Tag Archives: Pavilion Books

Big Cat

Big Cat
Emma Lazell

The small girl narrator and her gran’s search in the back garden for Grandma’s missing specs yield not the glasses but a ginormous moggy.

It isn’t Ruby, Gertrude, Hufflystink or Twinklywhiskers so Grandma decides a closer look is necessary. She’s mightily impressed by what she sees …

but there is no way they can keep the cat and so they ask their neighbours if it belongs to any of them.

The answer is a big fat no and so Big Cat becomes a resident with Grandma and her other feline friends; but as she says herself, she really does need to locate her specs.

The newcomer proves enormous fun and extremely useful. The only trouble is, the supplies of cat food dwindle very quickly no matter how many times they’re replaced. It’s not just the cat food that is vanishing though, it’s the human’s food too.

One day the doorbell rings: who could it be? Not Gran’s replacement glasses as they’re due to be ready tomorrow.

There on the doorstep stand two strangers, one clutching some specs and asking if they happen to belong to Grandma.

They do, and to show her gratitude, she asks them in (somewhat unwisely you might be thinking) for tea.

Fortunately however, the visitors are very well-mannered and a friendship is forged between them and the narrator.

As for Grandma, she has invested in lots of spare specs but even then, there are things she misses; but that’s a whole other story…

With visual references to Judith Kerr’s classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Emma Lazell’s debut picture book is funny and somewhat surreal. Observant readers will notice the whereabouts of the missing glasses on the very first spread and will in addition, delight in other visual ‘clues’ as to what is going on throughout as the chaos increases.

A feline frolic of the first order.

The New Baby / Marigold & Daisy

The New Baby
Lisa Stickley
Pavilion Books
In her third book, big sister Edith – not very big but bigger than she was last year – gives readers a month-by-month account of the first year with her baby brother Albert.

He arrived, so she tells us, in a basket one January day, very tiny and making his presence felt with loud, I’m hungry ‘Waaaaaaa’ sounds followed sometime later by ‘teeny windy pops’.

As the year progresses Albert takes pleasure in watching the movement of a home-made mobile dangling above his cot; befriends the rattly Gerald Giraffe;

increases the volume of his bottom sounds and produces lots of very stinky nappies; and adds raspberry blowing and ‘slurpy sloppy’ to his repertoire.

By the summer he’s beginning to sit up and in August begins the messy process of eating baby food.

Big sis. gives him a very gentle go on the swings in September; then in October he becomes a fast crawler and in November an ever faster one especially when he’s set his sights on there’s a tower to demolish.

December sees Albert take his first tottering steps, wobbling his way around penguin style.
Then it’s time to celebrate his first birthday. Who wouldn’t love this special little brother with all his funny noises? Edith most certainly does.

I’m sure there were times when our young narrator felt jealous of the attention others were giving baby Albert but she doesn’t tell readers about it; rather Edith concentrates on the fun side of having a new sibling keeping her chronicle up-beat and accompanying it with a plethora of sound effects along the way.

As with previous Edith stories, Lisa Stickley’s collage style illustrations have a fresh child-like quality that makes them entirely appropriate to accompany her young narrator’s voice.

An enchanting book: it’s perfect for sharing with early years audiences and likely to spark off lots of my little brother/sister discussion.

That transition from only child in the family to big brother or sister can be a difficult time for young children so if you want something portraying that you might try:

Marigold & Daisy
Andrea Zuill

Life is pretty good for Marigold until the birth of baby snail sister Daisy.

Daisy is a real pain, stealing the limelight and following her older sibling everywhere. Marigold feels left out and resentful,

particularly when Daisy ruins her favourite toy and goes off to be on her own.

However when she finds herself in a sticky situation, guess who comes to her rescue. Perhaps having a little sis. isn’t so bad after all.

Wonderfully expressive pen-and-ink and watercolour illustrations document this quirky story with a gentle humour. The plethora of speech bubbles add to the fun.

William Bee’s Wonderful World of Tractors and Farm Machines

William Bee’s Wonderful World of Tractors and Farm Machines
William Bee
Pavilion Books

R-r-r-r-r-r-rrrrrrrr! Hope you’ve got your wellies on ‘cos we’re going down on the farm and that’s the sound coming from William Bee’s tractor barn.
Therein he keeps all kinds of awesome specialist machines and he and his traffic cone friends can’t wait to show them off and tell us something about the jobs they do.

