Sea: A World Beneath the Waves / Dolphins

Sea: A World Beneath the Waves
Britta Teckentrup and Patricia Hegarty
Little Tiger

In her latest non-fiction, die-cut peep-through picture book, in a series of wondrous scenes Britta Teckentrup plunges us beneath the ocean waves, way, way down to view the wonders of the deep.

Amid the corals and seaweed fronds we see small fish, sponges, tiny graceful sea horses; a baby dolphin and its mother chirping and clicking in communication, a Lionfish with its poison spines ready to use should it be attacked.

Suddenly there’s a feeling of fear: the fish sense danger as a great white shark casts its shadow. The other sea creatures though, employ their defence mechanisms while the tropical fish swim in formation and all is well.

Night comes and the ocean is a-glow with light;

his song echoing far the humpback whale sings for all to hear, the manatee glides through sea grasses and the corals provide safe spaces for small ocean creatures.

Patricia Hegarty’s lyrical text ends with a plea to protect ocean life by keeping the oceans clean and free from rubbish.

Dolphins!
Laurence Pringle and Meryl Henderson
Boyds Mills Press

Pringle immediately grabs readers’ attention with his introductory ‘If you were a young dolphin, your mother would keep you close, feed you milk and teach you’ that could almost be referring to a human mother. The remainder of the paragraph however negates that with its ‘Soon you would learn to swim fast and catch fish to eat. And sometimes you would leap from the water, high into the air!’ while his final statement on the first page “People would be very curious about the secrets of your life beneath the surface’ sets the scene for the remainder of this fascinating book.

It covers many aspects of the thirty or so dolphin species including classification, morphology and physiology. There’s a fascinating account of dolphins’ use of echolocation;

another of feeding – dolphins are predators, consuming huge amounts of food daily –

and communication. I learned that in addition to sounds, dolphins send messages with their bodies, sometimes by rubbing skins, at others, by touching flippers.

All this and more is related in the author’s highly readable prose that is superbly illustrated by Meryl Hendersen in watercolour and pencil.

Although it’s likely that this will be read by individuals, this book also works really well if read aloud – a testament to the quality of the author’s writing.

The Song of the Dinosaurs

The Song of the Dinosaurs
Patricia Hegarty and Thomas Hegbrook
Caterpillar Books

Dinosaurs are endlessly fascinating to young children and for every book on the topic published there’s a new audience ready to lap it up.

This one with its rhyming narrative and alluring die-cut illustrations immediately transports readers back to the prehistoric world with Patricia Hegarty’s opening lines, ‘I am the song of the dinosaurs, / For millions of years my tune filled the air … / In the whisper of leaves, caught up on the breeze, / Travelling unseen, but I was still there.’

They are introduced to a line-up of dinosaurs set against richly coloured landscapes and the cleverly placed die-cuts on each spread invite the reader to turn the page forwards.

Thomas Hegbrook’s vibrant scenes are a visual treat for your little dino. enthusiasts as they follow the evolutionary story from the depths of the sea, up into the skies and over land, ‘through rocks and sand.’

The back endpapers show an illustrated time line.

Patricia’s lyrical text is both atmospheric and factual; and in combination with Thomas’ illustrations, creates an exciting educational adventure to share at home, nursery or school.

Moon

Moon
Britta Teckentrup
Little Tiger Press

Gorgeous collage style moonlit scenes grace every spread of Britta Teckentrup’s latest ‘peek-through the pages’ book wherein we travel the globe following the moon through one complete cycle.

As it waxes, we visit a woodland, a desert landscape, a snowy puffin rookery; sea birds using the moon to migrate to warmer climes, and a tropical jungle.

The full moon shines upon a southern beach where turtles have arrived to lay their eggs.

Under the waning moon, field mice hunt for food and ‘The ocean ‘sparkles, bluey- green, / Lit up by a magical scene,‘ – an ocean whose waves are influenced by the lunar cycle.

Bears standing on a mountainside; giraffes and elephants resting in the cool nocturnal grasslands; penguins huddling together for extra warmth beneath a snowy sky …

and finally, a row of houses, complete the waning moon landscapes.

