Tony T-Rex’s Family Album

Tony T-Rex’s Family Album
Mike Benton and Rob Hodgson
Thames & Hudson

The stream of dinosaur books is never ending and it’s tricky to find new angles but who better than vertebrate palaeontology professor Mike Benton to come up with a novel way of presenting one of children’s favourite topics.

Using Tony-T-Rex as dinosaur family album writer, readers are provided with rip-roaring authentic information about dinosaurs from the tyrannosaurus’ mouth. And Tony really does grab the readers’ interest and grips them between those 20cm long ridged gnashers of his throughout.

First of all he digs deep, unearthing for us just how a dead dinosaur becomes fossilised and how scientists such as the prof. differentiate between a dinosaur and a ginormous lizard. We’re then plunged back 201 million years to the Jurassic Period when dinosaurs rose to power.

Next it’s time to introduce the creatures themselves, starting in the UK with Megalosaurus Big Liz, one of the first dinosaurs and the first to be discovered, surprisingly by one, William Buckland who had no idea of the existence of dinosaurs, mistaking his find for a massive lizard. Happily though scientists soon identified differences between dinos. and lizards.

Thereafter, we travel the world meeting a host of awesome, mind-blowing relations of Tony’s, each of which has a funky name and an extraordinary body.

There’s Tony’s distant ancestor pigeon sized Crash-Test Dex (aka) Epidexipteryx with its long claws and sharp buck teeth. Dex had to perfect tree scrambling for it was a favourite nibble for young dinos with near ground level noses.

We meet the familiar Diplodocus (Dippy herein), Cowboy Spike (Stegosaurus) and then it’s Cruella the Flesh-Eater hailing from Portugal, with 70 dagger-like teeth just right for attacking unsuspecting stegosaurs and diplodocuses – EEEK!

Big Bellied Bill – Tony’s great-great-great-grandpa is memorable for his insatiable appetite for leaves that made him one of the heaviest ever land animals; unsurprisingly he suffered from horrendous wind – PHOOOAH!

It’s impossible to mention all Tony’s Cretaceous relatives here but the fossil of winged Flighty Aunt Nyx is extinct proof of a dinosaur with the ability to fly.

Moving forward to the Cretaceous Period (between 145 and 66 million years ago) we meet another creature with the ability to propel itself through the air: part lizard, part bird, Sinornithosaurus or Crouching Glider, with its alarmingly long teeth and upper jaw pocket was, reputedly, a terror.

I had a good giggle at Dead-Weight Diana (Titanosaurus), Tony’s Argentinian cousin, the heaviest dinosaur in the world, scoffer of the trees’ topmost, juciest leaves. Roamers these, for fossils have been found on every one of Earth’s continents.

You simply must meet the most elegant of all the dinosaurs, Siegfried the Swan (Olorotitan), which I have to admit is new to me. I was fascinated to learn that it had a penchant for dancing and despite its 8m length and 5 tonne weight, this crested beauty loved to demonstrate its ground-shaking prowess to all around.

Two T’s bring the family album to a close, Triceratops and finally our presenter, Tony T-Rex Tyrannosauarus. He’s excited to inform us that his poo might weigh as much as a 6-month old human baby.

The final spreads are devoted to how the dinosaurs died out; a visit to the Great Hall of Fossils; a world map showing where fossil evidence has been unearthed (and might still be); how to go about a fossil hunt and some useful dinosaur lingo for those who want to impress their friends.

This splendiferous tome is a must for family bookshelves and classrooms; all the more so as Rob Hodgson has provided the funky illustrations with the delicious wry humour of his that I loved so much in The Cave.

Am I Yours?

