The Glump and the Peeble

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The Glump and the Peeble
Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
What an intriguing title: what on earth is a Glump and what’s a Peeble? Sounds almost like something from Lewis Carroll I thought. I pondered these questions before even opening this deliciously fanciful book. Let me enlighten you now: the Glump in question is a troglodyte loner. He’s not a loner by choice however; he desperately longs to break out of the glump do-nothing mould and join in the moonlit fun and dancing with the peebles; but he just can’t bring himself to do it …

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Then, what should skip into the wood, ‘singing and dancing just like peebles should.’ (Yes this story’s told in Wendy Meddour’s mellifluous rhyming text.) but a veritable peeble. What she does next though is decidedly un-peeble-like: she sighs, frowns, pauses and sits down on the ground. Moreover, she starts to sing and this is her song:
I know that a peeble should dance every night./ I know I should twirl in the glow of moonlight./ But it makes me feel dizzy, I get hot and pink. / Why can’t I sit still like a glump and just think?
The Glump, from his cave, tries ignoring these words, and the peeble, but somehow he cannot. Instead he coughs and invites her in – in for a sit still. The surprised Peeble accepts and eventually follows the Glump into his cave; where she sits meditatively, breathing in the still and quiet of the night…

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Thereafter, a discussion ensues and the Glump tells his visitor of his yearning to dance, pointing out the troubles his toes would be likely to cause were he to do so; and the Peeble in turn persuades him to have a go – good on you Peeble. And off the two go to give it a spin …

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Guess who, with fear overcome, is soon wowing all the other peebles with his dance moves and equally important, a new friendship has been forged, well and truly. Two firsts in one night: a sitting still, thinking Peeble and a dancing Glump: that’s some going Glump and Peeble.

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All this is visually realised in Rebecca Ashdown’s wondrously quirky scenes wherein we are shown how this enchanting pair of characters manage, with each other’s help, to take a risk, step out of their respective comfort zones and dare to be different.localbookshops_NameImage-2

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Odd Socks

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Odd Socks
Michelle Robinson and Rebecca Ashdown
Andersen Press
Meet Suki and Sosh as unlikely a pair of storybook characters as you can imagine, new socks, perfectly matched and totally besotted with one another. They love their life too as they fit into jellies, wellies, the washing machine of course and naturally they just love hanging out together.

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Perhaps best of all though is when, at the end of a day, they’re snuggled up together in the dark drawer and that’s when Suki might be heard to utter, “Just you and me, darling, we never will part. Your threads are entwined in my warm, woolly heart.” Ahhh!

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Life continues in this blissful fashion until the dreadful day when their whole togetherness is threatened by Sosh’s discovery of a tiny hole in Suki’s big toe. And we all know what happens to a small sock hole – it just gets bigger and bigger …
You’re done for … bound for the bin,” asserts the bullying Big Bob, a moany character if ever there was one but Sosh is having none of it. “Chuck a super sock? They wouldn’t dare.” he reassures her.

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Come evening however, Sosh is without his partner in that drawer they shared and so begins a desperate search for his sole mate and he’s prepared to risk heel and toe to find her.

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So is that the end for the devoted pair?
Well, not quite; seems they’ve both undergone a reincarnation and have a new home to boot …

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This crazy rhyming tale is jauntily told in an appropriately melodramatic manner by Michelle Robinson who seems to have found the perfect illustrative partner in Rebecca Ashdown. Those woolly warmers of hers are certainly ones that make you want to snuggle into them. Great fun for a chilly, wintery day.

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Treats for Tinies

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Kiss it Better
Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Sarah Massini
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
How many times have you said the title words in your dealings with young (or not so young children? I suspect you’ve lost count.
This tender celebration of the healing power of kisses is charmingly presented courtesy of a bear family as they, in particular the two young bears, go about their daily lives with those inevitable thrills and spills. No matter those ‘down in the dumps’ feelings when a tumble has been taken there’s always a kiss to make it feel better.

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There are playful kisses too, and those that mean ‘I’m sorry’ when the siblings come to blows.
Then comes the cheer-up kind after a bad day at school or nursery and the wonderful goodnight, go-to-sleep variety that help shoo any of those bedtime storybook monsters that might be lurking
No matter the time of day or night, whether you’re feeling poorly or grumpy a kiss will help. Or maybe more than one … and they never run out. Kisses work no matter how big or small you are In fact everyone needs a kiss from time to time …

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Sarah Massini’s bears are truly adorable and a perfect match for Smriti Prasadam-Halls’ gentle rhyming text. Just the thing to have on hand in the home or an early years setting; you never know when a kiss and cuddle up with this delightful book might be called for.

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Good Night, I Love You
Caroline Jayne Church
Hodder Children’s Books
We join a brother and sister as they embark on their nightly bedtime routine: splashing,

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scrubbing, wrapping and brushing. Then it’s on with those pjs and time to share a story before snuggle down and lights out time.

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Told in rhyming couplets, it’s gently playful, cosy and just the thing to round off the day with your toddler.

