Rabunzel

Rabunzel
Gareth P. Jones and Loretta Schauer
Egmont

Totally crazy but enormous fun is Gareth P. Jones’s reimagining of the Grimm fairy tale Rapunzel with a rabbit, Rabunzel – she of the massively long, lop ears. The forest dwelling character gives her mother cause for concern on account of said ears, for this parent like other inhabitants of Furry Tail Hill are mighty fearful of the hungry-eyed beasties that lurk deep in the dark forest.

To keep her offspring safe, mum bun incarcerates Rabunzel in a very, very tall tree. Each morning she’d arrive at the bottom of this tree with her daily ration of carrots, lettuce and water, call out, “Rabunzel, Rabunzel, let down your ears!” and wait for the ears to unwind allowing her to ascend.

No matter how much her daughter pleads for release, mummy bunny remains resolute, ‘there you must stay’ she insists.

After months of utter boredom Rabunzel receives the surprise of her life. Who should climb up her long ears but Flash Harry the Hare.

He’d spotted the whole ear-dropping procedure, fallen head over heels in love with their owner and resolved to rescue her.
Weeee!

With her paws on the ground Rabunzel however, has her own ideas about how to proceed thereafter. You’ll be happy to learn that the whole thing ends hoppily ever after.

The text has some lovely wordplay and occasionally breaks into rhyme. It’s a read aloud romp that will be enjoyed whether or not little ones are familiar with the original story. With their zany details, and some clues concerning Rabunzel’s hidden talent, Loretta Schauer’s dramatic scenes burst with energy and humour.

The Three Ninja Pigs & Cat’s Colours

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The Three Ninja Pigs
David Bedford and Becka Moor
Simon & Schuster
Meet the Three Ninja Pigs, always twirling and crashing their way into trouble until Mrs Pig has had enough. ‘Off you go to Granny’s. AND NO MORE TROUBLE!’ she cries in exasperation

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and off trot the three through the woods to Granny’s cottage. But guess who’s got there ahead of them …

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Next stop Uncle Sam’s building yard to deliver his lunch but whom do the Ninja Pigs discover when they get there and he’s threatening total destruction.

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Less than impressed at the ensuing mess he duly dispatches the threesome to a high street destination with a plank for Cindy and the ‘AND NO MORE TROUBLE.’ instruction.
Needless to say a certain hairy character has beaten them to it once more …
but is he about to meet his cum-uppance? Certainly those Ninja Piggies have had enough of his repeated interference and are having a secret meeting …

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Totally crazy! This high energy fractured fairy tale romp has delighted all those 5s to 8s I’ve shared it with, several of whom had great fun with the numerous visual jokes in Becka Moor’s detailed scenes of mischief and mayhem.

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Cat’s Colours
Airlie Anderson
Child’s Play
Cats make me sneezy and wheezy so I am more than a little cat phobic; but the white moggie in this book quickly endeared herself to me as she wandered around, exploring her environment on a grey day. Grey the day may have been, but Cat’s decision to collect some colours – one for each new experience – soon has an uplifting effect. She pauses beneath a tree enjoying the look of the green leafy ceiling, breathes in the scent of some red roses …

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and reflects on the blue pond for instance and at each location she collects a colour. At the end of her walk she has added four more colours purple for a fluttery butterfly, orange for the light of the setting sun, black for the sparkling cosmos and finally, yellow for the moon under which she’ll stop to sleep.

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Before this though, white cat has a delightful surprise finale to share…
How often do we give young children opportunities to pause and truly ‘be in the moment’? Probably not often enough, so cat’s story can serve as a gentle reminder to adults that it (being, not doing) should be part and parcel of every day.

