Animals – Wild and Tame

DSCN4791 (800x600)

Wild and Tame Animals
Dahlov Ipcar
Flying Eye Books
Long ago all the animals in the world were wild. Some were timid and hid in the woods, and some were ferocious and dangerous … But long ago men learned to tame some of the wild animals.’ So begins this Ipcar presentation wherein wild animals and their tame varieties are introduced in captioned spreads. Thus we encounter feral cats, and household tame ones, wild dogs and trained ones, wild horses and the working variety. Many more of the world’s fauna are depicted working for humans in places such as Asia,

DSCN4792 (800x600)

India, Saudi Arabia and the Arctic;

DSCN4793 (800x600)

and donkeys have a special international spread of their own.
Thank goodness then that animals still live wild in the world’s jungles, plains and woodlands for us to see: long may it be so.
There is a real vintage feel to this one for which the artist has used a restricted colour palette of tan, mustard, olive, grey, white and black. As always with Wide Eyed publications, the production is top quality. For the primary school library I’d suggest: It would make a good starting point to the whole issue of the way humans use/abuse animals.

DSCN4794 (800x600)

One Day on Our Blue Planet … In the Savannah
Ella Bailey
Flying Eye Books
All the animals are free to roam their African savannah homeland in this, Ella Bailey’s second picture book; and how different in nature from her previous one, No Such Thing, it is.
We trail a lion cub as he pursues his mother from their den, through the tall grass and eventually, to the river for some midday refreshment;

DSCN4795 (800x600)

then while she rests, the little cub plays at hunting, stalking and chasing.

DSCN4796 (800x600)

At sunset however, it’s the turn of the lionesses to hunt for real. With their cubs in a safe place, they are off on the trail of their favourite meal – meat. (Little cub still needs only his mother’s milk at this stage though.) And he does need lots of sleep – unlike his parents that may well stay awake through the night.

DSCN4797 (800x600)

During the course of the twenty-four hours we also meet the little cub’s relations and a whole host of other animals that share their Savanna homeland; and in so doing readers/listeners can discover further details about the indigenous fauna and flora. Gorgeous endpapers present the diurnal and nocturnal creatures and the playful spreads in between offer opportunities to find out more. The straightforward narrative text conveys additional bite-size chunks of ecological information.
I look forward to spending delightful days in other habitats on Our Blue Planet.

Four year olds’ versions of the little lion cub:

DSCF2599 (800x600)

DSCF2591 (800x600)

Use your local bookshop   localbookshops_NameImage-2


Manners & Friendship in Black and White

panda 5 Please Mr Panda
Steve Antony
Hodder Children’s Books
Would you like a doughnut?” the chunky panda asks a penguin on the opening spread of Steve Antony’s third picture book. Less than impressed by the penguin’s impolite  response, panda4 he changes his mind and moves on, offering his tray of delicious-looking, colourful treats to several other animals including one who has the enormous cheek – (but then it is a whale) to retort, “I want them all! Then bring me some more.” Unsurprisingly none of the answers meet with his approval and the offer is hastily withdrawn. panda 3 It’s not until the resolute panda encounters lemur that he receives a polite answer with that all -important p-word included. So pleased is Mr Panda on hearing the elusive word being uttered (he even gets a “Thank you very much!”) that he gives the charming creature the whole box panda2 with the throwaway remark, “You’re welcome. I don’t like doughnuts.” A wonderfully stylish and witty lesson in basic manners: The sight of that solemn-faced panda sporting a tiny paper hat bearing the single word Doughnuts and remaining  impassive in the face of rudeness, is enormously endearing. With such artistry I’m sure Mr P. will quickly become a firm favourite with all who have dealings with young children as well as the book’s intended audience themselves. The latter will, I suspect feel a sense of anticipatory delight at every turn of the page, until that all-important, topsy-turvy panda/lemur encounter. With its deliciously droll illustrations, cleverly patterned text, inviting layout and memorable words young readers will want to try reading it for themselves after sharing it with an adult a couple of times. panda 1 Mr P. will undoubtedly provide a third winner for Mr A.


bl&w 7 Black and White
Dahlov Ipcar
Flying Eye Books
Said to have been inspired by the US civil rights movement, this stylish book was originally published in the early 60s and is now reissued by a British publisher whose hallmarks are design and production of the highest quality. The story itself, tells of two dogs, one black, the other white that play together by day and part at night to return to separate homes to sleep and dream. It is their dreams that Ipcar explores in gentle rhythmic rhyme and glorious visuals, as the black dog’s dream takes him off to a dark African jungle. A place populated by elephants, monkeys and fierce panthers, bl&w 2 where zebras and antelopes graze and ‘Black-and-white butterflies everywhere/Fill the flower-scented air.’ bl&w 3 The little white dog meanwhile is transported to the snowy, icy arctic. There ‘On the shore stand polar bears, / While arctic foxes chase arctic hares.’ bl&w 4 and seals and great whales swim in the chilly waters below which black-and-white fishes glide, walruses rest on the ice-floes and sea birds nest on the rocks. Come morning, the canine pals reunite to play together side-by-side once again and to recount to one another the details of their dream-world travels. bl&w 6 Stylish retro, yet timeless illustrations, grace every page demonstrating just how perfectly Ipcar balances form and colour. Use your local bookshop: localbookshops_NameImage-2 Don’t forget February 14th ibgdposterlarge

