Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention

Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention
Pip Jones and Sara Ogilvie
Simon & Schuster

It’s great to see a second rhyming story about young designer/inventor Izzy Gizmo and Fixer her crow collaborator.

Now she’s super excited, for an invitation to the annual Invention Convention has arrived through her letterbox. Grandpa ensures she overcomes her initial uncertainty about the reliability of her machines and off they sail to Technoff Isle in a machine of Izzy’s design.

Izzy has set her sights on the badge to the Genius Guild to be awarded to the winning design. Inevitably so have all the others

and one in particular is a selfish hoarder of materials.

Despite this and other setbacks, Izzy’s unfailing creativity and ingenuity (not to mention some assistance from Fixer) finally win through …

Izzy’s such a powerful role model – resilient, inspiring but also on occasion apt to let her frustrations get the better of her until Grandpa and Fixer offer encouragement.

Fast paced and spirited as Izzy herself, Pip Jones’ narrative drives its message to a satisfying finale and in combination with Sara Ogilvie’s splendidly energetic, offbeat illustrations, this is a smashing book to set the imagination of young readers and listeners sparking with creativity.

More please!

Dave The Lonely Monster

Dave the Lonely Monster
Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Dave lives all alone in a retirement cave; his only companion is his guitar.

Back in the day – the bad old days to be precise – Dave had been a huge pest rampaging and roaring wherever he went.

Until that is, the townsfolk, tired of his mess making, exiled him to Echo Rock where he spends the next sixty years, just him, his knitting, the odd poetry book and his old instrument upon which he strummed the night away.
By day the local knights would taunt him and try to engage him in combat, but of fighting Dave would have no part.

One day his slumbers are disturbed, first by a flying cabbage that hits his nose, then a beetroot biffs him in the eye and an aubergine whizzes past.
Out from behind a bush emerges a tiny knight wielding a carrot. “Prepare to meet your doom!” he cries.

Somewhat nonplussed, Dave challenges this lad who calls him a fiendish monster, pointing out that proper knights do not speak so, and that monstrous beasts, like others, also have feelings.
Realising the error of his ways, Percy apologies, a pledge is taken and a firm friendship forged.
The two have the time of their lives

while back in town, on account of the lack of exciting action, boredom and grumpiness have set in. Monster-bashing is what they need, the townsfolk decide.

Can young Percy persuade them otherwise, armed as they are with fistfuls of mouldy fruit and veg.?
Surely there must be a better way to liven things up and bring fun back for those would-be assailants of Dave’s. He certainly thinks so …

Rollicking rhyme that beats out a heart-warming tale of music and friendship – that’s Anna Kemp’s – and delicious olde-worlde scenes of bygone times that might have been but never were, on account of the crazy mix of knights of yore, Dave’s 60s style bass guitar, mini-skirts and dance moves, not to mention a hells angels wooden Harley style bike complete with side car (those are all part and parcel the super scenes created by Sara Ogilvie)  – combine to make a super read-aloud romp with an important message.

Out with rebel-rousing and war; long live love and peace.

This book will have to be one of my ‘secret story-teller’ choices for the autumn term.

The Wildest Cowboy

The Wildest Cowboy
Garth Jennings and Sara Ogilvie
Macmillan Children’s Books

If you’re looking for adventure, saddle up and head west to a town called Fear, home to the roughest and toughest, wildest folk imaginable; those who sport rattlesnake socks and dine upon rocks.

Into town rolls Bingo B. Brown with his enormous grin, his dog and his wagon full of goodies …

but his cries of “Roll up! Roll up!” are met with a stony silence. Seemingly this is the wrong place for his playful pitch: this town is completely joyless, but also downright dangerous.

Alarmed to learn of the wildest scariest cowboy who rides in at nightfall: (so scary is he that even the townsfolk fear him) Bingo decides to leave forthwith and boards the next train.
Suddenly though, who should come hurtling through the carriage window but the dreaded terroriser himself

and the next thing he knows, Bingo himself is hurtling out of the train and through the air, leaving his dog alone with the cowboy.

Time for the entertainer to muster all his courage. Could his collection of fancy bits and pieces, those bow ties and braces, and waterproof suits, finally come into their own?

Jennings’ riotous rollicking rhyme is action-packed and designed to thrill – a treat of a tale in itself, but its combination with Sara Ogilvie’s rumbustious renderings of the action takes the enjoyment to a whole new level.

