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She may have won the Golden Acorn for eight years running but Squirrel still has a lot to learn about friendship. When a rule change for the annual Golden Acorn Hunt is announced, then Squirrel has to find a team and does not think her friends are up to it. Indeed when they set off she has to keep going back impatiently to rescue them from their comical misadventures. But eventually her need for speed gets the better of her and she zooms off. She gets to the Acorn first only to discover that it is too heavy for her to move alone. What is more there is no sign of her friends and she realises that the Acorn does not matter, she needs her friends. From the talented author and illustrator of the popular Too Many Carrots, this endearing fable about the importance of friendship and teamwork has a lovely message for young children learning all about making friends in the new environment of school or nursery.
Two children must risk everything to escape their fate and find the impossible . . . A brave, thought-provoking adventure by award-winning author, Sita Brahmachari. Shifa and her brother, Themba, live in Kairos City with their father, Nabil. The few live in luxury, whilst the millions like them crowd together in compounds, surviving on meagre rations and governed by Freedom Fields - the organisation that looks after you, as long as you opt in. The bees have long disappeared; instead children must labour on farms, pollinating crops so that the nation can eat. But Nabil remembers Before and he knows that the soul needs to be nourished as much as the body so, despite the risk, he teaches his children how to grow flowers on a secret piece of land hidden beneath the train tracks. The farm Shifa and Themba are sent to is hard and cruel. Themba won't survive there and Shifa comes up with a plan to break them out. But they have no idea where they are - their only guide is a map drawn from the ramblings of a stranger. The journey ahead is fraught with danger, but Shifa is strong and knows to listen to her instincts - to let hope guide them home. The freedom of a nation depends on it . . .
June 2019 Debut of the Month | Children who like reading will love this gentle story. Milly’s favourite thing is story time at her local bookshop. She’s been going since she was very little and the shop owner Mrs Minty can always recommend the perfect book. Milly likes helping in the shop too and she notices it’s looking older and shabbier than it used to. When the bookshop suddenly closes, Milly can’t bear the thought it might not reopen, and her response prompts other people to make their feelings known too. With gorgeous atmospheric full colour illustrations, the story is warm and reassuring and a testament to the power of stories and the importance of community. A lovely book to share.
Actor and screen writer Nathan Byron has teamed with illustrator and character designer Dap Adeola to create a stunning and endearing new character called Rocket for their first venture into picturebooks. This is a little girl to inspire us all with her passion for space and the natural world just like she is inspired by her heroine Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space. But Rocket struggles to get people to pay attention particularly older brother Jamal who is hooked on his smart phone and notices nothing around him and she really does not want to miss the meteor shower and even makes an announcement in the local supermarket to make sure everyone gets a chance to see a natural wonder. Adeola’s skill in inclusive characterisation shines from the pages and captures both Rocket’s enthusiasm and passion and Jamal’s sulky teen grump! Dotted with fascinating facts about meteors and space and with a very well realised and warm family relationship, this is a real treat and it is good to hear that Rocket will feature in two more books to come. Perfect for improving representation in your picture book collections.
Everyone’s favourite little dog has graduated to Disney Junior TV which will introduce the extraordinary adventures of the canny canine and his sidekick Sir Bobblysock to a whole new audience and what a treat they have in store! The standing joke throughout the successful series, illustrated in great style by the award winning Alex T Smith, has been the complete ignorance of Mr and Mrs Shiny Shoes (never viewed beyond knee height) who think their pet sleeps all day and young readers delight in knowing better. The appeal of these tales, whether in picture book as here or in storybook format has always been the multi layered and witty narrative that gives an adult reader as much fun as the child. Sir Bobblysock is particularly hilarious in this episode when it seems that everything conspires to stop him getting his beloved strawberries for breakfast! All the strawberries have been taken for the Pawhaven tennis championships. Claude of course saves the day and accidentally discovers he could be a tennis ace. But actually being kind and allowing the unfortunate Kimberley to win is far more important even when it may cost Sir Bobblysock his strawberries! Pure reading for pleasure and a great introduction to series to entice new readers.
