The More the Merrier

The More the Merrier
David Martin and Raissa Figueroa
Walker Books

Bursting with delicious movement words – stepping, galumphing, slipping and sliding, and wiggling, leaping, swooping and flying, skipping, even flappity-flipping – go the creatures in this book as we meet in turn Bear with kicking feet and bending knees, Moose going high, low, fast and slow,

Snake doing what it can, beat-loving Deer and round-eyed Owl.

Then come cute Baby Mouse drawn to the action as are Mouse’s friends with their “Hey diddle, diddle”. Round they cavort singing at the tops of their voices until sleep finally overcomes them and zzzzzzz.

Who could resist the call to action to head over to that forest and join Bear in following the infectious beat of the rhyming telling. Inspired by the dancing animals shown in Raissa Figueroa’s dynamic scenes, young listeners will probably also want to offer their own unique dance moves performed with similar abandon to the animal cavorters that grace the pages accompanied by David Martin’s joyfully upbeat, cleverly patterned text with its almost irresistible beat.

By the way, it’s also a great book for developing sound/symbol awareness. The foundation stage classroom potential is huge but more important, it’s a super story that supports the all-important message that playing with language is fun..

Be More Bernard

Be More Bernard
Simon Philip and Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster

Bernard is a bunny; he does bunny things like nose twitching and ear pricking and he digs lots of deep holes. In fact whatever his fellow bunnies do, Bernard does likewise.

In his dreams though things are rather different; he dreams of decidedly un-rabbity things. But how long can he keep up his pretence of being just like the other bunnies?

One day he decides to eschew the bunny poo baps his fellow rabbits are eating. ‘I can’t do this any more’ he decides.

Little by little Bernard starts to do his own thing, largely ignored by the others until that is, the day of the annual bunny ball when, shock horror, a divergent bunny rolls up!

Ignoring cries of “You can’t wear that!” and “We’re all the same!’ Bernard struts his stuff with joyful abandon, disco dancing like there’s no tomorrow.

Amid the cries of consternation, there’s one little bunny, Betsy, who loves his daring to be different and it isn’t long before Bernard isn’t the only risk taker on the dance floor.

Then comes the big reveal …

which all goes to show that the best possible choice is to be true to yourself whatever that may be.

Long live individuality and difference: that is what is so splendidly conveyed in Simon Philip’s cracking story narrated with such delicious humour by Bernard himself.

Kate Hindley brings out that humour with her splendiferous scenes of the protagonist’s transition from rule adherent to rule breaker, from follower to leader, from ordinary bunny to bunny extraordinaire. Make sure you peruse every spread carefully or you’ll miss the wealth of captivating detail in every one.

Blooming brilliant!

Ella May Does It Her Way!

Ella May Does It Her Way!
Mick Jackson and Andrea Stegmaier
Words & Pictures

Let me introduce young Ella May; she’s a little girl who lives on a boat and knows what she wants and how she’s going to do it. Good on you Ella May, you’re not about to let anyone push you around.

One day, Ella’s Mum gives her something new to eat saying, “It’s good to try new things.”

The idea appeals to Ella and so later in the park she decides to try walking backwards and having pretty much got the hang of that, she does a whole lot of other things backwards too.

Despite her Mum hoping she’ll soon tire of the backwards notion, it’s not long before Ella has got her Mum as well as pretty much everyone else in the neighbourhood joining the backwards walking parade through the town.

Having harnessed their enthusiasm though, Ella decides enough is enough with walking backwards; but being Ella she’s not going to revert to a normal way of moving around. After all there are plenty of other ways and as she says in parting, “It’s good to try new things!” And so it is.

Billed as the first of a series, I look forward to seeing more of Mike Jackson’s determined character in further funny episodes. Andrea Stegmaier’s illustrations are an equal delight: I love her colour palette, her portrayal of Ella, her Mum and the bit part players, all of whom contribute to the splendid scenes of purpose and tenacity the Ella May way. Long may young Ella continue.

