Nits! / Encyclopedia of Grannies

Here are two picture books from New Zealand publisher Gecko Press

Nits!
Stephanie Blake
Gecko Press

In the latest Simon story, Sephanie Blake brings her own brand of humour to nits, the dreaded little creatures that make your scalp itch.

Simon decides he loves his classmate Lou, but she loves another named Mamadou.

Then Lou gets nits.  Where might they have come from?

Now Simon is in with a chance … The outpouring of affection he receives from Lou isn’t the only thing she bestows upon her new love however.

Nits are part and parcel of foundation stage classrooms nowadays, so much so that the mere mention of them from a parent or carer gives we teachers itchy heads too; (even reading this book made me start scratching).

This simple, funny story provides a good opportunity to reassure everyone how it’s not shameful to have those ‘little visitors’ and to talk about how they can be treated.

Share at home or at nursery or playgroup.

Encyclopedia of Grannies
Eric Veillé (translated by Daniel Hahn)
Gecko Press

Here’s a modern and amusing take on grannies that starts with a focus on the different kinds of grannies you might come across, followed by a look at age: ‘Some grannies are 58 … some are 69 … and some are even 87!’ (Perhaps it should span an even wider age range. I once taught a five year old whose granny was 35 although she called her ‘mummy’; her actual birth mother was then 18 but the child had been told she was her big sister.)

Veillé employs questions to explore inside a granny;

and out: ‘Why do grannies have creases?’; the mystery of why grannies travel on buses –we don’t learn the answers to the last two however; and ‘Do grannies only knit cardigans? – definitely not.

Other scenarios look at flexibility; time – grannies appear to have more of it at their disposal than others;

what a good rummage in a granny’s bed might yield, hairstyles, travels and more.

In reference book style, the book includes a contents page (of sorts), a glossary and a list of suggested further reading (all tongue in cheek of course) and the illustrations are a quirky delight. There’s one snag though, apart from the “Green Gran’ included in the reading list, every single one is white.

Sturdily built to withstand the frequent reads this book might have; but don’t be deceived into thinking it’s for the very young; the droll humour requires a degree of sophistication.

I’m the Biggest / I Can’t Sleep!

I’m the Biggest
I Can’t Sleep!
Stephanie Blake
Gecko Press

Young rabbit, Simon has now grown considerably – he even stars in his own show on Milkshake 5 ,and here is engaged in a spot of sibling rivalry over the relative increase in height of the two brothers: Casper has grown a full 2 centimetres more than big brother Simon. Needless to say the latter is far from happy, exclaiming “No way,” in response to his Mum’s pronouncement. He even accuses her of giving Casper more food.

Having been chastised by both parents, he’s positively a-boil with fury and swearing revenge.

However, while engaged in a game of footie with his pals in the park later in the day, he spies Casper being bullied by a boy from his class.

‘Serves him right!’ is his initial reaction but then comes a change of heart. Perhaps he is still the BIG brother after all.

Good fun as all Simon titles are, especially for those grappling with being a big brother.

However, I prefer I Can’t Sleep! which I missed first time around. This story focuses on the positive – the comradeship between the two brothers.
Having both spent the day in the garden erecting a ‘MEGA GIGA-NORMOUS’ hut, when it’s bedtime Casper realises that he’s left his special blanket outside in the hut. Needless to say, he can’t possibly sleep without his blanky. It’s time for big brother to don his superhero gear and brave the dark.

It’s cold and damp as his little feet ‘pitter-pat’ run through the night, and pretty scary when he encounters a huge and hungry monster but he makes it back home clutching what he went for

and only too willing to regale his adventure to Casper till morning.

Stephanie Blake’s bold, bright illustrations are deliciously expressive showing just how the characters feel, her language too is enormously engaging and fun. Here she cleverly reveals the way in which big bro. is clearly in charge and little bro. eager to be his pupil.

Dinosaurs Don’t Have Bedtimes! / Super Rabbit

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Dinosaurs Don’t Have Bedtimes!
Timothy Knapman and Nikki Dyson
Walker Books
Children adopt all manner of delaying tactics when it comes to bedtimes. Mo, the small boy in this book has got that down to a fine art – that and avoiding all those other activities that his long-suffering Mum wants him to do – those everyday things such as eating supper “Dinosaurs don’t HAVE suppertimes!

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rather, they “eat whenever they like”, having a bath, putting on pyjamas, (dinosaurs don’t wear PJs),

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enjoying a bit of rough and tumble play with his mum before drinking that milky nightcap and as for bedtime – well, don’t even think about it: Dinosaurs certainly do no such thing. …
Having gobbled, growled, stomped, rampaged and generally created havoc throughout the evening, does the little dinosaur-boy finally run out of steam and bed down for the night? Well yes, despite what our young dinosaur says to the contrary but that’s before the sleepy boy persona eventually wins the day – or rather, the night …

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ROAR! …
That mother certainly deserves a stiff drink after all she’s gone through.
Terrific fun, this rollicking riot of a tale is certain to be relished by lively youngsters who will delight in the bold, action-packed illustrations, which show alternating scenes of child imaginings and reality.

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Super Rabbit
Stephanie Blake
Gekko Press
Meet pink gun wielding Super Rabbit as he leaps from his bed and announces his super hero status to passers by such as this one, whose response isn’t overly enthusiastic …

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From there, as he consumes his first meal of the day, he tells his mother of his intentions, then off he goes and by and by comes upon a likely looking hiding place for villains …

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Fearless, he jumps inside the cold, dark place and suddenly we hear cries of “Mummy!” Our superhero has been stabbed by no, not a sword but a splinter and dropping his weapon, off he charges all the way back to her where he tells of the “piece of sword” in his finger. Mum calmly removes the offending object with a sterile needle …

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thus providing the little rabbit with an altogether new experience … and goes on to proclaim him “the bravest little rabbit in the whole world.” And then, he’s up and ready for his next Super Rabbit encounter …
If you’ve not encountered Simon rabbit of Poo Bum fame then you might well start here. It’s just the thing for mini superheroes: I love his fertile imagination and playfulness; and Stephanie Blake’s rendering of the little rabbit on that splinter removal couch is superb.

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