Too Many Bubbles

Too Many Bubbles
David Gibb and Dan Taylor
Simon & Schuster

Dogs and exceedingly dirty water or mud seem to have a magnetic attraction and it’s certainly the case in musician/songwriter David Gibb’s madcap rhyming tale that begins with an extremely mucky pooch and instructions from Mum to ‘give the dog a bath’.

It’s not long though before this seemingly straightforward enterprise has descended into uncontrollable bubbly mayhem as the three children concerned set out in hot pursuit of their havoc-wreaking pet and the bubbling soapy trail.

As we follow the foam it becomes clear that the cause of the chaos is grasped firmly between the pooch’s jaws as it dashes rather in the fashion of the traditional Magic Porridge Pot, through the market square

and the park to the zoo.

There bubbles soon enclose not just the perpetrator of the chaos but all the inhabitants of said zoo as well. Something has to be done and quickly.

And something is, but it’s not quite what the rescue services have in mind as they risk life and limb…

And the dog? Err – let’s just say he seems to have thoroughly enjoyed himself and is badly in need of another dip in the tub.

Dan Taylor’s effervescent illustrations are enormous fun too: I particularly love the scene of the fountain invasion.

But the Bear Came Back

But the Bear Came Back
Tammi Sauer and Dan Taylor

‘You don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it’ is what the little boy protagonist in this story discovers when a large furry ursine character comes a-knocking.

It all starts quite politely on the boy narrator’s part; he’s disturbed from his reading and understandably a tad irritated but isn’t on this occasion rude. ‘And I said, “Go home, bear.” And that was that. ‘

However, this bear is persistent, returning over and over;

but time and again the boy sends him packing until things get just too much. He yells at the creature at the top of his voice, after which there are no further visits.

Peace ensues but the boy isn’t as happy as he’d expected; in fact, he really misses that hulking great irritating animal.

Can he ever find his friend again? The boy certainly goes to great lengths to do so …

but will he ever hear that longed for knock on his door?

There is much to discuss about the way the characters behave in Tammi Sauer’s gently humorous story – not the least being the lengths each goes to find a friend.

Day Taylor’s illustrations are captivating: the bear is adorable – decidedly huggable in fact; and there are lots of lovely details to spend time over.

Pants and Pirates

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Hooray for Knickers
Jill Lewis and Deborah Allwright
The very mention of knickers in a picture book is likely to get children giggling and so it is with this one, although other than the title, it was some way into the story before the k word came up at all. The whole thing is based on a kind of cumulative Chinese whispers mix up that occurs when the Royal Butler incorrectly passes on King Grouchy’s order for ‘floats, deck chairs and silky slippers.’ (Items needed to impress his soon-to-arrive guest, Prince Jolly whom he’s invited for a swim at the palace.) What he tells the Royal Footman instead is: “They need boats, black bears and silly flippers.”  The message eventually reaches the ears of the Royal Maid who interprets it thus: “He needs skipping ropes? A funfair? And everyone needs frilly knickers? Oh well, if that’s what the king’s best friend in the whole wide world wants …
It’s more than the royal servants’ lives are worth to ignore orders of King Grouchy, even if they are trying to keep out of his way, so what he says goes. Errm …
Both King and Prince are in for a surprise when they look down from the balcony at the sight that awaits …

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Fortunately both host and guest see the funny side, a friendship is forged and then it’s time to party.

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Comical scenes abound in this crazy caper.

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The Best Pirate
Sue Mongredien and Dan Taylor
Scholastic Children’s Books
Meet the pirate crew: there’s Pirate Dave – big and brave, clever Pirate Nell, Pirate Giles – ace swimmer and the diminutive Pirate Paul. Having set sail Dave, Nell and Giles are immediately busy

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but Paul (not considered a proper pirate by fellow crew members on account of his lack of stature) is deemed too tiny for a task. The same applies once they reach dry land and set off in search of treasure; Paul is left on the ship while the others explore. Will he ever get an opportunity to prove himself a worthy member of the pirate band? Maybe this is his golden opportunity: his shipmates certainly look like they need some help – and fast …

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Told in appropriately rollicking rhyme and humorously illustrated in bold tropical colours, this will appeal in particular to young landlubbers who enjoy tales of the action-packed kind. And there’s a fold-out cover flap with cut-out pirate hat and treasure.

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Bossy Jonathan Fossy
Julie Fulton and Elina Ellis
Maverick Arts Publishing
Meet Jonathan Fossy, a real bossy boots if ever there was one: he’d issue orders to his mum, his neighbours, the whole town in fact. Eventually PC Moran decides something has to be done and at dead of night a plan is hatched. Next morning as he heads off to play, Jonathan sees this …

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On reaching the beach he’s confronted by a gang of dastardly looking pirates one of whom grabs young Jonathan and having hustled him on board as a crew member, produces a rather long list of tasks the lad’s required to complete.

