Action and Reaction: Fish / Yawn

Fish
Brendan Kearney
Dorling Kindersley Penguin Random House

Softly spoken yes, but, inspired by personal experience, Brendan Kearney’s picture book about the perils of polluting the ocean with plastic, and how we can all help to improve the situation for the endangered fish and other marine flora and fauna is clear and to the point.

Finn and his dog Skip set out one morning in their little boat, hoping to catch a tasty fish or two for their supper.

After a while when not a single fish has given so much as a tug at Finn’s line, Skip spies something in the waves. Down to the depths he swims and the sight that meets his eyes is horrifying.

Rubbish, rubbish and more rubbish. Back to show Finn with some evidence he goes.

Equally concerned, the man goes on fishing for a while but before long all he has on board is a collection of weird objects.

Fortunately, once back on dry land the two encounter a group of young beach cleaners who are equally alarmed at the load of rubbish brought out of the sea.

Finn explains how he came by it and about the complete lack of fish. What follows are a number of pertinent comments from the young eco-warriors and the following day Finn heeds their words – re-use and recycle – and goes on to join the beach cleaners.

With his engaging narrative, visual and verbal – Brendan Kearney focuses on the crucial environmental issues in the hope – his, mine and countless others – that young children will become part of the movement to clean up our polluted oceans and beaches and of course, it’s never to soon to teach them about the importance of recycling.

Yawn
Patricia Hegarty and Teresa Bellón
Little Tiger

A yawn can be highly infectious as this fun story shows.
Starting with a single feeling from deep inside the little boy narrator, a single yawn quickly becomes unstoppable, passing from the boy to all – every neighbourhood inhabitant, human and animal, until the entire street have gaping mouths.

From here it moves to the countryside and eventually all over the world, not content until every single person and every single creature has the yawns. It even heads off out into space

– it’s ‘gone viral ‘we read. Does that remind you of anything?

Fortunately though, on this occasion the outcome is that when bedtime comes, so does a great big YAAAAAAWN! to send us off into the land of slumbers.
Happy dreams.

It’s is definitely a book to share at bedtime unless that is you want to induce sleepiness at some other time in your home or classroom. Patricia’s rhyming narrative has that soporific feel to it, and if you happen to pause just a little too long on any of Teresa Bellon’s spreads (love those cutaway pages) to enjoy all the funky details, you might just find yourself the next recipient of that repeat refrain ‘YAAAAAAWN! Pass it on!’ Snore …

Nature in Focus – Home / Seasons

Here are two books from Little Tiger that focus on nature and the changing seasons

Home
Patricia Hegarty and Britta Teckentrup

‘All of us need a place to rest – / A cave, a warren, a pond, a nest … // Wherever we may choose to roam, / We need a place to call our home.” So says Patricia Hegarty’s introduction to this look at the forest that is home to all kinds of creatures large and small.
In the company of little bear, we visit a variety of animal homes starting with the cub and her family’s cave, dark and deep.

With the advent of spring, the cub ventures out watched by an owl in her tree. He visits the place where squirrels are gathering leaves for their drey; beavers are also building a shelter; a bird is busy nest building.

Further afield salmon spawn in the glistening river, multitudes of minibeasts are hard at work, and underground rabbits are safe in their warren.

As night begins to fall, a pack of wolves begin to prowl, hunting for food; while a flock of arctic terns make ready to begin their long journey before another winter sets in.

Finally as the cold arrives, it’s time for little bear and his family to hibernate ‘til spring comes round once more.

In her lyrical text Patricia takes us through the changing seasons and to the various animal homes. Britta Teckentrup’s signature style collage scenes, with their die-cut pages, follow the action and the bear cub, highlighting the importance of each home mentioned in the narrative as well as showing the seasonal changes in the forest.

Seasons
Hannah Pang and Clover Robin

Author Hannah and illustrator Clover take us to half a dozen different locations in the world to experience the natural world in all its glory through the seasons.

We observe the changes that each season brings, starting with a focus on a mighty European oak tree that stands majestically in a meadow, its spreading branches and roots providing shelter and food for countless creatures – birds, insects and other minibeasts, small mammals and some larger ones too.

Spring, summer and autumn with their flowers, fruits and fungi are times of abundance for the various animals. Come winter, the branches are bare and it’s a hard time for animals, many of which hide themselves away in order to survive. Indeed, change through every season is vital for survival of the tree and the associated wildlife.

The other natural habitats are the chilly Arctic where the change in length of day and night is dramatic,

the wilds of Alaska where rivers freeze in the coldest months; a boggy mangrove in northern Australia – one season teeming with land animals, another with fish; then comes the Yellow Dragon Valley, home to some of China’s rarest animals including the giant panda.

The last stop is on the grasslands of the Kenyan Maasai Mara with its wonderful richness of awesome animals and plant life.

As in the oak tree’s location so it is with all the others: change is vital for survival and the Great Migration of the animals of the final location is, so we read, ‘one of the most dramatic events on Earth. For the animals, … a journey of life and death.’

Since the pandemic struck, I think huge numbers of us have become much more aware of the importance of nature in our lives: this book, with Clover Robin’s richly detailed illustrations and Hannah Pang’s factual text, sings that song loud and clear.

Afraid of the Dark / Noah and the Starbird

Here are two picture books  about dealing with difficult situations – thanks Little Tiger for sending these warm-hearted stories

Afraid of the Dark
Sarah Shaffi, Isabel Otter and Lucy Farfort

Moving to a new home is often scary and so it is for the little girl, Amy, who does so with her Dad and dog, Pickle in this story.
Dad is very positive about the move, but not so Amy and Pickle; it just doesn’t feel like home. Her bedroom seems full of strange sounds and shadowy creatures waiting to leap. A night’s sleep might have sent the monsters packing but still that queasy feeling remains.

A visit to the library helps a little,

especially when the kind librarian finds just the right book to transport Amy to a faraway land of adventure when her  dad reads it to her that night. But once he’s gone from her bedroom, back come those monsters.

Next morning seems a little brighter. Children outside wave and invite Amy to play with them in their den. It looks a bit dark inside, but Pickle is willing to go inside so she follows and lo and behold inside a wonderful warm welcome awaits thanks to Sofia and Bilal.

Could this be the beginning of the banishment of those scary monsters. Can Amy send the lurking shadows packing once and for all? …

Sensitively told, this story, demonstrates beautifully how it always takes time to adjust to new situations; and how love and friendship can make all the difference when it comes to coping with first experience fear. Lucy Farfort captures Amy’s fearful feelings perfectly in her illustrations, as well as her dad’s concern and warmth, and the wonderful kindness of the children who welcome her.

Noah and the Starbird
Barry Timms and Faye Hsu

Noah’s dad is ill and has gone to hospital, so Noah is staying with his kind, reassuring, Granny. As they unpack Noah’s things together, the boy notices a lamp inside which is a bird.
Granny tells him it belonged to her grandma and at bedtime Granny suggests to Noah that the bird might have magical powers.

As the boy lies wide awake in bed worrying about his dad, he’s startled by a sound. It’s the bird from the lamp. She introduces herself as Starbird, promising that his father is safe. She sings a lullaby, pulls out one of her tail feathers and gives it to Noah who eventually falls asleep.

The following morning, on hearing what happened Granny tells Noah he has a special magical friend but even she cannot hasten the process of his Daddy getting well. Instead Starbird provides a listening ear again that night before Noak goes to sleep.
Next day the news from the hospital isn’t what Noah hopes, but with some special strength from the magic feather, he and Granny create a collage bird to keep up their spirits.

Can Starbird use her magical powers to help Noah’s Daddy get well again?

Kindness, courage and friendship shine forth from this gentle story: I think right now, the entire world could do with a feather like the one therein.

Tales from the Forest

Tales from the Forest
Emily Hibbs, illustrated by Erin Brown
Stripes Publishing

This collection of twenty stories – five for each season – takes readers close up to creatures great and small from various habitats in the forest.

There’s a wishful caterpillar discovering its own metamorphosis, an adder that sheds its beautiful patterned scaly skin and the woodpeckers searching for a new tree in which to nest and rear chicks in spring.

Bees busy performing their various roles in and around their hive;

fireflies lighting up the forest at twilight “The stars of the forest, burning bright”; competitive boars that end up wallowing side by side in the mud; bats, and tadpoles turning into frogs,

we meet them all in summertime.

Autumn presents beavers building a dam; the subterranean mole; a little mouse that has a narrow escape from a marauding hawk to tiny ladybird ready to join its fellows huddling close inside a log and a fawn whose spots vanish and his antlers grow.

In chilly winter Spider’s new web holds her pouch of tiny eggs while she finds a warmer place to spend her days till spring;

Black Wolf finds a white female companion to share his days; Squirrel remembers where she’s stashed her nuts; a little fox and his siblings lose their way and finally, an owlet listens to the sounds of the other forest animals before she and her father add their own voice to the nocturnal song.

Amazing animals all, as the author acknowledges in her final factual paragraphs – one each for the twenty featured. Her stories are packed with detailed, description and information in a highly accessible form so that readers/listeners will come away from each one having learned a lot without realising it. And, each story ends with a 4-line verse.

Erin Brown’s finely detailed, painterly illustrations at every turn of the page are an absolute delight adding further atmosphere and detail to each telling.

Skeleton Keys: The Legend of Gap-Tooth Jack / The Thing at Black Hole Lake

Skeleton Keys: The Legend of Gap-Tooth Jack
Guy Bass, illustrated by Pete Williamson
Little Tiger

If you’re looking for a darkly comic adventure story that’s full of mystery, monster chases, and outlandish ghoulish decapitations, (that’s also about friendship, fitting in and finding self-confidence), then accept the invitation of Keys – Skeleton Keys – and allow this character to tell his tale (actually it’s that of Gap-Tooth Jack) that he claims is a “truly unbelievable, unbelievably true’ one.

However, in order for this tale to be unfolded back in the past, it’s necessary to begin in the here and now with a second story and in particular with wildly imaginative, seven-year-old, Kasper. This lad conjures himself up an imaginary friend whom he names Wordy Gerdy. By all accounts (or rather our storyteller’s), this ghost of a girl possessed an amazing ability: once she has in her fragile fingers a pen, she can rewrite any story she cares to, or even as here, she doesn’t.

Oh! We must mention Daisy; she’s Skeleton Keys’ unimaginary partner-in-problem-solving without whom, our bony being storyteller might have been a has been.

Find out what takes place when a highly dangerous, ghasty, goulish unimaginary escapes into yesteryear. Can Jack thwart her malevolent game plan by joining forces with Mr Keys? Plunge into Guy’s spooky saga, full of terrific characters,

extremely quirky humour with Pete Williamson’s fangtastically spooky illustrations and find out. It will definitely make some superbly silly story sessions as a lower KS2 class read aloud.

For a slightly older audience is:

The Thing at Black Hole Lake
Dashe Roberts
Nosy Crow

We’re back at Sticky Pines, the small US town of weird events and secrets lurking in woods, for this spooky sequel to the Bigwood Conspiracy; and once again there are weird things afoot.

We get two perspectives on events, those of Milo and Lucy (currently not on speaking terms). Milo Fisher, loyal son of business tycoon NuCo president – a double-crossing guy; and Lucy Sladen, who’s determined to discover the truth about the mysterious, alien life, Pretenders of Sticky Pines, and protect them from the greedy NuCo company, set on exploiting every one of the town’s resources.

In the previous adventure it was Lucy who made the astonishing discovery but now it’s Milo’s turn, for there’s something very strange in Black Hole Lake; something that will put both he and Lucy in terrible danger. Danger that begins as Milo leaves a party early in order to avoid Lucy, takes a short cut and soon finds himself sinking into the lake and there are eyes watching him from below the surface.

Mesmerisingly brilliant fun., fast-paced with lots of twists and an abundance of ever-deepening mysteries, creepiness and with the philosophical good guy/bad guy dilemma underpinning the tale, this is a stonkingly good, enormously satisfying read.

Midnight Magic / Cally & Jimmy Twins in Trouble

Midnight Magic
Michelle Harrison, illustrated by Elissa Elwick
Stripes Publishing, Little Tiger

This is the first of a new rhyming series by author of the A Pinch of Magic books, Michelle Harrison; it’s superbly illustrated by Elissa Elwick and it’s absolutely perfect for young solo readers or for reading aloud.