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Jane Foster’s First Words
Jane Foster
Templar Publishing
Here is a beautifully illustrated board book introducing twenty items – one per page to babies and perhaps those learning English as an additional language. The uncluttered nature of each page and the single word label make it obvious at once what is being so clearly named. The images themselves – animals,

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transport, a house and some things you’d find in and around a house – are for the most part, richly patterned reflecting Jane Foster’s background in textiles;

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and on occasion, the image is set against a softly patterned, textured background.
Altogether a stylish little book for babes and their parents/carers to share:

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despite its apparent simplicity, this is rich in language potential.

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Hide and Seek Bob and Flo
Rebecca Ashdown
Oxford University Press
The endearing penguin pals are back in the nursery again and it’s a rainy day so Bob’s brought his brolly. This triggers a game of hide-and-seek and Bob’s first to hide – so he thinks. The trouble is Bob is at the developmental stage where he thinks if he can’t see people (or penguins) they can’t see him and even after a bit of coaching he’s still not quite getting the hang of things.

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Sam and Flo decide to give him even more help; they go off to play in the kitchen giving him much longer to find a good hiding place.

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Can Bob manage to disappear this time? And what’s cake got to do with all this?
Gentle, playful humour delightfully delivered by Rebecca Ashdown and perfect to share with those around the age of Bob and Flo.

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The Whopper

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The Whopper
Rebecca Ashdown
Templar Publishing
What would you do if given a terrible sweater lovingly knitted by your Gran? Try your best to dispose of it one way or another, probably. And that is exactly what happens in this story when Percy receives a ghastly-looking jumper from his Grandma. “Just right for walking the dog in!”

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she tells him and that is exactly what Percy does – though perhaps not quite in the way Grandma had intended however.

 

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When it gets beyond the pale there is only one thing for it …

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and when on his return, Percy’s mum wants to know where the rainbow wonder is, what does Percy do? Tells a whacking great lie and hot foots it up to his room: he’d hardly put his hands up to dumping it in the bin, now would he?  Suddenly in the bedroom, he notices an odd looking creature who, Percy learns, is his Whopper. Said Whopper is invisible to grown-ups (a good thing) but gets bigger as the lie increases in stature (definitely not a good thing). So, by the time Grandma leaves the Whopper is enormous.
Time to tell the truth, brother Boris suggests but Percy isn’t convinced, so at bedtime, Percy has a bed companion – a very hungry one …

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But it’s not until the Whopper casts his hungry eyes on Boris the next day after school that Percy puts his hands up to the lie and then with the truth out, you can imagine what happens to that Whopper. Which just goes to show that it’s always best to be honest – though maybe not where Grandmas are concerned …
A delightfully playful take on a serious topic that faces all children from time to time. Most of us know how that seemingly simple little lie can grow out of all proportion to become all-consuming, if the perpetrator doesn’t own up. Rebecca Ashdown’s illustrations bring that truth home in a deliciously humorous manner with images that will surely make young children think twice before they lie to get themselves out of trouble.

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I shared the book with a group of 5s to 8s, first stopping just before the Whooper appeared. They were merely told it was blue: here are some ideas of what it might be like.

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Bob & Flo, Penguin & Pumpkin, Alfie & other Little Stars

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Bob and Flo The Missing Bucket
Rebecca Ashdown
Oxford University Press
Sporting a new bow and carrying a bucket containing her packed lunch, Flo goes to nursery for the very first time. There she meets Bob. Flo is interested in painting: Bob is interested in Flo’s bucket.

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Indeed he finds all manner of uses for said bucket both practical and imaginative …

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Lunchtime comes and goes; Flo heads off to the slide where she discovers her bucket at the bottom and then, Bob. Now it’s time for Flo to make use of her bucket – for a while anyway.

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With so much of the mystery of Flo’s missing bucket being told through the charmingly simple illustrations, it’s very much a case of showing not telling. A perfect lesson of the power of pictures and indeed picture books, and their vital importance in the journey to true literacy.

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Penguin and Pumpkin
Salina Yoon
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk
Unlikely as it might sound, young Penguin, curious about autumn, sets out with Bootsy on a trip to a distant farm to discover what the season has to offer, leaving behind a sad younger brother Pumpkin who is just too little. Having arrived at the farm, Penguin sees pumpkins everywhere and unsurprisingly they remind him of his little brother. So the adventurers decide to harvest their own autumn surprises to take back for Pumpkin. He meanwhile, has found his own autumnal adventure but it’s not the real thing – that’s still to come, thanks to Grandpa, Bootsy, Penguin and …

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With its spare text and plethora of endearing penguin characters with their distinctive accessories, this is an appealing seasonal tale for tots.

