I Love You With All My Heart / The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

I Love You With All My Heart
Jane Chapman
Little Tiger

When Little Bear’s exuberant music making very close to where his mother is tending her sunflower plant results in a catastrophe, the little creature is worried that his mother will be angry with her offspring – and even worse that she’ll stop loving her.

Admirably, Little Bear owns up right away and happily, Mummy is equally quick in her response. She scoops the cub up in her arms and reassuringly says “I’ll ALWAYS love you,” and proceeds to soothe her by asking that she place her paw on her heart to “feel my love beating on and on for ever”. She goes on to tell Little Bear that a similar “Ba ba boom” beats within her little one’s heart.

Next day at preschool, the little cub draws on that knowledge when she’s upset about losing a race, and then later back in the garden when her new kite is whisked away by an unexpected gust of wind. Seemingly, no matter what upsets life throws at Little Bear, she can draw strength from that never-ending motherly love.

There’s a lovely final twist when Mother Bear’s cake baking is interrupted by her cub’s enthusiastic, mud-splashing announcement about her kite rescue …

Would that all little humans had a mother as understanding and unconditionally loving as Little Bear who is brought to life along with Mother Bear in Jane Chapman’s splendidly expressive illustrations that show just how full of love they are, and how comforting the feel of a heartbeat can be to someone needing a bit of TLC. Yes, this book is brimming over with love but it never becomes sentimental.

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth
Ellie Hattie and Karl James Mountford
Little Tiger

Now out in paperback is this wonderful magical adventure that unfolds inside The Curious Museum wherein Oscar, clad in his night attire, and mammoth Timothy search for Timothy’s baby brother, Teddy, intent on finding him before the clock strikes one. The hardback version was reviewed on the blog but if you’ve missed the book, it’s definitely worth seeking out the paperback to share with youngsters. There’s SO much to explore in the illustrations and there’s a wealth of information and more to discover behind the flaps.

I Love You more than Christmas / The Snowiest Christmas Ever / Can You Find Santa’s Pants

Here are 3 seasonal picture books from Little Tiger kindly sent for review

I Love You more than Christmas
Ellie Hattie and Tim Warnes

Little Bear love, love, loves pretty much everything about Christmas but what is it that he -and indeed his mother and father- love even more than Christmas? We’ll discover the answer – eventually – but adults will probably guess it from the outset. Every attempt one of them makes to reveal that one better thing is interrupted by something or someone that is part and parcel of the exciting build-up to the big day.

First it’s the mail delivery (Mrs Postman with a sackful of cards), then it’s Daddy Bear bursting through the door dragging an enormous tree to decorate, after which it’s Mummy who’s been hunting for the decorations in the loft; but that’s just the start.

It takes until bedtime before Little Bear is finally able to share that all important message.

Tim Warnes’ wonderfully warm illustrations are an ideal complement to Ellie Hattie’s homely tale of togetherness and celebration.

The Snowiest Christmas Ever
Jane Chapman

In the run up to Christmas things are pretty nearly perfect in the bear family’s cabin but there’s one thing lacking, so says young Button Bear cub, and that is snow. Her brother is equally eager for the fluffy stuff to be ready for Santa’s sleigh to land in. Then come bedtime, lo and behold what should the cubs spy as they peep through the curtains but swirling, whirling snowflakes. As the bears fall asleep snug inside, the snow continues falling all night getting ever deeper outside.

The following morning though, things on the snow front seem to have got rather excessive and it looks as though the entire family is stuck indoors. Was that wish of Button’s a mistake? Will Santa be able to make his delivery to the cabin?

Perhaps the cubs can turn the situation around so they all have a truly memorable Christmas …
This is definitely a cuddle up and share picture book that focuses on the anticipation and excitement of the days leading up to Christmas.

Can You Find Santa’s Pants?
Becky Davies and Alex Willmore

Here’s a new take on the ever-popular subject of pants and on Christmas, that I suspect many youngsters will find irresistible. Just imagine the sight of a bare-bottomed Santa sitting atop his sleigh; but that is a decided possibility when on Christmas Eve he discovers, horror of horrors, that his pants have gone awol. Hang on though; what about all the spare pairs hanging on the washing line? Oh dear me, now they too are playing hard to get as they detach themselves from the line and take flight.

