Rosie Raja: Churchill’s Spy / The Secret School Invasion

Rosie Raja: Churchill’s Spy
Sufiya Ahmed
Bloomsbury Education

Set in Word War 2 this is a thrilling read, a historical adventure that presents the oft-overlooked role of Indian people in the war and is told from the viewpoint of young Rosie, a strong-willed, brave Muslim girl who until early in 1941 lived in a palace in India, the princess daughter of an English father, a Captain in the British Indian army and an Indian mother. As the story opens her Mama has died and she’s in England with her father, unhappy about her new restricted village life and often left alone by her Papa.

So when she overhears a discussion between her Papa and his guests during which she discovers that he is about to depart for France to spy for the British government, she seizes the chance and stows away in his plane to occupied Paris. Her Papa decides not to send her back to England and Rosie finds herself surrounded by secrets, lies and spies; but Rosie is an eager, fast learner who is ready to give her all to the cause of what is right.

Vividly told, there’s action aplenty, much bravery and a betrayal. We also learn something of the Indian Independence movement including the role of women, in particular Rosie’s aunt, Rani-K, as well as the actions of those in the British Empire. An enthralling story and one that would make a wonderful class read for upper KS2 classes studying WW2.

The Secret School Invasion
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Thomas Flintham
Nosy Crow

Always expect high drama when in the company of Izzy and her friends Jodi, Zach and Maisie. Now they are faced with yet another far out crisis: their school is to be amalgamated with St Balthazar’s, their ARCH-ENEMIES. Shock horror! Followed almost immediately by chaos and shortly after by the sound of marching feet and Mr Graves’ whisper of “They’re here. Save us all.”

In come the new pupils with their perfect blazers, shiny shoes huge creepy smiles. Even worse though is when our four friends enter their classroom and discover that sitting at their desks are four of the newbies. Let’s say that Miss Jones’s comment “… I know this isn’t ideal” does not go down well with Izzy et al. especially as it’s obvious that said teacher is actually freaking out at the present situation. So too are Izzy, Jodi, Maisie and Zach when they notice that four of the newcomers look pretty much identical to them. Time to call an urgent secret meeting.

But that is just the start of things: these new ‘Super Pupils’ definitely need investigating, if as it seems, they’re not just spying but planning on taking over the entire school. And that must be stopped at all costs.

As always Pamela Butchart shows to perfection the way her young characters allow their imaginations to run wild, conjuring up the most preposterous possibilities, possibilities that Thomas Flintham underscores in his zany illustrations that add another layer of crazy fun. A splendid, frequently hilarious, back-to-school read.

Max Counts to A Million / Wigglesbottom Primary: The Talking Lamb

These are both very funny books from Nosy Crow – thanks to the publisher for sending them for review

Max Counts to A Million
Jeremy Williams

Those first days of lockdown in March 2020 are probably still lingering in the minds of many of us in the UK whether we are adults or like Max, a child at primary school. Max, so he tells readers, is an ordinary eight-year old boy living an ordinary life with his father, a hospital doctor, and nutritionist mother. Then Covid 19 happens: like the rest of us he is scared, frustrated, confused, often bored, missing close contact with family and friends, and thinking it can’t last for long. But it does; schools close and for Max it means that his father goes to stay in a hotel to keep family members safe; he’s under his mother’s feet much of the time and his Grandad is briefly hospitalised with the dreaded virus.

Max doesn’t actually plan to count beyond the hundred he’s told to, it just kind of happens when after an upset with his mum he announces, “Fine” … I’ll count to a million.” This extraordinary statement, crazy as it may sound, becomes not the way to distract himself the boy first intends, but a protracted act that over the weeks, with the help of family, friends and neighbours, brings together a whole community and raises vast sums for NHS charities.

Poignant, honest, humorous – I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions – and splendidly told in a chatty style by Max himself a keen observer who shares his ups and downs, this ultimately uplifting book perfectly captures a moment in recent history we’re unlikely to forget.

