School for Dads

With Father’s Day in mind and because I missed this one when it was published:

School for Dads
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Ada Grey
Egmont

Like a number of others, punctuality isn’t a strong point for Anna’s dad; indeed when he turns up late to collect her from school yet again, she strikes a bargain with him. “I’ll forgive you if you go to School for Dads,” she says.

Time for a spot of role reversal. Next morning it’s all the tardy dads who have to spend the day as pupils and their teachers aren’t going to make things easy for them. First of all some bad behaviour needs sorting out: “Don’t ignore us when we’re talking, and stop looking at your phone.”

That’s only the first of the list of misdemeanours, and they must definitely never answer “NO.”

The dads have to use the little chairs, and sitting on the floor proves pretty challenging too. On the plus side though, playtime is fun and the art session releases their inner creativity.

Come lunch time, the hall turns into a rowdy place where sweet treats are off the menu; and the afternoon’s PE lesson is let’s say interesting …

By home time, it isn’t only the pupils who have had a trying day; everyone – children and adults – have learnt a lot. On reflection, Anna decides that dads really deserve to be celebrated for all the great things …

This witty, reflective rhyming tale has a great read aloud rhythm and is just right to give dads a good giggle on Fathers Day especially. Assuredly they’ll enjoy too, Ada Grey’s lively illustrations that perfectly capture the humour of the Guillain’s telling.

The Skies Above My Eyes

The Skies Above My Eyes
Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer
Words & Pictures

This follow-up to The Street Beneath My Feet uses the same double-sided format unfolding to 2.5 metres only now we’re directed to look at what’s above the Earth’s surface.

Standing alongside the child at the bottom of Zuval Zommer’s continuous concertina illustration readers are taken on an exciting journey from ground level, billions of kilometres up and right out to the farthest reaches of the solar system and back again.

We travel past high-rise buildings, through the layers of the atmosphere to the imaginary Karman line to where 400 kilometres above the Earth is the International Space Station and thence to the Moon and out into the Solar System where the planets are found.

Beyond Neptune lies the Kuiper Belt that includes Pluto and even further out beyond the Solar System we can see hundreds of billions of star-filled galaxies.

 

After a period of stargazing, it’s time to travel back earthwards. We might spy comets, meteoroids, the Aurora Borealis and lower down, migrating birds on the wing;

and if we look very carefully, ballooning spiders drifting parachute-like a few metres above Earth as well as, rather more easy to spot, mountain sheep on a rocky escarpment.

Our long, long journey comes to an end on a grassy hillock where alongside the little girl we saw as the start, we can relax and enjoy nature’s bounties that surround us.

Charlotte’s narrative is certainly fascinating and informative as her enthusiasm sweeps us up and away. However it’s Yuval’s richly detailed art that ensures that the reader is not only informed but filled with awe and wonder about so many aspects of the mind-stretching, The Skies Above My Eyes.

Why not step outside with your children and see that you can spy in the sky …

(I missed this super book when it first came out but thank you to the publisher for sending it out now.)

One Banana, Two Bananas

One Banana, Two Bananas
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Sam Lloyd
Egmont

A yummy banana feast is in store for readers of this high octane rhyming, read aloud romp.
Without further ado let’s meet the banana crew with ‘One banana, two bananas, three bananas, four, snoozing in the garden’ (in hammocks) when their slumbers are disturbed by a ringing at the door.

There appear bananas five, six, seven and eight in party mood announcing that bedtime is postponed for a pyjama-clad shin-dig. And the eight are just in the act of inverting themselves when through the window they spy …

The llamas hailing from the Bahamas invite the fruity friends to join in their ‘llama race’. Now that’s an offer, eight PJ clad bananas just cannot resist and off they go. Oh no! They’ve been spotted by a monkey and you can guess what he has in mind as he gives chase.

Happily though something causes him to stumble-trip,

just as a couple of new bananas come speeding up – in the nick of time.

This hungry Monkey isn’t one to be deterred by a mere tumble though, certainly not when his tummy’s a-rumble.

