Tiny T. Rex and the Very Dark Dark

Tiny T. Rex and the Very Very Dark
Jonathan Stutzman and Jay Fleck
Chronicle Books

Tiny T. Rex and his buddy Pointy are spending their very first night under the stars, and the adorable dinosaur narrator, all the while clutching tight his squishy bear Bob, regales us with their nocturnal experiences. When outside, we hear, ‘the dark is VERY dark’ and with no ‘nighty-lights to turn on’ there may very well be Grumbles and Nom-bies at large.

Mum assures her little one that even in the dark, there will always be a light shining somewhere. He though is far from convinced. He and Pointy however, have a secret being brave plan. This means building a hiding fort

to contain snacks and themselves but even then, feeling hidden isn’t what happens. So, brain-protecting helmets are necessary although a proper fit is a requisite

as are the lamps from indoors and the strings of coloured lights with which they deck the trees and their tent. At last everything is ready; now let those Crawly creeps and Nom-bies come …

That brightness however, lasts only briefly for a fuse blows and they’re plunged into total ‘very dark dark’ blackness.

Now what can they do: everyone is scared but can they summon up all their courage, open their eyes and look hard – very, very hard …

There’s plenty to see and delight in here in this reassuring tale, not least what those Grumbles and Nom-bies actually are.

What’s needed for dark-fearful little ones is a super story bedtime tale such as this one, then a big hug, followed by lights out and imaginations temporarily switched off. Most definitely, it’s another winner from the Stutzman and Fleck team.


Anna Fienberg, Kim Gamble and Stephen Axelsen
Allen & Unwin

I was knocked out by this beautiful book that celebrates the power of friendship and its role in finding the courage to overcome fears.

Many young children go through a night-time monster-fearing stage (under the bed or in a cupboard); and so it is with young Tildy. The little girl knows there are monsters; they’re brought in by moonlit, hiding themselves behind the curtains and so Tildy hates moonlight.

Her dad and mum assure her there are no such things, telling her to go to sleep; her aunts and uncles can’t see them so she writes to her cousins – all 23 of them – but she receives only one response telling her not to eat spicy food before bed.

So, Tildy gives up her talk of monsters but sleeps with one eye open, growing increasingly nervous as the sun goes down: nothing it seems can get rid of her fear.

Then a new boy Hendrik joins Tildy’s school. He draws monsters during maths time explaining to Tildy how he deals with them.

The two become friends and Hendrik invites Tildy to sleep at his house; the plan is to camp in the garden and despite her worries, she agrees, packs her bag including dad’s Oxford Dictionary to hurl at the first monster she sees, and her mum drives her over.

The children have a great time together but as the shadows engulf the afternoon sun, Tildy’s fears reawaken.

Can her friend help her to make the impending dark feel like a safe place so that they can spend that night together

and watch the moon sail like a ship across the starry sky?

Open to many interpretations, this book is superb in every way. Anna Fienberg’s prose narrative is brilliantly expressed and the illustrations both wonderfully whimsical and detailed. It was Kim Gamble’s final book (she died in 2016) with Anna, and her great friend, illustrator Stephen Axelsen took over after she died, helping to bring the project to fruition and to make this special book a celebration of her work.

An absolutely smashing book to share, especially with youngsters who themselves are challenged by and endeavouring to work with, their own fears.

Definitely one to add to a family collection or the class bookshelves.

The Light in the Night / The World Book Day Monster

The Light in the Night
Marie Voight
Simon & Schuster

Young Betty absolutely loves the night time for it brings with it the most amazing stories, one of which features Cosmo.
Cosmo is a bear that is terrified of the dark and just when Betty is wishing that she could tell him that he has no need to fear it, POP! There he is.
Together they set off, hand in hand, on a journey of discovery. Led by a firefly they walk into the woods where they find a cave
Betty reassures her friend and they follow the firefly inside towards an inky lake whereon a rowing boat awaits to take them further.
The cave grows ever darker as they go deeper within until they come upon a sign.

Overcoming her own initial fear, Betty does as the sign says. An amazing sight meets their eyes and it’s anything but scary.
Once back outside, it’s Betty’s turn to feel anxious; she makes a confession …

With roles reversed, Cosmo now does the reassuring until the two reach Betty’s house safely once more.
Back indoors over hot chocolate (what else) the two talk of their journey until it’s time for Cosmo to leave.

Betty gives him her lantern and a special message.

In the morning she wonders if it had all been a dream: what do you think? You’ll need a copy of this magical book to find out.

Rising star, Marie Voight’s illustrations are adorable and her two characters totally endearing making this a thoroughly reassuring, warm-hearted bedtime story for you and your little ones as well as a lovely one to share in an early years setting.

The World Book Day Monster
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Ada Grey

World Book Day is fast approaching, her school is celebrating but Anna has a dilemma. What should she dress up as?

Dad’s suggestion that they pay a visit to the bookshop proves fruitful and thanks to a helpful suggestion from the bookseller, Anna goes home fired with enthusiasm, carrying a book.

After multiple reads she enlists parental help to make her costume and next day she excitedly rushes off to school to show her friends.

Their response however isn’t particularly positive; they all ask, Anna, what are you?” over and over throughout the day.

Happily her head teacher’s reaction is very different; it was a favourite of hers when she was a child and she’s eager to share the book Anna is clutching with the class.

A magical story time ensues that is much appreciated by all her classmates, which leaves Anna thoroughly satisfied, and so she should be as she demonstrates the power of story to thrill and enchant.