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Seems there’s nothing for it but to get stuck in. There’s washing, scrubbing, sail repairs, deck swabbing, polishing and much more and all the while the rest of the crew jeer at and scorn the lad, issuing threats if he appears to be slacking.
Eventually a somewhat exhausted Jonathan sees the error of his ways: “Being bossy’s not nice, I can see. /I’ve been a real pain, I won’t do it again.” he cries. And then it’s time for the rest of the crew to unmask and set sail back to Hamilton Shady with one altogether reformed character.
Jonathan Fossy is the latest addition to the series of Hamilton Shady inhabitants. The exploits of some of the other residents of the town of ‘over-the-top’ characters have been reissued with new titles and covers, so if you’ve not read their cautionary tales, there are giggles aplenty to be found therein too.

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A Search in the Fog, A Race in the Forest, A Flight from Danger


Hog in the Fog
Julia Copus and Eunyoung Seo
Faber & Faber pbk
Shrew, Lil has invited Harry the Hog for tea at three:
There were chocolate-chip beetles and slug-flavoured chips
and warm jellied maggots with fruit-flavoured dips;

and all manner of other goodies already on the table.
Three o’clock comes, then a quarter past; Lil looks anxiously out at the gathering gloom. By four she can wait no longer so donning her raincoat she sets out,

Pittery pattery, tippety tappety’ up the hill in search of Harry.
First she encounters a sheep, but the sheep’s not seen a hog, just a hedge so she thinks, ”where no hedge was before.


She offers to help Lil search though and off they go together. The deer they meet has seen, he thinks, only “The wings of a bat … pinkish and flat.” But he’ll help look for the missing hog; so too will the crow who has seen naught but a sleeping snake on a log.


Into the woods go the four as the swirling fog gets ever thicker until, around the next corner …
What’s that THING. The bush? The bat? The snake?
By now, young listeners will be unable to resist shouting the identity of the large hairy, ‘bog-soaked, mud-smeared’ creature that, after a whole lot of pulling and pushing, eventually comes slippily, slurpily, gluggily, gurgly from the muck. And guess what; he’s absolutely starving.
Good job that at her house, as Lil says, “it stays TEA o’clock for a very long while.”  Tuck in everyone!
Delicious, delectable and such enormous fun to read aloud. The rhyming text just trips, like those loving prepared treats of Lils, right off the tongue.
Equally praiseworthy are the wonderfully expressive watercolour illustrations, which capture the drama and the gentle humour to perfection making every turn of the page a treat too. Particularly gorgeous and an unexpected delight are deer’s fantastical , butterfly-attracting, flower-wrapped antlers.

Billed as ‘A Harry & Lil story’ I hope this indicates more to come from the charmingly unlikely wild boar/shrew duo.
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The Great Race
Nathan Kumar Scott and Jagdish Chitara
Tara Books
In the third of the series of folk tales featuring trickster, Kanchil we find the boastful mouse deer proclaiming himself to be ‘the fastest animal in the forest’ and challenging the other animals to THE GREAT RACE OF THE JUNGLE. Having called upon the help of scarlet macaw, Kakatua to spread the word thoughout the forest, Kanchil waits by the riverbank to see who takes up his challenge.


Soon, every animal appears but none save one tiny voice speaks; the voice is that of Pelan the snail. Laughable, thinks Kanchil on discovering the only contestant is to be a tiny snail; his laughter is echoed by the other animals but none steps forth other than tiger Harimau with an offer to act as referee and Gajah the elephant, the finishing judge.
The race begins, off zooms Kanchil, only to reach the finish in – shock horror – second place.


A second race is called by Kanchil, against the river flow this time, but again Pelan gets there first.
How did a slow snail beat a fast deer? Have you guessed? Suffice it to say that the over-confident Kanchil is outwitted by a guileful Gastropod (or two).


This amusing story (a kind of Hare and the Tortoise tale) is Nathan Kumar Scott’s retelling of an Indonesian folk tale brilliantly brought to life by Gujarati, Waghari artist, Jagdish Chitara. Jagdish used the same ancient artistic techniques and traditional blood red, brilliant white and black colours to portray the animals in this secular book as are used for the special ritual cloths for the Mother Goddess, called Mata Ni Pachedi (the cloth of the mother) traditionally used as temple hangings.
Another stellar book from the Indian publishing house that specializes in books illustrated by highly talented Indian artists.
Look out soon for quality paperback editions of some of Tara’s backlist to be available shortly.
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Dylan’s Amazing Dinosaurs: The Tyrannosaurus Rex
E.T.Harper and Dan Taylor
Simon and Schuster pbk
In Dylan’s incredible tree house he keeps important things; things like Wings, his toy pterodactyl and Grandpa Fossil’s Dinosaur Journal. Opening the latter brings the former to life and he becomes the vehicle for Dylan’s journeys of discovery.
We join Dylan as he and Wings set off to discover the number of teeth the T.Rex had. Their search for the answer results in a face-to-face encounter with the enormous creature itself – WOW! Those gnashers.
Quick Dylan, find something for it to sink those teeth into and flee for your life …


So does our young hero escape and does he discover the answer to his dinosaur dentition question?


Take a look at that log…


then turn to Dylan’s T.Rex fact file and find his latest numerical entry.
With its ever popular topic, some delicious alliterative sound bites, fascinating, embedded facts (the author is herself a palaeontology professor), boldly rendered action scenes and a removable pop out T.Rex, this, the first Dylan adventure, is bound to be popular with young children particularly budding palaeontologists.
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