Wigglesbottom Primary: The Talking Lamb
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Becka Moor

It’s always fun to be in the company of Miss Riley’s Class 2; in this eighth book are three further lively episodes. The first tells of what Theo Burke decides is probably the best day of his life, a trip to a petting zoo. Having visited and appreciated – mostly – several animals everyone sits down for lunch on the picnic benches beside the lambs. And that’s when the real fun begins: one of the lambs puts in a request.

Or does it? Be it yes or no, the result is considerable chaos, some chastisement and a surprise revelation.

The same is true when a new art teacher arrives. Dev, as she asks to be called, rather foolishly – but then it’s her first encounter with Class 2 – asks them as she sits on the floor, to “Paint! Paint your passion! Paint off the paper!” Enough said …

In the final episode of this book (but hopefully not of the series), despite it being almost the end of the summer term, and Year 6’s final day ever because they’re off on a week’s residential trip, members of Class 2 are surprised when they are approached by the leavers, who pass on instructions that as of now it’s down to them to protect “the school secret”. To reveal what this is would be to spoil the story but let’s just say it involves a very big box and something potentially very dangerous.

Laughs aplenty guaranteed for readers be they the solo kind or adult readers aloud. As always Becka Moor’s illustrations are a hoot and play a significant part in the hilariousness of this series. ( Her portrayal of Dev is splendid.)

Penelope Snoop Ace Detective

Penelope Snoop Ace Detective
Pamela Butchart and Christine Roussey
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

With several solved cases already under her belt, young Penelope Snoop, so we read, is the best ‘Finder-Outer-in-the-Whole-Wide-World’. Now with the disappearance of her favourite toy, Sidney the Smelly Sock Snake, she’s faced with her most important case so far.
Such is her determination to crack what she decides is a case of theft, that she, together with her canine sidekick, Carlos, are prepared to search high and low for clues, even travelling to the moon and back in a super space blaster.

Although the moon proved to be absolutely empty, her space flight allows her to view planet Earth from above by means of her hugely powerful telescope. And that’s how she realises that her suspect, the mud monster, has been much closer to home all the time.

Back on familiar territory once more, she and Carlos follow a trail that might just lead to the unmasking of Sidney’s stealer …

In Penelope Snoop, Pamela Butchart has created a brilliant character and one who, thanks in no small part to Christine Roussey’s illustrations, you’ll find totally irresistible. If this hilarious story is anything to go by, young audiences, along with his adult reviewer, will be crying out to see her return to work on more mysteries.

Petunia Perry and the Curse of the Ugly Pigeon

Petunia Perry and the Curse of the Ugly Pigeon
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Gemma Correll
Nosy Crow

I missed this the first time round so I’m please to meet twelve year old Petunia Perry aka Peri in this reissue. Now in her first term at secondary school, Petunia has decided to write her memoirs and is starting to do so from inside her wardrobe.

As the cool chapter headings indicate, she’s beset by problems and presently believes her best friend Cammy hates her and will never speak to her again. There’s also a pigeon of the unpleasant kind, the question of whether she’s the perpetrator of spoon crime, an unwelcome unicorn-obsessed suitor,

a mother who is totally embarrassing at parents’ evening, not to mention that she begins to have doubts about the boy she really likes. Then when The Spoons, the band she’s formed with the inclusion of Cammy’s cat Margaret as lead singer, looks set to hit the rocks, things really can’t get much worse and certainly not any more crazy.
Totally hilarious throughout, but also surprisingly credible. Peri and the other characters – be they classmates such as Smile Boy and Cara, parents, relations, teachers (I must mention Mr Phart of socks and sandals fame) are all wonderfully observed. I love Gemma Correll’s accompanying visuals.

Pamela Butchart has given Peri a strong voice that readers will quickly come to love; she’ll have you chortling thoughout: I certainly was; but there are some serious themes too: forbearance, empathy and kindness being key.
Anybody want a spoon or two, or a kitten perhaps?

The House on the Edge / A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch

These are two smashing books recently published by Nosy Crow – thanks for sending them for review

The House on the Edge
Alex Cotter

Faith’s dad has disappeared. What has happened to him and why has he left the family – mum (who’s now staying in bed all day), Faith the narrator, and her younger brother Noah – in an old house (the Lookout) perched atop a crumbling cliff?