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?
Nicola Connelly and Annie White
New Frontier Publishing

What a wonderful celebration of children, difference and the way the former demonstrate their individuality.

Using a series of questions that centre on four children in a family, Nicola Connelly draws attention to the myriad possibilities that could make each one of us unique: be that eye colour, skin colour, freckles, chin or nose shape; might it be the size of our ears or feet, or our front teeth?

Perhaps it’s our way of jumping super high, our love of dance or singing;

a beaming smile; a particular giggle or wiggle.

We might be good at maths, have an artistic bent, a storytelling prowess,

a particular penchant for some kind of sport,

perform amazing athletic moves, have a bibliographic trait,

exude creativity, or enjoy quiet moments with mini-beasts

No matter what, the author’s bouncing words coupled with Annie White’s exuberant, joyful, slightly whimsical watercolours, are enormously upbeat.

This book cannot fail to make you smile; is a great read aloud and has wonderful performance possibilities.

Let’s hear it for individual specialness.

How to be a Lion

How to be a Lion
Ed Vere
Puffin Books

‘This book is for those who daydream, and those who think for themselves’.
I love that. It’s written in Ed Vere’s inspiring ‘letter’ that accompanied my review copy; it’s also printed on the final page of his eloquent story: I hope it applies to myself, make that, to everyone. I wish everybody could read the entire letter, but instead I urge you to get yourself a copy of the book and share it widely.

It starts philosophically: ‘The world is full of ideas. /Big ones,/ small ones. / Good ones,/ bad ones. / Some think this … / others think that.’ before bringing us back to earth and in particular, lion territory on the African plains where the norm is to be FIERCE! But is that the only way to be?
Enter Leonard: thoughtful, prone to daydreams, something of a poet and above all, gentle.

Enter shortly after, a duck, Marianne by name. Being Leonard, it isn’t a case of ‘Crunch, crunch, CHOMP!’ Instead our lion, polite introductions over, requests her assistance and as luck would have it, Marianne is able to assist in freeing Leonard’s stuck muse and before long a firm friendship has been forged; one that involves stargazing, philosophical musings and above all, contentment and happiness.

Into their peaceable existence comes a pack of ferocious lions demanding to know why the duck has not met its demise.
True to himself, Leonard explains about their friendship and resists their loud growly admonishments.

Their instructions about becoming fierce make him pause and question however, but Marianne suggests a trip to their thinking hill to mull things over. Lo and behold, serious hums and serious quacks together are turned into an idea, and then, poetry that is finally ready to be presented to those fierce lions.

What Leonard says to them is heartfelt, provocative – “Why don’t you be you … And I will be I.” – and one hopes, a game changer.

Ed Vere’s timely fable is profound and intensely moving in the gentle way it offers words as tools of bridge building and change, as well as showing a different male role model. Don’t be pressurised into conforming, be yourself is what shines through both his words and oh, so eloquent, humorous illustrations.

A perfect read aloud with oodles of food for thought, and talk.

The New Baby and Me!

The New Baby and Me!
Christine Kidney and Hoda Haddadi
Tiny Owl

Five brothers speculate upon the arrival of their new baby brother.
Each of them puts forward his idea as to what the infant will be like, bestowing on it a characteristic similar to his own so they can share adventures.

The first sees them as fellow explorers discovering new lands and rare creatures.

The second gives the babe the qualities to be a scientist.

Brother number three declares that his baby brother will share his artistic talent and join him in enhancing the world with their creative endeavours.

A treasure-seeking pirate is brother number four’s prediction, whereas the remaining sibling, a dreamer, sees his little brother joining him in finding wonder in the world.

What a surprise they have when the new baby finally appears.

Let’s just say, this new family member has elements of all the brothers but is very much an individual …
Each of us is different; our aspirations should not be limited according to our gender. No matter whether we are a boy or a girl the world’s opportunities should be open to all of us. This is the message that comes through in this unusual take on the ‘new sibling in the family’ story by debut author Christine Kidney.

