1,2,3, Do the Shark / The Horse that Jumped

These are two picture books ideal for bedtime sharing kindly sent for review from Farshore

1,2,3, Do the Shark
Michelle Robinson and Rosalind Beardshaw

Get ready for a bit of funky action deep beneath the ocean where Bess’s fishy pals are somewhat disturbed by a storm. Not so Bess though; clad in her shark attire, she urges them all to join her in a bit of boogieing. “Copy me and do the shark!” she says performing the appropriate moves

until all the sea creatures are joining in with the stretching, fin waving, tail swishing and generally strutting their stuff.

That achieved, it’s time to take a dive down deeper, right to the ocean bed where something rather scary is peering out from the mouth of a cave.

Crab gives a Shark alert. Time to take evasive action suggests Bess and so they do.

But perhaps that shark isn’t as scary as they first thought? Has he another reason for watching them so closely perhaps …

With a lovely switch from imagined to real, the story has a perfect ending 1,2,3 zzzzz.
An ideal pre bedtime book for those around little Bess’s age told in Michelle’s splendidly readable rhyming text and through Rosalind’s delightful mainly subaquatic, scenes.

The Horse that Jumped
Thomas Docherty

This is a thoroughly enchanting tale of a little girl and a horse that jumps and keeps on jumping. It jumps over a flower, over a rock, over a fence, out of its field, across a steam, over a bench and through an open window right into the girl’s bedroom.

On jumps said girl and off they go right out into the world, galloping and then jumping through a series of richly illustrated scenes of mountains, sea

and skyscapes

until the girl falls fast asleep, is transported back to her own bed and thence into dreamland.

With mounting excitement, so evident in the eyes of girl and horse, as the journey moves from location to location, Thomas Docherty, tells this exhilarating story of freedom and friendship using relatively few well chosen words, leaving his gorgeous illustrations of a fabulous flight of fancy to do most of the talking. It’s impossible not to feel that joyful freeing sense of movement be you listener or reader aloud: what a splendid celebration of the power of the imagination.

The Screen Thief!

The Screen Thief!
Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty
Alison Green Books

Watch out, watch out, a Snaffle’s about. Newly arrived in a city near you and on the lookout for some playmates, the creature is puzzled to see that everyone she sees is too busy staring at their screens. But what exactly is so special about these things, that nobody has time to notice a newcomer?

Puzzled, the Snaffle feels lonely but then she hears a beep! beep! coming from a phone on the ground so she does what all inquisitive creatures do, sniffs it and chews it and then gobbles the lot. Hmmm! Pretty tasty.

Off she goes in search of further screens to sink her teeth into, but the more she consumes, the hungrier she becomes. Before long the library has lost twenty computers and the TV shop almost sixty of its largest sets. But there’s worse to come as the hungry-for-more Snaffle makes her way through the city towards the park.
Therein are lots of very sad children eager to find the culprit and one child called Max: Max is forgiving and happy to contemplate life sans screens. Meanwhile the Snaffle is now suffering from an attack of ‘scrindigestion’ and a kind of empty inside feeling. But then she looks up and sees a happy-looking screenless child playing just inside the park and in a flash …

Suddenly the two become aware of the large angry crowd that has gathered ready to give chase. Will they listen to what Max has to say? And if so, might his words precipitate a degree of change …

Assuredly, it’s a case of put your screens away, take a rest from your play; come sit and listen to this fun, timely treat of a tale told in Helen’s faultless rhyme and Thomas’ wonderfully detailed scenes of screen obsessives who learn a very important lesson, thanks to a visit from the friend-seeking Snaffle..

Love is in the Air

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Foxy in Love
Emma Dodd
Harper Collins Children’s Books pbk
Emily is making a Valentine’s card but is unsure about what to draw. Along comes Foxy to her aid. “What do you love best of all?” he asks her. With some timely flicks of his magic bushy tail, misinterpretations not withstanding, he goes on to help her create an almost perfect card. But, there still seems to be something missing; just what can that vital ingredient be?

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Time for further thinking. Foxy has something very important to explain to Emily: Valentine’s Day isn’t about WHAT one loves but WHOM. So who is the object of Emily’s affections? Foxy, of course! And moreover, the feeling is mutual.
Emma Dodd has created a pair of adorable characters in Emily and Foxy. This, the second story about the duo should mean that they make a whole lot of new friends among readers meeting them for the first time as well as pleasing those who have already made their acquaintance.
Perfect for sharing with loved ones around Valentine’s Day, or any other time for that matter.
Buy from Amazon

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Bear in Love
Daniel Pinkwater and Will Hillenbrand
Walker Books pbk
Bear is puzzled. One morning when he wakes up he discovers a tasty carrot has been left at the entrance to his cave.

