The Boy Who Knew Nothing

The Boy Who Knew Nothing
James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon
Templar Publishing
In the town of Solo Capoo lives a boy who supposedly knows nothing at all – his classmates tell him so, calling him a ‘fool’.

However when the lad comes upon an unusual-looking object in a dressing-up box, he’s eager to find out what it is. Waking his dozing parents he asks them. “Everyone knows that’s a sleepy giraffe!” comes his dad’s reply.
Unconvinced, the boy cycles off to consult the old whispering witch who tells him it’s a whispery owl.

Not satisfied however, the lad pays a call on ex-astronaut, Miss Susan only to be told the object is a clumsy gnu.

Exasperated our questioner climbs onto the back of the ‘thingy’

and flies home, where his parents greet him with questions about his attire and his companion.

Now the boy speaks out telling of his magical adventure and those he conversed with;

but his parents merely pack him (along with his fellow travellers) off to bed.

It’s there, tucked under his covers, that the boy learns from his ‘thingy’ its true identity – something listeners will have enjoyed being in the know about from the outset.

Back in class next day, our erstwhile adventurer has some words of wisdom to impart to the other children …

Delivered through James Thorp’s wacky rhyming text and Angus Mackinnon’s bizarre imagery that reminded me of 1960’s psychedelic pop art, this surreal picture book questions the nature of knowledge and knowing, but I’ll leave the philosophical ideas to those who decide to hold a community of enquiry with their audience having shared the story.

Finding a Way

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Don’t Wake Up Tiger!
Britta Teckentrup
Nosy Crow
Author/audience complicity is crucial to making this delightful story work: right from the opening ‘Shhh! Tiger is asleep and we mustn’t wake her up.’ youngsters are drawn into the plot: a plot that entails getting Frog, Fox, Tortoise, Mouse and Stork plus a bunch of balloons past Tiger without waking her.

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The balloons play a vital role: Frog uses one to float him right over, but we have to play our part with a bit of nose stroking to make sure Tiger stays asleep. Fox certainly needs our help too or he’ll land right on the sleeper …

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Phew! That’s two past and Tortoise goes next: gentle tummy stroking is required for his safe passage across a nearly waking Tiger; and Mouse’s crossing needs the assistance of a lullaby and a spot of rocking – not the boat – but the book or more accurately, Tiger. She’s safely over but her balloon is adrift. Last comes long-legged Stork but OH! NO! Mouse’s drifting balloon is dangerously close to her beak … Breath-holding anticipation by audience before …

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One very startled, wide-awake Tiger. What’s next? Surprise! For Tiger perhaps though maybe not listeners; think balloons, think sing along for a very special day …
Great fun to share – for both children and adult readers aloud.

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A Puppy’s Tale
Alan Windram and Chloë Holwill-Hunter
Little Door Books
Georgie is a small puppy with a lively interest in things around her. So much so that one day while out walking she strays from the path in pursuit of a bouncing frog. Her attempts at jumping like the frog are unsuccessful and suddenly, the frog jumps off home.

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The same thing happens when she encounters a hopping rabbit and a scuttling red squirrel; she cannot hop like the rabbit, or run fast like the squirrel. None of the animals stay to play with Georgie. Tired and lost, she sits and cries, watched from above by a kindly blackbird. After hearing of Georgie’s failed attempts to emulate the other animals, the blackbird offers to help her find the way back to her own home …

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With its patterned text and action words to join in with, this gentle tale of friendship is a good one to offer those just starting to read for themselves, as well as to share with early years groups who will enjoy the opportunity to jump, hop and scuttle like the animals Georgie meets and Chloë Holwill-Hunter amusingly portrays.