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This beautiful book is delightful. It's rather old fashioned in it's presentation with really clear and colourful pictures which illustrate each action in the story. It tells of a wild boar in search of truffles. However, he can't find any and when his other friends appear to be going to a birthday party, he wonders why he hasn't been invited. Lots of visual and written clues for the children to follow and discover what is going on. It's told in rhyming verse with some interesting and challenging language. Ideal to read to younger children and the illustrations provide plenty to discuss. Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
May 2020 Debut of the Month | There have been many versions of the moral tale of the crow and the peacock and this one from debut picture-book artist Jo Fernihough is particularly attractive. The vibrant mixed media and collage images are full of movement and expression and immediately catch the reader’s attention. Crow is living happily and contentedly until he starts to compare his feathers and his song with other birds. From the dove to the nightingale, to the cockerel to the swan, each bird seems more magnificent than the last and crow is sure each one must be the happiest bird alive, but each in turn direct him to a bird they are envious of. But when he finally reaches the magnificent peacock he learns that he himself is the subject of envy. He is free to sing and fly free compared to the caged peacock. Crow and the reader learn the lesson about what is really important in life and that one must count your own blessings. A strong message for the current situation and beautifully conveyed in nicely repetitive text and imaginative use of typography as well glorious colour. A really worthwhile addition to the library.
April 2020 Debut of the Month | Margaret Sturton announces herself as a major picture book talent with her debut. Little rabbit Herbert loves foxes. Indeed, he loves them so much he wants to be one, making himself a pair of fox ears and a tail. At first his mummy is amused, then angry when he messes up the living room with red paint and cuts up her dress to make a tail. When she sees him out playing as a fox, despite her instruction to be a ‘good little rabbit’, she is cross again, until she suddenly realises how important it is to Herbert to be a fox. The story is full of comic moments and the little rabbit family will be recognisable to all readers. It’s also a wonderful story about identity and love, delivered lightly but most effectively. Highly recommended.
Wherever we live, there are birds all around us and this beautifully illustrated book will enable readers to identify them and is also full of facts and information about the way our native birds live. It features 140 different birds, each one is illustrated in colour and alongside a paragraph of text are fact boxes with bullet point information on size, habitat, food and the bird’s song. It’s a good size to pop into a bag on a trip to the country or local park, or even to take out into the garden, but will make for many happy hours of browsing indoors too. Just the sort of book to inspire a life-long interest in birds. Congratulations too to Kate McLelland whose screen print illustrations of the birds are stunning.
Young children are by nature curious about the world and how everything works, and this highly visual and beautifully designed picture book wonderfully explains some difficult scientific concepts by putting them in the context first of animals and nature and then of daily human lives. It also highlights how much of our learning comes from our senses and the challenge which Invisible Nature takes on so brilliantly is to explain things that we cannot see, feel, touch, hear or smell and yet which are a fundamental part of our everyday life. These include electromagnetism, microwaves, ultrasound, infrasound, ultra- violet and scents ( those that are beyond human perception but not that of an ant or an albatross) The author has declared her passion for presenting ‘ big issues for small people’ and the clarity of the text is well matched here by the colourful and detailed illustrations and page designs which engage and lead the eye through the explanation. One of the most fascinating images is at the end of the book where we see a human body and the impacts upon it of these invisible forces and you can see that some things pass through the body completely undetected – cosmic microwaves, radio waves and electromagnetism from the Earth. The reader will be awed and inspired to learn, for example, about ultra violet lichen which enable reindeer to find food in the dark Arctic winter or the magnetic map that migratory birds hold in their heads or be terrified by piranhas’ use of infrared to detect prey in murky waters. While the use of ultrasound by bats may be familiar it had certainly not occurred to this reader that this was how automatic doors function. This brilliant and enticing information book will attract a wide readership and certainly deserves a place in every library.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2020 | Full of bravery, hope, dreams and humour this is a wonderfully doggy adventure as Paolo escapes from his confinement in a hairdressing salon and enjoys everything that is on offer in the stunning city of Rome. Paolo knows that Rome is full of beauty and magic but how will he ever be able to get out and see it? Seizing his moment when the salon door is left open, Paolo embarks on a whirlwind and dangerous adventure full cats, dogs, statues and even opera. Claire Keane’s fabulous illustrations create a glorious evocation of Rome – mostly from a dog’s point of view!
