Tag Archives: Prestel Publishing

My Town’s (Extra) Ordinary People / This Love

My Town’s (Extra) Ordinary People
Mikel Casal
Prestel Publishing

Everybody, no matter who they are, or where they’re from is worth valuing; that is the inherent message in Mikel Casal’s amusing look at examples of humankind residing in a seaside town.

Theo, the boy narrator introduces first himself and then another 22 characters, each unique and special, who also live in the town. Some are young, others old and many in-between.

There’s Theo’s best pal Felix an expert skateboarder, aspiring jazz guitarist Kim, Alexandra the potter (who ‘shapes beautiful and useful objects that please our senses’), Dave the gentle giant, cool Mike who loves to surf, bookstore owner Sara, Jalen creator of art from geometric shapes.

We also meet Abigail, someone after my own heart who is always immersed in a book;

and Lorca accompanied by Deshaun his dad who insists on reciting poetry as they walk to school together.

And I’m sure readers will take to free-spirited Ayaan who one hot summer day, filled the back of his pickup truck with water for his much-loved nephews Rashid and Ismail to frolic in.

Each and every one and the others not mentioned here have something to admire, not least being Zaza. This elegant guy receives numerous invitations because ‘when he has arrived, so has the party!’ There’s even a Labrador, Nickel owned by Felix’s grandpa.

Spanish artist Casal’s retro style screen print illustrations are arresting and delightfully playful.

Adults might try inviting youngsters to contemplate those in their own lives and doing as Theo suggests and looking for the extraordinary something in them all. This would make a super class project especially if those involved illustrated their ideas.

For younger children is:

This Love
Isabel Otter and Harriet Lynas
Caterpillar Books

The universality of love and its power to unite is celebrated in Isabel Otter’s rhyming text and Harriet Lynas’s richly coloured illustrations of children and adults showing and sharing love around the world and through the seasons.

There’s parental love expressed both outdoors and in: love of a playful loyal pet; love of friends whatever the weather;

the love shown by a patient grandparent; and love towards a new-born sibling.

No matter who, no matter where, urges the rhyme, ‘join hands and stand up tall. / Love is a special language / that’s understood by all.’

A book to enjoy and discuss with little ones.

The Song of Spring

The Song of Spring
Hendrik Jonas
Prestel Publishing

Spring is on its way and the birds are singing their springtime songs to ‘attract some friends’. Mr Blackbird sings for Mrs Blackbird and so it is with Mr Robin and all the other birds. Or rather, all but one little bird. He cannot remember his spring song but he really wants a friend so he has a go anyway …

An enthusiastic dog responds but a dog isn’t what our feathered friend seeks so he has another go, and another and …

His oink, moo, meow, meh and hee-haw result in the arrival of the corresponding animals until the little bird is surrounded by new friends though there’s not a bird among them.

His friends are at a loss to know how to help. Silence ensues until the bird emits a sudden, unexpected …

The outcome is entirely satisfactory, not only for the little bird, but also for his farmyard friends and celebratory sounds are heard all around.

Both adorable and suddenly, funny, this book is sure to have your little ones giggling in delight and enthusiastically joining in by yelling the names of the farmyard animals that little bird emulates and making their sounds. Doubtless they’ll also enjoy attempting the ‘deafening’ parp!

Jonas’ watercolour and collage style illustrations are wonderfully expressive and totally alluring when it comes to generating audience participation.

Oskar Can …

Oskar Can …
Britta Teckentrup
Prestel

This blog has been a fan of Oskar, Britta’s little raven character from his first appearance a couple of years ago. Now he’s back in a celebration of all the things he can do.

His achievements are diverse and beautifully visualised in a series of very amusing scenes of jumping, counting, making a cuppa brewed to perfection to share with best pal Mo,


singing, digging holes – show me a youngster who doesn’t love that; then there’s creating pebble towers (his are always super tall), ski-ing, ice-dancing,

swimming (almost unaided) and riding a tandem with Mo. The list just goes on.

He’s even a bit of a yogi. (I love his downward facing dog –and balances); perhaps he should try a crow pose next, I’m sure he’d soon add that to his ‘can do’ list.

With its inherent message about celebrating what children CAN do rather than forever pressurising them into constantly feeling the need to perform, be it at school or home, this is a smashing little story to share with little ones.

Alternatively for those in the early stages of reading, it’s an ideal ‘I can read’ book. I know whom I shall offer it to for that purpose next time I see her.

I always tell children ‘I don’t know CAN’T’ so it’s a huge HURRAH! for little Oskar with all his positivity.

