Eating Chips With Monkey / Super Stan

Eating Chips With Monkey
Mark Lowery
Piccadilly Press

Ten-year-old Daniel absolutely loves fish and chips, almost as much as he loves his soft toy Monkey; and when the two are part and parcel of the same experience – like his family’s annual Chip Shop Championships, then things really can’t get much better.

They can however get a whole lot worse for during a trip to find the winning chip shop one November day, the lives of Daniel and his family are shattered by a terrible accident when the boy rushes out of the shop straight into the road.

Following his accident Daniel becomes withdrawn while members of his family struggle to cope with the accident’s impact on their own lives.

Then Dad decides to stage a kidnap or as he put it ‘just borrow’ the entire family and redo the Chip Shop Championships mentioned in Daniel’s notebook and in an effort to stimulate the boy’s senses revisit the five contenders. That entails driving all over the country from Norfolk to Bedfordshire, to Yorkshire and thence to Camden Town and finally King’s Cross.

Mark Lowery has created a story that is highly affecting and also funny – think chip-guzzling giraffe, Grandma ‘seizing the day’ with a Major, and designer food. His characterisation of all family members is such that each one truly comes to life on the page, while the portrayal of Daniel (who has autism) is empathetic and might surprise readers who have little of no experience of what this might mean in terms of behaviours.

No matter which way you like your chips served, you cannot but be swept up in this highly unusual family drama.

Super Stan
Elaine Wickson, illustrated by Chris Judge
Oxford University Press

This is the third episode in the life of Stan. All the space enthusiast boy wants to do is to be left in peace so he can watch the total solar eclipse that’s coming up soon but his younger brother Fred has a much more important mission that threatens to eclipse any plans that big bro. might have for the near future.

Fred has donned an eco-warrior hat and is determined to solve the plastic pollution crisis. Moreover he wants everyone else to get involved too.

Add to that Gran’s big announcement regarding her and a certain salsa instructor as well as a certain umbraphile named Roberta Macklin who Stan is determined to meet.

And what’s all that about a certain King prawn vandalising the local supermarket?

Readers will be amazed at how all these threads are woven so neatly together by the author in such a highly entertaining manner; not only that, for Chris Judge’s inventive infographics

are an integral part of this SUPERb adventure that is once again much more than the SUM of all its parts.

Go Stan, go! and, go Fred go! The planet needs you both.

Tiny and Teeny

Tiny and Teeny
Chris Judge
Walker Books

On the outskirts of the bustling buzzing Glengadget, in a shiny red apple lives Tiny with her pet Teeny.

Tiny spends the weekdays helping others

and by this particular Friday evening, she’s so tired that before she even gets indoors she falls fast asleep dreaming of flying through space.

As she slumbers disaster strikes her home, squishing it absolutely flat.

Despite being given a room in the Grand Hotel, Tiny misses her old home.

Now though it’s payback time: the following week all Tiny’s friends rally round and come Friday a truly wonderful surprise awaits …

which all goes to show that by working together a small community can make a big difference.

Simply bursting with love, is this itty-bitty story, with its enchanting spreads packed with quirky details and antennaed characters doesn’t bring a huge smile to your face then I’ll eat a whole watermelon (and they’re one of my most unfavourite fruits).

Friends Return: Old Bear & The Beast

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Old Bear’s Bedtime Stories
Jane Hissey
I’ve long been a fan of Jane Hissey’s soft toy stories whose characters are based on toys belonging to her family and friends, so I was thrilled to see this new collection of some twenty short stories featuring Old Bear and his pals, Duck, Rabbit, Bramwell Brown,

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Barnaby, Jolly Tall and Ruff, to name just a few of the cast of characters herein, some of whom I’m meeting for the first time.
With autumnal stories including one about Freddie Teddy’s attempts at collecting blackberries, and another wherein Peter Bear makes the ‘most unfrightening’ pumpkin face ever’,

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Christmas tales, a seaside story, a rainy day one and a summery finale in which Old Bear, Little Bear, Bramwell and Jolly, not to mention Duck, Ruff, Rabbit and Zebra enact their very own version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

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For me these warm-hearted stories are the children’s picture book equivalent of comfort food – something to snuggle up with and share on a chilly day. Delicious!