The hunt is on but if Santa can’t locate any of the errant underwear, can he find a suitable alternative so he doesn’t have to expose his rear end to the elements on his chilly delivery round.

An emergency is declared and all his friends – elven and animal – rally round to join the hunt. Will they or won’t they avert a chuddie crisis: it’s a case of …

Told through Becky Davies’ jaunty rhyming text and absolutely hilarious illustrations presented by Alex Willmore (of pea fame), this will be one of the year’s festive favourite for sure.

Together

Together
Jane Chapman
Little Tiger

Deep within the forest, hidden among the shady leaves, a tiny face peers through the foliage. It belongs to a baby gorilla that feels totally alone in the world, a world that feels strange and a little threatening.

But then along with the downpour of refreshing rain and the smell of something to eat that wafts on the breeze, comes something different, something huge and very …

So thinks the little one. But it’s not so for despite appearances, the creature reaches out with unexpected tenderness, extending a soft paw of companionship and friendship in a hitherto scary world.

Now no matter what each day brings forth, be it beauty and magic,

or shadow and sadness, there’s always the joy and comfort of togetherness.

Jane Chapman’s illustrations are incredible, both in their lifelike portrayal of the two gorillas and in the sensitive way they convey the sense of connectedness between them.

That sense of connectedness is what all of us crave probably more than anything else in these pandemic times. This beautiful, heart-warming story is a wonderful portrayal of how reaching out – may be not physically but in what ever ways are possible – can make all the difference.

With Your Paw in Mine

With Your Paw in Mine
Jane Chapman
Little Tiger

Otter pup Miki loves to float snuggled up on her Mama’s tummy but after a swimming lesson she goes off hunting leaving Miki alone safely rolled in seaweed.

As she waits, Miki notices another similar ‘furry parcel’ and paddles across to meet pup Amak who is also waiting for his mother. Acknowledging the loneliness of waiting, Miki suggests holding paws and waiting together.

That becomes a regular occurrence and the two cubs become inseparable.

But one morning a fierce storm blows up and the two friends become separated briefly, manage to re-link paws and even to join up with other otters to form, paw in paw, a raft to weather out the storm

until, joy of joys Miki hears her very favourite voice calling to her.

The author’s message is clear: we all need someone (or perhaps more than one someone) to hold on to in stormy times. Essentially an endearing story of friendship, the book also includes some information about mother otters and their young.

In her chilly acrylic scenes Jane Chapman really captures the vastness of the ocean but at the same time focuses in on the otters and their feelings making this a lovely book to share with individuals or a nursery group.

Nara and the Island & Squish Squash Squeeze

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Nara and the Island
Dan Ungureanu
Andersen Press
The small girl narrator of this story lives with her dad on a tiny island, ‘so small, you can’t lose anything’ is what he tells her. Across the water some way away is another island and sometimes the child sits looking at it from her special secret hiding place. As she sits staring she imagines getting across …

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but then one day her dad discovers her hiding place and with repaired boat, the two embark on an adventure. Dad’s quest is to find the legendary Big Fish, his daughter’s mission to explore the shores of the other island.

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Once ashore though, the girl feels overwhelmed by the strange sights and sounds around her but then she meets a boy, Aran.

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The two compare their respective homes – hers so small and quiet, his so wild and noisy – and find they share the need for a hideaway of their own. Aran then offers to share his with his new friend.
The lightened colours of Ungureanu’s scenes have a subtle other-worldly quality that add a touch of magic to the whole undertaking and the final “I think I’d like that.” comment of the girl narrator

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opens the way for readers’ imaginations to take over.

