Spring into Picture Books

Firstly I am going to look at a selection of stories based around reading and books, which seems somewhat appropriate, given the theme of this blog. It has become quite common to see books and reading become the focus of books, both picture books and those for slightly older readers.  I have noticed that there are several others being published during the summer, so I hope I will be able to write about them later in the year.

Andersen Press, 9781783446025

“Not just a book” by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross is full of the magic and imagination that we have come to expect from Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross.  It is very simple  text with Tony Ross’s now classic style of illustration.  We see the multitude of things you can do with a book (even if it is not such a good idea) but the focal point is that reading a book enables us to use our imagination, to feel emotion and empathize with others, to learn from and to enjoy.

Little Red Reading Hood” by Lucy Rowland and Ben Mantle.  this is another look at the magic of reading and how a little imagination can change the stories that we know.  It starts out as a version of ‘Little red Riding Hood, but takes an unexpected turn, thanks to the librarian who had been tied up by the wolf.  It encourages children to change things around if they don’t like the way a story is going and is a wonderful encouragement for those wanting to write their own stories.

“Birdy and Bou: the Floating Library” by David Bedford and Mandy Stanley is a charming story aimed at the very young.  Bou, the panda and his friend Birdy live on the edge of a river.  Imagine their excitement when they see the Library Boat on its way to their village, so they and their friends hurry down to the river bank so they can choose some books to read.  they become so involved that they do not notice that the boat is about to leave and they need to get the book back.  Luckily Birdy is able to fly the book to the Library! A great introduction to using a library and a way of reminding us that in other parts of the world having access to books is more difficult than for us.

Read the Book, Lemmings” by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora is a tale about the importance of being able to read.  Foxy is reading his book about Lemmings and finds that they don’t actually jump off cliffs, unfortunately the three on board his ship can’t read and keep jumping into the water, where they need to be rescued. Despite all his efforts, I am not sure that the Lemmings really understand what he was trying to say  A great story for the very young, but with a very important message for even the adults among us.

 

 

The rest of my selection for this time are all new titles and most of them deal with various issues that young children are likely to come across at home, or in school.  While the subjects vary and the illustrations and text  range from the conventional to the extremely quirky, I think that these are all great books that you will enjoy reading to young listeners.

“Picking Pickle” by Polly Faber and Clare Vulliamy.  this is an absolutely gorgeous story about choosing a new dog.It is a simple discussion between the reader and a dog called Pickle and he is trying to help us find the right dog to take home.  Well, you can imagine who the perfect animal turns out to be!  This is a magical  story to read to any child, especially if you are thinking about buying a pet.  It makes you think about the animal and whether it will fit in with your family, so that you become the perfect family for this dog.

“The Itchy-saurus” by Rosie Wellesley is the story of a T-Rex who suddenly finds that his skin has become red, dry and very itchy and he doesn’t know what to do about it.  Luckily Doc Bill (a Platypus) comes along and helps him get better with some soothing creams and treatments.  Whilst this is a great story it also has a very strong role in helping young children who have eczema  understand what is wrong and how the doctors are trying to help them.  Definitely one for schools, nurseries and even doctors’ surgeries.

“What’s at the Top” by Marc Martin.  This is a totally fantastic flight of imagination as we are asked what might be at the top of a ladder.  The questioner comes up with increasingly more complex possibilities; the amount of text increasing as the book continues.  The twist at the end of the story, when we see who is asking the questions will have everyone smiling, but I am not going to give away the identity.  A longer review for this book can be found in Armadillo magazine on-line.

“Erik the lone wolf” by Sarah Finan is the story of a young wolf who wants to be independent and get away from the pack.  However he finds that there are occasions when it is very helpful to have the support of the pack, especially when danger is close by.  It is a lovely tale of  trying to grow up, testing the boundaries and then understanding the meaning of family and friends.  the illustrations are great and you get  real sense of connection with Erik and his attempts to grow up.

