Bonkers About Beetroot / Pony in the City

Bonkers About Beetroot
Cath Jones and Chris Jevons
Maverick Arts Publishing

Sunset Safari Park is in danger of being closed down due to a distinct lack of visitors. Zebra calls a meeting of its inmates in the hope they might have suggestions as to how to save their home. Despite Penguin’s discouraging “Nobody comes because we’re boring” comment, Zebra remains determined to do something to attract the crowds. Beetroot is his plan: the biggest in the world and the animals are to grow it. “BONKERS!” is pessimistic Penguin’s response to this idea and to pretty much every stage in the growth of the vegetable from manure heap planting ground …

to the large beet that soon attracts the crowds.
So successful is the vegetable that it just goes on growing and growing until there’s no longer room for visitors.

Penguin’s solution is a pretty drastic one but will it have the effect he hopes? Can the safari park be saved after all?

Really, there’s no other way to describe this story that to borrow Penguin’s much used word, ‘BONKERS’.
The contrasting characters: optimistic Zebra and pessimist, Penguin complement one another well, making for a lively and quirky story time read aloud that invites audience participation.
Chris Jevons’ vivid illustrations of zoo residents, the zoo’s human visitors and of course, the beetroot itself, provide plenty to giggle over.

Pony in the City
Wendy Wahman
Sterling

Otis, a pony at the Pony Paddock gets on well with the children who visit his home; in fact he’s ‘saddled with questions’ about them. Do they gallop and kick? Do they ever walk on all fours? Do they graze on grass and daisies? The older ponies ignore his constant questioning so Otis sets out to find some answers for himself.
He visits the city park where hiding himself away, he observes and discovers their movements and sounds are not very different from his. Next stop is their homes; ‘such big barns’, he decides.
Otis discovers many more similarities …

but then suddenly comes the scary realisation that he’s far from home, alone in the big city and it’s way past time to sleep.

Next morning he hears a familiar clippity cloppity sound; could it be one of his fellow ponies coming to look for him?
No it isn’t; but his finders are equally surprised to see the little pony so far from his home and more than willing to take him back home where, inevitably, he has lots of questions to answer …
This gentle adventure with witty collage style illustrations of a children’s world interpreted through the limited experiences of a pony, offers food for thought about judgements and diversity.

Solo Reading Delights

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Lottie and Dottie Grow Pumpkins
Claire Burgess, illustrated by Marijke van Veldhoven
Orion Children’s Books
Green-fingered siblings, Lottie and little sis. Dottie, are once again inspired by their reading – it’s Cinderella this time – and off they go to the garden centre to buy pumpkin seeds. With just three in the packet that’s one for each of the sisters and one for their pal Basil (also a keen gardener). As the pumpkin seeds germinate and grow, Dottie muses over possibilities …

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and soon it’s time to replant the rapidly enlarging pumpkins outside where they continue growing and growing until …

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And with such a wonderful crop, come the autumn, there’s plenty for soup making, carving and more …

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and of course there are plenty of seeds for next year’s sowing.
A tasty treat for ‘just taking off’ readers and with those amusing illustrations, it also makes a great read aloud, especially for one to one sharing.

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Belinda and the Bears Go Shopping
Kaye Umansky, illustrated by Chris Jevons
Orion Children’s Books
Kaye Umansky puts a delicious new slant on the Three Bears story when young Belinda persuades Mummy and Daddy Bear to convert their attic into a bedroom for Baby Bear. It’s rather bare though

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and the trouble is, the Bear family are used to the woods: going furniture shopping in the village will take a whole lot of organising and once they get to the junk shop, Baby Bear needs a bit of persuading to concentrate on the job in hand …

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Luckily, Mr Musty has everything the Bears need and even offers to deliver their purchases free of charge; but when it comes to Baby Bear’s first bedtime in his new room, there’s a bit of a hiccup. Fortunately however, Belinda knows just what to do to make sure her small bear friend sleeps soundly.
With delightful illustrations by Chris Jevons on every page (and instructions to make a Robin Hood hat like Baby Bear’s at the end), what more can just independent readers ask. Some green paper and a feather perhaps …

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