Tag Archives: Holly Sterling

Animals with Tiny Cat / 15 things NOT to do with a Puppy

Animals with Tiny Cat
Viviane Schwarz
Walker Books

Viviane Schwarz’a Tiny Cat of There Are Cats in This Book and There Are No Cats in This Book fame is back and as always, is in a playful mood.

With the aid of a few simple props, our feline friend transforms first into a mouse, then an elephant, followed by a …

a horse, a porcupine …

a snake and a spider.

Suddenly though, the pile of discarded items takes on a life of its own …

Is there anything Tiny Cat can become that will send that fearsome beastie packing? …

Viviane Schawarz’s wonderfully playful imagination has, once again, produced a seemingly effortless performance for her moggy star.

Be ready for enthusiastic squeaking, tooting, neighing, hissing and more when you share this one.
Then, I’d suggest leaving the book in a suitable spot in your early years setting together with a few well-chosen items and see what your listeners turn themselves into.

15 things NOT to do with a Puppy
Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

This is the latest in Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling’s instruction manual series. Herein the topic is canine care and the two toddler presenters pretty much have the whole thing worked out. Presumably they speak from experience and if you’ve recently added a puppy to your household, then this book has some sound advice.

Hang-gliding, tuba lessons (as if), and getting its paws on the remote control are definite no-nos. So too are taking the pup to some of the children’s favourite places; and gardening is completely out of the question.

Football matches and the library are also definite no-go areas and for safety’s sake keep the animal from the driving seat of the car …

and well away from the sink too. Cafes are off limits as are shopping expeditions.

On the other hand, the dos are relatively straightforward: in a nutshell, love, play, food, drink and sleep work wonders.

The main characters, both human and canine are full of youthful exuberance as are the humorous possibilities of the scenarios presented in Holly Sterling’s illustrations of same.

I’ve singed the charter  

15 things NOT to do with a Granny/ Big Bug Log

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15 things NOT to do with a Granny
Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
The young children in this latest “Not to do’ guide have the whole topic of grannies pretty much sorted and they’ve drawn up a set of ‘simple rules’ for us all, a kind of ways to keep granny happy list. Now the teacher part of me might want to argue with the fact that they start with a whole lot of Don’ts rather than stating at the outset, the kinds of behaviours that are desirable; but then these littles have not, I suspect, begun attending nursery let alone school as yet, so instant forgiveness is the order of the day. And anyway, this small girl and her even smaller brother are just so adorable –tiny charmers no less. I’m sure their two grannies savour every moment they spend with their grandchildren. So what do the children suggest: First, no hiding an elephant in your granny’s bed – as if!
Second is food related: jelly beans on toast for breakfast are a definite no no and putting leftover spaghetti into a gran’s handbag is totally unthinkable …

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The same goes for using her pants as head gear or giving your ted. a makeover with the contents of her make-up bag.
They strongly advise against taking her on in a skateboard race; certain birthday presents are off the agenda as is interrupting her karate practice.

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Grannies tend to hate loud noises, particularly when they’re lost in a good book; and when it’s your turn for a story, don’t completely overwhelm her …

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Grans are to be shared, but never swapped. That pretty much deals with the NO NOs but what about the Do’s?
Walking together is good, listening – definitely, playing ditto, singing, hugging, helping – likewise. But most important of all …

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A wonderfully playful little book: Holly Sterling’s scenes of grans and grandchildren bring delight at every turn of the page. It’s perfect for littles to give their grans and vice-versa. A must for families with young children and for all early years settings. Grans do so much in the way of child-care and many families have come to rely on their goodwill in order to survive Grans deserve celebrating.: so, let’s hear it for all grans everywhere and for the book’s creators, Margaret and Holly – a great team.

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Big Bug Log
Sebastian Braun
Nosy Crow
This is a log-shaped board book that’s absolutely crammed with details and brimming over with humour. It stars young Bugsy Bug who is endeavouring to visit his gran who lives somewhere within the log, but he doesn’t know the right way. Young listeners can help Bugsy on his journey to her home by some puzzle-solving, maze following and clue solving. There are numerous doors to open, speech bubbles to act out, and even a wonderful library to visit – full of bookworms – as you might expect.

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It’s a good thing that there are so many helpful bugs on hand to assist Bugsy too, by giving him instructions and directions. After a lot of twists and turns, the little creature does eventually track down his Granny and a delicious surprise awaits him after all that effort.
This little book is superbly interactive and sure to keep littles involved and absorbed for ages. My only quibble is the bee’s assertion on the back cover: “We think this book is perfect for 3 to 5 year-olds!” I’d put it down to 2s and above.

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Pets and Problems

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Lottie Potter Wants an Otter
Jeanne Willis and Leonie Lord
Harper Collins Children’s Books
An otter certainly isn’t the most likely of animals for a child to want but it’s the pet of choice for young Lottie Potter. So off she goes with a hop and a skip into town.

