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illustration. Her distinctive artwork for Red Car, Red Bus is made using torn pieces of textured paper so that the road on which the vehicles move and the landscapes are brought sharply to life. The written text simply names the vehicles and their colours and the narrative is suggested through the pictures and can be created by child and sharing adult. There is so much to talk about here – colours and numbers of course, but also the journeys the vehicles make, what is being transported in the lorries and vans and the people and objects they pass. There is a man high up on a ladder painting the outside of a house and a woman leaning out of her window to see if it is raining. It is! And so we now see the clouds have darkened and umbrellas are up.

This book is a good one for an adult to share with a child, savouring the pictures together, but it is large and robust enough for showing and chatting about to a nursery group. They will love the story running through the book about the little boy who drops his bear and cannot get his busy rushing Mummy to see what has happened. It is this kind of detail which is likely to appeal and make the book a favourite. MM

Big Blue Engine HHH

Ken Wilson-Max, Pavilion, 12pp, 978 1 8436 5167 3, novelty pbk £8.99

A title in the reissued ‘Start and Go’ series, this interactive book tells the story of the big blue engine’s journey, pulling the freight car, to take goods to the sea port. The text is dynamic and well judged for the intended age group: ‘Pull down the handle’ and ‘Ring! Ring! Pick up the phone’. The pictures are wonderfully vivid and the thick black line makes for clear images of the train, the track and the changing landscapes. Children will enjoy the movable elements, and not least taking the ‘phone’ from its cradle and moving the train along the track. The sharing adult will need to supervise younger children’s manipulation of the tabs as vigorous pulling and pushing might do some damage. This novelty transport book, like the others in the series, is an exciting introduction to the non-fiction story genre. (Not suitable for children under 36 months because of small parts.)


Peedie Peebles’ Summer or Winter Book 18pp, 978 1 7802 7003 6

Oh No, Peedie Peebles! 28pp, 978 1 7802 7002 9


Mairi Hedderwick, Birlinn, £5.99 pbk

These two books are a pair despite their different extents and formats, one with gatefolds, the other without. Both offer simple, repetitive statements creating gently humorous twists in contrasting situations. Both are richly illustrated in Hedderwick’s busy,

crowded and cosy style and both feature the irrepressible antics of Peedie Peebles, the inquisitive toddler with attitude.

Peedie Peebles’ Summer or Winter Book has a comforting continuity in the descriptions of the things Peedie Peebles gets up to while Oh No, Peedie Peebles! is a fast-paced story about painting the rooms in the family’s new house. The ‘Oh no, Peedie Pebbles!’ refrain is frequently heard but it’s all good humoured. Hedderwick conveys what life is like with a toddler in the house and irritations are fleeting. Finally, a pleasing use of watercolour and fine pen outline the well-seen backdrops of interiors and landscape. JNH

Chilly Milly Moo HHH

Fiona Ross, Walker Books, 32pp, 978 1 4063 3032 8, £11.99

Editor’s Choice

The Highway Rat HHHHH

Julia Donaldson, ill. Axel Scheffler, Alison Green Books, 32pp, 978-1407124377, £10.99 pbk

A comic homage to Alfred Noyes’s 1906 narrative poem ‘The Highwayman’, Julia Donaldson’s The Highway Rat echoes to dramatically witty effect Noyes’s rhythmic cadences (‘And the highwayman came riding— /Riding—riding— /The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door’) as her Highway Rat goes riding – riding – to accost and rob travellers of their food. Outwitted by a clever duck, the wicked rat eventually ends up humbly sweeping the floor in a cake shop while the

rope bridge, but guilty when he draws on the wall. He is always centre stage, the only one in each picture, and it is his reactions to each emotion that show so clearly what each is about. There can’t be a child in the world (or a parent either) who won’t enjoy this superlative picture book.

ES Monstersaurus! HHHHH

Milly Moo is miserable; she longs to produce tasty, creamy milk just like the other cows on the farm. The trouble is, for her at least, it’s just too hot (try taking off that bobble hat Milly) - not a single drop dribbles into the bucket. The future looks bleak for poor Milly. But, an overnight storm and a sudden drop in temperature change everything. Then it’s the turn of the other cows to envy Milly’s ice-cream making prowess. But, as she is quick to point out, everyone is special in their own different ways.

