I Don’t Want to go to School / Big

I Don’t Want to go to School
Lula Bell and Brian Fitzgerald
Little Tiger

Both Mouse (teacher) and Dinosaur are suffering from first day nerves as they reluctantly get up, dress and are unable to face their respective breakfasts.

Concerns about being liked are voiced and both characters are feeling decidedly wibbly-wobbly.

School looks such a scary place full of seemingly intimidating children – until they encounter one another. Then it becomes a case of being brave together … and going on to have an absolutely terrific time. Yipee! school’s great

and tomorrow’s another day …

With a simple text that gets to the heart of those starting school wobbles and Brian Fitzgerald’s bright, humorous illustrations that capture so well the feelings of Mouse and Dinosaur, this is a definite winner and just right for youngsters starting school next term who will be amused to see that sometimes teachers have those apprehensive feelings too.

Big
Sav Akyüz
Oxford Children’s Books

Watching his big brother having the kind of fun that older brothers enjoy makes the small boy protagonist wish that he too could be big.

All of a sudden his wish is granted and off he goes on an awesome romp with the city as his adventure playground.

The trouble is he just keeps on increasing in size until he declares “Oh … no … I’m TOO big!’
Perhaps after all it’s better to be content with what you are and to use your imagination and say ‘what if …’.

With minimal words and arresting illustrations, debuting as author-illustrator Sav Akyüz has created a fun story that will resonate with lots of small brothers and sisters who watch their older siblings doing exciting things and think, ‘I wish … ‘

The Chocolate Unicorn / Crumbs!

Here are two recent releases in Bloomsbury Education’s series Bloomsbury Young Readers

The Chocolate Unicorn
Jenny McLachlan, illustrated by Sarah Lawrence

Olive Brown worries a lot, so much so that she misses out on all kinds of wonderful opportunities.

Then one day her Grandpa gives her a present containing chocolates of different shapes. Wanting to make them last as long as possible, she eats one each day until only her favourite is left. It’s the chocolate unicorn with fudge hooves and a glittery horn and it seems too magical even to nibble. The unicorn remains in the box and Olive looks at it every morning and evening until the day it’s no longer there.

Following a trail of footprints, she discovers its hiding place and so begins a series of learning experiences through which the unicorn shows Olive how to be, first a little bit brave and then more so,

until she’s no longer holding herself back at all.

A while later, Olive, her mum and the unicorn visit the seaside where she meets a little boy. Could it be that it’s time for the unicorn to start working his magic on somebody else who needs to find some courage?

With gently humorous illustrations by Sarah Lawrence, this is a charming story for children who are growing in confidence towards becoming independent readers,

Crumbs!
Ben Bailey Smith, illustrated by Sav Akyüz

Ben Bailey Smith, actor and rapper has written this story of Farmer Dan’s missing lunch in rhyme.

When the farmer discovers the sandwich he’s been so eagerly anticipating is no longer in his lunch box his wife – a much brighter character – suggests an animal is responsible. But which one? Is it Harry the horse, Bridget the chicken

or perhaps, Bill the pig?

Dan is absolutely determined to track down the culprit that’s gobbled up his favourite egg mayonnaise sandwich and left him with a few crumbs.

A funny tale with spirited illustrations by Sav Akyüz, that should go down well with young readers whether or not they share Farmer Dan’s penchant for egg mayonnaise sandwiches.

Bear Moves

Bear Moves
Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyūz
Walker Books

The purple ursine character from I Am Bear returns and, sporting his sweatbands, he’s in groovy mood.

With Bunny on DJ duty it’s time to show off those funky moves. First off it’s Furry Breaking – wow this guy certainly has attitude!

Next we have Running Bear, quickly followed by the Robot and there’s even a spot of limbo.

Should this character be auditioning for the next Strictly Come Dancing series one wonders as he grabs himself a partner and switches to ballroom mode with a foxtrot

This he follows with a doughnut fuelled Belly Dance,

a quickstep – oh no that’s his pal squirrel attempting to beat a hasty retreat – and next, bums a-winding, everybody do the twist.

Even then, this dance enthusiast isn’t quite done but for his grand finale he requires an altogether sweeter partner …

It’s pretty exhausting all this dancing so you won’t be surprised that Bear’s last move is into sleep mode zzzzz …

You can really feel and hear the beat in rapper Ben Bailey Smith’s (aka Doc Brown) rhyming text, while Sav Akyūz shows the action both frenzied and smooth, in bold colours outlined in thick black lines

Great for child participation is this zany offering.

You Can Do Anything (Hip and Hop)

You Can Do Anything (Hip and Hop)
Akala and Sav Akyüz
Oxford University Press

Rhythm, rhyme and repetition, the 3 Rs of reading come together in a book with an important theme from award winning hip hop artist Akala and illustrator Sav Akyüz.
It features in particular pals, Hip the wise, top hat sporting, rapping hippo and his friend, Hop.
Everyone is preparing for the Blueberry Hill bike race.

For Hip and the Cheeky Monkeys, bike riding is a piece of cake; not so for Hop.
You can do anything if you try,
You can do anything, ride or fly.
Don’t let anybody tell you no.
Focus on your dreams and go!

Hip encourages him and Hop desperately wants to learn to ride his bike but can’t stay upright.

Riding a bike is all about balance. / Letting go of your fear is the greatest challenge.” is the advice from the Cheeky Monkeys. But despite all these encouraging words, Hop still keeps falling off. His morale is at rock bottom.
Time for a story from Hip.

Will this be enough to convince his feathered friend that practice, perseverance and determination will eventually pay dividends?
Can Hop become proficient in time for the event and who will emerge as the final winner? What do you think?
Definitely a winning formula from Akala – love his positivity mantra – and Akyüz, whose funky illustrations add street cred to a powerful self-belief message for all young learners.
Let friendship and inner confidence rule. Just focus on your dreams and go.

I’ve signed the charter  

I Am Bear

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I Am Bear
Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyüz
Walker Books
Our initial introduction to the ursine narrator of this wonderfully anarchic offering from the pen of actor and rapper Doc Brown (aka Ben Bailey Smith) shows him as a bare pink-skinned character who, having turned his bum on squirrel,

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lumbers off to don a purple onesie and adopt a confrontational stance.
We next see Bear in the process of consuming his favourite nosh while continuing with his narration thus …

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After which he discards his protective gear before going on to play a knock! knock! joke on a red squirrel, though only one animal finds that at all funny.
Next comes a spot of magic: first off fishing with a wand, followed by a vanishing act and further fun and games, Bear’s favourite being “Cops and robbers.”

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Seems he’s managed to set up another squirrel here.
It looks like this Bear is a dab hand when it comes to wielding a paintbrush too, and who can blame him for beating a rather hasty retreat …

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Delivered as it is with a superb verbal economy, this riotous rapping rhyme of a picture book is perfect for beginning readers as well as for reading aloud.
Storyboard artist Sav Akyüz’s rendering of Bear and the other characters is suitably upbeat and perfectly in-keeping with the playful text and almost gives the impression the visuals have been created with spray cans or daubed with house painting brushes.
Published under the Walker Entertainment imprint, there’s assuredly plenty to entertain herein but equally there are a whole lot of inbuilt literacy lessons too.

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