Pip and the Bamboo Path

Pip and the Bamboo Path
Jesse Hodgson
Flying Eye Books

Thanks to deforestation, poaching, an illegal pet trade and accidental trapping the red panda population is critically endangered.

It’s on account of deforestation that little red panda Pip and her mother have to leave their Himalayan forest home and go in search of a new nesting place.

“Find the bamboo path on the other side of the mountain. It connects all the forests together and will lead you to safety.” So says an eagle, and the two pandas set off on a trek through the mountains in search of the path.

Their long, perilous journey takes them high into the cold shadowy mountain regions

and across a rocky ravine until eventually they reach the edge of a brightly lit city.

It’s a chaotic place but is it somewhere they can make a nest? And what of that bamboo path: do the fireflies know something about that? …

The spare telling of Jesse Hodgson’s story of endangered animals serves to highlight their plight and her illustrations are superb.

From the early scene of sinister silhouettes of the tools of destruction,

shadows and inky darkness powerfully amplify Jesse’s portrayal of Pip and her mother’s journey in search of safety.

The Lumberjack’s Beard


The Lumberjack’s Beard
Duncan Beedie
Templar Publishing
Delivered with gentle humour, Duncan Beedle’s new picture book is an environmental fable. Herein we meet Jim – Big Jim Hickory, bristly-bearded, burly tree feller who (after his daily limbering-up, or should that be lumbering-up regime) …


does what lumberjacks do; he takes his axe, heads to the forest and destroys trees.
This activity, he subsequently learns, spells disaster for the forest-dwelling animals: the bird no longer has her new nest, the pine needles and leaves for porcupine’s shelter have gone up in smoke and moving those tree trunks down the river has deprived beaver of his new dam.
Furthermore the alternative accommodation Jim’s providing for these creatures is becoming more than a little troublesome to him.
Time for some felling of a different kind decides our hirsute lumberjack …


which of course leaves its residents homeless once more. Another idea is needed, Jim – a better one this time. And here he goes …


The domestic scenes of Jim and his tenants are hilarious and Beedle renders his superb landscapes in appropriately earthy hues –


as the impact of deforestation is introduced to the very young. The message assuredly packs a powerful punch.


There’s just SO much to think about and discuss with foundation stage and KS1 audiences. This one’s an absolute ‘must have’ for classrooms as well as individual sharing.


The Lonely Giant


The Lonely Giant
Sophie Ambrose
Walker Books
My initial reaction before reading this beautiful book was that it’s ‘a selfish giant version’ but I was wrong. The giant in this story is a troglodyte whose cave is in the middle of a large forest. He spends his days uprooting trees and hurling them, spear like into the distance, and destroying mountains boulder by boulder. Inevitably over the years his actions lead to a gradual dwindling of the forest and consequently the loss of the birds and animals dwelling therein till ‘the songs of the forest had gone.’
The giant would then pass the nights alone in his cold cave, pondering on the silence and remembering the erstwhile forest – full of birdsong and provider of wood for his fire.


These thoughts don’t stop his destructive habits though and one day while busy uprooting trees a little yellow bird flies down and follows the giant the whole day, singing to him. Delighted by her songs, the giant captures the bird and puts her in a cage; but the bird becomes sadder and sadder, her singing diminishing as her sadness grows until she’s too sad to sing at all.


Seeing the error of his ways, the giant apologises and releases the bird, who flies away. Next day the giant sets off in search of the bird; he doesn’t find her, but notices a complete lack of anything live: no trees, no plants and no little yellow bird. Straightway he begins to rebuild the forest, sowing, mending and planting …


and then waiting …
Eventually, the forest does grow back and with it gradually, come the animals, until the whole place is full of life once more …


and the giant is happier than he’s ever been, not least because a certain little friend is there to fill his days with song .
A wonderful debut picture book by Sophie Ambrose: I shall watch with great interest for what’s to follow. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous (I’d like to have shown every one of them) and the end made not only the giant’s heart sing, but mine too.