Patricia Hegarty’s lilting rhyming couplets provide a gently soporific, textual accompaniment to Teckentrup’s nocturnal homage to the natural world.

Everybody’s Welcome

Everybody’s Welcome
Patricia Hegarty and Greg Abbott
Caterpillar Books
In our increasingly troubled times, picture books such as this, with its strong inclusivity message, are more important than ever.
It came about as the result of a strong desire on the part of Tom Truong of Caterpillar Books in reaction to the shattering news that the UK had voted to leave the EU, to produce a book for parents like himself to share with young children that embodied ‘ideals of refuge, inclusivity and friendship’.
Currently living in Stroud, a town that since the Syrian crisis, has adopted the catchphrase ‘Everyone welcome in Stroud’ I felt immediately drawn to this poignant, political tale of empathy, acceptance and collaboration.
We start the story with mouse standing in a forest clearing, dreaming of building ‘a great big happy house’.

It’s not long before mouse is joined by a frog who has lost his pond and has nowhere to go. Together they start constructing and before long are joined by some runaway rabbits fleeing from an eagle; they are only too willing to help with the project. Next to come is a misunderstood brown bear; he has much to offer the enterprise and is welcomed with open arms.

Building continues apace with more and more animals coming to join in and a spirit of co-operation rules throughout.
What this allegorical rhyming story shows so clearly is that despite superficial differences, we all have much to offer one another. With open arms, open minds and open hearts we can embrace our fellow humans in a spirit of co-operation and unity.

Greg Abbott’s animal illustrations, with his use of cut down pages, really do bring out both the woefulness of the displaced animals, and the spirit of collaborative bonhomie as each one is welcomed, accepted and a new open community is formed.

A thoughtful Emmanuelle whose final comment on Everybody’s Welcome was  “We all need to be kind.”

I’ve signed the charter  

We Are Family

                              I’m excited to be part of Caterpillar Books blog tour for We Are Family.

dscn9902

We Are Family
Patricia Hegarty and Ryan Wheatcroft
Caterpillar Books
This all-inclusive rhyming celebration of family life really does offer each and every child the possibility of seeing him or herself in a picture book: Ryan Wheacroft’s multitude of vignettes ensure that.
Whoever we are and whatever we do, / Our families hold us together like glue.
These opening words of Patricia’s text caused me to reflect on my concept of family and I concluded that it means many things and includes many more people than those I’m related to by blood.
Our family comes / From round the world: / Our hair is straight / Our hair is curled, / Our eyes are brown, / Our eyes are blue, / Our skins are different/
Colours too.

So begins a poem by Mary Anne Hoberman that I included in my compilation, Family Album published some 20 years ago and it resonates with my own view of family. At that time, I’d been given a six-month sabbatical from my job as deputy head of an outer London Primary School. I was to look at primary education in India in order to try and understand why the parental expectations of the majority of families from the Indian subcontinent whose children were attending the school I worked in, and others in the borough, were so very different from those of our teachers.
I stayed in Udaipur, Rajasthan in a small hotel – owned and run by a Rajput Indian family I very soon felt I had become a part of. At the time there were two brothers – one managing the hotel, the other a tour guide, both residing in the haveli (large family home) with their parents and downstairs, grandparents as well as various other people employed to help with the latter.
From the outset, the grandmother would send to my room at suppertime, dishes she thought I’d enjoy. Soon though, I was invited to share evening meals in the haveli: “You’re family now” I was told.

%0a

During those months I went to Navratri celebratory Garba Dandiya dances with female members of the family and shared in the family celebrations of Diwali.
That was the start of a family bond that has deepened, although altered (the grandparents and father are dead now) over the subsequent 24 years. Both brothers, (one of whom, Ajay, now truly is like my blood brother), have children of their own, two apiece. I hesitate to say they have their own families as, like many Indian families, they tend to grow into a larger extended family, rather that separate ones. And that’s due in part the to the fact that they still live in the same complex.
I also feel very close to Anu. Ajay’s wife and in particular, their two daughters, whom I’ve watched grow up. I saw both of them as tiny babies and one is now at university and the other at school and training, she hopes, to become part of the Indian shooting team for the next Olympics.

