Ruby and Graham / This Old Dog

Ruby and Graham
Lucy Barnard
New Frontier Publishing

Playful party loving Ruby and organising expert, Graham, both live in Acorn Wood ensuring that it’s both a happy lively place and a beautiful one.

However, it’s Ruby who gets all the attention from the other woodland animals, so one afternoon Graham decides to change his ways and become more funky.

Such is the improvement in his popularity that he resolves to make the change permanent.

Now while it might be a good thing for Graham, the woodland rapidly becomes a messy, confused environment. Ruby approaches her fellow squirrel and an interesting discussion ensues wherein they each talk about their feelings of self-worth.

Can the two share their abilities to their mutual benefit, as well as for the betterment of the entire community? Working together is the way to go …

Lucy Barnard’s digital illustrations add humorous details to her textual narrative, making every spread a stopping point that offers much to enjoy and talk about with young listeners, particularly with the approach of autumn and winter.

This Old Dog
Martha Brockenbrough and Gabriel Alborozo
Levine Querido

This Old Dog is a heart-warming story about a dog that’s well past its prime (‘His bones are sore but his heart is strong’) and a small girl who loves him dearly.

From the moment the child is born, the pace of life in old dog’s family speeds up, but the creature ‘likes to take things slow.’ He’d yearned to have a friend for long, slow strolls, rolls in the grass and romps in the leaves.

Both little girl and the dog truly know how to live in the moment, make the most of their experiences and cherish their time together; and once the child takes to her feet she walks straight towards old dog. At last his wish is fulfilled: there’s grass smelling, hill rolling down and much more …

some of which make the pooch enormously excited.

Together they can discover (or rediscover) what a wonderful world it is, day after day …

Just as the girl and old dog were seemingly made for one another so too was the author/illustrator partnership between Martha Brockenbrough and Gabriel Alborozo. The slow, steady text skilfully mirrors old dog’s plodding, yawning demeanour so perfectly captured in the delicately lined ink and water colour illustrations; he’s a real personality this pooch, as is the adoring little girl, his total devotee and playmate.

Whether or not you’re a lover of dogs, you’ll definitely fall for this gorgeous book.

Little Fox / Little Polar Bear Rescue

Little Fox
Edward Van De Vendel and Marije Tolman
Levine Querido

The story begins with a visual sequence of five stunning double spreads showing Little Fox is playing on the dunes among the water birds and animals when he spies two butterflies – purple ones.

The text now begins, telling how he cannot resist chasing after them. His focus, solely on the airborne creatures, causes the fox to plunge over a hilly edge and fall heavily onto the ground. There he lies still, seemingly unconscious.

Then in a dream, his whole life hitherto passes before him as he recalls his earliest time with his mother;

slightly later, playing with his siblings; his adventures in the wider world; his encounters with humans in particular a child; his father warning him of over curiosity, ”Too nosy is dead nosy”, which on one occasion almost turns out to be true.

Suddenly the entire narration turns full circle as the child who came to his rescue previously comes upon Little Fox again. This small human picks the creature up and carries it in carefully, followed by a procession of other animals,

safely back to his fox family, where aroused by the familiar smell, Little Fox opens his eyes once more.

Superb illustrations by Marije Tolman (notes at the end explain how they were created) combined with Van De Vendel’s text (translated from its original Dutch by David Colmer) unfolding stream-of-consciousness style for the most part, make a touching triumph readers will want to return to over and over.

Little Polar Bear Rescue
Rachel Delahaye, illustrated by Jo Anne Davies
Little Tiger

This is the most recent in the author’s deservedly popular Little Animal Rescue series.

One minute young Fliss is playing hide and seek in the forest with her Forest Club group and the next seemingly, she’s in remotest Canada in a polar bear look out.

Outside, surveying her surroundings, she looks through her binoculars and spots a little cub that appears to have been separated from its mother and left behind. She names it Nanuk after the lookout.

By following a trail of footprints and using all her skills and knowledge, can she reunite the mischievous little creature with its mother?

There are encounters with caribou, a fox, a pack of wolves, some Arctic hares, walruses and a far from friendly polar bear family but will Nanuk’s elusive mother be found in time?

Problem-solving is key in this enchanting story for animal-loving new solo readers especially. Jo Anne Davies’ line drawings heighten the enjoyment of the drama.