Ruffles and the Teeny, Tiny Kittens / I am Dog!

Ruffles and the Teeny, Tiny Kittens
David Melling
Nosy Crow

Puppy Ruffles is in many ways similar to a little human as he learns about the world – its ups and downs. There’s much he enjoys but if there’s one thing he particularly dislikes it’s teeny tiny kittens. So you can imagine his feelings when five lively kittens of the teeny tiny kind come to stay. He is far from happy about their high-spirited actions, their noises and their poo. They follow him wherever he goes and try to do whatever anti-sharer Ruffles does. Worst of all is that they want to enjoy the delights of his Big Blue Blankie.

When a tug of war over this special object occurs the kittens’ game results in catastrophe.

Can these frolicking felines perhaps help Ruffles learn one of life’s important lessons – that sharing is the best way to make friends and have fun.
Once again David’s observations are spot on and this funny follow up to Ruffles and the Red, Red Coat is sure to be another winner with youngsters of the human kind. With its text closely matching the terrific illustrations this is also an ideal book for young learner readers.

I am Dog!
Peter Bently and Chris Chatterton
Macmillan Children’s Books

We meet another playful pooch herein, this time acting as the book’s narrator and telling of a day in its life from its very own doggy viewpoint. And what a clever creature to speak in clipped canine rhyme about liking such things as ‘beggy-beggy trick’ and ‘fetchy-fetchy stick’.
This canine can’t resist a watery chase,

a race or ‘feeling wind in face’, not to mention rolling in strongly ponging foxy droppings.

However, like the majority of canines, our narrator has a great aversion to the moggy residing next door.

Much more enjoyable are cosy cuddles, ‘lap-lap-lappy puddles’, sniffing the rear ends of fellow dogs and the ‘sniff-sniff’ aromas emanating from the tasty meal laid out on the table. But therein lies both disaster and satisfaction:

now what does the little human residing in the same home think of all this? …

Chris’s action-packed scenes portraying the predilections and pranks of Dog are hilarious and provide the perfect complement to Peter’s bouncy, splendidly onomatopoeic text.

This is Not a Unicorn / Ruffles and the Red, Red Coat

Two fun picture books from Nosy Crow Books – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

This Is Not a Unicorn
Barry Timms and Ged Adamson

This is a wonderfully silly tale of a ‘NOT’ unicorn with a very special horn that is able to morph into all sorts of incredible things. So, be ready for a truly magical adventure wherein, along with a little girl, readers participate in a hilarious corn-u-copia of delight as they experience the appendage that becomes, among other things a trumpet, an ice cream scoop, a pump, a wishing wand, a ginormous fishing net, a feather duster, a helicopter rotor blade, an angle poise lamp,

an x-ray machine, even a space rocket – awesome!

Central to this rhyming romp of a book, replete with fun wordplay, is the warm friendship between the two main characters as they let their imaginations take flight.

Ged Adamson portrays the creature with a rainbow-hued mane, the dayglo pink and other colours being picked out in other details in every one of his wonderfully imagined scenes.

With unicorns remaining one of the favourite characters among younger children, Barry Tims and Ged Adamson created a winner here.

Ruffles and the Red, Red Coat
David Melling

Adorable pooch Ruffles loves to do the usual doggy kind of things such as playing, sniffing, fetching, digging and chewing; but there’s one thing he does NOT love at all and that’s his new red coat. He absolutely hates the thing to the extent that he manages to extricate himself from it and cast it aside. But then he decides that he really wants to go outside in the rain, play in the puddles and have a jolly good time.

Out he goes and soon along comes his friend, Ruby sporting her brand new blue coat. Together they romp, frolic and jump

until some large bully dogs arrive and that’s the end of their puddle. Now Ruffles is wet, cold and grumpy but Ruby is still in a playful mood and tries to encourage Ruffles to play again – with no success.

Off she goes leaving him all alone but then back she comes carrying something red. Can she persuade her Ruffles to think again about his hated garment?

David Melling’s combination of simple text and illustrations that positively exude charm, work really well in what is sure to become a favourite with under fives. Slightly older children might start reading some of the words themselves.

Scruffle-Nut / Hugless Douglas Plays Hide-and-Seek

Here are two very different stories with a theme of friendship:

Corinne Fenton and Owen Swan
New Frontier Publishing

‘As winter leaves tumble and twirl / a wisp of memory / wraps itself about me / and whispers me back / to long ago … ‘

So begins a gentle tale told by Olivia whose childhood memories we share in this sensitively told, equally sensitively illustrated story with its soft-spoken bullying theme.

As a young child her Nanny Clementine would take her to the park and there one day she sees a shy stumpy-tailed little squirrel that is chased away by the squirrels with large bushy tails.

It’s the beginning of a friendship that develops between child and squirrel – a squirrel that is, like the girl, a little different from others.

Time passes, the days turn colder until the snow falls and visits to the park come to a halt and Olivia is left wondering whether Scruffle-Nut, as she calls her friend, will be able to ward off attacks from the Bully-Bunch, the name she gives to the bushy-tail squirrels.

Although she never sees her squirrel friend again, he stays in her heart along with the lesson she learned from him so long ago.

Hugless Douglas Plays Hide-and-Seek
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books

Playing hide-and-seek with his woolly friends is somewhat problematic for Douglas; he’s always the one to be found first.

But when Little Sheep invites him to team up and become a seeker, he certainly proves his worth; in fact he’s a little too good.

The game continues apace until there’s only Flossie left to find and then in his enthusiasm Douglas picks up the only possible hiding place remaining, in its entirety, which has the desired result. They locate Flossie but then find that Little Sheep is missing.

Can they discover where their friend is before it’s dark?

Another eventful episode from the adorable Douglas to please his fans and more than likely win him a whole lot more.

Pugicorn / Once Upon a Bedtime

Matilda Rose and Tim Budgen
Hodder Children’s Books

The vogue for unicorn stories doesn’t appear to be waning but a Pugicorn – that’s something a bit different and certainly not what little Princess Ava has in mind when she visits Twinkleton-Under- Beanstalk’s Magic Pet Shop to pick her perfect unicorn pet.

Informing her that they’ve sold out, the kindly Mrs Paws offers Princess Ava instead, another horned creature with a ‘snuffly nose’ and a curly tail.

A challenge is then issued to her new pet by the determined Princess … ‘Think Unicorn!’ she tells him.

Such thinking proves useless on many occasions and despairing of her acquisition, Princess Ava heads off to the Unicorn Picnic sans Pugicorn.

Yes she does have a wonderful time; but on the way home she and her pals lose the way

and their unicorns prove useless path finders through a now, creepy-seeming forest.

Can loyalty in the form of a little pet Pugicorn save the day (and the night)?

Acceptance is the name of the lesson for young Lola and for the countless little unicorn fans out there who will fall for this new horned character adorably portrayed in Tim Budgen’s magical scenes for Matilda Rose’s enchanting tale.

Once Upon a Bedtime
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books

It’s sundown in Sleepy Street as a long yawwwwnnn floats through engulfing a very tired Rabbit.

It’s time for bed but Rabbit, eager for a bedtime story, still has to have a bath as Ellie elephant points out.

Various other toy characters, Ollie ostrich,

Monkey, Bird , Crocodile each in turn adds something to the routine until at last all are ready assembled in bed with a cuddly apiece and rabbit begins to read the story.

Suddenly there comes a strange sound from beneath the bed.

The others take cover, leaving Rabbit to investigate.

What she discovers is another character who hasn’t got a cuddly. What is to be done? Can the friends help?

Full of endearing characters, this warm-hearted book showing the importance of having your cuddly close by at bedtime, from the Hugless Douglas creator David Melling, is sure to appeal to little ones as a wind-down to sleep story.

Hugless Douglas and the Baby Birds

Hugless Douglas and the Baby Birds
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books

As Douglas sits beneath a tree taking stock of his spring collection, it’s suddenly added to in an unexpected manner. A nest of eggs plummets into his lap, closely followed by a squirrel that informs Douglas it belongs to Swoopy Bird. The eggs are fine but the nest is rather the worse for its tumble.

Kind-hearted as ever, Douglas volunteers to mind the nest and its contents while its owner builds a new one but it seems a long wait.

One of the Funny Bunnies suggests egg hugging is a good way to keep the eggs warm – decidedly preferable to being sat upon by Douglas’ large rear – and it isn’t long before the eggs are ready to hatch.

The next challenge is to get the eight little hatchlings safely up to the new home Swoopy Bird has finished in the nick of time.

Once installed it’s hugs all round.

As always it’s perfectly pitched for young listeners but with sufficient humour – visual and verbal – to satisfy adult readers aloud too.

With its signature final double spread (here it’s things to spot on a spring day) and some crafty suggestions, this new story will please established fans, and make the huggable Douglas a lot of new followers.

D is for Duck / P for the Perfect Picnic


D is for Duck!
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
We start with magician, Duck, doing a spot of prestidigitation on the opening spread resulting in …


followed pretty rapidly by …


and a King Lion. He is summarily shoved out of sight Narnia style; though what should emerge from the bottom drawer but something equally, or even more, dangerous: it’s very large, has spikes all along its back and often breathes err – well in this case, stars …


There’s only one thing to do and Duck does it PRONTO, with a flick and a swish, causing said ‘something’ to up and vanish: which is not quite the end of this superb alphabet story; the only words of which follow a strict alphabetical order pattern, with the odd aside, stage direction, or spot of direct speech (also in perfect timely alphabetical place). Oh, there’s a speech bubble strategically placed too. And the finale? That you’ll just have to discover for yourself – it’s pretty cool, is all I’ll say on the matter.


A show-stopping, dazzling rendition by Melling and of course, Duck: not to be missed. Book your tickets NOW!


The Perfect Picnic
Ciara Flood
Templar Publishing
The enormously talented Ciara Flood has followed her terrific Those Pesky Rabbits with another winner and it’s just perfect summer reading.
Meet best friends Squirrel and Mole, a terrific twosome despite being totally different (a bit like Lobel’s Frog and Toad): Mole is the laid back one whereas finicky Squirrel insists everything is done ‘just so’. So when they decide to go on a picnic, Squirrel wants it to be – that’s it – ‘the most perfect picnic ever’.
No butter on the sandwiches!” insists Squirrel (I’m with you there Squirrel) and of course, butter-loving Mole obliges.


Finally, with picnic bag packed perfectly, the pair head off with guess who carrying the load but …


First stop the meadow but that’s too sunny; the cornfield in contrast is too shady …


(By now your audience will probably be shouting to the pair as they shed more and more items through the hole in the snagged bag.) The bench’s too busy, they have the hill to themselves but Squirrel decrees that too windy; and the river, cave and beach don’t pass muster either.
Eventually Squirrel comes to a halt: seemingly the ideal place has been reached at last (take a look at the map at the back) and it’s then that Mole makes THE discovery – OH NO! (Superb Edvard Munch moment).


Happily all is NOT lost, thanks to a host of animals the friends have encountered along the way: and yes the food’s not quite as perfect as it was at the outset but hey –sometimes make do and mend can turn out to be pretty dam near perfect …


Bursting with subtle humour and oozing with awesome touches and delectable details, this is genius at work. The whole thing’s as pretty near perfect as anyone could imagine and it’s absolutely bound to be demanded again and again (that’s my experience anyway). Most will find their mouths watering at the scrummy, squelchy strawberry cake; my preference though is for Mole’s jaw-stretching sandwich or that unassigned slab of what looks like my favourite, coffee cake.
Ciara’s colour palette (computer photos don’t do justice to the quality) exudes sensations of summer sunny days lying back and soaking in the warmth.  Picnic hampers out and off you go – don’t forget the book though.

