Ruby and Graham / This Old Dog

Ruby and Graham
Lucy Barnard
New Frontier Publishing

Playful party loving Ruby and organising expert, Graham, both live in Acorn Wood ensuring that it’s both a happy lively place and a beautiful one.

However, it’s Ruby who gets all the attention from the other woodland animals, so one afternoon Graham decides to change his ways and become more funky.

Such is the improvement in his popularity that he resolves to make the change permanent.

Now while it might be a good thing for Graham, the woodland rapidly becomes a messy, confused environment. Ruby approaches her fellow squirrel and an interesting discussion ensues wherein they each talk about their feelings of self-worth.

Can the two share their abilities to their mutual benefit, as well as for the betterment of the entire community? Working together is the way to go …

Lucy Barnard’s digital illustrations add humorous details to her textual narrative, making every spread a stopping point that offers much to enjoy and talk about with young listeners, particularly with the approach of autumn and winter.

This Old Dog
Martha Brockenbrough and Gabriel Alborozo
Levine Querido

This Old Dog is a heart-warming story about a dog that’s well past its prime (‘His bones are sore but his heart is strong’) and a small girl who loves him dearly.

From the moment the child is born, the pace of life in old dog’s family speeds up, but the creature ‘likes to take things slow.’ He’d yearned to have a friend for long, slow strolls, rolls in the grass and romps in the leaves.

Both little girl and the dog truly know how to live in the moment, make the most of their experiences and cherish their time together; and once the child takes to her feet she walks straight towards old dog. At last his wish is fulfilled: there’s grass smelling, hill rolling down and much more …

some of which make the pooch enormously excited.

Together they can discover (or rediscover) what a wonderful world it is, day after day …

Just as the girl and old dog were seemingly made for one another so too was the author/illustrator partnership between Martha Brockenbrough and Gabriel Alborozo. The slow, steady text skilfully mirrors old dog’s plodding, yawning demeanour so perfectly captured in the delicately lined ink and water colour illustrations; he’s a real personality this pooch, as is the adoring little girl, his total devotee and playmate.

Whether or not you’re a lover of dogs, you’ll definitely fall for this gorgeous book.

The Boy on the Bench

The Boy on the Bench
Corrinne Averiss and Gabriel Alborozo
Egmont

Observe young children in a playground, be that at school or in a park: there are many who love to be at the centre of the action and others who lack the confidence and linger on the sidelines watching and wondering how they might join in. That author Corrinne Averiss has done so is evident in her story of Tom, who is one of the watchers.

As the story opens he sits with his dad on a bench in the busy playground.

When Dad suggests that with dinnertime approaching he should take the opportunity to use the equipment, “In a minute …” is Tom’s response as he looks for somewhere he might find a space he can fit into.

One of the children starts playing at being a fireman, soaking the others as they come down the slide.

Tom is amused and clearly would like to join in the fun but still lacks the courage to do so.

It’s only when a little girl’s teddy is stranded atop the climbing frame as a result of the rescue game suddenly switching focus

that Tom leaves the bench and little by little, starts climbing until …

At last Tom has found a friend and that makes all the difference.

So much so that when his dad tells him it’s time to go home, he’s so comfortable in the Tom-shaped space he’s finally found, that his “In a minute!’ reply signifies something totally different.

Gabriel Alborozo too must have been an avid playground watcher judging from his beautifully observed scenes detailing Tom’s transition from nervous watcher to confident participant in the playground activities.

Thank Goodness for Bob / The Healthy Coping Colouring Book & Journal

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Thank Goodness for Bob
Matthew Morgan and Gabriel Alborozo
Egmont Publishing
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ goes the well-known adage. The trouble is, Max an inveterate worrier doesn’t share any of his with family or friends for fear of troubling already busy people or looking foolish: he just stores them all up inside and it leaves him feeling overwhelmed …

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Despite this, everyone knows about this and seemingly, his worries are infectious.

