The Huffalots

The Huffalots
Eve Coy
Andersen Press

Eve Coy’s picture book slices of family life are wonderful. First we had Looking After William and now this new one portrays two small siblings and their mother with the focus mainly on the former.

Having been woken from their slumbers by mum, the brother and sister are in a really grumpy mood – totally at odds with the world and one another it seems.

“No!” is probably their most used word until, during breakfast something magical happens and they transform from Huffalots to Huffalittles.

“No” is still said but maybe rather less as they head to the park accompanied in the background by their mother.

It’s there that magical transformation number two happens: the Huffalittles morph into Lovealittles and later comes the third transformation.

Back home again the Lovealots truly enjoy being together, so much so that they get rather carried away making lots of noise and mess.

Guess who, thanks to sheer exhaustion has now become a rather large Huffalot?

Maybe those two little ones can work their own magical transformation so that Mum becomes Lovealot number three.

This reviewer assuredly is a Lovealot when it comes to this brilliantly observed, superbly illustrated story that will certainly strike a chord with parents and their small offspring.

I can’t imagine a single Mum who wouldn’t relate to Eve’s oh so realistic scenes of the ups and downs of family life with small children.

Who’s Going to Bed? / Somewhere Out There, Right Now

Who’s Going to Bed?
Abie Longstaff and Eve Coy
Puffin Books

‘The stars are out, / the moon is bright’; that means it’s bedtime for the pirates on the high seas, most of the animals in the jungle, the teddy bears in their cottage, the king and queen and their family of young knights.

There’s one mischievous baby though, who embarks on a very noisy adventure. His music making meandering arouses all those would-be slumberers,

who with the infant playing a kind of pied piper role are led a merry dance all the way to the beach where they come upon …

The trouble is, she’s an extremely tired little dragon and wants nothing more than to be allowed some peace and quiet so she can snuggle down for the night.

Now it’s time for that cheeky toddler to take control of the situation. With a single “SHHHH!” he sets in motion a concatenation of actions that see the baby dragon safely tucked up in her bed.

The efforts of his helpers however have brought on a desire for sleep in all the revellers, not least the instigator of the fun; and so finally the little babe is transported all the way home …

to bed. Goodnight and sweet dreams.

An enchantingly playful bedtime story told through Abie’s carefully measured text and Eve’s moonlit scenes of the nocturnal high jinks. I love her colour palette and the way she brings out the inherent gentle humour of a tale that’s a terrific one to share with little ones before bed. (I suggest any musical instruments are tucked right away first though – just in case …)

Somewhere Out There, Right Now
Gemma Wells
Ragged Bears

This softly spoken picture book connects young listeners to the natural world outside while at the same time helping them to find calm within as they wind down for bedtime.

Somewhere in the darkness a monkey takes cover from the heavy rain, baby beetles are buried beneath the earth,

birds come in to roost, there’s a fox out in a city street – perhaps seeking shelter or food – and waves gently lap a moonlit beach; there are kittens snuggling up to their mother.

All these peaceful scenes help to induce a sense of inner calm as the body slows, safe in the knowledge that the beloved listener to the gentle narrative is in a safe, nurturing place and all is well.

Gemma Wells’ affinity for nature is reflected in her bold, digitally worked scenes of the animals, the adult and child looking outwards.

A lovely book for parents and carers to share with the very young just before bed.

Looking After William

Looking After William
Eve Coy
Andersen Press

Brilliantly observed and full of humour is Eve Coy’s debut picture book.

It’s narrated by the small child through whose eyes we see what happens when she takes it upon herself to ‘be mummy’ for a day to her dad, William.

How efficiently she adopts the parental role while of course, carrying on with all the other important jobs that mothers have – drawing and colouring, organising a tea party for the toys in her life, or block building.

She’s so matter of fact: ‘William is full of energy and needs lots of exercise. … He needs so much attention …

Sometimes he just needs a little rest.’

How perceptively and enchantingly portrayed is their entire day in those gorgeous inky scenes of love and affection, every one of which is sheer adorableness in every way.

Assuredly this is a book that will appeal to both children and their parents, the latter will particularly appreciate how the ‘mummy’ is able to see potential career opportunities for her beloved and ‘very clever’ William …

Young children love to play at being ‘mum’ either with their toys or siblings, but this is a whole different take on the subject.
I can’t wait to see what comes next from this wonderfully insightful artist; meanwhile I intend to share this one widely.