Red Red Red / Ravi’s Roar

Here are two picture books about young children and their anger

Red Red Red
Polly Dunbar
Walker Books

It’s tantrum time for the toddler in Polly Dunbar’s new picture book. A tantrum that’s precipitated when the infant attempts to extricate a biscuit from the jar up on the high shelf, bringing both jar and child hurtling to the floor.

A sympathetic mum is quickly on the scene but her attempts to placate her little one only make things worse until she suggests a calming, counting strategy that gradually transforms the toddler,

allowing all that fury to dissipate.

Polly’s scenes of anger and its management – of biscuits,

bumps and breathing – are sheer delight. The cathartic counting sequence in particular is absolutely brilliant.

Just the thing to share post-tantrum with little ones – make sure  they’ve completely calmed down first of course.

Ravi’s Roar
Tom Percival
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Meet Ravi; he’s the youngest and smallest member of his family. This is perfectly fine most of the time but there are days when everything goes wrong.
The day of the family picnic was one of those.

First of all he’s squished into a train seat between a grown-up and a farty dog; then the game of hide-and-seek is a dismal disaster.

Ravi’s lack of stature puts paid to his enjoyment of the adventure playground but then his Dad steps in with a suggestion intended to help diffuse the lad’s rising anger.
That too goes badly wrong causing Ravi to lose it completely.

He’s suddenly transformed into a furious roaring tiger, which does seem to result in some short-term advantages.

But then the tiger overdoes his wildness, so much so that nobody else wants anything to do with him.

All alone, sadness starts to take the place of Ravi’s fury: what was it that had caused his anger anyway? The reason eludes him but he knows that an apology is called for.

After that the rest of his tigerishness seeps out leaving a calm child once again. PHEW!

In case you’re wondering, that was the last time Ravi ever became a tiger although he does still emit the occasional moderated growl …

Once again Tom Percival demonstrates his empathetic understanding of young children and his skill at exploring a subject that is very much part and parcel of their emotional make-up.

Add this enormously engaging book to your family collection or classroom shelves.

The Sea Saw

 

The Sea Saw
Tom Percival
Simon & Schuster

Tom Percival always hits the sweet spot with his picture books and with this one he’s truly aced it – again.

When Sofia, on a visit to the seaside with her dad, loses her beloved teddy bear she’s totally distraught. The old, tatty object has been passed from her grandfather to her mother (whom one presumes is dead) and then to little Sofia and she’d thought of it more as a friend than a soft toy. In their dash out of the rainstorm said bear falls from an open bag and is left alone on the beach, unseen except by the Sea.

The Sea takes on the role of guardian of the bear, and the search for Sofia begins.

Meanwhile at home, Sofia’s father makes exhaustive enquiries and the two of them return to the beach but all to no avail; all that remains of Sofia’s precious bear apart from memories, is his blue scarf from which she snips a tiny piece to keep in her locket.

Back with the Sea, the hunt continues in earnest with Bear being borne through the water with the aid of marine creatures, surviving hazardous conditions and enjoying more restful periods too. All this takes years and eventually the bear is carried along rivers and a stream,

where it’s spied floating along by a young girl; a young girl who turns out to be Sofia’s granddaughter.

Finally a joyful reunion takes place and as Tom tells us almost at the close, ‘nothing is ever truly lost if you keep it in your heart.’

I doubt many readers will be able to finish this book without having tears in their eyes, a lump in their throat and a happy smile; it’s so moving and SO beautifully constructed. What a wonderful, heart-warming way to think about loss while never completely losing sight of the possibility of reunion.

Such sublime illustrations; every one is to linger over and return to; some send shivers down your spine. Absolutely awesome: another must have book from local-to-me, author/artist, Tom.

Ruby’s Worry

Ruby’s Worry
Tom Percival
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

All children have worries from time to time and so it is with young Ruby.
She’s always felt upbeat doing the things she loves until the fateful day she discovers, uh oh! a Worry.

At first the worry is tiny, barely noticeable in fact, but the trouble is it begins to grow … and grow, day by day until it seems to be there all the time no matter what she does or where she goes.

Nobody else can see the thing and Ruby tries to stay positive but the Worry gets in the way of her doing her favourite things. Suppose it never goes away, she worries. Oops! Big mistake – the thing expands,

until it’s completely filling her every waking moment.

Then one day as Ruby is walking in the park she comes across a sad-looking boy and, something else is lurking beside him. A worry perhaps?

What happens thereafter is of enormous benefit to both the boy and Ruby herself.

Yes of course, she still does have the occasional worry but now Ruby has a coping strategy so that she’ll never feel so overwhelmed again.

Tom Percival is such an empathetic story maker. Once again he explores a subject that affects so many young children through an empowering, book that all can relate to.

I love the way he adjusts the colour balance of his illustrations so that as Ruby’s worry grows, the pictures take on an increasingly grayscale appearance, with full colour returning when the two children’s worries are banished in an exuberant rainbow of joy.

A perfect book for stimulating discussion about worry sharing.

Goat’s Coat

Goat’s Coat
Tom Percival and Christine Pym
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Alfonzo is a goat with a brand new, dapper coat; wearing it makes him feel on top of the world. He also has a kind heart so when out strutting his stuff in his stylish garment and he comes upon a family of homeless frogs in need of help Alfonzo is faced with a dilemma.