Am I Yours?
Alex Latimer
Oxford University Press

Alex Latimer certainly keeps his audience guessing in this rhyming tale concerning an identity issue.
If you’ve never heard of an egg that speaks, you’re about to in this review.
Said egg, having been blown from a nest and spent a cold dark night at the foot of a hill emits a gentle ‘Excuse me, please, but am I yours? I’m sure I am a dinosaur’s.’
Yes it’s another dinosaur tale with lots of children’s favourites making an appearance.
First to come  along is Stegosaurus but the egg doesn’t fit its specifications, says so, but remains upbeat.
Nor does it fit those of Brachiosaurus, Triceratops, Corythosaurus

or Tyrannosaurus, by which time an entire day has passed and the egg, feeling lonely begins to cry out ‘… I can’t stay out in wind and storm! / I’ll freeze alone! I must stay warm!
The sun sinks and in so doing renders the eggshell translucent allowing the five concerned adult dinosaurs a view within.

Now they know what to do with the lost egg: back it’s rolled up the hill from whence it came, and there, to the sound of heavy feet, it makes a final plea:
One last time – I must be sure – / Are you the ones I’m looking for?’ …
In addition to the enjoyment of meeting some of their favourite prehistoric creatures in the story, with its invitation to join in the telling through the rhyming repeat refrain, ‘What do you look like inside that shell? / I can’t see in so I can’t tell.’ children will love becoming co-inquisitors of the egg,
(There’s lots of potential for small world play here once you’ve shared the story.)

For dinosaur enthusiasts who like to colour:

Fuzzy Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures
illustrated by Papio Press

This is a touch-and-feel book with 7 spreads to add colour to, featuring animals of the prehistoric land, sea and sky, set out in chart-like form with brief snippets of information relating to each featured (numbered) animal one side of the spread, opposite which is the colouring page on a dramatic black background with the numbered creatures and other flora and fauna.
The book is written in association with, and fact-checked by, the National History Museum.

Stomp! Stomp! / Count on Goz / Night and Day

Stomp! Stomp!
Sebastien Braun
Nosy Crow
In this new addition to the ‘Can you say it too?’ board book series, a handful of dinosaurs have hidden, or rather attempted to hide themselves, in Sebastien Braun’s brightly illustrated spreads.
Very young children will get lots of pleasure manipulating the flaps (plants, a cloud and a rock) to discover what’s hiding beneath them, as well as getting their tongues around the names and noises.

Children beginning to read often find words such as ‘triceratops’, ‘diplodocus’, ‘stegosaurus’, ‘pterodactyl’ and ‘tyrannosaurus’ easy to recognise especially in a meaningful context, so why shouldn’t infants just starting to talk encounter them early on too, perhaps even with that older sibling reading the book with its short, predictable text, with them.

Count on Goz
Steve Weatherill
Steve Weatherill Books
Goz the baby goose has just taken his early morning swim but now he’s managed to lose the other geese. In his search he encounters in turn a cow and her calf, a sheep and 2 lambs, a mother cat and her 3 kittens and a dog with 4 lively puppies. To each he says, “Hello. Are the geese here?” but is greeted with “No, only me and my …” followed by a “Moo!”, “Baa, baa!” and so on …

until finally beside the big pond we spy …
Guess what is tucked in the nest beneath that large wing.
In addition to the baby animals revealed by opening the flap on each spread, the final page has 6 swallows, 7 sheep, 8 eggs, 9 newts and 10 tadpoles for those who want to continue their counting.
First published over 25 years ago, Goz has certainly stood the test of time. In addition to being a first counting book, this re-issue is, with its brief, predictable text, just right for beginning readers and far better than the rubbishy reading schemes offered to children starting to read in schools nowadays.
Equally it’s perfect to share with a small group of listeners in a nursery setting or an adult or older child to read to a younger sibling.

Night and Day
Julie Safirstein
Princeton Architectural Press
In ‘A Big Book of Opposites’, as the subtitle says, Safirstein uses simple shapes, clever design and bold colours together with flaps of various sizes, pop-ups, fold-outs and other interactive devices to help demonstrate opposing relationships such as tiny/ huge (and sizes in between); left/right – which has a secondary numerical element …

high/low; night/day – in this instance a large tree unfolds to illustrate both.
Circular sliders can be manipulated to demonstrate alone/together and next to/far (with ‘in the middle’ also included for good measure).
The whole thing is a handsome and inventive production …

and even the finale is ingenious; a gatefold is lifted to ‘open’ a bright red flower after which the book is ‘closed’ as printed on the back cover.
Once in their clutches, young users will I suspect spend a considerable amount of time with the book ‘open’, being reluctant to ‘close’ it, thoroughly enjoy playing with the various moveable parts so it’s as well the whole thing is sturdily constructed. It might even help them develop a few concepts while so doing.