Come into the Garden – A Big Garden / The Magic Garden

A Big Garden
Gillles Clément and Vincent Gravé
Prestel Publishing

As I write, our garden is really starting to burst forth: leaves are unfurling, flower buds are opening everywhere, birds are beginning to nest – spring has finally arrived.

Now is the time to celebrate and how better than with this unusual edition that originated in France. It’s a truly mind-blowing book with a wide age range appeal, and BIG it surely is to encompass that titular big garden.

Prepare yourself to get totally lost within each and every awesomely beautiful illustration as, starting with May, we are treated to a month by month close up look at the seasons alongside the gardener who tends it.

The text is a straightforward miscellany of horticultural musings with the occasional flight of fancy: September being given over to the gardener himself.

However, it’s those intricately detailed illustrations that will entrap you as you explore the intricately detailed pictorial pages,

June Fruit

each one comprising a plethora of fanciful mini-scenes, and search for the hidden objects mentioned on the prose pages.

And be sure to peruse the title pages and endpapers; they too are superb.

For younger readers is

The Magic Garden
Lemniscates
Walter Foster Jr.

Do you think of your garden as magic? Probably not, although you perhaps do notice and enjoy the seasonal changes, and the abundant wildlife that inhabits it.

Not so, young Chloe the protagonist of this book which begins one autumn afternoon with her walking without awareness until suddenly a sound causes her to pause beside the tree and take notice of its colourful leaves; it’s as if the wind is whispering to her.

Thereafter we’re taken on a journey of her garden where we can observe some of the wonderful creatures that live there – among the branches,

behind stones, in the pond – taking note of seasonal activity and change.

We see the garden by day but also by night when other insects make their presence known.

Some animals prefer to keep themselves hidden and readers are encouraged to look more closely for those as well as noticing the brightly coloured ones.

The seasons pass, the tree too changes: it’s bedecked with blossom, laden with fruits.

All this and more is part and parcel of this seemingly ordinary, yet ‘magical’ place. I prefer the use of magical rather than magic; for me nature is awesome and magical but not magic – a potential talking point when you share the book with children.

It’s beautifully designed and illustrated with much of the text taking the form of the wind’s words to the child.

Magical Journeys of the Night

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Before I Wake Up …
Britta Teckentrup
Prestel Publishing
As she sails away on a flying bed, a little girl narrator takes readers on her dream journey into the glowing moonlit world and, pausing first to take on board her lion friend, into her imaginary ‘world without end’. Cares and worries are left far behind as – child enfolded in Lion’s strong arms – they weather storms …

 

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then rock gently on calmer waters. Leaving Lion aboard the boat, the little girl swims with whales and other marine animals …

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and then the two are transported into a wood dark and deep – a wood full of wild creatures that wander free …

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creatures that present no danger to the narrator. For with her protective lion always close at hand, she feels fearless and longs to remain in the murky world on the shadowy forest. But as morning light begins to show, it’s time to flee from dark and move into the bright of day’s dawn; time to bid a fond farewell to her furry nocturnal friend, safe in the knowledge that after another day, his arms will always be there waiting to welcome her once more.

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I’ve long been a fan of Britta Teckentrup’s work but this one might just be my favourite. Imagined worlds are conjured into being in her wondrous dreamy scenes rendered in a glowing collage style that is densely layered and alternates between rich earthy hues …

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and more subdued ones.
Share this one at bedtime, morning time, any time, but share it you must, it’s a real beauty.

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Goodnight Spaceman
Michelle Robinson and Nick East
Puffin Books
It’s bedtime and we join two small child narrators as they bid goodnight to the various items in their small world space set,

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putting them carefully into the toy box at the end of the day. Then having also bid goodnight to their father’s rocket ship deep in space, the children embark on an imaginary flight far out into the darkest world of outer space. There, they rendezvous with the space station –

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meet the crew …

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and with their dad, enjoy a space walk addressing the extra terrestrial sights as they go. ‘Goodnight Neptune. Goodnight Venus. Goodnight light years in between us. Rocket ships and shooting stars. Saturn, Mercury and Mars.’
All too soon though, it’s time to return to earth and snuggle down in their cosy beds with thoughts of their spaceman dad ever in their minds.
Inspired by the mission of British astronaut Tim Peake, who himself has two young sons, this lyrical space odyssey will delight young listeners around the age of the two protagonists who will revel in the adventure at bedtime or anytime. In all my years of teaching young children I’ve not come across many who do not take delight in space stories and play with small world space theme toys. Let’s hope that this book will, as Tim Peake suggests in his introductory letter to readers, ‘inspire a new generation of boys and girls to look up at the stars and not just ask questions but to go there and seek answers of their own.’ Nick East’s dramatic illustrations should certainly go some way to fuelling that inspiration and their imaginations.

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