When a crack appears on the cliffside Faith watches it growing larger day by day. She’s also trying her utmost to hold things together and that entails looking after her mum and staying out of trouble at school. Then, when Noah’s teacher asks to speak to their mother as she’s concerned about the boy, Faith fears things are about to come unravelled. She’s increasingly worried too about the boy’s talk of a sea ghost in the cellar searching for lost treasure; and to make things worse her Uncle keeps nosing around in the house.

Worse still is when Noah disappears causing Faith to have second thoughts about the possibility of ghosts. Is there any chance at all she can find her brother and bring her father back before all she cares about crashes into the sea down below.

Wonderfully written, with Faith’s gripping first person narrative encompassing feelings of exasperation and love, ordinary commonplace things, alarm and panic, with some humour too, this is a smashing book about families and what binds them together as well as an exciting mystery. Altogether a cracking debut for author Alex Cotter.

A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Thomas Flintham

Giggles guaranteed in this latest deliciously daft adventure from team Butchart and Flintham.

Now Izzy, her classmates and teachers are off on an activities school trip to Big Lake. The to-do list includes a nature walk, raft-building, a ropes course and a tug of war, but Gary Petrie is much more excited about the fact that the lodges they’re staying in have slippers and robes.

The lake itself is deep, dark and a tad scary, not least because Ranger Tam starts talking about the presence of a hundred year old monster therein – and he’s not joking!

Investigations are the order of the day among the children – or maybe that should be the order of the night. By all accounts said monster is hungry and on the lookout for food, food like their packed lunches – sandwiches and crisps in particular. Perhaps it even eats teachers?

Full of splendidly silly scenarios vividly imagined by Pamela Butchart with her brilliant knack of presenting things from the child’s perspective and their propensity to get carried away, along with a wealth of appropriately wacky illustrations by Thomas Flintham, this is perfect for solo readers who like a longish, highly illustrated story with plenty of melodrama.

Wigglesbottom Primary: Dino Chick / Wulfie: Beast in Show

Wigglesbottom Primary: Dino Chick
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Becka Moor
Nosy Crow

This contains three more episodes in the life of Class Two R and once again they’re in high spirits. At least that’s so in the first story when they learn from Miss Riley that she’s installed an incubator within which are four chicken eggs. They’re less excited to hear that the eggs will take several days to hatch especially when later in the day it comes to their notice that one egg has mysteriously changed colour. Miss Riley sits them down and tells everyone not to touch any of the eggs. Megan decides that the purple and green egg must contain a dinosaur. What a terrifying thought. Several days later three of the eggs have hatched and three fluffy chicks are in the incubator. Suddenly egg number four starts to crack … YIKES! what will emerge?

In the second story there’s a new girl in the class. Individuals take turns to show her parts of the school, including some that are strictly out of bounds. 

It’s an unlikely way to make somebody feel welcome but who gets the biggest surprise of all?

The final tale starts with the discovery that the school library is to close due to lack of funds. Can 2R come up with a plan to save it and keep Mr Hope in his job?

Another three wonderfully silly stories for new solo readers (or to read aloud) that show how easily children’s vivid imaginations can spiral into comedic craziness, a craziness that is echoed in Becka Moor’s lively illustrations.

Wulfie: Beast in Show
Lindsay J. Sedgwick, illustrated by Josephine Wolff
Little Island Books

Libby and her beloved purple fluffy best friend, Wulfie (Wolfgang Amadeus Rachmaninoff the Third) return in a second adventure. Libby’s unpleasant stepmother announces the imminent arrival of her older sister, Aunt Ilda. A fanatical dog breeder, she’s determined to win the SNOB prize in the forthcoming dog show to be shown live on TV. Concluding that her failure to win on previous occasions is due to not having a child assistant, she wants to enlist Libby’s awful, spoilt step-brother Rex.

Libby knows she must try to ensure that with Wulfie being so dog-like in appearance, he stays out of sight during the visit. No mean task as the wulfen’s behaviour is, let’s say, somewhat unpredictable and he can sometimes change size at the most inopportune times. 

Times such as his emergence from the washing machine right in front of Aunt Ilda who immediately decides that Wulfie must be her entry in the dog show. And if taking Libby as well as Wulfie and Rex away with her is what it takes, then so be it. 

