SuperJoe Does Not Do Cuddles

SuperJoe Does Not Do Cuddles
Michael Catchpool and Emma Proctor
Lantana Publishing

Life as a young superhero able to do pretty much anything is hard work, that’s the conviction of SuperJoe; he’s equally sure though that superheroes don’t do cuddles – even from their mums. Well, let’s see …

Despite having to wear his scarf (Mum insists on that), in just one day SuperJoe rescues tourists from a ferocious and very hungry tiger, (that’s before tea);

stops a runaway train, (that’s before bath time) and saves people crossing a collapsing bridge over a raging river in the depths of the jungle (just before bed),

each of these potential calamities being engineered by his arch nemesis, the Grey Shadow.

Before he sets out on each undertaking, our young superhero evades his Mum’s attempts to get a cuddle although at her behest, he does have to don a vest, a belt to keep up his superhero shorts and, that scarf.

Come bedtime however, a sleepless Joe, having eschewed a warm drink, decides that there is just one thing that he really, really needs, something he must never let Grey Shadow know about…

What a lovely story of independent thinking, the power of the imagination and maternal love, this gently humorous book will delight young would-be superheroes as well as their parents/carers. Emma Proctor’s illustrations wittily and cleverly complement Michael Catchpool’s telling, showing for instance, the uses to which SuperJoe puts the items his mum insists he ‘wears’, and those double bedtime scenes reveal much too.

The Snow Lion / Toby and Tabitha

The Snow Lion
Jim Helmore and Richard Jones
Simon & Schuster
Caro and her mum move to a new house in a new neighbourhood. Then, into the whiteness of everything comes a snowy lion inviting Caro to play hide-and-seek. Their play fills her day bringing cheer instead of loneliness; but can this new animal friend encourage her to venture outside and have fun with the local children?
That proves something of a challenge but little by little, with the lion’s help, Caro starts to find her inner courage and joins in with the other children.

When mum suggests adding colour to their new abode, and invites her new friends round for a ‘painting party’, Caro is concerned that the lack of white will mean no more visits from her wildcat pal.

He no longer appears anywhere inside her brightly painted house, but surely he can’t have deserted her altogether, can he?
A lovely, gentle, reassuring tale about moving and finding new friends.
Richard Jones’s mixed media, warm-hearted scenes of friends real and imaginary are enchanting.

Toby and Tabitha
Alexander Bar and Emma Proctor
Walker Books
Have you ever heard of dancing tortoises? No? Me neither. I suspect nobody has other than young Lucy, whose grandfather owns, the pet shop, Animal Palace. This establishment is full of all manner of desirable pets and one of Lucy’s favourite places. She loves to help with the animals whenever she can, her favourites being two tortoises, Tabitha and Toby.
Lucy has a secret though: when the shop is closed and darkness falls, the two creatures respond to her singing by leaving their beds and dancing together in the moonlight, with Lucy joining them in a ‘Tea for One’ rendition of her own.
Then one day, disaster strikes: Lucy arrives at the shop to find Toby alone: Tabitha has a new home with a little boy, so her Grandpa tells her.

When the boy returns with a question, “what do tortoises like to do?” Lucy has a dilemma. Should she share her secret with Tabitha’s new owner, or keep it to herself?
Who would have thought that a couple of dancing tortoises could be the catalyst for a burgeoning friendship between two children?

This debut picture book written by Mike the Knight creator, Alexander Bar and illustrated by Emma Proctor is a delight.
Bar uses a child-friendly, chatty narrative style with playful language and opportunities to join in and Emma Proctor brings out the humour of the story. Her exuberant, mixed media visuals are such that you want to stop and explore the plethora of whimsical details in every spread.