Christopher Pumpkin

Christopher Pumpkin
Sue Hendra, Paul Linnet and Nick East
Hodder Children’s Books

Who or what would you ask for assistance if you were wanting to throw the scariest ever, totally unforgettable party? Perhaps not a pile of almost forgotten cooking ingredients that just happen to be lying on your kitchen floor; but then you are not a witch with a magic wand like the one in Sue and Paul’s crazy magical rhyming tale.

This witch decides to spell a heap of pumpkins into life, name them – Gnarly, Grizzly, Grunty, Roar, Snaggletooth, Stink Face and err – well she never gets to give a name to the last one for he cheerily informs her that he’s called Christopher Pumpkin and invites his fellow pumpkins to a group hug.

Can this thoroughly ill-fitting, non-scary animated member of the pumpkin fraternity possibly fit in with the witch’s scarifying plans? She decides to give him the benefit of the doubt, albeit while keeping her beady eyes upon him.

Task one is to create decorations that will bring dread and fear into all who so much as glance at them.
Easy peasy thinks Chris but the witch and other veggies are let’s say, underwhelmed. They’re equally unimpressed with Chris’s musical proposition …

So what about the party fare? Of course it’s cooked up in the cauldron and seems suitably disgusting until in walks our pal Chris proffering err, some pretty pink confections.

The witch gives the guy one more chance – be scary or be soup.

Can Chris come up with a scary solution before the following morning: he has just the hours of darkness to work something out or he’s in the pot.

Oddly enough, come morning, there’s an empty bed where Chris had been and the witch is ready to throw open the door to let her guests in …

Terrifically silly but terrific fun, this tale is perfect for showing little ones the importance of being themselves and not letting anyone push them around or make them into something they’re not.

It’s a smashing read aloud that slides and slithers over and off the tongue like yummy pumpkin soup. And as for Nick’s scenes of magic, mischief mayhem and the occasional menace, they’re a totally tasty treat to feast your eyes upon.

What’s not to love? Perhaps though, that rather depends on whether or not you have a penchant for things puffy, pretty and pink.

Simon Sock

Simon Sock
Sue Hendra, Paul Linnet and Nick East
Hodder Children’s Books

Simon lives in the sock drawer with all the other socks; it’s a cosy place but he feels lonely and unloved. All the other inhabitants go out on adventures and Simon longs to find the perfect friend to roller skate, bounce and hula hoop with; but, as Spotty tells him, Simon is odd.

Then Ted offers his help and thus begins Simon’s search for a stripy matching pair. He meets all manner of possible partners,

he certainly learns a lot and finally discovers Simone.

It turns out though, that his matching pair does not share his thirst for the great outdoors.

Poor Simon; is he doomed to a life without a partner or …

With Nick East’s captivating sock scenarios, this is funny story, about friendship, difference and preconceptions that will make listeners laugh and think; and the ending – yes it is a happy one – will bring delight and a definite feel good factor.
It might even work as a book to give to a significant other on February 14th.

I’ve signed the charter  

The Turkey That Voted For Christmas / Evil Pea Rules

The Turkey that Voted for Christmas
Madeliene Cook and Samara Hardy
Oxford University Press

Christmas is an overwhelming no-no when it comes to a certain sector of the residents of Pear Tree Farm, all except Timmy Turkey that is. To the horror of his family, he really wants a dose of the festive fun but in the face of so many determined NO voters what’s a young turkey to do?
Seemingly there’s only one thing – hold a ‘Christmas’ election. First though he needs to canvas support among the other animals to see which will join his Christmas party.

Christmas Eve dawns and it’s time for votes to be cast but what will the result be?
Are the turkeys to be stuffed at last or can it perhaps be a win/win scenario despite the outcome of the poll?
A crazy Christmas offering stuffed with nutty puns and served up by the team who created The Mouse That Cancelled Christmas.

Evil Pea Rules!
Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet
Simon & Schuster

Evil Pea is back and raring to go with his dastardly doings once again. Not content with being ruler of the freezer, he’s determined to take over the whole supermarket with a particularly chilling plan.
With his arch-enemy Supertato duly dealt with, the pesky pea thinks he’s well on the way to supermarket supremacy

but he’s reckoned without the cold-busting power of the chillies.
From its sparkly cover, there’s a decidedly seasonal feeling where this latest Supertato adventure is concerned; so pervasive is it that even Pea finds himself bound to join in with the festivities.
Fans of the series will relish this icy offering, which may well garner additional followers tempted by the arresting cover.

Surprising Christmases with Slug, Reindeer & Frankie

DSCN5941 (800x600)

Norman the Slug Who Saved Christmas
Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
Whoever heard of a slug celebrating Christmas; well you’re about to hear of exactly that and more for this crazy tale tells how one, Norman by name (of Silly Shell fame) actually pitches in and averts a seasonal disaster. But that’s to come. We first encounter Norman as he’s tucked up in bed eagerly anticipating a visit from Father Christmas – he’d been a truly good slug after all. Then, down the chimney descends , not Santa but …

DSCN5942 (800x600)

Surely Norman cannot have been that good? No, certainly not; in fact not one of the presents therein is for him. Time to get those slug ideas flowing and put those special slug skills to good use, decides Norman and that is just what he does: sticky tape of course is no problem but who/what is going to pull that cleverly constructed sleigh? …

DSCN5944 (800x600)

And how is Norman going to get that Shelby family’s sack up onto the roof and down their chimney?