What she doesn’t know however, is that in addition to his size changing and talking, Wulfie’s sneezes freeze time.

When Libby hears the words, “Your creature belongs to me now, runt, and he is going to make me more famous than any other famous person ever in the whole world.” she knows that Wulfie desperately needs to be rescued. 

But perhaps not before he’s had the chance to make Aunt Ilda look a complete fool on television.

Another fun, action-packed drama with some rather unpleasant characters, as well as the determined, lovable Libby and her equally lovable bestie, all splendidly illustrated by Josephine Wolff.

How To Be a Hero / The Broken Leg of Doom

How To Be a Hero
Cat Weldon, illustrated by Kate Kear
Macmillan Children’s Books

Life as a trainee Valkyrie is not going at all well for young Lotta; she’s in danger of remaining forever stuck in the lowest class. Matters get even worse when the trainees are sent out to bring back a fallen warrior.

Mistaking young Whetstone, an unconscious viking thief as a fallen hero, Lotta carries him back up to Valhalla, and that’s where the real trouble starts. Live humans are not allowed in Valhalla.

Whetstone, a human who wants only to prove himself and achieve fame and fortune, has let himself be talked into crime. He steals, hides and loses a precious talking cup – a cup that trickster Loki desperately wants and will go to any lengths to get hold of.

Now anxious to make amends, Whetstone and Lotta have to try and work together as they embark on a journey to find the cup before Loki.

There’s even more trouble for the pair though when they manage to lose a crucial Dwarf harp as well as rousing a slumbering dragon.

Now Whetstone really MUST pull out all the stops and prove himself a hero after all. Can he do so; and does Lotta finally manage to move on from being that class three trainee?

This is a highly entertaining, fast-paced romp with some crazy situations, fun and interesting characters, dragons and more. Kate Kear’s zany illustrations are just right for the playful telling. This book will surely appeal especially to youngsters with an interest in mythology. but anyone who likes a good yarn should give it a go. It’s the first of a trilogy so look out for further episodes involving Whetstone et al.

The Broken Leg of Doom
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Thomas Flintham
Nosy Crow

This the tenth story in the hilarious series, is narrated by Maisie’s friend Izzy. Maisie has broken her leg doing some ‘extreme dancing’ and is taken to hospital.

That in itself is bad but things are about to get even worse, starting with the fact that following e-rays, Maisie is sent to ward 13 and she’s terrified of that particular number.
Enter (he’s actually already a patient), a rather strange boy Seb, who sits down beside the sleeping Maisie’s bed and starts going on about a curse. Talk about weird. But that’s only the start of the strange events in ward 13.

Later Seb says that the curse has now sneaked inside Maisie’s cast and is causing problems. That however isn’t all we hear of curses, but there are other strange things too: somehow the sprinklers get turned on, flooding – you can guess which ward. And what about the ’mummy’ that’s roaming around. By this time it seems that only Maisie among the children isn’t talking of THE CURSE.

Then a certain very special cuddly toy suddenly goes missing, followed not long after, by the appearance of creepy messages on Maisie’s cast.

Oh yes, there’s some weird shenanigans concerning the sandwich trolley too.

Will Maisie and her pals ever get to the bottom of all the mysterious events and break that terrible curse once and for all. It’s certainly going to need some outstanding investigative skills.

Pamela Butchart capitalises on the vivid imagination of children, allowing her group of young characters to get carried away – just take a look at their expressions in Thomas Flintham’s wacky drawings in this zany adventure. It’s assuredly one that will have both individual readers and primary class listeners laughing out loud.

Wigglesbottom Primary: Break Time Bunnies / Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden

Wigglesbottom Primary: Break Time Bunnies
Becka Moor and Pamela Butchart
Nosy Crow

It’s always a delight to read of the exploits of Class 2R in their school where pretty much anything can happen.

Here we have three new fun, beautifully observed episodes wherein the children allow their imaginations to take flight. In the first story it’s a case of bunnies running riot in the playground: could they be ATTACK BUNNIES and why are they there?

