Jasper & Scruff Take a Bow / My Robot’s Gone Wild

These are two new titles from Little Tiger’s Stripes imprint both featuring already popular characters. Thanks to the publishers for sending them for review.

Jasper & Scruff Take a Bow
Nicola Colton

The unlikely best friends Jasper, a dapper feline and mud loving Scruff the pup return for a third adventure.
When Jasper hears of the Reach For the Stars talent show to be held at the town hall the following afternoon the two can’t wait to take part. There’s a snag though: Scruff wants them to enter as a dazzling magic making twosome; Jasper wants to do a solo act, one he’s polished up from a previous occasion.

During the heats Jasper’s act fails to impress the judges and he’s eliminated whereas Scruff manages to get through to the finals. Finals for which the winner will receive a Grand Prize – a week on stage performing alongside Marvello the Magnificent. 

It’s a prize that Sophisticat Lady Catterly has set her sights on.
Perhaps now Scruff and Jasper should join forces to try and wow the judges.

Come the finals however, there appears to be some chicanery at work where Lady C and the Sophisticats are concerned. Time for Jasper and Scruff to do a spot of detective work of the underground variety to discover exactly what is going on.

With detailed illustrations that fizz with energy and gentle humour on every spread, this entertaining drama is perfect for young solo readers at that crucial in-between stage. Scruff and Jasper are a hugely endearing pair and there are some interesting bit part players in the cast of characters too.

Equally, Nicola’s lively narrative style with its occasional puns and plenty of snappy dialogue makes the book work well as a read aloud.

My Robot’s Gone Wild
Dave Cousins, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri

Changes are afoot in the fourth of Dave Cousins’ Robot adventures featuring the robot babysitter Robin created by twins Jess and Jake’s inventor Grandma.

As the story opens year six has just ended and the twins, accompanied by a robot (not Robin) dressed to look like Grandma, Ivana and Ali, and Digby dog, are on a train en route to the Scottish countryside. The purpose is a holiday visit to Robin currently in hiding with Grandma at Granny Anderson’s who lives in a remote spot near Loch Wilder. Said Granny (the twins motorbike riding great grandmother) has organised some ‘wild camping’ for the visitors.

The first shock is the nature of the location, the second is the change in Robin. The robot now bears some resemblance to a tree and thanks to upgrades by Grandma, has new feet and hands and sports army-style shorts and shirt. Grandma certainly hasn’t been idle while in Scotland: she’s also created pop-up tents as well as a ‘water-dragon-submarine’ supposedly to help with catching cattle rustlers.

Then a spot of fishing lands Jake (narrator) in icy cold water: this holiday certainly doesn’t look too promising especially when hedgerow stew is served up for supper. 

Surely day two must be better but …

So much happens during the rest of the holiday and by the time they leave, the children have accepted among other things, that it will be without the physical Robin although they take something with them that will make it feel as though he’s still with them.

It seems as though this is the final story in Dave Cousins’ madcap robot series, so amusingly illustrated by Catalina Echeverri. I know a fair few readers who, like Jess and Jake, will be sorry to say farewell.

A Robot Ate My Grandma / Level Up! Last One Standing

A Robot Ate My Grandma
Dave Cousins, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
Little Tiger

This is the third in the series about twins Jake and Jess and their babysitter robot, Robin.

Now in addition to minding the children, Robin has a new job – or rather two: he’s in charge of the lighting for the school play (a musical version of Little Red Riding Hood) and also acting as the narrator of same.

But then the robot starts mal-functioning time and again and the only person who can fix him is his creator, the twins’ STEM expert Grandma. The trouble is she’s gone AWOL and in her place is – can you believe – a robot, albeit an excellent Grandma look-alike.

Mum assures them Grandma has merely gone on holiday so it’s down to the twins to sort things out.

Then they discover someone in her garage workshop and having inadvertently shot the old person, it turns out that she’s none other than Granny Andersen, the twins’ great grandmother accompanied by her ferret, Wee Freddie.

Now there’s a semblance of a team,

but can they discover what’s really happened to Granny, and if necessary, pull off a rescue?

There’s plenty to keep newly independent readers turning the pages of this zany story, not least being the introduction of a new character, Granny Andersen. There are also lots of laughs, a fair few tense moments and terrific illustrations by Catalina Echeverri breaking up the text and adding additional humour and drama to the telling.

Level Up! Last One Standing
Tom Nicoll, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
Little Tiger

Video-game obsessed best friends Flo (narrator) and Max are stuck inside a video game series. As this book opens, one minute they’re in a plane flying over Last to Leave terrain and the next they are parachuting (just) down to land in the middle of the village square. Game on.

Before long they find themselves face to face with an old adversary, Rhett Hodges, commonly known as Hodges claiming he wants to team up with them. But can he be trusted?

Time’s running out so should they take a chance on his offer?Seemingly it’s their one chance and Flo’s Mum needs saving. Determined to make it to the end and get back home, they get into a speedboat with Hodges and away they go.

Fast and furious is the action and with so much at stake in the toughest battle ever, readers will be on the edge of their seats right to the very end. There are plenty of Anjan Sarkar’s black and white illustrations to add to the dramatic atmosphere throughout.