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.