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Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion

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Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion
Alex T.Smith
Scholastic
A rip-roaring read if ever, is this super-safari spin off of a favourite fairy tale. Herein however, it’s not Grandma who is ill; it’s Little Red’s Auntie Rosie who is suffering from a superfluity of spots. When Little Red receives her phone call, she bids her daddy farewell and off she goes a-visiting, basket in hand on the long walk to her Auntie’s house. She walks and sometimes, creeps, rides and wiggles her way along

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until she decides a rest is called for and it’s then that she’s spotted by The Very Hungry Lion.
With a flick of a tail and a wiggle of his whiskers, the VHL introduces himself chattily and in no time at all – or rather the time it took for a rumble to emanate from his tum, he’s conceived a plan – a very clever, naughty one – and rushed off to carry it out.
By the time Little Red arrives, there in her Auntie’s bed languishes the lion, duly disguised. But, despite the bespotted, beautified make-over there’s no fooling our young heroine who resolves immediately to teach the impostor a lesson. There follows further beautifying of the dastardly creature – by Little Red this time as she proceeds to brush, comb, twist and finally, braid his “tatty hair”.

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That had definitely not been part of the VHL’s plan. Nor was the tooth cleaning which followed Little Red’s oral inspection; most certainly he’d not planned that, nor changing his attire .

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Enough is enough – or rather, nothing is assuredly not enough – decides the VHL as he complains of a grumbly tum. It’s just as well then that this story has a happy, and doughnut-filled ending (courtesy of a forgiving and now fully recovered Auntie Rosie who is willing to share the contents of Little Red’s basket with both her visitors). Actually though, that’s not quite the end for, as darkness descends, the now reformed??? Lion accompanies Little Red on her way home having given his solemn promise not to ever, ever eat another auntie or child but …
This is priceless! I need at least ten copies to give to various friends and relations’ children, all of whom – adult and child alike – will, I’m certain, lap up this delectable tale as eagerly as I did.

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On a re-reading Leo got closer and closer in until he too was part of the story being shared with big sister, Gracie.

 

Littered with rib-tickling details – the tea drinking crocs, the bespectacled, giraffe, the monkey sporting shades and the snorkelling hippo for instance – the illustrations are out of this world and the words written by a wizard of wit. Alex T.Smith’s latest offering is absolutely, amazingly, awesome and for me, his best ever.

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The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf and Grandma’s Wardrobe

I have always been fascinated by fairy tales and Red Riding Hood has always had a special place in my affections. Indeed it was the inspiration for the title of my weblog so I was particularly delighted to receive a copy of this:

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The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf and Grandma’s Wardrobe
Diane and Christyan Fox
Words & Pictures (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
I always encourage children to ask questions about stories, though I prefer questions to be saved to the end of the reading rather than during the story. The irrepressible, superhero-obsessed Dog in this tale however insists on keeping up a constant flow of questions right through the whole of Cat’s reading of Little Red Riding Hood. Here’s his first interjection on learning the story is about a little girl who wears a red hooded cloak: “Cool! I love stories about superheroes. What’s her special power?” Cat continues reading about the basket of food and ‘dainties’ she’s taking to her grandmother.
So, kindness is her special power? Does she hypnotise bad guys into being nice? … I bet she zaps him with her KINDNESS RAY.” Cat is beginning to get exasperated. Dog too; a clear case of misunderstanding – crime fighting without a zapper?

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Exploding eggs? Whack the bad guy with a dainty? Now Cat too, despite his increasing exasperation, starts to see the story is not without its faults… ‘ “There’s NO kindness ray, NO flying basket and NO exploding eggs. She’s just a sweet little girl with terrible fashion sense on her way to see her grandmother.” ‘
The whole thing gets more and more hilarious as Dog’s imagination runs wild and Cat tries his best to keep his cool, eventually reaching his favourite part: ‘ “She arrived and said, “What big eyes you have Grandma,” and the wolf replied, All the better to see you with.” Whereupon Dog expresses disgust with the heroine. “She’s not very bright is she? I mean if there were a wolf dressed up as MY grandma, I might have noticed right away.” and then with the traditional fairy tale “And they all lived happily ever after.” finale.

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He even questions its suitability as a book for children. His summary of the whole thing is absolutely superb. But it’s his last (so he says) question that causes Cat to throw in the book – literally.
I’d be surprised if you can read this aloud without breaking into fits of giggles: I certainly couldn’t. The combination of uncrushable characters, chucklesome text and spare, brilliantly expressive cartoon style illustrations with sparingly-used splashes of colour make for an unforgettable read.
This one has a wide age appeal and is a real boon to teachers wanting to explore fairy tales with a class of older children.

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