Hoda Haddadi’s spirited collage illustrations are a wonderful embodiment of children’s boundless imaginations and bring a joyful sense of eager anticipation to each spread until the baby appears.
Her collage technique is one that children will likely be inspired to try for themselves.

I’ve signed the charter 

Grace & Katie

Grace & Katie
Susanne Merritt and Liz Anelli
EK Books

Twins Katie and Grace love to draw. They approach things in entirely different ways however – one with the eye of a prospective architect or cartographer, the other, an artist; and the results are altogether different.
Grace favours straight lines and angles, which Katie considers a tad dull; Katie in contrast is more creative producing colourful patterns and swirls: Gracie thinks her sister’s work could do with organising. Are they both right perhaps?

One day Gracie decides to draw a map of their home and rejects Katie’s offer of help, so Katie draws a map of her own.

Grace’s black and white map is ordered and detailed. Katie’s rendition of the park opposite their home is also detailed but it’s colourful and full of action. Neither girl is completely satisfied with what they’ve produced.

They look at each others and then, after some discussion, Katie adds some colourful touches to Grace’s map, while Grace’s added details provide more structure for Katie’s.

With a combination of creativity and accuracy, collaboration wins the day.

Susanne Merritt puts the points for respecting differences, the importance of being oneself, and co-operation across subtly and effectively. Liz Anelli reflects the themes in her detailed illustrations effectively showing the sisters’ contrasting styles in a suitable child-like manner.

The book’s potential for discussion is enormous, be it in the foundation stage, or, with much older listeners.

Stardust / In My Room

Jeanne Willis and Briony May-Smith
Nosy Crow

For the little girl narrator of the story, it’s deeply upsetting being the sister of someone who always seems to be the star of the show where family members are concerned, other than Grandad, that is.
Then one night after losing the Fancy Dress Competition to her big sister,

Grandad finds our narrator outside gazing up at the starlit sky. Her wish to be a star prompts him to tell her a story: the story of how the universe came into being.

A story that explains the connectedness of everything and everyone: “Everything and everyone is made of stardust,” he tells her. “… Your sister isn’t the only star in the universe… you all shine in different ways.
And, inspired by his words, shine she does – in the most amazing way.

Such wise words; words that the little girl never forgets but equally, words that every child needs telling, sometimes over and over.
Briony May-Smith’s stunningly beautiful illustrations really do celebrate connectedness, diversity and individuality; they’re every bit as empowering as Jeanne Willis’ text.
Strongly recommended for families and early years settings to share and discuss.

In My Room
Jo Witek and Christine Roussey
Abrams Appleseed

The fifth of the ‘Growing Hearts’ series of novelty books starring a little girl protagonist is essentially a celebration of creativity and imaginative play.
The thick pages are cut so that when the book is turned through 90 degrees, they form together a variegated pencil crayon with which the girl conjures up a series of playful scenarios.
All I need is paper, crayons, chalk … and my imagination!” she tells readers.
First she’s an explorer, then a dancing princess; she becomes a speed racer, a teacher, a writer,

a sailor, a swimmer, a bride, a vet and finally, a funky rock star; all without leaving her room other than in her head

and courtesy of her art materials. Not a sign of any technology anywhere – hurrah!
Yes, there are already plenty of picture books that celebrate the power of the imagination; what makes this one different is the format.
Long live creativity!

I’ve signed the charter  

Minnie & Max are OK! / Florence Frizzball

Minnie & Max are OK!
Chris Calland, Nicky Hutchinson and Emmi Smid
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Minnie has had a bad day at school having been teased and shunned by two girls, and now she wishes she looked more like them.
When her grandma meets her at the end of the day, she notices than Minnie is upset and decides that a trip to the park might help. On the way both Minnie and her dog Max peer at their reflections in a shop window and soon both of them are full of doubts about their appearance.
As they sit together in the café, Minnie tells her gran how she feels and Gran’ responds calmly, lovingly and reassuringly. “I love you just the way you are!” she says, “I think it’s wonderful that we all look so different … Just look around us.” And Minnie does …

Max sees a great variety of dogs too and before long both child and dog are playing happily with friends.

