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Sam Usher graduated from the University of West England and his debut picture book Can You See Sassoon? was shortlisted for the Waterstones Prize and the Red House Children's Book Award. He is particularly admired for his technical drawing skill and prowess with watercolour. Also a talented pianist, when he's not holding a pen and wobbling at paper you'll find him perfecting a fiendishly difficult piece of Chopin.
A wonderful introduction to how a modern place somewhere in the UK will have been created over the centuries, this beautiful picture book cleverly records the history of a place as it would look from the perspective of an oak tree. Oaks are famous for the exceptional number of years that they live and their permanence makes an interesting contrast to how frequently humans change the landscape. “I first was an acorn, so tiny and round,/I fell from a branch and sank into the ground./ Then as I grew up, I turned into a tree…/ over hundreds of years! So, what did I see?” Taken together, the simple rhyming text matched by beautiful and carefully detailed illustrations offer a delightful history lesson. The book ends with a useful timeline: "What was happening in the world while the oak tree grew?". It comes right up to the present with the spreading of the Covid-19 virus!
The Umbrella Mouse was one of the stand-out debuts of 2019 and scooped the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Award. Now Pip, the Umbrella Mouse, hero of the secret animal resistance is back in a new wartime adventure. Her aim is still to reach Italy and the umbrella museum in Gignese where her family are from. But the war is not over, and she is still a fierce defender of liberty, willing to do anything she can for her friends and allies in the fight against Hitler. Courage and that love for her friends sees her through but her adventures have moments of tension and danger aplenty, certainly enough to keep readers absorbed, while the idea of these extraordinary things happening to the smallest of creatures will enthral and inspire them. Sam Usher’s evocative black and white line drawings add to the atmosphere and deep sense of camaraderie.
November 2019 Debut of the Month | Mr Moose and Mr Brown first meet on an aeroplane flying from America to London. Mr Moose should be with his brother Monty, but absent-minded Monty has got on the wrong plane. Mr Brown, who is a famous fashion designer (as is the book’s author Paul Smith), offers to help his new friend find his missing brother. As they travel the world, Mr Moose helps Mr Brown with his fashion range, suggesting some very interesting garments – parkas for penguins, sneakers for cheetahs, scarves for giraffes. As they fit out an Alaskan bear for snow-shoes Mr Brown has an idea … It all ends with a happy reunion at a big catwalk (moosewalk?) show. It’s an engaging story and very strong on the fun and satisfaction that comes from designing things and from creative partnerships. Sam Usher paints some wonderful scenes, including a witty reimagining of Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942.
May 2019 Debut of the Month | Bombs, ruthless enemies, a channel crossing in the dark, minefields – young Pip has to negotiate all these dangers in the course of this exciting, beautifully written wartime adventure story. It would be challenge enough for anyone, but Pip is a mouse, newly orphaned and homeless too. Fortunately, though she’s small, she’s very, very brave and nothing will stop her in her quest to deliver the umbrella that’s been her home back to the museum in Italy where her mother grew up. Along the way, she joins Churchill’s secret animal army and fights with the Allied forces. It’s testament to the quality of Anna Fargher’s writing that readers will believe in Pip one hundred per cent. The wartime background is vivid and completely convincing and Pip and her animal comrades are beguiling characters. Original adventure from an exciting new author.
There’s all the fun of the circus in Alexander McCall Smith’s new series, and a satisfying bit of junior sleuthing. Young Billy, Fern and Joe are performers in their family circus, but there’s a bit of Sherlock Holmes about them too: as their friend Mr Birdcage points out, they’re clever, and they like helping people. So when they notice a sad boy in the audience and find out his granny has gone missing, they set about finding her, using some of their circus skills in the process. Readers will be delighted to know that the circus’s troupe of dog stars play a part as well. It’s a lovely story and as ever filled with the all-embracing sense of kindness and integrity that is characteristic of McCall Smith’s writing.
A small bear goes on a big adventure when he is left behind on a train one day in the charming tale of The Most-Loved Bear. This story, which spans the lifetime of little Mary Rose, is one of Sam McBratney's personal favourites. Based on a real-life teddy bear which has been owned by Sam’s wife Maralyn since the 1940s, the story of The Most Loved Bear is sure to steal your heart this winter.