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Squish Squash Squeeze
Tracey Corderoy and Jane Chapman
Little Tiger Press
When Mouse arrives at his new home it looks nigh on perfect for his needs, there’s even a piano. But suddenly there appears a large and very growly bear who is not at all keen on sharing the space, indeed claiming …”there’s NO ROOM HERE, not even for a mouse!” Undaunted, Mouse continues unpacking his belongings and inviting the bear to help. Off he goes, skipping upstairs, only to find himself confronting another enormous creature occupying the bathroom …

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But he’s not the final surprise: as Mouse continues finding places for his belongings, another animal makes an appearance.
Seemingly there is only one thing to do and that’s share a cuppa …

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albeit with a bit of a wiggling and jiggling. But then from under the floorboards, there comes a RUMBLE-THRUMBLE-THUMP! followed shortly by a tumble, tumble BUMP! (that’s Mouse) and a satisfying surprise that seemingly solves everyone’s space problem once and for all.
With a repeat refrain for listeners to join in with and some opportunities for roaring and snapping too, there’s plenty to entertain early years audiences, not least the satisfying fold-out finale, though every one of Jane Chapman’s spreads provides plenty of gigglesome details.

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Snowstorm Sorties

 

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Snow Bear
Tony Mitton and Alison Brown
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
From my first view of the cover, I fell for Snow Bear in a big way; he’s adorable but this is no sentimental story and Snow Bear is one determined character. He’s seeking a home, somewhere warm where he can snuggle up away from the raging icy blizzard. His forest wanderings take him to a fox’s den,

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and an owl’s nest up in a tree …

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but both are fully occupied, so lonely and shivering, Snow Bear trudges onwards till finally he comes upon somewhere that looks more promising – a small farmhouse.

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‘A chilly breeze ruffles the fur on his cheek,/ so Bear tiptoes in as the door gives a creak. / Inside it is warm, for the fire burns bright./ and Snow Bear can see by its flickering light.’
In sneaks Bear and there he comes upon a small girl, equally alone and in need of someone to hug. Having shared same, they snuggle up for a story, a fireside snooze …

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and eventually, head upstairs, for a ‘midwinter nap’ – friends together.
Tony Mitton’s rhyming tale has just the right degree of pathos and reads aloud well; and Alison Brown’s illustrations rendered in acrylics and I think, pencil, are sheer delight. Shaggy cushion-like Bear (thumb-sucking in the final spread), in particular, but also Fox with that pointy nose that to me, resembles the front of a jet plane, and startled-looking ‘tufty gruff Owl’ are splendid.
With the contrasting themes of loneliness and friendship at its heart, this tender, timeless story is just the thing to bring a warm glow to a chilly winter’s day or night.

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One Snowy Rescue
M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton
Little Tiger Press
Little Hedgehog has a whole series of stories all his own, his friends are there too of course. Here he stars in another snow-filled adventure – more and deeper snow in fact than our prickly pal has ever seen before. So much that a snowdrift surrounds his house and he has to dig himself out. Exhausted having done so, the kind-hearted creature’s first thoughts are of his friend Mouse and off he goes to see how she’s faring. But despite his careful tread, he soon finds himself tumbling …

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into a huge snowdrift.
It’s fortunate for him then that Little Hedgehog happens to be wearing his floppy red hat –

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just the thing for a rescue-wanted signal. And equally fortunately, who should happen along at just the right moment but Rabbit who heaves him out …

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and the two continue together but get lost. Fox comes to the rescue this time, but even that is not the end of the story for soon, another rescue is needed. Badger joins the team having been alerted by that trusty red hat again and finally, led by Badger, the object of their search – Mouse and offspring – together with the friendly entourage, head home for supper in the silvery moonlight. How versatile that hat is …

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A warm-hearted tale about putting the needs of others first, with the spiky hero, bold and resourceful as ever heading the cast of characters in a finely paced, festive foray that is delightfully depicted in Tina Mcnaughton’s bold, bright snowscapes.
Also from Little Tiger Press, newly in paperback and reviewed last year is:
The Magical Snow Garden
Tracey Corderoy and Jane Chapman
Here is Emmanuelle lost in the wonderful magic of a determined penguin, Wellington, and his snowy garden.

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Double? More? Too Much?

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Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus!
Atinuke and Lauren Tobia
Walker Books
When Anna Hibiscus discovers that the ‘big bump’ is twin brothers, she knows that she’s in for some “Big Trouble” as her cousin Chocolate puts it. What it means immediately though is that none of the family seems to have time for her any more; they’re all far too busy with extra work that’s a result of the two newcomers. Uncle Sam is busy making food for Anna’s mum; her Grandmother has been up all night and now needs to sleep and her aunties are baby minding.