With its gentle humour, and Emmi Smid’s captivating ilustrations, this is a good book to read with any young child struggling with self-esteem be it related to body image or any other perceived ‘difference’. Equally if shared with a class or group, it should make potential negative commenters stop and think about how much better our world is for its rich diversity.
There is a final spread aimed at adults wherein the authors, both education consultants, offer ideas for discussion on the themes of teasing, self-image and diversity.
All in all, a valuable tool in the fight for embracing and celebrating difference and diversity.

Florence Frizzball
Claire Freedman and Jane Massey
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Florence the small girl narrator of this story has hair issues; her curly frizz is thick and unruly. Her little brother’s sleek, flat hair is altogether more preferable, so she thinks. It doesn’t tickle or prickle …

or obscure anyone’s view on windy days, nor when watching television; and no one else in the family is similarly troubled other than the dog, Scuff.
Can a visit to the hairdressers be the answer perhaps?

It certainly results in a transformation; but is straight hair really so desirable …
With its cute characters, this sweet rhyming tale presents themes of individuality, self-image and self-acceptance in an accessible story for the very young.

Old Hat

Old Hat
Emily Gravett
Two Hoots
There’s certainly nothing old hat about Emily Gravett: her latest offering simply brims over with that droll sense of humour she has.
Are you a slavish follower of fashion, no matter whether or not the latest styles are right for you? Do you use clothes to express your personality or are they a means of hiding that true self? This is the question explored herein.
Harbet has a practical hat, a warm cosy, much loved one, knitted by his Nana; but teased by his so-called friends, he discards what they tell him is ‘OLD HAT’ and sets about becoming a follower of fashion.
The problem so splendidly examined has him sporting ever more outrageous styles of titfer. There are some absolutely amazing styles to feast your eyes on: the vitamin-loaded, high fibre fruity kinds are most tasteful …

and the intricately drawn, elaborate nautical styles are truly mind blowing.

The trouble is once he’s left the hat shop, his particular model is already so OLD HAT!

What is a chap to do? There’s only one thing for it: Harbet must eschew all forms of headwear and set his own trend.
Hats off to Harbet for learning a crucial lesson about celebrating one’s own uniqueness rather than trying to be like others, a dedicated follower of fashion.
This is one that will be appreciated by adults as much as young readers, and might well spark off some millinery manipulation in the nursery or classroom.

I’ve signed the charter  


Alex Latimer and Patrick Latimer
Pavilion Children’s Books
The trials and tribulations of pretending to be something you aren’t are sensitively and humorously explored in this collaboration between Alex Latimer and his illustrator brother, Patrick.
Part wolf, part sheep, Woolf is the offspring of an unlikely and much frowned upon marriage between a sheep and a she-wolf.

Woolf has both sheep and wolfish characteristics but as he grows older, he experiences an identity crisis. Out exploring one day, he encounters a pack of wolves and as a result decides to rid himself of his woolly coat.
Thus the pretence begins; but inevitably as the wool starts sprouting again, maintaining the disguise becomes tedious and Woolf leaves for pastures new.

Over the hill he comes upon a flock of sheep: again Woolf isn’t true to himself, lying about his wolfish characteristics and then adopting a new ovine look …

Once again, pretence proves unsatisfactory for Woolf and his stay with the flock short-lived.
Convinced he doesn’t belong anywhere, the little creature is distraught and that’s when his parents step in with some timely words of wisdom, pointing out that trying to be something other than your real self can never make you truly happy. Much better to accept and celebrate all that makes you truly special and unique.
Patrick Latimer’s illustrations executed in an unusual colour palette of black, greys, browns, greens, teal, cream and biscuit with occasional pops of purple, blue and pink are delectably droll.
Like me you may well find yourself howling with laughter at Woolf’s attempts to fit in but there is a serious and important life-lesson at the heart of the book: true friends accept and love you for being you.

