Catch Me / Wilfred and Olbert’s Epic Prehistoric Adventure

Catch Me
Anders Arhoj
Chronicle Books

In this double-ended seek-and-find book a long-necked cat, Big Meow and a spotted dog, Little Woof hunt for one another as they dash through eleven, mostly very busy scenes, changing their colour to blend in with each one.

Begin at the front to follow Big Meow’s journey through the pages and to try to catch Little Woof, work backwards. Either way there’s a pre-chase introductory spread introducing the characters.

The search-and-find pages have no words apart from a sign with Japanese symbols in this springtime café scene …

Each one of Arhoj’s incredibly busy, bright digital scenes will likely make the reader linger long after finding Meow and Woof as they enjoy the quirky details be that in the beauty salon, the alley with its shadowy creatures …

the park, the animal show, the cloud based carnival or any of the other zany locations. Each one is rendered in a different colour palette, which ups the challenge and interest levels another notch.

Enormous fun, the entire book is totally immersive; I hate to think how long I spent poring over it. Love those clever die-cut covers, each with its pair of alluring staring eyes; young readers will too.

Wilfred and Olbert’s Epic Prehistoric Adventure
Lomp
Little Tiger

Following their Totally Wild Chase famous explorers Wilfred Wiseman and Olbert Oddbottom are off on another action packed adventure.
While out shopping one afternoon the friends enter a time portal and in so doing find themselves cascading through thousands of years of history and unbelievably all the way back to the beginning of the universe.

Landing in a prehistoric ocean 360 millions years ago they confront among other creatures a Dunkleosteus, and readers are asked to search and see how many trilobites they can find.

From there they make a hasty exit and land up in a swampy forest of the Carboniferous period.

Further retreats into the time portal take them not home but in turn to the Jurassic period when dinosaurs roamed and they have a narrow escape from a Stegosaurus.

Thereafter they enter the Cretaceous period and come upon even more dinosaurs, followed by the Neogene period, the Quaternary ice age where they meet a mammoth as well as encounter some human cave dwellers before leaping once more through the portal and right back home where it’s time for tea, followed they suppose by a well-deserved rest.

But then they look through the window where a big surprise awaits.

My head was certainly spinning after all that, so I’m certain the two friends needed a lot more than a cup of “Earlier Grey’ or ‘Oo-So-Long’ tea to calm them down.

Frenetic, crazy, action-packed and bursting with speech bubbles: search-and-find enthusiasts especially, will quickly be sucked through the portal along with Will and Ollie, taking a considerable time to emerge from this absorbing book. Fortunately the solutions to the puzzles are given inside the back cover along with a message from a nautilus that issues a further challenge to readers.

The One-Stop Story Shop

The One-Stop Story Shop
Tracey Corderoy and Tony Neal
Little Tiger

How many stories can you pack into one? A fair few it seems when Tracey Corderoy is the author and the tale is The One-Stop Story Shop.

Having discovered that the terrible dragon he intended to slay is temporarily absent taking a well-earned break, a knight finds himself sans story.

Luckily he happens upon a helpful neighbour who takes him to the perfect place named in the title where his problem might be solved, thereby placing the fearless knight on a hunt to find an appropriate story.

The shopkeeper however, has sold out of dragons and instead offers a feisty ferret.

By means of an ingenious plot said ferret then acts as foil for a series of one act dramatic misadventures – a space extravaganza, a cowboy yarn, a rumble-in-the-jungle adventure,

and a depths of the ocean journey. Along the way additional characters tag along, notably a space robot and on every occasion it’s down to feisty ferret to save the situation.

Do the knight and his entourage finally emerge safe and sound from all their adventuring?

Most certainly they do, arriving back in the ‘real’ world of the shop just in time to welcome a certain dragon back from his hols. and ready and willing to do battle.

The knight’s response to his offer demonstrates that he’s graduated from ready-made tales, and with his ferrety sidekick and friend, is more than capable of finding his own adventures.

Enormous fun, this foray into the magical world of storytelling is a great read aloud. Tracey’s text is comically illustrated by Tony Neal. Every one of his spreads is packed with giggle inducing details; and who can resist a poop joke?

An absolute winner and a smashing take on the knight vs dragon tale.

The Wolves Who Came for Dinner / The Lamb Who Came for Dinner

The Wolves Who Came for Dinner
Steve Smallman and Joëlle Dreidemy
Little Tiger

Wolf and Hotpot (who nearly became Wolf’s dinner in a previous story) are now the best of pals much to the puzzlement of the other forest animals.

So when Wolf invites all the bunnies for a playdate and subsequently spends the morning cooking carrot cakes, his greeting of “Teatime!’ has the bunnies fleeing for, so they think, their lives. Poor Wolf is downcast. Hotpot assures Wolf of his goodness and in return Wolf suggests going out to find and play with the bunnies in the forest.

Things don’t go well in the hide-and-seek game; the terrified bunnies make a bolt for it.

Wolf decides to invite his lupine pals to meet Hotpot instead; but when they turn up Gripper, Nipper and Growler have ominously grumbly tums. Wolf however serves up a yummy vegetable soup after which they settle down for a story followed by a snuggly sleep.

Nevertheless the other forest creatures remain convinced Wolf’s friendship with Hotpot is a sham and things turn very soggy for good old Wolf.