Cuddles, Crime, Cavemen and a Question


I Want a Cuddle
Malorie Blackman and Joanne Partis
Orchard Books pbk
First published over ten years ago, this story written by current the Children’s Laureate, about Little Rabbit and his search for a cuddle still holds its original charm.
Having injured his paw during a game of hide-and-seek, Little Rabbit is in desperate need of a cuddle. Hedgehog is sympathetic but too prickly, likewise Squirrel (too tickly), Badger – he’s too bristly, Toad is lumpy, and bumpy, not to mention squidgy.


Poor Little Rabbit sets off home through the forest but who is that bushy-tailed creature sneaking up behind her?
And who else needs a cuddle now?


Funny, tender and with just the right amount of suspense to keep young readers engaged throughout; this is a lovely story-time read aloud for nursery settings as well as individual listeners. Joanne Partis’ boldly coloured, illustrations rendered with thick strokes, daubs, spatters and mixed media manipulations are a delight.
Buy from Amazon


Top Top Secret
Claire Freedman and Russell Ayto
Simon and Schuster pbk
The bond between, reader, author and main protagonist – a young secret agent spy – are immediately established in this vastly amusing rhyming tale. Herein Sid accepts a mission to recover the Royal Ring bearing the king’s secret seal from the clutches of a dastardly dragon and return it to its place in the royal vaults. Off he goes creeping in the shadows till he comes upon a large drain lid; out comes his trusty magnet, up comes the cover, down slides Sid. Then propelled by his supersonic pulley he whizzes through the shaft, out onto a river (his raft a-ready there), under a bridge, oops -! Having narrowly escaped the waiting shark’s jaws,


he comes upon a sign:
Once inside the dragon’s lair, he discovers the ring’s whereabouts and is on the point of seizing same when ROAR! The dragon wakes; smoke and flames burst forth; OH NO! Sid’s has lost his anti-dragon flare. Time to resort to something altogether more tricky and DEFINITELY, much more sticky, Sid.

And does our Sid succeed in retrieving and returning the precious object to its rightful place? Erm well… those telescopic super-charged skis and that trusty magnet do come into their own and we leave our hero sound asleep in his comfy bed so … What do you think?
Rendered in skillfully scurrying rhyme and through suitably off-beat illustrations, this fast-moving, very amusing tale is such fun to share with young audiences large and small. If the former though, make sure individuals have opportunities to revel in the hilarious details of Russell Ayto’s deliciously idiosyncratic artwork.
Overall design, the variety of fonts used, Ayto’s choice of colour palette, the minutiae of detail within the scenes be they wide screen or small close-ups, all add to the impact of the book.
Buy from Amazon


Jill Lewis and Simon Rickerty
Simon and Schuster pbk
Previously for Simon Rickerty it was crayons; now, along with the characters he depicts, a quartet of troglodytes no less (those drawn by the little boy of the story), it is pencils that take centre stage. Actually just the one pencil, in fact. The particular one being that which rolls over the cavemen’s fire extinguishing it but bringing to life said picture. Thereupon the bemused cave dwellers attempt to make sense of this mysterious object; they try eating it, and climbing it before one of their number, Colin, hits upon tool wielding. After some serious carving and chopping an impressive result is achieved.


‘ BURNA BURNA ROAST TOASTA!’ shouts the excited Flint but then out of nowhere seemingly, there leaps a hungry tiger, jaws a-gaping. Plan B I think guys.
After a pretty close call though, things take a turn – or rather they don’t – for the worse.

You didn’t notice that tree then? Time for another one of Colin’s good ideas …
But …


Have a sausage instead! UG-A-LUG! A happy ending? Certainly, so long as you are a carnivore that is.
Jill Lewis’s matter of fact manner of telling with its sprinkling of troglodyte talk, works wonderfully well as a counter to Ayto’s over the top artistry, with its brilliantly expressive caveman countenances as they go about their comical caperings.
Buy from Amazon


The Wonderful Egg
Dahlov Ipcar
Flying Eye Books
Is it a mystery story or is it an information book? First published in 1958 and now in a new edition, this lovely book is actually both. It tells how long, long ago when all the earth was covered in jungles a wonderful egg sat solitary in a mossy nest beneath a giant fern tree.


But whose egg is it?


A dinosaur’s perhaps, or did it belong to one of the marine or flying reptiles that lived over a million years ago?


Dahlov Ipcar transports us to that prehistoric world and takes us through a multitude of possibilities before revealing the answer.


Her wonderful illustrations have been ‘remastered’ from the original edition. The limited palette of shades of green, brown, grey and pink and the bolder black blocks, shading and outlines creates scenes at once dramatic, subtle and timeless.
In addition to the narrative, readers are provided with a helpful pronunciation page and a double spread showing the relative sizes of the creatures featured.
Buy from Amazon

Find and buy from your local bookshop: