Pugicorn / Once Upon a Bedtime

Pugicorn
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

DSCN8054

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 …

%0A

followed pretty rapidly by …

DSCN8056

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 …

DSCN8058

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.

DSCN8059

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

DSCN8436

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.

%0A

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

%0A

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

DSCN8440

(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).

DSCN8441

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 …

DSCN8442

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.

WNDB_Button localbookshops_NameImage-2

I Will Not Wear Pink

DSCN7255 (800x600)

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 …

DSCN7256 (800x600)
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 …

DSCN7257 (800x600)

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.

DSCN7258 (800x600)

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

DSCN7332 (800x600)

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:

DSCN7259 (800x600)

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.

DSCN7260 (800x600)

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.

Use your local bookshop      localbookshops_NameImage-2

WNDB_Button

Food Favourites

DSCN7092 (800x600)

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 …

DSCN7094 (800x600)

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

DSCN7095 (800x600)

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 …

DSCN7093 (800x600)

More food fun in:

DSCN7144 (800x600)

 

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 …

DSCN7146 (800x600)

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 …

DSCN7147 (800x600)

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 –

DSCN7145 (800x600)

and be duly shocked at the sheep’s shenanigans.

Use your local bookshop      localbookshops_NameImage-2

WNDB_Button

Board Book Roundup

DSCN6732 (800x600)

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

DSCN6734 (800x600)

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

DSCN6733 (800x600)

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:

DSCN6731 (800x600)

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,

DSCN6729 (800x600)

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.

DSCN6730 (800x600)

Animal mothers also feature in

DSCN6728 (800x600)

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.

DSCN6745 (800x600)

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,

DSCN6744 (800x600)

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.

Use your local bookshop      localbookshops_NameImage-2

Bear With Me

DSCN6027 (800x600)

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.’

DSCN6031 (800x600)

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.

DSCN6028 (800x600)

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 …

DSCN6029 (800x600)

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 …

DSCN6030 (800x600)

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.

 

DSCN6024 (800x600)

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 …

DSCN6025 (800x600)

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.

Use your local bookshop        localbookshops_NameImage-2