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Poor Anna Hibiscus finally loses her temper and shouts, which sets the babies off bawling and she herself dissolves into tears. Oh Dear! It’s then that Papa finally takes notice of her and explains the implications of Double Trouble: sharing is now the order of the day.
Eventually though, people do pay her attention  and then it’s the turn of that big sister to become a comforter.

 

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It will take time for young Anna Hibiscus to learn how to accommodate those newcomers, and she has to learn to take turns for her mother’s hugs and sometimes even share them with others…

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I’ve loved all the Anna Hibiscus stories: this one too is a real delight and it’s absolutely perfect for those with a new baby in the family or anyone anticipating a new arrival. Those gorgeously warm-hearted illustrations are just the business.

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More!
Tracey Corderoy and Tim Warnes
Little Tiger Press pbk
In most very young infants, the acquisition of a new word is a cause for celebration. However when young Alfie rhino adds “More!” to his vocabulary the result is destruction,

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and all manner of excesses, some dietary, others very noisy or messy or, on occasion, something rather more desirable.
So when he is invited to a fancy dress party he gets more than a little carried away with the design of his costume

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and despite its amazingness, it has distinct disadvantages when it comes to joining in the party fun especially at cake-sharing time …
Fortunately though having more than just a few friends is one thing that does work in his favour, and all ends happily.
The young charmer is sure to win further friends with his latest romp: as always it is delivered with appropriate verve and exuberance in both words and pictures. Share with Alfies and other littles of the human variety and I suspect they’ll straightway ask for MORE!

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No More Cuddles!
Jane Chapman
Little Tiger Press
Despite living alone in the forest, Barry suffers from a surfeit of cuddles: he’s literally smothered by them and it’s all a bit too much.
A disguise might do the trick, he thinks to himself; but it just isn’t scary enough.

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Angry growls and scowls don’t work either; something more drastic is required seemingly. So Barry advertises for a relief cuddler and finally along comes one that meets the job description perfectly. Even then though, the animals continue to hurl themselves at Barry and he finds himself hurtling into a mucky swamp and it’s there that he gains a bit of well-earned respite.
Exuberant scenes and a decidedly cuddle-able main character, not to mention a host of delightful bit part players, are the chief ingredients of this warm-hearted story.

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Hubert Horatio
Lauren Child
Puffin pbk
Child prodigy, Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent, (referred to as H by his ultra-rich, but forgetful parents) starts to call the tune right from his early infancy. He cannot however do anything about the fact that the nightly cup of cocoa he and his parents share is always cold by the time the lad has climbed the numerous flights of stairs to the parental bedroom. Despite this, life jogs along happily for Horatio until one day his parents throw a party and the jelly runs out halfway through. Very odd, thinks Horatio but that is only the start of the family’s woes and before long he realizes that his parents are financially embarrassed, to say the least.
The young lad takes the initiative and money-making plans intended to refill the family coffers are soon put into action. But Mr and Mrs Bobton-Trent continue to party and live the high life

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until a frustrated HH decides downsizing is their only option. The family moves to a new home – 17b Plankton Heights – and there surprisingly, Horatio’s mum and dad settle quickly and woopy-do – because of the short distance to walk, everyone’s cocoa is still warm by the time it arrives at the parental bedroom.
Highly entertaining with wonderfully whimsical, richly patterned collage-style illustrations, Hubert Horatio is truly a force to be reckoned with.

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Animals: Eyes, Bunches, Numbers and Squares

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Who’s Who in the Woods?
Eryl Norris and Andy Mansfield
Templar Publishing
It’s nighttime in the woods: everywhere eyes peep out from the inky darkness. Eyes belonging to all manner of creatures; but which is the one causing all the unease?
Pop-ups on every spread but the first, leap out from the pages to reveal the animal with a frightening stare, the one with a fearsome roar and more

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in this exciting and engaging little book, written in rhyme for which the artist has used a limited palette to great effect. I suggest it’s best saved for home use as some of the pop-outs are quite fragile and might not stand up to the repeated readings this is bound to have.