Next thing we see is ‘Ten bananas in pyjamas’ dog-paddling – make that banana-paddling – to save their skins, pursued by the same number of pointy-toothed piranhas. Even if they manage to escape those, that Monkey is still close on their tails. But, can they manage to stay afloat long enough? That is the crucial question as we leave them bobbing up and down on the water …

Splendid silliness, both verbal (Adam & Charlotte) and visual (Sam), to tickle your taste buds and tempt you into performing this to your audience of book-hungry little ones. I wouldn’t mind betting, you’ll relish it as much as they will even if, like me, this reviewer, you don’t even like bananas.

Countdown To Christmas

Countdown To Christmas
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Pippa Curnick
Egmont

Team Guillain present a jolly rhyming tale of a bear that creates a Christmas game with a final surprise for all his animal friends.

Everyone is eager to participate in his enterprise but after a few turns yielding uninspiring prizes the forest creatures begin to lose their initial enthusiasm.

Mouse however is keen to carry on.

Then, on day 14 she falls ill and is confined to bed for several days, fearful that she’ll miss her turn in the game.

When the last day comes and she still hasn’t had that turn, she’s convinced that she’s been forgotten altogether.

Consequently it’s a very tearful little rodent that hears Bear call her name. He hands Mouse a large wrapped-up box instructing her to open it and accompany him to discover the promised surprise: what could it possibly be?

Pippa Curnick’s illustrations are simply terrific – brilliantly expressive and funny. There’s even a festive calendar attached to the back cover so readers can join the characters in the Christmas countdown.

Party for Dads / Molly’s Magic Wardrobe: The Mermaid Mission

Party for Dads
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Ada Grey
Egmont

For this follow-up to their School for Dads, the Guillians have created another joyful picture book and it’s just right for celebrating Father’s Day as well as a Dad’s birthday.

The particular dad in this rhyming tale has no time in the morning for birthdays, barely paying heed to his daughter’s “Come on – it’s time to play! … You should be having fun.”

Instead he dashes out leaving young Anna and the friends she summons to plan and bake for a special surprise evening celebration.

Later in the day, Dads of all kinds arrive and are instructed to cast aside their phones and don fancy gear ready for some fun party celebrations and games both inside …

and outdoors.

Enthusiasm for partying duly fired up, they then start bopping and before long their less than skilful moves are being scored in ‘Strictly’ style.

After that it’s time for Anna’s Dad to embrace the true party spirit, which he does by becoming a stand-in magic bunny when his daughter performs a spot of prestidigitation.

Over indulgence is inevitable after all the playful party-poppering papas tuck in to the feast on the table that culminates in the appearance of …

Then candles extinguished, it’s award presentation time: but will Anna’s dad be a prizewinner?

Fun and a certain amount of silliness prevail in this exuberant book, made all the more effervescent by Ada Grey’s funky illustrations

Molly’s Magic Wardrobe: The Mermaid Mission
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Garry Parsons
Egmont

The second story starring Molly and the enchanted wardrobe she discovered at her Granny’s house sees the little girl’s attention being drawn to a mermaid costume.

Having stepped inside and counted to three, she’s off whizzing down into the depths of the ocean for a new adventure.

Her frolics with mermaids are soon interrupted by snarling sharks claiming ownership of a wreck and swooshing the girl and her new friends down to where more friendly creatures – a turtle and octopus are taking tea.

The mermaids relate what’s just happened and suddenly Molly has an idea. She challenges the sharks to a race, the prize being the shipwreck.

The sharks are confident they’ll be victorious but will they?

Lessons are learned, apologies given and accepted; and after a game of hide-and-seek, it’s time for Molly to bid her new friends farewell.

The Guillains’ magical rhyming tale is complemented by Garry Parsons’ bright, expressive, eye-popping scenes of the sub-aquatic frolics.

 

The Light in the Night / The World Book Day Monster

The Light in the Night
Marie Voight
Simon & Schuster

Young Betty absolutely loves the night time for it brings with it the most amazing stories, one of which features Cosmo.
Cosmo is a bear that is terrified of the dark and just when Betty is wishing that she could tell him that he has no need to fear it, POP! There he is.
Together they set off, hand in hand, on a journey of discovery. Led by a firefly they walk into the woods where they find a cave
Betty reassures her friend and they follow the firefly inside towards an inky lake whereon a rowing boat awaits to take them further.
The cave grows ever darker as they go deeper within until they come upon a sign.