Back home, who should be waiting for the two friends but Gripper, Nipper and Growler requesting another story and a sleepover.

So bothered about Hotpot’s fate are the other woodland animals that they stage a further rescue attempt, charging in on the slumberers.

Initially the other wolves are reluctant to drop their stereotypes, offering to consume some of the intruders; but Hotpot stands up for her best pal and all ends satisfactorily like all good stories – and I definitely count this one among them, -with the whole cast of characters living ‘happily ever after.”

Steve’s toothsome tale is a great one for challenging stereotypes and showing that it’s wrong to prejudge others, while simultaneously gently advocating a plant-derived diet. And as someone who eschews animal and dairy products I’m all for this.

Joëlle Dreidemy’s characters are splendidly rendered in her hilarious scenes of the woodland animals as they gradually come to terms with, and overcome, their prejudiced assumptions.

The Lamb Who Came for Dinner
Steve Smallman and Joëlle Dreidemy
Little Tiger

A dozen or so years ago I reviewed in BKF, this story of love and vegetarianism triumphing over Wolf’s inherent carnivorous instincts. I loved it then and do so now with Steve’s super characterisation, deliciously funny text and Joëlle Dreidemy’s droll illustrations.

Now with an accompanying audio CD, a new generation of listeners will relish seeing and hearing of what appears to be a thoroughly menacing Wolf’s first encounter with a freezing cold lamb that comes a-knocking on his door seeking shelter from the elements.

A Quiet Quiet House

A Quiet Quiet House
Georgiana Deutsch and Ekaterina Trukhan
Little Tiger

In a quiet little street is a quiet little house. To this house ‘speeding on her scooter’ comes a quiet little mouse. She however is only the first.

One by one a whole host of little mice, each with a different mode of travel turn up and gain admission to the house.

But what is hidden inside the parcel each little mouse carries and what is going on within, behind that red door?
Listeners’ curiosity is aroused right from the start and builds up as each page is turned and another mouse goes through the door.

In all kinds of weather these little mice turn up until the house is no longer a quiet little house, rather it’s bursting with the sounds created by all the tiny noisy mice within.

Delightfully detailed illustrations include on each spread, an animal be that cat, birds, a goldfish even, that offers a comment on the proceedings as they unfold as well as a remark from one of the mice.

At every page turn die-cuts provide small peeks within at the mice capers. Observant little ones will enjoy especially following the activity within the dustbin located just beside the front door;

and assuredly they’ll respond to the final invitation ‘to clap your hands and jiggle to the beat!’

Oops! I may have accidentally revealed the reason why all those little mice are gathered in the house. No it isn’t a party despite the wrapped packages.

The final spread comprises a visual glossary that names the vehicles, colours, the weather and contents of the packages that feature in this fun book. Best shared one-to-one or with a very small group, I suggest so that little ones have an opportunity to explore fully all the lovely details in Ekaterina Trukhan’s illustrations.

Follow Me, Little Fox

Follow Me, Little Fox
Camila Correa and Sean Julian
Little Tiger

A city dweller, Little Fox loves his urban home but occasionally feels overwhelmed by its pace. His mother is eager for him to experience something different; the place where the city ends and the wild begins. “Let’s go back to nature,” she says.

Off they go on a journey away from their den to discover the sights, sounds and smells of the wonderful outdoors.

Yes, at times it can be scary but nature offers a wonderful place to play, to roam and to howl; a place that makes your heart sing.

Unsurprisingly, come nightfall Little Fox is reluctant to leave. He asks to spend the night beneath the stars. Then, having informed him that what he sees are actually the city lights twinkling in the distance, his mother helps him formulate a plan to bring some of the amazing natural world much closer to their home …

… and together they put project transformation into action.

This book is a wonderful reminder of the importance of getting outside into green spaces for our mental and physical wellbeing.

Lyrically written, Camila Correa’s text evokes the wonders of the great outdoors and Sean Julian brings it to life with his beautiful cityscapes and scenes of the natural world.

The Big Angry Roar

The Big Angry Roar
Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger

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

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

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

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

Their tooting and roaring precipitates a massive …

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

leaving Cub with just one more thing to do.

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

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

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

With Your Paw in Mine

With Your Paw in Mine
Jane Chapman
Little Tiger

Otter pup Miki loves to float snuggled up on her Mama’s tummy but after a swimming lesson she goes off hunting leaving Miki alone safely rolled in seaweed.

As she waits, Miki notices another similar ‘furry parcel’ and paddles across to meet pup Amak who is also waiting for his mother. Acknowledging the loneliness of waiting, Miki suggests holding paws and waiting together.

That becomes a regular occurrence and the two cubs become inseparable.

But one morning a fierce storm blows up and the two friends become separated briefly, manage to re-link paws and even to join up with other otters to form, paw in paw, a raft to weather out the storm

until, joy of joys Miki hears her very favourite voice calling to her.

The author’s message is clear: we all need someone (or perhaps more than one someone) to hold on to in stormy times. Essentially an endearing story of friendship, the book also includes some information about mother otters and their young.

In her chilly acrylic scenes Jane Chapman really captures the vastness of the ocean but at the same time focuses in on the otters and their feelings making this a lovely book to share with individuals or a nursery group.