You Can’t let an Elephant drive a Racing Car

Thank you to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for this hilarious book

You Can’t let an Elephant drive a Racing Car
Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

In their latest crazy collaboration wherein animals’ antics result in madness and mayhem as they try their paws, snouts, tails, trunks, beaks and other parts of their anatomy at activities normally the province of humans, team Cleveland-Peck and Tazzyman present an unlikely assortment of creatures competing in sporting contests. Starting with the titular elephant sabotaging his chances before the race even begins, among others there’s a junior alligator trying her luck as a figure skater, a kangaroo unable to keep control of the bat in a cricket game, an unaware walrus in a bicycle race – an international one moreover, a wombat that gets the wibble-wobbles in a weight-lifting event

and an entire team of agile monkeys attempting to steal the show at the gym display.

In case you’re wondering if any of these entries end in a medal or a cup, let’s merely say participation is what matters and trying one’s best, and there’s nothing better at the end of the day than a communal frothy immersion to ease those fatigued muscles.

I‘m sure Patricia and David’s well-intentioned contenders will have readers falling off their seats in giggles at the absurdities presented herein and likely trying to imagine some further sporting scenarios for their own animal olympics.
I now hand over to author Patricia to tell you about how she works:

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WRITER

I am lucky enough to live in the country surrounded by fields and woodlands and it is no exaggeration to say that on most days I wake up to the sound of birdsong. I usually spend an hour or so having breakfast and pottering around the kitchen before heading to my writing room. I always feel happy entering it. I think my greatest good fortune is that I am doing something I love and something I wanted to do from about the age of ten.

No two days are the same, but it is good to have a bit of a routine. I usually have emails to  answer first, this week they include one from South Africa and one from Australia. After dealing with the most urgent of them, I settle down to write. Sometimes I write articles about things which interest me: these include odd quirky people, textiles, plants and travel. I wrote one going on a dawn picnic with my children to watch the sun rise – something everyone should do once in their lives.

Often though, I am working on a children’s book. For the texts of the Elephant series, because the books are comparatively short, every single word counts. I have sometimes spent a day or more over one word. But if words are the bricks I use, rhyme, rhythm and assonance are the foundations on which I build stories. I often wander around the house crazily chanting rhymes to myself. I love doing it, but it is not as easy as you’d think.

Sometimes I go travelling far away. My writing has secured me many wonderful trips; most recently to the Arctic where I saw the Northern Lights and went dog sledding but also as far as China, Japan and Mexico. Wherever I go I find things of interest which eventually filter through my imagination into my stories.

When I am at home, I try to go for two walks. Sometimes I go along the lane, into the woods and down to a stream. I look to see which flowers are in bloom, listen for buzzards mewing like kittens overhead and keep my eyes open for the deer which live around here. Other days I stroll our own place where I can see our bees, sheep and poultry. These can inspire a story. I remember throwing some spaghetti out and the sight of the ducks with it twiddled round their beaks gave me the idea for a picture book, The Queen’s Spaghetti. Wherever I am there are stories not far away.

Sometimes I write in the afternoon, sometimes I go out and about – but I always spend the last couple of hours of the day looking over what I have written earlier. As a writer you are never completely off duty. I have a notebook and pen next to my bed because sometimes a great rhyme or a great idea will come to me after I’ve put out the light. As I don’t always put on my glasses it can be a challenge to decipher them by the light of day! I have learned the hard way that I never remember these gems if I don’t scribble them down. There are plenty of ideas out there, it’s just a question of catching them as they fly past.

Please check out the other stops on the tour too

You Can’t take an Elephant on Holiday

You Can’t Take an Elephant on Holiday
Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

This is the fourth in the deliciously daft rhyming ‘You Can’t …an Elephant … ’ series and now the topic under consideration is the holiday-sabotaging potential of the titular pachyderm and a host of other unlikely animals.

Some of the other potentially disastrous combinations are a cheetah at the wheel of a camper van, meerkats doing a round of mini-golf, eating candy floss in the vicinity of a circling albatross, a bison on a pedalo

and venturing into a paddling pool with a lot of piraña fish swimming in wait.

David Tazzyman’s hilarious renditions of those silly scenarios and others of Patricia’s possibilities, along with an achievable crowd-pleasing finale, offer a timely vacation contemplation, virtual or actual, in these ‘green light’, or otherwise, times we’re faced with.

Youngsters will surely enjoy this book as much as the previous ones by this creative partnership and likely be inspired to think up some potentially hazardous situations of their own.

Here’s Elena who says ‘Don’t try a giraffe or a penguin – you won’t be able to pack them away and the security guard won’t let them stay.’

Leo chose the potential consequences of a crocodile as a holiday companion …

Samuel considered the possibility of both a lion and a monkey:

Emmanuelle is definitely against taking a pig: the outcome would likely be no luggage on arrival and then no water in the swimming pool …

I wonder what your listeners will come up with.

You Can’t Call an Elephant in an Emergency

You Can’t Call an Elephant in an Emergency
Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

David Tazzyman brings his wit and scribbly artistic enthusiasm once again to Patricia Cleveland’s pretty preposterous suggestions for animal emergency responders and equally zany reasons why none is suitable for the task envisaged anyway.

Thus you should never ‘let a hairy highland cow / operate the snow plough …’

unless you want the gear box ground to pieces that is; and as for calling out the lemming crew to rescue a hiker stuck on a hill – best not to think about it, they’ll likely forget the drill and the whole operation will end in disaster.

Moreover an anteater hasn’t the courage to come to your aid should you be trapped in a dark cave; the cowardly creature will surely wet his pants and you can guess what he’d consume to console himself.

All these as well as the titular pachyderm, a chimpanzee, a sloth, a penguin, a llama, a panda, a chicken and a porcupine are to be avoided should you be in trouble.

