Ten Fat Sausages

Ten Fat Sausages
Michelle Robinson and Tor Freeman
Andersen Press

Come into the kitchen. There a delicious drama is about to unfold.

Atop the cooker, sizzling in a frying pan sit the ten fat sausages of the title.

All of a sudden one explodes with a ‘POP’ and another, alarmed at the event vows not to meet the same fate, and hops out and across the worktop. At first all is ticketty boo but then disaster strikes …

On goes the rhyming tale with the total of sausages rapidly diminishing two by two thanks to some reckless testing of a liquidiser switch, a flying leap onto a ceiling fan, an encounter with the resident moggy who proves to be in hungry mood,

and some foolhardy cavorting that leads the final succulent pair, (with high hopes of their escape plan,)

into a hiding place within “a squishy thing.”

Michelle Robinson’s yummy story based on the much-loved counting down rhyme is sure to become a firm favourite with early years listeners. The irresistible join-in-ability of the text with its oft repeated “HANG on a minute! … Well, I won’t go BANG and I won’t go POP.” and ‘And Sausage Number Two, (Four,Six or Eight) went hop. hop, hop.’ will ensure a supremely noisy story session wherever this is shared with young audiences.

Tor Freeman’s visuals of the whole sorry saga are a visual treat: how she managed to impart such deliciously gigglesome expressions on those bangers is a wonder in itself: every spread is a flavourful slice of comedy.

It certainly had me in fits of giggles; but then, I’m a vegetarian.

Friendships Tested

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Olive and the Embarrassing Hat
Tor Freeman
Brubaker, Ford & Friends (Templar) pbk
I think this has to be my very favourite of the Olive series. If you’ve ever been given a present you feel a fool wearing then this one is definitely for you.
Olive is given a hat that is anything but stylish by her best pal Joe and he sports one to match – almost. When the two walk out together their other, so called friends, make fun of their offbeat headwear until eventually Olive can take no more and she dumps her offending article in the rubbish bin.

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Her drastic action however, is seen by Joe, who now feels affronted and off he goes. Time to make amends thinks Olive, but how?
Our ever resourceful feline quickly puts her signwriting skills into action and steps out ready to sock it to the world

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and she doesn’t care what anyone thinks, well only Joe and there he comes…
No more will Olive be the butt of anyone’s jokes.

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What a triumph.
Both words and pictures brilliantly explore the boundaries of friendship in this hilarious story; the hat disposal sequence is absolutely priceless.

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Another winning shot from Olive and her creator, Tor Freeman.

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On Sudden Hill
Linda Sarah and Benji Davies
Simon & Schuster pbk
Best friends Etho and Birt spend countless hours in each other’s company, much of it on Sudden Hill where they entertain all manner of flights of fancy as they sit inside their respective cardboard boxes. No matter whether they’re kings, soldiers, astronauts or pirates they are always ‘Big’ friends with a two-by-two rhythm. Then one Monday along comes Shu; he too has a box and wants to join their play.

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Etho agrees; Birt keeps quiet. The three play but Birt is not happy and one night he trashes his box. No more visits to Sudden Hill for him despite invitations from the other two; instead he sits at home drawing, missing his best friend and their play together.
Then one day there’s a knock on Birt’s door and Shu calls him to come and see what they’ve made for him. Imagine his delight at what is waiting outside– an amazing “Monster Creature Box Thing”, Mr Climbfierce by name. And where better to take it than up Sudden Hill; moreover, it’s just perfect for three – Birt, Etho and Stu.

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Now Birt loves their three-by-three rhythm.
A tender, insightful look at the challenges and rewards of accommodating a third person into a best friends scenario. The spare, straightforward manner of Linda Sarah’s telling is a perfect fit with Benji Davies’ expressive paintings. Their muted colours echo the reflective nature of the story and capture so well the joys and small tribulations of childhood.

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Mine!
Jerome Keane & Susana De Dios
Orchard Books
Anyone who has ever spent time with young children will recognize this:
Horse and Fox, both bored, both notice, seemingly simultaneously, an egg shaped object and both claim ownership – no surprises there. … “But I saw it first,” said Horse. “No mine,” said Fox. “I saw it first.” “Didn’t,” said Horse. “Did,” said Fox. “You really didn’t,” said Horse. “Really did,” said Fox. (Such a familiar scenario and so well observed.)
Impasse – something’s gotta give guys.

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A realization dawns – “KIND OF SHARING?” Great idea; but then …

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DISASTER!
Perhaps not after all –

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Wonderful characterization, the dialogue is spot-on, stylish, and very funny, superbly expressive illustrations complete the package.