The second tale, has class teacher Miss Riley announcing the imminent arrival of a ‘special guest’. Is the man who sits at the back of the class a TV talent spotter or has he another purpose for watching the goings on of teacher and pupils?

In story number three the children all sign up for violin lessons but their music teacher, Miss Stein looks really spooky. Could she perhaps be a witch – a bewitching witch?

It’s so easy to get sucked into 2B’s zany premises in these enormously enjoyable stories and the final revelations are always delicious.

As ever Pamela Buchart has done a brilliant job illustrating these small sparkling stories. She catches the zaniness of Becka’s tellings SO well making every page turn not only a verbal but a visual treat.

Bring on the next one.

Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden
Vivian French, illustrated by Nathan Reed
Harper Collins Children’s Books

Meet Lottie Luna, star of a super new series by Vivian French.
Lottie is a werewolf, but a very special one with extra powers on account of her being born during a full lunar eclipse. Hence she’s super speedy, super strong, has x-ray vision and has super hearing. Oh yes and she’s also a princess on account of her father inheriting a kingdom.

This however means that she’s had to move home to the crumbling Dracon Castle and consequently has to start at a new school mid year. Like many youngsters, Lottie is nervous about this and certainly doesn’t want it known at Shadow Academy that she’s special even if that means not revealing her real self.

Lottie’s class teacher announces a pupil project – to create a design to transform the wasteland behind the school into a beautiful garden and the winning design will be used for the purpose.

Before long Lottie finds she has two friends, and decides that the head of her new school is amazing – a kindred spirit too; perhaps things won’t be so bad after all.

As for the garden design, Lottie is the winner but once the garden creation begins,

more challenges arise – there’s a Bloom Garden saboteur at work.

Now Lottie must do all she can to save the enterprise from road developers; but can she do it? Perhaps it’s time to draw on those superpowers of hers …

Friendship, determination, being true to yourself, courage, resilience and forgiveness are at the heart of this smashing story Vivian has woven.

Nathan Reed has done a terrific job with his black and white illustrations; they’re offbeat and splendidly playful.

More please!

Wigglesbottom Primary: The Classroom Cat

Wigglesbottom Primary: The Classroom Cat
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Becka Moor
Nosy Crow

This contains three more stories set at Wigglesbottom Primary.

In the first the appearance one Monday morning in 2R’s classroom of a very large stripy cat causes their teacher Miss Riley to jump almost right out of her skin in surprise at the sight of the creature sitting on her keyboard.

But is the cat actually trying to communicate something to the children and if so what on earth does the message WURGLERSSSHHHH that emerges from the printer mean?

Then the creature starts perambulating along the bookshelves and paying particular attention to a cookbook. It isn’t long before Evie MckIntosh is telling the others that the intruder is warning them about the fish soon to be served up for school lunch and Irfan is 99% certain the message is that the fish is dangerous.

Maybe the children don’t want to consume it but what about a certain feline? And was the fish dangerous or not? You’ll need to read the end of the story and make up your own mind.

The second story centres upon the vexed question of whether or not eating a crisp that you’d dropped in a puddle could give you a serious disease – Puddle-pox – for instance, said by Y6 children to be like the plague but even worse.

Imaginary Margaret as the third story is called, is supposedly Joel Jack’s imaginary friend who accompanies the class on a school trip to the museum. He says she’s 100% real and the one responsible for crisps being scattered all over the museum floor, not to mention the loo roll that comes hurtling over the cubicle wall at Jayden King; and even worse, the handprints on the newly painted Viking boat.

Becka Moor’s engaging, wonderfully expressive illustrations are the ideal complement for Pamela Butchart’s super-silly stories that are just right for newly independent readers to giggle their way through.