It all begins when with tummy swollen and heavy, ‘One frosty evening, / A tabby cat prowled / Through white winter fields / While a bitter wind howled.’

Said tabby cat makes her way into a barn and there, watched by the animal residents, produces three kittens that she duly and aptly names Snowdrop, Foxy and Midnight. The third one, born at midnight is different – both mischievous and magical. And this magic seems to be doubling each day and potentially troublesome. Indeed, she soon starts calling herself a ‘cat-astrophe’ and before long forges a friendship with the broom from the barn, naming the thing `Twiggy’.

The two travel together and they’re spotted by a girl named Trixie as she plays in her village.

Trixie takes the kitten home where she’s eventually welcomed whereas the broom is treated less favourably. But with her mischievous nature, will the rest of Trixie’s family allow Midnight to stay?

Trixie is certainly happy with her new friend but it’s not long before sparks start to fly. And then Nan makes a discovery about that broom she’d unceremoniously tossed into the cupboard.

W-hay – it’s up and away …

A magical tale, this surely is; it reads aloud like a dream and is perfect for sharing or independent reading. especially around Halloween time.

Cally & Jimmy Twins in Trouble
Zoe Antoniades, illustrated by Katie Kear
Andersen Press

Meet twins Cally and Jimmy: twins they might be, but you’d be hard pushed to find two more different people. Cally – short for Calista meaning ‘most beautiful’ – the quiet one, is our narrator and is well behaved, most of the time. Jimmy in contrast (his real name is Dimitri on account of having a Greek mother) is far from quiet and his behaviour, not helped by ADHD, leaves a fair bit to be desired. In class, he has a special table right beside the teacher’s desk and far away from his sister’s ‘top table’.

In four short stories we get a pretty clear picture of what it’s like to live with the most-annoying-brother-in-the-whole-wide-world. His actions frequently land them both in trouble, though there are plenty of fun times too. And even after getting into trouble together they often end up laughing together afterwards.

Like the time when they made brownies using dad’s ‘fool-proof recipe’ only they added some rather interesting extra ingredients to the mixture. Not sure I’d want to sample those.

Then there’s the time they contribute to a class assembly, the practising of which doesn’t quite go smoothly.

The final episode sees the celebration of the twins achieving double digits and celebrating it in style.

Other colourful characters include Yiayia (grandma)

and lunchtime supervisor, Mrs Gutteridge.

Trail Blazers: Stephen Hawking / Little People Big Dreams: Ernest Shackleton

Trail Blazers: Stephen Hawking
Alex Woolf, illustrated by David Shephard
Little Tiger (Stripes Publishing)

‘Be inspired’ says the first line of the blurb of this book. Who could fail to be inspired by reading about Stephen Hawking, an incredible individual who refused to be defined by his illness and which he never allowed to hold him back from pursuing his awesome scientific dreams, and whose life story is told therein by historian Alex Woolf.

It’s both a biography and a science book – ‘A life beyond limits’ as the subtitle says. Alex Woolf explains by means of an informative narrative together with David Shephard’s illustrations and clear diagrams, Stephen Hawking’s scientific discoveries (panels giving theoretical summaries are provided)

and the challenges he faced through much of his life.

There’s just enough detail of the genius’s revolutionary theories and of the key questions cosmologists have sought answers for, to inspire but not overwhelm readers from the top of KS2 onwards.

The narrative begins with a summary of the history of black holes theory, a brief explanation of the space-time continuum and a mention of other mathematicians and physicists involved in the theory.

There’s also information about Stephen’s formative years: I was particularly interested and amused to read of his family’s trip to India when the car got caught in monsoon floods and had to be towed to safety. (Sounds to me like an almost familiar incident!).

Children will be interested to learn that during his under-grad. days Stephen was far from hard-working and later calculated that he’d spent on average just one hour a day studying, spending much of his time rowing or at the boat club; getting by on his utter brilliance and managing to talk his way into getting a first in his Oxford degree.

It was when he became a student at Cambridge that both Stephen’s clumsiness and his resulting focus on his intellect began to take hold. A diagnosis of the incurable amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) might have overwhelmed even the most determined of people. Not so Stephen whose propensity to ask difficult questions and to put forward new theories without fear of being wrong is exemplary.

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. “ So says the final quote – truly inspiring and one hopes, motivating …

Strongly recommended reading for older children.

Little People, Big Dreams: Ernest Shackleton
Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Olivia Holden
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

This addition to the popular series of biographical stories presents the famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton from the time he was a child growing up in rural Ireland dreaming of wider horizons, when even at a young age, he showed the qualities of a good explorer – optimism, idealism, patience and courage.

We learn of his participation as a young man, in expeditions endeavouring to reach the South Pole. Then how, inspired by Roald Amundsen, he planned to cross Antarctica from sea to sea, via the pole.

This expedition aboard Endurance, began in August 1914 with a crew of 28 enthusiastic, optimistic men and assorted animals. After months crossing the ocean, the ship became trapped in ice;

and so it remained for nine months with their calm leader doing his utmost to keep the spirits of his crew high, until the ice began to break up their ship.

Though there was scant hope of a rescue, Ernest never lost hope of saving his crew, and finally he and five of his men reached a whaling station. Then, having found help, he returned and brought his crew back home, Incredible though it may seem, every one of them survived.

With his unfailing optimism, Shackleton, a true inspiration to countless others, died at the young age of 48, as the final timeline shows. A true inspiration to young readers too, especially at this time when remaining optimistic is to say the least, challenging for us all.

Winter Wishes / Frost

Winter Wishes
illustrated by Alison Edgson
Little Tiger

This collection of tales comprises ten illustrated wintry tales each by a different author.

From Caroline Juskus, there’s a lively little penguin Pip, eager to improve his marching in time for The Penguin Parade. There’s a rather confused, large hairy ape-like creature wandering around the snowy forest in Guy Bass’s Finding Bigfoot, an adorable seal pup eager to get in on the act in Michael Broad’s Seeley’s Song.

Caroline Pitchers’s story Is of a husky pup, anxious about her first sledge pull as a member of the team;

Elizabeth Baguley tells of a rather homesick little girl, wishing and an elephant, set in India; while Karen Wallace’s story has a fox cub puzzled about the white ‘feathers’ in the garden in the days coming up to Christmas – he certainly has a lot of learning to do about the season.

Malachy Doyle’s Morning Bear is full of wishing, surprises and lots of guessing; The Kitten in the Snow takes a while to acquire a name in Penny Dolan’s chilly tale; Narinder Dhami’s Tiger in the Night has three fox cubs discovering what it means to be a Siberian tiger and Holly Webb provides the final Just in Time for Christmas, telling how little dog Max leaves the rescue shelter and finds a family home.

Just right to snuggle up and dip into, along with a hot chocolate. Young independent readers might want to read one or two stories a day, or spend a whole afternoon/evening relishing the entire book.
More from the final author in:

Frost
Holly Webb
Stripes Publishing, Little Tiger
This story is part of the author’s wintry animal tales that cleverly mixes fantasy and historical fiction to create magical books for younger solo readers, and for reading aloud.

This one features Cassie, often known as William’s ‘baby sister’ and hence frequently left behind when it comes to the activities of the other older flat-living children. But on one occasion being left behind gives rise to her spotting a little fox on the waste ground close to her London home.

Cassie forms a special bond with the fox cub naming it Frost and feeds it regularly till one winter’s night the creature leads her off on a very special adventure, as they time-slip back to the 1683  Frost Fair on the frozen River Thames.

It’s exciting spending time in this other world but Carrie finds herself lost; can she make it safely back to her own time …

In addition to the consideration of urban foxes and the differing viewpoints about these creatures, another element woven into the story is that of the importance of understanding and helping others, herein through Cassie’s developing relationship with her somewhat irascible neighbour, Mrs Morris.

Plenty of food for thought and discussion, as well as a wondrous wintry adventure. (Line drawings from the Artful Doodlers add further atmosphere to Holly’s telling.)

The Hat Full of Secrets

The Hat Full of Secrets
Karl Newson, illustrated by Wazza Pink
Stripes Publishing, Little Tiger

Picture book author, Karl Newson turns his hand to writing a longer story, and with Wazza Pink’s full colour illustrations it has become one of Stripes Publishing ‘Colour Fiction’ series for emergent readers.

It’s a cracking story that starts with young Henry Pepper discovering a ‘secret’- a really big one. He rushes back excitedly to tell his Grandad but finds himself getting tongue-tied as he attempts to do so.

Grandad however understands and suggests that a good place for keeping secrets is under your hat. Henry has no hat, but Grandad comes to his rescue giving him one of his specials, a very large one called a Jones, ‘made for adventures’.

And so it is, for no sooner has Henry set off again down the garden path than strange things start happening in the form of flying luggage labels – five of them – all of which except one, float off in different directions.

Henry picks up the remaining one which reads, ‘Shh! The Egg Box Crown’ and returns to his grandpa to tell him. Grandad too has a label and he tells Henry that they’re his secrets.

As memories come back, Grandad regales the boy with wonderful stories of things that have happened in his life relating to each label that once read aloud, morphs into an item pertinent to the message, before disappearing into dust.

Besides the one already mentioned, there’s a label about a missing Tyrannosaurus Rex Bone, another about The Ice and the Polar Bear, one that says ‘Shh! The Fastest Arrow’ about an awesome drive and the final label, ‘Shh! A Moon with a View’ that results in an incredible lunar happening.

Having shared Grandad’s secrets, it’s time for the wonderful final surprise in the form of Henry’s own secret. What could it possibly be? Is that Jones hat large enough to contain it – I wonder.

I absolutely loved every minute spent reading this gorgeous tale that has at its heart the special relationship between a young boy and his aging Grandad. It truly celebrates the power of the imagination and the magic that memories can bring. Illustrator Wazza Pink succeeds in bringing out these qualities in her scenes of the two characters together.

Lottie Loves Nature: Frog Frenzy / Mermaid’s Rock: The Ice Giant

Here are two young fiction titles with ecological themes:

Lottie Loves Nature: Frog Frenzy
Jane Clarke, illustrated by James Brown
Five Quills

I’d not met nature-obsessed Lottie Boffin in the Al’s Awesome Science series but was excited to make her acquaintance now in her very own-eco adventure series for young solo readers.

In a cleverly and carefully constructed story so that youngsters learn a lot about the natural world as they read, Jane and James include a wealth of information (verbal and visual) via such scrapbook pages,

activities and experiments about such things as ants, worms, the frog life cycle and other froggy facts, hydroponics, potential pond residents and visitors, and creating a wormery.

Lottie, inspired by her favourite wildlife TV show presenter, Samira Breeze, decides to make a pond in her back garden using an old dustbin lid, in the hope that frogs will come and inhabit it and perhaps, if she writes up and sends in her nature notes to the programme, she might even win the opportunity to be a presenter on ‘Every Little Thing’.

However, new next door neighbour, Mr Parfitt with his pristine fake grass putting green is definitely not going to be enthusiastic about Lottie’s plans and he’s far from happy about her pet parrot but maybe she can enlist the help of his son Noah who aspires to become an inventor and programmer of robots. That’s when he made sure that his dad’s back garden is totally minibeast free and it will help him keep fit.

With Mr Parfitt’s ant infestation (on a special cake for a special visitor) to contend with,

not to mention a lively dog, and a plethora of parrot poop, will Lottie succeed in her environmental enterprise?

I look forward to Lottie’s Bee adventure coming early next year. So too, I’m sure will newly independent readers who meet her in this first Lottie Loves Nature book.

Mermaid’s Rock: The Ice Giant
Linda Chapman, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega
Little Tiger

There’s a decidedly chilly feel to the third Mermaid’s Rock adventure.

When Marina announces that she is to accompany her father to the Arctic so he can do his walrus research, her friend Kai is not happy. However Kai’s mum says she can stay with them so long as Marina’s father, Tarak, is agreeable. He is, and she does.

Before he leaves, Marina gives her father a bag of stones, each with an M on and he promises to keep in touch by dropping one each day through the whirlpool. In the meantime there’s the ‘most talented pet’ competition for Marina and her friends to think about.

On the sixth day of her father’s absence, when Marina goes to look for the stone, there isn’t one, nor the next day. Marina and her friends grab some necessary supplies and via the whirlpool, Operation Arctic Rescue is under way.

They soon discover that the ice has begun melting uncustomarily early, spelling danger. Can they find Tarak and get him to safety before it’s too late?

