Phil Alcock and Richard Watson
Maverick Arts Publishing
Wally Wobblebottom is a kind-hearted soul; he has a horse named Clumpety Bump, a very lazy animal indeed. So lazy that when Wally sets out to deliver goodies to his various friends and neighbours, the horse’s response to his master’s words of encouragement on each occasion is “I can’t be bothered!” which leaves Wally more than a little frustrated, especially as the items he intends to deliver all go to waste.
By Thursday Wally has had enough; he decides to use his tractor when he goes, bearing flowers, to visit his lady-friend. However it seems machines can be just as unreliable as horses …
and in the end it’s Clumpety that takes Wally, at full speed this time, all the way to Ann Kacheef’s house. There disaster strikes … but all ends happily for everyone.
With its playful phrases and refrains to join in with, this story, with its themes of thankfulness and friendship, is one to encourage audience participation and promote the message that language can be fun.
More playful language in:
Tim McCanna and Allison Black
Be prepared for a noisy storytime if you share this one: it’s a riotous read aloud thanks to the musicians of the Barnyard Animal Band.
All the animals have their instruments poised: Horse has a tuba, Goat plays a sax, Cat fiddles, Pig is a pianist, Sheep blows a trumpet and Dog bangs the drums. But what can Cow do? …
The crowd’s assembled ready to hear the performance; but how will the show start and who will lead the band?
Crazy rhyming onomatopoeic instrumental sounds, and a repeat refrain that young children will love to join in with, are part and parcel of the brief text that scans beautifully. Put together with bright, zany illustrations, the whole thing makes for a fun session with young children actively involved both vocally and physically.
Will & Nill
Farhad Hasanzadeh and Atieh Markazi
Tiny Owl Publishing
Will and Nill are two alley cats, both very hungry. That’s about their only similarity though, for while Will is up and about at cock-crow, Nill yawns and continues to doze. Having tried unsuccessfully to persuade his friend to join him, off goes Will alone. Not to forage first though, for he accepts the invitation to play hide-and-seek with a passing sparrow –
at least it provides a distraction from an empty tummy. Not only that but he is eventually rewarded by a half-eaten fish he discovers poking out from the top of the sparrow’s third hiding place.
Then having promised another game the following day, Will sets about sating his appetite on the tasty treat that awaits him before returning to an even hungrier Nill, and a contented sleep.
This fable playfully demonstrates that making just a little effort can make a big difference. There are probably elements of both Nill and Will in all of us, but unexpected good fortune seldom comes to those who do nothing: serendipity seems to favour those that have a bit of get up and go.
The flat, almost perspectiveless renditions of both cats and cityscapes are at once arresting and wryly winsome; and despite Nill’s somnolence, Atieh Markazi really does manage to bring both characters to life in her cat portraits.
The New York Review Children’s Collection
Meet Donkey-donkey (or maybe reacquaint yourself with same, as this story was first published over sixty years ago). He has plenty of friends and a very kind master …
and plenty of his favourite food to eat. Everything is as it should be – yes? No actually; for as having caught sight of his reflection in the stream, our Donkey becomes dissatisfied with his appearance, his long ears being the particular cause for a sudden attack of self ridicule. Off goes the tearful creature to seek advice from various other animals as to how best to sport those super-sized sound receptors of his.
Having consulted all the farmyard animals and done his utmost to alter his appearance with some very amusing and sometimes painful results …
Donkey-donkey eventually comes around to accepting his ears as the beautiful appendages they truly are.
Self-acceptance and appreciating our own uniqueness are oft-explored themes in picture books but, with its direct narrative and delightfully droll watercolour illustrations, this golden oldie still packs a punch.
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