Tractors come in different shapes depending on the tasks they perform: some are very thin so they can work in confined spaces.

Others are enormously wide; you need those if you have a lot of land; and yet others are super-long and fantastic for getting through mega-thick mud.
These super clever machines do lots of pulling and pushing, lifting …

scooping, and carrying.
Depending on the type of wheels they have, they’re able to go over pretty much any kind of terrain – hard and bumpy or wet and soggy.
Farming was a lot harder work before tractors were invented: ploughing and pulling heavy loads was done by large horses or even cows.
Then came steam tractors like this one powered by coal …

There’s one machine on William’s farm not powered by an engine at all; can you guess what that might be?
If you want to find out, and to know about the delicious-sounding breakfast cereals William sells, then you’ll need to get hold of this smashing book to add to your shelves alongside his other two’ Wonderful World of … ‘ titles.
Unfortunately both mine have long gone – seized by eager children and I suspect this one will soon go the same way.

Just Like Mummy / Superhero Mum

Just Like Mummy
Lucy Freegard
Pavilion Books

Following on from last year’s Just Like Daddy, Lucy Freegard turns her attention to mums, especially the one featured here.

The young narrator introduces his/her special super-talented mum– full of fun, both creative and practical, ready to offer some words of wisdom at just the right time and provider of cuddles whenever they’re needed. Who wouldn’t want to have a mother like that, and perhaps, to have those qualities when they grow up? Certainly that is what the little leopard here is aiming for. (We don’t know the gender so the story works well for all.)

I suspect any youngster would wish for a mother who spends so much time with her child be that making music, gardening, exploring or whatever, and the cub really does appreciate this togetherness.

It’s important to acknowledge that things don’t always go exactly how we’d like them to; there are sad times, challenging times and inevitably, times when we make mistakes, and so it is here.

Lucy Freegard’s expressive illustrations do a great job of encompassing both the highs and lows of everyday life in a book that is perfect for sharing and discussing with pre-schoolers, and especially, it’s a lovely story for giving to a special mum on Mother’s Day.

Superhero Mum
Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger
Nosy Crow

We had Superhero Dad and now Knapman and Berger even things up with a companion title about mums.

The narrative is an upbeat rhyming celebration of all the things that make them so amazing. Mums, and in particular this little girl narrator’s mum, is on the go from morning till night, whizzing around, often multi-tasking.

Whether it’s making sure we catch the bus to school,

inventing and participating in energetic playground games, administering first aid,

joining in with bath time fun, seeking out a favourite lost toy, or sharing a bedtime story, she always delivers.

In short, she’s an inspiration to every would-be super hero girl (or boy come to that.)

It takes someone special to do all these things with a smile on her face and that’s how Joe Berger’s comic book coloured, action-packed scenes portray her in every one of these seemingly ordinary, everyday activities that could be easily taken for granted.

I’ve signed the charter  

Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures / Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures

Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures
Matt Sewell
Pavilion Books

Of the 1,000 dinosaur species that have already been identified, (so we’re told in the introduction) some fifty grace the pages of this beautifully illustrated book by wildlife author and artist Matt Sewell.
In a note about his illustrations Sewell reminds readers that rather than imagining them as big lizards with muddy-brown or dull green scales, palaeontologists now think that many dinosaurs may have been colourful creatures, some even feathered,. This is reflected in his illustrations herein. Did you know for instance that Yutyrannus, a relation of Tyrannosaurus rex, discovered in 2012 had a complete covering of feathers?

Accompanying each one is a paragraph or two of factual information into which the author injects not only occasional surprises but gentle humour too.
I was fascinated to learn that the ‘teenage’ Pachycephalosaurus, termed ‘Stygimoloch’ aka ‘the horned devil from the river of death’ lost its horns in adulthood.

Splendid to look at – I love the large images set against a plain white background – and likely to have a wide age appeal.

Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures
Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland
Wide Eyed Editions

This enormous volume – a veritable prehistoric journey of discovery – comes from the team behind Atlas of Adventures.
Herein, through a series of maps

and large colourful dino-inhabited scenes, readers are taken, one continent after another, on a world tour of the various different land regions over different eras, up to the late Cretaceous period when the creatures died out. This was due, it’s thought, to a massive meteorite colliding with Earth resulting in mass extinction that effectively ‘wiped out most of life on Earth.’
Thirty-one dinosaurs (or prehistoric reptiles) are featured (frequently hunter and hunted) but many others are also named and given brief descriptions in the richly coloured scenes within which they’re shown.

Various aspects of dinosaur life, including birth, learning to fly (that’s baby Pteranodons – ‘cousins of the dinosaurs’), to being killed by predators are included and each spread, in addition to the large descriptive paragraph, and the mini info-bank for each creature featured, is littered with relevant, and often memorable, facts. What child is likely to forget that ‘the ‘massive droppings of T-Rex were as long as a human arm and weighed the same as a 6-month-old baby’?
I’m less keen though on some of the visual humour. For instance the Leaellynasaurus (Australian) sporting a striped scarf and bobble hat; or the Oviraptors in what is now Mongolia, wielding what looks like a butterfly net, while perhaps appealing to dinosaur-mad children, to me seemed a tad too frivolous.
Nonetheless, this is a bumper feast of dino-info. and a novel way of presenting same. It’s likely to appeal widely: I certainly learned a fair bit from it.

Transport, Words and Numbers

William Bee’s Wonderful World of Trains and Boats and Planes
William Bee
Pavilion Books

William Bee showcases an amazing array of vehicles from early steam engines to high-speed super-sleek electric trains,

biplanes, to vertical take-off jump jets,

submarines to speed boats. There’s even a space rocket.
Every brightly coloured spread offers plenty to explore. There’s the featured vehicle of course but also a plethora of signs, logos (Elephant brand reigns supreme), and traffic cones getting up to all sorts of things and seemingly having a great time. William’s dog, Sparky, is there for the ride and so too is a tiny white rabbit.
All of that is accompanied by an interesting, on-going narrative from Bee himself that includes some occasional tongue-twisting alliteration; and the final spread is given over to some playful ‘Elephant’ brand advertising.
Totally immersive and certain to delight all mechanically minded young children and a fair few adults too, I suspect.

Big Words for Little Geniuses
Susan & James Patterson and Hsinping Pan
Penguin Random House Young Arrow

For sure there are lots – 52 in all – delicious words in this zany compilation for youngsters to get their tongues around; 26 illustrated – one for each letter of the alphabet – and the others in a kind of addendum.

I have issues with the pronunciation guide in a couple of places though, one being Magnanimous (mag-NA-nih-mus) which I suspect is the American way of saying the word; ditto Onomatopoeia (AH-noh-ma-toe-PEE-ya).
Nevertheless, I’m all for children expanding their vocabularies and this fun picture book certainly should, in the right hands, help them do just that.
A number of primary schools I know of (and I’m sure it’s quite common), have a ‘word of the day’ or a ‘word of the week’ – here’s a rich source to mine.

And, very young children really do love exciting-sounding words, repeating them for the sheer enjoyment of hearing them spoken aloud. Add to that Hsinping Pan’s bold, bright visuals and you have an alphabet book unlike any other.

I Know Numbers
Taro Gomi
Chronicle Books

This is an exploration of numbers and the various roles they play in everyday life. ‘Numbers are everywhere’ we’re told at the outset and we’re then show various examples from clocks and calendars, thermometers and weighing scales. These still hold true although this is a re-issue of a book first published in Japan in 1985. The next spread though shows out-dated technology

although it’s the only one and it offers an interesting talking point when sharing the book.
The upbeat text and bold, bright images certainly do put the case for the importance of numbers,

and their multi-functional nature, in an appealing way for those just getting to grips with number learning / number recognition skills.

My New Room / Time for a Nap

My New Room
Lisa Stickley
Pavilion Books
Edith, the young girl narrator shares with readers the process of moving into a new room and making it her own. We share too, the comments of other inhabitants of the room starting with Edith’s toy soldier guard, Gary.