Newly independent readers, especially fans of the series will likely devour this story in a single sitting, enjoying Mirelle Ortega’s black and grey illustrations along the way, and afterwards can learn something about one of the important ecological issues our planet is facing.

Say Hello to the Sun / Under the Stars

Say Hello to the Sun
Dr Lin Day and Lindsey Sagar
Scholastic

This picture book is essentially, based on a song from Dr Lin Day’s Baby Sensory interactive developmental programme, illustrated with Lindsey Sagar’s bright alluring, patterned illustrations.

Starting with the sunshine, tinies are invited to greet in turn the moon beaming down and guiding, growing corn that provides food, twinkling stars,

the cooling rain, colourful flowers to bring cheer and loving friends with whom to play.

Embedded in each illustration is a small circle showing what look like Makaton symbols and the final double spread talks about ‘how to use this book’ and repeats all the signs.

Whether or not you and your little one goes to Baby Sensory classes, this enormously attractive book is worth adding to your collection to share again and again no matter what time of day it is.

Under the Stars
Rosie Adams and Frances Ives
Little Tiger

With glowingly gorgeous illustrations by Frances Ives and Rosie Adams’ gentle rhyming narrative that has a repeat refrain: ‘The world is a family: / we are all one, / …….. together / under the sun.’ an adult fox and a little one spend the day exploring and observing together from sunrise, until the stars twinkle and the moon shines bright in the night sky.

They watch squirrels playing, pause to relax as otter and its little one float on the water.

They listen to the sky humming with the beat of birds’ wings and enjoy their songs. Then in the cool of the forest, bear cubs share their findings, watched by the two foxes;  so too are the deer family and then under the starlit sky the parent fox reminds its cub, and readers, “The world is a family: / we are all one, / United together / under stars, moon and sun.’

Would that this were so, say I.

With its lilting words and beautiful scenes of the natural world, this is a book to read with little ones either at bedtime; or perhaps earlier in the day when there’s more time to talk about the ideas presented.

Along Came a Fox/ The Rug Bear

Along Came A Fox
Georgina Deutsch and Cally Johnson-Isaacs
Little Tiger

Bramble the fox decides to go hunting fireflies one silvery moonlit night, despite not knowing where the tiny insects like to hide.
Having been disturbed from her slumbers hedgehog Hazel, decides to accompany Bramble and they follow all-knowing Twig the owl’s advice to search near the lake.

En route Hazel is a little bit spooked by the shadows but Bramble urges her to hurry. “Because foxes don’t get scared … do they?”
Well maybe they do sometimes …

A bit of stomping and growling on account of the “VERY RUDE FOX!’ ensues;

 

then Bramble decides to go back and report to Twig.
Twig suggests they all return to the lake and try to discover what might have upset the unfriendly fox.

Back they go, but without the moonlight glowing over the pond there is nothing to see at first, which saddens Bramble who’d hoped to make amends.

But then out comes the moon from behind the clouds revealing something wonderful in the water …

And yes they do eventually see those fireflies too. It’s a wonderful night, after all.

This all goes to show that the face we put out in the world, is reflected back; in other words – to borrow the lines from Larry Shay et al. “When you’re smiling / The whole world smiles with you”.

With absolutely gorgeous illustrations and appealing characters, this book has an important message; it’s one to share and talk about with young listeners.

The Rug Bear
Emma Rattray, illustrated by Michael Terry
Matador Children’s

Emma Rattray’s rhyming story tells what happens when a bear, playing hide and seek with Lion and Fox, finds a suitable hiding place and promptly lies down falling deeply asleep.

Along comes a weary mouse. She’s most happy to find a ‘brown furry rug’ just when she’s in need of a pace to rest. So too is Hare with his heavy load;

and Squirrel on his branch is pleased to find he has a soft landing spot exactly where he intends to jump. The ‘’rug’ also tempts lonely ladybug; she deems it ‘extremely snug’.

Suddenly Bee buzzes by following a honey smell and the noise awakens Bear from his slumbers. He jiggles and wiggles, yawns and gives an enormous stretch and stands …

cascading the seated creatures to the ground.

Imagine their feelings when they discover the true nature of their rug. Fortunately, all ends happily – thanks to hospitality in the shape of cups of tea. – sweetened with honey perhaps …

Debut picture book author, Emma Rattray’s warm-hearted tale of inclusion and friendship makes a highly enjoyable read aloud for home or foundation stage setting: youngsters will love being in the know about the ‘rug’ and enjoy joining in the repeat parts of the narrative. Equally, they’ll love Michael Terry’s humorous, splendidly expressive scenes of the unfolding rug episode.

I am a Bird / Colours of the World: Green Planet

Here are two recent books about the natural world from the Little Tiger Group

I am a Bird
Isabel Otter and Fernando Martin

Through a text narrated for the most part by an eponymous bird and illustrated throughout in a vibrant colour palette, readers share in the world of birds, large and small from various parts of the globe.

We discover some intricately built nests;

find out why birds sing, what they eat and how they obtain their food. We learn why migration happens and read something about the process with reference to specific birds as well as discovering that not all birds including kiwis, kakapos and penguins are unable to fly.

There’s a spread about birds that live near water; one about the ostrich – the world’s largest bird and another about the bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world.

The text is written in a chatty, highly readable manner and is accompanied by stylised, simplified yet totally recognisable images of the avians featured.

Colours of the World: Green Planet
Moira Butterfield and Jonathan Woodward

This is a companion volume to Blue Planet and is subtitled ‘Life in our Woods and Forests’.

Having shown on a world map the forested areas and explained briefly the different kinds of forests, (did you know that forests are home to more than 50 % of the world’s plants and animals?) the book goes on to explain the anatomy of trees and to discuss their importance.

Double-page spreads discuss Extreme Trees – the widest, tallest, oldest, fastest growing and smallest; how trees obtain nutrition from their leaves as well as how they provide food and hiding places for certain animals.

Much of the rest of the book then focuses on the kinds of forests starting with boreal forests with their moose, eagles, cats, wolves, hares, minibeasts and of course, bears.

We then move to the hot steamy rainforests and in particular, Amazonia with its wealth of incredible fauna both large and small.

Third are the temperate forests where the trees lose their leaves in autumn and grow new ones in the spring. These places are home to deer, mice, squirrels, foxes, woodpeckers and hunters such as pine martens and owls.

The final pages look at forests as sources of materials for human homes; as well as some of the uses of wood and a brief mention of sustainability.

With Jonathan Woodward’s visually appealing graphics and Moira Butterfield’s succinct paragraphs, this book like Blue Planet offers a good, highly readable introduction to a vital aspect of our planet. It’s one to add to classroom libraries and family book collections.

It’s Only One!

It’s Only One!
Tracey Corderoy and Tony Neal
Little Tiger

This is a cautionary tale about what happens when people’s actions are thoughtless.

It’s set in Sunnyville, a fun, friendly and generally lovely place – until kind-hearted Mouse offers Rhino a toffee. Rhino tosses the wrapper away with the titular comment, but so do a host of other town residents, with one item landing hard on Tortoise’s head and leaving Giraffe outraged at the ever-growing rubbish heap.

To cheer himself up Giraffe picks a flower from the park with the same “What” It’s only one’ comment ,which of course it wasn’t.

Now it’s Penguin’s turn to feel anger, so to cheer himself up at the loss of all the flowers he turns to music – only one song of course but …

Can anyone or anything manage to curtail this catastrophic concatenation that’s caused the entire population of Sunnyville to become grumpy?

Perhaps Mouse has the perfect antidote – or at least the makings of one …

We all know only too well the terrible impact dropping rubbish has on the environment, wherever we live. And I’m sure we all want to be good neighbours – this is something that’s become all the more evident since the start of the pandemic – but it’s all too easy to slip into thoughtless actions such as tossing aside that odd car park ticket or receipt.

There are reminders from author, Tracey and illustrator, Tony at the end of their story, of the importance of considering how whatever we do might be impacting on others and their happiness. However, it’s the cast of characters (I love their zany portrayal in Tony’s expressive spreads) from this smashing and timely book that have the last word.

Share, ponder, discuss and most important, act upon this – it’s only one but think of its potential payoff.

I Really Really Need A Wee

I Really Really Need a Wee
Karl Newson and Duncan Beedie
Little Tiger

In Karl and Duncan’s story it’s a little bushbaby who suddenly gets the wiggles and the jiggles, insisting ‘I really, really, really,  REALLY NEED A WEE!’

Yes, we’ve all been there with little ones, when away from home and far from the nearest loo, coming out with the title line. It most certainly resonated with me with regard to several recent outings.

The little narrator’s efforts to distract itself with thoughts of other things only serve to make matters worse …

and its attempts to find a toilet are, shall we say, pretty disastrous.

Finally though, the object of the bushbaby’s desire is in sight, but almost inevitably there’s a long queue – isn’t it always the way?

Then whoopee! The little room is vacant at last – phew! Such relief.

I suspect you can guess how this corking story ends … and it’s wee-ally wee-ally funny. But then with its combination of Karl’s telling and Duncan’s hilarious illustrations one expects no less. I absolutely love the sets of bespoke loos that sandwich the story proper.

I envisage classrooms and nurseries full of giggling infants and staff almost wetting themselves when this is shared, and families with youngsters will absolutely burst themselves laughing in recognition.

A Trio of Little Tiger Board Books

Kindness makes us Strong
Sophie Beer

What is kindness? Sophie Beer provides some examples in this little book beginning each double-page spread with “Kindness is …’ following it with illustrations of children who show care and consideration towards their peers, grown-ups and animals.

It might be something as simple as saying hello, or cheering on participants in a race, giving a warm hug or taking turns.

The bright, enormously attractive illustrations show how much difference acts of kindness make in creating  a happier world.

With its brief, simple repetitive but empowering text, this little book can be shared with the very youngest but equally slightly older children might enjoy reading it for themselves.

A lovely introduction to kindness.

Owl Always Love You
Patricia Hegarty and Bryony Clarkson
Caterpillar Books (Little Tiger)

It’s bedtime for the little forest animals: time that baby rabbit snuggled down in the burrow, time for tiny dormouse and hedgehog to curl up; and up in the tree, for baby squirrel to close its eyes.

The tree is also the place where new chicks in their nest await their mother songbird’s return before they too can sleep.

With die-cut holes to peep through, raised images to feel and adorable little creatures to enjoy in Bryony Clarkson’s nocturnal scenes, sleepy little humans can listen to Patricia Hegarty’s gentle reassuring rhyming narrative before they too succumb to the call of sleep.

Also with a night-time theme is

What Can You See? At Night
illustrated by Maria Perera

With the emphasis on facts, little ones are introduced to a host of nocturnal feeders such as squirrels, owls and foxes in the town.

Moving on to a more rural setting we meet creatures around a pond including singing frogs, bats on the hunt for insects, while in the field rabbits, mice and foxes forage and fireflies flit above them.

It’s not only wild creatures that are out and about at night: postal workers, delivery drivers and sometimes farmers, are at work when most of us are fast asleep.

There’s plenty to interest toddlers on every spread including some humorous items and die cuts.

Luna / Museum Kittens: The Pharaoh’s Curse

Here are two new young fiction stories from Holly Webb, both published by Little Tiger

Luna
Holly Webb, illustrated by Jo Anne Davies

The ninth of Holly Webb’s Winter Animal Stories is another time-slip adventure, this one featuring young Hannah.

She’s on holiday with her family and visiting a Christmas market in Dresden when she spots a wooden bear cub puppet on one of the stalls and knows immediately that she wants it.

Then back at the hotel in the bedroom she was sharing with her sister, the two get into a squabble over the bear and it gets broken.

During the night, Hannah wakes up and finds she is not in her hotel room but sitting on a dirty, straw strewn floor. She’s in a stable; a bear cub is there too and a much larger bear, she thinks.

Managing to open the door of the stall, she bumps into a boy and the two go outside and into a market square. But why is he anxious not to be seen?

Little by little Matthias explains what he was doing in the stable and why he is so determined to stop the cruel bear leaders getting hold of the cub Luna especially, and training her to be a dancing bear. She also learns that the boy sells carved wooden toys and when he invites her to join him in a rescue Luna attempt, she cannot but agree, especially when she actually sees bear dancing in action.

Another lovely seasonal tale full of snow and festivity, but also with a big emotional pull about the plight of the real bear cub and about the cruelty of bear dancing, which happily has almost died out.

