Rumple Buttercup

Rumple Buttercup
Matthew Gray Gubler
Puffin Books

Just a quick look at green-skinned Rumple Buttercup with his wonky teeth, odd sized feet and just three strands of hair might indicate that this creature is something out of the ordinary – weird – so the author tells us at the outset of his immediate interest snarer.

Convinced that his unusual appearance with scare people, his residence is a sewer  – albeit nicely decorated,

where he listens in to conversations of passers-by, longing to be a participant but making do with pretence.

The one time Rumple feels safe to sally forth as part of the community, is his favourite event, the Annual Pajama Jam Cotton Candy Pancake Parade; a day nobody will, he thinks, notice him amid the carnival revels.

Having eagerly anticipated the day all year, his excitement rises but then on the morning of the event, there’s a distinct lack of banana peel in the bin beside his home.

Devastated and deciding he must stay below ground and miss all the fun, the creature suddenly hears a voice calling down the drain to him.

What he discovers is that he’s not quite as strange as he’s always thought – unique perhaps, but then we’re all strangely different in our own ways.

So let’s join him in a celebratory wave and an acknowledgement that self-acceptance, flaws and all, is the way to go and that there are others out there who will celebrate our individuality, no matter what.

This delectably quirky, slightly surreal offering – a blend of picture book and chapter book – is one that will appeal to a wide readership, young and not so young.

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?
Nicola Connelly and Annie White
New Frontier Publishing

What a wonderful celebration of children, difference and the way the former demonstrate their individuality.

Using a series of questions that centre on four children in a family, Nicola Connelly draws attention to the myriad possibilities that could make each one of us unique: be that eye colour, skin colour, freckles, chin or nose shape; might it be the size of our ears or feet, or our front teeth?

Perhaps it’s our way of jumping super high, our love of dance or singing;

a beaming smile; a particular giggle or wiggle.

We might be good at maths, have an artistic bent, a storytelling prowess,

a particular penchant for some kind of sport,

perform amazing athletic moves, have a bibliographic trait,

exude creativity, or enjoy quiet moments with mini-beasts

No matter what, the author’s bouncing words coupled with Annie White’s exuberant, joyful, slightly whimsical watercolours, are enormously upbeat.

This book cannot fail to make you smile; is a great read aloud and has wonderful performance possibilities.

Let’s hear it for individual specialness.

We’re All Works of Art

We’re All Works of Art
Mark Sperring and Rose Blake
Pavilion Children’s Books

In a cleverly constructed rhyming narrative, Mark Sperring introduces young readers and listeners to a whole host of different styles of art while at the same time celebrating human diversity and the uniqueness of every human being.

Highly accessible and beautifully illustrated by Rose Blake who provides a series of bold illustrations clearly inspired by famous artists and works of art from prehistoric times through to Fauvism, Cubism and on to Pop art and Contemporary art.

Look out for Magritte,

Matisse …

and Indian miniatures

and Peter Blake; no matter what you like there should be something to please here and if it doesn’t make you want to visit one of our many wonderful art galleries, then I’d be surprised.

Equally, it should inspire readers to experiment with various art styles for themselves.

Great fun and gently educational too. One for the family collection and for schools of all kinds.

I’ve signed the charter  

What Makes me a ME? / Words and Your Heart

What Makes me a ME?
Ben Faulks and David Tazzyman
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Here’s a diverting book about identity: “What makes me a ME?” Who am I and where do I fit into this world? – these are questions that everyone ponders.
For the boy narrator it’s a mind-stretching poser as he acknowledges that at different times he’s like a whole range of things: sometimes he’s slow like a snail but he’s not slimy and his eyes don’t stand out on stalks.

He doesn’t have a tail so he can’t be exactly like his puppy Monty, despite being full of energy.
Is he perhaps like a sports car; he’s certainly lightning fast, but that’s thanks to his legs rather than wheels.

No matter what he likens himself to, essentially he’s just himself – special and unique.
Faulks’ funny rhyming stanzas documenting the five year old narrator’s search for an answer to his philosophical question provide Tazzyman plenty of space to conjure up some wonderfully comical scenes, and the boy himself with snub nose, specs and bobble hat is cheekily enchanting.

Words and Your Heart
Kate Jane Neal
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Words are powerful things: they can make your heart soar; they can make your heart sink; they can make your heart sing; they can make your heart hurt.
Words can be a force for good; or they can be a force for causing pain.
All this and more is demonstrated through characters Pip and Cat in author/illustrator Kate Jane Neal’s debut picture book.
‘This book is about your heart.
The little bit inside of you that makes you, you!’

So begins this unassuming book that goes on to say ‘the words that enter your ears can affect your heart.’
Her simple, but compelling message is a wonderful demonstration of how we can all contribute to making the world a better place by being mindful of the words we use to, and about, other people.

Executed with minimal colour, the illustrations, together with the empathetic and compassionate text that is orchestrated by means of changes of font, put forward a message too important to ignore.

A book to share and talk about at home, in playgroups and nursery settings, and in schools.

I’ve signed the charter  

Can I Build Another Me?

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Can I Build Another Me?
Shinsuke Yoshitake
Thames & Hudson
The boy narrator of this powerful, brilliantly inventive book, shares with readers what happens when he comes up with the ingenious idea of building a Kevin replica in order to avoid doing boring things such as homework, tidying his room and generally helping around the house. Off he goes to the electronics shop where he spends all his pocket money on a robot. “From now on, you’re going to be the new me!” he informs the thing, “But don’t let anyone know. You must behave exactly like me.”
The ordinary basic facts are easily dealt with …

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but in order to be fool-proof, the robot needs to know everything about Kevin and that entails getting right up close and personal …

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Even that is not enough though; Kevin has to do a complete self-evaluation and consider the things that REALLY make him, him. No easy undertaking, as talking about himself is not something Kevin likes to do, especially when it comes to tricky considerations such as ‘What do other people think about me?

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Eventually, it becomes evident that Kevin is anything but ordinary

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or as his Grandma has pointed out he’s ‘NO ONE BUT ME … everyone is like a tree … you can choose how to grow … and it’s whether you like your tree, that’s what counts!’
In other words, he’s utterly unique: it’s the Kevinness of Kevin that matters.

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Is that something the robot can ever really take on, no matter how precise a picture he has amassed: will the master plan work or will Mum see through the whole charade right away? Err …
Philosophy for children this certainly is: I lost count of how many times it opens up space for reflection and discussion. It’s also totally empowering, funny, bound to induce self-reflection – who can resist creating some quirky Kevin-style self-portraits like these …

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and the minimal colour palette and superbly detailed illustrations, both large and small, all build up to one thing when it comes to the latest Yoshitake and that one thing is, genius.

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