Tag Archives: Mine!

Mine! / Thousand Star Hotel

Jeff Mack
Chronicle Books
It’s amazing how by using the same word 27 times, Mack can concoct a hilarious tale on ownership with a terrific final twist to boot.
Two mice in turn stake a claim for a substantial-looking rock and then a battle of brain and brawn involving a chunk of cheese, a gift-wrapped parcel,

a pile of rocks and a couple of vehicles ensues over which of them it belongs to. Seemingly this isn’t a conflict easily settled: things escalate …

until with both mice on the point of self-combustion the rock makes a startling revelation and the pals realise what a massive mistake they’ve made.
Wrapped up in this hilarious encounter are important messages about acquisitiveness and possibilities of sharing. Seemingly though as the story concludes, these lessons are yet to be learned by the protagonists herein.
Mack uses lettering the colour of which matches that of the mouse making the utterance to help orchestrate his parable and in addition to being a perfect book for beginner readers (preferably after a demonstration) this is a gift for anyone wanting to demonstrate how to tell a story to a group: inflection and intonation rule!

Thousand Star Hotel
The Okee Dokee Brothers and Brandon Reese
Sterling Children’s Books
The award winning musical duo give a new slant to the Fisherman and His Wife folktale using two riverside dwellers, Mr and Mrs Muskrat. Their life is simple: their dwelling a far from perfect cabin; their diet largely fish in one form or another. One day while out in their boat, Mr Muskrat feels an enormous pull on his line and after a considerable amount of STRUGGLIN’, TUGGLIN’, YANKIN’, and CRANKIN’, they successfully haul out a massive golden catfish. This is no ordinary fish: it’s a magical wish-giving one, and offers the couple a wish in exchange for its life.
Therein lies the rub: Mrs Muskrat is all for simple creature comforts – a hammer and nails to fix the roof, a new soup kettle, or perhaps, a cosy warm quilt. Mr Muskrat in contrast sets his sights rather higher; he wants a life of luxury.

And, he certainly expresses himself in no uncertain terms, getting a whole double spread to call each of his wishes to a halt midstream …

In fact all the dialogue and the rest of the telling is wonderful; and the final fun twist offers an important message. Brandon Reese’s exuberant illustrations of the characters in their wild woods setting have a cinematic quality.
Starlit filled dreams are assured if you share this one at bedtime. There’s a delightful CD with an audio telling and eleven funky songs tucked inside the front cover too.

I’ve signed the charter  

I Want: Bernard, Mine! & The Crocodile Under the Bed

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Rob Jones
Beast in Show Books
What would you do if you heard of a large, red-eyed scary-looking dog whose teeth were huge and his paws the size of your head? Run a mile maybe: I’d definitely keep well away. That’s certainly the reaction wild hound Bernard receives from the local villagers who are convinced he has designs on one of them as his next meal. Not so however; all this sadly misunderstood canine is after is strawberry jam and lots of it. So, watch out for any you might have.

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The rhyming text and wacky illustrations are really part and parcel of an integrated, mock-scary whole, tasty, treat. Just the thing to share on a chilly wintry day, this is a small book but one that makes a big impression. A debut for author/illustrator, Rob Jones, and for Beast in Show Books, I look forward to what they have to offer in the future.

Buy from www.beastinshow.com/books

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Sue Heap
Walker Books
This utterly charming book about possessiveness and sharing centres on a small girl, Amy who likes to keep her treasured possessions – her blankie, her bear, her bunny and her bird very close to her. So, when the twins want to join her play she immediately tries to assert her ownership of her favourite things. To no avail though; Zak and Jack are equally determined. Then along comes Baby Joe clutching the toy bird. Amy takes possession.

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Her cries of “MINE” result in a very sad looking Joe but it takes some wise words from the twins to trigger a minor crisis of conscience on Amy’s behalf and soon peace and harmony reigns – well harmony anyway, Amy fashion.