Museum Kittens: The Pharaoh’s Curse
Holly Webb, illustrated by Sarah Lodge

Watched by the resident museum kittens, there’s great excitement among the museum staff standing in the Egyptian Gallery and it’s on account of a part of the Book of the Dead on loan from another museum.

It’s rumoured that there’s a curse on this particular piece of papyrus and when unpleasant things start occurring coinciding with its arrival, Peter kitten decides something terrible is going to happen to the museum. Tasha thinks otherwise and is determined to prove him wrong.

Then part of the gallery ceiling collapses, but that’s only the first disaster.

The entire gallery is flooded on account of a burst pipe; the kittens are trapped, so too is Grandpa Ivan. Is he right when he says, “Museum cats are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves,” or are they to fall victim to that pharaoh’s curse everyone’s been talking of? And what of the precious papyrus? Will it be ruined by the water?

Exciting stuff; those relatively new to chapter books will be whisked away, rooting for the kittens throughout; they’re made even more adorable thanks to Sarah Lodge’s plentiful illustrations.

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.

My Friends and Me

My Friends and Me
Stephanie Stansbie and Katy Halford
Little Tiger

Families come in many different forms; this book celebrates that diversity. It’s narrated by a cheerful child who introduces, matter-of-fact style, families belonging to several friends.

There’s Kate who has two dads, best friend Harry with just his multi-talented mum

and Olivia with two sisters, two mums and a little brother. Then comes Lily with two homes, one belonging to her dad, the other to her mum.

Some friends are especially good for sleepovers: one lives in an enormous mansion, another in a caravan and a third, on a boat.

Hannah on the other hand, lives with her foster mum (among others in the household) Then there’s Ned’s mum who turns out to be not the man people originally thought but a super-surfer all the same.

In fact each of the families is a happy one and love is the key, not least in the narrator’s own, for we discover that this young child lives with granny and grandpops who are the ‘coolest grown-ups’.

The up-beat tone of the narrator is reflected in Katy Halford’s bright, cheery illustrations that have lots of amusing details such as ‘Frank’ the goldfish and Harry’s toy bear Bon-Bon.

Presenting as it does both traditional and non-traditional family units, this book would be especially helpful for teachers exploring families as a theme ; and of course it’s worth pointing out that every family is in some ways, different from every other one.

Colours of the World: Blue Planet / Sounds of the Skies

Colours of the World: Blue Planet
Moira Butterfield and Jonathan Woodward
Little Tiger

Author Moira Butterfield provides both an introductory look at the water cycle and then an exploration that takes young readers to a variety of watery environments, both fresh and salty, to look at some of the life forms therein.

We visit the planet’s five oceans and the marine biomes where can be found such creatures as great white sharks, blue whales, pygmy seahorses and ocean sunfish; and deeper down among the corals we view clownfish, lobsters and eels as well as scary-looking anglerfish and viperfish,

whilst much nearer the shore whelks, mussels and hermit crabs lurk among the various seaweeds.

Next comes a look at various water-craft from container ships to rescue boats. That and a later spread on different kinds of aquatic homes including houseboats in Kerala and houses built on stilts by the Bajau people of Malaysia; and another showing a reservoir, a water-treatment plant and a communal well recognise human usage of this precious ‘sparkling treasure’.

In between we visit rivers, including the world’s four biggest,

and then half a dozen lakes, surprisingly two of those included are in the UK.

Throughout the text, in simple language is presented in single or two-sentence blocks around which are Jonathan Woodward’s mostly close-up, collage style illustrations, appropriately patterned and textured.

This book would make a useful addition to a primary topic box with a watery theme or as an introduction to a class water topic.

From the same team comes:

Sounds of the Skies
Moira Butterfield and Jonathan Woodward
Little Tiger

32 amazing creatures from nine different locations around the world are presented in this book as well as 13 birds, the calls of 9 of which readers can hear at the press of a button on each double spread vibrantly illustrated by Jonathan Woodward.

From the Amazon rainforest comes the noisy call of a fast flying scarlet macaw, while in the eucalyptus forest of eastern Australia, sounding similar to a human laugh, comes the kookaburra’s call.

For each bird soloist, Moira Butterfield has written a short verse.
Here’s the one for the Chinese nightingale in the Black Mountains of Bhutan:
A Chinese nightingale / sings for his love, / and sweet notes / float up / between the trees. / Up and up into the sky.’ In addition there’s a short paragraph giving information about each of the animals featured.

Other locations include British Columbia where bobcats and bald eagles roam; the Sonoran Desert of North America where the Gila woodpecker that makes a drumming sound in the sizzling environment it shares with such creatures as coyotes and rattlesnakes.

The last stop is Serengeti in Tanzania where among the lions, zebras, giraffes and gazelles can be heard the booming sounds of ostriches.

There’s a final map of the world showing each of the locations, a list of the birds and other animals mentioned; and inside the back cover we discover which of the birds featured are under threat in our changing world.

A Robot Ate My Grandma / Level Up! Last One Standing

A Robot Ate My Grandma
Dave Cousins, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
Little Tiger

This is the third in the series about twins Jake and Jess and their babysitter robot, Robin.

Now in addition to minding the children, Robin has a new job – or rather two: he’s in charge of the lighting for the school play (a musical version of Little Red Riding Hood) and also acting as the narrator of same.

But then the robot starts mal-functioning time and again and the only person who can fix him is his creator, the twins’ STEM expert Grandma. The trouble is she’s gone AWOL and in her place is – can you believe – a robot, albeit an excellent Grandma look-alike.

Mum assures them Grandma has merely gone on holiday so it’s down to the twins to sort things out.

Then they discover someone in her garage workshop and having inadvertently shot the old person, it turns out that she’s none other than Granny Andersen, the twins’ great grandmother accompanied by her ferret, Wee Freddie.

Now there’s a semblance of a team,

but can they discover what’s really happened to Granny, and if necessary, pull off a rescue?

There’s plenty to keep newly independent readers turning the pages of this zany story, not least being the introduction of a new character, Granny Andersen. There are also lots of laughs, a fair few tense moments and terrific illustrations by Catalina Echeverri breaking up the text and adding additional humour and drama to the telling.

Level Up! Last One Standing
Tom Nicoll, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
Little Tiger

Video-game obsessed best friends Flo (narrator) and Max are stuck inside a video game series. As this book opens, one minute they’re in a plane flying over Last to Leave terrain and the next they are parachuting (just) down to land in the middle of the village square. Game on.

Before long they find themselves face to face with an old adversary, Rhett Hodges, commonly known as Hodges claiming he wants to team up with them. But can he be trusted?

Time’s running out so should they take a chance on his offer?Seemingly it’s their one chance and Flo’s Mum needs saving. Determined to make it to the end and get back home, they get into a speedboat with Hodges and away they go.

Fast and furious is the action and with so much at stake in the toughest battle ever, readers will be on the edge of their seats right to the very end. There are plenty of Anjan Sarkar’s black and white illustrations to add to the dramatic atmosphere throughout.

Playing and Learning with Board Books

Introducing some new interactive board books from Little Tiger

Bear & Mouse Start the Day
Bear & Mouse Time for Bed

Nicola Edwards and Maria Neradova

Best friends Bear and Mouse (narrator) live together. As they Start the Day, prompted by Nicola’s simple questioning text, toddlers can help the two get up, eat breakfast, prepare to go out, take a bus ride and have fun playing in the park.

When it’s Time for Bed, just like little humans, they enjoy a splashy bath, brush their teeth, don their night attire and snuggle up together for a pre bedtime story.

Maria Neradova’s bright cheery illustrations have just the right amount of detail to keep interest levels high and interactive features in the form of flaps and sliders add to the fun.

abc nature
Nicola Edwards and Thomas Elliott

Even before little ones are at the alphabet learning or letter forming stage you can share this book with its alphabetical arrangement of natural things from acorns to zebras for naming and talking about each item using the photographic style illustrations.

They certainly won’t give any idea of relative size though: ‘earth’ is shown on the same page as ‘flower’ and they’re depicted as being roughly the same size. Nonetheless from the outset even the very youngest can be developing their visual skills and an interest in the natural world; the ‘touch and trace’ element of the book can come later.

Hide and Seek in the Forest
Rachel Elliot and Gareth Lucas

As day gives way to night, it’s bedtime for the baby animals in the forest but it seems as though they’re not quite ready to sleep. Instead Fawn, Baby Squirrel, Little Frog, Baby Rabbit and a baby owl decide to play hide-and-seek; and it’s down to little humans to help their respective parents find them hidden behind the shaped felt flaps on the five spreads.

Wait till your little humans are safely tucked up in bed before you share this jolly little book that’s aglow with Gareth Lucas’ illustrations, just in case they decide to emulate the baby animals.

My Book of Feelings
Nicola Edwards and Thomas Elliott

A range of topics, photographically illustrated, including the weather, foods, free time activities, animals, new experiences and different places are used to help young children explore their feelings.

To the same end there’s a novel feature -a double-sided emoji spinner – as well as a final mirror; however the book opens with a paragraph that includes this reminder, ‘Remember, feelings don’t always show on the outside.’ That’s something we adults probably understand but not so young children, as will the fact that our feelings are not fixed but subject to change.

In addition to being helpful for using with pre-schoolers, it might also work with slightly older children on the autism spectrum.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
Patricia Hegarty and Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger

The chameleon narrator of this rhyming story is a trickster and proud so to be. There’s nothing the creature likes better than to use its ability to change colour to have fun at the expense of the other jungle dwelling animals  as it teases first elephant, then orang-utan, followed by a pair of toucans and a sloth.

Not only that, but playing the colour switch trick is also a great way to avoid chores, evade bedtime or help yourself to another creature’s tasty meal.

However, Chameleon’s tickling of Sloth triggers a chain reaction that has the potential to end unhappily for Anteater;

but hidden away watching events is Frog.

Instead of the praise Chameleon anticipates from the creature, Frog strikes back

and then hastily merges back into the surroundings leaving Chameleon to show contrition, fess up, apologise to all the other animals and promise to end his mischief.

Peace is restored to the jungle – well most of the time. Perhaps changing one’s colour is less easy than changing one’s ways …

Jonny’s vibrant collage style illustrations set against stark white backgrounds immediately grab the attention drawing the eye into the action and there are myriads of minibeasts to spot too.

Purists might baulk at the inhabitants of the fictional jungle, which hail from both the new and the old worlds. Nevertheless it’s a visual and verbal treat that provides an opportunity to talk about the kind of behaviour Chameleon exhibited.

Together

Together
Jane Chapman
Little Tiger

Deep within the forest, hidden among the shady leaves, a tiny face peers through the foliage. It belongs to a baby gorilla that feels totally alone in the world, a world that feels strange and a little threatening.

But then along with the downpour of refreshing rain and the smell of something to eat that wafts on the breeze, comes something different, something huge and very …

So thinks the little one. But it’s not so for despite appearances, the creature reaches out with unexpected tenderness, extending a soft paw of companionship and friendship in a hitherto scary world.

Now no matter what each day brings forth, be it beauty and magic,

or shadow and sadness, there’s always the joy and comfort of togetherness.

Jane Chapman’s illustrations are incredible, both in their lifelike portrayal of the two gorillas and in the sensitive way they convey the sense of connectedness between them.

That sense of connectedness is what all of us crave probably more than anything else in these pandemic times. This beautiful, heart-warming story is a wonderful portrayal of how reaching out – may be not physically but in what ever ways are possible – can make all the difference.

Superhero Baby!

Superhero Baby!
Patricia Hegarty and Alex Willmore
Little Tiger

Here’s a fun story that takes sibling rivalry to a whole new level.

In the dead of night, long past bedtime for little ones, there’s one of their number who’s still wide awake and ready to launch herself into action; and so she does when there’s a burst pipe in town.

With job duly done she’s back in her cot alongside her twin brother’s long before mum wakes her next morning.

She then spends the day putting her ‘baby power’ to good use as she performs one heroic act after another never pausing to take a nap.

There’s somebody though, who is far from happy about all the attention this diminutive superhero is receiving as she whizzes around with her seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy, testing her powers to their limits.

Would-be superhero little ones will surely delight at watching the drama unfold through Patricia Hegarty’s rhyming romp that has an unexpected twist in its tail, and Alex Willmore’s instantly appealing, telling pictures where one pair of eyes in particular speak volumes.