I’ve signed the charter  

Hooray for Independent Thinkers: Little Monkey & Larry Lemming


Little Monkey
Marta Altés
Macmillan Children’s Books
Size, or rather lack of it, is a big issue for one particular little Monkey, so much so that one day, she comes to a decision – a BIG decision. She won’t be left out any longer; “I will climb to the top of the tallest tree,” she announces and off she goes through the jungle to prove herself.


What she’s blissfully unaware of as she navigates the deep dangerous river and the tricky path is that although she notices lots of little things doing lots of amazing things …


she’s not the only one undertaking this journey …
Eventually Monkey reaches her destination: that tallest tree in the jungle and up she goes, higher and higher, until finally she can see the world stretching out below her. By now you’ll have your audience wriggling on their bums crying out to the gallant little creature and even more so, as she stands atop that palm viewing all that’s before her.


Without being a total story-spoiler I won’t reveal what happens thereafter, but suffice it to say a certain small Monkey feels very proud of herself, after all, ‘ … the smaller you are, the larger your adventures can be.’
It’s definitely a case of showing, not telling being the essence of this deliciously funny tale. Altés comic choreography means that every turn of the page brings something new to giggle over; and the synergy between words and illustrations is terrific.


Leaping Lemmings!
John Briggs and Nicola Slater
Sterling Children’s Books
Can you tell these lemmings apart?’ Readers are drawn in from the start by Briggs’ opening question to this story. He continues, ‘No? That’s because all lemmings look alike, sound alike, and act alike.’ Not one hundred per cent accurate: meet the wonderfully divergent Larry. Larry is a thinker: he knows he doesn’t fit in with the lemmings crowd …


and he certainly has no intention of following his fellow lemmings off the edge of a cliff.
Can he avert disaster though, when after abortive attempts to live with the seals, the puffins and the polar bears, he returns home to find the lemmings about to make that fateful leap? Fortunately yes, and as for becoming independent thinkers … job done!


Wonderfully whimsical and with important themes of thinking for yourself and daring to be different, this book deserves to be shared widely; it certainly offers teachers a great opportunity for discussion, as well as food for thought, not only among the children.
Nicola Slater’s deliciously witty, minimalist artwork is a terrific complement to Briggs’ gently humorous text. As a divergent thinker myself, I whole-heartedly applaud the independently-minded Larry, and of course, his creators.

The Snowflake Mistake / The Bot that Scott Built


The Snowflake Mistake
Lou Treleaven and Maddie Frost
Maverick Arts Publishing
The latest scientific research shows that what we’re told as children – that every snowflake is different – isn’t altogether true, although there are a great many structural variations. Now here’s a modern pourquoi tale explaining the popular idea that every one is different.
Princess Ellie lives with her mum, the Snow Queen, in a floating ice palace high above the clouds. In that palace is an amazing machine that collects clouds, squishing, crunching and stamping them to make into identical snowflakes.


But when Ellie’s mum has some business to attend to elsewhere, the young miss, (who would much prefer to be out playing) is left in charge of the machine. She decides to speed up the snow production …


and that’s when things, or rather the machine goes terribly wrong, and with a BOING! BANG! POP! it grinds to a halt.
With the only alternative being no snow for the children to enjoy, Ellie knows she must find another way of making snowflakes. Out comes her scissors and with the help of the birds, she makes snowflakes of all shapes and sizes, not perfect exactly, but every one beautiful, every one different. Hooray!
Full of wintry delight this rhyming story is another invention from the creator of the Oojamaflip – another quirky machine. Maddie Frost’s digitally rendered collage-style illustrations, especially those of the snowflake machine, are great fun and the final page provides information on how to make a snowflake.


The Bot That Scott Built
Kim Norman and Agnese Baruzzi
It’s Science Day for Scott and his classmates and it’s Scott’s turn to demonstrate his robot. Things don’t go quite to plan though and that moment of glory rapidly descends into chaos as angry ants rampage, freaky frogs frolic and feast on flies, there’s a big-bellied boa on the loose and a whole lot more besides.