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I Will Not Wear Pink

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I Will Not Wear Pink
Joyce Dunbar and Polly Dunbar
Otter-Barry Books
When Plunkett the pig receives an invitation to a pink themed party his reaction is one of more than a little peturbation …

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What him? No way. The one who’s called “Plunkett the plonker. Plunkett the oinker. The hooter, the honker. The toff who shows off, stands out in a crowd.”
There follows a veritable litany of further protestatory outpourings from our porky pal before he states the obvious: “…there is one sort of pink so divine, so sublime, and the best of it is that it’s already mine, from the tip of my tail to the snoot of my snout, pink is the shade of the skin that I’m in. Pink’s where I end and where I begin.” Thereafter he scoots off to state his case for being in the buff to his waiting host, Priscilla …

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and having done so, he proceeds to deliver an exhortation to her other guests to throw caution to the wind and join them in a glorious strip off and plunge party of the wallowing kind.

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Then seemingly, a terrific time is had by one and all.
One gets the impression that both Joyce and Polly Dunbar had an equally terrific time creating this gloriously dotty, thoroughly upbeat celebration of being yourself – au naturel – so to speak. Joyce’s – or should that be Plunkett’s narrative – is pure pleasure to read aloud, especially to those who, like this reviewer, enjoy the opportunity to put on a story-telling performance. Young audiences

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are certain to revel in the hilarious antics of Plunkett and Priscilla as portrayed by Polly in her effervescent scenes.
Altogether a bravura performance by both mother and daughter.

Another lovely picture book with themes of being yourself and friendship is re-issued with a brand new look:

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The Star-Faced Crocodile
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
This one tells of a developing bond between a banjo-strumming bear and the crocodile of the title, who is not actually star-faced at all but is frightened to reveal his ordinariness to the bear.

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The bear however is perfectly happy in the knowledge that the croc. is just a plain, snippy-snappy creature, but goes to great lengths to transform his new friend into a twinkling animal nonetheless.
Melling’s humorous watercolour scenes are sheer delight.

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Food Favourites

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Gorilla Loves Vanilla
Chae Strathie and Nicola O’Byrne
Scholastic Children’s Books
Fancy some ice cream? Then head down to Jellybean Street and there you’ll find Sam’s Sundaes, a favourite haunt of ice cream aficionados of a rather unusual kind. And young Sam Sundae doesn’t seem fazed at all when five of them arrive at once as soon as he opens up shop.
First in the queue – and yes they do queue, no pushing and shoving here – is a little mouse and his request is for a sundae tasting of blue cheese. I said nothing fazes our Sam and straightway he presents the mouse with some cheesy ice cream. His next order is for “fish finger ice cream in a dish” – you can guess who would want such a disgusting-sounding thing.
Chicken’s favourite comes in a cone, and it’s wormy and squirmy. YUCK! Cow’s penchant is for daisy ice cream and Sam quickly obliges once again …

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And as for hippo, he doesn’t even want to eat what he orders …

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Last in line is a gorilla and his taste is rather more conservative – “Just give me a cone full of good old vanilla.” is his request. And now, judging by the way they’re staring, the others might be having second thoughts about their choices as Sam adds yummy toppings of sprinkles, chocolate chips and sticky fudge sauce to gorilla’s order …
Chae Strathie’s tasty tale bounces along in exuberant fashion and is sure to have young listeners EEEUURRGHING loudly at the thought of some of the orders and giggling as hippo makes messy use of his selection.
Nicola O’Byrne’s equally exuberant illustrations are to be relished too: just take a look at the cat and mouse tucking in together here …

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More food fun in:

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Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
A honeyless breakfast is something Douglas just cannot contemplate so having discovered his cupboard has been raided, he follows the sticky footprints (and his nose) until they lead him to …

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When the sheep tell him they’re collecting ingredients to make honey cakes, Douglas is eager to help – no surprises there! With berries, nuts, carrots and of course, honey duly assembled, and Flossie in charge, the cooks set to work …