%0a

We visit them at least once a year, usually during the Christmas holidays; it’s more tricky during the summer now as even the two girls’ holidays don’t coincide, let alone Indian school holidays and English ones. They have stayed with us in the UK several times too.
During that same period of time I became involved with another Indian family too, more by chance this time. It started with a visit to an art gallery run by one member of an artist family, also in Udaipur. This family too took me into their home and hearts and the bond is still very strong. I visit the galleries of both brothers frequently when staying in the city as well as sharing meals and much more. For instance, I tie a raki around the wrist of the brothers at the festival of Raksha Bandhan (a festival of brothers and sisters), as well as being a source of books for both Shariq and Shahid’s children.
Sometimes we go on holidays or happy fun days out,
Doing things together is what families are about.

%0a
img_20161218_170229_hdr

Both brothers have stayed at our home in the UK several times for recreation and more. One visit that sticks in my mind is when Shahid, (who was to have some of his paintings exhibited in the UK) his wife and young son came one Christmas time and we had frost and a scattering of snow. Their little boy was around 4 (he’s now 17) and had never experienced such cold. Stepping outside he said, “Papa, I’m smoking” as the freezing breath came from his mouth.
In addition to being an artist, Shariq, who while visiting us in UK, did some art workshops in my own school and several others I was connected with, is also a musician and has invented and crafted, an amazing instrument

20170104_144136-2 4-5

and his two young sons are pretty awesome tabla players.
One thing that struck me almost immediately is the great respect accorded to older generations of a family in the Indian culture. Both Ajay’s and Shahid’s families found it strange that our parents did not live with us though my partner’s mother had her own house just ten minutes drive away. She invited them to tea and she shared meals with them at our home. On subsequent visits it was always obligatory for them to meet Marjorie to pay their respects. When, in her 80s, she accepted an invitation to Udaipur, she was treated like royalty with a party in her honour at Ajay’s hotel and requests to go for lunch, dinner and, in order to fit them all in, even breakfast at the homes of members of a cricket team Ajay had previously brought to play in the UK. All this very much echoes Patricia Hegarty’s final words of We Are Family:

Each family is different, it may be large or small.
We may look like each other – or not alike at all.
Money doesn’t matter, nor colour, creed, nor name –
In each and every family, the love we feel’s the same.

The River / Wilderness: Nature’s Wonders

%0A

The River
Hanako Clulow and Patricia Hegarty
Caterpillar Books
‘In snow-capped mountains among the firs/ The north wind blows; something stirs./ Through icy water, a small fish darts -/ This is where her journey starts …
We join that shimmering, glimmering fish as she journeys down river starting from the snow-capped mountain peaks, swishing past dense mountain woods …

%0A

and pine forests, through ever-changing landscapes as she travels by day and night …

DSCN8410

and through the seasons, on her epic swim to the vast, deep open sea ‘where she’s meant to be!’ – a sea populated by a shoal of sparkly fish.

DSCN8390

Readers delight in joining the fish on her journey, making her swim faster or slower by tilting and angling the book, viewing her as an ever-in-motion hologram (set inside the back cover) through a die-cut hole that keeps her, mid-stream, on every spread. Read it first to play with the fish and then turn back and re-read the whole, savouring Patricia Hegarty’s lyrical rhyming text and being spell-bound by the wonderful wildlife scenes rendered in soft, matte textured, illustrations. The richly detailed, painterly style shows feathers and fur as if close up …
%0A

as well as the gorgeous hues of the surrounding flora of the landscapes.
What a superb testament to one particular river, and to the rich abundance of flora and fauna through which it flows and of course, to one little fish on its migratory journey. SO much to see, SO much to think about, SO much to relish.