DSCN5946 (800x600)

Well, we’ve all talked of snail mail but Norman’s method is something altogether unexpected and genius on his part:

DSCN5947 (800x600)

but quick Norman, you have to hide before those Shelby children appear on the scene.
You can probably guess what he does about that but I’d hate to steal his thunder so either take a guess, or much better, get hold of a copy of this comical Christmas caper and then share it with some under 6s.
Love the story: love this problem solving, divergent thinking mollusc, and love Paul Linnet’s portrayal of same.

DSCN6015

Reindeer’s Christmas Surprise
Ursula Dubosarsky and Sue deGennaro
Allen & Unwin Children’s Books
With occasional, gentle echoes of Clement Clark Moore, Ursula Dubosarsky’s text bounces along on its Reindeer hooves as the chief protagonist sets out delivering gifts to his friends. First there’s Cat …

DSCN6016

followed by Dog …

DSCN6017 (595x800)

and finally, shopkeeper Guinea Pig …

DSCN6018 (800x600)

Thereafter Reindeer tootles back to the comfort of his cosy armchair for a nice rest and a glass of iced chocolate. Perfect albeit decidedly lonely. But not for long: his snooze is rudely interrupted by a terrible racket – what could it be?
Without spoiling the happy ending, let’s just say Reindeer’s heart is full and he’s lonely no longer.
I love the way the story ends with an open-ended question for readers and young listeners to ponder over

DSCN0637 (800x600)

Here’s Emmanuelle deep in thought over just that …

and discuss.
With its gently humorous, delightfully detailed pictures, this heart-warming antipodean tale is definitely one to enjoy this Christmas. And not just for its sunny, summery scenes.

DSCN6062 (800x600)

Frankie’s Magic Football: The Great Santa Race
Frank Lampard
Little Brown
Soccer fanatics Frankie and his trusty team are on a mission: to make Christmas a white one. But nobody wants an everlasting snowy winter; so can they deal with the evil penguin accidentally awoken when the magic football, kicked by Kevin crash lands in Mr Harris’s front garden? Emperor Frostie, for that is the penguin’s name, is determined to create this winter that never ends, not only in their very own town, but right across the whole world. One thing is certain, first, they have to find the whereabouts of Kevin and deal with the tricky problem of his rescue. It looks like a football match is in the offing … Frostie’s team versus Frankie’s.
Assuredly, another action-packed adventure for fans and a seasonal one at that.

Use your local bookshop    localbookshops_NameImage-2

Solutions for Alan and Barnaby

DSCN4001 (800x600)

I Need a Wee!
Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet
Simon & Schuster pbk
Alan, the lovable blue bear depicted on the cover of this book is determined to have fun, no matter what. And the ‘what’ makes itself obvious almost from the start of the story: it’s the need for a wee. A need that grows more and more urgent as Alan insists on having another go on the helter-skelter, stopping to buy a balloon and partaking of Claude’s birthday cake. Finally Alan and friends reach the loos and guess what –there’s a long queue. Dolly offers the use of her toilet but it’s too “teeny tiny” so Alan looks elsewhere.

DSCN4024 (800x600)

but the Magic Rabbit is having none of it. Things are getting pretty desperate when Alan makes a dash up the steps and behind a curtain – so he thinks but then he discovers he’s actually on stage where his energetic efforts to control his bladder are rewarded with a large golden trophy

DSCN4023 (800x600)

and he knows just what to do with that; so why is he saying that he still needs a wee?
With its luminous cover, charming cast of characters colourfully illustrated and tension-building text, this one should certainly make under fives (and those who have dealings with them) laugh.

DSCN4000 (800x600)

A Monster’s Moved In!
Timothy Knapman and Loretta Schauer
Little Tiger Press
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes: the one that’s referred to in the title of this rainy day story is roughly child-sized and green. He arrives as a result of Barnaby’s den building activity and his somewhat foolish (in the light of what then happens) utterance, “Sometimes I wish a monster WOULD move in!” Before you can say, “I don’t believe it!” which is what young Barnaby does in fact say, there, clutching what looks like a packed lunch box, is Burple. Burple heads straight for Barnaby’s den and the boy, joins him. ‘BIG MISTAKE!’ In less time than you can say to yourself, “He seems harmless,” for that is just what our young protagonist does, Burple has started producing ear-splitting howls. Moreover, the contents of his lunch box has escaped and is hell bent on consuming Barnaby’s den.

DSCN4010 (800x600)

Ideas are needed and Barnaby suddenly has a good one. Some imaginative activities proceed, some rather too imaginative

DSCN4011 (800x600)

until at last the rain stops and boy and monster head to the park for some outdoor pursuits.

DSCN4009 (800x600)

At the end of the day, both declare it’s been their best ever day. And the following one – well, that would be telling.
Monsters, den building, imaginative play, tree climbing – just the kind of things young children love. Put them altogether in a slightly crazy, laugh-inducing story and illustrate it with verve and vigour, and just a touch of cuteness, and the result is a book with enormous appeal for those around the age of the chief protagonist, and I suspect, monsters.

Use your local bookshop localbookshops_NameImage-2