The cumulative rhyme dashes along at a frenetic havoc-making pace; and with lashings of alliteration and illustrations packed with hilarious details as the whole session turns from calm to mayhem, young listeners have plenty to enjoy as the catastrophes cascade into being until finally, a sense of order is restored. PHEW! Now who could have pressed that button in the first place, one wonders.

Can I Build Another Me?


Can I Build Another Me?
Shinsuke Yoshitake
Thames & Hudson
The boy narrator of this powerful, brilliantly inventive book, shares with readers what happens when he comes up with the ingenious idea of building a Kevin replica in order to avoid doing boring things such as homework, tidying his room and generally helping around the house. Off he goes to the electronics shop where he spends all his pocket money on a robot. “From now on, you’re going to be the new me!” he informs the thing, “But don’t let anyone know. You must behave exactly like me.”
The ordinary basic facts are easily dealt with …


but in order to be fool-proof, the robot needs to know everything about Kevin and that entails getting right up close and personal …


Even that is not enough though; Kevin has to do a complete self-evaluation and consider the things that REALLY make him, him. No easy undertaking, as talking about himself is not something Kevin likes to do, especially when it comes to tricky considerations such as ‘What do other people think about me?


Eventually, it becomes evident that Kevin is anything but ordinary


or as his Grandma has pointed out he’s ‘NO ONE BUT ME … everyone is like a tree … you can choose how to grow … and it’s whether you like your tree, that’s what counts!’
In other words, he’s utterly unique: it’s the Kevinness of Kevin that matters.


Is that something the robot can ever really take on, no matter how precise a picture he has amassed: will the master plan work or will Mum see through the whole charade right away? Err …
Philosophy for children this certainly is: I lost count of how many times it opens up space for reflection and discussion. It’s also totally empowering, funny, bound to induce self-reflection – who can resist creating some quirky Kevin-style self-portraits like these …


and the minimal colour palette and superbly detailed illustrations, both large and small, all build up to one thing when it comes to the latest Yoshitake and that one thing is, genius.

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Peas in a Pod

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Peas in a Pod
Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling
EK Books
Let me introduce these quintuplets  …

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Pippa, Pia, Poppy, Polly and Peg: aren’t they poppets? Right from birth, they’ve done everything the same, eaten the same meals, slept and even sat in the same way; as the title says, veritable Peas in a Pod.
Then things begin to change, the youngsters start to assert their own individuality – each and every one of them. That way lies chaos – for their parents at least who like things just so.

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But as we know and the Seuss poster in the entrance of one of the schools I visit reminds us, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive, who is you-er than you!’ And surely any adult who really thought about things would want children to develop in their own special unique way, …with their own individual personalities, pursuing their own interests and nurturing and developing their own talents and skills: their identity no less.
That is exactly what these five girls do wholeheartedly when they seize the reins…

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Hooray for the five in this story who, thus far are managing to eschew peer pressure to dress the same as everyone else, have the same as others, even sadly, think the same as others, …

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Long live independent thinking and individualism, say I. Perhaps these girls haven’t quite got it cracked yet though…

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Fantastic fun and who can resist the charms of the fabulous five with their frizzy hair and fanciful ideas.
Not a word is wasted in Tania McCartney’s punchy text, and it’s perfectly complemented by Tina Snerling’s adorable artistry: it’s bold, bright and an absolute delight.
I could go on at length about the possibilities this book offers for creative work, particulary using printing techniques but for now, just share it and let the story (and discussion) do its work.

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Terry Perkins and His Upside Down Frown

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Terry Perkins and his Upside Down Frown
Felix Massie
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
No matter how hard he tries, little Terry Perkins just cannot get his words to come out properly, something that greatly saddens the lad and turns his smile into a frown. His concerned mother takes Terry to see the doctor whose solution to this speech difficulty is to turn the boy on his head. He does now seemingly have a smile – of sorts – but the fact is the child is far from happy and he now has a different problem, or more than one if truth be told. Being stuck on one’s head rules out walking and at playschool he becomes a laughing stock.

