One Camel Called Doug

One Camel Called Doug
Lu Fraser and Sarah Warburton
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Star story spinner Lu Fraser has created another winning picture book in a new partnership with illustrator Sarah Warburton.

When it comes to flying solo Doug is an expert; everything he knows about comes in the singular – at least as this rhyming story starts that is the case. But Doug thinks he might be better off with a playmate. Almost as soon as he thought that however, what should come along but another camel, Brian by name. Two proves a whole lot more fun than one but hot on his heels or rather hooves, come Claire, 

Bruce and Rita. A veritable footie team no less. And so it goes on until there’s an entire train of the humped creatures – just the thing for a party.

However, all that romping and stomping can prove a tad overwhelming if it goes on and on and on … What then for our adorable dromedary?

Lu’s faultless rhyming narrative has a fun counting element but there’s so much more to enjoy: not least the way she uses a repeat refrain, “What’s that, cried … “is it a …? to set the scene for the next arrival, the name of which is part of an on-going guessing game.

Sarah Warburton manages to bestow a real personality on each camel that comes along – no mean feat – and the scene with the ‘fancy dress camels’ is definitely one to pore over. In fact it’s the way that words and pictures work together that makes this such a super book and one that youngsters will want to hear read aloud over and over.

The Viking Who Liked Icing

The Viking Who Liked Icing
Lu Fraser and Mark McKinley
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Here’s a story set long, long ago and far, far away.

When it comes to the traditional Viking skills or indeed anything else that requires some kind of sporting finesse, Nut, in contrast to his big sister Leaf, falls well short of the mark. Indeed whenever he picks up his bow and arrow, everyone else takes cover. He’s not entirely without talents however: he’s passionate about baking cakes and does so with lashings of creativity, dreaming about so doing at night too.

There’s one day in the Viking calendar that young Nut dreads more than any other: Viking Sports Day has him shaking in his boots. Nonetheless off he goes, cake in hand to the venue, a reluctant participant if ever there was one.

Things go pretty disastrously

and then comes the Great Horn-Throwing Race …

Is there any way Nut might redeem himself?

With its combination of Lu Fraser’s dramatic rhyming narrative and Mark McKinley’s hilarious scenes of Nut’s sporting ineptitude as well as his mouth-watering confections, and the other characters’ reactions to both, this is a fun demonstration of the fact that everybody has a talent that will win through if nurtured. That way lies happiness.

This will surely be a hit with young listeners at school or at home.

The Littlest Yak

The Littlest Yak
Lu Fraser and Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Despite her prowess at clip-clopping up slippery cliffs and her wonderfully curly, whirly woolly back, little Gertie yak is unhappy on account of her lack of “bigness’. She longs to grow up great and tall, when she assumes, her horns and hooves will be impressively huge.

Her mum assures her that ‘bigness’ can take a variety of guises but Gertie remains impatient to assume a larger form.

To that end she embarks on a ‘growing-up’ regime: a diet of healthy veggies and vigorous physical exercise as well as mental training, thanks to her extensive library.

None of which have the desired effect.

Then all of a sudden as Gertie is near to despair, there comes a cry for help from the yak herd. The teeniest, weeniest is stranded in a perilously precarious position on a cliff edge.

Now is the time for Gertie to make use of those super-grippy hooves of hers and so she does. Onto her back leaps the teeny weeny yak and down the mountainside they both go, to safety and a congratulatory crowd.

Later, wrapped up warmly under the stars, might just be the time for one little yak to realise that she’s just right as she is.

Debut picture book author, Lu Fraser’s rhyming text flows beautifully, making it a super read aloud; and she has the perfect illustrator in Kate Hindley whose funny details – look out for the bird characters – add gigglesome delight to many of the spreads. Love those bobble hats, blankets, scarves and other items of warm clothing worn by the yaks. Perfect for this heartwarming tale.