What Makes a Lemur Listen?

What Makes a Lemur Listen?
Samuel Langley-Swain and Helen Panayi
Owlet Press

This story of Maki, a little ring-tailed lemur living in the Madagascan rainforest, was inspired by the author’s experience of being the parent of a neurodiverse child who, like the protagonist in the book, struggles to listen, especially to instructions.

Fed up with his Mama’s seemingly endless instructions,

Maki ,who always thinks he knows better, decides to go it alone on a ‘big adventure’. No more rules and no having to listen to anyone are his expectations as he moves joyfully across the forest floor. His joy doesn’t last for come nightfall a realisation dawns: Maki is far from home and completely lost. Now, having refused to eat his breakfast, his tummy is rumbly and as the chilly wind blows through the branches, he misses his siblings’ snuggly warmth.

After a night spent alone and scared he wakes and hears a voice responding to his comment. A voice Maki puts down to his imagination; but then he hears further remarks as he looks for food and continues on his way.

Come nightfall once more, Maki stops again and curls up (on a branch so he thinks) but the voice continues and mentions something very long and scaly.

Just in the nick of time, Maki responds to the “Run!’ command he hears from a small rainbow coloured creature. Then from a safe hiding place he realises that the voice he’s been hearing all the while has been that of a savvy chameleon – Sofina – as she introduces herself. Surprised that she knows all about keeping safe and finding food in the forest, Maki is even more surprised at his new friend’s next remark, “I listen to my Mama!” Perhaps now, the little lemur is ready to do likewise.

Young listeners will enjoy finding out how Maki eventually learns to listen, while parents and educators could well learn alternative non-demanding ways to communicate with children be they or be they not, neurodiverse. Debut illustrator, Helen Panayi’s scenes of the lemur family and other creatures Maki encounter are great fun. She captures the young lemur’s changing feelings really well and adds gentle humour to the story: I love the meditating lemurs on the first page.

The Tooth Fairy and the Home of the Coin Makers / The Tooth Fairy and the Magical Journey / Dilwyn the Welsh Dragon

The Tooth Fairy and the Home of the Coin Makers
The Tooth Fairy and the Magical Journey

Samuel Langley-Swain and Davide Ortu
Dilwyn the Welsh Dragon
Samuel Langley-Swain and Jessica Rose
Owlet Press & The Royal Mint

The Tooth Fairy titles are a contemporary take on the tooth fairy tradition that divulges the fairy’s time-honoured teamwork with the original maker of coins.
In the first story we meet twins Grace and Ollie and their Grandpa at whose home they spend every weekend. The twins are thrilled when they both manage to get their wobbly tooth to pop out and rush excitedly to reveal their gaps to Grandpa an erstwhile employee at The Royal Mint. 

He explains that the tooth fairy will pay them a visit that night, exchanging the teeth for a coin apiece; he also makes little pouches to facilitate the exchange.

Excitement rules when the following morning the pouches both contain a gold coin, and then Grandpa shows the twins his own coin collection. He tells them how the Mint acts as a training school for the fairies and how once situated in London it has relocated to a Welsh valley. At the end of the story the twins lose another tooth each and cannot wait to share the news with their Grandpa.

In the second story, summer has come and the twins are losing more teeth. A sleepover at Grandpa’s is arranged. During the evening he regales the children with tales of a fairy, gold coins and a fearsome dragon; and tells them about his time as a Coin Minter for Her Majesty. Eager to learn how to fly, that night the twins set a trap for the tooth fairy but instead they’re visited by the Wensleydale Watch-Mouse and he’d spotted their trap.

When Grandpa, disturbed by all the noise, finds out what they’ve been up to, he’s far from pleased but asks the mouse to take them to his favourite place. Something magical happens and off they all go on an exciting journey of discovery …

Told in Samuel Langley-Swain’s rhyming text accompanied by Davide Ortu’s lively, funky illustrations of gappy-mouthed children, Grandpa and an entourage of fairies and more, these stories will fascinate youngsters especially, when they lose that first tooth.

For a slightly younger audience is Dilwyn the Welsh Dragon, another rhyming tale, set in the relocated Royal Mint in Wales. Here, one night among the golden coins an egg appears from which emerges a tiny dragon.
Next morning the coin makers discover the hatchling naming it Dilwyn (truth) and caring for him. They bestow on him the task of guarding the coins and one night his powers are put to the test when a pair of robbers break in …

This clever interweaving of a fun story with real history will entertain little ones and the book will make an especially worthwhile purchase should they visit Llantrisant where the story is set.

The Blanket Bears

The Blanket Bears
Samuel Langley-Swain and Ashlee Spink
Owlet Press

Here’s a little book, written by an adoptive Dad that provides an outline of the adoption process from a child’s point of view.

The author’s story of two little bears removed from a dangerous situation, doesn’t gloss over the fact that adoptive children will have had troubling experiences that they bring with them into their ‘forever’ homes, and thus provides an honest sensitive look at the adoption journey that the very young can relate to.

Herein we meet and follow the two little bears from the time they’re visited by a care worker, Tilly, one snowy day. She secures them a temporary foster home where the two begin to feel safe while their carers, Bailey and Niko make sure that their foster ‘children’ know this is a temporary arrangement until Tilly has found them a ‘forever’ home.

One day she arrives with a huge smile and a picture book about a family and the little bears’ new home, explaining that they’ll soon be having a visit from their ’forever family’.

All goes well and very soon the little bears, with mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension leave Bailey and Niko and move into their permanent and very loving home.

Ashlee Spink’s illustrations portray the emotions of the little bears and the characters who help them beautifully, showing both the downs and the ups the main characters’ experience.

Endorsed by Adoption UK this is a book for early years settings to have in their collections, as well as for adopters and their children.