One Day On Our Blue Planet … In the Outback

One Day on Our Blue Planet … In the Outback
Ella Bailey
Flying Eye Books

Wow! I was absolutely astonished at the wealth of creatures large and small that have their homes on the great Australian outback, the location of Ella Bailey’s latest visit in her One Day on Our Blue Planet series.

Readers are invited to spend twenty four hours viewing the diurnal and nocturnal activities of, in particular, one of the little red kangaroos.

These animals seem to be on the go from sunrise till well into the night and like other marsupials, the does have a particular role in caring for and protecting their offspring in the dusty desert terrain especially when little ones become a tad too adventurous.

As we follow these fascinating animals, learning something of their habits, through the day and across the spreads to the billabong for a much needed drink, they encounter a huge variety of birds, reptiles and mammals.

(The endpapers show and name all the animals depicted as the gentle narrative unfolds).

Like previous titles, with its engaging illustrations and chatty narrative style, this is a super way to introduce youngsters to a location most of them are unlikely to visit for real; it will surely engender that feeling of awe and respect for the wildlife that inhabits the vast, remote interior part of Australia.

My Monster and Me

My Monster and Me
Nadiya Hussain and Ella Bailey
Hodder Children’s Books

Nadiya Hussain has recently spoken out about her own anxiety issues and now has written a picture book intended to give little ones and their carers a starting point for talking about anxiety and worries.

The narrator is a small boy who talks of his ever-present monster that nobody is able to banish; a bossy creature that gets in the way of everything the lad wants to do. It prevents him from playing with his own toys and even his friends.

After school one day the monster is waiting – huge and bad tempered – and it follows the boy all the way to his grandma’s house.

Seeing how upset he looks, Gran listens to her grandson’s tale of woe

and as he talks the monster starts to shrink and that’s when the boy gains control.

The monster never completely goes away but now it no longer wields the power.

Told in a straightforward manner that young children can easily relate to, Nadiya’s reassuring tale is made all the more so by rising star, Ella Bailey’s smashing illustrations. She portrays the monster as a mischievous rather rotund creature, rather than a scary one.

With ever more children of all ages having anxiety issues books such as this one can be an absolute boon for parents and teachers to share.

I Don’t Know What to Call My Cat

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I Don’t Know What to Call My Cat
Simon Philip and Ella Bailey
Simon & Schuster
The title of this book is a dilemma that I suspect faces a good many new moggy owners; every cat needs a name after all. Being allergic to cats, it’s not something I’ve had to worry about however though surely this vital task can’t be too problematic, or can it?
The little girl narrator of this tale opens her door one morning to discover an unexpected arrival of the feline kind. She decides to offer him something tasty to eat and when the creature takes up residence, a name becomes a necessity; so what about Kitty? Perfect, thinks out narrator but … it wasn’t.

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So what about Princess High and Mighty? The newcomer is certainly not easy to please; or maybe Pat, or Lorraine, Tricia or Tracey? All good names but err …

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She’s a boy!

So what about Mr Maestro?

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Oops! That could have been the one but suddenly the puss ups and goes as cats often do from what I know of them.
A search proves fruitless though there is a new kind of pet to take his place and this one doesn’t pose quite the same problem. And Steve’s certainly a whole lot of fun, even if he does attract a fair bit of attention – not always of the desirable kind though…

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Could there be  another creature waiting in the wings perhaps?
Simon Philip’s witty tale is just right for rising star, Ella Bailey’s illustrative talent to work on. Her scenes are chock full of delicious details and playful images of feline and human characters, not to mention the marvellous Steve.
This laugh-out-loud book is purr-fect for sharing. Cat lover I’m not, but I really loved this twisting, turning tale.

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One Day On Our Blue Planet … In the Antarctic

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One Day On Our Blue Planet … In the Antarctic
Ella Bailey
Flying Eye Books
Ella Bailey’s second day-stop on her tour of Our Blue Planet is a decidedly chilly one, the Antarctic. Here, as day breaks we join a recently hatched Adélie penguin chick as she waddles along the frozen coastline, weaving across the nesting grounds in answer to her parents’ call.

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Her mother feeds her one last meal and then that little penguin must set out alone into the enormous Antarctic Ocean to fend for herself.
When she reaches the water’s edge there is nothing for it but to launch herself seawards and once in the water, the little creature moves through it with grace and speed, travelling huge distances every day as she seeks food. In her search, the little penguin encounters all manner of marine giants …

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And diving down under the ice she discovers a hidden world rich in food such as krill, squid and fish; but there are also dangerous creatures intent on eating her.