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Thank goodness then for Bob. Bob the dog offers a listening ear and Max talks and talks; gradually his worries come bubbling out and drift around the room and then the two of them find the perfect way of dealing with them.

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Gabriel Alborozo’s gently humorous illustrations are perfect for this sensitively told, empowering story that will help children deal with their anxieties.

Also aimed at helping children – albeit slightly older ones than the previous book – and subtitledCreative Activities to Help Manage Stress, Anxiety and Other Big Feelings’ is

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The Healthy Coping Colouring Book and Journal
Pooky Knightsmith and Emily Hamilton
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Mental health ambassador, Pooky Knightsmith, has joined forces with illustrator, Emily Hamilton, to produce a book full of activities to help develop and enhance the well-being of children between eight and fourteen. It might well be equally used by adults. The aim is not only to help in reduction of stress but is also a tool for managing feelings and could be used at any time, whether one is feeling bad or good.
There are plenty of pages to colour, spaces for reflection and writing as well as a plethora of wise words to guide, inspire and motivate.

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There are lots of diary format pages for recording ones personal experiences, preoccupations and feelings.
Buy to use or buy to give.

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This is the Kiss / I Love You, Baby

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This is the Kiss
Claire Harcup and Gabriel Alborozo
Walker Books
We join an adult bear and a little one at the end of a day filled with snowy fun and games, but now after a paw-waving signal from the adult, it’s time to wend their way paw-in-paw, back to the cave for a night’s sleep. First though, comes a gentle hand squeeze,

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a loving pat on the head, a benevolent smile, a spot of tickle play,

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a goodnight hug and finally that kiss.
Sweet dreams little one. Gabriel Alborozo takes Claire Harcup brief rhythmic text and adds utterly enchanting visuals (including gorgeous end papers) making the whole thing a thoroughly heart-warming, just before bed read, for adults to share with very young children..
I suspect it’s one that will be asked for over and over. And, such is the simplicity of the writing that those in the early stages of becoming a reader can try it for themselves – make sure you share it first though.

More loving moments between adult and offspring are celebrated in a book coming in March:

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I Love You, Baby
Claire Freedman and Judi Abbot
Simon & Schuster
Various baby animals from penguin chicks to puppies and snakelets …

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to elephant calves are on the receiving end of parental love in this joyous litany wherein adoring adult animals show and tell their offspring how precious they are. Tenderness and gentle humour are key in this one. Although the eponymous I is portrayed as a different animal for each utterance,

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this is an affectionate book for a human parent to share with a very young child.

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The Colour Thief

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The Colour Thief
Gabriel Alborozo
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Imagine a world of unrelenting grey – all day, every day. That’s what it’s like on Zot’s planet; it’s a very sad place. It’s no surprise then that as he gazes from his mountaintop at earth sparkling with colour in the far distance, he is filled with longing. So much so that he decides to visit what he’s sure is a happy place and thus find his own happiness.
On arrival, Zot is dazzled by the colours of everything he sees on earth; so could he be happy here? Perhaps not, without his friends. Instead he decides to take the colour back to his own planet and sets to work collecting first red,

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then blue, green, yellow and the rest in his bag until all earth’s colours have gone – every single one… Oh! Not quite, for along comes a small boy with an orange balloon. Of course, our colour catching Zot must have that one too.

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So now we have one small, very sad looking boy clutching one grey balloon. Off goes Zot in his spacecraft but not far; it looks like he’s having a change of heart. Back he goes and very carefully releases his catch of colours into the boy’s world once more.
So is there a happy ending for Zot? Well, one good turn deserves another …

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Especially when you share it with all your friends.

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I am absolutely be-ZOTTED with this book: I love it from cover to cover. Zot is, despite his marauding moments, a lovable character who rather resembles a space-craft himself. A beautiful, gentle anti-greed parable with a powerful punch.

Find and buy from your local bookshop:

http://www.booksellers.org.uk/bookshopsearch