Overcoming her own initial fear, Betty does as the sign says. An amazing sight meets their eyes and it’s anything but scary.
Once back outside, it’s Betty’s turn to feel anxious; she makes a confession …

With roles reversed, Cosmo now does the reassuring until the two reach Betty’s house safely once more.
Back indoors over hot chocolate (what else) the two talk of their journey until it’s time for Cosmo to leave.

Betty gives him her lantern and a special message.

In the morning she wonders if it had all been a dream: what do you think? You’ll need a copy of this magical book to find out.

Rising star, Marie Voight’s illustrations are adorable and her two characters totally endearing making this a thoroughly reassuring, warm-hearted bedtime story for you and your little ones as well as a lovely one to share in an early years setting.

The World Book Day Monster
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Ada Grey
Egmont

World Book Day is fast approaching, her school is celebrating but Anna has a dilemma. What should she dress up as?

Dad’s suggestion that they pay a visit to the bookshop proves fruitful and thanks to a helpful suggestion from the bookseller, Anna goes home fired with enthusiasm, carrying a book.

After multiple reads she enlists parental help to make her costume and next day she excitedly rushes off to school to show her friends.

Their response however isn’t particularly positive; they all ask, Anna, what are you?” over and over throughout the day.

Happily her head teacher’s reaction is very different; it was a favourite of hers when she was a child and she’s eager to share the book Anna is clutching with the class.

A magical story time ensues that is much appreciated by all her classmates, which leaves Anna thoroughly satisfied, and so she should be as she demonstrates the power of story to thrill and enchant.

Adam and Charlotte’s rhyming text coupled with Ada’s spirited scenes make for a fun book to share around World Book Day or at any time one wants to attest to the power of a story and the importance of the imagination.

Sammy Claws The Christmas Cat / Santa’s High-Tech Christmas / Christmas Gremlins / A Very Corgi Christmas

Sammy Claws The Christmas Cat
Lucy Rowland and Paula Bowles
Nosy Crow

Such is his fondness for taking a snooze that Santa’s fluffy feline Sammy will drop off pretty much anywhere and dream of accompanying his owner on the Christmas Eve delivery run.

What he doesn’t imagine though when he dashes off to Santa’s workshop, is the manner in which that dream finally comes true. The somnolent cat gets parcelled up and dropped in among the other packages on the back of the sleigh and then it’s a case of “Ho! Ho! Ho! “ and off they go.

However, Sammy isn’t the only extra rider on Santa’s sleigh that night. Two wicked robbers, Mischievous May and Bad Billy are ready and waiting to seize their big chance and help themselves to some of the parcels.

Can Sammy save the day? And what is the special present Santa leaves for his pet moggy under the Christmas tree?

Festive fun aided and abetted by a snoozy feline delivered in Lucy Rowland’s bouncing rhyme with the addition of a good sprinkling of elves and excitement in Paula Bowles’ pattern-rich illustrations.

Santa’s High-Tech Christmas
Mike Dumbleton and Angela Perrini
New Frontier Publishing

Santa has eschewed the old fashioned methods when it comes to transport and keeping account of Christmas parcels; instead he uses a motorised sleigh and stores all his lists on his smart new techno-pad. But disaster strikes as he’s whizzing over the rooftops by means of his rocket-pack; Santa’s techno-device plummets to the ground and he’s faced with a blank screen.

Enter Jasmin, a techno-savvy little girl who is more that happy to give sad old Santa a helping hand by showing him how to access all the information he needs.

Not only that but she comes to his aid in another way too: after all Christmas really is all about giving.

Mike Dumbleton’s jaunty rhyming narrative is given added zaniness by Angela Perrini’s illustrations.

