reviews Kipper HHH
Mick Inkpen, Hodder, 32pp, 978 1 444 90273 0, £7.99 pbk inc. CD
Kipper is a well-known and well-loved character who features in a large number of books and assorted media. This re-release of the original Kipper story features a DVD containing ten episodes of Kipper narrated by Martin Clunes. The book itself is engaging for young readers and features the gentle humour that has made Kipper a household name.
VRe Peely Wally HHH
Kali Stileman, Red Fox, 32pp, 978 1 849 41082 3, £5.99 pbk
Peely Wally is a small bird who lives ‘high up in a tree’. Her newly laid egg appears just perfect but it rolls off the branch and must surely be heading for disaster as it rolls down the giraffe’s neck and is eventually kicked in the direction of a crocodile’s open jaws... The vibrant, striking illustrations incorporate splodgy painted scribbles contrasted with carefully cut out collage components and blocks of streaked and stippled colour on a white background. Young fingers may well want to trace the dotted trajectory of the wayward egg across the pages and then open the flaps on hatching egg to reveal Peely Wally’s baby bird.
Choice The Tiger-Skin Rug
Gerald Rose, Bloomsbury, 32pp, 978 1 4088 1302 7, £10.99 hbk, 978 1 4088 1303 4, £5.99 pbk
A ‘sad and thin’ old tiger lives on the edge of the jungle. He finds food difficult to catch but comes up with an ingenious solution to his problems. He takes the place of the tiger-skin rug in the Rajah’s palace and when the family retires to bed, he eats up the scraps from their supper. All goes well until the servant notices that the rug is getting heavier. Tiger fears discovery but when thieves break in and attack the Rajah, the tiger saves him and is then kept on, a much loved member of the family.
First published in 1979, this confidently witty picture book has exceptionally well
characterisation – from the wistful Tiger peering through the palace
Oliver and the Noisy Baby HHH
Mara Bergman, ill. Nick Maland, Hodder, 32pp, 978 0 340 99745 1, £10.99 hbk
The Tickle Ghost HHH
Brett McKee, ill. David McKee, Andersen, 32pp, 978 1 84939 246 4, £10.99 hbk
David McKee has created some of the most loved characters in contem- porar y children’s books, including Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and King Rollo. Here he teams up with his son to create a story about a bedtime ritual where a dad dresses up as a ghost and has some rough and tumble play with his little boy. Mum doesn’t like the noise coming from upstairs, but ends up getting tickled too. The text does not quite capture the spontaneity of the games but the illustrations with their large blocks of bold colour and pleasantly chubby people are vintage McKee.
Oliver can’t deal with his baby sister’s bed-time howls, so he escapes from the chaos in his plane. Visiting exciting places from freezing poles to jungles, globe trotting Oliver is encouraged to leave each place and discover another until the calls from home are too insistent to be ignored. He returns to ‘the place he loved best at the end of each day’ and finds his mum and dad worn out by his crying sister. Now satisfied with his wanderings, Oliver has room to consider that he may be the one the baby needs, so he ‘huddles and cuddles’ her until she falls asleep. The story, adroitly told in gentle rhyme, is per fect for those suffering from the upheaval a new baby brings into the household. And as the saviour of the situation, the older sibling is given the power to shape the situation his way, calmly moving through the imposition a new sibling has brought into his life.
Quirky illustrations with original characters let the gentle rhythm of this stor y unfold with per fect precision, while the controlled use of pattern and texture adds to the whimsical, stylised feel throughout. This is an excellent addition to any family library.
Norman: The Slug with the Silly Shell
Sue Hendra, Simon & Schuster, 32pp, 978 1 84738 976 3, £5.99 pbk
I realise that I must be alone in not warming particularly to Barry the Fish
and elegant, provide pleasure in themselves, and subtly invite the reader to make their own choice of mouse life- style. While the text favours the view of the country mouse, the penultimate illustration of the two mice each taking their own road to happiness is rather more even handed.
window at the Rajah’s family, to Tiger pretending to be a rug, to Tiger (now a member of the family) lounging blissfully in the garden pool. Gerald Rose’s richly textured, decorative illustrations convey the movement and drama of each scene with his fluid line and bright palette and rise to a double page crescendo as ‘Tiger leapt to the Rajah’s rescue’. A thrilling yet satisfying stor y that well deser ves being brought back into print.
with Fingers, Hendra’s previous picture book, but the children I read it to loved it and it certainly merited all the acclaim in their eyes.
Norman: The Slug with the Silly Shell, however, completely sold me to Hendra’s skill as storyteller and to her illustrations which are so engaging that even a slug becomes attractive! Hendra approaches her narrative with a lively wit so that the reader identifies, via action sequences and lively juxtapositions, with the slug and his increasingly creative stratagems. Norman’s antics as he tries to muscle in with the snails and his ingenious attempts to make a shell for himself are superbly illustrated in a bold, decorative style and the stor y is carefully crafted to build anticipation and humour.
The Town Mouse & the Country Mouse
Mimi Hachikai, ill. Ayano Imai, Michael Neugebauer, 32pp, 978 988 19154 3 6, £9.99 hbk
I would think there are broadly two ways to treat this kind of well-known simple moral tale in a picture book. You could: use it as the springboard for some vir tuoso illustration, playing with character and setting; or elect to let the words largely speak for themselves Imai takes the second route, providing carefully composed illustrations of delicacy, restraint and some quiet humour.
While these illustrations offer little in the way of characterisation of the mice or dramatisation of a theme of the contrasting merits of simplicity and sophistication (except in showing the sophistication of art in the service of simple storytelling), they are distinctive
Books for Keeps No.188 May 2011 21 Sometimes HHHH
Rebecca Elliott, Lion, 32pp, 978 0 7459 6269 6, £5.99 pbk
Rebecca Elliott writes and paints beautifully about her own two children: Clemmie, who is disabled, and her younger brother, Toby, who thinks Clemmie is ‘the best sister’. When Clemmie must go to hospital, which often happens because of her disability, Toby comes along too, and together they turn the experience into a magical time. Her bed becomes a boat for sailing to ‘distant lands’, they become doctors to help the ward teddy, and Toby gets to eat Clemmie’s food because she is fed through ‘a magic belly tube’. While Toby plays in the playroom with all the toys, Clemmie watches and ‘looks pretty’. Toby knows that sometimes Clemmie is very ill and that worries him. But she is the strong one who holds his hand and makes him feel better. When Clemmie comes home, Toby throws a party for her, and they fall asleep together with Toby knowing that he loves his sister ‘not just sometimes. All times.’ This is the second picture book Rebecca Elliott has produced about her children, and it is a great joy to meet them once again. Her illustrations are full of love and liveliness, fun and acceptance, and the wonderfully messy backgrounds that children always seem to bring. Toby’s imagination throws up giant animals, huge cupcakes in stacks, and ocean waves dancing about Clemmie’s bed, and Clemmie looks on happily at his antics. Sibling love could hardly be more apparent, and while there is a certain amount of poignancy in the story, there is also great dignity in the two children and their approach to each other. A very special picture book.
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