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Having finished the task, Douglas cannot wait to try the product of their labours but has to join the line of eager cake consumers awaiting the oven’s PING! The sheep however, are less polite than Douglas and pretty soon a fight breaks out and is only halted by Flossie’s announcement “The cakes are ready!” There follows a mad scramble in the direction of the delicious aroma emanating from the oven door but do you think those crazy sheep gave Douglas a look in when it came to consuming those yummy cakes? Definitely not; but their actions do result in a partial re-education of our hugging friend’s taste buds as he samples the surplus – carrots, berries and nuts, declaring they’re “… ALMOST as good as honey,”.
With instructions on ‘How to decorate cupcake sheep’ on the final spread, this latest Hugless Douglas offering is sure to tickle the taste buds of young listeners who will delight at the humorous interplay of text and visuals –

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and be duly shocked at the sheep’s shenanigans.

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Board Book Roundup

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Hugless Douglas First Words
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
Our favourite hugging bear certainly has his priorities right in this six-word board book. Having safely deposited his Teddy, Douglas relaxes – well that was his intention – in a Bath

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and indulges himself with his favourite preserve, then dons his Pyjamas and dressing gown ready for a spot of Book sharing …

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followed by a Hug (of course) and then everyone snuggles down in and around the Bed.
That, in a nutshell is it; but there’s so much going on in the illustrations that there’s at least one story on every spread.
There’s also a session of book sharing in:

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I Love My Mummy
Fhiona Galloway and Jonathan LittonLittle Tiger Kids,
Little Tiger Kids
Bright, cheery art work, die cuts and an assortment of humanised animals (other than the final one) are the key elements of this little rhyming ‘thank you to mum’ book published just in time for Mother’s Day. A calf, a little frog, a kitten, a bear,

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a young croc. a lamb and a bee all have their own ways of delivering the message and each has a floral offering for their very special mother, little bee’s being the most spectacular in my view.

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Animal mothers also feature in

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Baby Tiger
Baby Bear
illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
Chronicle Books
A pair of tiny chunky board books each with a cute finger puppet, present some basic information about the respective baby animals and how they spend their days from early morning through to bedtime, and at the same time encourage playful interaction between the adult and infant sharing them. Book sharing is one of the very best experiences you can give your very young child to nurture his or her language and general cognition. When you read as if you’re having a conversation with your child it’s supplying brilliant brain food in addition to helping to develop that very special bond between you.

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Listen to the Music
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow
Half a dozen different animals strut their stuff as musicians herein: there’s recorder-playing Pig, Elephant the pianist, violinist Cat,

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a pair of guitar strumming Zebras, a couple of Bear drummers and finally Mouse tinkles on the xylophone. When you press the button on each instrument (once you’ve activated the switch inside the back cover, that is) the musician in question starts playing.
I have a suspicion this jolly little book will be played to destruction: it’s a fun way to introduce some musical instrument names to tinies and you could perhaps play a memory game: What did Elephant play? etc. Or turn it around: Which animal played the piano. No peeping on the final page though.

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Bear With Me

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The Bear Who Went Boo!
David Walliams and Tony Ross
Harper Collins Children’s Books
I put this book down in a classroom belonging to nine year olds and it was eagerly seized on by one girl who’d been attracted by the author’s name splashed across the cover. She sat silently reading it to herself, then excitedly called some of her peers and saying ‘Listen to this, guys.’ began reading it aloud to them. ‘Can you read it?’ they asked and so I was given the book and proceeded. The group loved it: ‘It’s hilarious,’ one said and ‘he (little cub) really asked for it.’

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That about sums things up.
Essentially, this performance stars a cheeky little polar bear residing at the top of the world who enjoys nothing better than creeping up on his poor unsuspecting fellow creatures and letting out an enormous “Boo!” He pays no heed to his mama’s “How would you like it if someone went boo to you?” and when a TV crew arrives to make a film of the animals, he continues with his boos. He boos the wrinkly walrus as he’s topping up his tan for the camera, the puffins as they preen their feathers, with disastrous results for the birds and the killer whales working on their synchronised swimming routine.