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Further north fur seals are to be discovered as well as different kinds of penguins; but no matter how long it is before that chick returns to solid ground, she has a thick protective layer of fat to keep her warm be she in the sea or, as the cold, cold day turns to bitter night, resting on the floating ice …

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As with her first Savannah destination, Ella Bailey presents an amazing amount of information in such a way that it will be easily absorbed by children who, like this adult reviewer, will delight in making the journey through those chilly southern waters along with little penguin. Her aptly crisp, clear illustrations are superb and the end papers (one above the ice, the other below) are chock-full of visual information.

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Animals – Wild and Tame

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Wild and Tame Animals
Dahlov Ipcar
Flying Eye Books
Long ago all the animals in the world were wild. Some were timid and hid in the woods, and some were ferocious and dangerous … But long ago men learned to tame some of the wild animals.’ So begins this Ipcar presentation wherein wild animals and their tame varieties are introduced in captioned spreads. Thus we encounter feral cats, and household tame ones, wild dogs and trained ones, wild horses and the working variety. Many more of the world’s fauna are depicted working for humans in places such as Asia,

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India, Saudi Arabia and the Arctic;

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and donkeys have a special international spread of their own.
Thank goodness then that animals still live wild in the world’s jungles, plains and woodlands for us to see: long may it be so.
There is a real vintage feel to this one for which the artist has used a restricted colour palette of tan, mustard, olive, grey, white and black. As always with Wide Eyed publications, the production is top quality. For the primary school library I’d suggest: It would make a good starting point to the whole issue of the way humans use/abuse animals.

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One Day on Our Blue Planet … In the Savannah
Ella Bailey
Flying Eye Books
All the animals are free to roam their African savannah homeland in this, Ella Bailey’s second picture book; and how different in nature from her previous one, No Such Thing, it is.
We trail a lion cub as he pursues his mother from their den, through the tall grass and eventually, to the river for some midday refreshment;

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then while she rests, the little cub plays at hunting, stalking and chasing.

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At sunset however, it’s the turn of the lionesses to hunt for real. With their cubs in a safe place, they are off on the trail of their favourite meal – meat. (Little cub still needs only his mother’s milk at this stage though.) And he does need lots of sleep – unlike his parents that may well stay awake through the night.

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During the course of the twenty-four hours we also meet the little cub’s relations and a whole host of other animals that share their Savanna homeland; and in so doing readers/listeners can discover further details about the indigenous fauna and flora. Gorgeous endpapers present the diurnal and nocturnal creatures and the playful spreads in between offer opportunities to find out more. The straightforward narrative text conveys additional bite-size chunks of ecological information.
I look forward to spending delightful days in other habitats on Our Blue Planet.

Four year olds’ versions of the little lion cub:

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Strange Happenings: Seen and Not Heard & No Such Thing

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Seen and Not Heard
Katie May Green
Walker Books
Go through the gate into the grounds of Shiverhawk and you feel yourself inexplicably drawn towards the large house bathed in moonlight; follow that black cat up the stairs of the stately home and your spine begins to tingle. Enter the nursery and be gripped by further frissons of fear as you see on the wall, those portraits of ghostly children imprisoned within the frames thereon.

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Notice two in particular – identical twin girls staring impassively forwards while the others seemingly glance around. Look again at those twins’ eyes – are they moving as the black cat keeps watch? Now turn the page and see closer: there’s dainty Lily Pinksweet, the oh so polite Plumseys, clever Billy Fitzbillian, kind Percy and those De Villechild twins Lila and Vila … watch those eyes.
As the night whispers so do those eyes, seemingly saying, there’s nobody watching, time to escape from our daytime imprisonment. Those all pervasive nightmarish tones begin to fade slightly as the escapees run RIOT. All except the twins who look on from the rear as the rioters make their way down the stairs for a midnight feast..
Soon the scene resembles something from Sendak’s Night Kitchen

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but that is only the start of the fun. A climax builds; then the spookiness returns with ghostly feathers floating in the silence and it’s time to return before sunlight filters into the nursery, once more illuminating those angelic children – ‘Seen and not heard’. Watch out too for the three white mice that follow the children’s every move
A debut author/artist who manages to make a mini gothic horror movie with rhyming script within the covers of a picture book must surely be one to watch.
Ideal for an unusual hallowe’en story telling session but really for any time.

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No Such Thing
Ella Bailey
Flying Eye Books
When strange things start happening in Georgia’s home one October, she absolutely refuses to believe it’s the work of anything supernatural. She knows who has smashed that vase, pinched her socks, swiped her crayons,

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stolen the pumpkins and more besides. The evidence is right there before her eyes. Even those weird noises can be accounted for with the help of her trusty torch because well, without question, “we all know … there’s no such thing as ghosts!
The great thing about this (or one of them) is that, unlike little Georgia, young audiences will spot the ghosty tricksters lurking at each and every turn of the page and relish so doing. That final spread is crammed full of the little spooksters having the time of their lives.

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Totally involving: Ella Bailey lets her gorgeous retro-style illustrations do most of the talking in this brilliant, tongue in cheek book.

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