As head of moving and room safety, I have been keeping everyone in check to ensure a smooth and safe move, “ he announces.
Next to speak is dog, Albert, who deems the place “usually OK smelly wise”on account of Edith’s almost daily baths. Other toys include the softly spoken, Osbert T. Octopus, Timothy Sloth and Reginald Rabbit, occupants of the spare bed (unless Grandma comes for a sleep-over) and a host of others. Those perching atop the wardrobe have a wonderful view of the garden – perfect for “plane spotting” says Susan hippo, whereas Breton Mouse has found the perfect trampolining spot …

while poor Sebastian Snake has the chilliest spot of all and is thinking of applying “for a promotion.” It looks as though they might all settle happily in their new abode; it looks too as though they’ve been pretty busy creating something special for Edith.

I absolutely loved Lisa Stickley’s Handstand debut; this is even better I think. The text, presented as in a child’s writing book, is deliciously witty and the patterned illustrations adorable. I’d certainly recommend putting this in pride of place on Edith’s bookshelf along side Gary Guardsman, as well as adding it to a family, nursery or early years classroom collection.

Time for a Nap
Phillis Gershator and David Walker
Through a gentle rhyming text and delightful, soft-focus pencil and acrylic scenes of a little rabbit and parent, human toddlers can share in their week. Starting with Monday, shopping day,

Gershator and Walker take us through their weekday activities, shopping, playing, a visit to the library for storytime (hooray!), clothes washing and gardening and on Saturday and Sunday, relaxing together.
A crucial part of every one of those days is nap time – not always readily embarked on by little rabbit.

Short and sweet, and ideal for participatory reading with littles: try reading it with a nursery group and then leaving the book with appropriate props or small world toys for children to interact with.

I’ve signed the charter  

Trucks and Rock Pools

William Bee’s Wonderful World of Trucks
William Bee
Pavilion Books
This is truly a vehicular delight and who better to introduce it than Bee himself. First he shows off the fuel tanker which, we’re told, holds sufficient fuel to fill 2500 motorbikes, or if you prefer, 650 cars or 40 of the fanatic’s largest trucks. It’s fuel is pretty indispensable unless you happen to have one of these beauties: watch out for soot.

Mr Bee however, has a truck to take care of that eventuality too – his amphibious one.
As construction is a frequent activity at the William Bee’s Garage, there are all kinds of trucks to help with the various building-related tasks; there’s the one that carries supplies, a cement mixer, a café truck – building makes one hungry after all. William also has a rescue truck, which here, has been called out to aid a snow-scooper.

Racing cars, and a truck to carry them complete with spare wheels, tool boxes and more, are also kept at the garage, as is William’s amazing jet-powered truck; fire engines and more. Mr Bee though is off to the seaside in yet another of his amazing vehicles and there he goes … leaving readers with a few final spreads of truck facts and some adverts for all his trucks’ needs.
What more could a truck-crazy pre-schooler want that these wonderfully bright, detailed illustrations (eye candy for truck fanatics) and William Bee’s running commentary on same.

Rock Pool Secrets
Narelle Oliver
Walker Books
As a child on summer holidays in Devon, Cornwall or further afield in the Mediterranean, apart from swimming, my favourite activity was poking around in rock pools accompanied often by my sister and Dad. I’d catch various things in my net, pop them into a bucket, observe and attempt to identify them; and then put them back into the water. This ‘lift-the-flap’ book takes me right back to those days with a close look at many of the creatures and plants I most certainly found: sea anemones with their sticky tentacles – endlessly fascinating; hermit crabs residing in empty mollusc shells, other crustacea – crab species, shrimps shooting rocket-like into the tangled seaweed; and various fish including gobies.

Most starfish I found were dried up on the seashore; herein though we see one cleverly camouflaged on the surface of a rock.
Each creature is given a double spread and almost all have a large, appropriately shaped flap that open to reveal further details about the particular animal. The final spread with an invitation to discover its secrets, opens up on both sides revealing an entire rock pool.
With awe-inspiring lino print illustrations, a fairly short narrative text and a pictorial glossary at the back giving extra information, this is perfect for preschool children and KS1 audiences.

I’ve signed the pledge  

An Animal ABC


An Animal ABC
Alice Pattullo
Pavilion Books
Print-maker and illustrator Alice Pattullo’s animal screen prints are used as the basis of an awesome ABC book. This is so much more than a mere alphabet book though. We’re introduced to a veritable treasure trove of creatures large and small but these are not for the most part the normal go-to animals one finds in a child’s alphabet.


