Who Will Kiss The Crocodile?

Who Will Kiss The Crocodile?
Suzy Senior and Claire Powell
Little Tiger

Suzy Senior puts a hilarious spin on a favourite fairytale in her snappy rhyming take on Sleeping Beauty. It starts on Princess Liss’s first birthday when her family hold a big fancy ball for all the town’s residents, or rather, all but one. With the party in full swing there’s a sudden chill as in sweeps a furious fairy who proceeds to shout, “… In fifteen years, she’ll bump her knee.And then the princess DIES!” and with a wave of her wand she turns the infant into a baby crocodile. All is not quite lost though thanks to a life-saving pixie who informs the princess’s distraught parents that instead of dying, their daughter will sleep `til woken with a kiss. But who would be willing to kiss a crocodile, especially one with increasingly long claws?

On her sixteenth birthday the princess injures her knee while swimming in the lake and takes to her bed for what turns out to be a snooze lasting around a century, during which numerous princes have shown up at the castle only to flee when they realise what slumbers within the increasingly crumbling castle.

Eventually the neighbours decide to call upon the services of the Handy-Grans to carry out some urgent work on the thorny hedge surrounding the castle. This they do and after a day’s slog they discover the slumbering crocodile within.

Rather than running for their lives, they run back to their van for some knee soothing salve…
Surely there couldn’t be a happily ever after to this story – or could there?

Claire Powell’s comical scenes are simply bursting with bright colour, her cast of characters is inclusive and Suzy’s text is a delight to read aloud. If you like fractured fairy tales, don’t miss this one.

Anyone But Bear / Albert in the Air

Anyone But Bear
Suzy Senior and Dubravka Kolanovic
Scamp Publishing

Fox is excitedly making plans to host a moonlight party. He starts compiling his invitation list – Deer? – tick, Squirrel?- tick. Bear? Definitely not. Off trots Fox still planning in his head when suddenly rocks cascade down the mountainside, some of which smash straight into the party planner.

Fox is left flat out on the path-side unable to move. Several hours later, along comes Deer: help at last thinks Fox now awake and all too aware of his injuries. However, with a look of disgust, Deer turns away and takes an alternative route to avoid passing the injured creature. As snowflakes begin to fall along scampers Squirrel carrying nuts but he too decides not to stop. Seemingly the safety of his nuts is more important than that of a fellow forest creature.

Fox begins to despair but then round the corner comes someone massive, someone with large paws and a hairy scary face. Oh no! Soon though, Fox’s fear dissipates as he sees not the scary countenance he first thought but a kindly caring one. So kind and caring that he takes Fox all the way back home to his den; not only that but Bear brings him sustenance and takes care of the little fox cubs and their parent all through the night. This selfless act is one that Fox will remember always.

Based on the parable of the Good Samaritan, Suzy’s story, with Dubravka Kolanovic’s splendidly expressive illustrations will certainly make youngsters think about the meaning of real friendship.

Albert in the Air
Ian Brown and Eoin Clarke

Albert the tortoise’s latest adventure sees him first wishing to emulate his winged friends and then, tunnelling his way beneath the garden fence into the next door garden and wandering out into the hubbub of the territory beyond. It’s there, while foraging among the piles of trash that he unintentionally finds that his wish is actually being fulfilled. The wind lifts a balloon entangled Albert skywards and he gets a tortoise-eye view of the sprawling urban landscape beneath him.

Meanwhile back on home territory, the other creatures are missing their friend and enlist the help of the birds to search for Albert. Will they return him safe and sound? 

The answer is yes, with the timely assistance of a bee and he makes his return felt in a rather noisy manner.

An amusing demonstration that the grass most definitely is not always greener and perhaps home is the best place to be. With its humorous ending and stand out illustrations, Albert’s new story is sure to please his numerous fans and will likely win him some more followers too. Don’t forget to peruse the information spread at the back of the book.

The Odd Fish / How to Spot a Dinosaur

Introducing two recent Farshore picture books – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review.

The Odd Fish
Naomi Jones and James Jones

The inspiration for this eco-tale came from the author and illustrator’s then two year old son watching Blue Planet 11 and being unable to differentiate between the real fish and the plastic floating in the ocean. Equally unable to do so is the helpful Little Fish out swimming with her family who comes upon Odd Fish bob, bobbing along alone and assumes that he’s become separated from his family and must be lonely. She suggests she and her shoal help find them and while searching they come upon a seashorse who says that if they follow the current they will find others like Odd Fish. They swim on and come upon and untangle Octopus caught up in a fishing net, have a narrow escape, come to the aid of a turtle endeavouring to eat a plastic bag

and finally there in front of Little Fish is a whole school of odd fish of various shapes, sizes and colours: ‘There’s too many odd fish to count! Where did they all come from?’

