Let’s All Creep Through Crocodile Creek

Let’s All Creep Through Crocodile Creek
Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger

As the sun sets an intrepid little Mouse leads his fearful friends homewards.

In order to get there before dark, he decides to take the short cut through the creek. He’s ‘NEVER seen a crocodile in the creepy, crooked creek’, so he tells Shelly and Rabbit.

What follows is a delicious comedy of errors as the three friends set off, traversing a ‘lumpy, bumpy bridge,’ clambering through ‘long, thick “scritchy, scratchy” thorns’

and swinging through green vines. All the while Mouse is providing a description of the animals they’re hoping never to see.

Then Shelly’s comment concerning the similarity between slippy, slidey logs and the bodies of the green reptiles causes them to plunge into a dark tunnel from where they view a host of watchful pairs of eyes upon them.
Hundreds of crocodiles, is Shelly’s conviction.

Mouse continues with his banter until Shelly’s burning question provokes a considerable degree of panic; but the three friends do manage to find dry land safely, albeit still some distance from home.

A forest shortcut is Mouse’s suggestion; but don’t forests contain tigers, wonders Rabbit … and off we go again.

Jonny’s surefooted way of manipulating words and images, orchestrating them into a seamless drama that unfolds across the pages, is what makes this book SO brilliant; that and his attention to detail throughout. From the crocodilian front endpapers to the tiger-striped back ones it offers a superb lesson in how a picture book should be read.

The Big Angry Roar

The Big Angry Roar
Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger

No matter how mindful we are I’m sure we all feel angry at times, but it’s how we respond to our angry feelings that is crucial.

As the result of a spat between siblings, Jonny Lambert’s Cub is feeling so angry he thinks he might pop.

All the other animals have their own ways to deal with their anger. Zebra and Gnu let theirs out by stamping and stomping; Rhino bashes and crashes; Hippo splatters and splashes but when Cub tries he ends up with an injured paw, an unpleasant aroma and even more anger.

His next encounter is with Elephant’s backside and a furious face off ensues.

Their tooting and roaring precipitates a massive …

Fortunately for all concerned Baboon is on hand ready to offer a lesson in anger management, which does the trick,

leaving Cub with just one more thing to do.

There’s a perfect balance of words and pictures giving the latter plenty of room for maximum impact in every one of Jonny’s eloquent scenes. Cub’s eye views of the animals – a forest of legs and looming bulk – are executed in his signature textured collage style.

The text, punctuated with plenty of onomatopoeia, exclamations, and variations in font size are a gift to readers aloud who enjoy putting on a performance – and who could resist with such a script.

Another must have for your collection from one of my favourite picture book creators.

Where in the Wild

Where in the Wild
Jonny Lambert and Poppy Bishop
Little Tiger Press

Poppy Bishop gets poetical in her passion for wildlife and its protection in this visual and verbal evocation of the world’s animal habitats and how crucial it is to save these wonderful wild places from further destruction by human actions.

She takes us to meet creatures of the land and sea as we visit nine different faunal homes, the first being the river where otter speaks out.

We also spend time in the tropical rainforest alive with screeching monkeys, beautiful butterflies and other insects and a leopard introduces itself.

The hot savannah comes next, home to elephants, leopards, vultures, bats and scorpions: here a tunnelling meerkat tells of his digging prowess.

Scorpions are also found in sun-scorched desert regions, the next stopping place; home also for snakes, mice, lizards and the camel that describes its flat feet.

Next to cooler climes and a beautiful woodland inhabited by roosting jays, a bluetit sings about its home and diet,

and badgers roam both here and on grassy plains.
Thereon too reside wolves, buzzards, deer and other birds of prey.

Evergreen forests, the Arctic tundra and oceans are the three final locations, each with its own array of wonderful creatures large and small.

Strategically placed die cuts and a related question cleverly provide a link between habitats on each spread.

The last page and inside back cover are a rhyming plea for readers to act as advocates, speaking out for and doing whatever they can to save these precious places and their creatures; and short paragraphs about special adaptations, destructive human actions and a last plea to care for what we have for the sake of the animals.

Heartfelt, beautifully illustrated with Jonny Lambert’s fantastic collage style art, this is I hope, a book that will stir young readers and adults alike to play their part in the preservation of our precious planet.

