One Fox / The Button Book

Just right for an early years collection are:

One Fox
Kate Read
Two Hoots

One moonlit night down on the farm, with his two sly eyes, one famished fox is on the prowl. Lots of lovely alliteration describes the happenings:

The three plump hens need to keep their ears and beady eyes open.
However that fox is in for a big surprise when he takes six silent steps towards the hencoop and taps seven times upon the outside …

In a dramatic and satisfying climax (although not for the fox), debut author/illustrator Kate Read takes us right up close to the action in her counting story.

With an economy of words she creates a visual comedy that is both exciting and gently educational; but It’s her superb visuals that carry the power – bright, textured art combining paint and collage – that build up expectations of the outcome

and then turn the tale right over on itself.

The Button Book
Sally Nicholls and Bethan Woollvin
Andersen Press

Take a group of inquisitive animals and an assortment of ‘pressable’ buttons of different shapes and colours; add several generous spoonfuls of imagination and stir. The result is this playful interactive picture book for little ones.

Squirrel starts the whole thing off by prodding at the red button with his stick and wondering what will happen. It beeps, and that sets off the button investigation.

To discover which is the clapping button, which one sings songs;

which blows a raspberry;

what joys the yellow button delivers, and the pink and purple ones, you need the fingers of a child or so, and the willingness to indulge in some pretend play.

This is children’s / YA author Sally Nicholls debut picture book and it appears she’s had as much fun creating it as will its intended preschool audience. The latter will take great delight in all the noisy, occasional mischievous activities offered at the mere touch of a button. Adult sharers on the other hand might well be relieved to learn what the white button does.

Seemingly too Bethan Woollvin had fun creating the illustrations; she’s certainly done a cracking job showing the seven characters having a thoroughly good time as investigators and participants in their own comedic performance.


Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
Walker Books
Knowledge of a friend’s ophidiophobia is in part, the driving force behind Triangle’s foray from his home in his triangular neighbourhood, across a barren place of rocky humps ‘They were shapes with no names’ Barnett informs us; and on through the place of squares –

big, medium and small ones – to Square’s abode. All the while he’s been plotting the sneaky trick he’s about to play.
He walks right up Square’s door, whereupon he delivers a round of snake-like “HISS” sounds.
Square is momentarily petrified: Snake dissolves into paroxysms of laughter. A pregnant pause follows,

rapidly replaced on Square’s part by incandescent rage.
Thereupon the four-sided being chases the three-sider all the way back to his home. His shape however, prevents him from entering and there he stands stuck in the doorway and thus accidentally discovers Triangle’s nyctophobia.

I know you’re afraid of the dark. Now I have played a sneaky trick on you! You see, Triangle, this was my plan all along.” Hmm! I’m not so sure about that.
Klassen’s restrained earthy palette and minimalist scenes (those eloquent eyes again), are in perfect harmony with Barnett’s even sparer, deadpan text allowing readers to step into the narrative landscape and fill for themselves, the host of gaps left by the book’s genius creators.
Prankish play or something more sinister? I come down on the side of the former.
This book is the first of a planned trilogy from this formidable team: I eagerly anticipate the next one … and the next.

I’ve signed the charter 

Rosie’s Chick & a Missing Monster

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Where, Oh Where, is Rosie’s Chick?
Pat Hutchins
Hodder Children’s Books
This is most assuredly a long-awaited, much anticipated sequel to the classic Rosie’s Walk – one of my all time favourite picture books – and its story is told in many more than its progenitor’s thirty-two words, (though with a patterned text it’s ideal, like Rosie’s Walk, for beginner readers).
Forty-seven years later, Rosie’s egg has well and truly hatched but the baby chick seems to have gone missing. Off goes Rosie to search … under the hen house,


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in the basket, behind the wheelbarrow, across the fields (some pretty precarious balancing involved here),

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through the straw (likewise)

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but no sign of her little one – to Rosie that is. Of course, following close behind her all the while is her baby chick, but it takes her farmyard companions to make her see this.
Then it’s off for a walk together, Rosie and chick side by side. Ahhh! (Great to see those beehives again.)

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Using the same colour palette as for Rosie’s Walk, Pat Hutchins has created another set of gorgeous scenes, more richly and densely patterned than before, full of that sparkling humour and with some old friends still lurking in the background. What more can one ask?
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful: And certainly worth the incubation period.

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Have You Seen My Monster?
Steve Light
Walker Books
Geometric shapes abound in this follow up to Have You Seen My Dragon? This time we join a little girl as she searches the fairground, (a map is provided in the end papers), for her missing monster – a furry, friendly looking creature. It’s a search that encompasses amazing rides,

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all manner of stalls, exhibits, competitions, a hall of mirrors, animals, musicians

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and more – pretty much all the fun of the fair.
Each spread introduces a shape; and what amazing variety – not only do we have the common or garden rectangle, hexagon,

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oval, square, kite, triangle, circle and crescent that many a young child is familiar with, but also octagon, rhombus, quatrefoil, trapezium, parallelogram, curvilinear triangle,

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heptagon, trapezoid, pentagon, nonagon, ellipse, decagon – exciting words that can be painlessly absorbed in the context of a fun story.
Light’s illustrations, executed in pen and ink are full of interesting details and despite being coloured on the cover, the chief characters are also depicted in black and white throughout the story, with just a splash of colour used for the specific shape featured on each spread. This serves to highlight the shape, making it the eye’s first focus. So, a double delight: A search for the (supposed) missing monster (and that’s of course part of the shared joke between author and audience) and a mathematical exploration for other shapes like the named shape, (or previously named shapes) in the details of each illustration.

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