The placing of text and images ensures this gentle story flows along beautifully and it’s impossible to avoid the fact that sadly we humans have to take responsibility for what Little Fish encounters – a huge mass of plastic that is a constant danger to the creatures of our oceans. Naomi reminds readers of this on a final spread stating that around 12,000,000 tonnes of plastic finds its way into the ocean every year and asks everyone at home and in school to help reduce this terrible, potentially deadly, pollution.

How to Spot a Dinosaur
Suzy Senior and Dan Taylor

In Suzy Senior’s bouncy rhyming tale of dinosaur hunting in the park we join two dino-enthusiasts, a sister, and her brother who acts as narrator,. Armed with a book of dino-facts and binoculars, the siblings are sure they’re going to find a fair few of these stomping, roarsome creatures. However after several incidences of mistaken identity,

their enthusiasm turns to disappointment and despair; but then the snack man suggests another location to try. Off they go again until they reach a huge building and lo and behold …

Suddenly a fearsome “ROAAAARRRR!” sends them fleeing for their lives, so they think, but perhaps this too is a case of mistaken identity that can only be relieved by slices of cake and cold drinks. Perhaps then the siblings could be persuaded to take another look inside that large building they dashed from.
After an exciting day it’s time to head for home, safe in the knowledge that there’s no need to bother looking out for dinosaurs as they died out long, long ago …

There’s a gentle nod to We’re Going on a Bear Hunt in this lively quest for prehistoric reptiles that continue to be many young children’s favourite storybook creatures. Such dino-fans will definitely love the various misidentifications shown in Dan Taylor’s humorous scenes of the determined dinosaur seekers.

The Hotel For Bugs

The Hotel For Bugs
Suzy Senior and Leire Martín
Little Tiger

The excitement is huge when the brand new, absolutely fabulous Hotel for Bugs opens its doors for business. In surge the masses of mini beasts eager to sample the tasty treats on offer at the buffet and the fancy facilities such as the spa and club. Perfect for a relaxing holiday.
Then, into the lobby slides a shiny, squishy and blobby slug, leaving a trail of glittering slime in its wake and asking to book a room. More than a tad alarmed, the manager tells the prospective client that the hotel is already full and that anyway, slugs are not welcome.

Nonplussed, out glides said slug leaving a relieved manager and a crowd of onlookers that have gathered to watch the proceedings.

However, it takes just one tiny little bug to speak out, demanding to know why the slug has been sent away. After all, starting with herself, every single one of their number could be thought of as ‘different’ in some way; and before long, the other bugs are contributing supportive comments, each pointing out (or otherwise making known) its own distinctive features.

Has the manager made an irreparable error in her treatment of the slug, or is there a way that the situation can be fixed for every single one of the creatures that entered the portals of the establishment that day?

Suzy Senior’s jaunty rhyming text together with Leire Martín’s brightly coloured creepy crawly characters portrayed with their idiosyncratic features, show the importance of inclusivity and that difference is something to embrace and celebrate rather than fear.

Octopants: The Missing Pirate Pants / Rita Wants a Ninja / Little Scoot

Octopants: The Missing Pirate Pants
Suzy Senior and Claire Powell
Little Tiger

There’s definitely a plethora of pants in this new story about Octopants (narrator) and his ocean pals Turtle and Pufferfish. It’s the latter who has lost his favourite pirate pants and to make him feel less glum Octopants organises an undersea search. Having drawn a blank in the usual places in town, the friends brave the wreck and there they come upon a pirate crew with a pirate party in full swing with pants simply everywhere.

But then who should show up unexpectedly out of the blue sporting a funky hat and asking to join the pirate crew …
This is a jaunty rhyming text that flows well, and vibrant illustrations with plenty of humorous details to make little humans laugh, but Suzy Senior’s tale contains a serious message too: appearances can be deceptive so don’t be too hasty to make a judgement. With young children, you really can’t go wrong with a story about underpants.