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide
Emma Yarlett
Little Tiger Press

Hurrah! Nibbles the book-eating monster returns in a new story and once again the help of readers is enlisted to try and catch him; this time because the little monster is in danger of becoming a dinosaur’s next meal.

First he invades the Triceratops chapter from where he beats a hasty retreat when hotly pursued by not one but ten ‘hot-headed’, big bummed, stompy-footed creatures.

From there he moves to Diplodocus territory wherein the danger is from accidental consumption by the residents whose herby treat he sinks his gnashers in to.

Watch out for super-powerful Diplodocus parps, Nibbles!

The little monster’s definitely not out of danger yet: intruding upon dozing velociraptors is tantamount to suicidal.

However a hole in the page indicates Nibbles has made it out alive; but there’s worse to come.

So is that the end of our favourite book monster? Errm – let’s just say, it’s fortunate that, despite first appearances, a certain T.Rex is not totally omnivorous …

Goodness, gracious – great balls of fire!

Like Nibbles’ debut picture book, this one is totally engrossing and given the topic, the dinosaur details, the flaps to explore, the plethora of jokes and speech bubbles scattered throughout the illustrations, it’s likely to appeal across a wide age range.
I’ve had to read it dozens of times already to satisfy the demands of ‘Again!’ by enthusiastic listeners whose ages range from two to seven.

Dear Dinosaur

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Dear Dinosaur
Chae Strathie and Nicola O’Byrne
Scholastic
Dinosaurs are an ever-popular theme in picture books but how to give it a new slant? Chae Strathie does it with letters.
After a visit to the museum, young Max writes to his favourite exhibit, the T.Rex and after a long wait, is super-excited to receive a reply – albeit a slightly alarming one …

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Thus begins an exchange of written communications between boy and dinosaur wherein each reveals a variety of facts and figures about himself. For instance six year old Max learns that his dino. pal is 65,999, 999 older than he is; and hears all about how his favourite T.Rex celebrated his birthday – playing football just like Max himself. Or maybe not exactly like: there wasn’t a vase-breaking mammoth at Max’s party.
In exchange, T.Rex learns a little about ballet dancing and sandcastle construction.

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Summer holidays over, Max and his family return to the dinosaur museum where they discover that things aren’t quite as they were on their last visit …

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Now why might that be? And what is his special friend doing with a rubber duck?
Certain to appeal to dinosaur fans, this funny epistolary tale has great potential for primary teachers wanting to encourage writing. Children could perhaps pair up and, with one acting as human and the other, dinosaur, send letters and other communications to each another.

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Take Flight: The Sky Guys & Treats for a T.Rex

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The Sky Guys
Madeleine Rogers and Jason Hook
Button Books
Cleverly conceived and beautifully designed and presented – a simple rhyming text by Jason Hook and strikingly bold illustrations by Madeleine Rogers – combine to make a book that will attract young readers but more than that, one that will keep those readers engaged throughout. It presents basic information about five bird species – the majestic albatross, the elegant flamingo, the wise owl, the guzzling pelican …

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and the tiny hummingbird, each of which is given two double spreads to display itself in all its glory.

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Did you know that an owl’s head can turn to face backwards  – impressive, or that the hummingbird uses its long beak like a drinking straw to sip nectar from flowers?
And if that’s not enough to bring these wonderful creatures to life, inside the back cover is an envelope containing press out templates of the five birds that are easy to make with a bit of folding and sticking (the youngest fingers might need a little adult support). Then once constructed, these can be used, along with the basic scenery, similarly made, to act out the narrative using the inside back cover as a fold-out backdrop.

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What a cool idea for a book that is bound to result in maximum young child-involvement.

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Treats for a T. Rex
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Lee Wildish
Egmont Books
George embarks on his sixth adventure with his doggie pal, Trixie and he’s hoping to discover a real live T. rex. Off the two fly on a hang-gliding contraption, soaring above cities and far out over oceans to their destination, a volcanic island.