Christmas Gremlins
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Chris Chatterton
Egmont

Oh my goodness, those gremlins are at large again in another of the Guillains’ rhyming romps and now they’re on the rampage creating havoc in the run up to Christmas. It seems they’re determined to get in on the act no matter whether it’s decorating the tree, baking mince pies and Christmas cake (or should that be gobbling same?), wrapping up all the presents (and everything else in sight), singing – more like screeching – carols at the door or popping out of Christmas cards. But that’s only indoors. Further prankish doings are likely outside too: nothing is safe from their mischief so let’s hope they’re well out of the way before Santa arrives.

With more than 50 flaps to lift, this madness and mayhem will keep little ones entertained as they play hunt the mischief makers on every one of Chris Chatterton’s jolly spreads.

A Very Corgi Christmas
Sam Hay and Loretta Schauer
Simon & Schuster

The royal corgis are among those not feeling the Christmas spirit, far from it, all except for young Bella that is. Dazzled by the lights and excited by the hustle and bustle outside she decides to go and join in the fun. Hitching a ride in the back of a mail van, she gets out at Piccadilly Circus where everything suddenly feels overwhelming – too bright, too hectic and FAR TOO LOUD!

As luck would have it along comes London savvy pup Pip offering to show her the sights. A great time is had by both but suddenly as they approach the palace, Pip goes missing. Will Posy ever see her newfound friend again? Perhaps with the assistance of a very special royal couple …

Delivered with an abundance of Christmas spirit, Sam and Loretta’s London tale is a charmer.

Molly’s Magic Wardrobe: Search for the Fairy Star / Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert

Molly’s Magic Wardrobe: Search for the Fairy Star
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Garry Parsons
Egmont

I have to admit that with its pink sparkly cover I was tempted to put this book aside but decided that it was unfair not to bother reading it and I’m glad I did. The Guillain’s rhyming text reads aloud very well –that was no surprise though – telling of an adventure its young protagonist Molly has when she dons a fairy costume found in her granny’s wardrobe and then, in Lion, Witch and Wardrobe style, proceeds to step inside and through to a magical place – fairyland no less.

There she meets a distressed fairy, Flo, who has lost the star from her magic wand.

Molly offers to help and together they begin to search. Their quest takes them inside a castle, through an enchanted wood and into a garden and there are encounters with a giant, a wolf and a witch. These characters are anything but the normal fairytale stereotypes proving friendly (giant),

helpful (wolf) …

and far from wicked (witch) but none has seen the missing star.

The witch does have a wishing well in her garden though.

With the Guillains’ accomplished storytelling, Gary Parsons’ bold, bright scenes of the magical happenings and the added fun of wings and a wand inside the covers of the book for individual magic make-believe, the book’s creators look set to have the start of a winning new series here.

Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert
Morag Hood and Ella Okstad
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

The narrator of this book clearly has a thing for unicorns and a wonderfully off-beat imagination. She introduces us to her charges, all seventeen of them and goes on to explain what hard work they are even to a unicorn expert such as herself.

The creatures need lessons in magic,

in hunting for food and in safety – especially where balloons are concerned.

Even when they shed their horns,

make mess all over the house …

or need protection, no matter what, young Sophie is always up to the job.

Ella Okstad’s quirky illustrative style is perfect for Morag Styles’ first person narrative. Her pictures show much more is going on than Sophie Johnson is aware of and that’s what delights listeners who relish being in the know– mine did at any rate.

The First Egg Hunt

The First Egg Hunt
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Pippa Curnick
Egmont Publishing

Featuring a very fluffy chick, the Easter Bunny, a host of woodland animals and of course, yummy chocolate treats aplenty, Charlotte and Adam Guillain have together dreamed up a wonderful rhyming pourquoi tale that explains why The Easter Bunny hides eggs for people to find on Easter Day.

Bunny and his partner Chick work hard to ensure that everything is ready for the big delivery day but it’s the furry one alone who gets all the kudos.

Resentful of the fact that Bunny is the only one in the limelight, Chick plots to put things on an equal footing the following year when it comes to the delivery of those choccy treats.

However, when the time comes, her ruse doesn’t quite go according to plan. In fact it’s an utter disaster as Chick takes a tumble with the delivery vehicle …

scattering eggs every which way and to make things worse, she is forced to confess to her partner.

All ends happily though with a new annual tradition and two happy partners.

