Under 5s Pre – School/Nursery/Infant Solomon Crocodile
Christopher Franceschelli, Bloomsbury, 16 pp, 978 1 4088 1439 0, £9.99 board
Oliver can roll from one side to the other and stand on his head ‘but he was simply an egg and that was that’. And yet, limited as the movement of an egg is, this book shows how its shape and smooth texture give it a special aesthetic appeal. This is achieved by using shading and shadow and interesting positioning of the object in space, an approach to images evident in many a gallery and on many an art postcard. This ar tist has brought scrutiny of an everyday object – a hen’s egg –within the reach of young children by combining a minimalist style with the choice of a board book format. The images and succinct text make this little information story compelling for child and sharing adult and it springs a lovely and satisfying surprise at the end. There is a star tling contrast between the black and white pictures of the egg and the picture of the vibrantly yellow new chick that Oliver has become. What better way could there be to star t a conversation about transformation and metamorphosis! The link can be made with other transformations, caterpillar
Catherine Rayner, Macmillan, 32pp, 978 0 230 52922 9, £10.99 hbk
Small children love to tease and Solomon the playful crocodile is no exception. He wants to have fun, but only by annoying those who refuse to play with him. When his bugging of the dragonflies and stalking of the storks gets him nowhere, naughty Solomon charges at the biggest creature, the hippo. But the hippo’s open mouth almost engulfs the mischievous crocodile, and Solomon is forced to retreat until he hears a noise… This is a picture book with great page turning drama and suspense and with a surprising ending sure to make toddlers chor tle with glee, especially when naughtiness wins out. The language is fresh and poetic and the deftly handled watercolour illustrations satisfyingly combine colour, pattern and texture. JNH
Gordon Volke, ill. Fenix, Top That, 32pp. 978 1 84956 305 5, £5.99 pbk
butterfly and tadpole into frog perhaps. This most original book is the result of a simple idea brilliantly realised. MM
Not me HHHHH
Nicola Killen, Egmont, 978 140524 830 3, 32pp, pbk £5.99
Nicola Killen’s debut picture book is a delight: clever characterisation, colour, page design and narrative structure perfectly realising a simple idea which engages its young readers at every level. The title page spread introduces us to five children and a dog who are each subsequently responsible for their own double page of childhood mess.
Not so much a story, more a rhyming, cumulative concatenation, is this picture book tale of a zany and increasingly noisy zoo. The hullabaloo begins with a donkey called Drew and it is not long before ten different kinds of animals including a cockatoo, two chimps, bouncing bunnies and many more are adding to the cacophony. And yet there is still one more missing character – who can it be?
No individual is credited as the artist of the incident packed oil pastel illustrations. Produced by The Fenix Factory, they have more than a hint of the animator’s art about them and Drew reminded me very much of Shrek’s asinine travelling companion. A good opportunity for the very young to participate in some movement and noise making activity.
Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle 978 0 85763 004 9
Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter 978 0 85763 005 6
The reader is given lots of clues to each culprit, including a rhyme which points to their name, as they each charmingly but unavailingly deny their guilt. It’s great fun and there are, incidentally, some good ideas for making a mess, if children haven’t realised them already. Inevitably, too, on the last page, there is encouragement to clear up afterwards. CB
Axel Scheffler, Nosy Crow, 32pp, £7.99 each padded hbk
The world of Pip and Posy is an autonomous one where independent toddlers care for one another whilst remaining essentially child-like. Despite lack of adult intervention it is safe too, because in this enclosed world even toddlers can be sensible, non-judgemental friends and the support they give one another is deeply
20 Books for Keeps No.189 July 2011
reassuring. Part of the growing up process is the need to sift through experiences, mastering regulations to build confidence and repeating routines to feel grounded. It’s a necessary progression as well as a way of understanding the world and these books provide reinforcement to the child’s need to comprehend systems.
Axel Scheffler really knows about telling stories in pictures and much is enlarged upon in his bold, playful illustrations, adding humour, interest and delight. However, although the slow pace of the stories matches the pace of the very young, incidents and drama are rather too drawn out, and perhaps a 24 page format would have worked better for this series. In The Super Scooter, for example, two double pages are given to the moment when Pip falls off the scooter and the ensuing resolution takes four spreads. Partly this is due to the formula that binds the pair of titles together, as once the story is finished a denouement occurs where the friends have a bath or go home adding a final spread where the pair exclaim ‘Hooray!’ This works in terms of sheer fun, so in the final analysis perhaps the pleasure of tots joining in to shout is enough.
When the World Was Waiting for You
Gillian Shields, ill. Anna Currey, Bloomsbury, 32pp, 978 1 4088 0630 2, £10.99 padded hbk
This picture book with its soft padded cover and cosily nostalgic illustrations is a delightful exploration of the joy of anticipation before the arrival of a new addition to the rabbit family. It is romanticised and explores none of the downsides of the advent of a new sibling but it is charming nevertheless! With its gentle, lilting rhythmic text; this book will make an ideal gift and one which may also help a new big sister or brother counteract the frustrations inevitably associated with a new baby when shared one to one with a loving and understanding parent.
Little Rex and the Big Roar HHHHH
Ruth Symes, ill. Sean Julian, Piccadilly, 32pp, 978 1 84812 088 4, £6.99 pbk
The young dinosaur hero of Little Rex is back in this engagingly illustrated new picture book story. Little Rex’s ROAR is popular with everyone except his parents but his ability to roar saves the day when a distinctly frightening pterodactyl swoops down on his brothers and sister. This writer and illustrator really understand their young target audience who will identify with Little Rex, his frustrations and triumphs.
JS 100 Things HHHH
Masayuki Sebe, Gecko Press, 24 pp, 978 1 877467 81 3, £10.99 hbk
Most number books for young children stop at the number 10 but this one leads toward the concept of 100 and the understanding that ten 10s make 100. The large format and effective use of colour make possible some wonderful double spreads and children learn something about the creatures depicted as well as about number while being enter tained by the wit and humour that light up the pages. The book starts off with a hundred mice organised in sets of ten and with quirky comments ‘Don’t chase me’, and questions ‘What are you eating?’ to keep things dynamic .The 100 moles are underground of course and we get a sense of what this earthy world smells and looks like. The 100 ants are shown moving and twirling across the double spread in a purposeful way. Each page is full of questions and comments and little tasks and activities that add greatly to the pleasure of reading and looking. Can you find the one rabbit amongst the 100 sheep? There are extra suggestions for activities and questions on the final page. Where is the mouse with the yellow ribbon? Where is this sleeping ant? The book has the details young children love and there are likely to be lots of observations and questions. So yes – this lively, interactive book with lots of potential for sharing, thinking and learning deserves a place on the book shelf at home or in the nursery. MM
Don’t Panic, Annika! HHH
Juliet Clare Bell, ill. Jennifer E Morris, Piccadilly, 32pp, 978 1 84812 112 6, £5.99 pbk
Children often get into tricky situations that make them feel panicky and so it is with Annika. Her understanding family help her to calm down and find a solution when her toy Moose falls into the pond, and also when her zip gets stuck and she’s sure she’s going to miss the party. But when Annika is involved in a real emergency, she is the one who thinks things through and sorts them out on her own. Lots of repetition makes this a fun read aloud, and the illustrations are jolly and full of life.
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