Don’t Go There!

Don’t Go There!
Jeanne Willis and Hrefna Bragadottir
Andersen Press

A small human is tasked with toilet training a small green alien when she discovers him in her home one day.

The little fellow has no idea that it’s totally inappropriate to direct his wee towards the narrator’s painting easel …

or leave deposits of poo in the bird bath.

So the little girl takes her new friend into the bathroom and shows him the toilet.

The little Martian is resistant to using such a cold, deep object and runs off in search of a more likely receptacle.

Several tries later, it’s time to march the little guy back to the bathroom and start toilet training in earnest. “Lid up,/ pants down, / bottom on the seat. Sit still, / just chill, / until the job’s complete. / Whistle if you want to. / Singing can be fun. / Wipe, flush, wash hands, / then you’re done!” goes the Toilet Song the narrator sings.

The Martian’s effort doesn’t quite sound (or look) quite the same however but he does his very best,

even though his pants do end up being flushed down the loo.

Eventually of course, with lots of practice, he does get it right.

In the reassuring penultimate spread the narrator uses the success of her alien friend to assure little humans they too can learn the ropes; and then, once he’s back on his own planet, the little chap has a job to do …

Little ones and their adults will assuredly giggle at all the mistakes and mishaps that befall teacher and learner in this enchanting, light-hearted alien twist on toilet training.

Jeanne’s bouncy rhyming text is great fun and reassuring too, while Hrefna Bragadottir’s slightly muted, comical illustrations ensure that there will be plenty of shared laughs during this nicely flowing learning journey.

The Covers of My Book Are Too Far Apart / Harvey the Hero

The Covers of My Book Are Too Far Apart
Vivian French and Nigel Baines
Picture Squirrels
Huh! Reading’s rubbish!” So says the angry-looking boy on the first page of this lively, enormously engaging, cartoon-style book. It tackles the ‘reluctant reader’ issues precisely and wittily; and the anti-reading comments will most likely be familiar to those of us who are teachers, as well as a fair number of parents.
Each ‘grumble’ is allocated a spread with a host of pro-reading people countering the moan with their own positive idea. Thus, the ”I don’t have time to read. I’m too busy!” guy is offered: on the bus, just before sleep, in the bath, instead of tidying a room, as an accompaniment to doing something boring such as shopping, and while the dinner’s cooking as possibilities.
The most important thing that Vivian French and Nigel Baines do is to make this a truly inclusive book with an extremely wide range of characters being featured: there are those who want to read but don’t find it at all easy …

but possibly my favourite spread starts with the opener “Pictures are for little kids” …

It’s great too that reading is interpreted broadly to include comics (love the superhero advocate who puts in an appearance at every possible opportunity); audio books, eBooks, picture books (at any age or stage) but most important of all is – and it’s the reason that every primary classroom should have at least one copy of this –

‘Reading isn’t a competition! It’s FUN!’

that and another fact many teachers tend to forget – that reading, at any stage, is a highly personal process: one size DOES NOT fit all. Inspired and inspiring both.

Harvey the Hero
Hrefna Bragadottir
Nosy Crow
Would-be superhero, Harvey is thrilled to be attending a book signing of Superhero Steve. But after the event, Steve drives off leaving his cape behind: Harvey resolves to follow him to the Big City and return the cape.
The Big City though is a bustling place and Harvey needs help – a map perhaps …
Seemingly he’s inadvertently helped in the apprehending of a thief …

In fact, during his search for Steve’s house, Harvey is responsible, unwittingly, for extinguishing a fire; and rescuing a little bunny.

Then, having returned the cape to his hero, Harvey returns home and gets the surprise of his life: could his dream of superherodom really be coming true?
Young superheroes and would-be superheroes of the human variety will delight in this tale of misadventure and applaud Harvey’s final rise to hero fame. Like Baxter’s Book, Hrefna Bragadottir populates her second story with a host of whimsical animal characters whose activities make both children and adults chuckle.

I’ve signed the charter  

Baxter’s Book/Strictly No Crocs

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Baxter’s Book
Hrefna Bragadottir
Nosy Crow
Meet bibliophile Baxter. So strong is his love for books – especially scary wolf-infested ones and those inhabited by brave lions, cuddly bears or cute rabbits – that he yearns to be in a book himself. Then one day he spies a large notice outside a house and seemingly there’s no time to lose …

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Lots of other characters have the same idea and they’ve all played parts in books before but Baxter seems undeterred. After all, he can sing, dance, do acrobatics and act – what more could they want?

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Well, seemingly not an unusual creature like Baxter after all. His audition is a let down and poor Baxter gets the brush off.
Time for a spot of coaching from some of those other characters … but nothing feels quite right. Baxter has a pressing question …

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After all he’ll never be scary like Wolf, brave like Lion, cuddly like Bear or even, cute like Rabbit. Maybe it’s time to bow out gracefully and head off home … or is it?
An exciting picture book debut from Hrefna Bragadottir; I love her offbeat style and look forward to seeing what’s next.

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Strictly No Crocs
Heather Pindar and Susan Batori
Maverick Arts Publishing
It’s party time for Zebra and the invitation is posted but there’s one proviso.

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Crunchie, Chomper and Snapper are determined to gain entry however. You might guess what their favourite food is going to be; and Snapper has a plan at the ready.
The plan proves pretty successful initially and none of the others suspects that spotty-clad high bouncer, nor the winner of the pass the parcel teddy

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or that cake scoffer.

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In fact the threesome even go so far as to lead the vocals for the conga and that fireworks finale is really dazzling.
All too soon however, the crocs are wending their way back home, extolling the virtues of “an amazing party!” Hold on guys – wasn’t there something you forgot: it certainly wasn’t that scrummy-looking cake.
A tasty treat for young listeners although definitely not for crocs. Susan Batori’s zany illustrations are real laugh inducers and the story’s likely to keep your audience on the edge of their seats as they wait to see whether those snappers will be unmasked.

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