Poo in the Zoo: The Great Poo Mystery

Poo in the Zoo: The Great Poo Mystery
Steve Smallman and Ada Grey
Little Tiger

At the end of the first story, Poo in the Zoo, Zookeeper Bob’s enterprise had enabled him to buy a super-duper pooper scooper robot.

This technological wonder, Robbie by name, with his poop hoover, makes Bob’s job considerably easier and on this particular night as he and the animals bed down for the night, all is well at McGrew’s Zoo.

The next morning however, everything changes. There’s poo absolutely everywhere and Robbie has disappeared. Disaster!

Then suddenly a tweed-clad woman riding a ‘pooper scooter’ zooms up announcing she’s ‘here to save the day!” Her name is Arabella Slater and she claims to be the number one poo investigator when it comes to dealing with number twos.

Immediately she leaps into action locating all manner of poo piles and then she notices some stray bits of wire. The hunt is on as all the zoo residents follow a trail

that leads them through the woods and into a glade where they come upon …

Bob then realises what has happened. But is it all over for Robbie or can Arabella live up to her claim and “save the day”?

Steve’s funny rhyming text bounces whiffily along as he regales this dung-filled drama, which Ada Grey hilariously illustrates with zany scenes of the poo-filled zoo and its environs.

Share this with a group of early years listeners or just one, and I’m pretty sure the immediate response will be “read it again!”.

Zoom: Ocean Adventure & Zoom: Space Adventure / Where’s My Peacock?

Zoom: Ocean Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Sam Rennocks
Zoom: Space Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Susanna Rumiz
What on Earth Books

These are two titles in a new board-book non-fiction series for curious toddlers.

In the first we meet Noah and join him and his turtle on an ocean adventure as he takes his boat out to sea, dons his diving gear and plunges into the water.

His first location is a coral reef, a good place for a game of hide-and-seek with some fish. Next stop is a seagrass meadow with its seahorses, dugongs and a wealth of other creatures, some of which emerge from the kelp.

Danger suddenly looms in the shape of a hungry great white shark from which Noah must make a hasty escape by climbing into his submarine and diving down to the darkest depths.

There’s also a sunken pirate ship with treasure and more to discover as Noah heads for the Antarctic and an iceberg with penguins atop, made all the more dramatic by its large die-cut shape,

Indeed die-cuts are a feature of every spread and with their clever placing each one offers a different view depending on whether the page is turned forwards or back.

The Space Adventure is Ada’s and begins with her (and her cat) boarding her rocket ship and awaiting the countdown which is delivered through wordless die-cut illustrated pages shaped as the numbers 5 through to 1.

Then the rocket blasts off skywards towards the moon, docking at the International Space Station to make a delivery and for Ada to perform some urgent repairs before making a lunar landing to collect scientific samples.

Thereafter, the rocket explores the Solar System viewing all the different planets before heading home once more.

Characteristic of both, rather longer than average board books are: the surprise pop-up on the penultimate spread, the wealth of visual details in Sam Rennocks and Susanna Rumiz’s vibrant illustrations, the die-cut pages, the relatively short narrative and the fact that both Noah and Ada actually experience their journeys through their imagination.

Sturdily built, these are well worth putting into a nursery collection or adding to your toddler’s bookshelf.

Where’s My Peacock?
Becky Davies and Kate McLelland
Little Tiger

In their latest touchy-feely, hide-and-seek board book, thanks to Becky Davies’ simple repeat patterned and Kate McLelland’s alluring patterned art, toddlers can follow the trail of footprints and discover a long tailed lemur, a feathery owl and a brightly hued toucan before locating the dazzling tailed peacock that has almost, but not entirely, hidden himself away.

Tactile fun for tinies and the possibility of learning some new vocabulary.

Mermaids Rock: The Floating Forest / The Time Travel Diaries: Adventure in Athens

Mermaids Rock: The Floating Forest
Linda Chapman, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega
Little Tiger

This is the second title in Linda Chapman’s Mermaids Rock series featuring some animal-loving mer friends. They have formed their own special Save the Sea Creatures Club, their aim being to come to the aid of animals in trouble.

As the story starts Coralie and Dash enter a whirlpool and find themselves in a wonderful forest with sea lions. Therein Coralie discovers among the fronds a bottle containing what looks like a rolled up message.

On returning to her friends she learns from Marina (whose dad is a marine scientist) that the place she’s just visited is a kelp forest. The others are eager to see it too so they schedule a visit the following day.

In the meantime Naya manages to open the bottle; inside is a map with a rhyming message.

Next day with 4 clues to solve, operation treasure hunt begins.

But one of their classmates, the sneaky Glenda is determined to find out what the others are up to and starts watching their every move.

The following week when the club members return to their search they discover that the kelp forest has been destroyed leaving the animals unprotected and in great danger.

Saving them becomes much more important than the treasure hunt but can they do it before it’s too late?

Mirelle Ortega’s expressive illustrations add further interest to the narrative and help break up the text for newly independent readers.

After the story are pages with information about the kelp forests and the animals living there, as well as some marine-related jokes.

A tale that’s ideal for young nature-lovers and environmentalists who like their adventures bubbling with mermaid magic.

For slightly older readers, also the second in a series:

The Time Travel Diaries: Adventure in Athens
Caroline Lawrence
Piccadilly Press

With her outstanding, expert knowledge of classical history and superb storytelling skill, Caroline Lawrence immerses readers in ancient Athens circa 400BCE when her heroes Alex and Dinu, on a luxury holiday in Athens, time travel – at the behest of Solomon Daisy – to the time of Socrates. Unbeknown to the boys, Dinu’s younger sister has followed them through the time-travel portal and is also swept up in the adventure.

It’s no time at all before having arrived at the Temple of Athena, Alex and Dinu are taken by the Scythian archers – the equivalent of the police in ancient Athens.

As with the previous book, the story is pacey, gripping and rich in historical detail.

Here’s what Daniel (nearly 11) thought:
‘This book was action-packed and a great read. The plot involves a group of characters who travel back in time in search of Socrates, the wisest man in the world. The main characters are really interesting because of their individual personalities.
Through their journey we learn about an ancient time and some historical dates. My favourite part is when the main characters go inside a public house and they play music through holes in a bone.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to 9-11 year olds.

Impossible! / I’m Sorry

Here are two recently published picture book from Little Tiger:

Impossible!
Tracey Corderoy and Tony Neal

Dog runs a laundry in a busy city but has a longing to see the ocean.

One day he comes upon Ocean Magic, a new kind of washing powder. The product promises ‘seaside freshness with every wash’ but apparently there’s something else within the box too.
Into the machine goes the powder and out later, along with the clean washing, emerges a crab suffering from a bad attack of nausea.

Dog and Crab discuss the situation over a cuppa

and eventually after declaring several times that driving Crab all the way back home is impossible, Dog lets himself be persuaded to undertake the trip.

Off they go together on a journey that takes several weeks during which they create a special memories map of their trip.

En route they encounter other travellers with seemingly impossible challenges of their own.

Now it’s Dog’s turn to utter the ‘nothing is impossible unless you say so’ maxim and with the assistance of their new friends, Dog and Crab finally reach their destination.

Both are delighted with the ocean paradise but then Dog declares he must return to his city job – or must he?

Follow your dreams and don’t allow obstacles to stand in your way, is the message Tracey’s tale imparts to youngsters. Equally the ‘it’s only impossible if you say so’ message is one we all need to remember especially in challenging times.

Tony Neal’s bright, lively, illustrations inject additional humour into the telling offering fun details to enjoy on every spread.

I’m Sorry!
Barry Timms and Sean Julian

In Walnut Wood live best friends, Scribble (squirrel) and Swoop (owl) and each morning they walk a considerable distance bringing their special things to their regular meeting spot.

Scribble has a special pencil that acts as word assistant in his play script writing, the finished dramas entertaining his friend. Swoop’s special thing is a toolbox that enables her to build anything and everything.

One day they decide to move in together; their place has ‘room for two and a little left over’.

It’s the left over bit – the veranda – that causes a rift, for each has designs on it.

A huge row ensues over the ownership of this: should it be a stage or a workshop?

Scribble decides to try and make amends with the aid of his trusty pencil but can a single word apology fix things or is something else needed?

There’s food for thought and discussion with little ones in this story that demonstrates that sometimes actions speak louder than words. Sean Julian’s beautifully expressive watercolour illustrations are for me the true show-stealers in this book.

Like the Ocean We Rise

Like the Ocean We Rise
Nicola Edwards and Sarah Wilkins
Little Tiger

Our planet is vast and it’s beautiful too,
But it needs our help; it needs me, it needs you.

Assuredly it does. I was absolutely astonished and horrified to read in the paper apropos World Oceans Day about the large percentage of microfibres in our oceans that are a result of washing synthetic clothing.

It’s never too early for young children to begin thinking about some of the ways they can help to reduce the negative impact we have on our planet and consider how everybody can help to prevent climate change.

A good place to start is with this smashing rhyming picture book.

Most of us know of the impact Greta Thunberg has had in galvanising what has become a global movement involving student protesters from over 120 countries; and Nicola Edwards’ narrative celebrates the contribution of young people; but there is a lot still to be done.

No matter where in the world we are,

we can all in our own way become eco-warriors

just like those children portrayed in Sarah Wilkins’ vibrant peek-through illustrations that use the ripple effect of a single raindrop to add to the impact of the text’s simile.

I love her final scene that shows this wave-making movement really is a global one in which we all can, indeed MUST, play our part.

The final spreadsheet provides  a brief explanation of  climate change and why it matters and some ‘What Can We Do?’ suggestions .

The Perfect Shelter

The Perfect Shelter
Clare Helen Welsh and Åsa Gilland
Little Tiger

Clare knows how to write about areas many people find difficult, her last book being the beautiful story The Tide, featuring a loved family member with dementia.

The new book, The Perfect Shelter is also based on personal experiences, this time of cancer. It’s equally beautifully told and illustrated and it’s evident immediately that a great deal of thought and loving care has gone into its creation.

As the story starts a family shares what the little girl narrator calls ‘the perfect day’, just right for her and her older sister to build a den in the woods – the perfect shelter.

Suddenly though as the evening draws in, it’s evident that something is not right with big sister.

Back home comes the news, her sister is ill.
A storm rages but the den repairs must continue as the narrator’s beloved sibling undergoes an operation.

But then come the questions, “How did it get there? … Why MY sister?”

Eventually although the den seems beyond fixing, the narrator’s internal storm begins to abate as big sister starts to regain her strength and with it her determination: there’s a new perfect time and perfect place to build a new shelter …

And with it come smiles, new plans and that wonderful feeling of togetherness.

Although we share in the gamut of emotions of this family, it’s optimism that is key in the poignant telling and Åsa Gilland’s slightly quirky illustrations capturing the family sharing a difficult time are superbly expressive of all the uncertainty inherent in Claire’s story. I love the way she adds gorgeous tiny detail and patterning to every scene.

That there is no mention of any specific illness makes this a book that will help untie the knot of emotions in many families when one of their number (Or indeed a close friend) is diagnosed with a serious illness.

44 Tiny Secrets

44 Tiny Secrets
Sylvia Bishop, illustrated by Ashley King
Little Tiger

There are actually even more secrets than the 44 tiny ones in the title of this captivating book and some of them are pretty big ones.

Betsy Bow-Linnet is the daughter of two internationally famous concert pianists who spend a fair bit of their time jetting off to play abroad leaving young Betsy in the care of her Grandad.

Betsy has set her heart on becoming famous like her parents but no matter how hard she practises, she lacks the natural talent of her mother Bella and father, Bertram and feels she’s a disappointment to them both.

One day she discovers a letter on the doormat bearing only her name. Inside she finds a letter written by one Gloria Sprightly. The woman claims she has a special method that will make Betsy’s next performance ‘completely, totally, stupendously stunning’ and it isn’t necessary that the two of them meet. The other requirements are that the Method is a secret, and plenty of pumpkin seeds.

Needless to say Betsy jumps at the opportunity and posts off her acceptance right away.

Another letter follows instructing her to look inside the parlour piano and to await a parcel.

Sure enough, the following morning on the doorstep is a large parcel inside which is a box containing the titular tiny secrets in the form of 44 pygmy mice.

Betsy is baffled: how can the tiny reddish-brown creatures help her improve her piano playing and how can she possibly keep all those mice a secret?