February 2018 Book of the Month | Hari lives in a biggish city in India with his sister and aunt. He’s always cheerful and enjoys helping support them all delivering tiffin boxes for the nearby take-away and running his own sweet-making business. He spends some of the proceeds on tickets to the cinema and particularly likes musicals. When he accidentally stumbles onto a real film set, his special talent is suddenly revealed: when Hari dances, everyone has to join in. It makes him a local celebrity then, with the help of his friend Mr Ram, Hari uses his gift to spread happiness further afield. The story is as tempting and delicious as Hari’s coconut barfi, and its engaging narrator will have readers almost convinced it’s a true story; the world would certainly be a better place if it was. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2018 | Interest Age 5-8 | | We Are Not Frogs is a joyful exploration of frog, toad and human nature! Toads are not at all like frogs. The frogs have set up a long-jump competition which the toads go along with, even though they know the frogs will win – anything for a quiet life. The game is interrupted by the arrival first of a dog, then a couple of children, who have a lot to learn about toads. Readers will stay one jump ahead of the protagonists throughout, and it’s a fun and very satisfying story. Sam Usher’s lively illustrations reveal just as much about the characters – amphibian and human – as the text, and feature a counting game too.
Both an engaging guidebook to the major sights of our capital city and a collection of new London poems, this is a lovely book to read aloud and to look at. Sam Usher’s attractive pen and watercolour illustrations catch the beauty and grandeur of the city as well as its energy, its busyness made particularly appealing here. They are an excellent accompaniment to Patricia Toht’s poems which show us the city through a child’s excited gaze, from the London Eye, ‘a bracelet that hangs off the arm of the Thames’, to Piccadilly Circus in the rain. She takes particular pleasure in the various sounds of the city, from the bonnng of Big Ben to the ‘Hisssss. Ka-thunk’ of closing tube doors. ~ Andrea Reece
This beautiful picture book captures the absolute essence of Christmas, retelling the story of the Nativity through the eyes of the donkey, and presenting the Holy Family as refugees relying on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter. The text is gentle and reassuring for the youngest reader, and the illustrations, black and grey wash lit up by bold splashes of yellow, show the family as real people in a difficult and frightening situation. The final spread offers hope, and depicts the family gathered round a table with friends in Egypt, having found shelter. £1 from every sale will go to the charity War Child UK. ~ Andrea Reece Kate at Nosy Crow says: “I was watching the ongoing refugee crisis on the news a few weeks ago and desperately wanted to do something to help. Then Anne sent in her beautiful text. We read it, we cried and we knew we had found what we could do. I couldn’t be more proud of everyone who is giving their time and skills for free to help us publish this beautiful book, to do what we can to help.”
In 3: adventure – a secret world – steam trains The follow up to The Secret Railway has arrived right on time! After their adventures in the magical kingdom of Izzambard, sister and brother Ella and Leo are desperate to return and readers will be delighted to climb on board the Izzambard Express and go with them. This time they need to get the Fairy Dust mines reopened to fuel the magic the kingdom needs. It’s another sparkling, fast-moving story full of quirky characters, such as the engine stokers, noble waist-coated squirrels Lord and Lady Asquith! Sam Usher’s lively black and white illustrations have something of Quentin Blake about them and catch all the fun and magic. ~ Andrea Reece
In three words: secret worlds - adventure – magic There are echoes of Narnia in this exciting adventure which begins with two children finding a door into another world, not in a wardrobe, but in an abandoned workshop full of old railway paraphernalia. Behind the door Ella and Leo find a magic steam train, powered by squirrels and driven by a young man called Barty Buckle. The children are vital to the kingdom of Izzambard: only if they can find missing special objects will its magic return. The story is full of intriguing and original scenes and will sweep readers along while Ella and Leo are thoroughly appealing characters. Sam Usher has fun illustrating robot butterflies, beaver waiters and a hippopotamouse! ~ Andrea Reece
A Dyslexia Friendly Picture Book for Parent and Child | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | March 2016 Book of the Month | New on Barrington Stoke’s excellent Picture Squirrel list We Are Not Frogs is a joyful exploration of frog, toad and human nature! Toads are not at all like frogs as we see on the opening page: the frogs have set up a long-jump competition which the toads go along with, even though they know the frogs will win – anything for a quiet life. The game is interrupted by the arrival first of a dog, then a couple of children, who have a lot to learn about toads. Readers will stay one jump ahead of the protagonists throughout, and it’s a fun and very satisfying story. Sam Usher’s lively illustrations reveal just as much about the characters – amphibian and human – as the text, and feature a counting game too. Clever but unobtrusive design features make this especially accessible for dyslexic readers.