Altruism wins: the frogs sail off in a new blue boat; Alfonzo walks on in a cuffless coat.

But then he discovers a trembly cat, her tail in a trap. A bandage is required to stem the blood …

Soon the cat’s tail is covered: the goat’s nether regions anything but.

Further encounters with a panic-stricken hen …

and shivering hedgehogs leave the benevolent Alfonso alone and entirely coatless. Snow falls as night approaches.

Will the goat freeze without his coat?

Tom Percival’s rhyming cuddle of a tale is the perfect antidote to the current political climate demonstrating so beautifully that happiness lies not in possessions or self-interest but in friendship and selflessness. Christine Pym’s illustrations for his heart-warming story capture the feelings of helper and helped perfectly, injecting appropriate touches of humour along the way.

Perfectly Norman

Perfectly Norman
Tom Percival
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Norman begins life as a normal boy but then something unimaginable happens: he suddenly finds himself with wings.
Wowee! What fun he has soaring and swooping with the birds all day until dinner is called.

Now a lad with extraordinary wings is going to look more than a tad strange sitting at the table with his very ordinary family, so Norman decides a cover-up is necessary. It works as a wing concealer but nonetheless his parents are a trifle bemused when their son wears his parka at dinnertime.

Further challenges come at bath time, and at bedtime he’s positively roasting.
The great cover-up continues; but nothing is fun when you’re wrapped up and hiding your greatest asset. Normal Norman feels normal no more, other than on rainy days, that is.
Things come to a head when another boy attempts to remove his security cover leaving Norman to ponder on what it is that’s making him feel so bad.
Light bulb moment!
Time for a revelation and …

freedom.
Tom Percival documents Norman’s mundane, wing-covered existence, in black and white and shades of grey with only minimal colour, whilst his extraordinary gift is spotlighted in full colour – a nifty device which heightens the impact of the whole thing.
An elevating tale of finding the courage to be true to yourself no matter what.

I’ve signed the charter  

Message in a Bottle

There have been several personalised books launched in the past couple of years and as far as I know this is one of the most recent. Here, established picture book author Tom Percival joins forces with Finnish book publisher/illustrator Tuire Siiriainen in a project for adults and children together and the outcome is:

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Message in a Bottle
Tom Percival and Tuire Siiriainen
Blueberry & Pie
Meet Kiki, a Scarlet Hawaiian Honeycreeper who longs for adventure. When a bottle containing a message is washed up on the shore of her island home, it seems she’s being offered an opportunity to fulfil her dearest wish, to travel and see the world beyond her own tropical environs. Kiki resolves to deliver the message – bottle and all.
Now what this message is, and who is to receive it, is where the personalised part comes in: the giver of the book presumably already having decided upon its recipient, now creates the message that Kiki finds. This can be written in English or one of the other European languages offered: French, Polish, Luxembourgish or German. The message can be one of those suggested by the publisher or composed entirely by the sender of the book.
References to the recipient and their address are made throughout the story helping to heighten the engagement as Kiki’s journey progresses. That’s getting ahead of things though, for Kiki has no idea which way even to start flying.
With assistance – or not – from a somewhat confused clackety-clawed crab …

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a whale, a grizzly bear, a plover with no sense of direction, a sailfish, a troop of monkeys who squabble over the bottle, and a wise owl, Kiki and bottle meander their way across the globe from her Pacific island via North and South America, the Atlantic, Africa and Europe to England’s shore, and finally, onto the windowsill of the recipient’s bedroom.

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For Leo, only just four, this was the climax of the book. Having been riveted throughout the story, absorbed by the vibrantly coloured, cartoon style illustrations, and excited at the references to his address and name throughout, as well as listening avidly to the message in the bottle, he was less engaged with the final part about Kiki’s return home.
Older recipients of the personalised book will I suspect, be fascinated to discover Kiki’s Kids online club where, by clicking on the interactive map, they can find out more about the fourteen animals from the story.

To order your own personalised copy of the book visit the Message in a Bottle website.

Herman’s Holiday

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Herman’s Holiday
Tom Percival
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Unable to afford the fabulous destinations featured in the glossy brochures, Herman, desperate not to disappoint his best pal Henry, discovers just the thing – a bargain break offer.

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In no time at all he’s packed and ready for a fun-filled trip and so excited. Henry however, doesn’t share his enthusiasm as they wait for their transport to arrive.
Once at the campsite Herman throws himself heart and soul into the experience.

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Poor Henry on the other hand, is finding life under canvas pretty tough.

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No holiday is complete without sending a few postcards decides Herman, but the sentiments expressed thereon differ somewhat ‘Amazing’ writes Herman. ‘Awful” is Henry’s comment. Once again Herman puts pen to postcard – several postcards in fact and soon all manner of packages start arriving.
Nightfall finds Henry sleeping; not so Herman. He spends the hours of darkness on his transformatory plan …

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And from then on life at the camp-site becomes pretty peachy for both of the friends, so much so that Henry’s parting message is ….

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Deliciously droll scenes of the delectable duo, lift the flap postcards and an overloaded rucksack, and Tom Percival’s understated verbal humour are all part and parcel of this great follow-up story, at the heart of which once again, is friendship.

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Dolci was impressed with Herman’s building skills and asked for the story at least 5 times in quick succession

It’s a pity this book is published so near to the end of the summer holidays. I would have loved to send it to any friends and relations about to go off on camping trips; still there’s always next season for that.

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