Goodnight Toucan

Goodnight Toucan
Joanne Partis
Little Tiger

Joanna Partis’s Toucan protagonist plans a jungle sleepover inviting his friends Tiger, Sloth, Frog, and Monkey; but he’s a perfectionist so at the last minute he has a crisis of confidence. The food he thinks, is insufficiently tasty and the bedding not snuggly enough,

so off he goes in search of items to make his party go swingingly: “the best sleepover ever!’ as his pals have declared it will be.

He fills his beak with fabulous flower decorations, then finds fluffy ferns for bedding and bananas for a yummy feast – hmm! As he flies back he spies fireflies that he decides will provide must-have, mood creating fairy lights. Swooping to collect them proves disastrous and Toucan dives headlong into the river below so it’s a distraught host that finally returns to the sleepover venue to own up to his failure. Fortunately though, the reactions of his friends reassure him that everything is, after all, just as it should be: friendship reigns supreme.

Assuredly this is a book that will resonate with youngsters who struggle with the impossible task of being perfect at all times. Joanne’s vibrant illustrations speak volumes about feelings providing a starting point for discussions about the importance of friends and of making mistakes.

Oh No, Bear!

Oh No, Bear!
Joanna Partis
Little Tiger

One autumnal morning a hungry bear wakes knowing he has an important task ahead. But as he walks through the forest his hunger distracts him causing him to follow the delicious smell that assails his nostrils. It leads him to a vegetable bed where Rabbit and friends have dug up a huge pile of carrots. Bear accepts Rabbit’s offer to try one and before you can say ‘chomp’ Bear has consumed the entire barrowful.

But then he smells another delicious aroma and instead of making amends to the rabbits, nose in the air, he’s off on the trail,

which leads him to a group of squirrels engaged in picking acorns. A similar thing happens: it’s Bear’s tummy not the baskets that he fills with acorns.  After a brief apology Bear’s off again hot on the trail of another tempting smell. And oops!

Soon, Beaver’s freshly caught fish ends up in the same place as the previous items he was supposed to taste and unsurprisingly by now, Bear’s tummy is rather larger that it was at the start of the day. As he sits ruminating upon his greed he starts to feel concerned that his friends might have to go hungry all winter.

Back to his cave he heads intent on thinking of a way to put things right. But when he reaches his door another problem awaits.

Is he to remain in that sorry state all winter? Happily not, thanks to his friends, not to mention his inadvertent clumsiness during his pre-hibernation perambulations.

Funny, thought-provoking and engagingly illustrated, with its ‘OH NO BEAR!’ refrain this is an enjoyable autumn term read for foundation stage audiences especially.

Cuddles, Crime, Cavemen and a Question


I Want a Cuddle
Malorie Blackman and Joanne Partis
Orchard Books pbk
First published over ten years ago, this story written by current the Children’s Laureate, about Little Rabbit and his search for a cuddle still holds its original charm.
Having injured his paw during a game of hide-and-seek, Little Rabbit is in desperate need of a cuddle. Hedgehog is sympathetic but too prickly, likewise Squirrel (too tickly), Badger – he’s too bristly, Toad is lumpy, and bumpy, not to mention squidgy.


Poor Little Rabbit sets off home through the forest but who is that bushy-tailed creature sneaking up behind her?
And who else needs a cuddle now?


Funny, tender and with just the right amount of suspense to keep young readers engaged throughout; this is a lovely story-time read aloud for nursery settings as well as individual listeners. Joanne Partis’ boldly coloured, illustrations rendered with thick strokes, daubs, spatters and mixed media manipulations are a delight.
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Top Top Secret
Claire Freedman and Russell Ayto
Simon and Schuster pbk
The bond between, reader, author and main protagonist – a young secret agent spy – are immediately established in this vastly amusing rhyming tale. Herein Sid accepts a mission to recover the Royal Ring bearing the king’s secret seal from the clutches of a dastardly dragon and return it to its place in the royal vaults. Off he goes creeping in the shadows till he comes upon a large drain lid; out comes his trusty magnet, up comes the cover, down slides Sid. Then propelled by his supersonic pulley he whizzes through the shaft, out onto a river (his raft a-ready there), under a bridge, oops -! Having narrowly escaped the waiting shark’s jaws,


he comes upon a sign:
Once inside the dragon’s lair, he discovers the ring’s whereabouts and is on the point of seizing same when ROAR! The dragon wakes; smoke and flames burst forth; OH NO! Sid’s has lost his anti-dragon flare. Time to resort to something altogether more tricky and DEFINITELY, much more sticky, Sid.

And does our Sid succeed in retrieving and returning the precious object to its rightful place? Erm well… those telescopic super-charged skis and that trusty magnet do come into their own and we leave our hero sound asleep in his comfy bed so … What do you think?
Rendered in skillfully scurrying rhyme and through suitably off-beat illustrations, this fast-moving, very amusing tale is such fun to share with young audiences large and small. If the former though, make sure individuals have opportunities to revel in the hilarious details of Russell Ayto’s deliciously idiosyncratic artwork.
Overall design, the variety of fonts used, Ayto’s choice of colour palette, the minutiae of detail within the scenes be they wide screen or small close-ups, all add to the impact of the book.
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Jill Lewis and Simon Rickerty
Simon and Schuster pbk
Previously for Simon Rickerty it was crayons; now, along with the characters he depicts, a quartet of troglodytes no less (those drawn by the little boy of the story), it is pencils that take centre stage. Actually just the one pencil, in fact. The particular one being that which rolls over the cavemen’s fire extinguishing it but bringing to life said picture. Thereupon the bemused cave dwellers attempt to make sense of this mysterious object; they try eating it, and climbing it before one of their number, Colin, hits upon tool wielding. After some serious carving and chopping an impressive result is achieved.


‘ BURNA BURNA ROAST TOASTA!’ shouts the excited Flint but then out of nowhere seemingly, there leaps a hungry tiger, jaws a-gaping. Plan B I think guys.
After a pretty close call though, things take a turn – or rather they don’t – for the worse.

You didn’t notice that tree then? Time for another one of Colin’s good ideas …
But …


Have a sausage instead! UG-A-LUG! A happy ending? Certainly, so long as you are a carnivore that is.
Jill Lewis’s matter of fact manner of telling with its sprinkling of troglodyte talk, works wonderfully well as a counter to Ayto’s over the top artistry, with its brilliantly expressive caveman countenances as they go about their comical caperings.
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The Wonderful Egg
Dahlov Ipcar
Flying Eye Books
Is it a mystery story or is it an information book? First published in 1958 and now in a new edition, this lovely book is actually both. It tells how long, long ago when all the earth was covered in jungles a wonderful egg sat solitary in a mossy nest beneath a giant fern tree.


But whose egg is it?


A dinosaur’s perhaps, or did it belong to one of the marine or flying reptiles that lived over a million years ago?


Dahlov Ipcar transports us to that prehistoric world and takes us through a multitude of possibilities before revealing the answer.


Her wonderful illustrations have been ‘remastered’ from the original edition. The limited palette of shades of green, brown, grey and pink and the bolder black blocks, shading and outlines creates scenes at once dramatic, subtle and timeless.
In addition to the narrative, readers are provided with a helpful pronunciation page and a double spread showing the relative sizes of the creatures featured.
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