Interest Age 5-8 Poor Josh, he’s being tortured by his baby brother. Charlie may only be 17 days old but he’s really making Josh angry: he keeps everyone awake all night; he takes all their parents’ attention; they’ve had to move house, and no-one has time to unpack, let alone decorate Josh’s room. But over the course of one night, Josh comes to love his brother so fiercely he knows he’d dive into icy waters to save him. It’s a beautifully observed slice of family life told with genuine warmth, and without a trace of sentimentality. Sam Usher’s illustrations of the two brothers are gorgeous too. A special book for sharing or for children to read on their own. ~ Andrea Reece About the Little Gems series: Little Gems are in a gorgeous new chunky format, with high-spec production including coloured endpapers and jacketed flaps with activities. Additional features include high quality cream paper, Barrington Stoke font and illustrations on every page. They are perfect for 5-8's. These quality stories promote good reading practice for all newly independent readers.
The Witch Dance is a special party. Every witch brings a cloak, a hat and a cat. But not Witch Rose. She is allergic to cats! Luckily for her, Nightshade, the perfect Witch Dog is on hand to help. But can Witch Rose and Nightshade convince the other witches that a Witch Dog really can be as good as any cat?
Shortlisted for The Red House Children’s Book Award 2012. This is Sassoon. He likes to hide. Can you find him? Look inside! Meet Sassoon the snake as he plays hide-and-seek with his friends. Filled with fun and silly things to spot, this colourful book from exciting new talent, Sam Usher, is guaranteed to delight!
Tatenda says thank you every day, wherever he can. Thank you to Mum and Dad for making breakfast, thank you to the post lady for delivering his favourite comic, thank you to his teacher for marking his work and thank you to the shop assistant stacking shelves. But lately, it seems no one can hear his thank yous: their heads are too foggy with worry. So Tatenda decides to say his biggest 'Thank you' ever. He stands on tiptoe, brings his arms down like a huge rainbow... and this time, his thank you helps the whole community feel better! This beautiful story from an award-winning author and illustrator team was inspired by the coronavirus pandemic and the NHS Thursday clap and helps to show children how they can celebrate the key workers in their lives. By buying a copy of this book you are making a donation of 3% of the retail price to Groundwork, a charity that helps some of the UK's most disadvantaged communities deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Grandad and Boy look after a cat for a friend. Boy does lots of reading up about what cats like, but the cat is having none of it. And then it runs off into the wild, leading Grandad and Boy into a wild jungle fantasy adventure of their own. The second title in Sam Usher's new quartet of books where a boy and his grandad explore the natural world.
THIS BEAUTIFUL LIMITED GIFT EDITION FEATURES AN ART PRINT OF MOOSE AND MR BROWN NUMBERED AND SIGNED BY SIR PAUL SMITH AND SAM USHER AND A SPECIAL LINEN-BOUND EDITION OF THE BOOK, CONTAINED IN A LINEN CLAMSHELL BOX. This is the renowned international fashion designer Sir Paul Smith's very first children's picture book - and the first book in a new and exciting series. Written by Sir Paul and illustrated by the brilliant Sam Usher it is a stunning, beautiful, laugh-out-loud story of animals, travel, design and finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places. Inspired by toys that Paul has owned for many years, the main characters are Moose, a moose, and Mr Brown, a monkey who lives in Sir Paul's office in London. Mr Brown is an international fashion designer, who meets Moose on a plane travelling to London. Moose is distraught as he has lost his twin brother Monty - who got on the wrong plane! Mr Brown agrees to help Moose track Monty down, and in return, Moose helps bring even more inspiration to Mr Brown's business. They travel around the world, helping other animals with their designs (slippers for sloths, parkas for penguins, scarves for giraffes, and more) and looking for Monty. Will Mr Brown and Moose find Monty before Mr Brown's big catwalk show?
From Sam McBratney, the author of beloved bestseller Guess How Much I Love You, and immense picture-book talent Sam Usher, The Most-Loved Bear is a captivating, classic picture book story that will enchant families for many years to come. Growly Bear and Mary Rose are very best friends and do everything together. Until, one day, Growly Bear is left behind on a train. He's sure that Mary Rose will come back for him. However, as the days turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months, Growly Bear's fur gets worn, his eye comes loose and his Growl starts to fade. Then, a child picks him up! But it isn't the child he was expecting... A warm, nostalgic tale about the enduring love between a child and their very favourite teddy bear - the perfect story for families to share at Christmas.