DSCN8411

Wilderness
Hannah Pang and Jenny Wren
360 Degrees (a Little Tiger imprint)
Subtitled ‘An Interactive Atlas of Animals’ this has visual appeal in bucket loads and it’s highly informative too. It introduces readers to a variety of habitats in both Eastern and Western Hemispheres and then focuses on different habitats in turn allocating a double spread to each one. We embark on a tropical rainforest ramble (visiting various locations as not all the animals featured are found in the same part of the world),

DSCN8383

a safari in the hot grassy savannahs of Africa, join an ocean dive and search, visit a freshwater location, the desert dunes, polar regions and high mountain pastures and forests, complete with pop-up mountain …

DSCN8381

Snippets of information abound on every location spread and there are flaps to lift enabling readers to discover more about the various animals resting upon them; there are even mini booklets on Bugs, Creatures of the Deep, the Honeybee and the salmon life-cycle.

DSCN8384

There’s a tiny life-cycle book on the left …

So, we have some desert dunes populated by Arabian camels, Addax (rare creatures also called Screwhorn antelopes), a vulture, a Namib Dune Gecko, a rattlesnake that leaves tell-tale tracks in the sand, hairy, scary giant scorpions and tarantulas; and there’s a side wheel which when turned shows the enormous range of temperatures of the habitat. (sub zero at night and 45 degrees C at mid-day).

%0A

Rotating wheel top left …

Chock-full of details, rich in the colours of mother nature’s palette, and sturdily designed and built to withstand frequent handling, this is one to engender a sense of awe and wonder about the natural world, and highly recommended for the family bookshelf and a must-buy for early years and primary school classroom.

WNDB_Button localbookshops_NameImage-2

Bee: Nature’s Tiny Miracle

%0A

Bee: Nature’s Tiny Miracle
Britta Teckentrup and Patricia Hegarty
Little Tiger Kids
Buzzing with bee-u-ty, this sent shivers all through me; right from that arresting die-cut front cover with its centrally placed sunflower, through spread after spread of exquisite collage-style scenes linked by strategically-placed, die-cut hexagons, to the glowing endpapers: it’s just SOO breath-takingly gorgeous.

%0A

Stunningly beautiful endpapers

With each new book from the inimitable Britta Teckentrup, I think, she won’t better this; but, she’s done it again here in this glorious collaboration with Patricia Hegarty whose rhythmic rhyming text transports readers and listeners, accompanying a single bee as she travels here and there, flitting from flower to flower on a vital, life-giving journey –

%0A
    Gathering nectar as she goes,
From every foxglove, every rose.
Dusty with pollen, the little bee
Buzzes, buzzes, busily.

It’s almost as though you can smell the sweet-scented flowers …

%0A

and hear the sounds of that bee and of those back at the hive. For they in turn hear bee’s crucial message – with the vast numbers of flowers, it’s too huge a job for a solo bee- and join her in that all-important role of pollination …

%0A

until:
‘ … A tiny miracle occurs.
For every plant and flower you see
Was given life by one small bee.

What a testament to one crucially important little insect and its symbiotic relationship with plants. The author gently imparts nuggets of scientific information into her poetic text as she tells of pollen harvesting and transporting; that bees use the sun to navigate by; that bees communicate one to another and crucially, that the life of most flowering plants is dependent upon them.
Bees have become almost an endangered species, yet not everyone is aware of either the contribution they make to our precious planet, or the magnitude of the crisis of their dwindling numbers. I’m currently living in Stroud, which claims to be ‘Britain’s First Bee Friendly Town‘. May there soon be many others that follow suit. There is a snag though, this ‘bee friendliness’ seems to give my partner tacit license to allow bees to build a nest right above my front door; and to let a large area of our front garden become a wild ie ‘bee welcoming’ space!
This book may well start a small revolution. It’s certainly a MUST have for every family bookshelf, early years establishment and primary school.
Now try this: Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and imagine yourself into one of those stunning scenes from the book; place your lips close together, inhale through your nostrils, place your finger tips gently just inside your ears, then slowly exhale, also through the nostrils, making a deep buzzing sound in your throat like a bee: you will hear a ‘swarm’ of bees in your throat. That’s brahmari or bee breath and it has a wonderfully calming effect. Just like this book, although that’s exciting too.

WNDB_Button localbookshops_NameImage-2