Rita Wants a Ninja
Máire Zeph and Mr Ando (Andrew Whitson)

Is there no end to Rita’s demands? Seemingly not for now a game of hide-and-seek with her smaller sibling fuels a desire for her very own martial arts expert in the form of a ninja. How wonderful to have someone to instruct her in the art of stealth and invisibility. She’d learn how to control both mind and body as well as those shouts used when on the attack. However invincibility ninja style seemingly comes at a price –

a very big price and one she definitely isn’t prepared to pay after all. So it’s a resounding NO! for a ninja master …
Andrew Whitson’s expansive, action-packed scenes of Rita’s imaginings take readers along with the two children, into verdant Japanese bamboo forests and snowy landscapes wherein lurk fighting ninja clans.

Little Scoot
Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Edson Ikê
Boyds Mills Press

Perseverance no matter how difficult the situation, is key in this vibrantly illustrated American import.
I was itching to tweak the beginning part of the rhyming text but like its little tugboat protagonist, I kept going, and happily it improved. Keeping going and not giving up is the essence of the tale of Little Scoot. Suddenly she receives an alarm call: a large barge is aground on a sandbank and in need of her help. With a gathering storm the tiny tugboat has to force herself forward, pushing through her fears and the splashing, sploshing waves, as she tries her level best to be brave. Eventually, there before her is the stranded Big Barge.
Will the tiny craft succeed in her rescue mission? Even in the most difficult situations, she certainly isn’t a quitter …

Unicorn Club / Ten Minutes to Bed Little Mermaid

Unicorn Club
Suzy Senior and Leire Martin
Little Tiger

It’s Saturday morning and young Amy is eagerly anticipating the inaugural meeting of her unicorn club, but as the time comes for the grand opening it seems as though there won’t be any takers. Upset, Amy rips down her poster and heads to her tree house.

There however, she receives a wonderful surprise and what’s more the creatures can’t wait for the promised crafting to commence.

They have to though, for long enough to relocate to Amy’s more spacious garage where she gets out all the resources.

Being creative gives those unicorns an appetite and one of their number demands the promised snacks, which are enthusiastically consumed in almost no time at all.

Fuelled up with cake, it’s time for the unicorns to show their dance moves but they’re all so groovy that Amy just cannot pick a winner; her chalks however are certainly the losers as they’re unknowingly squashed to pieces by the dancers.

Poor Amy: how will they create that club mural now? I wonder …
Illustrated in suitably garish hues and with scenes of unicorn frolics, this tale should certainly enchant the seemingly ever-growing numbers of young unicorn enthusiasts out there who will enjoy discovering how Amy’s nearly disastrous Saturday becomes the start of something magical.

Ten Minutes to Bed Little Mermaid
Rhiannon Fielding and Chris Chatterton
Puffin Books

In the third of their countdown to bedtime series, Rhiannon Fielding and Chris Chatterton take a dive down to the kingdom of merpeople and in particular little mermaid, Splash and her grandpa. It’s he who keeps count of the passing minutes as the playful Splash frolics with dolphins, dives beneath waves, bops with crabs, swims along with rainbow fish,

talks to turtles and has a scary encounter with a shark before pausing on a beach where she’s reminded of the time by a friendly passing whale that helps her on her way.

But will she make it in time before that final minute has gone …

The magical formula still holds good in this latest pre-bedtime fantasy that should ensure your little ones have sweet dreams in The Land of Nod. (The final map shows several more potential settings so I suspect this series will run and run.)


Suzy Senior and Claire Powell
Little Tiger

This crazy rhyming tale is narrated by an octopus, an underpantless octopus no less.

His lack of a bottom covering makes him the butt of jokes and derision on the part of the other undersea creatures, most especially when he goes to town to try and buy himself some suitable octopants.

On-line shopping proves equally fruitless or rather, pantless.

One day however, our pant-hunter comes upon a hitherto unknown establishment, going by the name of Under-Sea Emporium and run by a rather smart seahorse sporting a spotty bow tie.

The place seems to sell pretty much any garment you might imagine and many you can’t, from evening wear for eels to jewellery for jellyfish and water wings for whales, in various spotty, stripy, sparkly and decidedly funky fabrics.
But as for underpants for an octopus customer, that is quite another matter altogether.

So exactly what can an eight-legged, or could it be eight armed, marine animal wear instead?

The big reveal (not a big bum reveal) comes on the final spread …

Bubbling and bursting with playful alliteration, Suzy Senior’s suitably silly story is likely to have young listeners pinging their knicker elastic with wriggling giggles, while Claire Powell’s funky undersea scenes of pant-wearing, and would-be same, seawater creatures should make sure that mirth is multiplied.

Almost any story with pants seems to induce a similarly snickering response but this one has a terrific twisting finale.