A Song in the Mist

A Song in the Mist
Fiona Woodcock and Corrine Averiss
Oxford Children’s Books

In this breathtakingly beautiful book we meet Chi, a shy panda that loves to listen. She’s never alone though for being silent and attentive brings all manner of sounds to her ears: the swishing of the bamboo, the chittering of tiny birds and on one particular day, something altogether different, a sound new, gentle, sweet and musical comes floating on the breeze. Following it, Chi is led close to a small house,

close enough to discover that the sound is emanating from a little boy’s length of bamboo.

The boy stops his playing and looks at Chi but she dashes away taking cover in the forest and the safety of her own tree where all is still. Until that is, she hears first a twig snap and then a voice that makes her heart beat faster.

Remaining hidden in the canopy, Chi follows the boy through the forest as the evening mist begins to descend.

Suddenly the boy trips sending his flute tumbling to the floor and shortly after comes a cry, ‘Grandpa, help! I’m lost!’
Picking up the bamboo, Chi now needs to summon up all her courage and overcome her shyness to use it …

Happily she does and thus begins an understanding that leads not only to the safety of the boy flute-player, but also to the forging of a wonderful friendship: a friendship that is sustained by bamboo, breath and of course, love and kindness.

Corrine’s lyrical narrative combined with Fiona’s gorgeous grainy scenes powerfully evoke the misty beauty of the bamboo and conifer forest setting through which you can almost hear those musical notes drawing the reader gently but urgently though the story.

Sunny-Side Up

Sunny-Side Up
Jacky Davis and Fiona Woodcock
Harper Collins (Harper 360)

The little girl protagonist always looks on the bright side of life, but after breakfast (sunnyside-up eggs) when the blind is lifted to reveal a grey rainy day, her reaction is to throw a tantrum at the prospect of being stuck indoors all day – perish the thought.
After a mollifying hug from dad

she decides to make the best of things with imaginative play, block building and some creative pursuits; she even opens a cafe for her soft toys serving muffins and pies.

And all the while the rain ‘drip, drip drops’. Lunch follows and then another paddy, again placated by dad following which the girl agrees to have a rest.

By the time Mum comes home, thanks to some painting and lots of calming reading, her daughter’s inner sunshine has returned just in time for the clouds to part and reveal something bright peeking through the clouds. At last, with the rain gone mother and child visit the park for some fresh air and a reminder ‘that rainclouds always pass.”

Jacky Davis’ first person rhyming narration conveys the little girl’s desire to be in control and find her own way through a difficult day ‘I found fun inside when it was grey’ she tells us as she snuggles down in bed after stories and warm milk.

Equally perfectly, Fiona Woodcock’s mixed media spattered illustrations executed in warm pastel shades portray to perfection the changes in the protagonist’s mood, as well as her irrepressible energy both indoors and out. 

Ideal for sharing with little ones and not just on rainy days.

Poppy and the Blooms

Poppy and the Blooms
Fiona Woodcock
Simon & Schuster

Meet Poppy, Dandy, Bluebell and Buttercup the four enchanting, skateboarding characters that star in Fiona Woodcock’s captivating new picture book. They roam free spreading joy and sunshine wherever they go. Now who wouldn’t welcome a visit from the Blooms?
One day, at Poppy’s behest they zoom off to the city where they discover that its one remaining park is to be closed.
Immediately galvanised into action to save the park off they go, dashing hither and thither, up and down at a frantic pace, leaving trails of colour behind them.

After a somewhat perilous journey they finally sight the park but it’s far below them.
Then it’s a case of grab any opportunity to reach where you need to be.
Down they sail ready to run with abandon, scattering colour and spreading their own special brand of sunshine.

By the time they return home, that sparky quartet has left behind them a park, nay an entire city, absolutely bursting with bright new, happiness-bringing blooms. An absolute transformation.

What a gloriously uplifting finale!
And there’s a gentle reminder from the book’s creator how ‘even something very small, can make a BIG difference.’
Blooming wonderful!

I’ve signed the charter  

A Dot in the Snow / Bunny Slopes

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A Dot in the Snow
Corrine Averiss and Fiona Woodcock
Oxford University Press
Polar bear cub Miki would much rather play with his mother in the soft snow than fish in the icy Arctic waters. Off he goes up the ridge presumably in search of a playmate. That’s when he sees it – a red dot in the snow. Then from out of the blizzard emerges a figure – one that looks, smells and sounds friendly.

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And, joy of joys, it wants to play  at first anyway…

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Suddenly though, the dot isn’t so smiley and playful; something has gone missing. One of the child’s mittens: can Miki rescue it and save the day? He can; the ice breaks, the two continue playing; more snow falls blotting out almost everything. Two infants bid each other farewell, return to their respective mothers and doubtless each will have much to talk about.
Gorgeous texturing in the illustrations and a suitably spare text combine to create a warm-hearted wintry read with themes of friendship, determination and parental love, albeit with a bit of stereotyping. Snuggle and share.

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Bunny Slopes
Claudia Rueda
Chronicle Books
Following in the footsteps of Hervé Tullet (Press Here, The Dot), Claudia Rueda has created a metabook with a wintry theme – a wintry theme that is, if readers play along. Bunny is ready for a ski day and invites us to join him; but snow is decidedly lacking. Readers have to create it by shaking the book – hard. Oops!

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Then tap the top of the book to extricate Bunny but that ground looks rather flat. The book needs a right tilt to set our would-be skier in motion, and again. Yeah! He’s off … but all of a sudden …

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(ingenious precipice-gutter moment). A  hasty 180 degree book turn and a page flip will, sort things. Now what?
More manipulating will see a battered Bunny up on his skis again and ready for another run at that cliff. Whoppee! He’s made it right to the opposite side but can he clear that hole? Phew! Just about, but surely not another one; the little fellow’s getting just a tad too big for his boots now but there he goes again …

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Fortunately this leap leads to his very own den where Mummy Bunny is ready and waiting with a warming treat …
Love those rabbitty expressions and the minimal colour palette: with its simple text this is a good bet for those in the early stages of reading as well as individual listeners and book manipulators.

Hiding Heidi

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Hiding Heidi
Fiona Woodcock
Simon and Schuster
Young Heidi has a special talent: she’s able to blend in with her surroundings – effortlessly and very successfully …

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She’s a natural camouflager which is particularly useful when it comes to a game of hide-and-seek with her friends.
At her birthday party you can guess what Heidi wants to play – and off she goes to hide …

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A search ensues but Heidi’s just TOO good – all her pals find is some delicious ice-creams.
The party continues and finally Heidi’s friends discover where she is – right at the end though. and they duly depart leaving their host to do a spot of pondering.
Next day when the gang meet up, there are some different activities on the agenda and each one of the friends is able to shine at one game …

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or another …

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Fiona Woodcock’s picture book debut surely allows her artistic talents to shine: this is a real corker. Those beautifully textured, subtly coloured pages and the wonderful characters thereon, make for captivating scenes at every turn of the page. I can’t wait to see what follows. Meanwhile, this one’s perfect for one-to-one sharing and reading with a class or group.
I can envisage children being inspired to experiment with the art of camouflage using some of Fiona’s picture making techniques such as printing, and using stencils, blow pens, paints and more.

Use your local bookshop   localbookshops_NameImage-2

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