A Home on the River

A Home on the River
Peter Bently and Charles Fuge
Hodder Children’s Books

When Bramble Badger discovers that he has no water and neither have his friends he looks beyond his own front door.

Heading down to the river, he finds the riverbed is completely dry – there’s not even enough for Tipper Toad to take a dip.

Determined to help his friends, Bramble follows the dry river bed deep into the woods manoeuvring over and around obstacles and startling some of the woodland animals; he even takes an unplanned dip in a freezing lake, until eventually he comes upon a blockade.

Thinking the young squirrels have been up to mischief he goes to investigate.

What he finds though isn’t squirrels but a wooden house on an island.

The house is inhabited by one Sam beaver who doesn’t realise that his actions have caused problems further downriver.

Fortunately he’s ready to make amends and so Bramble shows him the perfect spot he’s discovered close by and all ends happily with water flowing once again.

Peter Bently’s rhyming story of friendship, sharing and caring for the world around us is the second to feature Bramble and his community of animal friends. Again in his lovely illustrations, Charles Fuge brings out both the warmth of Peter’s tale and the beauty of the natural world.

A Home Full of Friends

A Home Full of Friends
Peter Bently and Charles Fuge
Hodder Children’s Books

Peter Bently does rhyming narrative with aplomb and it’s once again the case here.
Kind soul, badger Bramble doesn’t quite know what he’s letting himself in for when he offers Scuffle the dormouse, toad Tipper

and Boo the hedgehog a bed for the night when they’re made homeless by a storm. Rather that’s all he thinks he has to contend with as he hurries home concerned about his messy sett, stretching his supper to feed four and there only being one bed.
Bramble busies himself making preparations: makeshift they may be but entirely adequate for a badger and three pals.
His thoughts are interrupted by a loud knock at his door and the sight that meets his eyes is more than a little shocking. Three entire families are standing on his doorstep …

Fortunately though, they’ve brought with them everything they’ve managed to salvage from their wrecked homes and it’s not long before, with full bellies, they’re having a wonderful time playing games and sharing a bedtime story

before snuggling up for the night.

Warm-heartedness shines out of Charles Fuge’s beautifully detailed scenes which, together with Bently’s text, make a read aloud book with a compassionate message which is particularly pertinent given recent weather disasters and the ever increasing numbers of displaced people in various parts of the world.

From Small Beginnings ….

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Who Woke the Baby?
Jane Clarke and Charles Fuge
Nosy Crow
Using the narrative structure of The House that Jack Built as a basis, Jane Clarke has penned a wonderful rhyming tale set in the jungle early one morning. But what has woken that baby who’s ‘smelly and yelly and all forlorn.’? Well, Hippo yawned, Zebra fussed, Lion roared, Crocodile snapped,

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Frog croaked and Bee buzzed. And what about that stunningly coloured butterfly that just happened to float along and land gently on the particular flower occupied by Busy Bee …
If nothing else, it’s certainly caused a change of mood in that baby gorilla, no longer forlorn but full of delighted giggles and gurgles, as it watches the dancing butterfly in the sunlight.

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The story reads aloud beautifully and Fuge’s eye-catching illustrations convey the changing moods of the various animals with verve and a droll, at times befittingly languid, humour.
This should be a real winner with early years listeners.

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Emily’s Balloon
Komako Sakai
Chronicle Books
What a quiet, gentle unassuming book but such a delight is this story about a little girl and her balloon. We follow the course of the interplay between the  child and the balloon during the course of a single day, as the girl becomes ever more enchanted by the object that has assumed the role of friend. Once her mother has devised a tethering device, the girl and balloon enter a special world of their own as they play in the yard.

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But then their blissful idyll is interrupted by a sudden gust of wind that whisks the balloon aloft depositing it in the branches of a tall tree. Try as she might, Emily’s mother is unable to retrieve it and it’s a very sad little girl who sits at the dinner table contemplating what might have been …

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Despite her mother’s promise to get a ladder and rescue the balloon in the morning, Emily goes to bed worrying about her precious object until, through her bedroom window, she spies its comforting moon-like presence glowing outside in the darkness.
This is one of those books that really stays with you, so tenderly realized are those moments shared between Emily and her balloon, and Emily and her mother …

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conveyed through the sparely worded text and enormously eloquent drawings executed in minimal colours. Each and every vignette speaks volumes about the precious vulnerability and innocence of early childhood and the way children can get enormous pleasure from very ordinary everyday objects.

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A Bus Ride and A Lullaby for a Little One

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The Bus Is For Us!
Michael Rosen and Gillian Tyler
Walker Books
But best is the bus.The bus is for us.’ is the oft-repeated refrain linking the various possibilities entertained by the narrator of this book. A small boy enjoys riding his bike; others like journeys by car or train, horse riding, floating in a little boat or a trip in a big ship,

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would love to ride a fish, sit on a cloud or dangle from a kite, play in a sleigh, perhaps try even more daring modes of transport

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but no matter what, the bus is best and by the end, readers are in no doubt about why.
The combination of Rosen’s shortish, playful rhyming text and Gillian Tyler’s delightful portrayal of the cast of a dozen young characters- not to mention the shaggy dog – who, as the story concludes at the end of the day,

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have all boarded the bus, is great fun.

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A Lullaby for Little One
Dawn Casey and Charles Fuge
Nosy Crow pbk
As the sun goes down the Little One of the title is in the woods with Big Daddy Rabbit but, he tells his offspring, there is still time for some fun and games before bedtime. So together the two of them race and chase and shout, “Woo-hoo!”, then other animals enthusiastically join them in a game of hide-and-seek, some splashing and sploshing

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and as the sun begins to set, they all dance and sing, whirl, twirl, and shout together before ending up in a great big heap. Whereupon a thoroughly exhausted Little One utters a “BOO-HOOOOOO!” and Big Rabbit knows just what to do next …

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And finally, father and baby rabbit snuggle together in the moonlight. Aaahh!
Dawn Casey’s rollicking rhyming text combined with Charles Fuge’s gorgeous georgic watercolour scenes make for a warm-hearted bedtime read for the very young.

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