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Thereon Trixie spots what she thinks is a ball but turns out to be a huge dinosaur egg. It’s not the T.rex though, but a baby pterodactyl. This is only the first of their alarming dinosaur encounters; but after some tricky teaching by Trixie, the two friends finally find themselves face to face with the object of their search …

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Can they pull off one more trick or will George and Trixie become the next meal for that hungry T.rex towering above them?
George already has many young fans who follow his adventures eagerly; this latest will please them and likely win him more. There’s plenty going on in Lee Wildish’s bold, bright illustrations to entertain; and the Guillains’ rhyming text is a fun listen to.

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Twinkle Tames a Dragon/Mamasaurus

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Twinkle Tames a Dragon
Katharine Holabird and Sarah Warburton
Hodder Children’s Books
In this, the third story of friendship, fun, frolics and all things fairy, young Twinkle has a yearning for a pet as do her pals Pippa and Lulu. Her wishing song is heard by the Fairy Godmother who duly grants each one a wish. Pippa’s pet is a butterfly; Lulu gets a ladybird and Twinkle? The ‘sweet little pet’ she’d anticipated turns out to be anything but cute and fluffy, rather it’s scaly, decidedly boisterous …

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and in need of a rather drastic training regime – Dragon Obedience Class no less. But can she tame him in time for that Fairy Pet Day her godmother had mentioned?
The day of the show dawns and Scruffy has certainly scrubbed up well; in fact he looks pretty darn cute, but winning a prize?

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He definitely isn’t the prettiest pet: Pippa’s butterfly wins that award and Lulu’s ladybird is the cleverest trickster but what about the best-trained pet? No chance surely; or maybe, just maybe …

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I know quite a few under sixes who will love this book though I have to admit they’re all female. Sarah Warburton’s illustrations are just quirky enough to be cute but not sugary sweet; they’re full of zany details that will delight adult readers aloud as well as young children – look at the expressions on the faces of those animals here …

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Don’t forget to have a good look at the endpapers too; you’ll find all the animal characters there.

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Mamasaurus
Stephan Lomp,
Chronicle Books
When Babysaurus accidentally loses his grip on Mamasaurus’s spine he’s launched into space

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and then finds himself in a heap of leaves but with no sign of his parent. So there’s nothing for it but to wander about in the jungle asking its other inhabitants if they’ve seen her. However, each one he asks only sees Mamasaurus with characteristics of their own parent. But she can’t run like the wind, doesn’t have a long horn, nor wings to fly as high as the sun,

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she’s much larger than tiny Hespero’s mama and she definitely doesn’t have the sharp teeth that Rexy’s mama has.

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Where, oh where is Babysaurus’s mama? I wonder what that loud noise might be …
The luminous colours of the various prehistoric creatures set against the black background really make the images stand out in Lomp’s striking brush pen and photoshop illustrations. The storyline reminds me somewhat of P.D.Eastman’s’ classic Are You My Mother but the visuals are altogether different.

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A Bounty of Board Books

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Walter’s Wonderful Web
Tim Hopgood
Macmillan Children’s Books
Walter is a spider with a mission: he wants to spin a perfect web, not a wibbly- wobbly one that is whisked away whenever the wind blows.
His first effort – a triangular one is destroyed by the first puff of wind so he tries another – a rectangle, but with no more success.

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The diamond meets a similar fate but what about his circular-looking one, could that be the answer?
But three wooshes and Walter plus web hit the ground. Nearing despair, Walter stops to think before making one last attempt and by nightfall it looks as if he’s got it the design just right –

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WOW! Walter, you certainly deserved to succeed – top marks for perseverance and a wonderfully intricate web.
This delightful story for the very youngest provides a great opportunity to introduce ideas about not giving up when things get tough and of course, built into the narrative are those six basic 2D shapes.

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The Butterfly Garden
Laura Weston
Big Picture Press
Twenty words and a sequence of half a dozen super-stylish, beautifully patterned black and white illustrations: nothing much to get excited about – right? Wrong: look closely at the first of those black and white spreads.