What though is to be done with all these creatures if they can’t be employed in the emergency services? Now that would be telling …

Zany animal capers to giggle over with youngsters who will likely be able to make their own silly suggestions too.

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger
Patricia Cleveland Peck and David Tazzyman
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

After their successful collaboration with You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus, team Cleveland-Peck and Tazzyman return to entertain readers with another selection of silly scenarios involving an array of unlikely creatures all endeavouring to lend a hand, a tusk, paws or perhaps fins, flippers or some other part of their anatomy, all with gigglesome outcomes.

Patricia’s rhyming possibilities or should I say, impossibilities, will surely deter even the bravest of readers from say, letting a polar bear anywhere near their hair with a pair of scissors, engaging an octopus as a dressing assistant,

attempting tooth cleaning in the vicinity of a crocodile, particularly of the hungry kind, or allowing a wolf to read the bedtime story,

while David Tazzyman’s portrayals of the creatures carrying out their self-set tasks are a scribblesome treat of the disastrous – sometimes life-threatening – consequences of ignoring the author’s advice.

Maybe the rejected animals are right – if you can’t join ’em then beat ’em and party instead!

Spencer age 5, who thoroughly enjoyed the book, has come up with two playful ideas of his own.

A Froggy Tale and A Squiggly One

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Sir Lilypad
Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie
Simon & Schuster pbk
What a gloriously exuberant celebration of magical happenings and some not so magical too: well, on second thoughts everything about this tale of tiny would-be hero Little Tad and his valiant attempts to gain recognition as Sir Lilypad is pretty magical. It all begins when our pea-sized amphibian reads a book wherein he learns of the amazing transformation from frog to prince by the bestowal of ‘one small kiss from a grateful royal miss.’

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Finding a princess to obtain a kiss and thereby add to his stature then becomes his mission. Off he sets and consults with an ogre, but he is less than helpful and the search continues in forest and field, a witch’s residence and that of a wizard,

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all to no avail. But the quest must continue, stitch, itchy chainmail and soggy sandwiches notwithstanding. Then joy of joys, he glimpses …

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Does this damsel need saving by the gallant Sir Lily? Oh dear me no; and despite his best roaring and sword-wielding efforts, the dragon is at best disdainful and the princess unimpressed.
All is not lost however and after a fantastic show of wailing and beseeching the princess proffers her own words – of wisdom – and more. But who wants to be a story-spoiler, so lets move hastily on a few centuries to the grand finale of this triumphant tale, for that’s ultimately what it is. And a splendid one it is too with it’s dream of a read aloud rhyming text and utterly magnificent scenes of derring-do.
Get this or be sorry: the sword-swooshing, Sir Lilypad will be hot on your trail.

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The Queen’s Spaghetti
Patricia Cleveland-Peck and Tim Archbold
Harper Collins pbk
Queen Nellie and King Jim aren’t your normal royals: they’re not rich and to top up the coffers King Jim works part time at the Royal Mint. Nonetheless, the Queen is a cheerful soul, working in their large garden by day and cooking Jim’s supper on his return from work. On this particular day, feeling especially hungry herself, she decides to rustle up some spaghetti and tomato sauce – one of the King’s favourites too. “Iggly-wiggly spaghettio” she sings as she boils up an enormous pan of the stuff and sets to work on the sauce. Soon however, the pan is overflowing and swelling spaghetti fills all the royal saucepans and it’s slithering all over the kitchen floor. Oh dear me: if there’s something King Jim hates, it’s waste, thinks the Queen as she tries valiantly to feed it to the cat, the dog and even the royal peacock.

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But none of them has more than a cursory taster.
The ducks are more obliging as are the hens and the geese; but there’s still an awful lot to dispose of. Thank goodness then for the royal pigs: pretty soon they …

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A delicious aroma greets the hungry King on his return but what do you think happens when he requests a second helping of the scrumptious meal …

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With a nod to the traditional magic pasta pot tale and a wink to the porridge pot, Patricia Cleveland-Peck has cooked up a tasty concoction with a regal base, a sprinkling of farmyard animals and a saucy finale. All in all, with Tim Archbold’s giggle-inducing accompaniments of the visual variety, this re-issue is destined to tickle the taste buds of a whole new child audience. They will relish the riotous scenes, especially the spaghetti-entwined farmyard fowl, and delight in Patricia Cleveland-Peck’s pleasingly playful textual servings.

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You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus

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You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus
Patricia Cleveland Peck and David Tazzyman
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
In this fun-filled extravaganza, Patricia Cleveland Peck (now that’s a voice from the past) and David Tazzyman entertain the possible consequences of allowing all manner of unlikely passengers on, or into, a variety of vehicles. The pachyderm of the title would squash the seats quite flat on account of its fat, heavy posterior, a mischievous monkey would ‘snatch your shopping and chuck it about’

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were it to be allowed to sit in a shopping trolley and a camel in a sailing boat …

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– a disaster waiting to happen for sure. The same is true of a whale riding a bike or the favourites of my 5/6year old audiences – ‘a pig on a skateboard

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’Cos he’s so big and fat and looks so funny in his pads and goggles.” ‘
and ‘… never let a bear near an ice-cream van…’ – ’He’s really funny breaking that van door and making all those splats of ice-cream everywhere.”

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Tazzyman’s slighltly scribbly scenes really tickled the fancy of those children.
Re-readings immediately were demanded by another group, some of whom were inspired by the author’s mad musings to create their own scenarios:

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And if by chance you need to find a book to introduce a science topic on pushes and pulls, then this one’s an absolute boon; but that’s just a minor reason to get hold of this madcap musing, the most important being its effect on the imaginations of children.

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