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Then along comes an altogether different creature – one unknown to little cub – and he’s about to film a snowy owl. Of course, the booing bear lets loose with one final …

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Needless to say its recipient is far from pleased and he’s not fooled by little cub’s claim to be a member of the penguin species either, so it’s a case of TV show filming cancelled.
Off flies the helicopter taking with it the film crew – next destination the Antarctica – leaving behind some very angry would-be famous TV stars and a somewhat downcast little cub.
But even after being treated to a dose of his own medicine and ending up looking like this …

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our irrepressible young chief protagonist just has to have the very last word and you’ll know what that is …
What a tour de force this Walliams/Ross team is: indeed just as irrepressible as little cub himself.


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How to Hug with Hugless Douglas
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
The famous hugging bear is back with lessons in – you’ve guessed it – hugging and it’s altogether generous hearted of him, as he and his pals are engaging in a hugging contest. Still that’s Douglas for you and as he says, “Some of the nicest hugs are with your friends.” But, you can hug pretty much anything, one way …

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or another.
There are prizes for all manner of hugs and huggers; but will Douglas win anything? What do you think? …
An exuberantly warm-hearted board book for apprentice huggers of all shapes and sizes.

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School Is Fun

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Hugless Douglas Goes to Little School
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
Miss Moo-Hoo certainly has her hands, or rather hooves, full when Douglas spends his first day in her care at Little School, especially when he gets that characteristic TICKLE in his tummy in response to her question “what do you like doing best?

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Indeed I suspect she was somewhat surprised at the responses from some of Douglas’ classmates too, especially “Thinking“.
I’m pretty sure that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the art activity especially bottom printing; now there’s a thought!

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And the interpretation of “wash before you eat” is interpreted rather liberally by her charges

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but at least they get rid of all that paint before lunch.
Probably the best bit of the day was the co-operative block play … Oops!

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I’ve no doubt young Douglas will eagerly join that walking bus when it leaves for school on the next day and the next and … wouldn’t you?
Enormous fun (despite the ‘naughty step’ – one of my pet aversions) and just the thing for those starting nursery or reception when term starts once again.

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Owl Wants to Share at Moonlight School
Simon Puttock and Ali Pye
Nosy Crow pbk
It’s time for the pupils at Miss Moon’s School to get creative: They are to draw “a FAVOURITE night-time THING.” Mouse announces hers will feature “a dark and glinty SEA.” Bat’s will be a “dark and whispery TREE.” Cat chooses a BEE, one that’s dark and mysterious; but Owl’s picture is top secret. Because he’s so slow in starting, all the night-time colours are in use and his classmates refuse to share

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(selfish lot) so Owl is forced to use daytime shades instead.
His effort is belittled by the others, but Miss Moon, (the subject) is more supportive

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commenting that Owl has made her look special and different.. This leads to a swapping of crayons, additions to each picture and a satisfactory outcome for everyone.
A story about learning to share resources and making creative use of what’s available to you. The gently humorous text, with its unusual characters and setting, is delightfully brought to life in Ali Pye’s glowing lunar-lighted scenes. Her characters all look enchanting despite some unfriendly behaviour towards Owl; and their pictures really do look as though they’ve come from a nursery setting.

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Bear Hug and other Ursine Delights

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Bear Hug
Katharine McEwen
Templar Publishing
A young bear wakes up and senses that winter is approaching: time to make preparations for the cold that is to come. His parents have prepared him well. Papa showed him how to use the vegetation to make a warm winter bed and mother taught him how to fish. On the cusp of winter, he meets another young bear. Together they fish and feast on ripe berries until as the snow falls harder, they head for the cave

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and snuggle down together, on a ‘shudder-cold night’, cosy, warm and sated for the long sleep, a sleep that lasts until birdsong calls them and it’s time to emerge once more. Out they come to greet the spring and before long, their very own little cub ‘soft as thistledown and lively as a sunbeam’. Then the cycle begins all over again.
With its elegant prose and stylized collage illustrations executed predominantly in earthy colours with occasional splashes of contrasting bright hues as the seasons change, this is a beautiful book.