Look Out, It’s a Dragon!

Look Out, It’s a Dragon!
Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger Press

It’s always a pleasure to open a package and discover a new Jonny Lambert picture book. This, his latest, is something of a departure in that it stars a mythical, rather than a ‘real’ animal although there are plenty of the latter herein too.

Without further ado let me introduce Saffi. She’s an atypical dragon who isn’t interested in capturing princesses, nor in crushing castles, and she’s had quite enough of bottom-bruising rocky mountains. So off she flies in search of a more hospitable environment in which to live.

That is just what she thinks she’s found when she lands rather ungracefully in a sunny woodland. The forest animals however, think otherwise and start fleeing for their lives.

Suddenly Saffi hears a squeaky “Oi! Knobbly knickers! You can’t stay here!” from behind her. It’s Mouse expressing an opinion held by all the forest inhabitants on account of her fiery dragon nature. The dragon does her best to persuade the little creature otherwise and has almost won him over when disaster strikes in the form of a twitchy nose that ends in a very forceful sneeze that scares Mouse …

and damages Warbler’s plumage.

Saffi sets off in pursuit only wreaking more havoc …

until the animals have had enough and the poor well-intentioned dragon is sent packing in no uncertain terms.

Later though, something happens that puts the forest animals and their habitat in real peril.

Who can save them now?

A drama that embodies themes of prejudice, friendship, the dangers of stereotyping and bravery.

Gentle humour pervades the dragon-dominated, mixed media illustrations although even the very tiny participants make their presence felt strongly in the unfolding drama. As always in Lambert’s books, body language is superbly done throughout.

Your heart really does go out to Saffi in her attempts to find a new home so you will be happy to learn that there’s a dragon template that can be used for children to create their very own Saffi character. I’d suggest making a whole diorama and suspending the dragon somewhere therein.

I’ve signed the charter  

The Only Lonely Panda

The Only Lonely Panda
Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger Press

Deep in the forest, a lonely panda sits among the bamboos longing for a friend. He sets his sights on another panda; but how to go about making friends with her, that is the thorny question.
He spends time observing his fellow forest animals: first the flamingos who befriend one another through a graceful dance. Panda’s efforts at fluffy flamingo dancing however don’t quite pass muster; in fact they’re a total flop.
So what about emulating those bouncing sifakas? Surely being springy like those bouncy creatures can’t be difficult and it’s bound to impress the other panda …

Well, maybe not!
Nor can he manage that majestic booby walk like the strutting blue-footed birds, without losing sight of the object of his desire.

And that peacock is in no hurry to part with any of his tail feathers; so Panda will just have to make do …

until the rain comes that is.
It’s a very despondent panda that plods off to eat his dinner all by himself. But then … Perhaps this is the opportunity he’s been looking for: carpe diem, lonely Panda …
What a gorgeous production this is. Its metallic silver ink finish really makes the gorgeous glowing colours of the forest animals stand out.
Jonny Lambert uses the space on the page with supreme artistry: every spread is skilfully choreographed in what seems like a virtuoso performance of an animal ballet.
Moreover, thanks to Jonny, I’ve now made the acquaintance of two animals new to me – the blue-footed booby and the sifaka. His story, with its important message, reads aloud beautifully but it’s those visual sequences that linger long in the mind.

I’ve signed the charter  

Tiger Tiger

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Tiger Tiger
Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger Press
I randomly opened my copy of Jonny Lambert’s latest offering at this spread …

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and instantly knew I was in picture book paradise. That strutting Tiger looking so disdainful while an excited Cub is endeavouring to interest him in the colourful butterfly he’s just spotted on a plant, is a portrayal of supreme scorn if ever there was one.
At this point Tiger has, more than a tad reluctantly, taken on the role of Cub-sitter and is far from happy; all he had on his immediate agenda was a peaceful snooze. Cub however, has bamboozled his carer into a ‘very slow stroll’, which the former interprets as dashing, darting and having – dare I say it – FUN. Tiger however considers it way too hot for exploring and deems it not worth the effort anyhow, there being a distinct lack of anything of interest.
With such scornful dismissals as “Humbrum” and “Puffle!” the adult continues leading the way through the jungle, all the while urging the cub to stay close. Gradually though, Tiger’s tone begins to change to a slightly more indulgent one as they see first, romping baby rhinos,

