The Lost Penguin

The Lost Penguin (An Oliver & Patch Story)
Claire Freedman and Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Oliver made two new friends in Oliver and Patch, one canine and one human.
In this sequel, the three of them are pretty much inseparable during the day time although in the evenings Oliver and Patch return to Oliver’s flat and Ruby to her house.
Their favourite place to spend time together is the city zoo and it’s there that they see Peep.
Peep, so Sandy the zookeeper tells them is a newly arrived rescue penguin. The friends put his sad look down to the fact that he misses his old home.
The following day when they return to see Peep again, he’s nowhere in sight. Quickly they inform the zookeeper and a search begins.

Children will enjoy spotting the little penguin’s resting places in various locations that Ruby and Oliver fail to notice.
Eventually the friends discover the little creature’s whereabouts aboard a canal boat;

but on arrival back at the zoo, discover it’s closed for the night.
A squabble ensues over who is to look after Peep overnight, after which Ruby and Oliver realise that both Peep and Patch have gone missing.
Where can they be? There’s a long night’s wait ahead but will they find the two missing animals again next morning?

The ups and downs of friendship and the difficulties of settling into a new environment are explored in this reassuring tale.
Kate Hindley provides plenty of amusing details to linger over in every spread so this definitely isn’t a book to hurry through despite the urge to discover what has happened to the missing Peep.

I’ve signed the charter  

Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx

Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx
Joe Todd-Stanton
Flying Eye Books

Yay! A new addition to the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection series is certainly something to cheer about.
Herein the Prof. recounts the gripping tale of how young Marcy decides to try and prove herself a real adventurer by following her father, Arthur, to Egypt on his quest to find an ancient book trapped in the belly of the Sphinx.
It’s a journey that will surely test not only her fear of the dark, but much else besides.
Marcy’s first Egyptian encounter is Thoth who demands she bring him Ra’s magical moon eye in return for her father’s release.
Acting quickly …

she manages to haul herself aboard Ra’s sun boat and soon finds herself face to face with the great god himself and pouring out her story to him.
To reward her honesty Ra, offers his help in her rescue efforts and before they part, gives her his left eye to guide her through the darkness.
Still though, she has to solve the Sphinx’s riddle, gain entry to the tomb and attempt to complete her quest.

It’s going to test more than just her fear of the dark; and it’s as well she doesn’t suffer from ophidiophobia .

Even with her father safely outside once more, there’s still Thoth waiting for what he’s asked Marcy to bring him. …
The young girl really does prove herself a worthy daughter to Arthur, star of the Golden Rope adventure, demonstrating that by drawing on our inner reserves, we can achieve the seemingly impossible.
Gripping, fast-paced and illustrated with pizzazz, this is likely to win more fans for the series as well as pleasing existing ones.
Love the gentle humour and detail in this …

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek
Anthony Browne
Doubleday

There are search and find picture books aplenty and then there is Anthony Browne’s game of Hide and Seek, which is in an altogether different class: a class of its own. And it’s actually Anthony Browne’s 50th picture book of his career.
Herein the search is for a missing dog, Goldie, belonging to sister and brother, Poppy and Cy, or rather it isn’t. The search is actually that of Poppy for her brother in the game of hide-and-seek they decide to play in the woods as a distraction from their sadness over Goldie’s disappearance.
Cy duly hides himself; Poppy counts and then confidently commences her search.

(By now observant readers will have noticed some surreal additions to the children’s woodland surroundings.)
Seemingly Cy has hidden himself rather too well, for Poppy has trouble locating him thanks to several false leads. Her little brother meanwhile, is getting increasingly desperate for a wee, not to mention chilly and downright scared.

Is his mind beginning to conjure up some of the more disturbing images hidden in the woods as he hears the sound of something approaching?
There’s more than one surprise in the final spreads of this rich and absorbing story; and for readers perhaps, the most unexpected surprise is the open-ended finale …

But then Browne always poses questions and invites speculation way beyond the simple narrative of the written story.
(The last page lists eighteen objects the author has ‘hidden’ throughout the book.)
For me, having access to woodland is an essential part of being human. To enter a wood is to journey back in time: it sharpens the senses; we hear, see and smell differently and our imagination too is expanded. It puts us back in touch with our primeval selves. Anthony Browne invokes that same experience between the leaves of this spell-binding book.

Looking for Yesterday / Oh No! Where did Walter Go?

Looking for Yesterday
Alison Jay
Old Barn Books

It’s most often children who live their lives forward, eagerly anticipating what might come next, whereas adults tend to reminisce about what has already past.
In this story though, it’s the little boy narrator who is eager to turn the clock back: thinking nothing can ever be as good, he wants yesterday all over again.
Employing all his knowledge of science, he searches for a way to travel backwards in time …

and eventually turns to his grandad for help.
Instead, Grandad shares his own treasured memories of things he’s done;

but also shows the lad that there is much to look forward to, for every new day brings the possibility of exciting new adventures.
Although comparatively brief, Alison Jay’s text embraces notions of time and space, of hopes and memories, and of happiness.
Her illustrations add a surreal fantasy element to the story encouraging readers and listeners to embark upon their own flights of fancy. The whole book offers plenty to think about and discuss, especially to those teachers who have community of enquiry sessions with their children.

Oh No! Where Did Walter Go?
Joanna Boyle
Templar Publishing

Meet best friends and partners in crime, Olive aka Master of Mystery,  and the Duke of Daring, Walter her parakeet.
One day Walter goes missing and immediately Olive goes into detective mode following footprints, amassing evidence, interviewing the local residents and sticking up ‘Missing’ posters all over town.
Just when the whole search is becoming a tad overwhelming she receives a helpful pointer and off she speeds to the park: a very green place indeed.

How on earth is she to find her friend there among all those trees and bushes?
Undaunted Olive looks high and low but her search is fruitless: Walter is nowhere to be found and now she too is lost.

Will the two friends ever find one another again and if so, how will they manage to find the way back home?
Unless you look at the final page before embarking on the story, it’s not apparent that Walter is also searching for Olive and puts in an appearance on every spread; (although observant readers will probably spot him lurking somewhere as the narrative progresses). This adds a fun search and find element to the whole book and ensures that once the two characters are reunited, children will immediately want to go back and enjoy hunting for Walter all over again in Joanna Boyle’s stylish illustrations be they multi-framed strip sequences or expansive single scene spreads.