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I particularly like the pictorial rendition of the birdsong through steamers of colour.


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Something About a Bear
Jackie Morris
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
There’s no doubt about Jackie Morris’s love of all things ursine: it shines out from every one of her glorious watercolour paintings in this book. We come close up to bears from all parts of the world. There’s the salmon catching, Brown Bear, the adorable-looking Giant Panda with her child from the mountains of China and the shaggy-coated Sloth Bear in what looks like the grounds of an ancient Indian forest palace.

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South America’s only bear, the Spectacled Bear is portrayed sunbathing and nursing her cubs in the tree tops; the huge watchful black Asian Moon Bear stands out starkly against the snowy mountain landscape. In contrast, the next spread reveals the Polar Bear, the largest of all bears swimming through the icy ocean. Smallest of all, the Sun Bear, despite its beguiling look and dog-sized stature, is feared by tigers and even fiercer than a leopard.
Despite the name, American Black bears can be of several different colours from black through ‘cinnamon and honey’ to white, the ‘rarest, sacred spirits of the forest.
Magnificent every one; but as the child in us all knows, as Jackie Morris suggests, and the penultimate spread reveals, ‘the very best bear of all is

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The final spread contains small vignettes and additional facts about each bear featured and you and any children you share this superb book with, simply MUST place your hands against those life-sized bear paws on the endpapers.
You can buy this one direct from:

If you can’t get enough of bears then there is also:

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Happy Birthday, Hugless Douglas!
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books pbk
Poor Douglas is devastated when, on his long anticipated birthday, those decidedly overbearing twin cousins of his, Felix and Mash seem determined to usurp all the fun and play things entirely their way. Upset, Douglas heads outside and before long, with a hurt leg and a dizzy head, the birthday bear declares, “This is my worst birthday ever!” It’s time for those crazy cousins to come to the rescue and put their special present into action –

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with the help of Rabbit and some not too willing volunteers. Then they all set off for a surprise birthday tea party and before it ends, Douglas has changed his mind:

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With the characteristic Melling warmth and humour, (there’s a laugh at every turn of the page) this is just the thing for sharing with under sixes on birthdays and other days.

Find and buy from your local bookshop:

Treats for Toddlers


this rabbit, that rabbit
Jane Porter
Walker Books
This lovely board book is the latest addition to the Walker Baby series and is called a ‘shiny touch’ book. The shine is provided by two rabbit characters, male and female, one grey, one orangey coloured. The latter wears a blue bead necklace, also shiny. This engaging pair interact playfully with one another, their antics being documented with appropriate two word rhyming phrases such as fat rabbit/flat rabbit, bendy rabbit/trendy rabbit and a guest makes an appearance on the final spread.


Great fun for small hands.
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Colour with Splosh!
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
Splosh is an endearing duck character created by the author of the popular Hugless Douglas series. He makes his second appearance in this board book as he plays a game of hide-and-seek with his ducky friends. Splosh searches high and low, encountering various colour items, as he waddles though a gate, beneath the trees, along a wall, across the grass, around some leaves, past butterflies, looking among the flowers before spotting five white bottoms protruding from the blue pond. When the owners of these rear ends emerge from the water, we see each one is sporting coloured arm-bands and matching hat – a veritable rainbow of fun.
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Dig Dig Digging
Margaret Mayo and Alex Ayliffe
Orchard Books
In this board book version of the popular original we meet scooping diggers, lorries of all shapes and sizes, gobbling crunching rubbish trucks, tractors ploughing, rumbling tumbling dump trucks and busy bulldozers.
Each one has its own tabbed double spread and is boldly illustrated in a cut paper collage scene with accompanying engaging, rhythmic description – perfect for developing a love of language and sounds in the very youngest children.
Just the thing for young machine lovers.
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Giraffes Can’t Dance Number-Rumba
Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Orchard Books
Meet Gerald giraffe and his jungle friends, the leaping leopards, the high kicking hyenas, the rocking rhinos, the flamenco dancing flamingos, the tangoing lions, (straight from STRICTLY), the smooth, zippy zebras, the groovy baboons and the waltzing, jiving monkeys all practicing their moves for a place in the final dance spread of ten happy animals.
To facilitate page turning for small hands, there is a semi-circular tab for each spread with a face of the animal dancing on that particular page.
Although very young children do not actually learn to count from books, they will assuredly get a great deal of visual enjoyment,