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I love the way Amy manages to come up with a compromise solution that suits all parties while still giving her the upper hand and the way the emotions of the children are beautifully portrayed and mirrored in the expressions on the faces of bird, bear and bunny.
A must have for all early years setting and families with very young children.
Buy from Amazon

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The Crocodile Under the Bed
Judith Kerr
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Young Matty desperately wants to go to the party but he’s poorly. Very disappointed, he’s left in Grandpa’s care with a party blower and the promise of some birthday cake. Suddenly he hears a voice but it isn’t Grandpa’s. No, it belongs to an enormous crocodile that emerges from under his bed offering to remedy the situation. So, with a toot from Matty’s party blower they take off to a very special destination – the King’s birthday party no less. This King isn’t the human kind though, he’s a handsome lion;

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and with Chimpy on hand to look after him, Matty is ready to try some of the rides on offer. There’s a ‘rip-roaring’ tiger ride, a bouncy chimp ride and an enormous slide

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with a surprise at the end. After all the excitement, there’s crocodile waiting to fly him home just in time before the rest of the family returns.

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We found our own crocodile to fly us to a storyland party too

Their party, he learns had been a washout but they have brought him some cake albeit rather soggy. “… you really didn’t miss anything,” dad tells Matty …
An enchanting story from the wonderful Judith Kerr who originally started this tale as a follow-up to her classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea – a superb stimulus for children’s imaginations: so too is this one.

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Friendships Tested

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Olive and the Embarrassing Hat
Tor Freeman
Brubaker, Ford & Friends (Templar) pbk
I think this has to be my very favourite of the Olive series. If you’ve ever been given a present you feel a fool wearing then this one is definitely for you.
Olive is given a hat that is anything but stylish by her best pal Joe and he sports one to match – almost. When the two walk out together their other, so called friends, make fun of their offbeat headwear until eventually Olive can take no more and she dumps her offending article in the rubbish bin.

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Her drastic action however, is seen by Joe, who now feels affronted and off he goes. Time to make amends thinks Olive, but how?
Our ever resourceful feline quickly puts her signwriting skills into action and steps out ready to sock it to the world

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and she doesn’t care what anyone thinks, well only Joe and there he comes…
No more will Olive be the butt of anyone’s jokes.

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What a triumph.
Both words and pictures brilliantly explore the boundaries of friendship in this hilarious story; the hat disposal sequence is absolutely priceless.

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Another winning shot from Olive and her creator, Tor Freeman.

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On Sudden Hill
Linda Sarah and Benji Davies
Simon & Schuster pbk
Best friends Etho and Birt spend countless hours in each other’s company, much of it on Sudden Hill where they entertain all manner of flights of fancy as they sit inside their respective cardboard boxes. No matter whether they’re kings, soldiers, astronauts or pirates they are always ‘Big’ friends with a two-by-two rhythm. Then one Monday along comes Shu; he too has a box and wants to join their play.

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Etho agrees; Birt keeps quiet. The three play but Birt is not happy and one night he trashes his box. No more visits to Sudden Hill for him despite invitations from the other two; instead he sits at home drawing, missing his best friend and their play together.
Then one day there’s a knock on Birt’s door and Shu calls him to come and see what they’ve made for him. Imagine his delight at what is waiting outside– an amazing “Monster Creature Box Thing”, Mr Climbfierce by name. And where better to take it than up Sudden Hill; moreover, it’s just perfect for three – Birt, Etho and Stu.

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Now Birt loves their three-by-three rhythm.
A tender, insightful look at the challenges and rewards of accommodating a third person into a best friends scenario. The spare, straightforward manner of Linda Sarah’s telling is a perfect fit with Benji Davies’ expressive paintings. Their muted colours echo the reflective nature of the story and capture so well the joys and small tribulations of childhood.

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Jerome Keane & Susana De Dios
Orchard Books
Anyone who has ever spent time with young children will recognize this:
Horse and Fox, both bored, both notice, seemingly simultaneously, an egg shaped object and both claim ownership – no surprises there. … “But I saw it first,” said Horse. “No mine,” said Fox. “I saw it first.” “Didn’t,” said Horse. “Did,” said Fox. “You really didn’t,” said Horse. “Really did,” said Fox. (Such a familiar scenario and so well observed.)
Impasse – something’s gotta give guys.

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A realization dawns – “KIND OF SHARING?” Great idea; but then …

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Perhaps not after all –

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Wonderful characterization, the dialogue is spot-on, stylish, and very funny, superbly expressive illustrations complete the package.

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