Santa Claus vs The Easter Bunny

Santa Claus vs The Easter Bunny
Fred Blunt
Andersen Press

When you see the name Fred Blunt you know you’re in for some deliciously silly nonsense and so it is in this holiday themed picture book.

How on earth have the Easter Bunny and Santa managed to get themselves into the same book was my immediate reaction to this one especially as neither of them seem particularly pleased to see one another.

Oddly enough though, the two are neighbours: Santa is inclined to jolliness, the Easter Bunny to the grumps. Grumps brought on by the fact that the Easter Bunny does the entire Easter egg job totally alone from chocolate making to delivering the eggs.
Moreover, nobody gives him so much as a thank you for his mammoth efforts. Can you blame the guy for feeling down?

In contrast Santa has a huge army of elf helpers in his toy factory and all those reindeer to whizz him around the globe when it comes to delivery time. And then there are all those wonderful gifts left for him by grateful children the world over. Fairness just doesn’t come into it.

Time for some strategic planning thinks Bunny and after a while into his furry head comes a spendid Santa-sabotaging plot.

Having set the plan in motion, our long-eared pal cannot wait for Christmas to come and on the all-important eve his head is awash with eager anticipation.

Next morning, yes, there’s some truly shocking news on the TV;

but what of the children’s reactions? And furthermore how will Santa respond?

It’s all yummily satisfying, not only for the characters concerned, but equally for readers who will relish this smashing story no matter the season.

Guaranteed giggles at every turn of the page with Fred’s crackingly comical illustrations.

Good Knight, Bad Knight and the Big Game

Good Knight, Bad Knight and the Big Game
Tom Knight
Templar Publishing

The two young rival knights are back, not in picture book format but in what looks to be the first of a series and if this one is anything to go by the aptly named Tom Knight is on to a winner.
In case you didn’t meet the cousins in their previous incarnation, Berkeley Paggle is the bad one, Godwin the goody. A rhyming introduction sets the scene reminding us of how Berkeley saved the day by using a terrific stink bomb to send an evil-intentioned dragon skywards.
Now school is about to start again and Berk with his new hero status is eagerly anticipating the day for the first time ever.
Thus begins a delicious tale of derring-do, a dark magic dabble – the dabbler being Warrick Pitchkettle (Berk’s best pal), who has come across an ancient spell book.
The plot is frenetic and throughout, the dialogue is peppered with mock-medieval exclamations, some just plain crazy, others with a tinge of toilet; and there are diary entries, a weird game called bladderball – Berk’s current obsession,

dastardly deeds – of course, great danger in the form of a brush with the evil hordes

and a surprising admission (Berk again, but Godwin too).

The tale is spicily summed up in a few final verses sung by the cast and there’s a glossary should you struggle with some of the wonderful medieval words.

I’ll say no more other than it all adds up to a cracking read liberally littered with super illustrations by Tom himself.

Dinosaur Detective’s Search and Find Rescue Mission / Wilfred and Olbert’s Totally Wild Chase / Animazes

Dinosaur Detective’s Search and Find Rescue Mission
Sophie Guerrive
Wide Eyed Editions
In his plane, which looks more like an inflatable toy than anything capable of carrying a dinosaur, famous Dinosaur Detective sets forth on a mission: to find five missing items as requested by the likes of a dog, a princess, a teacher and a distraught wife, hidden somewhere in eleven different locations including what looks like a Medieval European village, an underground cave network, atop a mountain,

a funfair, a forest, a completely crazy-looking outer space neighbourhood and a city.

It’s difficult to know where to start each search as your eyes keep getting drawn to features of interest – mine did anyway – and some of the spreads are so densely packed, it’s mindboggling, and easy to get absorbed in the surreal nature of the whole thing rather than the task in hand. It’s just as well there’s an answer spread at the end.
Dinosaur Detective’s plane transforms into a kind of tank (to find the missing toad) and a flying saucer – another fun feature.

Wilfred and Olbert’s Totally Wild Chase
Lomp
Little Tiger Press
Herein we meet natural history explorers Wilfred and Olbert and follow them on a quest to discover a new animal and thus win the coveted Nature Discovery Prize. And when an unidentified butterfly just happens to float through the window, they decide their chance has come. Off they go in hot pursuit but who will be the one to claim the prize?
Their journey has them dashing through forests, diving into oceans, crossing deserts, and wild grasslands,

scaling mountains and delving into tropical jungles …

as they battle to reach the butterfly first.
In the end teamwork wins out and mission complete, they claim their trophy.
The whole adventure is perilous and it’s something of a task to keep track of the two competitors and their antics en route – almost being the next meal of a lion, or being engulfed by ice, for instance – but the whole crazy drama is totally engaging, full of funny moments, things to search for, and of course, wild animals.
Wild too are Lomp’s hilarious, cartoon-like illustrations, full of daft doings and silly speech bubbles making every spread a treat to linger over.
Action-packed they surely are!

Animazes
illustrated by Melissa Castrillión
Big Picture Press
This unusual book of mazes follows the journeys of fourteen animal migrants from Antarctic krill and Monarch butterflies to Humpback whales and Mali elephants.
For some of these creatures such as reindeer, finding food is the reason for their journey; for others, such as Rockhopper Penguins, it’s to seek a suitable environment for the survival of the next generation.
In tracing their journeys, the aim is to discover the one safe path for each animal and in so doing, readers will discover a host of fascinating facts about the creature. Did you know for instance that Mali elephants all pass through one narrow passage, The Porte des Éléphants on their migratory travels? Or that Wildebeest participate in the largest mass migration of mammals on earth?

It’s Katie Howarth who provides these and the other interesting snippets of information that support Melissa Castrillión’s intricately detailed illustrations through which the mazes are woven.
Absorbing, fun and educational.

Dave’s Rock

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Dave’s Rock
Frann Preston-Gannon
Nosy Crow
The delightful troglodyte from Dave’s Cave is back with another troublesome scenario; on this occasion it’s rock related rivalry.
Dave love rock, Jon too.
Bigger rock Dave’s; Jon’s rock faster …

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Dave find pretty new rock, err …

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Cavemen fall out. Dave has idea. Dave busy. Jon busy too. New rocks, nice and round:just right for – new game …

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Dave and Jon both happy; friends happy too.

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… friends happy too.

Delivered in similar clipped caveman speak to its predecessor, this is a terrific tale of friendship, falling out and fun from the fabulous Frann Preston-Gannon. The inclusion of the Mark Twain quote, ‘Name the greatest of all inventors: accident’ sets the scene so perfectly.
The deliciously droll visuals are just SO eloquent. Her hirsute humans and their animal audience are simply splendid. The animals’ doodlings in the sand outlined my own thoughts as to the likely use of Dave’s and Jon’s new rocks but seemingly, the era of Homo ludens had a much earlier origin than the twentieth century advent of computer games, right back in the Tertiary period no less.
Perfect for storytime sharing (watch out for a spate of caveman speak thereafter); and equally perfect for beginning readers. A real cracker this!

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