Ruby and Graham / This Old Dog

Ruby and Graham
Lucy Barnard
New Frontier Publishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Old Dog
Martha Brockenbrough and Gabriel Alborozo
Levine Querido

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

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

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

some of which make the pooch enormously excited.

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

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

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

Being a Hero/Being Brave

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Monty the Hero
Steve Smallman
QED Publishing
Inspired by his favourite bedtime story, Monty Mole makes a big decision: he’s going to be a (super) hero. He cannot wait so off he goes tunneling up and up until he reaches the magical setting of his storybook where he immediately encounters Herbert Hedgehog. Donning a conker shell for protection against monsters, Monty invites Herbert to become a hero too.
All too soon though, the two have their first MONSTER encounter but thanks to Monty’s mushroom morphing and Herbert’s prickly bottom, the ‘monster’ is soon beating a hasty retreat.

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But, pride comes before a fall it’s said and certainly that’s the case here for as they banter over Monty’s heroic – or not – qualities, Herbert finds himself in a bit of a fix.

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A spot of hasty tunneling from Monty soon does the trick and then two heroes set off in search of a wish fulfilling magic wand. Having found same, they just need to give it a shake but …
That’s not quite the end though: all ends happily for both heroes and Monty’s mum hears the magical story (with just one omission) as they walk off home together.

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A gentle, amusing story with some atmospheric nocturnal scenes to enjoy around bedtime or to share at any time in an early years setting. I love the fact that Monty’s adventure was sparked by that bedtime tale his mum read to him.

More lessons about being a hero to be learned in:

 

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Be Careful Barney!
Lucy Barnard
QED Publishing
Herein Barney’s attempts at being a superhero land him in big trouble when he ignores his teacher’s ‘stay away from the river’ instructions when the class goes on a school trip.

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Brave As Can Be
Jo Witek and Christine Roussey
Abrams Appleseed
A now not so little, self-assured girl shares her erstwhile fears and how she managed to overcome each one, be it her fear of the dark, a neighbour’s barking dog, a scary dream, a thunderstorm, creepy crawlies even, or her angry teacher (not so frightening when imagined with feathers) …

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On Hallowe’en however, with a cackly laugh and pointy hat, it’s her turn to be scary.

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Being scared can be fun though, especially when it’s listening to one of Dad’s spooky stories.

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Cleverly conceived and executed with all kinds of cutaway shapes strategically placed, this is a real charmer as is the narrator herself.
Deliciously humorous and unsentimental, this sturdily constructed book , subtitled a ”A Book of Courage’ is bound to delight and may well help children find their own fear-facing coping strategies.
It’s brilliant for sharing with children in an early years setting and a great starting point for talking about personal fears and how they might deal with them. With its board pages the book is built to stand up to the numerous readings I suspect it will have.

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