We’re Going Places

We’re Going Places
Mick Jackson and John Broadley
Pavilion Children’s Books

After their terrific debut picture book While You’re Sleeping, author Mick Jackson and illustrator John Broadley pair up again and the result is another exciting, engrossing book, this one being somewhat more philosophical than the first.

Travel and journeying is the theme here and through Jackson’s playfully poetic narrative and Broadley’s meticulously detailed scenes, readers follow a child’s development from adult dependence, through those first unstable steps, to assured confident strides out and about, then onto wheels – ‘tricycles, bicycles, skateboards, roller skates’.

More and more possibilities open up – perhaps a trip in a hot air balloon, or something that needs to be done speedily such as a train ride to somewhere exciting – another country even.

Some journeys however are meant to be done slowly, slowly, allowing plenty of time for pausing to watch and ponder upon the host of other creatures that, while they might be part of your particular journey, are also undertaking their own, some on foot, others on the wing such as bumblebees or migrating birds.

It might be that a journey is seasonal, on a frozen river for instance; or that of a bee ‘bumbling from blossom to blossom’ (love that alliteration); it could even be made by something inanimate such as a raindrop on a window pane.

There have always been divergent thinkers who like to try doing things differently and in this ever-changing world of ours, what seemed once impossible will one day be part and parcel of everyday.

With choices to be made and a wealth of possible ways to go, none of us can ever be absolutely sure of the twists and turns our life will take.

However one thing that’s almost certain is that as people grow old, their journeys will likely be much slower, and less confident perhaps, almost as though we’ve come full circle, with what’s past always there, deep within.

There’s an absolute wealth of texture and pattern, as well as potential stories on every spread, so that readers will undoubtedly find themselves pausing on their journey through the book, adults possibly pondering upon their own life’s journey past, present and future, perhaps like the grandmother sitting in a chair, shown on the final spread.

Assuredly this is a book to return to over and over with the likelihood of new questions and fresh understanding emerging on each reading.

Snail Mail

Snail Mail
Sharon King-Chai
Hodder Children’s Books
The majority of us receive much of our communication by text, e-mail and social media nowadays; letters are mainly junk with the occasional thing to delight – a letter from abroad, an exciting piece of publishers’ information, and of course all those wonderful books to review; I only ever receive picture postcards from one person. As a young classroom teacher in the 80s and 90s, before social media, one of my most favourite books to share was Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s The Jolly Postman and there have been other books with letters and cards thereafter. These can be a great stimulus for children’s own writing and now, there’s one more. Herein we meet 4 year old Seashell Snail, Sam, our narrator who has a large group of adventure-loving family and friends. Take big brother Tiger; it’s he who generates the snail mail, which gives the book its title. Tiger sets out on a world trip promising to write to Sam every day.

Good as he word, Tiger sends Sam a picture postcard from every place he stops at -. Brazil on Monday, the USA on Tuesday, India on Wednesday, Japan on Thursday, France on Friday. Goodness he does get around and those communications surely do keep Postman Perry busy, not to mention sparking off exciting activities for the seashore residents. Each card is delivered in a beautifully designed envelope appropriate to its place of origin; here’s the one from India.

The final communication contains something very special – a birthday treat for Sam; and it’s one that will undoubtedly inspire its recipient to start making some international travel plans too.
A super-silly story with appropriately crazy illustrations to delight – lots of fun to share and perhaps, a classroom stimulus to some imaginative written correspondences.

Lemur Losing & A Ghost Called Dog

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How to Lose a Lemur
Frann Preston-Gannon
Pavilion Books
“Everyone knows that once a lemur takes a fancy to you there is not much that can be done about it.” Thus begins a delightful child narrated take of what happens when one does just that – to the small boy himself. As our narrator takes a stroll in the park one sunny morning he notices, but does his level best to ignore, the lemur that’s in hot pursuit.

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The lad tries all kinds of escape ruses such as tree climbing and cycling … but nothing seems to work, not even giving them stern looks.
In desperation the boy buys a train ticket but guess what joins him. He takes to the air; but those pesky animals seem to have all eventualities covered, even camel riding …
and trekking through blizzards. Surely the latter will see them off but no.

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Suddenly though, the creatures seem to have gone to ground; the boy is far from home though and has no idea how to get back. Perhaps … well, just perhaps: I’ll say no more and leave it to readers to imagine what happens thereafter
Sheer delight from cover to cover is this board book with its collage style illustrations from rising star, Frann Preston-Gannon whose amusing story is certain to please the very youngest listeners as well as those adults who share it with them.

For older readers:

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A Ghost Called Dog
Gavin Neale
2QT
A family has just moved into a new house. Dad is a writer, working at home and under pressure with a deadline looming, so much of the task of settling in and organizing things is left to Mum, although she has to go to work as well. They have two children: Abby and her competitive, soccer-mad brother, Chris. When wildly imaginative Abby says she sees a rabbit in the shed this is rubbished by Chris; but then suddenly, he starts feeling ice-cold fur rubbing against his skin.
Moreover, there are two mysterious old women: stern, goat-keeping Nora and chatty Daphne, who live in a cottage close by and are showing a great deal of interest in the children. And what is all the talk of potential witches, spirit familiars and warlocks?
So begins a story full of intrigue and danger involving a disappearance (the children’s mother), challenges and dark forces.
Gavin Neale clearly knows something of the interests, or rather obsessions of primary school children, and his story may well hit the mark with readers who like stories with a mix of fantasy and reality, challenge and problem solving.

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