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A Tower of GiraffesAnimal Bunches
Anna Wright
Words & Pictures
Subtitled ‘Animal Bunches’ this book is essentially a mixed media visual presentation of just that, with each of the sixteen animals represented under the heading of its collective noun. Thus we have the gloriously messy “A Drove of Pigs”,

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a wonderfully woolly Flock of Sheep,

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the florally coated …

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the oh-so-showy Ostentation of Peacocks and many others all portrayed in their full glory. There is a delightful quirkiness about the whole thing and the range of expressions on the animals’ faces in every group is splendid.
Alongside each animal portrait is a paragraph giving some information about the habits and characteristics. Thus we learn for instance that ‘Flamingos are highly sociable, living in groups of up to one thousand … These fancy feathered friends also work together to make theatrical displays … marching in time to impress other birds.
This book is likely to appeal as much to those interested in design as nature and animals. It is certainly one for the school library or family bookshelf.

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Bear Counts
Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
Simon and Schuster pbk
A cumulative counting book whose rhyming text takes listeners through a sequence of encounters along with friends Mouse and Bear from their shared breakfast in the morning sun. Bear is the leader showing Mouse one sun, one dragonfly, one robin on her nest and one mouse disappointedly clutching just one berry. Then along comes Hare clutching two fruits and …

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so on until there’s a whole host of friends splashing and floating in the pond counting …

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Gorgeous double page spreads of the various stopping points alternate with the counting pages where the focus is on the individual items seen on the previous friend-encounter spread.

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Take a Square
Britta Teckentrup
Words and Pictures
This is one of a new series for the very young that looks at concepts in a fresh, imaginative way at the heart of which is clever design and uncluttered images. Herein, we trail a small dog as he involves readers in a follow-my-leader game taking them through the pages on a playful journey that encompasses a toy truck, the demolition of a block building, a cat, a bone, a toy robot, children playing,

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a visit to the park and finally, a bus ride home and bed.

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But the story is not quite over as closer study reveals …
As the journey progresses, the line of objects accumulates down the left-hand side of each double spread forming a kind of visual list of the story ingredients. Totally involving and lots of fun.

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Ursine Antics by Night and Day

 

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Goodnight Already!
Jory John and Benji Davies
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Parallel but opposing viewpoints quickly come head to head in what must surely be to many adults at least, a familiar scenario – the pull and push between two characters whose body clocks have entirely opposing rhythms. Herein it’s an exceedingly sleepy-looking Bear and his neighbour and supposed friend,

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Duck who is full of (caffeine-induced?) energy and has “never been so awake.”
I can’t wait to sleep. Here we go … yes…” yawns Bear as he pulls up his covers.
Uugh oh! There in the moonlight stands his feathered pal demanding entrance.
Having barged his way in Duck is determined to get Bear to “hang out” and suggests all manner of fun-filled activities. “Want to play cards? … Watch a movie? … Start a band? … Make smoothies?” … (What is this guy thinking of?) “Talk all night? … “Read books to each other?” (Now there’s a thought.) Each of these suggestions meets with a resounding “No.” from Bear and Duck eventually gets the message and departs. So, does our ursine friend finally get his well-earned shut eye? Errm …

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This time Duck is after cooking ingredients “… some sugar?” – “No.” Butter? “No.” … Is there to be no end to Duck’s requests? New neighbours will have to be the order of the day, or rather night, an increasingly grouchy Bear decides, returning to the safety of his quilt. Did I say safety? Oops!

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But safety it certainly is not, for Duck at least.

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Finally losing it altogether, Bear sends Duck packing and heads off back to get that well earned slumber. Well, not quite …
My audience groaned at the final ironic comic twist but it was clearly a groan of satisfaction and hastily followed by demands to ‘read it again’, then ‘one more time’. Of course I obliged, eager as they to let that superb tension be played out over and over in this wonderful book, at the heart of which is perfect textual comic timing, pace and counterbalance, the latter being so beautifully portrayed by Benji Davies. His visuals, which alternate between the vivid yellow of the occasional scene at Duck’s residence, and the somnolent shades of Bear’s surroundings, and brilliantly mirror John Jory’s shifts in pace and energy, are equally good. The combination of the two is an amalgam that’s pretty near perfect in my book.
Here are a couple of pictures of Duck from five year olds who loved the story –

 

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they obviously saw him as a very colourful character.