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How many caterpillars can you spot? Look again at the silhouetted leaves and blooms and you notice there are flaps to lift. Open the top left-hand flap to reveal …

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And then the other four flaps and you’ll see a whole lot going on in vibrant colours …

 

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The subsequent spreads show the life cycle and life journey of the Monarch butterfly. (In North America, the Monarch migrates en masse to Mexico during the course of its life.)

 

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Essentially that’s it and every spread is beautifully designed and arresting first in black and white and then with its flashes of flamboyant colour.
Although the Monarch isn’t a breeding British butterfly, this book is a striking visual account of a butterfly’s life cycle.

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The Tiger Prowls
Seb Braun
Simon & Schuster
It’s hard to choose a favourite from the five animals that pop out from the pages of this seemingly simple yet impressive book. I love the shape and feel of the whole thing – its arresting cover, the way it whizzes through the various habitats the colour palette used and the clever paper engineering. Then there’s the elegant prose of the sentences used to describe each of the iconic creatures that grace the spreads.
First off is that tiger from the cover described thus:
‘The tiger prowls, stalking the jungle. Paw after heavy paw crunches on the forest floor. And so he does emerging from a gentle hint of vegetation straddling that first spread across which slides a muted snake.
Turn over and meet a graceful whale with its cleverly upturned tail and snout;

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the brown bear padding slow through the forest, the mighty elephant taking a shower in the hot sun (If I’m fussy I’d like to have seen an upturned trunk and slightly sharper tusks here ) and finally …

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Gentle, elegant, treetop nibbling, cloud-high grazer giraffe ‘pitching his way across the savannah, like a ship adrift on the open plain.’ (love those bird silhouettes)
Aimed at the very young but I can also envisage older children who get hold of this being inspired to try their hand at making their own pop-up animals.

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Dinoblock
Christopher Franceschelli and Peskimo
Abrams & Chronicle
MEET THE DINOSAURS says the sign across the museum doors and on opening them readers (and the two child investigators) find two key questions ‘Who are the dinosaurs?’ and ‘Where are the dinosaurs?’
From then on the book’s clever design really comes into play with a formula that is used to great effect for the next ninety or so pages using a mix of cleverly crafted cutaway pages and a series of similes likening each of the twenty three dinosaurs introduced to something a young child is likely to be familiar with, followed by another spread showing the particular dinosaur in its natural habitat and a sentence giving the dinosaur’s name with its phonetic pronunciation. Thus we have for instance, ‘I have a neck like a goose …

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turn over to ‘I am a Coelophysis (SEE-low-FYE-sis)’…
Or this one:

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The grand finale comprises a spread of drawn-to-scale dinosaurs on a gate-fold that opens out into a farewell display of skeletons of all the dinosaurs featured.

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Of those a fair number are relatively uncommon in books for young children and indeed a few such as Micropachycephalosaurus and Edmontosaurus) were new names to me.
Assuredly a block-buster for the very young but also a book that offers a great opportunity for them to see and think about a favourite topic in an exciting and imaginative new way. And, a jumping off point for further investigation and children’s own creativity.

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One Hundred Bones

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One Hundred Bones
Yuval Zommer
Templar Publishing
Rascally mongrel Scruff leads an independent, free-spirited existence much to the disgust of the other inhabitants of his neighbourhood. His penchant for excavating leads to tirades of hostile comments from the human owners of the pampered pet dogs until Scruff finally decides enough’s enough and sets out in search of somewhere more welcoming. He follows his nose (a nose that is particularly expert at sniffing out juicy bones.) And on this occasion his olfactory organ picks up on that most desirable osseous scent leading him up hill and down dale to a spot from which said awesome odour emanated.
You should see those little paws go as down, down he burrows until he finds …

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Oh joy! Our canine pal is almost beside himself with pleasure at the sight of the stash.
Back he dashes to call for some assistance, only to meet with considerable resistance to his pleas until that is, he mentions the b- word. Then it’s a case of follow-my-leader and all paws on deck so to speak.
There follows a conflab as to the nature of the find until Percy the pug has a light-bulb moment after which it’s public transport all the way in a mad dash to – you’ve guessed it – South Ken.

