Genie and Teeny: Wishful Thinking

Genie and Teeny: Wishful Thinking
Steve Lenton
Harper Collins Children’s Books

Before this second story starts properly it’s necessary to get Grant and Teeny to wake from their slumbers. But where are they? Fortunately they’re discovered before it’s time for Tilly to set off for school which is handy because it’s Friday July 9th – and that means Bring Your Pet To School Day; so long as Grant can get Teeny back to his normal size in time, that and stop himself getting hyper-excited on the way to school.

En route though, they encounter Billy Krump the school bully and have a narrow escape. But then once inside school said bully looms large again when the headteacher asks if anybody has come without a pet and guess whose hand goes up.

That is when the trouble begins but the real trouble starts when Billy Krump grabs Tilly’s rucksack, takes out the teapot and makes a dash to the boys’ loos. Therein Grant (who is still endeavouring to improve his wish-granting skills) accidentally grants the boy three wishes.
Then, Alaka-blam-a-bumwhistle! chaos ensues …

Will it ever end and even better will Billy Krump find a new friend?

Full of jokes, puns and just plain daftness, this sequel is huge fun and possibly even better than Genie and Teeny Make a Wish. It will have youngsters in fits throughout not to mention any teachers who share it with a class. The illustrations are a hoot and Steve has even included a ‘How to draw Teeny the dog’ finale.

Roll on book three say I.

Let’s Find Fred


dscn9950Let’s Find Fred
Steven Lenton
It’s early evening in Garden City Zoo; all the animals are snuggled up ready for sleep, all that is except one. Fred is anything but ready for his bedtime story; in fact he’s off on an adventure … albeit with zookeeper Fred on his trusty old motor scooter, in hot pursuit. The latter’s view is more than a little impeded by a large bus allowing the escapee to have a whole lot of fun making new friends, enjoying a musical interlude and sampling some yummy ice cream while his pursuer makes himself look somewhat silly with a spot of mistaken identity at the market.


Next stop for Stanley is the park where his requests for help in his search for Fred result in his having to negotiate the complex Pand-a-Maze.
Fred’s thirst for fun isn’t yet sated so he heads for the dizzying delights of the Funfair – from which he suddenly needs to make a hasty exit.


There follows a frantic chase through the Art Gallery and out towards a panda party. But is Fred there? That is the question. …


With plenty of Panda-puns and other word play scattered throughout the action-packed scenes; and visual references to famous paintings including a Warhol and the Mona Lisa; as well as the Fab. Four …


there’s plenty to absorb and delight both child audiences and adult readers aloud.
PAN-TAS-TIC fun from start to finish.


Fairytale Frankie and the Mermaid Escapade / The Opposite


Fairytale Frankie and the Mermaid Escapade
Greg Gormley and Steve Lenton
Orchard Books
This was eagerly seized upon by one of my readers who had enjoyed Fairytale Frankie and the Tricky Witch. This time, fairytale lover Frankie encounters a mermaid at the seaside, a mermaid who is reluctant to join her for a swim on account of the BIG sea monster. Frankie reassures her and the two frolic in the shallows until the coastguard issues a warning.


Frankie suggests a strength in numbers approach and after encounters with a surfing prince and a beardie pirate, both of whom are fearful of said sea monster, the young girl and her fellow monster anticipators watch as the sea starts to stir …


“I’m a little bit frightened of this story now, ” one of my listeners said and was clearly empathising with Frankie and the mermaid as everyone else takes evasive action…


leaving Frankie endeavouring to protect her mermaid friend.
Are the two of them, not to mention those who’ve temporarily disappeared from the scene, about to become the next meal of a BIG, MASSIVE, seriously HUGE, GIGANTIC sea monster? Let’s just say that what emerges from the deep isn’t quite what they’ve all been anticipating.
With its larger than life characters superbly portrayed by Steve Lenton, excitement throughout the tale, and a fun finale, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser where young audiences are concerned.


The Opposite
Tom MacRae and Elena Odriozola
Andersen Press
This was MacRae’s picture book debut around ten years back and if you missed it then, this paperback is definitely worth getting hold of especially if you like quirky humour and a story with a twist or two in its tail.
Our first encounter with ‘The Opposite’ is hanging upside down from Nat’s bedroom ceiling ignoring the lad’s “Get down!” instruction. A disconcerting sight if ever there was one especially as it’s clad in a kind of onesie that matches the wallpaper. “Dad! There’s an Opposite on my ceiling!” Nate cries but ‘The Opposite had already happened, and it wasn’t there any more.’
The thing reappears on the kitchen worktop during breakfast …


sabotaging Nate’s milk pouring efforts, sending the liquid upwards to the ceiling and then down onto the tablecloth, which of course, displeases his Mum.
There’s more Opposite trouble at school where paint ends up everywhere but on Nate’s paper.