Each creature is given a double spread with a multi-layered screen print picture of the animal on the right hand side named above in capitals, with (as a rule) a lower case Latin name beneath the illustration.
For her menagerie, rather than the strictly naturalistic colours one would expect for each animal, Pattullo has used hues of the earth, sea and sky to build up her images.
The left hand page has the initial letter as a capital with two lines below which form part of a rhyming couplet: ‘S/ is for sloth/ who smiles while asleep 


followed by: T/ is for turtle/ who swims waters deep.’ …


Below the rhyme in smaller print are two or three lines of information about the featured animal. Clearly this will be more of interest to adults or older siblings sharing the book with a young child.
There’s a final treat at the end in the form of twenty six vignettes – one per animal – and each is a small detail taken from the whole image, to be matched with the full sized picture earlier in the book: excellent for developing visual literacy.
Altogether a classy book to look at, discuss and linger over.

Sleeping Beauty


Sleeping Beauty: A mid-century fairy tale
David Roberts and Lynn Roberts-Maloney
Pavilion Books
The super-talented brother and sister team, David Roberts (illustrator) and Lynn Roberts-Maloney have created another in their classy series of classic fairy tales, setting it in the 1950s initially, and then one thousand years in the future.
Now I’m hugely enthusiastic about re-workings/reinventions of fairy tales and traditional tales and had high expectations of this one – expectations that were more than met.
We first see Annabel in the 1950s as a science fiction loving young girl with a fascination about the future, living with her two aunts Flora and Rosalind, completely oblivious to the curse that had been placed upon her during her first birthday celebrations by a jealous and malicious witch, Morwenna.


The curse – that she will be pricked by a needle and die before her sixteenth birthday – is kept at bay by her aunts with the death sentence commuted to a thousand year sleep.
We then return to the time leading up to the all-important birthday when a mysterious visitor leaves a present for Annabel on the doorstep: a present that results in a pricked finger as foretold by Morwenna,


who indeed has delivered the gift, whereupon the young girl falls into a deep sleep.
Both Rosalind and Flora take transformative action; the former becoming an ever-growing rose bush …


which forms a protective shield around the house; the latter (having written down her ward’s story and calling it Sleeping Beauty) becomes an ever-shining light that guards Annabel while she sleeps.
Fast forward one thousand years to another young girl, Zoe, with an interest in all things past and in particular the history of the giant rose tree. Researching in the library (hooray they still exist!) she comes upon a copy of Sleeping Beauty …


and discovers its publication date – exactly 1000 years ago to the very day.
Can she finally break that dark spell and release the Sleeping Beauty?
Elegant design and superbly detailed illustrations grace every page of this wonderful book and the story itself is a brilliantly clever fusion of old and new.
A splendid gift to give on a birthday, at Christmas or indeed any time of the year: it’s a book to return to again and again.



Lisa Stickley
Pavilion Books
If you’ve spent any time in a primary school during the summer term you’ll know that one of the crazes that unfailingly comes around every year is handstands. During playtimes, seemingly half a school population is endeavouring to perfect the art of handstanding. Now we have a storybook character doing just that; she’s the narrator of this quirky picture book and her name is Edith. It’s at home or in the park, not school where she’s honing her inversion skills though; watched – or more accurately, interrupted – by various creatures – a worm, a bee, a bird in flight, a spider …


none of which is happy about what she’s doing. Her “giant” hand was too close to the worm’s favourite ‘popping-up’ spot; her ear tricked the bee into thinking it was a flower; the bird, well he’s actually happier than the others as Edith provided useful ‘target practice’ for his flying poops. And the spider is shocked having ended up in her shorts when doing his ‘daily descent’.
Over the course of a week she goes from 1 second to 6 of ‘upsidedown-ness’ – the six being with a bit of support from Dad, who naturally has better things to do most of the time. By Sunday, Edith appears to have got this whole handstanding thing pretty much licked – in more ways than one …


I love the humour inherent in this tale of persistence and determination: Edith is a real cool cookie. I love too her various patterned outfits and the way, Lisa Stickley has incorporated pattern into other elements of her funky artwork; and there’s a bit of counting too. A debut picture book delivered with panache.

Yokki and the Parno Gry / Cool Mythology


Yokki and the Parno Gry
Richard O’Neill, Katharine Quarmby and Marieke Nelissen
Child’s Play
Yokki’s family are Travellers who live under canvas and make their money by selling – it might be horses or things that they make when there’s no other work – things like carved wooden spoons or lovely paper flowers. At other times of the year, they might be found mending pots and pans, sharpening tools or picking fruit and vegetables.