Find and buy from your local bookshop:

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Princesses and a Postman

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Ten Little Princesses
Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty
Orchard Books
Ten little princesses trot past the castle but whither are they bound on their special day? Why, to the ball of course: but will they arrive safely and on time? When one pricks her finger, another bites into a poisoned apple and a third is charmed by a handsome skateboarding prince, we begin to wonder whether any of these damsels will reach their destination. There are piggies and a big bad wolf,

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a frog, a toothy troll

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and much more in this action-packed, bouncy, rhyming romp of a countdown that really invites joining in.
What a wealth of detail there is to talk about, and an abundance of counting opportunities, in the various comical scenes rendered in dazzling colours by Rickerty, who made me chuckle several times at every turn of the page. Brilliant fun (even better than Ten Little Pirates) by a pair that work so well together.
Great fun too is:

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Digby Dog Delivers
Tor Freeman
Macmillan Children’s Books
Digby Dog is a postman and he spends his time delivering the town folks’ mail on his trusty scooter. On this particular day he has all manner of parcels to take to Fred Fox, Ginger Guinea Pig, Annie Ape,

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Professor Perry Pig and Sally Sheep. Those duly delivered, there is just one parcel remaining in his cart and it’s a very special one for a very special person.; but whose house is he heading to? His very own and just in time for a fifth birthday party and a share in Petal Puppy’s birthday tea.
There is so much to look at and share in the wonderfully humorous, action-packed pictures, not only the double spreads of the places Digby delivers to, but also the smaller scenes on his route. In one of the latter we see such things as three apple cores lined up beside a rubbish sack and a rabbit balancing seven scoops of ice-cream on a single cone.

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Find and buy from your local bookshop:

http://www.booksellers.org.uk/bookshopsearch

Trolls, Toucans and Travels

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Troll Swap
Leigh Hodgkinson
Nosy Crow pbk.
Meet Timothy Limpet. Unlike other trolls, Timothy is nice, polite and tidy, his cave light and dry; a rubbishy specimen is what his fellow trolls consider him. Meet Tabitha Lumpit, a noisy, messy, loopy little girl who likes nothing better than jumping into muddy puddles and making a ‘super-splashy muddy mess’, much to the consternation of her long suffering parents. When these two characters meet, they decide it’s time for operation place swap. Though initially surprised and delighted at the changes, the trolls and parents soon begin to miss the old Timothy and Tabitha. Equally Timothy and Tabitha find their new ways of being, equally dull; time for plan two – operation swap back. So, do all live happily ever after? Not only that but loopily too.
Sporting spotty clothes, and bobbly headgear, the two misfits are a delight.
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The Toucan Brothers
Tor Freeman
Macmillan pbk.
Meet the super plumbers of Tapton, Sammy and Paul. Their skill is unrivalled when it comes to plumbing problems. One day however, a new plumber arrives on the scene, one Flash Rover. He beguiles the townspeople with all his flashy gear, undercutting his toucan rivals and stealing their business. But, before long, this dodgy dealer has a flood on his hands: thanks to all his botched jobs and short cuts the entire town is awash. Then of course, it’s time to call in the real experts and sure enough the talented toucans save the day with their watery wizardry and send the dastardly dog packing to the jubilation of all Tapton’s residents. For sure he’s one dog that won’t be plying his trade there again.
The toucans’ tale truly trips off the tongue as the talented tradesmen turn near tragedy to triumph. There is talent aplenty too in Tor Freeman’s truly funny, action packed illustrations. Every spread is liberally scattered with visual jokes and dotty details. These in themselves will ensure hours of fun for young children even without an adult reader aloud to orchestrate the action.
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Russell, Grunt and Snort
Jason Chapman
Red Fox pbk.
Russell is certain there’s more to life than muddy fields and pigpens so he starts hatching a plan. A plan that involves, an upturned pigpen, some twisted hedgerow twine, some broken branches and some very tricky cliff -edge manouevering but by the following evening he and his two companions are heading off into the sunset. Well, that was what they thought. However, the world outside the farm is much more dangerous that the three pigs had anticipated especially when they start receiving ‘join us for dinner’ invitations. So will the porcine trio end up as pork chops or can they find that perfect place with all the apples and truffles they can eat after all?
The ending does seem rather abrupt but despite that there is plenty to amuse in this tale of misadventure and the illustrations are great fun; the expressions on the faces of both hunted and hunters are superb.
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Eleanor’s Eyebrows
Timothy Knapman and David Tazzyman
Simon and Schuster pbk.
Insulted at being called ‘silly, scruffy, hairy little bits of fluff!’ Eleanor’s eyebrows take off to have a life of their own in the Big Wide World, determined to find somewhere or someone appreciative. They try out various roles including being caterpillars, a magician’s moustache, woolly hand-warmers for lady beetles, tyres on a stick insect’s motorbike, even an exclamation mark on a SLOW DOWN SIGN. None however prove satisfactory. Having frightened off her own Granny, an eyebrowless Eleanor meanwhile, is realizing the error of her ways. She makes various attempts to replace her missing facial features, but to no avail. Time to think seriously about the next move for all parties concerned; time for a spot of signwriting …
All ends happily in this totally crazy tale, which is certain to make your own eyebrows do more than a little twitching. Tazzyman’s illustrations of the assorted quirky characters both human and otherwise perfectly complement the text .
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