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A hungry little mouse strolls through very prettily illustrated countryside scenes, reminiscent of favourite folk tales, and is lucky enough to discover four juicy apples. So far, so good, but then she runs into a bear, a bear who holds that might is right and who refuses to share. Undeterred, the clever mouse finds a way to eat her apples and to persuade her new friend of the joy of sharing. Written in rhyme this is particularly pleasing to read aloud and children will love the story of a lesson learned and friendship formed.
There are lots of things Bear loves, and he tells us all about them in this charming picture book. From playing with friends, to reading with Daddy, to wearing his underpants on his head (surely to be a favourite image with readers!), all is described through a jolly rhyming text and accompanying lively illustrations. Even when he’s giving in to the naughty little voice in his ear and playing tricks, Bear still looks cute as a button, like any toddler. This will be a lovely book for grown-ups and children to share, with so many scenes and activities they’ll recognise.
That dog is a very smart one. He’s quick, clever and a bit of a detective in his spare time and he might just have worked out who's behind the dastardly crimes. Will he avoid getting caught himself and rescue his fellow creatures? This second book from the author and illustrator of Big Cat is just as charming and funny as the first.
Join the little pirate bunnies on a seaside treasure hunt, and help them find ten golden coins cleverly hidden under flaps. Together you can splash, splosh, splish through the shallows, swoosh, swoosh, swish with the dolphins and squawk, squawk, screech with the parrots before doing it all in reverse running back to the beach. The story follows the classic structure of the bear hunt, but here the scenes are seaside, seashore and tropical forest, the sea sparkling beautifully in Laura Hughes’ gorgeous illustrations. Children will love joining in with the rhyming, onomatopoeic text and they’ll relish the thrill of finding the coins too. All the fun of a day by the sea!
June 2020 Book of the Month | Check your bookshelves, everyone. We bet they’re full of books about bears, yes? Well it’s time to make room for books about alpacas, starting with this one about alpaca Alfonso! Alfonso loves a good story and when he realises that all his favourite books star bears, but don’t feature any alpacas at all, he sets out to change things. He persuades his friend Colin – a bear – to help, but succeeds only after energetically demonstrating just how great alpacas are. This has to be one of the liveliest picture books of the year, and Alfonso’s passion, enthusiasm and determination gleam from every page. While it makes for wonderful reading, it’s also saying something very important: everyone should see themselves represented in books, and all our reading experiences will be the better if they do.
Of course you shouldn’t call an elephant in an emergency, he’ll just tangle the fire hoses and cause a flood. Don’t let lemmings fly the rescue helicopter either, or rely on an anteater for a cave rescue (he’ll disgrace himself). These are just some of the ridiculous scenarios dreamed up by Patricia Cleveland-Peck in the latest in this hilarious picture book series, illustrations by David Tazzyman, his scribbly detail catching all the chaos and possibilities of the action. It’s great to read aloud and the action builds to a perfect, and perfectly funny conclusion. Peck and Tazzyman are the consummate picture book partnerships and each double-page is an brilliant adventure in its own right.
Translated by Rachel Ward | The world needs a smart, resilient, lucky little hero right now, and Nibbles the mouse fits the bill perfectly. At the opening of the story, Nibbles is living quietly but happily with his family in Munich but redevelopment means they have to move somewhere a lot less comfortable and when Nibbles gets the chance to hop on a train to Switzerland (aka mouse heaven) he takes it. All sorts of adventures follow – he even finds himself performing in a circus – and his travels take him to France and England too before he makes his way home to his family. Nibbles is a great storyteller and his adventures are both comic and thrilling, while he meets some wonderful characters on the way. The telling is enlivened further by Axel Scheffler’s colour illustrations which are a perfect match for Nibbles’ plain but heartfelt narrative. Thoroughly charming, this is a great little book and perfect for shared or solo reading.
April 2020 Book of the Month | A series of jaw-dropping pop-up spreads present readers with animals and their eggs, and some amazing facts too. Everyone will have their own favourite – the daddy Emperor penguins sheltering eggs and chicks on their feet; the brightly coloured clownfish keeping watch over their babies; the mighty crocodile gently carrying her young down to the river in her mouth. The illustrations and paper engineering are very impressive, and the information they help deliver is fascinating: there’ll be gasps at each turn of the page, time and again.
This is a really sweet story. The story says important things about friendship and acceptance, and there's an environmental message at the end which I thought was great. It's very well written - always a good example for children. The pencil drawing illustrations are lovely, although Bertie sometimes looks a bit unfriendly, and younger children might prefer brightly coloured illustrations. I'd definitely read it to my granddaughter who is four. However, I'm just not sure what age group it's aimed at as some of the adventures might not be relatable to a younger child whilst older children might find the story too "young".
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2020 | | Award-winning Axel Scheffler’s familiar illustrations are a great introduction to simple concepts for the very young. Fox, Rabbit, Bear and Pig, four friends from Acorn Wood explore Colours, Counting, Friends and Opposites in these four small scale and highly durable board books which are neatly held together in a min-library box.
Rabbit and Bear: Book 4 | Rabbit is worried: trees in their forest are disappearing and, worse still, the stream has moved – even unflappable Bear declares herself ‘close to being slightly worried’ at that. The cause is the arrival of Castor Canadensis, a beaver, who is delighted with engineering as a means of building ‘New, Bigger and Better things’ in the name of ‘Progress’. It suits some of the animals, but definitely not all. Fortunately, Bear finds a way to get the animals working together, so that Castor’s hard work benefits them all, himself included. As ever, there’s as much insight as humour, and it’s a superb read aloud story. Gough and Field make creating books this good look simple, because they’re both masters at what they do. Treat yourself, and buy all four books.
February 2020 Book of the Month | Expect this whimsical and gorgeously illustrated picture book to infect children with an urge to go exploring, if not bird-spotting. Otto’s family are obsessive bird-spotters, indeed, so deep is their passion that they’ve turned their home into a hide. Otto though loves exploring and it’s on one of his trips that he finds, and secretly brings home, a very unusual baby bird. He’s able to hide it from his family because his new friend proves surprisingly good at camouflage. But, as the bird grows (and grows), Otto realises that it’s missing its family and recruits his own to help track them down. There’s lots to enjoy in the story and Graham Carter’s glowing illustrations are full of treats too, the camouflage scenes are particularly delightful. A funny, original story with satisfying underlying themes of adventure, friendship and family.
A cheeky, free-wheeling young monkey is the star of Michael Foreman’s new picturebook, which bursts with energy and fun. Milo is determined mot to miss the cycle race as it comes through his town and has no idea of the devastation he leaves behind him as he races to the finishing line – most of it caused by the banana skin he casually chucks over his shoulder as he starts his pell-mell progress. Children will love the scenes of chaos, and the wonderful way in which Milo’s repeated ‘I didn’t do it!’ becomes a triumphant ‘I did it!’ via a surprise ending. Beautiful to look at, simple to read, and it neatly delivers a very satisfying story too. Hear, hear for Milo!
Fabio the flamingo and Gilbert the giraffe are the animal Holmes and Watson, solving mysteries from their office on the banks of the Laloozee river. A trip in Gilbert’s new plane leads them off the beaten track to a small town where there’s something fishy going on with the water supply. Red herrings are scattered all over the place before Fabio solves the case, identifying the culprits. It all makes for fun and flamboyant reading (love Emily Fox’s illustrations and the fluorescent colour scheme). Fabio and George are a great comic double act and there’s real satisfaction to be had as they work out the crimes too.
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