some lovely playful language and opportunities to emulate the dancing animals in this counting board book which also serves as a great introduction to the original and deservedly popular Giraffes Can’t Dance, the progenitor of this rhyming board book.
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Snip & Snap Rain or Shine
Diane and Christyan Fox
Orchard Books
Not quite a board book but with thick sturdy pages, flaps and a final fold-out double-spread, this should certainly stand up to the heavy handling this Snip and Snap title is likely to receive. Here, the two crocodile friends have planned a sunny picnic but the changeable weather seems to be doing everything it can to hold up the proceedings as poor Snip is forced to go back and change his outfit five times before the friends finally get outside into the sunshine.
With rhyming text, door-shaped flaps that serve to move the story forward


and funny, bold bright illustrations this is a book preschoolers choose for themselves and enjoy reading over and over with an adult.
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Tales of Bedtime

Counting Sheep
Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell
Frances Lincoln pbk.
Tom just cannot get to sleep so he follows his mum’s suggestion, “…try counting sheep.” But rather than having the desired effect, one of the sheep leads him off through the bedroom cupboard on an amazing adventure wherein he encounters all manner of animals not to mention pirates and ghosts to count –There are sharp toothed wolves, twenty three pythons, goats, penguins and more. After facing danger after danger, Tom is all counted out; time to tiptoe back to the bedroom and finally fall fast asleep.
The story bounces along in carefully paced rhyme that reads aloud like a dream. Chris Riddell’s detailed illustrations are wonderfully scary (I wouldn’t use this as a bedtime tale for those easily frightened) and reminiscent of his superb pictures in The Edge Chronicles.
This book, first published over twenty years ago, has so much to offer – counting opportunities aplenty (going as far as 100) with all the objects in silhouette form, glorious full colour scenes and lots of tension. It should appeal to a wide age range.
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The Ghost Library
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books pbk.
Imagine a library with no books; just row upon row of empty shelves –a ghost library no less. That is where young Bo finds herself when, after settling down with her favourite bedtime book about a witch with smelly feet, she is dragged unceremoniously up into a tall tower that houses The Ghost Library. There she is confronted by a ghostly trio, tall skinny Magpie, rotund floater, Twit and beaked Puddle Mud. These three are not interested in Bo herself; rather, they have designs on her book. Before long, ‘Story Time’ is announced and the library shelves are filled with all manner of apparitions clamouring for a tale from Bo. She obliges by reading her witchy book, but responds to their demands for another story by inviting the listeners to return the favour. The ghosts need more than little help to get going but eventually the ideas start to flow and Bo has a new story to share with her other worldly pals – their very own Ghost Story. Then it’s back to her own bedroom as a fully-fledged member of The Friends of the Ghosts Library.
This is assuredly a book that advocates the enjoyment of books, story telling and story making- the unleashing of the imagination no less. There is plenty of opportunity for that here as both Bo’s witchy tale and that of the Story Book Collectors are presented as wordless pictorial sequences so, it’s not just three stories in one but any amount of them.
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Pip and Posy The Bedtime Frog
Axel Scheffler
Nosy Crow
Posy is excited about going to her friend Pip’a house  for a sleepover. But, at bedtime after a lot of fun and games, she realizes as she snuggles into bed, that she has forgotten to bring her favourite toy, Froggy. Disaster! Her pal offers his teddy but that’s not green, a toy dinosaur – too big and scary, a money box frog – the wrong frog – and then finally his very own favourite Piggy. This special offering saves the situation and before long, the friends are both fast asleep.
Reassuring, and comforting, with just the right amount of gentle humour for the very youngest, this latest tale about the two friends is just the thing for bedtime sharing.
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