Sometimes I Am Furious

Sometimes I Am Furious
Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger
Macmillan Children’s Books

Who can fail to fall for the adorable little person standing in angry mode on the cover of this book. She’s the narrator too, so we get the picture straight from the toddler’s mouth as she talks of life as she sees it – the high points and the lows. The times when you feel like sharing some of the good things, or being helpful perhaps; even when one of your special grown-ups has made a mess of things.

All too often it seems though, things just don’t feel fair AT ALL: your parents boss you around, your favourite cake has sold out; your body in your tights feels all wrong and your yummy ice cream splats on the floor. These things are totally INFURIATING.

It’s at times like that when you need a good cuddle and some welcome words of advice spoken softly.

Then next time those ‘not fair’ feelings start to bubble you know some lovely deep breaths, slow counting and a happy song will take care of your fizzly emotion – well almost always.

What a smashing way to present to little ones (and grown ups) the gamut of emotions that are part and parcel of toddler life, as well as some simple strategies to deal with life’s lows. In their dynamic delivery – verbal and visual – of one of life’s vital lessons, team Timothy and Joe have created a cracking book that is just the thing for sharing and discussing with little ones at home, or in an early years setting. (Perfect for supporting PSED.)

Superhero Gran

Superhero Gran
Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger
Nosy Crow

Timothy Knapman children’s author, playwright and lyricist teams up with illustrator Joe Berger for I think, their seventh in the Superhero family series.

Most young children I know think their grans are amazing humans and so it is with the gran in this story.

No she doesn’t fly through the air, battle villains, control minds or wield an indestructible shield; instead she makes the days her grandchildren spend in her company the very best possible.

Her house is full of exciting paraphernalia for creating disguises.

Her stories are enthralling, the Tickle Monster Test tale being the very best of all. especially when accompanied by tasty cookies.

Unlike mum and dad, she doesn’t put a limit on the consumption of these treats.

As for her garden, it’s blooming brilliant and great for games of hide-and-seek; moreover she knows when, at the crucial time her grandchildren want to stay, to make a call to Mum and Dad suggesting the little ones remain with her for a sleepover.

Super powers indeed; and what a thoroughly heart-warming, vibrant celebration, verbal and visual, of a loving grandmother.

It’s just perfect for grans and little ones to enjoy reading together.

Just Like Mummy / Superhero Mum

Just Like Mummy
Lucy Freegard
Pavilion Books

Following on from last year’s Just Like Daddy, Lucy Freegard turns her attention to mums, especially the one featured here.

The young narrator introduces his/her special super-talented mum– full of fun, both creative and practical, ready to offer some words of wisdom at just the right time and provider of cuddles whenever they’re needed. Who wouldn’t want to have a mother like that, and perhaps, to have those qualities when they grow up? Certainly that is what the little leopard here is aiming for. (We don’t know the gender so the story works well for all.)

I suspect any youngster would wish for a mother who spends so much time with her child be that making music, gardening, exploring or whatever, and the cub really does appreciate this togetherness.

It’s important to acknowledge that things don’t always go exactly how we’d like them to; there are sad times, challenging times and inevitably, times when we make mistakes, and so it is here.

Lucy Freegard’s expressive illustrations do a great job of encompassing both the highs and lows of everyday life in a book that is perfect for sharing and discussing with pre-schoolers, and especially, it’s a lovely story for giving to a special mum on Mother’s Day.

Superhero Mum
Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger
Nosy Crow

We had Superhero Dad and now Knapman and Berger even things up with a companion title about mums.

The narrative is an upbeat rhyming celebration of all the things that make them so amazing. Mums, and in particular this little girl narrator’s mum, is on the go from morning till night, whizzing around, often multi-tasking.

Whether it’s making sure we catch the bus to school,

inventing and participating in energetic playground games, administering first aid,

joining in with bath time fun, seeking out a favourite lost toy, or sharing a bedtime story, she always delivers.

In short, she’s an inspiration to every would-be super hero girl (or boy come to that.)

It takes someone special to do all these things with a smile on her face and that’s how Joe Berger’s comic book coloured, action-packed scenes portray her in every one of these seemingly ordinary, everyday activities that could be easily taken for granted.