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and then Pangolin; and all the while his charge is taking risks climbing to enjoy a better view of the creatures they pass …

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Unexpectedly, Tiger begins to get playful and even admits to having some FUN; in fact he’s positively enjoying the jungle trail, laughing and leaping and bouncing with his “little friend”.
As somebody who firmly believes in the educative importance of play for the young (and not so young), this cracking story, which celebrates playfulness and the exhilaration young children find, and generate, in the world, is a massive winner with me. Undoubtedly it will equally delight young audiences who join Tiger and Cub in their jungle adventure.
Jonny has created this story to celebrate 30 years of Little Tiger Press; assuredly he has done himself, his publisher and his audience proud with such a terrific book.

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Little Why

Red Reading Hub is delighted to have the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour for this debut picture book.

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Little Why
Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger Press
A delightfully direct down-to earth narrative with delicious alliteration, exciting-sounding repeat refrains to join in with, deliciously droll collage style illustrations, a charmingly inquisitive main character, and with a vital message and celebration of individuality and uniqueness at its heart -and it is really all heart – this smashing book really is presented from the viewpoint of its chief protagonist, the adorable Little Why.
And, according to its creator, Jonny Lambert, it all started with a tiny felted creature and some doodles …
As he follows behind the Elders, baby elephant, Little Why just cannot keep in line. He’s constantly being side tracked by the sight of other amazing animals of the African savannah. Take Wildebeest and his special spiny-spiky horns for instance; Little Why must have a pair like that to give him great charging powers and make him appear super-duper scary.

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But his request for wildebeest-like horns is met with a swift and emphatic “NO!“ and when he asks “Why?”,Keep in line!” is all the response he gets.
The same thing happens when he spots Giraffe’s long-lofty leggy legs – just the thing to make me ‘super-stretchy tall’ to reach those tasty topmost leaves, thinks Little Why. But this request is treated in the same manner as the first.
By now my audience were ready to join in here, eagerly shouting NO! and the other repeat lines, as soon as Little Why spies Cheetah with that “speedy-spotty, fuzzy fur”.
But then, still not back where he should be, despite the best efforts of the gallant, feathered, silent player, what’s this about to confront our intrepid explorer of animal attributes?

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Surely that little, or rather huge, surprise is sufficient to keep Little Why on track?
Perhaps, but he still doesn’t seem satisfied with his lot. “If only I had … “ he says sulkily but this round of wishful thinking is brought to an abrupt halt by his mother,

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and this time his request to STOP! receives not one but two explanatory responses. Firstly the animals have reached their destination,

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but much more important is mother elephant’s final reassurance” “You don’t need … You’ve got fantastic flipflappy ears, a super-squirty trunk and … you’re special just the way you are.”
Much enjoyed by all I’ve shared it with, (audiences of 5s to 9s) Jonny Lambert’s debut solo picture book is definitely a winner.

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Some of my listeners imagined what Little Why might look like with some additional attributes…

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With Lots of Love

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I Love You More and More
Nicky Benson and Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger Press
Warm and reassuring is this litany of endless love, which celebrates a very special relationship between an adult bear and its cub, while at the same time introducing a host of other endearing animal characters …

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as the two journey together through woods, up hills and down, to a waterfall

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and river, then pausing to look upwards at the star-filled night sky,

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big bear assures the little one “You are beautiful in all you do,
And in all the words you say …
I love you, baby, more and more
   With every precious day.”
And just how precious those shared times are is evident in Jonny Lambert’s stylish collage style illustrations and Nicky Benson’s gentle, lyrical rhyming words.
Just the thing to snuggle up and share with a loved one at bedtime or any time of day.

Equally delightful is the small format:

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Love …
Emma Dodd
Nosy Crow
Herein a mother rabbit and her little one spend the day together talking, resting, sheltering …

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and sometimes, savouring the moment …

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as the young rabbit learns from those inevitable mistakes

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and mother rabbit realises that the world is even more wonderful now that she can share it with her little one.
Chock-full of love, this is perfect for sharing with tinies (and perhaps not so tinies) at bedtime, in the daytime, any time you want to pass on some tender magic Emma Dodd style.

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