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Big and Small
Elizabeth Bennett and Jane Chapman
Little Tiger Press pbk
Friendships can be formed between the most unlikely, completely different characters A large bear – Big, and a tiny white mouse – Small, are best friends and decide to spend a day adventuring in the great outdoors. During the course of their play Small seeks help from his friend on several occasions – a stubbed toe OUCH!, some tricky stepping stones,

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a troublesome bee at lunch time and a hole that interrupts his roll; and each time Big is happy to oblige. After a fun-filled day, the friends head for home and snuggle into their cosy beds. Then however, comes a spot of role reversal: “A little help, please!” calls Big who cannot sleep.

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The idea that friendship can involve a responsibility of care is embedded within this story told through a combination of jaunty rhyming text and bold, bright visuals.
I like the fact that both author and artist engender a zest for life and enjoyment of nature – the endpapers featuring insects that appear during the course of the story help in the latter.
Share with those just starting out on forming friendships.

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Snowy Worlds

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The Magical Snow Garden
Tracey Corderoy and Jane Chapman
Little Tiger Press
When penguin, Wellington, sees a beautiful garden in a picture book he shares with friend, Rosemary, he determines to grow one like it. His friends are skeptical: “… flowers can’t grow in the snow,” they tell him but then Wellington has an inspiration: instead of growing a garden, he can make one. And he does, with Rosemary’s help, a shiny blue biscuit wrapper and all manner of bits and pieces. Soon the garden is in full bloom: now his friends are impressed but then comes a storm that whirls Wellington’s garden right away. Is that the end of his beautiful creations? No – thanks to Rosemary, that blue biscuit wrapper, all Wellington’s friends, and most important, Wellington’s creativity and resolve, a wonderful new snow-sparkling garden comes into being, one that everyone wants to see.

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You never know what you can do until you try!” Ivor tells Wellington and he’s absolutely right.
Long live determination and divergent thinking.
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Snowflakes
Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson
Scholastic pbk
Newly arrived from her city home, a little girl Mia arrives to live at her Grandma’s deep in a forest. Inevitably she finds her gran’s wooden house surrounded by whispering trees strange and her days become a series of one new experience after another. There’s her first ever winter coat and hat,

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feeding the hens with Grandma and the strange silvery shadows of the forest on her way to see her soon to be new school.

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But then comes a fall of snow making things feel magical and Mia too feels touched by the magic: “Every snowflake is different, every snowflake is perfect” she tells herself realizing that she too is perfect. From then on Mia is able to start to come to terms with her new life , to embrace the changes and begin to make new friends.

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This reassuring story with its important theme, that every child is special and unique, is sensitively told by C Beebies presenter, Cerrie Burnell and beautifully illustrated to bring out both Mia’s changing feelings and the atmosphere of her new home.
Showing, not telling is very much the way in this inclusive book. That much is left unsaid allows children to bring their own experience, interpretations and ideas to the story; ideas concerning why Mia had to go and live with Grandma Mitzi whom she hardly knew, why she’d never before worn a coat and only heard of forests in storybooks for instance.
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Finally a couple of wintry books previously reviewed but now out in paperback and too good to miss are:
Max Velthuijs’ Frog in Winter an old favourite from over 20 years ago newly reissued by Andersen Press wherein Frog finds it impossible to embrace the joys of the newly fallen snow.

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And Layn Marlow’s gorgeous book from last year about a small child making a snowman, You Make Me Smile (Oxford University Press); I’m sure it will make you smile too.

 

 

 

 

Animal Alert!

A new Burningham book always calls for shouting and waving from the rooftops; this one, for me, especially so:

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The Way to the Zoo
John Burningham
Walker Books
When Sylvie discovers a door in her bedroom wall leading to steps and a passageway, of course she decides to investigate. Torch in hand, she moves along only to discover another door.
Hard work and determination make it yield and Sylvie comes face to face with a zoo full of animals.