“The Station Mouse” by Meg McLaren is one of my favourite picture books so far this year.  It is the story of Maurice, a station mouse, who collects all of the lost items every night but no one ever comes to claim them back.  How Maurice changes the rules of the ‘Station Mouse Handbook’ and makes things better for everyone makes for a fantastic book, which leaves you with a warm  glow when you have finished reading it.  This is going on my list of  ‘forever’ books.

“Between Tick and Tock” by Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay.   What a totally enchanting story about the pressures of living in the modern world and having that breathing space to sort everything out.  This is the story of Liesel, a little girl who lives high in a clock tower.  When she see things going wrong and people being unhappy she stops time and uses that space to help mend, replace, find or save people and things that need help.  It really reminds us about the importance of kindness and helping others and has a really magical quality.  It is yet another book that will be on my ‘forever’ books list because of the thoughtfulness that it evokes.

“Ruby’s Worry” by Tom Percival reminds me a bit of  “The Huge bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside and Frank Rodgers, but it is an updated look at the issue that many children (as well as adults struggle with).  When Ruby discovers a worry gradually getting bigger she worries so much that it begins to take over her life.  Then one day she discovers someone else with a worry and they find that talking about them makes them grow smaller and eventually disappear.  The simple, clear and supportive message is one that we all need to remember and this is a perfect story to tell to young children who are in the same situation as Ruby.

 

 

Enjoy the books and have a lovely summer!

 

Picture book fun

With a small grandson I am even more interested in picture books than I was before, and I have always loved seeing how writers and illustrators get the words and pictures to work together.  Here are some of the books I have enjoyed over the last few months, and I just had to include two books with the same title!

The first of these books is by Angie Morgan and is a story about a rat who thinks he is actually a mouse.  It is beautifully written and illustrated tale of knowing who you are inside and not being stereotyped.  The second story is the story of a small kitten who joins the circus and has difficulties finding his place in the world.  Then he has a BIG idea and becomes a triumph.  Again this is about knowing yourself and also working with your strengths.

Egmont Books

Egmont Books

Frances Lincoln books

Frances Lincoln Books 

 

 

David Roberts must be one of my favourite illustrators, with a very distinctive style and pictures that are full of colour, action and a truly  subversive  sense of humour.  I first saw a copy of his latest book, written by Peter Bently, at an Andersen preview evening last autumn and I was thrilled when a copy landed on my doorstep.  It is about the adventures of a group of sheep who steal an airplane and have fantastic adventures, whilst being chased by the pilot, who looks remarkably like Dick Dastardly.  The setting is early 20th century, so we have the open bi-plane and the link to the film ” those magnificent men….”  It really is a great story and full of wonderful atmospheric pictures.

Andersen Press

Andersen Press

Andersen Press

Andersen Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo Hodgkinson is new to me but I really loved this gentle tale of friendship and parenting.  Billy has parents who love magic, the trouble is, they are not very good at it.  One day Billy saves Nigel the snail from one of their spells and they become firm friends.  Unfortunately the parents think Nigel is unexciting and try to persuade Billy to have another pet; as a result Nigel decides to leave.  Luckily, after a lot of excitement, all ends well.  I think I am going to have great fun reading this to my grandson and I look forward to seeing more work by this author.

Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury

Alison Green Books Scholastic

Alison Green Books
Scholastic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These final two stories really appealed to me and I have been talking about them to anyone willing to listen.  “Herman’s Letter” is written and illustrated by Tom Percival, perhaps better know for his covers to the “Skulduggery Pleasant” books.  It is a gently humorous book about what happens when best friends Henry Raccoon and Herman Bear are separated.  Herman worries that his friend has forgotten him and Henry is concerned that he has not heard from his friend.  How everything is resolved makes for a warm and enjoyable tale.

The final book is by Thomas and Helen Docherty and focuses on the importance of bedtime stories, family and friendship.  In Burrow Down all the children enjoy stories at bedtime, but then their books start to mysteriously disappear.  Who could be stealing their bedtime stories?  A small rabbit called Eliza Brown takes on the challenge and finds a small creature called a “Snatchabook”.  The resolution to the story is satisfying and reminds us of the importance of the bedtime story and the way it brings adults and children together.