I’ve signed the charter  

Surprising a Dad/Superhero Dad

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How to Surprise a Dad
Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish
Hodder Children’s Books
The same team who gave us manuals for babysitting a Grandma and a Grandad now offer another instruction book. Herein we find a brother and sister joining forces to give their Dad a day (or several) to remember If you want tips on Dad-pleasing, then look no further, so long as you are prepared to be more than a little tricky;

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and it’s better to enlist Mum’s support too.
There are suggestions for the kind of surprises you might make – inventions for instance,

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or getting things ready or organising things for him, helping with the shopping, days out enjoying nature and some wonderful cooking extravaganzas with favourite ingredients (spicy crisps, smoked oysters, super-stinky cheese for instance) to serve along with those choc. chip cookies.

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With a plethora of plans to please a papa from Reagan and those digitally rendered illustrations peppered with presents and pop-pleasing humour from Wildish, this is an obvious choice for Father’s Day but equally fun to share with Dad at any time.

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Superhero Dad
Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger
Nosy Crow
The Dad in this rhyming romp is assuredly a larger than life character – a secret superhero – the boy narrator informs us. His snores are ear-splitting, breakfasts are outlandishly awesome concoctions,

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he laughs uproariously at his own super-soppy jokes, his strength is – well what do you think?

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So much is worthy of his superhero status: his roars, (and kisses), his zooms and lifts, his woodwork skills especially.

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But, the positioning of his pants puts his whole ‘superhero-ness’ in doubt (to those who don’t know him well that is) but not to our young narrator: he knows what others don’t. It’s Dad though, not boy who has the final word …
With comical celebratory capers, cleverly constructed by the super Knapman and Berger partnership, this is a special treat for Dads to share with their super-kids and vice-versa; but also great fun for all super-adults to read to all super-smalls.

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Gracie and Leo engrossed in the story.



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My Dad’s the Best!
Nicholas Allan
Red Fox pbk
All dads are special is the message in Nicholas Allen’s latest offering. None however is quite like that belonging to the young narrator of this rhyming celebration of one slightly eccentric father figure, and dads in general.

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Told through a jaunty text and a sequence of zany watercolour illustrations,
this is one for dads and their offspring to share and not just on Fathers’ Day.

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Dot and Gracie


Randi Zuckerberg and Joe Berger
Young Dot is a true technophile. She can tap, touch, tweet and tag, surf, swipe,


share and search. And, she just loves to talk… and talk… and talk … until she’s completely talked out. ‘Time to reboot,” says her mum pushing her out of the house. There, with the help of her friends, Dot rediscovers her ability to tap, touch, tweet and tap, to surf, swipe, search and share as she plays for real in the great outdoors.


This vital lesson is one all our children need to learn. Would that there were more parents like Dot’s mum who would give them that push to set aside all their technological devices and embrace the great outdoors. Joe Berger’s slightly retro illustrations convey much of the sense of the straightforward story and remind us that the good, some might think, old-fashioned, picture book still has a vital place in every child’s experience. Equally important they convey that exuberance and joie de vie which can take over when children play outdoors.
Great book, great message. Moreover, with its natural repetition it’s a lovely one to offer children just embarking on their reading journeys.
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Star Girl
Karin Littlewood
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Every night Gracie looks through her bedroom window at her special star shining brightly but she misses it during the daytime. So, one night she creeps out into the forest, climbs the tallest tree and catches hold of the beautiful star.
Having got it back into her bedroom though, the star seems to have lost its sparkle. Gracie tries her best to bring it back. She dances for it in her sparkly clothes, takes it to the top of a hill, to the place where fireflies and glowworms shine and to the rock pools where the starfish live, she even takes it out onto the moonlit sea. But nothing brings back that sparkle. Finally Gracie realises she must send the star back to its rightful place in the sky so, kissing her stellar friend goodbye, she sadly releases it once more into the night sky. When she gets back home and looks through her bedroom window, there it is shining more brightly than ever, just for her.


This Gracie was thrilled to find ‘herself’ in the book.