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The following day there are two, the next day, three and then on the fourth day, a whole bunch. “Someone must like me,” thinks the bear to himself singing happily. He decides to reciprocate the kindness of his mystery friend and leaves an offering at the mouth of his cave in return, determining to see who comes. Having gorged himself however, the bear falls fast asleep and wakes to discover a new offering. This exchange of edible treats goes on for several nights until finally the bear discovers the identity of his secret friend. Although it’s something of a surprise for the bear, young children will probably have guessed the identity of mystery friend long before bear discovers it.
Pinkwater has penned a sweet, gentle story about a large bear, endearingly portrayed through Hillenbrand’s lovely mixed media illustrations rendered predominantly in soft shades of greens, browns, greys and blues. In fact both characters are totally huggable.
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Dinosaur Kisses
David Ezra Stein
Walker Books
Newly hatched, Dinah dinosaur is full of the joys of just being alive in a world with so much to see and do. Eager to be part of everything she tries stomping and then chomping. But having seen kissing, that’s next on her agenda; the trouble is, finding a suitable subject for her kisses. That’s altogether more tricky as she soon learns … WHOMP! CHOMP! STOMP! Best intentions notwithstanding, several mishaps and some thinking time later, Dinah finally discovers her perfect kissing partner. Hmm, maybe.

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Wonderfully expressive crayon and watercolour pictures, smatterings of onomatopoeia, the surprise ending, and the anarchic dino siblings are just some of the ingredients of this hilarious romp.
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Paul Meets Bernadette
Rosy Lamb
Walker Books
Goldfish, Paul, spends all his time swimming round and round in his bowl, until one day, Bernadette drops in. She introduces him to the world outside and encourages him to look beyond the glass and think about what he sees. The yellow object on the plate (banana) “is a boat!” she tells him and the blue teapot “is an elephant.” … “But you must not disturb her when she is feeding her babies.

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This gently humorous (goldfish style romance) book demonstrates how life changes when that special one comes along to expand your vision, altering the way you see things
Rosy Lamb illustrates her goldfish romance with thick brushstrokes and daubs, dropping the goldfish bowl, bubble-like, to take centre stage on the spread, or seemingly floating among the other everyday items.
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The Driftwood Ball
Thomas Docherty
Templar Publishing pbk
George is a badger; Celia is an otter. They live with their respective families , Celia in the sea, George in the forest beside it. The two families have poor opinions of one another, all except George and Celia that is. Surprisingly though both badgers and otters have something in common; they love to dance albeit with distinctive styles. Not so George and Celia, theirs are a fusion of badger and otter steps. When the annual Driftwood ball draws close, all the animals set their sights on the trophy awarded to best dancer, practising their moves hard. Tired of the constant shimmying and jigging, Celia and George find themselves face to face on the seashore and it’s a case of love at first sight. At the ball next day with the dance in full swing, there are suddenly just two dancers moving, dancing paw in paw what’s more;

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and theirs is a transformative dance in more ways than one.
The joys of dancing are eloquently expressed in Thomas Docherty’s finely drawn ink and watercolour illustrations. These are infused with a gentle humour and the variety of expressions he manages to create on the animals’ faces is remarkable.
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The Perfect Hug
Joanna Walsh and Judi Abbot
Simon and Schuster (board book edition)
There are hugs for wrigglers and hugs for gigglers. Hugs that are tickly, and hugs that are prickly … ‘ In fact there are so many different hugs little panda hasn’t managed to find one that is just right for him so he sets out to look. Having searched over land and under sea,

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out in space even, back he comes to find the perfect hug waiting right where he started.
I’d like to think, indeed I’m trusting, that the perfection is not because the embrace is given by one of his own kind but because he is returning another’s hug. You could initiate a discussion about this with young children.
Circle time is a great time for sharing and passing round a hug and this rhyming book with its cute pastel pictures could be a suitable starting point for nursery settings.
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Hedgehugs
Lucy Tapper and Steve Wilson
Maverick Arts Publishing pbk.
Best friends Hattie and Horace hedgehog have a thorny problem, or should we say, a hugging problem. No matter what they try they just cannot manage to give each other a hug.

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Then one sunny day they come upon a washing basket filled with odd-looking items including a soft thing with a tunnel- like entrance. With a bit of wriggling and jiggling, Horace manages to poke his arms through and after further nibbling out pops his face. Hattie is inspired and makes herself a similar shaped, prickle-covering garment. After that it’s a case of no holds barred and moreover, we now all know the reason for those odd socks that never seem to have a pair no matter how hard we search.
This is the first picture book collaboration from author/artist partnership Wilson and Tapper and a promising one it is. Patterns abound in the bright, fresh illustrations and the hedgehogs, with their problem solving ideas, are an endearing pair. I wonder whether the characters might be further developed into a mini series for the very youngest.
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