Fiona Ross (a new talent to watch) uses strong geometric patterns, whorls, shading and stippling in black overlaid with muted shades of greens, blues, browns and pinks in her droll and distinctive illustrations.

JB How Do You Feel? HHHHH

Anthony Browne, Walker, 32pp, 978 1 4063 3017 5, £9.99 hbk

Anthony Browne’s cheeky little monkey toddler welcomes us to this delightful book about feelings. There are emotional feelings such as lonely, happy, sad, angry, guilty, and shy, but there are also more physical feelings such as curious, silly, hungry, full, and sleepy. The little monkey experiences them all, and as always with this author/illustrator, the pictures convey the feelings even more than the simple text. We see the little monkey supremely confident as he crosses a

Claire Freedman, ill. Ben Cort, Simon & Schuster, 32pp, 978 1 8473 8904 6, £10.99 hbk

‘Monty LOVES inventing/But things don’t always work -/His walking toaster ran away/And the robot went BERSERK’

This teasing opening immediately draws the reader in to this noisy, rollicking story about a boy who conjures up monsters. Tapping into the success of Aliens in Underpants and children’s delight in anything gooey, smelly or even slightly subversive, this author/illustrator team have come up with another kid pleaser. Fast paced, punchy and in your face, Cort’s bold illustrations leap out from the page, while Freedman’s rhyming text adds to the fun. The speed and energy of this title will please adults and children alike but whether anyone will settle down to sleep after such a blast is another question.


Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day


Amy De La Haye, ill. Emily Sutton, V&A Publishing, 32pp, 978 1 8517 7658 0, £10.99 hbk

It’s great to see a museum publisher venture into children’s picture books and the rich seam of objects and cultures at the Victoria &Alber t Museum should provide a wealth of tales. This first title, involving Clara who gets lost in the costume department on

her quest to repair her grandmother’s hat, is somewhat pedantic but it does serve to show a myriad of delightfully inventive millinery. The professorial voice rings clear in this writer’s love of educating about fashion and this makes for an uneven narrative (it’s not easy to write a children’s book!) but ultimately this is a gentle experience over which to ponder. Lovers of pretty things par ticularly will enjoy the illustrations so full of decorative pattern and detail, which make a perfect accompaniment to the text. JNH

The Diabolical Mr Tiddles HHH

Tom McLaughlin, Simon and Schuster, 32pp, 978 1 84738 879 7, £10.99 hbk/ 978 1 84738 880 3, £5.99 pbk

Harry is overjoyed when, on his birthday, he finally gets his heart’s desire – a ‘furry, purry pussycat’ to love and care for. Shortly after Mr Tiddles’ arrival however, all manner of treats start appearing in Harry’s bedroom and within days he cannot move for toys, musical instruments and tasty confections. But the arrival of Alan the horse one morning is just one gift too far. It’s time for Harry to challenge that perhaps not so per fect puss. He follows Mr T. only to discover he’s a cat burglar no less and on this particular night the cheeky moggy has set his sights on the royal crown. Her majesty is not amused and Harry and Mr Tiddles are arrested for ‘Acts of Cheekiness against the Crown’.

All ends happily however, thanks to Harry’s special pleading, the Queen’s mercy and the return of all the stolen articles to their rightful owners. The story is told as much through the pictures as the words and McLaughlin has great fun chronicling Tiddles capers in his detailed and action-packed single and double page spreads as well as comic strip sequences.

JB Books for Keeps No.192 January 2012 21

other animals are now free to travel the highway in safety.

This moral tale is wonder fully illustrated in Axel Scheffler’s tautly uneasy style in which landscape scenes are supplemented with telling vignettes that draw out the detail of the Highway rat’s perfidious deeds. Scheffler’s quivering line and anxiously expressive eyes add to the drama that will keep young readers in suspense. Superb fun!


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