How To Be a Hero / The Broken Leg of Doom

How To Be a Hero
Cat Weldon, illustrated by Kate Kear
Macmillan Children’s Books

Life as a trainee Valkyrie is not going at all well for young Lotta; she’s in danger of remaining forever stuck in the lowest class. Matters get even worse when the trainees are sent out to bring back a fallen warrior.

Mistaking young Whetstone, an unconscious viking thief as a fallen hero, Lotta carries him back up to Valhalla, and that’s where the real trouble starts. Live humans are not allowed in Valhalla.

Whetstone, a human who wants only to prove himself and achieve fame and fortune, has let himself be talked into crime. He steals, hides and loses a precious talking cup – a cup that trickster Loki desperately wants and will go to any lengths to get hold of.

Now anxious to make amends, Whetstone and Lotta have to try and work together as they embark on a journey to find the cup before Loki.

There’s even more trouble for the pair though when they manage to lose a crucial Dwarf harp as well as rousing a slumbering dragon.

Now Whetstone really MUST pull out all the stops and prove himself a hero after all. Can he do so; and does Lotta finally manage to move on from being that class three trainee?

This is a highly entertaining, fast-paced romp with some crazy situations, fun and interesting characters, dragons and more. Kate Kear’s zany illustrations are just right for the playful telling. This book will surely appeal especially to youngsters with an interest in mythology. but anyone who likes a good yarn should give it a go. It’s the first of a trilogy so look out for further episodes involving Whetstone et al.

The Broken Leg of Doom
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Thomas Flintham
Nosy Crow

This the tenth story in the hilarious series, is narrated by Maisie’s friend Izzy. Maisie has broken her leg doing some ‘extreme dancing’ and is taken to hospital.

That in itself is bad but things are about to get even worse, starting with the fact that following e-rays, Maisie is sent to ward 13 and she’s terrified of that particular number.
Enter (he’s actually already a patient), a rather strange boy Seb, who sits down beside the sleeping Maisie’s bed and starts going on about a curse. Talk about weird. But that’s only the start of the strange events in ward 13.

Later Seb says that the curse has now sneaked inside Maisie’s cast and is causing problems. That however isn’t all we hear of curses, but there are other strange things too: somehow the sprinklers get turned on, flooding – you can guess which ward. And what about the ’mummy’ that’s roaming around. By this time it seems that only Maisie among the children isn’t talking of THE CURSE.

Then a certain very special cuddly toy suddenly goes missing, followed not long after, by the appearance of creepy messages on Maisie’s cast.

Oh yes, there’s some weird shenanigans concerning the sandwich trolley too.

Will Maisie and her pals ever get to the bottom of all the mysterious events and break that terrible curse once and for all. It’s certainly going to need some outstanding investigative skills.

Pamela Butchart capitalises on the vivid imagination of children, allowing her group of young characters to get carried away – just take a look at their expressions in Thomas Flintham’s wacky drawings in this zany adventure. It’s assuredly one that will have both individual readers and primary class listeners laughing out loud.

How To Be a Hero / Mary Had a Little Glam

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How to be a Hero
Florence Parry Heide and Chuck Groenink
Chronicle Books
Anyone who has read The Shrinking of Treehorn will be familiar with the author’s wry humour: that same humour is inherent in this posthumously published picture book. Meet Gideon, a nice boy who lives with his parents in a nice house and has, seemingly, everything a boy could want. What young Gideon really wants though is to be a hero but he’s not quite sure how to go about it. He has some ideas though: You have to be strong, brave and clever like this surely?

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After further foraging into fairytales such as this one ‘the story where a witch gives a girl a poisoned apple and when she takes a bite she goes into a deep sleep which is sort of being dead but not really and nothing will get her awake except a kiss and someone does see her sleeping there and he kisses her and he’s a hero, just like that.’ however, he comes to the conclusion that really, all this heroism takes is just being in the right place at the right time. QED! Well that and err… keeping your eyes open. This does entail actually noticing what’s going on around you though – something of which Gideon appears unaware, as heroic act opportunities present themselves to left and right as he heads, eventually, to the supermarket to spend his pocket money.

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There, a heroic act is, assuredly performed but by whom? Yes, Gideon is the recipient of a whole lot of media attention but for what? Wish fulfilled, he’s certainly front-page news – a hero. Err? He certainly thinks so.
Groenink brings out the subtle humour of the telling beautifully; it’s there all the way through if you look closely – very closely in some places; and in others, such as the shop sign with its reference to Propp (Vladimir – Morphology of the Folk Tale) and (Bruno) Bettelheim above the butchers it’s likely to go over the heads of young children. I love the way he switches from the dreary reality of Gideon’s home and locality to the more colourful fantasy world of the fairy tale world he visits in his imagination.
Certainly with this book, it’s a case of what you bring to the story making a big difference to what you get out of it.

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Mary Had a Little Glam
Tammi Sauer and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Sterling
A funky take on the nursery rhyme wherein fashion fanatic “I must accessorize” Mary starts school determined to make her mark. Seemingly her classmates at Mother Goose school are happy to merge into their surroundings though …

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Mary however, is set on bringing a whole lot more glitz and glamour to her pals. She gets to work adding accessories and generally jazzing up not just the pupils, but everyone and everything in her school.

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Playtime comes and with it a realisation that Mary and her decked-out pals are way too over-dressed for energetic outdoor romping and rampaging. No matter – Mary can turn her hand to un-accessorising too …

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and she’s certainly queen of messy play – hurray for Mary.
With its bouncy rhyme and suitably flamboyant illustrations of Mary and her supporting cast, this is lots of fun to share with those around Mary’s age.