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Alfie in the Garden
Debi Gliori
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
We join little Alfie rabbit on his flights of fancy as he helps his mother bunny in the garden. He explores the jungly vegetation where he becomes a ‘bouncing, pouncing lion’, then an elephant,

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makes a rainstorm and a swishy swashy summer breeze before his leafy wings carry him back to his nest and into Mama-Bun’s arms for a cosy, snuggly nap.
A gentle tale for the very young, the majority of whom just like Alfie, enjoy imaginative play. The muted watercolour pictures with their soft black outlines are a delight. The larger than life landscapes immediately attract tinies who become engrossed in a cosy world of make-believe conjured up by Alfie’s (and their) everyday playthings.

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My Little Star
Mark Sperring and Nicola O’Byrne
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk
A lovely bedtime treat, not so much a story more a gentle lullaby rhyme with gorgeous pictorial accompaniments of adult animals and their offspring. Every double spread is a portrayal of tenderness; it’s difficult to choose an outright favourite – each one provides an ‘aaah!’ moment – but I think it has to be either the nuzzling giraffes or the snuggling elephants.

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Just the thing for sharing with the very young: it draws you in and makes you feel safe, warm and loved.
When the day is done and sleep draws near,
When the moon’s aglow and stars appear.

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Starting with a Fairy Tale …

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Cinderella’s Big Day
Katie Cotton and Sheena Dempsey
Templar Publishing
It’s just one week before the wedding of Prince Charlie and Cinderella when a letter arrives on the royal breakfast table addressed to the King and Queen: a letter from Charlie, informing Their Most Marvellous Majesties that the ring he’s due to place on Cinderella’s finger has gone missing. Immediately the King’s suspicion falls on the ugly sisters. But is he right? There follow five further letters through which much of the narrative detail unfolds. The wedding does take place though with some notable absentees and all is made clear why through the final communication fired off by Cinders herself as she relaxes happily on her honeymoon – that and …

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Billed as ‘After Happily Ever After” I suspect this amusing novelty book is the first of a new series. Sheena Dempsey has used a palette of soft colours to create her scenes. Scenes that contain a mixture of contemporary items such as Cinderella’s heart shaped sunglasses, wry details like the mouse’s tail extending round the skin lotion bottle,

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as well as the more traditional fairytale paraphernalia. Children will particularly love the wedding fold-out scene that is crammed with characters from traditional tales and nursery rhymes.

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How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel
Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
On the top floor of an inner city tower block Rapunzel languishes, ignoring callers: the milkman, the postman bearing a letter, the baker woman, Rapunzel’s aunt with dinner, even a prince bearing chocs and red roses.

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All exhort, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, please let down your hair.” But, receiving no response, and with the lift out of order, one by one they continue on their way. Later though, concerned on account of her lack of food, they have a change of heart and after a discussion, all (except the prince who is never seen again) decide to return to make amends. Back they go and up, up to the sixteenth floor where a hearty meal is cooked for Rapunzel and the letter duly delivered. The food restores colour to her cheeks but it’s the contents of the letter that really puts a smile on her face.
Rapunzel leapt up and she shouted with glee:
“I’ve got a new job at the library!”

From then on our heroine is transformed: no longer does she sit idly waiting to be wooed; she spends her time enthusing about books at work and educating herself when she gets home – courtesy of LIBRARY BOOKS – what else?
Told through a longish, zingy, rhyming text and bold illustrations that are full of funny details and mischievous touches such as the crow tugging at a tress of Rapunzel’s wayward auburn hair, not to mention cats, dogs and birds galore.
A great plug for libraries and the delights of books and a great picture book debut for illustrator, Rebecca Ashdown.

Also told in jaunty rhyme is:

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Princess Sleepyhead and the Night-Night Bear
Peter Bently and Laura Ellen Anderson
Orchard Books
Night has fallen over the kingdom; in the castle all are slumbering, all that is except one: Princess Sleephead is wide awake. But kindly Owl at her window is determined to help so off he flies, returning soon with Fox and Mouse. Their sleep-inducing ideas are great fun but very energetic and only serve to wake her further. Owl however has promised three friends so who is missing? Ah! It’s Bartholomew Brownfur-Brown – a large friendly creature – aka the Sleepytime Ted clutching a collection of bedtime fairy tales:

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just the thing to cure the princess’s insomnia.
Exuberant illustrations littered with the princess’s ephemera, endearing animal characters and some enchanting sleepy-time scenes and a text that is a pleasure to read aloud, are the main ingredients of this fairy tale romp.

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SHHH!
Sally Grindley and Peter Utton
Hodder Children’s Books pbk
It’s great to see this book reissued; my original hardback copy was read to destruction. Loosely based on Jack and the Beanstalk, the manner in which this book draws readers in is just superb. With the entreaty to “Come inside” we enter the giant’s castle wherein we view and creep past, a huge-bellied sleeping mouse, a slumbering cat – enormous, a broody hen, the giant’s wife busy cooking dinner and then, the snoring giant.
Distorted perspectives, grisly domestic details such as an axe to slice the bread and eyeballs in the stew pot, retrospective flaps so readers can check whether those they crept past have been disturbed – reassuring until the final one, after which it’s a case of doing what we are told …

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Not for long though, I can guarantee there will be cries of “read it again” straightaway.

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