There is gentleness about this whole book. Gracie is a thoughtful little girl and is beautifully portrayed in Karin Littlewood’s gorgeous watercolour illustrations; every turn of the page is a delight.
With its underlying ethical and possible environmental themes this is a lovely book to share and discuss with young children.
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Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Shopping

Billy the Goat’s Big Breakfast
Jez Alborough
As Nat the Cat prepares a tasty breakfast to share with her friends Billy Goat and Hugo Hare, she is interrupted by the early arrival of a ravenous Billy. Nat leaves Billy waiting and continues her preparations but her pal is unable to resist the temptation to start sampling the food and before long, not only has he slurped all the juice but also taken an enormous bite of the bread – a very gooey mouthful. That’s when the real trouble begins; instead of a rumbling tum, Billy Goat now has a gurgling, swelling one not to mention a very sticky grin. It’s that grin which causes Nat to take her bag and head off to the shops leaving Hugo Hare to listen to Billy Goat’s confession. On her return she discovers Billy wrapped in a coat supposedly cold and tells him to sit by the fire. Well, we know and she knows what will happen then… Time for Billy to own up to his hostess but she knows he has learned his lesson so its time for a belated breakfast and a singsong. (words are provided).
Alborough’s gentle cautionary tale bounces along and his large illustrations are immediately engaging. The expressions on the faces of the three friends, particularly Billy Goat’s, are hilarious. Billy’s Breakfast Song can be downloaded from
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Just out in paperback is Jez Alborough’s first story about the three friends, Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile previously reviewed in the March Selection.


The Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet!
Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter illustrated by Garry Parsons
Red Fox pbk.
The McFly’s Christmas pooping dinosaur is back in another rhyming romp. This time, armed with a packed lunch, he accompanies Danny to the Science Museum to see the rockets. They discover one with a door large enough for a boy plus pet dinosaur to go inside. It’s an open invitation and needless to say, the temptation to touch the controls is too great: Intergalactic Mission is under way. Before long the dinosaur’s tummy rumbles in readiness for lunch but where are those packed lunches? Certainly not on board! So begins a disastrous dinosaur feast and not only the controls but great chunks of the rocket itself are consumed, even the moon, Martians and more are munched. Finally, with nothing at all left of their rocket and Danny crying space-suits full of tears, the dinosaur realizes there is only one way to get them safely back to earth. Time for another pooping plan to be put into action right away…
Poo, planets and pandemonium – definitely a recipe for resounding success with small children who will laugh uproariously at the galactic gallivanting of the boy and his pet, hilariously portrayed and documented in tongue teasing verse that will have many adults in fits too.
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Ding Dong Gorilla!
Michelle Robinson and Leonie Lord
Orchard Books pbk.
In this ‘off the wall’ story, we hear first hand from a small boy what happens when he opens the door, not to the pizza delivery boy who is expected but to an enormous gorilla. Said gorilla barges into the house and proceeds in pursuit of fun, to take enormous liberties creating havoc all over the house and in the garden too. Such activities as crayoning, dressing up and picking flowers not to mention smashing a vase, a window and a chair have given him large appetite, so he sets to work creating even more mess with the blender and ingredients for a chocolate cake. Finally the delivery boy does turn up with the order but guess what – there is a big black hairy shape exiting through the front door clutching a huge cheesy pizza just as a pair of high heeled feet can be seen on the stair.
It’s truly amazing just how much chaos one gorilla or one small boy can create in the time between ordering a pizza and his mother going upstairs to get ready for dinner. Leonie Lord runs riot with wonderful scenes of devastation at every turn of the page; I know a good many mums with young children who will recognize such scenes. Wonderful stuff.
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Spells-A-Popping Granny’s Shopping
Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger
Nosy Crow pbk.
Supermarket shopping can be rather a bore but that is definitely not the case in this story. The little girl narrator recounts what happens when she accompanies her Granny to stock up on provisions, a granny who just happens to be a witch. Needless to say it’s not long before biscuits are dancing, popcorn is popping and the fish fingers are swimming towards the door. And that’s before the two of them spot a couple of robbers stashing sweets and cakes into a large sack. Time for another wave of granny’s wand and a bit of help from a chocolate bear and then, robbers safely under arrest it’s back home and a tasty meal for two cooked up by one very special granny.
Zany characters, action-packed scenes full of amusing details and a lively rhyming text – just the right ingredients for a hugely enjoyable storytime read.
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