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Emily Gravett
Two Hoots
Meet Pete – an unlikely name for one of his kind. This forest dweller is a tidiness fanatic: he detangles fox’s fur, grooms all the birds, sweeps, vacuums …

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and even polishes the rocks. Autumn is a particularly trying time for our badger friend.

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But our zealous leaf sweeper-upper hits upon what looks like the perfect solution to the ‘bare and scrappy’ trees he’s left with.


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But then, down comes the rain which becomes a flood with its inevitable aftermath …

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I don’t think those particular tools are going to cut it Pete!
No matter: here comes another of those practically perfect solutions …

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How though is Pete to satisfy his longing for a well-deserved treat, let alone get into his sett? …

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Time for a spot of hunger-induced thinking I suggest, and come morning operation restoration is in full force …

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With its gift-to-the-reader-aloud, rhyming text and an abundance of visual humour, Emily Gravett’s latest offering is an example par excellence of how such vital themes as the importance of forests and the dangers of deforestation can be delivered without the tiniest bit of preachiness creeping in. What we have here is a wonderfully funny cautionary tale of the environmental kind, that is bound to delight young listeners and those who share it with them equally.
There is so much to discuss, and to see in the details of the scenes …

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(including the gorgeous panoramic cover and lovely endpapers) you’ll need several readings to begin to do justice to this one.

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A Forest & It Might Be An Apple

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A Forest
Marc Martin
Templar Publishing
Once there was a forest – an ancient one that had grown up thick and lush over thousands of years; but then along came people with saws and axes and they began to cut down the trees, Just a little at a time at first and with care, replacing what they’d taken.

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Greed soon replaces judiciousness though and gradually trees give way to smoke-belching factories. There instead stands a city – all but treeless and thick with pollution. Then comes a terrible storm with rain so strong it destroys the entire built environment …

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leaving just one small tree.
Thank heavens for that one tree for, as the years pass it develops into another forest.

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Let’s hope those greedy people stop and think this itme.
This alarmingly thought-provoking fable – a debut book for Australian illustrator, Martin – is a timely (and timeless) reminder of the terrible damage mankind can all too easily do to our precious environment. His mixed media scenes are a felicitous amalgam of digitally manipulated watercolour and fine-lined, close packed pen work.

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It Might be An Apple
Shinsuke Yoshitake
Thames and Hudson
When you see an apple before you on the table, what do you think? Probably, like me – ‘Hmm! yummy – just what I need’ – and you proceed to bite into it.
Not so the boy in this brilliantly inventive, romp of a book. His thoughts are much more philosophical in nature: is it really an apple? Might it perhaps be a jelly-filled cherry, a red fish curled into a ball or an egg? Could it even be packed with clever devices

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such as an engine, a flavour generator, a redness regulator?
Our investigator’s imagination continues to flow – onwards, up and out – till it becomes an amazing house, then an entire crazy fantasy planet populated with tiny apple aliens. Seemingly the possibilities are endless when entertained by our lad herein: does it have feelings? Siblings and other family members? A desire to learn about our narrator? A funky new hairstyle?


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Even,’Is everyone else an apple?’

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Then of course, there’s that existential question ‘Why is it here in the first place?’
And much more …

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Not only has Shinsuke Yoshitake picked a common or garden item and peeled off its skin to reveal a world with a multitude of possibilities and more, he also encourages youngsters (and perhaps adults) to adopt a questioning attitude towards the world around. Those comic strip sequences and full spread scenes are fantastic; thought provoking and highly entertaining – in more ways than one. I feel a community of enquiry coming on.
Do, I urge you take a bite of this one; and then go back for more and more and … And, in case you are wondering whether our boy narrator finally samples this object of wonder,


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well you’ll have to get hold of this delicious book and discover for yourself. Superb stuff.

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