Their evenings are spent around the camp fire when stories are told; and young Yokki is a particularly good story teller whose tales are a re-mix of those he’s already heard and things he adds of his own.
One year however, with work hard to come by the family is really down on their luck and Yokki’s father is worried about how they’ll cope with the coming winter. Phuri Dai (Grandma) suggests a place where they can set up camp and when they’ve done so, Yokki decides a story is just the thing to raise their spirits.


Look at the image in the centre …

It’s a mythical tale of a powerful white flying horse – a Parno Gry – that would take him to places where life would be everything they could wish.
Can that wonderful horse fly in and save Yoki’s family at their darkest time? That is the big question and one you will have to get yourself a copy of this wonderful book to answer.
Everything about this book is exciting: most importantly that the story is a real testament to the power of children’s imaginations and the valuing of same; Marieke Nelissen’s illustrations are delightfully dream-like in places, the different viewpoints and perspectives used …


add visual interest at every turn of the page and further enhance the telling.


Cool Mythology
Malcolm Croft
Pavilion Books
Prolific author Croft turns his attention to a subject popular with primary age readers, as well as a topic much studied in schools. In fact I became very interested in the whole area when studying at London University in the 80s and have continued to find the whole vast topic endlessly fascinating ever since. This book is, as it says “Filled with fantastic facts’ and encompasses the main world mythologies, Sumerian and Inca and Nubian, all of which and more are mentioned on a spread entitled Map of World Mythology.
Thereafter, logically, is a look at creation myths, the commonest forms of myths and these are broken down into five general classifications as shown here …


Examples of these are then explored in four spreads with the Greek Gaia, various sun-related myths, some fascinating African ideas and the Rainbow Serpent from the Aboriginal Dreamtime.


‘Myths and legends are a vital part of … what it means to be human’ we’re told and the author then goes on to look at the seven basic plots used in myths. There’s also an exploration of places such as Atlantis, as well as the more recent Bermuda Triangle; and the afterlife with a look at ancient Egypt; animals, monsters and part human, part animal beings, also have a place herein.
Indeed it’s amazing just how much is packed into this little book on a topic that has much to say to us, and societies the world over today. If you know a child who wants a quick but absorbing introduction to a vast subject, this is a very good starting point. It’s fun, attractively laid out and very readable.

WNDB_Button localbookshops_NameImage-2

How to be a Cowboy


DSCN6070 (800x600)How to be a Cowboy
Alice V.Lickens
Pavilion Books
Calling all would-be cowboys, (and those who like quirky books) this is for you. It contains all kinds of useful info. – all the essentials that is – relating to cowboy living and a whole lot more. There are maps – one of the cowboy inhabited states in the US, another of cattle trails and a third a star map to guide those cowboys safely home; a spread of cowboy symbols, another to help you choose a name for your range, an ‘On the Ranch’ spread, a meeting with Mustangs, another with Texas Longhorns, some cowboy speak, information about specific jobs, and two spreads about dressing your extremities:

DSCN6072 (800x600)

And these beauties …

DSCN6071 (800x600)

‘Home on the Range’ gives facts about an 1886 chuck wagon that belonged to famous rancher, Charles Goodnight;

DSCN6073 (800x600)

open out the folds to reveal four recipes you may or may not want to test, depending on your taste: ‘GUNSLINGER BEANS’, ‘SON OF A GUN STEW’. ‘SOCK COFFEE’(seriously), and ‘ROUNDUP STEW’.
If all this isn’t sufficient for your budding broncos, there is in addition a pop-out hairy-legged cowboy character to bring into being with this fab gear.

DSCN6074 (800x600)DSCN6075 (800x600)

Love those endpapers too. YEEEHAAW! lads and lassies.
I know few picture books about cowboys other than Sue Heap’s delightful Cowboy Baby, which comes to mind instantly, so this one is doubly welcome.