Nicola Davies celebrates the forthcoming 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Using the metaphor of each child being a song, she explores some of the 54 rights it sets out, from the right to education, to freedom of thought and expression, to the rights of child refugees. Short, lyrical sentences of text will start discussion and conversation and Marc Martin’s rich water-colour illustrations, whether of children, scenes or vegetation, add movement and drama. A book to inspire children to think about the world and their place within it.
Lucky Isadora – she’s won a holiday in the sun for herself and her family in an art competition. At first everything seems perfect – a bit bright for her vampire dad but he loves the hotel spa – but a surprise meeting with her mermaid friend Marina shows Isadora what her mum suspected: the sea is full of litter. Fortunately, working as a team, fairies, mermaids and vampires can clean up the mess and persuade the humans to change their ways too. This is another lively and engaging story in this excellent series, mixing a fun adventure with an important message, deftly delivered. Half-vampire, half-fairy, Isadora is 100% brilliant especially for those growing in reading confidence.
Interest Age 5-8 | When Norman the Norman from Normandy’s dad, Great Big Norman, is killed in a fight (with ten Bretons from Brittany), Norman swears to visit every one of this dad’s three graves (long story) to pay his respects. He sets off with this dad’s HUGE sword on his not-very-wild boar Truffle and, without meaning to, indeed often without even noticing, avenges his father’s death. If that sounds quite bloodthirsty, it sort of is, but more than that, in the hands of this gifted comedy partnership, it’s just very, very funny. Part of Barrington Stoke’s excellent Little Gems series, this packs more laughs and entertainment into its short extent than books three times the length. High quality cream paper and a special easy to read font ensure a smooth read for all.
Interest Age 5-8 | March 2020 Book of the Month | Clever children who use their wits to get the better of much more powerful adversaries star in this duo of stories by the one and only Michael Rosen. Masha escapes a big and thoroughly bad bear in a particularly delicious way, while little Peggy outsmarts her admittedly rather stupid king to win big. Rosen’s lively, direct style make these stories wonderfully accessible for those growing in reading confidence, and Ashley King’s full colour illustrations add to the appeal of this little gem of a book.
From the author of Seeing Stars which detailed all 88 known constellations for older children, this stylish and sturdy book introduces just six of the most familiar and recognisable constellations to the very young. Young children like nothing better than books which invite them to guess what is under the flap and here each constellation is introduced by the line-connected star cluster sparkling against the deep blue background of the night sky. As you read aloud the verbal clues, children are asked to guess the creature and the answer is revealed, with more lines filling in the details of the animal, under the flap, alongside more information about the constellation and its major stars. Flaps can be quite flimsy and often considered unsuitable for classroom use but, in this case, it is a solid full-page fold-out that will withstand multiple uses. Children will definitely be inspired to do their own star gazing and to investigate further. Personally, this has helped enormously to understand how constellations got their names and to see the animal properly revealed. I still wonder, however, at the imagination of the Ancients that first connected those dots!
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Eva Eland has a way with pictures and words that, although deceptively simple, actually deals with the big matters of life in a very accessible and encouraging way. Her previous book When Sadness Comes to Call gained many outstandingly positive reviews and this follow up book on happiness is going to get the same response. Very expressive, clear illustrations in mainly blues and a wonderful fluorescent pink make this a happy experience to read. Eland looks at the ways we may chase happiness or happiness may just creep up on us but finishes with the phrase ‘Happiness begins with you.’ Definitely a book for classrooms, libraries and PHSE lessons – it will encourage empathy as children start to understand their own and the emotions of others, as well as being a satisfying book to read.