Mango & Bambang Tiny Tapir Trouble / Pugly Solves a Crime

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Mango & Bambang Tiny Tapir Trouble
Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy
Walker Books
The tiny tapir referred to in the title of this, the third delicious Mango And Bambang collaboration between Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy doesn’t crash onto the scene until the third story and when he does, my goodness he certainly makes his presence felt.
Before that though, Bambang and Mango visit the seaside to spend a special carefree, fun-filled day together before Mango’s new school term starts. At least that’s the plan, but it turns out to be a day packed with unexpected incidents culminating in the rescue of a toddler swept out to sea and an exciting parachute flight.
In the second story Bambang is feeling off-colour, his snout is blocked and he takes to his bed. Doctor Blossom the tapir specialist is at a loss to know how to make him better …

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so it’s left to Mango, ably assisted by their pal George, to find a cure.
Even after his recovery, Bambang hasn’t regained his full bounce and so he and Mango do quiet things at home. But then a large parcel is delivered addressed to Bambang and any chance of peace and quiet immediately go out the window, for what should be inside but his small cousin Gunter – a cousin he didn’t even know existed. Small he might be, but he’s a force to be reckoned with and pretty soon, it becomes evident that two tapirs in one apartment is one too many. The trouble is Gunter has announced his intention to stay put and Mango appears to be enjoying his company rather too much. So much so that Bambang starts to think that perhaps he should be the one to go …
The final story sees Mango participating in the City Chess Tournament and one of the other competitors is the boy who’s been champ for the past three years. Seemingly though – at least to Bambang – something strange is afoot.

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By the end of the book, Bambang has come to a very important understanding about family – it’s not about who you look like or where you started; true family are those you belong with – those who make you feel most completely yourself, no matter what.
Full of warmth and humour, these stories are perfect for those readers just starting to go solo.
Another favourite character returns in a brand new adventure:

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Pugly Solves a Crime
Pamela Butchart and Gemma Correll
Nosy Crow
When Pugly learns that Big Sal the guinea pig has been ‘GUINEA PIG-NAPPED he dons his detective hat and turns PUG-DETECTIVE. But who’s responsible for this dastardly crime? Perhaps it’s Glitterball the Poodle who has come to live next door – Pugly doesn’t trust poodles. Or could it be someone else? Time to enlist the help of super smart cat, Clem. Off go the two of them in search of clues …
With plenty of wonderful illustrations from Gemma Correll …

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this crazy tale is sure to bring plenty of smiles to the faces of young readers; in fact, there’s not a spread that didn’t make me giggle to myself.

A Tickled Tiger, A Best Birthday Present, A Hide-and-Scare Bear

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Never Tickle a Tiger
Pamela Butchart and Marc Boutavant
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk
Like lots of children, Izzy finds it extremely difficult to keep still; she just cannot help shuffling, jiggling, squirming, twitching, wriggling or fiddling. It matters not where she is – home or school, at parties even, Izzy is constantly a-fidget.
When her class goes to visit the zoo, Izzy gets the fidgets as soon as they’re through the gates. Before long she’s stroked the snakes, excited the elephants, bothered the bears and much more.

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“… never tickle a tiger!” warns Miss Pottterhurst. But after lunch, Izzy, feather in hand is immediately heading for the tiger enclosure. Confronted with a large striped tail, the opportunity is just impossible to resist. Out goes that feather and …

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Raa-aa-ah! “ roars the tiger triggering a concatenation of action and reaction

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culminating in an enormous … SLPAAAASH! as hippo is cascaded into the penguins’ pool.

 

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Then it’s down to Izzy to quell the brouhaha she’s instigated. But has she been cured of her predilection for poking and prodding?
This fun-filled tale managed to keep even the Izzy’s among my audience riveted as they followed the action in Marc Boutavant’s exuberant, energetic, playful pictures, relishing each and every occurrence of ‘Izzy- itis’ as one among them commented. I suspect that hedgehog enjoyed the fun too.

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The Best Birthday Present Ever
Ben Mantle
Macmillan Children’s Books
Squirrel’s determination to give his best friend Bear, the very best birthday gift results in a great deal of thought on his part. That Squirrel is something of a creative thinker comes through loud and clear when we see what he finally decides upon. Satisfied with his choice of gift, Squirrel wraps it carefully disguising it well and soon it’s party day – Big Bear’s Birthday Bonanza no less.
When it comes to present-opening time –after the dancing, games and cake eating – it’s clear that Bear has some pretty impressive gifts

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and finally it comes to Squirrel’s offering. By this time, Squirrel is starting to feel just a little nervous and initially Bear himself appears nonplussed when he unwraps his package.

