, this story certainly went down well with several groups of under fives who loved the tongue tingling rhyming text and crazy mock scary monsters.
It’s a good one to stimulate young children’s artistic and verbal creativity: have huge sheets of paper, paints and large pens at the ready.
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Dog Loves Counting
Louise Yates
Red Fox pbk.
Louise Yates’ endearing bibliophile Dog returns for a third adventure. Now he’s looking for alternatives to sheep to count, so that he can get to sleep. And the vehicle for his search is of course, a book.; a Big Book of Curious Creatures wherein he discovers all manner of fascinating things to innumerate, beginning with one baby dodo that emerges from a large egg. The two of them continue through the book encountering in turn, a three-toed sloth, … a five-lined skink… to a ten-legged (pincers included) crab and so on to an infinitely grained sandy desert whereupon the the all-important number one is counting stars. And we leave the whole cast star gazing and still counting, until … it’s morning again, the start of another day filled with books, friends and, let’s hope, many more adventures.
This flight of fancy is another winner from the inspirational Lucy Yates. It’s wonderfully imagined, cleverly constructed and brilliantly portrayed through both words and pictures. Moreover, it is likely to make young listeners enjoy counting just as much as the chief protagonist who has already encouraged countless children to become like him, lovers of ‘Books’ and ‘Drawing’.
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The Acorn
Edward Gibbs
Templar Publishing (BF&F) pbk.
This wonderfully simple book has lessons a-plenty between its covers – reading lessons and science lessons but more important than those, the whole thing is a real pleasure to share with the very young.
A little yellow acorn falls from a tree, a little acorn with a large purpose. But there is a problem – also large –all manner of hungry forest animals think that an acorn would make a tasty tidbit. Such are the acorn’s powers of persuasion ‘Oh, please don’t eat me now, … I’ll be even tastier later.’ that it manages to escape the jaws of white mouse, orange squirrel, blue bird, grey rabbit, brown boar and red deer. Then the acorn begins to grow, time passes and true to its words, it becomes a huge shelter-giving tree with acorns aplenty. And, in familiar folk-tale, patterned text style, the whole thing begins over again…
Each spread is cleverly linked to the previous one so that every turn of the page serves to move the visual narrative seamlessly forwards. Gibbs’ delightfully scribbly animal images on the forest floor are a treat in themselves, and, there is a further fold-out surprise at the end.
Perfectly predictable, endlessly re-readable.
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