Just as yummy as those chocolate eggs are Pippa Curnick’s illustrations. Be they double spreads, single pages, or vignettes, each one is deliciously detailed.

I’ve signed the charter  

Muffins for Mummies

Muffins for Mummies
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Lee Wildish
Egmont
All the cakes have mysteriously disappeared from the museum café but never fear: George is on the case with Trixie, his dog; and the lad has stuffed his bag full of yummy-looking chocolate muffins.
Once at the museum, there’s a trail of cake-crumbs for the would-be thief catchers to follow through the shadowy interior and before long they find themselves face to face with a possible suspect, a very angry-looking one at that.
Fortunately for the detectives, said suspect gets stuck and can only watch as they make a hasty escape on a fortuitously placed exhibit …

Suspect number one – ruled out on account of his girth.
Could it instead be the fearsome, net-wielding Roman? He’s definitely not happy about being accused of cake thieving. The cake crumb trail however, leads past him on into the gloom from which lurches suspect number three.

He too is furious at the young detective’s accusation and the latter is forced to make a hasty exit right into the Ancient Egyptian room wherein there stands wide open, a large sarcophagus. A sarcophagus containing …

Oh dear me! It looks as though George is going to be the next one accused of being a cake thief …
Who could that stash have been collected by? THAT is the question …
The answer lies in the title of the Guillains’ fast-moving, action-packed rhyming tale of detective derring-do; the reason for so doing is one you can only discover by getting hold of a copy of same for yourself. George’s amazing museum adventures are deliciously and dramatically depicted in Lee Wildish’s gigglesome visuals.

I’ve signed the charter  

The Street Beneath My Feet

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The Street Beneath My Feet
Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer
Words & Pictures
This large format volume takes the form of a concertina book that invites readers to stop and look down, posing the question, ‘What’s going on deep in the ground under your feet?’ and then takes them, layer by layer down, down through the earth’s structure to its core, and back again.
Through Charlotte Guillain’s accessible narrative style text and Yuval Zommer’s super-stylish illustrations the whole experience encompasses aspects of biology, archaeology, geology and civil engineering …

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There are questions such as ‘Who do you think wore this helmet on their head?’ to ponder and perhaps research,

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as well as less satisfying ones like ‘What’s that loud rumbling noise making the ground shake?’ that are immediately answered by the next sentence. In fact, any small paragraph or picture might generate some research if it catches the interest of a young reader and that, must surely be part of the intention of the joint enterprise.
Those same readers may well find themselves getting a little dizzy at the point the pace accelerates with ‘Let’s pick up speed as we delve down deeper. Hold on tight because things are about to get shaky. We’re deep in the Earth’s crust now and things are moving!’ and there follows talk of an earthquake and how it happens.

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If you can’t experience the real things, this book is a stimulating substitute; alternatively and better, read the book and then, enthused by what is between its covers, get out into the world and discover first hand, what lies under the ground beneath your feet in your particular part of the world.

Supermarket Gremlins

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Supermarket Gremlins
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Chris Chatterton
Egmont Publishing
Be warned! You are about to enter the hitherto unknown world of supermarket gremlins and a pretty wacky one it is too. Seemingly, pretty much wherever you look as you wander the aisles in search of your favourite items, you’ll find evidence of their activities – misplaced bananas for example …

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and in many instances lifting the flaps will confirm your suspicions …

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Much of what they get up to is extremely mischievous and certain to give you a good giggle; but be sure to watch out for flying muffins if you venture into the bread section and unwittingly disturb the snoozers …
And what’s that nestling among those kiwi fruits? Oh! and there’s another in the apples …

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Just make sure that when you finally reach the checkout that none of the little varmints has stowed away in your bags – something they have a habit of doing and seemingly on this particular occasion, they seem to have a rather bigger plan afoot …

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Zany rhyming fun and madcap action-packed (not to mention gremlin-packed) spreads combine to ensure that this one will eventually be read to destruction (and that’ll take some doing). And that next time you visit the supermarket you’ll be constantly on the lookout not only for bargains but dare I say it, spaghetti wrapped around your trolley wheels courtesy of those GREMLINS …

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Use your local bookshop       localbookshops_NameImage-2

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