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Back to bed she goes, taking with her as sleeping companion a small bear, with the proviso that it is returned to the zoo before school-time next morning.
This, naturally leads to other nocturnal visitors – the small ones only – to Sylvie’s bed but then she brings back penguins; these of course splash water all over the bathroom. Next night comes a tiger and cub, the next a whole collection of birds.

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Not all animals however, are suitable guests,
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others smell and size is an issue in a couple of instances …

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Then one morning, in a rush Sylvie forgets to close the bedroom wall door and on her return discovers that there’s been an animal invasion of the sitting room. Sylvie vents her wrath,

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the animals depart and it’s time for a hasty clean up before her mother returns – O OH!
Now, there’s a lesson to be learned there, Miss Sylvie.
As the inimitable John Burningham himself says, children do believe that their bears are real. Indeed, in my experience, at a young age, the line between fantasy and reality is often blurred and as teachers we frequently encourage their imaginative play and flights of fancy.
This wonderfully understated story works on several levels and the interplay of the verbal and visual is, as ever, truly brilliant Burningham.
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Barbapapa’s Ark
Annette Tison and Talus Taylor
Orchard Books
The shape-shifting Barpapapas don their ‘green’ hats and come to the aid of all manner of threatened animals in this story, be they suffering from pollution sickness, chased by hunters or hounded out of their ocean home by zealous fishermen.

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The hunters are particularly persistent with the result that even Barbabeau with his desirable fur pelt, finds himself in danger.

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Time for the Barba flea sprinklers to set to work …

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Eventually the Barbapapa Refuge is not only over flowing but in serious danger of the encroaching city’s pollution. A rocket-style ark is designed and the Barba family, Francois and Cindy plus all the animals blast off in search of a peaceful, green planet.
Only then do the earth’s inhabitants see the error of their ways: a clean up operation ensues, air and water are purified, promises made, trees planted. Finally Barbabright spies the newly greened planet Earth and the Barba family and animals return home.
The environmental message comes across loud and clear in this delightful re-issue and it is equally pertinent today as it was when the story was first published in 1970. (Interestingly, Talus Taylor, co-creator of the series was himself a biology teacher.) Let’s hope that the people of our earth pay more heed to the Barbapapas’ message this time.
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Zeraffa Giraffa
Dianne Hofmeyr and Jane Ray
Frances Lincoln
What is a giraffe doing in Paris of all places?
Crazy as it may sound, this gorgeous book relates how in 1824, Zeraffa is caught on the plains as a baby giraffe and sent by the Great Pasha of Egypt to the King of France as a gift.

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First though, she is slung on the side of a camel, fed on camel’s milk, then put on board a felucca sailing craft and travels from Africa all the way down the Nile to the coast

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and thence to France. From where, accompanied all the while by the devoted Atir who protects her and cares for her, their journey continues on foot to the palace of Saint-Cloud and where she becomes beloved by the King’s granddaughter too.

 

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Jane Ray’s glorious illustrations illuminate every facet of the journey from the start to Zeraffa’s triumphant welcome into Paris. There seemingly, the entire city is struck by an attack of ‘giraffism’, which embraces everything from baking to hairstyles, musical notation even.

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Ray’s patchwork of giraffe pieces is particularly fine and suitably tinged with humour.
Assuredly this beautifully told and illustrated story is an example of the oft said ‘Truth is stranger than fiction.’
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newly out in paperback and previously reviewed are:

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Monkey Found a Baby
Jeanne Willis and Jane Chapman
Walker Books pbk
A charming rhythmic story about a baby monkey found by a larger one ‘beneath the banyan tree‘.
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and:

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The Ice Bear
Jackie Morris
Frances Lincoln pbk
This lyrical story from the beginning of time when people and animals shared the earth, tells of a polar bear cub, stolen from his mother by Raven, raised as their own child by hunters and much later, having wandered far away from home, forced to make a choice between two families.
Both words and pictures are of equal beauty. Morris’s paintings are both magical and awe-inspiring and as she says at the beginning of the story, ‘Words held a magic‘; assuredly hers do herein.
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