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and in particular, the Natural History Museum and its resident palaeontologist, Professor Dinovsky.
The outcome is a win/win situation as our lovable Scruff and the prof. both come up trumps one way and another.

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What a delicious canine caper and it’s great to see Scruff emerging as top dog (and digger) in the end.
Wittily written with plenty to make adults smile as well as children. I love the dog-eyed view from which Yuval Zommer portrays the action and his characterisation is splendid. Each of those dogs – Percy the pug, Pixie the poodle, Sidney the sausage dog and Ada the Afghan has a distinctive and wholly apt personality.

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Another sure fire winner from Yuval Zommer who brought us The Big Blue Thing on the Hill.

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Cuddles, Crime, Cavemen and a Question

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I Want a Cuddle
Malorie Blackman and Joanne Partis
Orchard Books pbk
First published over ten years ago, this story written by current the Children’s Laureate, about Little Rabbit and his search for a cuddle still holds its original charm.
Having injured his paw during a game of hide-and-seek, Little Rabbit is in desperate need of a cuddle. Hedgehog is sympathetic but too prickly, likewise Squirrel (too tickly), Badger – he’s too bristly, Toad is lumpy, and bumpy, not to mention squidgy.

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Poor Little Rabbit sets off home through the forest but who is that bushy-tailed creature sneaking up behind her?
And who else needs a cuddle now?

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Funny, tender and with just the right amount of suspense to keep young readers engaged throughout; this is a lovely story-time read aloud for nursery settings as well as individual listeners. Joanne Partis’ boldly coloured, illustrations rendered with thick strokes, daubs, spatters and mixed media manipulations are a delight.
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Top Top Secret
Claire Freedman and Russell Ayto
Simon and Schuster pbk
The bond between, reader, author and main protagonist – a young secret agent spy – are immediately established in this vastly amusing rhyming tale. Herein Sid accepts a mission to recover the Royal Ring bearing the king’s secret seal from the clutches of a dastardly dragon and return it to its place in the royal vaults. Off he goes creeping in the shadows till he comes upon a large drain lid; out comes his trusty magnet, up comes the cover, down slides Sid. Then propelled by his supersonic pulley he whizzes through the shaft, out onto a river (his raft a-ready there), under a bridge, oops -! Having narrowly escaped the waiting shark’s jaws,

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he comes upon a sign:
Once inside the dragon’s lair, he discovers the ring’s whereabouts and is on the point of seizing same when ROAR! The dragon wakes; smoke and flames burst forth; OH NO! Sid’s has lost his anti-dragon flare. Time to resort to something altogether more tricky and DEFINITELY, much more sticky, Sid.

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And does our Sid succeed in retrieving and returning the precious object to its rightful place? Erm well… those telescopic super-charged skis and that trusty magnet do come into their own and we leave our hero sound asleep in his comfy bed so … What do you think?
Rendered in skillfully scurrying rhyme and through suitably off-beat illustrations, this fast-moving, very amusing tale is such fun to share with young audiences large and small. If the former though, make sure individuals have opportunities to revel in the hilarious details of Russell Ayto’s deliciously idiosyncratic artwork.
Overall design, the variety of fonts used, Ayto’s choice of colour palette, the minutiae of detail within the scenes be they wide screen or small close-ups, all add to the impact of the book.
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Ug-A-Lug
Jill Lewis and Simon Rickerty
Simon and Schuster pbk
Previously for Simon Rickerty it was crayons; now, along with the characters he depicts, a quartet of troglodytes no less (those drawn by the little boy of the story), it is pencils that take centre stage. Actually just the one pencil, in fact. The particular one being that which rolls over the cavemen’s fire extinguishing it but bringing to life said picture. Thereupon the bemused cave dwellers attempt to make sense of this mysterious object; they try eating it, and climbing it before one of their number, Colin, hits upon tool wielding. After some serious carving and chopping an impressive result is achieved.