As the season of school sports day approaches this is a perfectly timed new outing for the irrepressible and hilarious cake loving heroine of the Waterstones Prize shortlisted I really want the cake! Cakes play an important part in this tale too, but first this little girl tries and tries to win. She really wants to win! It all starts with a race and she is in the lead but trips. A calamity repeated across every school in the land and so this is very good preparation for little would-be athletes. Time and again her ambition is thwarted. Her friend wins everything. The sense of injustice felt is so perfectly captured in the bold expressive illustrations that reveal the little girl’s impulsive character and her constantly changing emotions. But one day her friend does not win and very surprisingly for our heroine the friend does not mind at all and congratulates the winner. Our heroine is encouraged to forget about winning and just to do what she loves which is baking cakes of course! Then the loyal friend finds a Bake Off competition which our heroine approaches with proper humility having recognised how much she enjoyed the process. She surprises herself by winning and the celebrations are genuine. Resilience triumphs in this completely relatable story which will prompt useful discussion as well as laugh out loud moments.
The Station Mouse is a perfect bedtime read. Every page is a feast to the eye, with jokes and things to spot to keep it interesting read after read. The hero of our story is a most diligent mouse employed in the local railway station on a mission to keep the site clean and tidy. He does this under a strict Rule Book which, amongst many, dictates he must stay out of sight and never approach a passenger. He follows these rules most conscientiously until he spots the opportunity to reunite some lost property as a little boy drops his comforter while crossing the concourse. Hurray for the Station Mouse! I think we've all been unfortunate enough to lose something whilst travelling - if only there were more busy little mice reuniting property. This is a lovely book with original and charming illustrations and a cheerful storyline.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2018 | Beautifully written, beautifully illustrated, Ocean Meets Sky is a celebration of love and the imagination, and a wonderful book to prompt discussion of loss, particularly of a grandparent. Finn has vivid memories of his grandfather and the exciting stories he told. On the day his grandfather would have been 90, Finn builds a boat out of junk and leftover bits of wood. Falling asleep, he dreams an amazing adventure where, in the company of a golden fish, he visits the magical place his grandfather described, where ocean meets sky. Surrounded by whales, strange vessels and starbright jellyfish, he floats up to the moon and finds it has his grandfather’s face, until his mother’s voice calls him home for supper. With a rare sense of silence and wonder this is a story to pore over, to share and to return to again and again.
2018 saw the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth and this is a wonderful book to introduce children to one of the most inspiring figures of modern times. The text takes the form of questions from Nelson Mandela’s great-grandchildren Zazi and Ziwelene to their Grandma Zindzi. As she answers them, readers learn about Mandela and his years in prison, why he was arrested, what he was fighting for and the joy there was on his release. They’ll understand the hardships his children and family endured, and how they kept themselves strong. They’ll also take away the word ‘ubuntu’ - ‘I am because we all are’. The narrative puts readers at the heart of the story while Sean Qualls’s evocative illustrations reveal even more about Mandela’s fight for fairness and freedom.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2019 | A deliciously playful fantasy tells how an audacious and ebullient mouse identifies himself as being something very much more than he is. Especially he dreams of being a tiger! But can he convince anyone else? Sadly for mouse, his lack of stripes, size and GRRR! make it pretty clear that he is certainly not a tiger. And, when a real tiger turns up, Mouse knows for sure that he won’t ever be a tiger. Can he be something else? Karl Newson and Ross Collins capture imaginative play perfectly.
Told with crystalline clarity and verve, and fabulously enhanced by the stylish illustrations, this tells the remarkable against-the-odds tale of Katherine Johnson from her days as an exceptional African American schoolgirl whose “boundless curiosity turned her into a star student”. But despite her brightness, ten-year-old Katherine faced the terrible restraints of segregation – as an African American she wasn’t permitted to study at her local high school. As she “burned with fury”, her family determined to get Katherine the education she deserved and so they moved to a town with a high school for black students. Her path to working on Project Apollo required incredible perseverance, but thanks to that, and to her outstanding mathematical skills, the world could count on Katherine to set the moon landings back on course. Shot-through with a rousing sense of Katherine’s determination and dedication to her work, and with her shining mathematical brilliance, this beautiful book deserves to be on the shelves of every space-loving child.
May 2019 Debut of the Month | This bright, busy book – the text delivered via an irresistible bouncy rhyme – presents children with lots to look at, and lots to think about too. The story is told by a parent, who excitedly details all the world has to offer, and all the potential for children to find happiness and fulfilment as they grow up. There are warnings too that it’s not always easy, but that’s followed by the reassuring reminder that whatever happens, one thing won’t change: from your head down to you toe, no matter what/ I love you so. The artwork is contemporary but the message is timeless and it’s an excellent book for parent and child to share.