Moreover, who is this Gloria Sprightly?

Woven into this quirky story are some wonderful verbal images: Betsy’s mother has a particular penchant for ferns and there are pots of the things everywhere in their home. She even looks and smells like a fern we’re told.

Before the end there are some unexpected revelations of more than one kind and the sharing of some rather yummy cream cakes but all ends happily. Not ever after however for there’s promise of a new story of Betsy and her 44 rodent friends coming soon. Hurrah!

A delight through and through, made all the more so by the splendid visuals provided by Ashley King whose offbeat illustrations underscore the humour of Sylvia’s telling.

This is Crab / The Bedtime Book

Here are two titles from the Little Tiger group that are just right to share with preschool children:

This is Crab
Harriet Evans and Jacqui Lee
Caterpillar Books

This is another interactive book from Harriet Evans and illustrator Jacqui Lee and this one has an ocean floor setting and a googly-eyed red crustacean as its central character.

We join and assist Crab as he wanders around the sea bed encountering in turn, bit part players in the form of an octopus,

some coral, sea turtles, fish of various kinds and hues as well as a Decorator Crab that our meanderer gets a tad cheeky with.

Bright alluring illustrations including several spreads with die-cut overlays will certainly engage visually, while eager fingers will enjoy responding to such instructions as ‘shake your finger at Crab, please’; ‘Try tickling Crab so he lets go’ and ‘Tap on Crab to make the crack larger’ and they’ll assuredly delight in the revelation of Crab’s new pink shell once they’ve helped peel off the cracked red one.

Words such as ‘drumroll’, ‘scuttle’ and ‘pincers’ are introduced as the action proceeds, so will likely be absorbed by youngsters as they react to the prompts to facilitate Crab’s perambulations through the story.

The Bedtime Book
S. Marendaz and Carly Gledhill
Little Tiger

Like little humans, Mouse has a favourite bedtime book. Who better to help her find it when it goes missing than Frank the dachshund but he’s just snuggled down for a peaceful night’s sleep in his kennel.

Cosy as he might be though, Frank’s not one to leave his friend to search alone so off they go together ‘scurry, scurry, scurry … pant, pant, pant’ on a book hunt. They follow a trail that leads them to Bella the cat.

What Bella tells them has all three of them scurrying and panting off again but still there’s no sign of the missing book.

Owl overhears their conversation and reveals that he had it but it’s now set to be the next bedtime story for Baby Hedgehog.

Kind-hearted Mouse won’t hear of trying to retrieve it and instead goes sadly back to bed. So too does Frank although instead of falling asleep he has a wonderful idea that soon sees him back at Mouse’s residence

where in lieu of Mouse’s book, we’ll leave the two friends snuggled together under the stars having shared Frank’s bedtime favourite …

This sweet gentle story is likely to become a bedtime favourite for pre-schoolers who will love to snuggle down and make some animal friends thanks to Carly Gledhill’s delightful portrayal of the nocturnal happenings.

Little Bear’s Picnic / Peek-through: Around Town & Peek-through: Jobs We Do

Here are some new Little Tiger board book treats for toddlers:

Little Bear’s Picnic
Sebastien Braun and Kathryn Smith
Little Tiger

Picnics are the best fun if you collect some of the components on the way and that’s what happens in the second in the Cook With Me! lift-the-flap series.

Little Bear’s pretend play gives Big Bear an idea. The adult bear puts some items into a basket and off they go through the vegetable garden, pausing there to harvest some delicious veggies for the picnic.

By the stream Little Bear asks about another green plant and learns that it’s watercress – another tasty item to add to the basket.

The buzzy bees in the woods lead them to discover a honeycomb in the trees and then it’s time to settle down to a lunch.

Suddenly down comes a shower of rain so they gather up their things and dash for cover. Soon, sheltered beneath the canopy of a large tree the two bears watch as a rainbow appears in the sky and they tuck into their yummy ‘Rainbow Wraps Picnic’.

There’s a recipe for these beneath the final flap inside the back cover of the book.

Seb. Braun’s attention to detail is as always superb, so there’s plenty to get involved with including flaps to explore and a question to respond to on every spread such as ‘Can you help Little Bear pick some watercress?’

Toddlers will enjoy the playful picnic game and have fun guessing what the book contains as well as trying out its recipe.

Peek-through: Around Town
Peek-through: Jobs We Do

Jonny Marx and Zoe Waring
Little Tiger

Dusty the dog is a bit of a snooper so tired of being cooped up inside (familiar?) off he goes to explore what the town has to offer. Starting with the café, he visits the bookshop – hurray!,

the clothing store, the music shop, the sweet shop, the greengrocer and at the end of the day, meets up with a friend in the restaurant.

Roxy Rat also likes exploring and meeting others. Her perambulations take her to the police station, the fire station, a restaurant kitchen, a clothes shop, a garage, the bank and the hospital. That’s her final destination for we discover on the final spread that Roxy is a nurse whose turn it is on the night shift.

Both titles have a question on each recto above which is a peek-through flap to open and find the answer.

There’s a wealth of vocabulary development potential if toddlers share these chunky board books with an adult or older sibling.

A Friend for Bear

A Friend for Bear
Steve Smallman and Caroline Pedler
Little Tiger

When Little Bear wakes from her long winter sleep she cannot wait to embrace spring with all its exciting possibilities for running, flower smelling, tadpole tickling and twirling.

It’s the twirling that causes her to trip and fall flat. What she fell over wasn’t in fact the stone she thought but a tortoise.

Tortoise is excited to hear about Little Bear’s plans for roly-polying, tree climbing and making new friends but knows his short legs are no match for Little Bear’s.

Bear offers Tortoise a piggyback and away they speed, with the former anything but aware of potential new pals and sweet smelling flowers they pass, right up to the top of a small hill.

After a downhill tumble the two narrowly miss hurtling into a tree. Tortoise just wants to sit and allow his head to stop spinning.

Unmindful of Tortoise’s predicament Little Bear hoists Tortoise on her shoulders again dashing up the hill only to zoom straight back down to the water’s edge. Once again Little Bear doesn’t stop long enough to allow Tortoise to finish speaking and in they leap.

Poor Tortoise can take no more. With a waterlogged shell and worse, he spells it out to Little Bear. “You never stop to listen, or think, or make friends.”

At last Little Bear pays attention to what’s being said; friendship wins through and both creatures eagerly anticipate another day in each other’s company.

Caroline Pedler shows the cuddly bear cub, with Tortoise holding on for dear life, dashing through verdant meadows and sunlit woods alive with spring flora and fauna. Like Little Bear, little humans (and big ones) can all benefit from slowing down and enjoying being in the moment as Steve’s protagonists finally demonstrate in his telling.

Meet the Grumblies

Meet the Grumblies
John Kelly and Carmen Saldaña
Little Tiger

The three Grumblies are an argumentative lot as their name suggests, and that’s despite having an easy life with food readily available courtesy of the bread bushes and fruit trees, and a constant supply of fizzy juice from the pond.

This primitive trio lead a low-tech existence and like nothing better than to bicker about the relative merits of the stick, the rope and mud.

These articles are put to the test when suddenly a huge and very hungry Gobblestomp breaks into their clearing and proceeds to devour their precious crops and slurp up their bubbly beverage.

Sticks bounce harmlessly off the hairy pachyderm;

the rope fails to slow it down and as for mud, it’s far too shallow to halt its progress.

Time for Grumble-Stick, Grumble-Rope and Grumble-Mud to cease squabbling, pool resources and come up with a plan perhaps; and so, overnight, they do.

The trio’s teamwork proves highly successful stopping Gobblestomp in its tracks

but there’s more than one change afoot in the village for it’s not only the Grumblies who see the error of their ways …

John Kelly’s daft neanderthal tale demonstrates the importance of teamwork and there’s plenty to giggle over in Carmen Saldaña’s animated artwork.

Magical Kingdom of Birds: The Flamingo Party / Little Owl Rescue

Magical Kingdom of Birds: The Flamingo Party
Anne Booth, illustrated by Rosie Butcher
Oxford University Press Children’s Books

In this sixth adventure Maya, inheritor of a magical colouring book is feeling a tad jealous. Her best friend Saffron is keen to include new girl, Alicia in their plans for a carnival in the town.

To uplift her spirits she turns to her colouring book and onto its cover start appearing flamingos.: a ‘flamboyance of flamingos’ Maya thinks and very soon she finds herself drawn back to the Kingdom of Birds where a new adventure awaits the Keeper of the Book.

Once there she learns that Lord Astor is up to no good again, luring all the flamingos to his palace lake. It’s on account of their magnificent pink feathers he needs to create the splendid headdress he is planning to wear as self-appointed Carnival King.

It’s up to Maya and Astor’s niece, Willow to make the Lord Astor see the error of his ways at last .

I say last for it appears that this is the final story in this enchanting series although I won’t divulge what happens.

If you work with or know young readers who would enjoy the mix of magic and bird facts characteristic of Anne Booth’s Magical Kingdom of Birds, then I thoroughly recommend they meet problem-solving, loyal friend, bird-loving Maya.

As with the other titles this one concludes with a bird fact file and there’s a recipe for ‘Flamingo-pink cakes’. Adding to the delights as usual are Rosie Butcher’s beautiful page borders and enchanting illustrations.

Another series for a similar readership that also mixes magical happening with saving wildlife is the Little Animal Rescue series, the latest of which is:

Little Owl Rescue
Rachel Delahaye, illustrated by Jo Anne Davies
Little Tiger

Animal loving Fliss is enjoying a trip to the fairground with her longstanding friend, Gabriel, when she is suddenly launched into another rescue mission. This time it’s in Aliceville, a sweetcorn growing area of Texas.

She is led by a white owl into a woodland area that is being chopped down to grow more maize crops. The mother owl has a family of baby owlets that she gathers up and off they fly, all except one little chick that hasn’t yet got the hang of becoming airborne.

Now with dangerous creatures all around and night fast drawing in, Fliss has an important task to save the owlet she names Cookie and to do so she needs to help it learn to fly and much more besides.

Indeed the whole rescue operation turns out to be a pretty dangerous undertaking for both Fliss and the owlet. The former discovers the importance of listening and she’s not one to give up until she’s achieved what she set out to do.

With plenty of black and white illustrations by Jo Anne Davies this is an exciting addition to the series for young readers that both entertains and gently educates.

Sea Keepers: The Mermaid’s Dolphin / Museum Kittens: The Midnight Visitor

Introducing two new younger fiction series:

Sea Keepers: The Mermaid’s Dolphin
Coral Ripley
Orchard Books

Meet Emily, Grace and Layla. Emily’s parents have just bought Mermaid Café; Layla lives just up the hill and Grace’s grandfather is a fisherman. The three team up to rescue a dolphin from a fishing net and find themselves plunging into a wondrously magical adventure with Marina the mermaid princess.

The three girls are unexpectedly chosen as the new Sea Keepers – guardians of the underwater world (a role not needed for hundreds of years). But human Sea Keepers? Humans have earned themselves a bad reputation with the Mer king and queen on account of their ocean polluting, whale killing and fishing, so the three girls will really have to prove themselves worthy of such a role.

They’ll need to confront Effluvia, the evil mermaid responsible for stirring up rubbish storms; she who has set her sights on finding the magical Golden Pearls; she with the power to mesmerise others.

Stop her they must, for the future of the underwater world is at stake; they simply have to find at least one of those magic pearls. Are they up to their task?

With talking sea creatures and much more, this magical story has at its heart the serious problem of ocean pollution. It’ll certainly immerse a certain section of young independent readers, and with still two pearls unfound at the end, this is just the first adventure of the Sea Keepers.

Museum Kittens: The Midnight Visitor
Holly Webb, illustrated by Sarah Lodge
Little Tiger

This is the first of a new series by cat-loving author Holly Webb who got her inspiration from stories of real-life museum cats from the British Museum and the Hermitage in Russia.

The appearance of a small black kitten on the museum steps one night has the majority of the feline residents of the museum all in a tither. The creature introduces himself as Peter and kitten Tasha at least, is eager to hear the story of this little scrap of a thing from ’Out There’.

Tasked with showing the incomer around the museum, the three resident kittens lead Peter through the various galleries but when they hear visitors the others hide leaving the newcomer alone.

Tasha returns to find him, taking him on a rat hunt during which they hear strange sounds coming from the Dinosaur Gallery; marauding rats perhaps, or something else?