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‘ BURNA BURNA ROAST TOASTA!’ shouts the excited Flint but then out of nowhere seemingly, there leaps a hungry tiger, jaws a-gaping. Plan B I think guys.
After a pretty close call though, things take a turn – or rather they don’t – for the worse.

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You didn’t notice that tree then? Time for another one of Colin’s good ideas …
But …

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Have a sausage instead! UG-A-LUG! A happy ending? Certainly, so long as you are a carnivore that is.
Jill Lewis’s matter of fact manner of telling with its sprinkling of troglodyte talk, works wonderfully well as a counter to Ayto’s over the top artistry, with its brilliantly expressive caveman countenances as they go about their comical caperings.
In a word SUPERDUPERUG-A-LUG-A-LOVED-IT!
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The Wonderful Egg
Dahlov Ipcar
Flying Eye Books
Is it a mystery story or is it an information book? First published in 1958 and now in a new edition, this lovely book is actually both. It tells how long, long ago when all the earth was covered in jungles a wonderful egg sat solitary in a mossy nest beneath a giant fern tree.

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But whose egg is it?

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A dinosaur’s perhaps, or did it belong to one of the marine or flying reptiles that lived over a million years ago?

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Dahlov Ipcar transports us to that prehistoric world and takes us through a multitude of possibilities before revealing the answer.

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Her wonderful illustrations have been ‘remastered’ from the original edition. The limited palette of shades of green, brown, grey and pink and the bolder black blocks, shading and outlines creates scenes at once dramatic, subtle and timeless.
In addition to the narrative, readers are provided with a helpful pronunciation page and a double spread showing the relative sizes of the creatures featured.
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Little and Large

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Rex
Simon James
Walker Books
Is it or is it not a case of mistaken identity, is the puzzle readers and listeners are faced with in Simon James’ latest offering. Big dinosaur, a totally scarifying T Rex and terror of the land has his peaceful sleep disturbed by the word “Dadda!” uttered by newly hatched baby dinosaur claiming to be “Rex”.

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The big dinosaur is having none of this and so, hotly pursued by Rex, he goes off on his round of scarifying whatever crosses his path. Night falls and the two bed down in a cave with Rex demanding that “Dad” teaches him to roar. Each day the pattern is repeated – our young Rex is a fast learner though

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and his ‘dad’ decides it’s time to disabuse him of his parental claim.
Poor Rex. During a sleepless night our now disowned little one decides to set out and discover where he truly belongs – a pretty scary undertaking that takes him far away from the safety of the cave. So what is his fate then ? Well, it would be a shame to spoil the end of the tale. Let’s just say Rex does some very fearsome roaring,

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some very fast running and right when it seems things can’t get any worse, he is awoken by the most alarming sound he has ever heard …

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The whole thing – words and images – is suffused with both humour and pathos as we follow the developing relationship between, and the actions of, the big and small tyrannosauruses. Anything Simon James does is a winner so far as I’m concerned; this one, with its themes of belonging, identity and finding one’s true place, is sheer delight from start to finish.
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Also by Simon James and recently released in paperback is the enchanting:

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(previously reviewed on this site in : Picture Book Picks January 2013

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Pig and Small
Alex Latimer
Picture Corgi pbk
When a tiny squeaking Bug lands on the tip of Pig’s nose, he’s hoping it could be the start of a beautiful friendship but Pig is not so sure. He definitely seems to be the one who is having to put in all the hard work.
To compensate, Bug creates a special cake and presents it to Pig. Pig however, merely tosses it whole into his mouth without so much as a glance at the craftsmanship involved. Indeed, all Bug’s efforts are in vain.

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Despair sets in and the two decide to go their separate ways. However, as Pig walks off an idea suddenly hits him – literally.

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The movie outing is a resounding success and so too is the outcome, as the pair begin to discover a whole host of things they can do together; after all, where there’s a will there’s a way.

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So, size is NOT all where friendship is concerned – or is it?

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Alex Latimer’s books seem to get better and better. The quietly comical scenes are infused with a gentle wit and combined with a whimsical telling making this a delightfully diverting read for individuals and small groups. You really do need to be up close to fully appreciate humour in the illustrations.
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