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The Snow Beast
Chris Judge
Andersen Press
The Beast returns for a third adventure and it has a decidedly chilly feel to it. Snow has fallen in the village and the Beast is set to help the villagers with a celebratory festival. But, there’s a distinct lack of tools: every single one has been stolen and chief suspect is none other than the abominable Snow Beast. Off sets the Beast to track down the thief and retrieve the tools.
Following some rather large, beastly footprints he goes deeper into the snow only to find he’s in it up to his nose and completely stuck. There’s only one solution – to dig himself out and that he does only to find himself face to face with …

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and the tool-thief is certainly not going to stop and pass the time of day.
Enlisting assistance from re-enforcements of the human variety, there’s only one way to catch up with the robber but suddenly the Beast finds himself up to his nose in snow once again. Help comes from a most unlikely source and one good turn leads to another …
But even then our hero just doesn’t know when to take things slowly and his re-entry into the village is something of a crash landing …

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There’s a vibrancy about Chris Judge’s illustrations that will bring a warming cheer to wintry reading of this amusing story about determination and finding friends in unlikely situations.


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Use your local bookshop    localbookshops_NameImage-2

Brilliant event: Children’s Book Illustration Autumn Exhibition, Waterstones, Piccadilly 23rd-29th October


Welcome to the Family & Little Sisters

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Welcome to the Family
Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Full of wit and wisdom is this look at families of all kinds; in fact it’s the book for you no matter what kind of family yours is. It offers a straightforward exploration of the many ways in which a child or baby becomes part of a family. This might be through a natural birth into a nuclear family, through adoption or fostering,

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perhaps by a same sex couple, through IVF, or maybe, as often happens, by the ‘blending’ of two families. Every possibility is explained in a straightforward, matter of fact manner; it’s the illustrations, speech and thoughts bubbles that supply the gentle humour. Having said that, the author doesn’t avoid potential difficulties – settling in,

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accommodating new siblings etc. are tackled head on as here:
It can take a while for children to settle down and get along together, and get used to the new person acting as their parent. They can also worry about the mum or dad who no longer lives with them.
The message that shines through loud and clear from this totally affirming, all-inclusive book is that no matter how your family came about, it and you are special, different from all others, valued and valid.
This is another ‘must have’ for every primary school classroom and early years setting from the fantastic Hoffman/Asquith team who gave us The Great Big Book of Families and The Great Big Book of Feelings.

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A Guide to Sisters
Paula Metcalf and Suzanne Barton
Words & Pictures (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Told from the viewpoint of a big sister this cute and funny book explores the pros and cons of having a sister and some of the things you (and she) might get up to, if and when you have one. We get right up close from the start with that new baby feel, noises and habits, then move on to toddling, tickling, TV tampering, teetering in high heels

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(only permitted to big sisters on their seventh birthdays), taking things apart – the model you’ve just spent hours constructing for instance,

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and much more. There are of course compensations; little sisters enjoy improving their skills at tidying up big sisters’ bedrooms for instance; and who better to snuggle up with if a big sister gets a bit scared in the middle of the night …

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There’s another troublesome little sister in:

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Chris Judge
Andersen Press
Tin is supposed to be minding Nickel, his little sister but becomes engrossed in his comic. Then ‘WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!‘ That’s Zinc the dog sounding the alarm: Nickel is up in a tree and before Tin can reach her she floats away, born aloft by a red balloon. Tin leaps on his bike and sets off in hot pursuit – all the way to the big city. Therein the rescue attempt continues with a cycle up a helter-skelter followed by a brave leap into the air

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resulting in Tin catching hold of Nickel and her balloon. The balloon then bursts and they hurtle downwards towards a passing animal parade heading for the safari park, Tin and Zinc landing on an elephant and Nickel, a giraffe’s neck. Once in the safari park the elephant and giraffe head off in different directions but a dramatic chase ensues with Tin and Zinc in hot pursuit. Eventually Nickel is stopped in her tracks by a park ranger and handed over to her brother. He in turn hands her a new balloon: oh dear was that a wise move? …
A pacey text accompanies Chris Judge’s action-packed visual narrative, but it’s his vividly coloured illustrations that show the setting to be a futuristic city

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inhabited solely (apart from the wild animals) by robots of various hues.
Great fun and just the thing to inspire a class of infants to create their own rainbow-hued futuristic city from recycled materials.

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