You’re Not a Proper Pirate, Sidney Green!

You’re Not a Proper Pirate, Sidney Green!
Ruth Quayle and Deborah Allwright
Nosy Crow

Here’s a book that takes a different slant on piratical tales with the all-absorbing nature of imaginative play at its heart.

When Sidney Green receives a letter urging him to stop playing and become a proper pirate he likes the idea but as he tells his playmate, dog Jemima, they have an important race to take part in first. “I’ll come in a minute,” is his response to Captain Shipshape and off he races, whoosh!

Race successfully completed, he forgets all about being a pirate until, in through the window flies a scarlet macaw that repeats Captain Shipshape’s summons.

Sidney’s response is the same as before. and he and Jemima plus the macaw set off on an expedition to Africa.

Once again a ‘rip-roaring time’ is had by all and the pirate business is forgotten.

He’s reminded however by three pirates, who come banging on his door disturbing the project Sidney is engaged in. Building a castle seems more interesting than returning whence they came so the three join in with the project.

It’s thirsty work and as the builders stop for some liquid refreshment who should appear on the scene but Captain Shipshape himself.

His dismissal of the friends’ activities as ‘just playing’ and his instruction to join him, have an unexpected outcome.
Before you can say ‘Proper pirate’ something heavy hits him on the head and he finds himself a member of Sidney’s crew blasting off into space to track down some dangerous aliens.

The outcome is another rip-roaring time …

How will this adventure end? You’ll have to unearth a copy of this treasure of a book for yourself to discover that. (That sentence holds a clue). Suffice it to say that there’s more than one way of being a ‘proper pirate’.

I love the way Ruth’s story highlights the importance of children’s imaginative play in this enormously engaging tale that is packed with action, has plenty of dialogue for readers aloud to let rip on, and some satisfying repetition for young listeners to join in with.

Deborah Allwright packs plenty of action into her digitally worked scenes of cars and corners, boats and a birthday celebration, castles and crocodiles, diggers and dinosaurs, and much more, making this a super story to share with your little ones.

Want To Play Trucks?

Want To Play Trucks?
Ann Stott and Bob Graham
Walker Books

It’s autumn: Alex and Jack meet at the playground sandpit nearly every morning.
Alex enjoys playing with dolls of the pink sparkly clothed variety; Jack enjoys playing with trucks, especially the wrecking kind.

So what happens when Jack invites Alex to play trucks? A compromise ensues as Alex suggests, “Let’s play dolls that drive trucks.”

While their carers – parents one presumes- sit chatting, the boys play amicably together until Jack’s “You can’t wear a tutu and drive a crane,” announcement, halts things.Tempers flare briefly

but fizzle out when Alex realises that all that’s required is a quick outfit change for the truck driver.

The wonderful details in Bob Graham’s watercolour scenes that pan in and out of the play action, add much to Ann Stott’s light, spare telling. The latter relies on the story’s premise resting on what, one hopes, is a completely out-dated sexist viewpoint about who should play with what.

Be sure to take time over the interaction between the two seated adults; there’s much to wonder about there too,

in addition to thinking about what’s going on between the two main characters, the denouement of which is based on their shared passion for large, dribblesome ice-cream cones.

With messages concerning the importance of allowing children free rein in their imaginative play, compromise and inclusivity, this is a book to share and discuss either at home or in an early years classroom.

Need more suggestions for your children’s reading? Try Toppsta’s Summer Reading Guide

Ta-Da!

Ta-Da!
Kathy Ellen Davis and Kaylani Juanita
Chronicle Books

Once upon a time a little girl was playing happily with her animal friends in a homemade castle until DUN DUN DUH! there appears at her door, a wizard accompanied by his ‘dragon’.

So begins an action and reaction concatenation with boy wizard attempting to subvert the girl’s peaceable play with his roistering, wrecking actions. She counters these with her wand ‘Ta-Dah!’ and magic spells.

This to and fro of ‘Dun Dun Duhs and Ta-Dahs continues apace until the dragon, having imbibed rather too much water, needs an urgent visit to the bathroom, and the boy exits stage right …

leaving girl and dragon to live happily ever after.

Well, perhaps not quite ever after, for after an uneventful interval, the two decide to pay the boy a visit to see how things are going. And going they certainly are: the boy has become a magician and is about to perform before a decidedly small audience.

Small that is, until girl and dragon pitch in providing more watchers and a co-performer.
Show over, it’s time for a snack providing more happily ever afters … whoops! Not EVER, after all: there’s still time for one final, sub-aquatic adventure together.

DUN DUN DUH! … Ta-Da!’

Conflict and resolution done with panache in this debut for both author, Davis and illustrator, Juanita. It’s a wonderful portrayal of children’s imaginative play with its give and take and boundless possibilities.

Box & Hop Along Boo

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Box
Min Flyte and Rosalind Beardshaw
Nosy Crow
Those of us who have dealings with young children know that they love to play with, in and on, boxes, the bigger the better. The idea is delightfully explored with Thomas, Alice, Sam and Nancy in this book subtitled ‘What would you do with a box?’
Thomas’s box is the smallest; he and we ponder over what might be inside and then open the flap to reveal …

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a drum.
Then it’s bang, bang , march to see Alice and her medium-sized box containing …
Well you can guess by the pedal, pedal manner in which she visits Sam and his very big box with a blanket within …  Last comes Nancy with her ENORMOUS box wherein there’s not one but four further boxes

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and finally  the real fun begins – imagine …

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Imagine ….

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And imagine again …

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They might even make a bed and snuggle down for some well-earned rest.
With those adorable preschoolers, an interactive text and a surprise constructive opportunity inside the back cover, this is a great book to share with an early years group and I suggest you make sure there are plenty of boxes at the ready thereafter. There’s tremendous potential for mathematical learning and creative play from this beautifully simple book.

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Hop Along Boo Time For bed
Mandy Sutcliffe
Orchard Books
Belle and her bunny Boo return for a nocturnal foray.
As the moon peeps through Boo’s window he hears Belle strumming and singing him a lullaby down below.

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Young listeners can join them in an enchanting pyjama-clad adventure wherein they’ll meet cowboys, dancers, fairies, elephants,

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babies, pirates even, on the way to the world of slumbers.
Beautifully dreamlike and soporific are Mandy Sutcliffe’s rhyming text and appropriately cosy bedtime scenes.

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