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How cruel those bullying children are. It’s a very sad boy who daydreams of living in space, a place where there is ‘no upside down or sideways’.
But then, seeking refuge and solitariness in the park, Terry discovers Jenny (a playschool classmate) who is happy with Terry just as he is; indeed she thinks he’s pretty cool. Good for her, say I.
As the friendship develops both children come to understand just how much more life has to offer when it can be viewed from more than one perspective …

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and then at last, Terry really does have cause to smile.
The final lines of this quirky story that celebrates uniqueness, strength of character and the power of friendship really say it all:
You never need a reason
to stand up proud and tall:
being upside down or different
doesn’t matter … at all!’

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It certainly shouldn’t, but it’s a message that still needs repeating over and over; and this thought-provoking story is one that should be shared with, and discussed by, children in early years settings everywhere. The rhyming text reads aloud beautifully and the bold, off-beat art work by an established animator has enormous appeal.
Long live Jenny’s understanding, Terry’s resolve and resilience, and their individuality.

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Characters Bold and Not So Bold


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I’m A Girl
Yasmeen Ismail
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Let’s hear it for the wonderful female protagonist – an aardvark I think –  in Yasmeen Ismail’s latest book. She’s messy, super fast, brave, spontaneous and an independent thinker and doer.

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She’s a great music maker, likes to play games of all kinds

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and is determined to be the BEST. She is – in her own words – “sweet and sour, not a little flower!But, she has a hard time convincing others of her gender. “I’m a girl!” she asserts at every wrong assumption, and there are many.
Then she makes friends with another person who is also determined to be true to his own nature

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… and it’s time for a celebration of individuality.
Brilliantly exuberant, funny and full of joy: a book to cherish. If only all children had the confidence to be true to themselves like the girl and her new-found friend herein.
If I had my way a copy would be given to all young children before they start school or nursery.
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Max the Brave
Ed Vere
Puffin Books
Meet kitten Max. Despite appearances he’s a fearless mouse chaser, or would be if only he knew what a mouse looked like. He decides to do a search; but encounters with Fly, Fish, birds, Elephant and Rabbit all of whom have had sightings, yields nothing. Or so it seems despite …

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But the wily animal professes to be a Monster, so what about this slumbering creature?

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Time to find out Max …

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Oops! Perhaps Mouse chasing isn’t quite what you’d anticipated fearless one: Monsters instead, perhaps?
I’m a great fan of Ed Vere (of Banana fame). Here, his clever use of space, a bold, flat colour palette and minimalist style sit well with the direct, dead pan narrative that is delivered largely through Max’s internal dialogue and his interactions with the animals he meets.
A great one to share and I anticipate multiple re-readings will be the order of the day (or night). Equally, it’s a super story for emergent readers to try for themselves.

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The 5 Misfits

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The 5 Misfits
Beatrice Alemagna
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Let’s hear it for the misfits – five of them as served up by the hugely talented Beatrice Alemagna. This motely quintet somehow manage to reside together in a tumbledown house despite – or perhaps because of – their shortcomings.
Misfit number one is a holey individual …

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Number two is neatly folded, concertina style …
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The third is feeble – floppy, tired and sleepy …

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The fourth is an upside downer

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and last and least, the fifth is a complete catastrophe and probably best forgotten.

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Enter stage left the Perfect One with an amazing hairstyle and sporting stylish pantaloons.

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This faultless being proceeds to interrogate the residents of the lopsided house making them feel even more worthless – well actually no. Maybe that was his intention, with his talk of ideas,

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but the result is something altogether else.
Alemagna’s tongue-in-cheek allegorical extravaganza is delivered with wit and panache. Inclusivity and finding your own unique inner self are two of the themes that emerge loud and clear from this wise and thought-provoking offering.
Philosophy for primary children is creeping onto the curriculum in more schools (and not before time). Here’s a great starting point for a ‘community of inquiry’ style discussion with sevens and above.

Use your local bookshop     localbookshops_NameImage-2