Izzy Gizmo

Izzy Gizmo
Pip Jones and Sara Ogilvie
Simon & Schuster

Izzy Gizmo is full of go and seldom without her large bag of tools, after all one never knows when there might be an opportunity for mending, tweaking or inventing. She makes some pretty marvellous machines but the trouble is there do seem to be a fair few glitches along the way and often at the most inopportune moments.
It’s then that Izzy’s temper gets the better of her and she wants to give up.
Grandpa however, has other ideas: “Now, trust me, young lady. Sometimes you need to try again and again if you want to succeed,” he tells her.
After one such paddy, Izzy storms outside and all of a sudden a crow crash lands right in her path breaking his wings beyond repair.

Now the feisty young miss has a new challenge. First she tries to rehabilitate the crow but all the creature wants is to be able to soar with his feathered friends again. Despondent, she’s near to giving up but again Grandpa steps in with some timely moral support and that bag of gadgety things of Izzy’s.
Then it’s operation ‘new wings’ as books are consulted, components collected …

and assembled ready for the launch; but it’s a case of the best laid plans …
Can Izzy, not to mention her injured friend finally rise to the occasion or is the creature destined to stay forever grounded ?
Let’s put it like this: ‘where there’s a will, there has to be a way’

no matter the consequences …
I doubt many will fail to fall for Izzy and her mechanical mind.
Pip Jones’ rhyming narrative is a cracker to read aloud and Sara Ogilvie’s imagination must be almost as fertile as young Izzy’s. Her intricately detailed scenes of mechanical mayhem are simply magnificent.
A real riot.

I’ve signed the charter  

Once Upon a Wish & Thank You!

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Once Upon a Wish
Amy Sparkes and Sara Ogilvie
Red Fox
Deep in the forest, in a giant oak tree, lives a magical wishgiving boy, as you’ll soon see …
By night, as the wishes drift his way, he spends his time concocting and conjuring up wish magic for girls and boys,

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then delivering it right to them …

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Despite their delight at receiving their heart’s desire, these children quickly forget the wish giver who also has a wish of his own, for it’s a lonely life he leads in that secret lair of his. The lad wishes for a pet or a friend to keep him company but try as he might, his own wish is unfulfilled …

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Then one night this wish wafts his way “I wish I could fly” and immediately our lad is up and doing, sprinkling, stirring and filling a bottle of potion, before sailing off to deliver same to the waiting wisher. This particular recipient however, is rather different. Yes, she’s absolutely over the moon at being able to take her maiden flight, but it’s what she does next …

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that makes all the difference, though not right away. Her kind words take a little while for their own particular brand of magic to do its work …

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Amy Sparkes’ brilliant to read aloud rhyming verses mixed with Sara Ogilvie’s sparklingly gorgeous, richly and humorously detailed, glowing illustrations make for a magic mix all of their own: sheer delight from cover to cover.
If you’ve ever forgotten to thank, or overlooked saying, thank you to anybody, I urge you to get hold of a copy of this one and send it to them forthwith; actually buy a copy no matter what; you’ll surely find someone or many, to share its enchantments.

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Thank You!
Ethan Long
Abrams Appleseed
A variety of animals, small and large, a toddler and an adult demonstrate ways of showing thankfulness in this delightfully playful board book. There’s an additional way of showing gratitude too herein: paying it forward. Cat proffers Dog a ball, then dog in turn gives a flower to hummingbird;

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hummingbird then offers panda a bamboo shoot ; panda extends his paw with peanut to elephant and so on. Each act of kindness receives a characteristic thankful response – “Growl growl!”,Toot toot!” and so on until we come full circle to the cat, now the recipient of a ball of wool.
Next, we see each of the recipients enjoying their gift and a small child watching and wondering. And then comes a final human sharing time with adult and child rounding things off neatly.

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Long constructs this whole concatenation cleverly with each animal stretching out of its border and across the gutter with its offering.
If you’re endeavouring to teach your young infant to respond appropriately when given something, this is the perfect book; just make sure you don’t end up with a confused child barking, humming, growling, tooting, eeking, oinking or meowing. Actually though, those speech bubbles are great for joining in with, and a slightly older sibling would likely enjoy reading the book to a very young brother or sister.

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The Detective Dog

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The Detective Dog
Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie
Macmillan Children’s Books
There once was a dog with a keen sense of smell.
She was known far and wide as Detective Dog Nell.
Sniff, sniff, sniff. Time after time,
Nell the Detective solved crime after crime.’

