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One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | This must be one of the brightest and best picture books of the year. With minimalist illustrations – simple shapes against blocks of Day-Glo colour – and short lines of text, Morag Hood tells a story that will dazzle and entertain all readers. Cherries, Bat tells us, ‘are my favourite things’, following this up with a fiercely delivered threat: ‘Do not take my cherries.’ In later pages though we see the cherries being stolen. Bat is inconsolable until one of the thieves leaves a pear in their place. Bat’s emotions – joy, anger, confusion, despair, surprise and joy again – are rendered brilliantly in the tilt of an eyebrow and the angle of the head while the intensity of those emotions will be hilarious yet recognisable to child and parent alike. Superb! ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: brave, loyal, upstanding rabbit hero versus despicable rats Fans of rabbit hero Shylo Tawny-Tail will be delighted to hear that he is back for another exciting adventure. Shylo and the other Royal Rabbits of London are pledged to protect the queen and operate from secret headquarters under Buckingham Palace itself. Their arch enemies are the rat Ratzis, unscrupulous vermin not above using the internet to spread their web of evil. The forthcoming visit of POTUS provides the Ratzis with the opportunity to cause chaos, can Shylo stop them? This second adventure is faster-paced and more action-packed than the first, full of exciting moments though there’s plenty of room for humour and lovely character descriptions too. It’s great fun and there’s a proper emphasis on doing the right thing and discovering your own reserves of courage too. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: jungle adventures, jungle survival Makur – Mak – star of Bear Gryll’s thoroughly entertaining story Spirit of the Jungle is back for a new adventure and it’s as gripping as the first. Mak is in India again and has met up with his friend Diya. They’re meant to be keeping out of trouble, but when a young elephant is taken from its herd by a cruel merchant the two decide to reunite it with its family. Soon they are on their own in the jungle and will need all their wits – and all their survival skills – to make it home. It’s a real page-turner and full of fascinating details about the jungle and its creatures as well as information on ways to survive it. ~ Andrea Reece
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2017 The US classic picture book about a bull who would rather sit under the cork tree and smell the flowers than fight in the bullring makes a welcome re-appearance in this attractive edition. The story, and the original illustration by award-winning US illustrator Robert Lawson, offer a thoughtful commentary on expectations of how bulls – and boys – should behave. And, with the backdrop of the bullfight, it looks at how cruelly animals are treated. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for September 2017 Goth Girl and the Sinister Symphony by Chris Riddell A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge This Book Isn't Safe! by Colin Furze The Grotlyn by Benji Davies Billy and the Minpins by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of The Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf Birthday Boy by David Baddiel
This handsome, large format information book provides a fascinating introduction to the world of bugs (meaning the entire class of insects). Readers will gain a good understanding of insects in part one, from what they are to how they live; the book then looks at the different type of bugs in closer detail, picking out creatures such as the bullet ant or giant mesquite bug to explain more about their senses, defence, life cycles. Illustrations show the insects larger than life in eye-catching colour, but each is noted with its actual size too. Scientific terms are used throughout, all clearly listed and explained in a glossary. Attractive to look at, this is well thought-out and inspiring. ~ Andrea Reece
From the team behind the hugely popular Oi Frog! and Oi Dog! comes another daft and utterly wonderful new rhyming spectacular. Frog is in charge and has decided that cats must sit on gnats, much to Cat’s irritation. Dog tries to help, running through various rhyming combinations, but Frog’s rules are rules and Cat is stuck on the gnats, until Dog has a brainwave: what if Cat was a kitty, or a mog? Children (and adults) will love the increasingly silly seating arrangements, and the ending will have everyone laughing. Utterly brilliant! ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: gentle but exciting time slip evacuee story In Holly Webb’s careful hands this time-slip evacuee story is filled with excitement, adventure and warmth. Travelling by train to see her grandma and great-grandma, Tilly falls asleep and dreams herself into the past. She experiences the same journey as taken by her great-gran as an evacuee over 70 years ago, and lives through the weeks that followed as her great-gran settled into life on a remote farm house on the Welsh borders. Young readers will be fascinated, and entranced by Tilly’s special friendship with the farm’s collie Tarran, who turns out to be a hero. A warm-hearted story that will live on in its readers’ imaginations. ~ Andrea Reece
In this handsome book, Michael Morpurgo has collected together some of the animal stories that he grew up with and loved, from Brer Rabbit and the Ugly Duckling, to Puss in Boots and The Fox and the Crow. They are retold by some of the finest children’s writers of today and each one is illustrated in full colour by a talented illustrator. The tellings are fresh, direct and absorbing. Morpurgo himself has chosen to tell the story of Peter and the Wolf and he does so with typical robustness, his prose lean and insistent, grabbing young readers’ attention in the opening line and holding it to the very end. This is a collection that is certain to fan the imaginations of a new generation of readers. ~ Andrea Reece
Stunning illustrations capture the warm emotions of this magical story and juxtaposes them perfectly with the winter landscape of the white bears and the hunters who live in it. When Raven steals a white bear cub and delivers him to the hunter and his family as the human baby they long for, he sets up a future conflict between man and the bears. The child loves his life with his family but, when Raven leads him back to his bear brother, he falls in love with him too. How the bears and the humans learn to live together through their mutual love of the child tells a story which gently conveys some important messages about tolerance and understanding. ~ Julia Eccleshare
Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy’s Mango and Bambang stories are perfect for newly independent readers. There are four funny, entertaining stories in each collection, short enough to be read easily in one go and full of lively two colour illustrations. Tapir Bambang is a character that children will understand and immediately love: well-meaning if frequently baffled by the human world around him, he tries his best to do the right thing. Meanwhile, his best friend Mango is always there to love and take care of him because, as the stories in this volume explain, they’re real family now. Warm, reassuring, with a true innocence and charm, these are very special little stories indeed. ~ Andrea Reece Bambang is following in the footsteps of Paddington Bear and readers will also enjoy the Harper stories by Cerrie Burnell.
Beautifully produced and gorgeously illustrated, this is an excellent story collection. Each tale features a horse or pony, and quite often the human hero is a young girl, brave, clever and good-hearted. Each story is just the right length for bedtime reading, but they are wonderfully varied, with traditional stories, old favourites and legends from across the world gathered together. Not just for horse lovers, the collection is filled with magic and adventure and full of life lessons too, and will appeal to everyone. ~ Andrea Reece
Kipling’s Jungle Book stories and poems remain some of the best-loved children’s literature, his stories of Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo and Shere-Khan, and of Rikki-tikki and Toomai, retaining all their power to fascinate and intrigue young readers. Complete and unabridged, this version features lively colour illustrations throughout, certain to appeal to its audience. It also includes a short biography of Rudyard Kipling himself, just enough to introduce the man to modern children. ~ Andrea Reece
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