Disaster strikes as an incident results in the famous T-Rex losing a bone:

the search is on … Will it be found and will Peter ever feel as though he fits in?

Young moggy lovers especially will lap up this story. Holly Webb has created some interesting cat characters, young and not so young; and Sarah Lodge’s black and white illustrations add further atmosphere and humour to the telling.

Fun, Facts and More in Boardbook Format

Here’s a handful of board books to entertain your little ones courtesy of the Little Tiger Group:

ABC of Kindness
Patricia Hegarty and Summer Macon
Caterpillar Books

Rhyming couplets by Patricia Hegarty together with Summer Macon’s small scenes of super cute animal characters showing the way make for a lovely reminder of the important things in life.

For instance, there’s ‘Cc is being caring in everything you do. / Dd is for dear ones – who mean the world to you!’

The pastel backgrounds to the kindnesses illustrated complement the softly spoken text in a lovely introduction to the behaviours we’d all like to see in little humans. Perfect for sharing and talking about.

Cook with Me: Bunny Makes Breakfast
Kathryn Smith and Seb Braun
Little Tiger

Big Mummy invites her Little Bunny to share in the creation of a ‘yummy breakfast’ but what are they going to cook? They already have butter, flour and maple syrup, but that’s not all they need.

Out they go and pick juicy berries, collect eggs from the hens, and creamy milk from the cow.

Back in the kitchen comes the fun, messy part of mixing all the ingredients and by the time the delicious aroma comes wafting from the cooker, Little Bunny has worked out what their surprise meal will be. Hmmm!

Kathryn Smith’s is a story with a bonus – the final spread includes a recipe book – Bunny Oliver’s Breakfast for Bunnies.

With flaps to explore on every one of Seb Braun’s engaging spreads, this is a tasty little book for sharing with small humans – preferably not at breakfast time though in case of sticky fingers.

Curious Kids: Sea and Shore
Jonny Marx and Christine Engel
Caterpillar Books

From early morning to sunset, there’s a wealth of wildlife to enjoy at the seaside.

This board book format non-fiction title presents in eight spreads, snippets of factual information about some of the marine creatures to be found in and around our seas from seagulls

to seahorses, octopuses to turtles.

There’s a pop-up feature on each bold, bright spread and observant eyes can also look for marine flora both in the sea and on the shore.

With the seaside likely to be off-limits for some time, maybe one way to remind little ones of its delights is with Christiane Engle’s sturdy book.

Also out in boardbook format now is:

Bee: Nature’s Tiny Miracle
Patricia Hegarty and Britta Teckentrup
Little Tiger

I reviewed the original hard cover edition of this smashing book that absolutely buzzes with bee-uty almost 4 years ago and it’s great to see it in a sturdy format for tinies: Britta’s illustrations are stunning.

Once Upon An Atom

Once Upon an Atom
James Carter, illustrated by William Santiago
Little Tiger

James Carter successfully wears several hats: he’s a much loved, award-winning poet, a musician and a non-fiction writer; how he manages to fit in all his performances at schools and festivals too, is pretty amazing.

In this latest book, James fuses his poetry and non-fiction writing, this time to explore some of the really BIG questions that fascinate both children and adults alike; and they’re all of a scientific nature.

Starting with a mention of the Big Bang and tiny atoms, the poet wonders, ‘WHY do leaves turn red and gold? / WHY do fireworks explode. // WHAT are whizzes, bangs expansions? / They’re all CHEMICAL REACTIONS!’
That assertion certainly makes chemistry begin to sound exciting.

Next on the scientific agenda are electricity, followed by gravity,

both aspects of physics – for as we hear, ‘We live on one great universe / and PHYSICS tells us how that works.’

Evolution, medicine come next, followed by my favourite of the sciences – botany, all of which are aspects of BIOLOGY.

The final stanzas talk of the work of scientists, their experimenting and inventing, ending with the exciting thoughts: ‘Now WHO knows what / the FUTURE is? // Find out … / become a SCIENTIST!’ Now there’s a possibility.

On the last spread is one of James’ acrostics entitled It’s all a question of SCIENCE.

A fizzingly, zinging addition to James’ non-fiction poetry series, this one is a clever fusion of playful entertainment and STEM information. With each spread being embellished with William Santiago’s arresting, zippy art, the book becomes a STEAM title that is great to share in the classroom or at home.

Midge & Mo / Judy Moody Super Book Whiz

Midge & Mo
Lara Williamson & Becky Cameron
Little Tiger

Starting at a new school is almost always a bit scary and many children go through those ‘I want things to be how they were before we moved’ feelings. It’s certainly the case for Midge in this latest story in the Stripes series of full colour fiction for new solo readers.

Midge’s parents have separated and Midge is faced with having to start at a new school with all the challenges that presents. He really doesn’t want to embrace the change, instead he wants his old school and friends, and his parents together.

On his first day he receives a warm welcome from teacher, Mr Lupin who asks Mo to be Midge’s buddy. This proves to be a challenging role, for no matter how hard she tries, Midge remains sad and silent.

At the end of the day, Mr Lupin encourages her to keep on trying.

Back at home that night, Mo has an idea. She reaches for the snow globe her mum and dad gave her when she was a newbie at school and sits down with her parents whose words of wisdom inspire her to create a special something for Midge.

At school the following morning, she tries again with Midge and her actions precipitate a change in him: little by little, the clouds begin to shift …

Told and illustrated with obvious empathy, Lara’s words and Becky’s illustrations express so well, the emotional turmoil of Midge. It’s a lovely warm-hearted story for young just-independent readers as well as providing an ideal opportunity to explore the feelings associated with changing schools and/or a parental separation.

Judy Moody Super Book Whiz
Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Walker Books

My goodness, I hadn’t realised just how many Judy Moody books there now are.

Although there is a competition in this story regarding factual recall of things in stories and I’m somewhat uncomfortable with that, books and reading rule and that must be a good thing.

Judy Moody and her brother Stink are both on their school bookworm team (along with Frank and Judy’s erstwhile arch nemesis Jessica, Frank and Sophie). They have to read all the books on the list in order to beat the team from a school in the nearby town. There’s money for the school library as a prize and their much-loved teacher, Mr Todd is asking the questions, but can team Virginia Dare Bookworms out-perform The Fake-Moustache Defenders with their star, ‘Mighty Fantasky, Fourth grader’.

In order to be in with a chance the Bookworms will need to read at every possible opportunity – on the bus, in karate class, at the dining table, sick in bed, even.

Judy tries speed-reading while Stink fashions a cape using sticky post-it notes both of which are not quite the answer.

However, enthusiasm for reading never wanes in this exciting bookish battle, (all titles read are listed after the story), and let’s just say that it’s a win for books, for hard work and for determination.

I’ll leave you to decide to whom that applies and suggest you get a copy of the book for your classroom or a bookish young reader. Either way the final list of books, as well as the story, with its liberal scattering of funky Peter H. Reynolds illustrations, provide literary inspiration and enjoyment.

Make Time for a Board Book

Where’s My Llama?
Kate McLelland and Becky Davies
Little Tiger

Capitalising on the current vogue for all things llama, Becky Davies has written a board book. Herein a llama has gone missing and it’s up to little ones to follow the trail of brightly coloured footprints to track her down.

Along the way tiny detectives will encounter a long-necked Giraffe, a cute tailed fox

and a long-eared rabbit, all of which have similar characteristics to the llama.
But where is the errant ungulate? Rest assured her fluffy tail will finally give the game away.

With its final flap reveal, Kate McLelland’s alluring scenes – each with a touch and feel animal body part – on softly patterned pastel backgrounds, simple descriptive text with the repeat refrain, ‘Where’s my llama?’ to chant, there’s plenty to keep the attention of tinies throughout this touch and feel, search and find book.

Maisy’s Science
Lucy Cousins
Walker Books

Toddlers’ favourite mouse Maisy is in investigative mode in this STEAM First Words tabbed book.

Out and about, she encounters some very windy weather that is perfect for kite flying; seasonal snow as she feeds the birds; enjoys a relaxing break from vegetable gathering to enjoy watching the minibeasts close by. Then it’s time for a bit of seed watering – perhaps she’s planted sunflower seeds – followed by observing some seasonal changes.

The arrival of her friends gives an opportunity to look at various parts of their bodies and hers and once she’s alone again, she and cuddly Panda can investigate a variety of textures; make some rather noisy musical sound with her percussion; don her painting apron and experiment with her paints, perhaps trying colour mixing and after all that activity it’s time to sit and read a book (or choose from one of the other learning tools shown on the opposite page).

Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop!
Todd Tuell and Tad Carpenter
Abrams Appleseed

This is a fun, rhyming tale of an energetic would-be little ninja whom we first meet looking terrified of the rather large family dog.

Creeping away, he comes upon his younger brother happily playing with a balloon. Not for long though. With a deft ‘chop’ Ninja  removes the balloon from little bro., then proceeds to snatch his chocolate-chip cookie and with a further chop – delivered with his foot this time – destroys his block-built castle leaving the long-suffering toddler howling.

A change of heart caused by an unseen force calling ‘Ninja, Ninja, would you stop?’ sees our Ninja then pause and help to reconstruct the building before whizzing off once more into the great outdoors.

It’s there that he receives his comeuppance, discovering – much to his surprise – that little brother is actually a highly observant pupil. Time to join forces it seems, for two Ninjas may well be better than one, certainly when it comes to scheming.

There’s a slight retro feel to Tad Carpenter’s bold, bright scenes from which the black-clad Ninja leaps out – literally! I can see little ones joining in, enthusiastically chanting along with adult readers aloud of debut author, Todd Tuell’s staccato text, as they turn the pages.

Don’t Mess With Duck! / The Monkey with a Bright Blue Bottom

Here are two treats from Little Tiger


Don’t Mess With Duck!
Becky Davies and Emma Levey
Little Tiger

Duck is an exceedingly grumpy creature, the grumpiest in his particular pond. Rather than leaving him to enjoy some peace and quiet the other residents create a terrible row and splash infuriatingly. Consequently, case in wing, Duck ups and leaves seeking somewhere quiet.

His search yields several promising ponds but each proves unsatisfactory in one way or anther so he goes to the city where he’s equally unsuccessful,

so too is the cave.

Finally though, he comes upon just what he’s looking for, except that all of a sudden he hears another voice and finds himself face to face with a grumpy frog that’s as cross about seeing Duck as Duck is to discover another occupant. “Clear off!’ they both order.

A brief argument ensues followed by a truce when each agrees to keep out of the other’s way. Peace at last.

But then after a few days a loud cry disturbs this peace.
Are Duck and Frog now ready to accept that perhaps friendship is more important that seclusion? …

Themes of acceptance, inclusion and friendship are at the heart of Becky Davies’ funny tale of self-exploration and compromise. Plenty to think about there, for sure and with Emma Levey’s superbly expressive animal illustrations (I certainly wouldn’t dream of messing with that duck), this is a smashing book to share and discuss with youngsters either in school or at home.

The Monkey with a Bright Blue Bottom
Steve Smallman and Nick Schon
Little Tiger

Just when we, certainly I, am feeling in need of a bit of brightness in what feels like especially grey times, this book with its brand new dazzling, celebratory ‘becoming a teenager’ cover arrives in my post.

It’s a neo pourquoi tale delivered in jaunty rhyme that certainly packs a punch. It tells how long ago a monkey, inspired by the rainbow colours of the birds, takes up the paintbox he happens upon beside the stream, along with a couple of brushes, and feeling an upsurge in his creative juices, sets to work to make his world a brighter place.

Waiting until the animals are having their early afternoon snooze, he gets busy daubing some reptiles and then decides to give the leopard a bright yellow coat. In so doing however, he causes it to stir. Monkey dashes up a tree and splodges of black paint rain down upon the creature.

Impressed with what he sees, Monkey lets his artistry loose upon a giraffe, a zebra, a lemur and a skunk. Bear receives a pair of white specs. but he’s roused from his slumbers and demands to know what Monkey is up to.

Then instead of venting his wrath upon the fearful primate, Bear takes up the paintbrush and it’s payback time … and the rest as you know is natural history …

I’m certain author Steve and artist Nick Schon had as much fun creating this book as Monkey did creating all those animal designs. It’s terrific fun, reads aloud superbly and will have young audiences laughing their heads off as well as wriggling on their ‘not blue’ bottoms in glee.