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but this is much more than a crime-solver, which we’ll discover as the story progresses and we meet some of the other characters, in particular her scatty carer, six-year–old Peter and on a particular weekday, (Nell doesn’t do detecting on that day of the week: she devotes Mondays to hearing children read at Peter’s school) his classmates and teacher …

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The smells of the school delight Nell, in particular that of the books. But then, one Monday, the aroma emanating from the school isn’t quite right: something seems to be different. And it is. Mr Jones is distraught: all the books have gone missing.
Immediately Nell is hot on the trail, following her nose out the school, through the town …

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and out into the countryside. And it’s there the thief is unmasked …

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I know I’ve been bad. … I only meant to borrow. I was planning to give all the books back tomorrow.” is his explanation. Can you guess where this one’s going yet? Nell certainly knows … and off everyone races at full pelt right back to town and into …

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Ted cannot believe his eyes at the sight of such wonders, enrols himself immediately and all ends happily with the school books returned to their rightful place just waiting for those regular Monday visits by Detective Dog Nell. And there’s a new story awaiting her there too …
Nell knows best! Long may she continue, but more importantly, long may that particular library and all our libraries continue – what a wonderful ode to our precious libraries this is. It’s also a brilliant new partnership between two amazing talents.

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A Froggy Tale and A Squiggly One

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Sir Lilypad
Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie
Simon & Schuster pbk
What a gloriously exuberant celebration of magical happenings and some not so magical too: well, on second thoughts everything about this tale of tiny would-be hero Little Tad and his valiant attempts to gain recognition as Sir Lilypad is pretty magical. It all begins when our pea-sized amphibian reads a book wherein he learns of the amazing transformation from frog to prince by the bestowal of ‘one small kiss from a grateful royal miss.’

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Finding a princess to obtain a kiss and thereby add to his stature then becomes his mission. Off he sets and consults with an ogre, but he is less than helpful and the search continues in forest and field, a witch’s residence and that of a wizard,

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all to no avail. But the quest must continue, stitch, itchy chainmail and soggy sandwiches notwithstanding. Then joy of joys, he glimpses …

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Does this damsel need saving by the gallant Sir Lily? Oh dear me no; and despite his best roaring and sword-wielding efforts, the dragon is at best disdainful and the princess unimpressed.
All is not lost however and after a fantastic show of wailing and beseeching the princess proffers her own words – of wisdom – and more. But who wants to be a story-spoiler, so lets move hastily on a few centuries to the grand finale of this triumphant tale, for that’s ultimately what it is. And a splendid one it is too with it’s dream of a read aloud rhyming text and utterly magnificent scenes of derring-do.
Get this or be sorry: the sword-swooshing, Sir Lilypad will be hot on your trail.

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The Queen’s Spaghetti
Patricia Cleveland-Peck and Tim Archbold
Harper Collins pbk
Queen Nellie and King Jim aren’t your normal royals: they’re not rich and to top up the coffers King Jim works part time at the Royal Mint. Nonetheless, the Queen is a cheerful soul, working in their large garden by day and cooking Jim’s supper on his return from work. On this particular day, feeling especially hungry herself, she decides to rustle up some spaghetti and tomato sauce – one of the King’s favourites too. “Iggly-wiggly spaghettio” she sings as she boils up an enormous pan of the stuff and sets to work on the sauce. Soon however, the pan is overflowing and swelling spaghetti fills all the royal saucepans and it’s slithering all over the kitchen floor. Oh dear me: if there’s something King Jim hates, it’s waste, thinks the Queen as she tries valiantly to feed it to the cat, the dog and even the royal peacock.

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But none of them has more than a cursory taster.
The ducks are more obliging as are the hens and the geese; but there’s still an awful lot to dispose of. Thank goodness then for the royal pigs: pretty soon they …

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A delicious aroma greets the hungry King on his return but what do you think happens when he requests a second helping of the scrumptious meal …

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With a nod to the traditional magic pasta pot tale and a wink to the porridge pot, Patricia Cleveland-Peck has cooked up a tasty concoction with a regal base, a sprinkling of farmyard animals and a saucy finale. All in all, with Tim Archbold’s giggle-inducing accompaniments of the visual variety, this re-issue is destined to tickle the taste buds of a whole new child audience. They will relish the riotous scenes, especially the spaghetti-entwined farmyard fowl, and delight in Patricia Cleveland-Peck’s pleasingly playful textual servings.

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