Do Not Mess with the Mermaids

Do Not Mess with the Mermaids
Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Sharon Davey
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

There are rather a lot of ‘Do Nots’ in this the second tale set in Wondermere as readers will quickly discover if they peruse the contents page. There’s also a plethora of dragons (complete with poo), grumpy unicorns and as you might expect, mermaids.

Most particularly there’s young Princess Grace – ace rule breaker – which immediately endeared her to me. She’s already proved herself plucky and determined as a knight, Troll-o-Tournament champ. and undoubtedly the equal of any boy, earning herself the title Sir Grace.

Now Wondermere is to host a very important visitor, the Mermaid Queen of the Outer Ocean. For Grace and her sister that means frilly dresses being on your best behaviour and it goes without saying, No Rule Breaking (or even bending).

But before the arrival of Queen Jeen, while taking a quick swim in the moat, Grace discovers a purple dragon egg and she can’t resist ‘rescuing’ it. Before long she and her sister find themselves dragon sitting baby Dennis.

Something that proves no easy task especially when there’s the distinct possibility that the very lively little one might disturb the royal guests … MEEP!

Bursting with fun and laugh-out-loud moments, and smashing illustrations by Sharon Davey, this is a totally charming romp, strongly recommended for those with a soft spot for rule subverters (this reviewer included) and lovers of a bit of magical mischief and mayhem.

Splash

Splash
Claire Cashmore and Sharon Davey
Farshore

Written by awesome Paralympic gold medallist Claire Cashmore, this, her debut book is a celebration of overcoming your fears and following your dream. The story is based on Claire’s own experience of having a can do attitude with almost everything, although being scared of the water keeps her out of the swimming pool.

That changes however one very hot day when the young girl Claire aka Bear decides to try just dipping a toe into the water. Then, because it feels so inviting those frissons of fear dissipate until … SPLASH! She’s loving how she feels and her siblings are almost as thrilled as Bear is.

Now in the water Bear is literally in her element and she has a new dream. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination but she never gives up and finally after her mammoth efforts Bear is ready to enter her very first swimming race …

As she ploughs through the water, Bear isn’t the only one wondering, Will today be the day? And …

Then up on the podium with her first ever gold medal around her neck, Claire dreams of the next time … and the next and … safe in the knowledge that ‘whatever she can’t do today … she knows she will conquer tomorrow!’
And what an inspiration is young Bear to us all. She had the courage to step right out of her comfort zone and then to prove to herself and everybody else that by holding fast to her dreams, being differently abled is just a part of who she is and that is INCREDIBLE.

Sharon Davey’s illustrations beautifully capture Bear’s emotional journey as, supported by her siblings, she moves from fearful to fearless.

Jonathan! / The Best Mum

These are two recent paperback from New Frontier Publishing – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

Jonathan!
Peter Carnavas and Amanda Francey

Jonathan has great fun dressing up in different costumes and scaring other members of his family when they least expect it. No matter what he wears the response from in turn his dad, sister and mum is “Not scary, Jonathan.’

Disheartened he walks away and soon discovers that he’s climbing a lumpy, bumpy hill. After a conversation boy and beast head back towards the house. Seemingly he’s now found the ideal scary trick.

Peter Carnavas’ simple rhyming story accompanied by Amanda Francey’s expressive watercolour and pencil illustrations make for a fun read aloud with a twist in its tail.

The Best Mum
Penny Harrison and Sharon Davey

The little girl narrator of this rhyming story compares her mum to lots of others she knows, recounting the many ways her friends’ mums are better skilled than hers. But is there ever a perfect mum? Would she be the one who can make incredible costumes for dressing up days, or the one who roller skates gracefully, the disco dancer and pop song singer; is she the one who’s always on time or the baker of delicious treats?

Despite all her own mum’s shortcomings and embarrassing acts, at the end of the day she’s still THE best mum who gives the best cuddles. Who would have expected any other conclusion?

Lots of fun and a great conversation opener, and hilariously illustrated by Sharon Davey whose daft details are sure to make you laugh.

Bears Don’t Wear Shoes

Bears Don’t Wear Shoes
Sharon Davey
New Frontier Publishing

Not only have Suzy and her family just moved house, they’re in a new country too. Inevitably there’s a lot of unpacking and locating things in various rooms to keep them busy. Watching all the adults frantically working, Suzy is desperate for someone to play with, but nobody has any time for her.
The lonely little girl decides to look elsewhere and so she puts up a sign on her back gate and waits… and waits all day.

Nobody comes.

The following morning one applicant shows up so she takes him inside and proceeds to interview him. Mr Bear fits all the criteria

until having dressed him up in Dad’s bermuda shorts, Grandad’s fishing hat, Grandma’s bra, a woolly scarf and armbands, Suzy hands him a pair of shoes. Uh-oh!

Bear voices his aversion to shoe wearing in no uncertain terms. Try as she might Suzy meets with a flat refusal when it comes to footwear.

Now she has a dilemma. Her applicant is suitable in all respects except this one. What should she do? What would you do?

Sharon Davey’s book ticks all the boxes when it comes to a book to share with young children: an engaging story with themes of friendship and problem solving and splendidly expressive, funny illustrations. Each spread has a wealth of visual jokes to make readers and listeners giggle, even the contrasting end papers offer plenty to enjoy and talk about.

Cavegirl / It’s Too Scary / Manju’s Magic Wishes

Cavegirl
Abie Longstaff and Shane Crampton
It’s Too Scary!
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Sharon Davey
Manju’s Magic Wishes
Chitra Soundar and Verónica Montoya
Bloomsbury Education

These are three recent additions to Bloomsbury Education’s Young Readers series, which aims to help children take that important step into independent reading.

Each book has been written by a popular author, has short chapters providing suitable stopping points and full colour illustrations that make each book look inviting.

Cavegirl Aggie is an independent, creative little girl with a warm heart and a mission: to get a very special birthday present for her mum. She learns that one of the villagers, Gron, has found a piece of amber that glows like the sun and is certain it’s the right gift. She sets about her task, making several trades and finally she has something she thinks Gron will trade for the amber. Gron agrees but then on the way home disaster strikes in the shape of a boar and the amber disappears before her eyes. But Abbie isn’t one to give up and the satisfying story ends happily.

It’s Too Scary! is the story of a visit to the fair. Mum takes Jun and his sister Lin but while she’s eager to try all the rides, Jun who’s first visit to a fair this is, is fearful and wants to avoid anything scary. Can Lin, help her little brother overcome his fear of those ‘big rides’ so that he too can enjoy all the fun of the fair and make his experience one he’ll want to repeat?

Chitra’s Manju’s Magic Wishes is slightly longer in terms of words and like Cavegirl, has a little girl who is eager to give her mum a wonderful birthday gift. The story has plenty of action and excitement and of course magic – there’s a magic lamp, a genie and seven wishes, and an enormously tasty finale. Manju and her cat, Cumin discuss mum’s birthday present and Cumin suddenly becomes excited, rushing into Grandma’s room. It’s there that they accidentally discover Grandma’s magic lamp and by recalling Gran’s instructions Manju is able to call up a genie. He grants them seven wishes – more than Manju is expecting. Those will surely be sufficient to conjure up something very special. However the task isn’t quite as simple as they anticipate; indeed Manju almost runs out of wishes before that ‘just right’ gift is ready and waiting.

For adults sharing them with children, the inside covers of all three books have helpful tips, discussion points and creative ideas to extend the stories.