Then it’s time for Nate to begin thinking in ‘Opposite’ ways …
Elena Odriozola’s pen and watercolour illustrations, although brighter, have a hint of Edward Gorey about them and the characters’ flatness gives them a touch of spookiness: altogether an ideal complement for MacRae’s text.
Satisfying and slightly enigmatic both.


Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam The Diamond Chase


Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Diamond Chase
Steve Lenton and Tracey Corderoy
Nosy Crow
Criminals no longer, Shifty and Sam have replaced their swag bags with bakers hats and are now to be found baking for toffs in upmarket abodes and serving only the jammiest of doughnuts to their clients. They’re presently occupied preparing for Lady Kate’s birthday ball at Woofington Hall where we find them whisking and whirling, patting and icing despite the presence of Lady Kate’s mischievous young nephew, Barnaby who wants to play ball.


When all the guests are seated and eagerly awaiting the commencement of the feast set out before their eyes, there is one notable absentee, their host, Lady K.
Suddenly she burts on the scene exclaiming “A thief! At my party! My diamond tiara has gone. I’ve been ROBBED!” Silence falls over the room and is then broken by assurances from Sam and Shifty about their thief catching activities of yore and off the three of them go to the crime scene.


There Lady Kate points out the absence not only of her tiara but also the statue upon which she’d hung it while she set about fluffing her hair. Black and white things are mentioned and suspicion falls immediately on a penguin waiter who just happens to pass by, only to beat a hasty retreat into one of the rooms …


But the thief’s capture isn’t in the bag so to speak quite yet, for what his pursuers find behind the door is not just the one, but a whole plethora of penguins quite simply, having a ball.


Will Shifty and Sam unmask the thief and take possession of the missing tiara? Or, will one of their number, Sidney Scarper, do as his name says and well, scarper? Maybe the robber-chasers will have something to thank Barnaby for after all …
With a perfect finale – for most, but not quite the entire cast of characters, this hugely enjoyable romp is sure to please all Shifty and Sam’s established fans, and likely win them a whole lot more, to boot.

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Princess Daisy and the Nincompoop Knights

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Princess Daisy and the Nincompoop Knights
Steve Lenton
Nosy Crow pbk
Troublesome dragons, knights desirous of wives and princesses in towers abound in fairy tales but sometimes we hear of one claiming to be different; such a one is this, pink cover notwithstanding. Herein the townsfolk, awoken by terrible roaring sounds, dash off to call on the King’s assistance. The King in turn calls for a brave knight to fight the beast, but Daisy his daughter, closeted in her tower, is less sure this dragon requires such drastic treatment; rather she calls for a more thoughtful approach.
Three knights come forward meanwhile, all proving to be useless in the face of adversity.

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But then who could this possibly be, heading into the cave astride not a mighty steed but a cow? And, what is the cow carrying in that basket? It looks very like a book and a baby’s bottle.

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Silence ensures and then after ages a sound issues forth from the cave – not a roar however but a snore. Then out comes the knight carrying a small slumbering creature … and all is finally revealed.

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Told in jaunty rhyme, this neo fairy tale was enthusiastically received by my audience of fives to sevens, one of whom, delighted by the “clever princess” as she called the heroine, then eagerly seized the book and began reading it herself.
The portrayal of the cast of characters – human and animal – is a real hoot. Every turn of the page will result in smiles or giggles from child listeners and adult readers alike. Great title too.

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Christmas Books for the very youngest

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Five Christmas Penguins
Steve Lenton
Little Tiger Press
There’s fun and frolics penguin style in this jolly rhyming counting book wherein the polar pals prepare for the big day, wrapping, decorating, singing, baking and finally wishing “Merry Christmas, everyone!
A sturdy seasonal board book for the very youngest: with simple, gently humorous images, illustrated in bold, bright colours.
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Santa’s Beard
Matilda Tristram, Tom Duxbury and Nick Sharratt
Walker Books
Santa complains that his fluffy beard is making him feel hot and bothered one summer’s day, so the offending article takes flight in search of a more congenial face.

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However, none of its temporary hosts is at all interested. What’s an unwanted beard to do far from home and with the snow starting to fall? Luckily, said beard decides to stop for a rest and finds himself hurtling straight towards a large red rear end protruding from the snow. A red rump that just happens to belong to none other than his original owner, Santa, who is more than happy to have his old chin warmer back, just in time for that chilly present delivery.
Sharratt’s characteristic brightly coloured, bold images thickly outlined in black are immediately attractive to young children who will enjoy moving the snow-white beard onto the various characters: I suspect it will quickly become a rather mucky beard.
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Jolly Snowmen
text by Annette Rusling
Caterpillar Books
Toddlers can enjoy joining in a chilly countdown as five little snowmen engage in a snowball fight, four go sledging, three try ice-skating – oops one falls through the ice, leaving two to go trekking till a polar bear scares off one, and the final one? He has to go searching for his friends for a Christmas ‘Snow Ball”. Anyone for a dance?
Tactile, rhyming fun, with cheery seasonal colours.
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