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BfK Under 5s Pre - School/Nursery/Infant continued Little Red HHH

Lynn Roberts, ill. David Roberts, Pavilion, 32pp, 978 1 8436 5183 3, £5.99 pbk

The number of variants on Red Riding Hood must run into the hundreds if not thousands by now. In the earliest versions, the errant child, with or without her grandmother, is eaten alive, and that’s it. This stark simplicity has acted as a tempting refrain which generations of storytellers have embellished, at first with softenings of the tale to suit the shift of the folk tale’s assumed audience from adult to child, and later with variants to reflect an array of ideological or merely playful standpoints. This version is an example of the later inclination. David and Lynn Roberts have previously created versions of Cinderella set in the 1930s and Rapunzel set in the 1970s. For this Kate Greenaway shortlisted book, they have transposed the story to late 18th century and changed the gender of the title character. The pen and ink and watercolour illustrations combine apt garishness with flourishes of period detail and a subtle surrealism reminiscent of Anthony Browne. The narrative twist, involving a ginger beer propelled regurgitation, will amuse young readers and listeners, though I missed the sinister core that gives this tale its power to prowl down the centuries. GH

Has Anyone Seen My Chihuahua?


Clare Wigfall, ill. Ollie Lett, Walker Books, 32pp, 978 1 4063 1389 5, £11.99 hbk

A little girl sets out in search of her missing Chihuahua and best friend, Fernando. She encounters a variety of other animals in turn but none fits all her identikit specifications. Giraffe is ‘Way too big’; Mouse lacks a shiny black nose; Bear’s nose is right but his eyes are too small; the large-eyed frogs are the wrong colour. Chicken? Those feathers rule her out. So, what about the next creature: cuddly? Yes, bouncy? Yes, enormous ears? Yes, but … no!

Following Only Nooglebooglers Glow in the Dark was always going to be a challenge but the McDoogle Farm team of author, illustrator, publisher and whoever does their social media marketing have come up with a winning formula for this age group!

Realising that that one of the gogglynippers - with remarkably sheep-like lifestyles - is missing, Diggle sets out with his dog Noober to find him. The slapstick humour guarantees enjoyment with the two of them falling into a pile of ‘mud’ that results in them

Rabbit is still not the object of her search. Consternation all round; just where is her missing best friend? But listen… ‘Yip!’ Could that just be? … The reunion is joyful.

Ollie Lett uses plain, acrylic backgrounds in arresting shades on which to place his uncomplicated, almost child-like images, images which both stand out and focus attention upon the words. Told entirely through dialogue, the playful text reads aloud beautifully and the placing of the dialogue within painted speech bubbles makes for a complete integration of words and pictures.


The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped


James McKnight, ill. Mark Chambers, Top That! Publishing, 32pp, 978 1 8495 6450 2, £5.99 pbk

smelling of gogglynipper poo and bouncing along after the gogglynipper’s over hill and dale to the source of the enticing smell of Farmer McDoogle’s socks.

The pages with descriptions of the other inhabitants of McDoogle farm promise many more entrancing adventures and these pages led to a wonderful storytelling opportunity as my child reviewers outlined what they thought could happen to the characters! The only negative criticism they noted was the inaccuracy of the blurb on the back – Diggle did not go armed with ‘a bag of smelly old socks’ on his gogglynipper hunt! Is this a cunning plan to engage readers and fans in communication with the writer and illustrator? It led to our young reviewers checking out the McDoogle website which they were particularly captivated by as it provides an amusing gallery, things to do including a word search, recipes for making ‘Scary Cakes’ etc. Facebook and twitter feeds only fuelled the frenzy!

JS The Three Sillies HHH

Tony Ross Andersen Press, 32pp, 978 1 8493 9229 7 £5.99 pbk

Sensible George is courting Silly Jess in the land of traditional tales. While visiting the family, he witnesses his beloved and her parents dissolving into hysterical grief as they contemplate what might happen if a hammer hanging from a nail in the cellar were to fall off one day and kill the child Jill may have had by then. George decides to suspend the relationship while he sets off into the world to discover if there are any even sillier people out there. Needless to say, he finds them.

Tony Ross depicts the idiots and idiocies of this story through his inimitably nimble use of squirmy and angular line, making characters gawp, gurn, wriggle and cut capers. The use of a large, distressed typescript, with plenty of big block capitals to shout aloud the stupidity of the proceedings, eases accessibility to the text as a read-aloud and read-together resource. I was rather disappointed that George

5 – 8 Infant/Junior

Moo Baa Baa Quack 978 1 4440 0209 6

Meet the Gang 978 1 4440 0199 0


Francesca Simon, ill. Emily Bolam, Orion ‘Early Reader’ series, 64pp, £4.99 pbk

Here are two enjoyable additions to this ‘Early Reader’ series. In Moo Baa Baa Quack the animals at Potter’s Barn are all excited. They have prepared their part of the farm and tidied everything up because today visitors will hear

them perform their new song. But will it be ready on time? Belle the pig (the conductor) has a few worrying moments as the ducklings keep coming in in the wrong place and it is up to the other animals to sort things out. Which they do, of course, but in a way that will delight and surprise young readers. Brightly illustrated pages mean that there are plenty of clues to help newly confident readers with the text, and the questions at the end of the book will mean that children can proudly share their knowledge of the book with the adults once more. To be enjoyed.

The animals on Buffin Street are excited by the news of a new arrival in Meet the Gang. Who is she and what

22 Books for Keeps No.192 January 2012

will she be like? Just like a class of children, each animal has its own concerns and questions as they prepare to meet Honey, an innocent and well meaning puppy. Fortunately, Honey is made to feel welcome in spite of some offhand comments by some of the animals. The illustrations are cheer ful and always appropriate, making it easy for the child to identify with the story and read the text. This will be a useful book to have in the classroom, especially in schools where there is a large transient population and it would be a good book to have whenever the needs of new children are being considered.

RL Katie in Scotland HHHH James Mayhew, Orchard, 32pp,

978 1 4083 0877 6, £10.99 hbk Katie’s Picture Show, the first of Mayhew’s Katie books, was published more than 20 years ago. Based on memories of childhood outings with his sister, and of his own longing to become an ar tist, they feature an enthusiastic child who learns about art and culture by entering paintings and exploring their worlds from the inside.

In more recent books, Katie has left the gallery and begun to explore the wider

A little boy and his brother Bob are startled when their Dad arrives home with a lion, proclaiming proudly that he’s bought them a dog. Mum thinks work must have over-stressed him and it’s best to humour him till he gets over it. So the little lion lives with them as a rather loud pet, growing ever bigger and bigger, but seemingly playful. Meanwhile, the boys and their friends continue to be plagued by Jonno, the school bully. Until one day the now not-so-little lion proves his usefulness in respect of Jonno.

The bold, full-colour illustrations in a cartoon-like style carry this funny story along in a lively way. The telling of the tale is unfussy, with brevity being used to convey the wit. An endnote usefully explains that the inspiration for this story came from oral retellings originating in the Northern Cape of South Africa. These were written down by linguists and have therefore become accessible for reinterpretation and reworking, as in this (engaging) case. UC

is allowed to meet with only two episodes of greater silliness before returning to marry Jess; three is almost statutory in folklore. There might also have been more extravagant nonsense in the text to match that of the pictures – some older versions venture into the hilariously macabre - but this remains a highly enjoyable retelling of one our greatest folk tales.

GH Little Lion HHH

Lesley Beake, ill. Erika Pal, Frances Lincoln, 32pp, 978 1 8478 0189 0, £11.99 hbk

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