Supermouse and the Big Cheese Robbery

Supermouse and the Big Cheese Robbery
M.N. Tahl and Mark Chambers
Little Tiger

If you want a book whiffing over with exceedingly cheesily pungent puns and other word plays, not to mention a number of wheyward characters, gratinate or otherwise, then this will certainly be to your taste.

Without further odour let’s head over to Mouseopolis where everyone is eagerly anticipating the grand unveiling of the city’s ‘most magnificent morsel’, the Big Cheese.

Disaster is revealed as soon as the mayor pulls back the curtain. All that’s on view is a holey communication from the dastardly thief.

News of the robbery has everyone puzzling and a list of suspects is published in the Daily Mouse, along with an article on the possible cheese saviour.

Before you can say Stilton, Supermouse aka Peter Parmesan, is on the trail searching out every suspicious pong be it high or low.

Little does he know however, that a trap has been set by the roguish robbing rodents. Perhaps all is not lost though for the ground whereon their cutter stands, starts to shake.

Here’s what then ensues …

but can Supermouse manage to caerphilly secure that scrumptious delicacy he seeks, enable justice to be served and return a hero?

Despite the occasional challenge to my vegan sensibilities, this reviewer positively relished this morsel of literary madness cooked up by cheese-loving author M.N. Tahl and scrumptiously layered with Mark Chambers’ tongue-tingling illustrative treats, liberally peppered with speech bubbles, logos and signs. With its flaps, peep-through and sometimes unfolding, pages, not to mention the action-packed plot, adventure-loving audiences will devour this and demand seconds.

A Little Bit Worried

A Little Bit Worried
Ciara Gavin and Tim Warnes
Little Tiger

Do you embrace the challenges life throws at you or shut yourself away, fearful of what might happen? Here’s a story that offers a look at life from both viewpoints, through the eyes of Weasel – he’s the fearful one, and Mole, the upbeat character.

It’s the changes in the weather that cause Weasel concern: first a sudden downpour, followed by hail and strong winds. So much so that he builds a safe place and shuts himself away inside.

Time passes and he’s just getting used to his solitary state when up pops Mole demanding to know where he is. Weasel says it’s a fortress and invites Mole to help him guard it. Mole however, is having none of it, insisting it’s a home and making himself comfortable. He then proceeds to act his upbeat self,

countering every one of Weasel’s downbeat remarks about the storm raging outside with fun alternative suggestions, insisting that storms can provide opportunities to build a snowman, make you feel ticklishly joyful,

or create the perfect puddles for a good splash-about with some wonderfully warming soup.

After their discussion Weasel asks Mole the all-important question, “What do you do when you feel afraid to face something?”

What happens thereafter will make you smile; it certainly made both the characters of Ciara Gavin’s story do just that – for not one, but two reasons.

Perhaps there’s a little bit of Weasel and a little bit of Mole in us all; what’s important however is to understand our feelings and responses to those challenging situations. In that way can we show empathy to others who respond differently.

Tim Warnes’ gently humorous illustrations show so well the two very different characters and how it’s possible to complement one’s self-protectiveness with another’s joie de vivre.

Books For Babies And Beyond

Ducky’s Bathtime
Lucy Cousins
Walker Books

Quack! Quack! Hooray! – it’s Ducky’s bathtime day. In a lovely squishy waterproof, wipe- clean format, this delightful Ducky adventure is totally irresistible.

Not only does it provide the perfect opportunity to introduce Lucy Cousins’ adorable Ducky to babies, they can also meet the quacky duckling’s friends including fish, ducks, frog and newt.

Who Said Woof? / Who Said Moo?
Yi-Hsuan Wu
Little Tiger

Four animals in each book make their characteristic sounds but they’ve all hidden themselves away beneath flaps depicting four other animals each with a tactile die-cut shape on its back.

So, it wasn’t Bunny who said ‘Woof!, nor Guinea Pig who said ‘Meow!; neither did Goldfish ‘Squeak!’ nor Tortoise ‘Squawk!’ but lifting each flap wlll reveal the sound-creating creatures.

As you might expect. Horse did not ’Moo!, Llama certainly didn’t ‘Baa!’, Dog definitely didn’t ‘Quack and Rabbit wasn’t responsible for that ‘Oink!’

Toddlers will enjoy discovering the hidden culprits that they’re likely already to have guessed, beneath the flaps in Yi-Hsuan Wu’s jolly illustrations.

The final spread of each book collects together the entire cast of animal characters with a question “What sound do you say?’ – anything goes!

With their predictable repeat refrains, both books are just right for older siblings beginning to read for themselves, to share with a toddler brother or sister and everyone can enjoy making the animal noises.

You Complete Me
Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

‘Better together’ (a wider, hidden meaning perhaps?) is the message in this tasty, playful, peek-a-boo board book where partnerships prove paramount.

Set against vivid backgrounds, bright, eye-catching toddler foodie favourites such as milk and cookies, and peanut butter and jelly, unite to make the point loud and clear in Thomas Elliott’s delicious die-cut piece of daftness.

With its puns and clever design, adults will savour the pleasure along with their little ones as they share this one.

Board Books Matter

Board books form the bedrock of children’s reading – or rather one hopes they do; but not all new parents appreciate their potential and their importance. Thanks to Little Tiger, here are some new titles. The first is already published the others will be early in February.

Where’s My Unicorn?
Kate McLelland and Becky Davies
Little Tiger
Right from a very young age, there seems to be a magnetic attraction between young children, (girls mostly) and unicorns, so I’m sure this textured book will please.

Its first spread shows the rear end of a hoofed animal that has left a trail of footprints as clues to follow through the pages until the missing unicorn is found on the final spread hiding in plain sight.

On the way little ones encounter a mermaid with a colourful tail, a flamingo with soft fluffy plumage and a narwhal with a magical horn.

Tactile hide-and-seek fun for tinies who can enjoy the search as well as joining in with the repeat refrain, ‘Where’s my unicorn?’ Becky Davies provides the words, giving a sentence about each creature; Kate McLelland has created the alluring visuals.

What Can You See: On the Farm?
Kate Ware and Maria Perera
Little Tiger

As well as providing an introduction to what might be seen on a farm, and something to count on each spread, this, the first of a new ‘spot and count’ series provides plenty to interest little ones in Maria Perera’s jolly scenes of farm life.

First we visit the farm shop where different kinds of delicious-looking vegetables are on sale. Lunchtime is an opportunity to watch the sheep being fed; the pigs too need feeding and fruit trees near their sty supply a wealth of apples when they’re ready for eating.

The farm also has a duck pond alongside which is a weeping willow; there are several different kinds of birds to see in that scene.

Later in the year, the combine harvester gathers the wheat from a field where lots of small creatures have made their homes; and finally it’s teatime and the farmer collects eggs from the barn where there are hens, cows while other animals scamper along the rafters.

Toddlers can by means of the die-cut visuals, acquire some facts, do some counting and develop their observation skills, using Kate Ware’s words as guidance.

I Can Do It!
Patricia Hegarty and Hilli Kushnir
Caterpillar Books

Try teaching preschool and reception age children and you’d be amazed how many 4/5 year olds start school unable to dress themselves properly. I know parents find it easier when they’re rushed in the mornings to dress their youngsters but essentially this is deskilling children. Much better to set time aside to help them learn in a playful manner to cope with zips, buttons, poppers, laces and Velcro type fastenings themselves.

This robust board book with Patricia’s text and Hilli Kushnir’s enticing illustrations will be a boon in this respect.

Using five little children as models, the narrative provides an introduction to each fastening with instructions on how to work it, and asks each time ‘Can you fasten the …? alongside a bold, bright illustration of a child wearing the item needing to be done up.

One boy fastens shirt buttons, a little girl zips up her hoodie,

another boy does up the hooks and loops fastening on his coat; a child closes the popper on a backpack and finally a little girl has lace-up shoes to tie up on her trainers.

Fun, instructive and I assure you, early years teachers will be truly thankful if your child can manage all the five fastenings.

Little Bird Lost

Alesha enjoying reading the story    for herself

Little Bird Lost
Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Sebastiaan Van Doninck
Stripes Books

Many possible interpretations spring to mind on reading Patricia Hegarty’s tale of Little Bird and the kind hearted Deer that comes to his aid when he hears a plaintive “Chick-kee!” coming from a pile of leaves and discovers a small injured bird that has crash landed on the forest floor.

Little Bird has become separated from his flock, and having consulted his forest friends, Deer undertakes to ‘follow the sun’ towards the warmer place they think the flock is heading to.

Thus begins an adventurous, sometimes hazardous journey

that takes them through the forest and through the seasons

to spring.

By then much has happened: Little Bird’s wing has healed, a strong friendship has been formed between the two travellers and with spring – a time of hope – other things too are evolving …

Now though, it’s time to bid farewell to a very special friend, safe in the knowledge that a friendship such as that is forever …

Poignant and immersive, this is the latest in Stripes Publishing’s full-colour fiction series– especially aptly with this story, for those readers just flying solo. How powerful it is to discover a book that you can almost read unaided and that’s what happened with one such reader, Alesha.
As much as the story, she loved Sebastiaan Van Doninck’s splendidly expressive illustrations and stopped several times to comment on how both they and the narrative made her feel. Spring was her favourite section: “I was excited when Little Bird found he could fly; it made me so happy.

Board Book Play and Learn

When I Grow Up I Want To Drive …
When I Grow Up I Want To Be …

Rosamund Lloyd and Richard Merritt
Little Tiger

Both books hide much of their brief snippets of information beneath the thirty flaps found between the covers.

The first offers 5 different vehicles – a tractor, an ambulance, a cement mixer, a recycling truck and an aeroplane each shown on the verso and then as part of an appropriate scene on the recto, while the final spread is an integral scene …

A similar pattern is used in the look at 5 possible jobs tinies might aspire to, with a representative from each introducing themselves opposite a look at the role in action. Again the places of work are all shown in the final spread.

Bright artwork by Richard Merritt shows in turn an astronaut, a teacher, an athlete, a firefighter and a doctor.

Let’s Find The Dinosaur
Let’s Find The Mermaid

illustrated by Alex Willmore
Little Tiger

Search-and-find fun with a hunt for a T.Rex in the first book, and Mermaid in the second, is given a tactile element with felt flaps and die cut pages.

As tots engage in the game of hide and seek they’ll listen to descriptive clues such as ‘T-Rex has a scaly head. Could this be T-Rex behind the leaves.’ Or ‘Mermaid has a swishy tail. Could this be Mermaid in the coral?’

Alex Willmore’s attractively patterned spreads will ensure that each game is a playful learning opportunity, while the repeat refrain textual patterning will help with word recognition if appropriate for the particular child.

Baby 101 Touch and Trace: Plant and Grow/ Build a House
Patricia Hegarty and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

Two new titles in the STEM series for toddlers take a look at horticulture and building construction.

Plant and Grow tells of the vital things needed for seeds to germinate and thrive until the crops are ready to pick and consume.

There’s a mathematical thread to Build a House with such vocabulary as basic 2D shape names and simple counting (of roof tiles) as well as a spread showing how bricks might be bonded.

Both titles have a tactile element thanks to the ‘touch-and-trace’ details built into Thomas Elliott’s illustrations on every page to  help develop the fine motor skills of little users.

Fun learning for babies and toddlers.

The Moonlight Zoo

The Moonlight Zoo
Maudie Powell-Tuck and Karl James Mountford
Little Tiger

With an arresting die-cut cover like the one on this book, from the creators of Space Train, who could resist plunging in to join young Eva as she undertakes a nocturnal search for her missing moggy Luna.

It all begins when Eva hears strange sounds coming from beneath her bed, dives underneath and finds herself at the gates of The Moonlight Zoo.

The guard wolf informs her that it’s a safe night haven for lost animals and with the helpful creature as guide she begins to hunt for Luna.

They look in various possible locations, find some clues – Luna’s collar and a lump of cat fur – but not that which they seek.

Time is running out for the zoo closes at dawn; then Eva hears a rumbly sound; could it possibly be Luna? …

Animal lovers especially will relish this adventure wherein they can explore the nocturnal world Karl James Mountford has created in his fantastical zoo populated by penguins, monkeys, guinea pigs, dogs, wolves, elephants and other lost creatures.The cutaway peep-through pages add to the visual delights of Maudie Powell-Tuck’s enchanting story wherein determination is key.