Roll up! Roll up! A new season is about to begin at the Shortbread family's circus! The big-top is ready and everyone is excited to get started. But as the shows begin chief clown Mr Birdcage is in a bit of a pickle - none of his hilarious props seem to be working! When budding detectives Billy, Fern and Joe get on the case to investigate, they soon discover that the props have been tampered with! But who would want to sabotage Mr Birdcage and why?
Boy and Grandad take care of a little bird. When it gets better, Grandad puts it outside, but it keeps hopping back into the house, following Boy wherever he goes. Boy wonders what kind of bird it is. An eagle? An ostrich? A bird of paradise, perhaps? He wants to keep it, but Grandad says it must return to its natural habitat in the wild where it can spread its wings and be free. And so begins an exhilarating journey into the mountains. The first in a new quartet of enchanting picture books where a boy and his beloved grandad discover the wonder of the natural world.
Boy and Grandad take care of a little bird. When it gets better, Grandad puts it outside, but it keeps hopping back into the house, following Boy wherever he goes. Boy wonders what kind of bird it is. An eagle? An ostrich? A bird of paradise, perhaps? He wants to keep it, but Grandad says it must return to its natural habitat in the wild where it can spread its wings and be free. And so begins an exhilarating journey into the rainforest! The first in a new quartet of enchanting picture books where a boy and his beloved grandad discover the wonder of the natural world.
It's blowing up a storm, and a boy and his grandad decide it's the perfect weather for kite-flying. There's just one problem - first they have to find the kite. Their search brings up lots of wonderful memories of previous adventures together, but when they finally make it outside, their adventure really takes off!
It's blowing up a storm, and a boy and his grandad decide it's the perfect weather for kite-flying. There's just one problem - first they have to find the kite. Their search brings up lots of wonderful memories of previous times together, but when they finally make it outside, their adventure really takes off!
Sam wants to go out but it's pouring with rain, so he and Grandpa decide to stay inside until the rain stops. Sam drinks hot chocolate and reads his books and dreams of adventures while Grandpa gets on with his important paperwork. Grandpa seems to have a VERY important letter to write. Then that very important letter has to be posted, despite the rain and floods. As they finally go outside, Sam and Grandpa have a magical adventure. Rain is the follow-up to the acclaimed Snow; and is the second title in a four-book series based on the weather.
It's the hottest day of the year, the perfect day for a boy and his grandad to set off on an adventure - and the perfect day to share a picnic with pirates!
It's the hottest day of the year, hotter than broccoli soup, hotter than the Atacama Desert, hotter than the surface of the sun. It's just the right kind of day for a boy and his grandad to go for a picnic. But as the sun beats down, Grandad keeps having to stop for a rest, and by the time they find the perfect picnic spot, some pirates have beaten them to it. Good job they have enough food to share... Sun is the third title in Sam Usher's acclaimed seasonal series, following on from Snow and Rain. Combined sales of Snow and Rain total over 70,000 copies.
Sir Simon de Canterville has been haunting the residents of Canterville Chase for 300 years - and then the Otis family moves in. No matter how hard he tries, they won't be spooked, and soon the Otis family turns their attention to getting rid of him... This collection contains all seven of Oscar Wilde's stories for children: The Canterville Ghost The Selfish Giant The Nightingale and the Rose The Devoted Friend The Happy Prince The Remarkable Rocket The Young King
The Christmas story and what follows: the fleeing of Jesus, Mary and Joseph from Herod's soldiers to Egypt. This is a book with timeless crossover appeal and a message that couldn't be more relevant.
Every child loves a snow day - no school and snowball fights galore! But a boy has to wait for his grandad. Trying to hurry him up, he tells Grandad all the other kids have gone to the park . . . and all the local dogs . . .and all the zoo animals! Only when they finally arrive does Grandad see that his grandson was telling the truth - and both of them get stuck in having fun on their snow day!
Every child loves a snow day - no school and snowball fights galore! But Sam has to wait for his Grandad. Trying to hurry him up, Sam tells Grandad all the other kids have gone to the park... and all the local dogs... and all the zoo animals! Only when they finally arrive does Grandad see Sam was telling the truth - and both of them get stuck in having fun on their snow day!
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