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It’s in response to the comments of some of the other animals however, that Bear then demonstrates that he, like his best friend, Squirrel, is indeed a creative thinker. And the following week, he goes on to demonstrate just how, until their very favourite stick game (poking things) results in –

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Squirrel rues the passing of said stick but Bear quickly realizes that two sticks can be better than one.

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Can you read it again,” was the instant response after I shared this one with some 4s to 6s. What further accolade could an author want? Before doing so however, we spent a considerable time relishing the delicious details in Ben Mantle’s amusing illustrations.

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The party scene is a visual treat in more than one sense.

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The Hide-and-Scare Bear
Ivan Bates
Brubaker, Ford & Friends (Templar Publishing) pbk
The large ursine character in this rhyming story is badly behaved and rude: worst of all though is his frequent playing of his “Hide and Scare” game. This involves hiding behind a tree and then leaping out and roaring at unsuspecting passers by.

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Eventually the woodland animals decide something must be done and call for a brave volunteer to stand up to Bear. Rabbit steps forward offering to help, not with anger however, but with kindness.
So, as the next ‘ROAR!’ sends the other creatures scattering, Rabbit stands firm to face the bear and waits patiently for her opportunity to deliver her lesson in kindness. Then it’s Bear’s turn to provide some hugs and soon it’s not only Rabbit on the receiving end of those Big Bear squeezes.

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The text lollops along rhythmically making it a pleasure to read aloud and the woodland watercolour illustrations are delightfully expressive.
Here’s the response of one of my five year old listeners …

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Use your local bookshop localbookshops_NameImage-2

Dino Doings

Yikes

James was suitably disgusted by this story.

Yikes, Stinkysaurus!
Pamela Butchart and Sam Lloyd
Bloomsbury pbk
Which is the most scary of all the dinosaurs? Not the ones with giant claws, nor those with horns or even spiky tails; not even fearsome tempered T-rex. Meet Stinkysaurus; so malodorous is he that a single whiff can render T-rex unconscious before him. So, what is the cause of the foul smell that emanates from the giant? Not just one cause; indeed his firm refusals to take a bath or brush his teeth are just a start. Stinkysaurus’s sneezes are truly green and goosome and his wind is unbelievably whiffy. Enough is enough, decide the other dinosaurs and together they construct an enormous bath into which Stinky is forcefully shoved.

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The result? A squeaky-clean dinosaur that all the others want to play with; he can even take a swamp romp with his new friends.
With its winning combination of dinosaurs and disgusting habits rendered in new author Pamela Butchart’s rollicking rhyme and Sam Lloyd’s riotous scenes, this is sure to delight young listeners who will be unable to stop themselves showing mock disgust at Stinky’s dreadful doings. Perfume sprays a-ready for an ‘euugh!’- filled storytime.
Buy from Amazon

Another winning combination of dinosaurs and poo (as opposed to pooh! this time) is:

Daniel delighting at Dinosaur Doo

Daniel delighting at Dinosaur Doo

Dinosaur Doo
Andrew Weale and Joelle Dreidemy
Hodder Children’s Books pbk
Young inventor Spark lives in a lovely green valley with his friends. One day their peaceful village life is disturbed by a very large deposit of disgustingly stinky dinosaur doings. But there’s more to come in the form of baby iguanodon’s pea-sized pingy poo,

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stegosaurus’s cannon balls, triceratops’s plip ploppings and an unforgettable shower from brachiosaurus’s rear. Time for some inventive thinking from Spark. After a lot of digging, boulder moving, paper-making (for the botty wipes), tree felling, sawing and constructing, he and his friends have, by sunrise next day, erected a spectacular surprise for the interlopers – a dinosaur loo complete with flush and handy loo roll. Dino delight no less. Is this the end of the problem for Spark and his friends though? Well, not quite, for what are those winged creatures swooping over the hill? Dinosaur birds; and everyone knows what they like to do as they fly …
This terrific tale is told in tongue-tickling rhyme that is fun to read aloud and hilariously illustrated by French artist Joelle Dreidemy. Her scenes with blissed out, pooping dinosaurs and contrastingly horrified villagers are splendid, as are those of the construction site.
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