Toddler Take-Along: Nature / Hello, Bee / Jeppo Finds His Friends

It’s never too early to start introducing little ones to the delights of nature and the first two books from Little Tiger should help do just that. Thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

Toddler Take-Along: Nature
Ana Zaja Petrak and Becky Davies

Bold images on bright backgrounds with peep through die-cuts and a simple question per spread, invite toddlers to look all around and with the help of the labels, name what they see, be it on the ground, up in the sky, or on and around the pond.
As suggested in the title, a handy carrying handle makes this one ideal for taking out on walks.

Also bursting with mini beasts is:

Hello, Bee
Sophie Ledesma

A buzzy bee leads the way through the pages of this touchy-feely, lift the flap book wherein we meet small creatures that fly, crawl, slither and walk; there’s an odd surprise too. Sophie Ledesma’s multicoloured images are gently humorous yet recognisable, and in combination with the brief chatty text and hidden animals element and the final ‘What did you spot on the way?’ spread showing an assortment of natural objects that were passed on bee’s flight, make for an interactive experience that little humans will enjoy sharing with an adult or perhaps an older sibling.

Another interactive board book is:

Jeppo Finds His Friends
Ingela P Arrhenius
Walker Books

Tiger Jeppo can’t wait to meet up with all his friends but although he soon finds Larry Lamb and Flora Fox, of Odd the owl there’s no sign. So off the others go to look for him. After several misidentifications, disappointed, they’re on the point of giving up but there’s one last place to check. Perhaps they might be lucky this time …
Toddlers will have fun lifting the various flaps as they join in the search for Odd the owl in Ingela Arrhenius’ bold, bright playful spreads.

Mort the Meek and the Monstrous Quest / Mike Falls Up

These are two new fiction titles from the Little Tiger Stripes imprint – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

Mort the Meek and the Monstrous Quest
Rachel Delahaye, illustrated by George Ermos

According to the introduction to this second adventure of Mort, I am mad, for it warns readers not to proceed to the first chapter if they suffer from seasickness, which I most definitely do. Nonetheless having enjoyed Mort the Meek and the Ravens’ Revenge, I was prepared to swallow some anti-nausea tablets and board ship along with the founder of Brutalia’s pacifist society and vegetarian protagonist, as eager as he, to leave the ghastly shores of Brutalia with its gruesome Queen. In fact it’s partly on account of said Queen that Mort sets sail on the Salty Sea for she has issued a challenge that would give him the opportunity to search, not for the treasure she desires, but for his missing father and sibling twins Gosh and Gee.

However, find an amazing treasure – the three tentacled Belgo – is just what Mort and his tough companion Punky, daughter of a rock crusher, do.

That happens only half way through this story though, by which time Mort has more or less convinced himself that said Belgo has consumed his missing family members, What of his pacifism now? Will it lose out to his anger?

The fact that Rachel Delahaye is a wonderfully humorous wordsmith is part of what makes this dark tale a smashing read; she’s replaced those chapter opening ravens with masters of misinterpretation, Bruce and Larry, a pair of lobsters. There’s danger aplenty too, but the story isn’t without hope: after all where there’s pacifism there’s always hope, all of which George Ermos brings out in his plentiful black and white illustrations.

For slightly younger readers is:

Mike Falls Up
Candy Gourlay, illustrated by Carles Ballesteros

This addition to the Stripes series of full colour fiction for newly independent readers begins in the Chocolate Hills, in the Philippines. It’s a very hot day, too hot really to do anything much and Mike’s mama has sent him and his dog Bowow out for some fresh air while she prepares dinner. They’re sitting on a hill when a sudden earthquake occurs, the ground splits open and Bowow leaps into the hole.

Soon after an anonymous note blows up on which is written BIRTHDAY. COME NOW. JUST FALL UP.
The boy has no idea who sent it, nor how to fall up but he does know that he has to find Bowow, so into the darkness he plunges. The next thing he knows Mike is roused by a dog with an unfamiliar face and a voice shouting, “Foofoo! Is he awake?”

What follows results in an altogether different kind of birthday party but it isn’t for the little girl Kaneisha in whose London room he finds himself. Nor does it take place in a setting either child recognises; suffice it to say that their host is exceedingly happy to see the unexpected guests, a fun time ensues and friendships are forged.

The author has certainly left gaps for readers to fill in this strange story that Carles Ballesteros has made even stranger with his almost surreal, computer game style illustrations.

Interestingly, this is the first in the series to be published as a paperback original, which I think, the target audience might prefer.