Adam and Charlotte’s rhyming text coupled with Ada’s spirited scenes make for a fun book to share around World Book Day or at any time one wants to attest to the power of a story and the importance of the imagination.

Blog Tour – The Wardrobe Monster

A big thank you to Old Barn Books for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for an exciting debut picture book from Bryony Thomson

The Wardrobe Monster
Bryony Thomson
Old Barn Books

As a small child I can remember having a phase of being scared to go to bed. For me the cause of the terror wasn’t a wardrobe monster: I was convinced the resident owl from the oak tree in our garden had fallen down the chimney and was flapping around in there, ready to fly out into the bedroom at any moment. The fact that there was a chest of drawers in front of the fireplace made no difference.
We eventually discovered that a stray branch from a cherry tree in our neighbour’s garden tapping on the window when the wind blew was the cause of the trouble.
I wish I’d had something like Bryony Thomson’s debut picture book to reassure me.

Like many young children, Dora the child protagonist of her story suffers from fears about the dark.
Lack of sleep means that she, along with bedfellows Penguin, Lion and Bear are in a bad mood at breakfast time.

This bad mood lasts throughout the entire day and come bedtime, Dora employs delaying tactics.

What exactly is the cause of the problem?
There are sounds coming from inside the wardrobe – a wardrobe monster no less.
Can Dora and her toy friends face their fears and confront that monster? After all, they only need to open the cupboard door when the banging starts …

The smudgy nature of Bryony’s superbly expressive illustrations makes her characters all the more huggably adorable – even the one responsible for the scary noises.

Red Reading Hub is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Bryony’s book: here she talks about her favourite childhood books:

Picture books weren’t a big part of my life as a child, I’ve checked with my parents and I just didn’t really have many. Stories and reading, however, were still hugely important and many of my earliest memories involve being read to by my Mum or Dad, snuggled up against them and cocooned in the magical world created by the story.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Winnie-the-Pooh was a favourite amongst my whole family and I am lucky enough to still have my full colour hardback copy complete with maps of “100 Aker Wood” as endpapers. I was particularly fond of the incident where Pooh goes to visit Rabbit, eats too much honey and condensed milk and gets stuck trying to leave the rabbit hole. The characters all had such distinctive voices and I can still hear them in my head (the way my Dad used to read them). Somehow because the locations in the story are so familiarly English you felt like you were a part of it and when out for a walk might at any moment bump into Eeyore or Pooh or come across a heffalump trap.

There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon by Jack Kent

There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon was one of the few picture books I owned, purchased when one of the travelling book fairs came to our school; I can remember picking it off the shelf! What I loved about the book then, and still do now, is the complicity between Billy Bixbee and the reader who both acknowledge the dragons existence, set against Mother’s complete refusal to see what is going on right under her nose. The illustrations are brilliant as well, there is so much life and character in them, especially the dragon with his obsession for Buttercup Bread.

George Mouse’s First Summer by Heather S. Buchanan

I must be honest I have very little recollection of the actual story of George Mouse’s First Summer. It was published the same year I was born and I think my parents must have started reading it to me when I was very small. I do remember the illustrations which were tiny and beautifully intricate, but what I remember most of all, and what made this one of my all time favourite books, was that one of the mice (George’s eldest sister) was called Bryony. As a child with an unusual name – in the 80s probably even less common than it is now – this was HUGE for me! I felt a sense of ownership over this book like no other before or since.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Ballet Shoes was a book my Mum and I shared together. The book itself was the old hardback copy she had been read when she was a little girl. At the time I was obsessed with ballet myself and so the book had an innate attraction but what really sticks in my memory is the characters rather than the story. They felt like real people and in the differing personalities of the three sisters there was always someone you could identify with.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse is one of the first books I have a really clear memory of voluntarily reading myself. I’m sure there were others before it but it was the first book which I remember surreptitiously reading under the duvet when I was meant to be asleep. It was the first book that made me cry and the first book that I tried to illustrate; I still read it every couple of years. Again it was the characters that won me over, despite being a horse I felt as though I knew Joey like a friend and when Topthorn died I was devastated. The book gave me a completely new perspective on World War I, which we had touched on briefly in school and awoke an interest in history which has continued ever since.

Thank you Bryony and I hope readers will follow the tour on some of the other blogs; tomorrow is the turn of Playing By the Book.


DSCN6649 (800x600)

Richard Collingridge
David Fickling Books
We join small boy, Richard hugging his toy lion and attempting to convince himself “There’s no such thing as monsters.” So what is that sound that sends him dashing from his bedroom, running through the streets, over the hills, through the forest into the fields hotly pursued by something – of that he’s convinced himself. The landscape grows more menacing …

DSCN6650 (800x600)

so on he goes, leaving behind his dropped toy,

DSCN6651 (800x600)

until he emerges in a magical jungle where he finds himself surrounded by animals of all kinds …

DSCN6652 (800x600)

But that monster’s still in hot pursuit so Richard keeps running … and running … and then what’s this? Can it be Lionheart, a toy no longer?

DSCN6653 (800x600)

Protective, he certainly is and Richard climbs on his back and clutching his mane, the two set out fearlessly on an amazing journey, but the monster still lurks; Lionheart feels it and sees it looming large … coming … closer until a final confrontation occurs …
Massive in impact, there are faint echoes of Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are in this dramatic tale about finding your inner courage – your inner roar. Collingridge’s cinematic paintings are alternately scarily tension filled and reassuringly comforting. A tremendous follow-up to When It Snows and well worth the long wait.

Use your local bookshop       localbookshops_NameImage-2