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Mr Trotter has a wide range of otters available – spotty, potty, snotty, swotty, tie in a knotty, or hot from Lanzarote. Seemingly there’s something for all tastes here.

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Somewhat overwhelmed, Lottie turns to the shop-keeper for expert advice. He duly selects, a purchase is made and off goes Lottie with her otter. However, said animal isn’t quite the perfect pet she’d anticipated; it’s an absolute rotter through and through, even having the audacity to bite her bot. …

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Who could possibly blame her for taking it right back to the shop and demanding a refund? Well, that may have been her plan but it’s one that’s well and truly thwarted causing Lottie to rid herself of the unwanted animal elsewhere,

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and go seeking an altogether more suitable creature for her next pet. Err …
The jaunty rhyming extravaganza is illustrated with zestful scenes of otters cavorting, climbing and carousing, and Lottie’s one in particular, causing chaos. Leonie Lord’s otters are guaranteed to make you and your audience giggle as much as Jeanne Willis’ otterly dotty words.

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Hiccups!
Holly Sterling
Frances Lincoln Children’s Book
Hiccups seem to come on all too easily, but getting rid of them, well that’s another matter. And that’s the problem facing young Ruby but the hiccups aren’t hers; it’s her dog Oscar that’s Hic! Hic! Hiccuping …
Ruby however is full of ideas and it’s as well she’s not one to give up easily. They try dancey-dancing,

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jumpity-jumping, slurpity-slurping …

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not to mention twirly-twirling and hoppity- hopping all to no avail. Not even munchy-munching or wielding a magic wand halt the hics. But Ruby has one more idea up her sleeve – one that involves a complete change of garb and this time … silence from Oscar. But maybe hiccups are catching after all err …
Great potential for audience participation herein – let’s hope the hiccups are simulated not real though or you might find yourself having to try out some of Ruby’s remedies. Ruby and Oscar are both thoroughly engaging characters – cute but also spirited, and their relationship is beautifully captured in Holly Sterlings’ scenes large and small.

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Family Matters

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15 Things NOT to do with a Baby
Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Sibling jealousy (mixed with anticipation, love, anxiety) is a familiar scenario when a new sister or brother arrives in the family, though the topic is anything but new when it comes to picture books. Three that immediately come to mind are The New Small Person by Lauren Child, There’s Going to be a Baby – a collaboration between Helen Oxenbury and John Burningham and the Anholt’s Sophie and the New Baby .
Margaret McAllister takes a humorous approach to what can often be a mixture of strong feelings, presenting – rule-book style – a selection of Don’ts – a delicious mix of flights of fancy

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and some plausible situations.

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These are followed by a series of ‘Do’s culminating in an adorable

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all so beautifully depicted by new picture book illustrator, Holly Sterling whose work I first came across in Over the Hills and Far Away. Her illustrations herein exude both joie de vivre and a strong sense of love and affection. Who can resist smiling at such scenes as the baby planting, for instance?

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This is one loving family realistically portrayed, at a time of big change and emotional upheaval, with an endearing naturalness and modernity.

There’s a broader look at families in:

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Who’s In My Family?
Robie H. Harris and Nadine Bernard Westcott
Walker Books pbk
This is essentially an exploration of all manner of families through the speech bubble conversations of brother and sister Gus and Nellie, and a straightforward narrative information text. We join the siblings as they and their parents leave home and visit the zoo where they encounter and discuss a variety of familiies.

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’Some have two mummies. Some have two daddies.’ … ‘Some children live with their mummy part of the time and with their daddy part of the time.’
The whole tone of the book is positive, “FAMILIES LOVE BEING TOGETHER” … ‘But sometimes families have angry times. And sometimes families have unhappy times.
Illustrated in a suitably upbeat, digitally created style, this inclusive book is full of potential for discussion with under sevens,

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ROBOPOP
Alice Hemming and James Lent
Maverick Arts Publishing pbk
Subtitled ‘A Dad in a Box’, this is an offbeat look at one particular dad, Dylan and Daisy’s who, so they tell him is “not like normal dads,”. Their dad is an inventor and knows nothing about football (my kind of person perhaps?).
Dads don’t come in a box,” he tells them and goes on to prove his point in no uncertain terms by creating a robotic super dad complete with packaging.

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This invention speaks in rhyme and is eager to demonstrate his soccer prowess in the big match

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as well as cooking up a special dinner for football players.
By the end of a very unsatisfactory and exhausting day, Dylan and Daisy have come to an all-important realization about their own father and are more than happy when he makes a timely reappearance.

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Quirky illustrations and opportunities for joining in with the ‘robot speak’ add to the fun.

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