The Dog that Ate the World

The Dog that Ate the World
Sandra Dieckmann
Flying Eye Books

Down in the valley the various animals live alongside each other peaceably, birds with birds, bears fishing with bears and fox playing his fiddle to other foxes.

Then, one fateful day across the pastures comes an unwanted canine intruder, large and greedy. He helps himself to whatever he wants in the way of food and drink, growing ever larger.
In an attempt to assuage the hunger of the beastly dog, the fox with his fiddle approaches him and plays a song.

He’s rewarded for his efforts by being consumed by the dog, but despite this the fox continues playing his song from within.

It’s heard without by a trio of brave bunnies that resolve to rescue the fox,

but they too end up inside the dog.

Peace-makers attempt to talk, trick and tire the beast, all to no avail; the dog swallows the lot.
Trapped within, the animals light a fire, talk and work, until eventually as life continues to flourish, so too does hope.

Nonetheless the gluttonous and now prodigious, dog continues stuffing himself until finally, down too, goes the sun and the entire sky. The beast has eaten his entire world.

And what of the other animals? Let’s just say that brightness surrounds them. In their world, there’s no place for such an animal as that voracious dog and all is peace, harmony and togetherness.

The forest animals in Sandra Dieckmann’s second picture book demonstrate so well to us humans, the importance of friendship and community when disaster strikes. Her striking colour palette, mixed-media, richly detailed scenes of flora and fauna, and slightly mystical landscapes draw one in and hold you while you ponder both composition and meaning.

Surely an allegory of our times and one that is open to many interpretations. However one sees that all consuming metaphorical dog, be it as consumerism, capitalism, or evil itself, this book is sure to engender discussion no matter the age of the audience.

I Am a Very Clever Cat / Two Can

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I am a Very Clever Cat
Kasia Matyjaszek
Templar Publishing
With such an arresting cover, this book will be hard to resist. Its narrator, Stockon, is certainly not short on self-esteem: “I am a very clever cat,” he tells us by way of introduction and goes on to demonstrate some of his skills. His greatest claim to fame is his wizardry with a pair of knitting needles: here he is as he sets about creating the ‘fanciest scarf for the fanciest soirée.’

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Naturally being such a wiz with those needles though, Stockton has no need for a pattern: he just makes it up as he goes along. So super-confident is our wool worker that he is completely oblivious to what’s happening while he talks until …

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Seems his chances of strutting his stuff at that soirée have just taken a tumble.
How fortunate it is that all the while, his antics have been watched by a pair of mice; can they perhaps save the day?

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Stockton may have dropped a whole lot of stitches but he’s certainly picked up a couple of pals, very clever ones at that, in the course of his knitting capers.
I’m sure those capers will win him a whole lot more friends among young listeners (and adult cat lovers) who will delight in the interplay between words and pictures in Kasia Matyjaszek’s funny debut picture book.

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Two Can
Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Ben Javens
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
What a cracking little book! Using just 29 words, its creators explore a whole range of emotions. Small children at play in a park demonstrate playing solo, playing apart and playing together, occasionally falling out …

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sometimes co-operating, sometimes empowering …

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or encouraging and concluding (almost) …

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SO simple, so clever and SO effective. Perfect to share with one, with two or with a few …
It’s equally perfect though, for beginning readers to try for themselves: what an ideal opportunity to say, “I can” therafter.

Family and Friends

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My Grandparents Love Me
Claire Freedman and Judi Abbot
Simon and Schuster
That special relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is explored in this charmer of a book, narrated by a young zebra, be it the welcome embraces, gifts in the bedroom, a baking session with indulgent, ever-patient Gran …

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an outing to the funfair rounded off with large ice-creams and a picnic or a spot of rocket building in Grandpa’s shed,

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a stay with Gran and Grandpa is bound to be loads of fun.
Sometimes though, the young zebra has his grandparents to stay at his home where boating or swimming lessons might be the order of the day,

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followed by a noisy musical interlude before it’s time to snuggle up close for a story sharing session before bedtime.

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With bit parts played by additional friendly-looking jungle animals, Judi Abbot’s excursion scenes provide extra entertainment for young listeners while the zebras young and adult take the star parts throughout, be they indoors or out and about.
Claire Freedman’s warm story will appeal particularly to grandparents and the very young who not only share that special loving bond part and parcel of which is the joys of book times together.

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Together …
Emma Dodd
Nosy Crow
A mother sea otter and her young one spend a day together sharing the beauty of the rising sun, then watching and dreaming as the clouds drift by. They laugh and play in the water, learning new things from one another …

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and sometimes, just drifting side by side, holding paws and watching the sun start to sink as the day draws to its close. Togetherness days such as that are the ones both mother and child will remember.
Simply beautiful, full of tenderness and perfect to share with the very youngest, this latest of Emma Dodd’s Animal series has alternate spreads that sparkle with silver foil.

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Pip and Posy: The New Friend
Axel Scheffler
Nosy Crow
Best friends Pip and Posy are spending a day at the beach but their friendship seems threatened when Pip goes off to play with Zac …

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while Posy snoozes in the sun. So noisy is their laughter that it wakes up Posy who is none too happy and feels excluded.

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Off go Zac and Pip to buy ice creams with Polly following behind but then down swoops a seagull and snatches Zac’s ice cream. Who do you think offers the very last coin so he can buy another one?
Established friends of Pip and Posy will doubtless welcome the opportunity to catch up with their activities and delight in the final co-operative effort.
In addition to being a fun story to share with early years groups and individuals; the easy to read text makes it a good one for those just beginning to read for themselves to enjoy (once you’ve shared the story first). Axel Scheffler’s illustrations as always offer plenty of humorous details to delight and to talk about.

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Odd Socks

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Odd Socks
Michelle Robinson and Rebecca Ashdown
Andersen Press
Meet Suki and Sosh as unlikely a pair of storybook characters as you can imagine, new socks, perfectly matched and totally besotted with one another. They love their life too as they fit into jellies, wellies, the washing machine of course and naturally they just love hanging out together.

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Perhaps best of all though is when, at the end of a day, they’re snuggled up together in the dark drawer and that’s when Suki might be heard to utter, “Just you and me, darling, we never will part. Your threads are entwined in my warm, woolly heart.” Ahhh!

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Life continues in this blissful fashion until the dreadful day when their whole togetherness is threatened by Sosh’s discovery of a tiny hole in Suki’s big toe. And we all know what happens to a small sock hole – it just gets bigger and bigger …
You’re done for … bound for the bin,” asserts the bullying Big Bob, a moany character if ever there was one but Sosh is having none of it. “Chuck a super sock? They wouldn’t dare.” he reassures her.

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Come evening however, Sosh is without his partner in that drawer they shared and so begins a desperate search for his sole mate and he’s prepared to risk heel and toe to find her.

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So is that the end for the devoted pair?
Well, not quite; seems they’ve both undergone a reincarnation and have a new home to boot …

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This crazy rhyming tale is jauntily told in an appropriately melodramatic manner by Michelle Robinson who seems to have found the perfect illustrative partner in Rebecca Ashdown. Those woolly warmers of hers are certainly ones that make you want to snuggle into them. Great fun for a chilly, wintery day.

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