The Greatest Showpenguin

The Greatest Showpenguin
Lucy Freegard
Pavilion

Young Poppy has performing ancestors going back many generations and consequently has inherited a variety of skills that have become part and parcel of the family’s travelling show.

Eager to make her parents proud, Poppy trains hard, learning some amazing audience-pleasing moves. There’s a snag though: Poppy knows in her heart that her passion lies elsewhere, somewhere she can feel inner peace. But how does she tell her mum of her need to feel calm and composed about what she does.

Then one day while mother and child are relaxing beside the sea, Poppy feels rather strange

and suddenly – light bulb moment! – there’s a solution that offers all that she desires, but equally means the show’s buzz and magical elements that she loves can still be a part of her daily life.

Let the learning commence as well as the pleasure of developing a new role – one that earns Poppy a special name. Good on you little penguin having the courage to be yourself.

Lucy Freegard’s story highlights both the fact that each and every individual has a special ‘something’, and the importance of following your heart and being the best you can no matter what you choose to do.
The watercolour illustrations have a freeze-frame quality about them as well as an abundance of pattern in the details making you want to pause and take time to enjoy each one.

The Big Stink

The Big Stink
Lucy Freegard
Pavilion Books

Despite his beguiling appearance, cheese-obsessive Charlie Mouse is a mouse with a mission for he’ll do anything to satisfy his lust for the stinky stuff: even perhaps following his dream of breaking into the Museum of Cheese and procuring for himself one of its famous exhibits, The Stinker.

One night his avarice overwhelms him and he decides to act.

Once inside he finds that the security is excellent; so too though is his avoiding skill. Perhaps his location expertise is less so, but Charlie is forearmed with the appropriate tools to get his paws on the sculpture.

Suddenly disaster strikes in the form of a web of laser beams and the game is up. Alarms sound, security is alerted and the chase is on. Officer Rita is hot on his trail.

With her hyper-developed olfactory sense, she succeeds in tracking down the thief but by that time Charlie has seen the error of his ways. The priceless exhibit is still intact and Charlie must do his community service; but while so doing a wonderful idea strikes him …

With its twist in the tale, little ones will relish this cat-and-mouse drama; but it has plenty to offer adult readers too, not least the art and film references scattered throughout Lucy’s delicious offering.

Ballet Bunnies / We Are Family

Ballet Bunnies
Lucy Freegard
Pavilion Children’s Books

Young Betty bunny aspires to be a ballerina but she’s only ever performed for her baby sister Bluebell.

At home Betty dances at every opportunity, in every room, but when it comes to dance class it’s not the same, especially with the end of term show fast approaching. Unlike her fellow dance students Betty feels clumsy and she can’t remember the right steps.
She does however, put her own interpretation on those moves and fortunately her teacher sees the best in every one of his students, providing fun rehearsals and a part for them all.

Betty works on losing her nerves but what will happen come the big day when among the audience will be her biggest fan, Bluebell?

Lucy Freegard’s cute characters and ballet scenes executed in pen and watercolour are sure to appeal particularly to budding dancers of the human kind, while her story of doing one’s best, over-coming your fears and finding confidence should resonate with all.

We Are Family
Claire Freedman and Judi Abbot
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

A celebration of sibling love is exemplified by an array of endearing young animals small and not so small.
Be they lively lion cubs, diving ducklings, mischievous monkeys, milkshake slurping polar bears, fighting foxes, cake consuming kitties or frolicsome frogs,

brothers and sisters can be enormously irritating at times, but no matter what, even the trickiest of tasks become less bothersome with a sibling to assist.

Claire Freedman’s fluently flowing rhyming text combined with Judi Abbot’s captivating scenes of animal activities will enchant toddlers (with or without siblings) as well as their parents and carers.
We all love a little bit of mischief and there’s plenty of that herein.

Just Like Mummy / Superhero Mum

Just Like Mummy
Lucy Freegard
Pavilion Books

Following on from last year’s Just Like Daddy, Lucy Freegard turns her attention to mums, especially the one featured here.

The young narrator introduces his/her special super-talented mum– full of fun, both creative and practical, ready to offer some words of wisdom at just the right time and provider of cuddles whenever they’re needed. Who wouldn’t want to have a mother like that, and perhaps, to have those qualities when they grow up? Certainly that is what the little leopard here is aiming for. (We don’t know the gender so the story works well for all.)

I suspect any youngster would wish for a mother who spends so much time with her child be that making music, gardening, exploring or whatever, and the cub really does appreciate this togetherness.

It’s important to acknowledge that things don’t always go exactly how we’d like them to; there are sad times, challenging times and inevitably, times when we make mistakes, and so it is here.

Lucy Freegard’s expressive illustrations do a great job of encompassing both the highs and lows of everyday life in a book that is perfect for sharing and discussing with pre-schoolers, and especially, it’s a lovely story for giving to a special mum on Mother’s Day.

Superhero Mum
Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger
Nosy Crow

We had Superhero Dad and now Knapman and Berger even things up with a companion title about mums.

The narrative is an upbeat rhyming celebration of all the things that make them so amazing. Mums, and in particular this little girl narrator’s mum, is on the go from morning till night, whizzing around, often multi-tasking.

Whether it’s making sure we catch the bus to school,

inventing and participating in energetic playground games, administering first aid,

joining in with bath time fun, seeking out a favourite lost toy, or sharing a bedtime story, she always delivers.

In short, she’s an inspiration to every would-be super hero girl (or boy come to that.)

It takes someone special to do all these things with a smile on her face and that’s how Joe Berger’s comic book coloured, action-packed scenes portray her in every one of these seemingly ordinary, everyday activities that could be easily taken for granted.

I’ve signed the charter