Use your local bookshop         localbookshops_NameImage-2


DSCN6133 (800x600)

Manya Stojic
Pavilion Books
I’m delighted to see this in print again: it was (along with Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain) a big favourite with a reception class I was teaching at the time it was first published and became the inspiration for a huge wall display.
It was hot. Everything was hot and dry.’ Thus begins this scorcher of a book – no actually it begins on the front cover with baboon’s arm waving, Thereafter, Porcupine sniffs the air and smells the coming rain. He then passes the good news on to the zebras – they see it …

DSCN6134 (800x600)

and transmit the news to the baboons: they hear it and go to tell the rhino. Down comes the first raindrop – splash! And rhino feels it.

DSCN6135 (800x600)

Lion, last to receive the news has a truly multi-sensory experience: he smells it; he sees it; he hears it; he feels and … he tastes it. Ahhh bliss! A torrent ensues filling every water hole, cleansing and refreshing the land and, when it eventually ceases, the animals are there to enjoy the bounties it leaves behind: big shady green leaves, cool soft squelchy mud to lie in; fresh juicy fruits to eat;

DSCN6136 (800x600)
cool refreshing water to drink in the waterhole and the promise of further rain to come…
Everything about this uplifting book is admirable: the scene setting cover; the way tension mounts towards the dramatic climactic downpour then eases down as the animals relish what it leaves in its wake; the seamless integration of pictures and words; the way the carefully chosen words (a delight to read aloud) and painterly illustrations (they really transport you to the African savannah setting) play an equal part. Then there’s the repetition, the print presentation; the circularity of the whole thing …
This was a great debut picture book for Manya Stojic: I hope we see more of her solo books (re)published here in the UK.

Use your local bookshop        localbookshops_NameImage-2

Skimbleshanks/Patch’s Grand Dog Show

DSCN5677 (800x600)

Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat
T.S.Eliot and Arthur Robins
Faber & Faber Children’s Books
It’s 11.39, time for the Night Mail train to depart; so it’s all aboard and off we go! Not quite: where is Skimbleshanks?

DSCN5678 (800x600)

The train can’t start without him.
In the nick of time, he appears, the ‘All Clear!’ is given and the train leaves bound for the ‘northern part of the Northern Hemisphere.’ And there’s no doubt about who’s in charge.: ‘From the driver and the guards to the / bagmen playing cards/ He will supervise them all, more or less.’

DSCN5899 (800x600)

Up and down the corridor he paces, patrolling and keeping watch for any bad behaviour on the part of the passengers …

DSCN5900 (800x600)

Those sleeping berths must be kept just spotless with all the amenities in full working order …

DSCN5901 (800x600)

And there are people to meet and greet while all the passengers are fast asleep: that too is Skimble’s job as is summoning the police (that’s at Dumfries)

DSCN5680 (800x600)

or helping passengers to descend (at Gallowgate). All this and more takes place if you join another feline star in Arthur Robins’ third picture book interpretation of verses from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
Once again, Robins’ cartoon style visuals are full of deliciously dotty details. No matter if you’re a cat lover (I’m not), a poetry lover (that’s me) or neither, you’ll still find plenty to amuse herein. Share it, shout it or simply enjoy it alone or with others, young or not so young.

DSCN0661 (800x600)

Patch’s Grand Dog Show
Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne
Pavilion Books
Loner and slightly strange-looking dog, Patch is passing his time as usual sitting in the park when he hears from the other side of same, a whole lot of woofing, yapping and barking. On investigating he discovers …

DSCN6079 (800x600)

His inquiry, “Can anyone enter?” is met with derision from the other dogs so a downcast Patch goes off to hide himself. But then he has an idea: an idea involving his ball and a special trick. Even then though, the sight of all those seemingly perfect pampered pooches adopting all manner of prize-seeking poses and performing all kinds of clever moves to impress the judges – here are a couple of the former …

DSCN6080 (800x600)

his courage fails him. In the face of such finery, poor Patch feels even more inferior and lonely until he hears an announcement: “AND The Dog The Judge Would Most Like to Take Home IS …
No prizes for guessing which one that is.

DSCN6081 (800x600)

I’m no dog lover, far from it (having been mauled by an Alsatian as a child), but these knitted creatures are delightful. What’s more there are instructions on how to knit a Patch at the back of the book. Do look closely at each illustration and you’ll see how cleverly textured each one is. The artwork itself is likely to be an inspiration for children to create their own woolly scenes.

Use your local bookshop         localbookshops_NameImage-2

%d bloggers like this: