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offering gifts, the man recovered and so forth. The boy’s letter asks the president what rules the adult world has in response to bullying of the kind the book portrays.


A powerful fable for our times, this almost wordless picture book will provoke discussion and questioning for young readers, all too aware from their television screens of the real life wars currently being waged in the world. David McPhail’s intense crosshatching and fluid line together with his sombre palette carry the narrative well. (5 +)


Martin Salisbury, Course Director MA Children’s Book Illustration, Anglia Ruskin University


Tiny Little Fly Michael Rosen, ill. Kevin Waldron, Walker, 32pp, 978 1 4063 3097 7, £6.99 pbk


As the electronic book gains momentum and the publishing of picture book ‘apps’ continues to grow, it has become clear over the last year or two that the traditional paper picture book has needed to assert its difference by emphasizing its physicality. So we are seeing increasingly beautiful, tactile publications that celebrate scale, colour and the quality of ink on coated and uncoated paper, embossing, laminating and all those other things that the unchanging, backlit screen cannot compete with. One of the biggest and best of last year was the stunning Tiny Little Fly. What could be better than a marriage of the words of Michael Rosen and the pictures of Bologna Ragazzi Award winning artist, Kevin Waldron? The book is a celebration of what only a book can do. Rosen’s clever text is brought to life by Waldron’s stunning use of the large pages to emphasize the contrast in scale between the eponymous tiny fly and the enormous animals that it bothers. A fabulous book to hold, touch, smell and own. (Under 5s)


Ferelith Hordon, Chair, the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Judges 2011


The Language of Cat Rachel Rooney, Frances Lincoln, 96pp, 978 1 8478 0167 8, £5.99 pbk


Looking back over the year, it is almost too difficult to see the tree for the forest. Far from books being on their death bed, even more seem to have been born, many heavily promoted with fanfares and fuss. There has been much to celebrate, but for me, the book that stands out slipped in quietly and unobtrusively. Poetry, especially for young people, languishes on the margins, all too often relying on anthologies full of the familiar or battering the reader with laughs. What a treat to find The Language of Cat by Rachel Rooney. This debut collection is full of gems that can appeal to both a young reader – and an adult. Rooney makes sophisticated use of language – I love the opening poem ‘Who?’ – and is at ease with a variety of poetic forms and rhythms. If this sounds serious, it is not. The whole is imbued with a subtle humour, presented with a smile and accompanied by charming line drawings by Ellie Jenkins. Above all The Language of Cat celebrates words and the poet’s craft. This slim little book contains treasure. (8+)


Elizabeth Hammill, co-founder Seven Stories


It’s a Book Lane Smith, Macmillan, 32pp, 978 0 2307 5313 6, £10.99 hbk


Lane Smith enters the print versus digital debate with a 4 Books for Keeps No.192 January 2012


spare, wickedly funny, paean to the virtues of the book, powered by his characteristic verbal and visual high jinks and media savvy design. His protagonists are a book-loving monkey and a high-tech jackass who can’t fathom the appeal of the switchless, buttonless, soundless, cordless object his friend is so absorbed in. Sitting together, one with a laptop, the other a book, donkey pesters monkey: ‘What do you have there?’ ‘It’s a book.’ ‘Do you blog with it? …scroll down? ... text? ...tweet? Monkey’s refrains - riffs on the title - only tell jackass what a book isn’t.


Shown a dramatic illustrated passage from Treasure Island, donkey sees ‘Too many letters’ and reduces these to minimalist text speak: ‘LJS: rrr! K? 1o1! JIM: : ( ! :)’ His curiosity kindled, he seizes exasperated monkey’s book. A sublime wordless sequence shows him succumbing to its power. Repeated images where a clock marks passing time and the movement of donkey’s ears and eyes, the interaction of imagination and narrative, reveal a reader becoming ‘lost in a book’ and capture why reading a book is different from reading digital media. Despite a stunning last line, Donkey, converted, has the last word on the back cover - giving bibliophiles reason to rejoice. (5+)


Marilyn Brocklehurst, the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre


One Dog and his Boy Eva Ibbotson, Marion Lloyd Books, 288pp, 978 1 4071 2423 0, £10.99 hbk


It’s so exciting when a book like this one is published because you know you can draw it to the attention of so many children who will instantly take it to their heart. Hal’s rich and busy parents barely notice him. They know he wants a dog for his birthday but don’t anticipate how devastated he will be when Fleck, the temporary rented dog they have acquired from a bizarre dog-borrowing operation called Easy Pets, needs to be returned to the store. Hal decides to run away with Fleck to his grandparents, and a journey ensues which involves a delightful - and dastardly - set of human and canine characters. The cleverly constructed plot is at times tense and exciting, at others poignant and moving, and ultimately provides a satisfying and heart-warming conclusion as all the best classic stories do. The excellent illustrations by Sharon Rentta bring Fleck vigorously to life. For eight year olds and up this is a terrific read-aloud or read-it-yourself by Eva Ibbotson, the wonderful story-teller responsible for Journey to the River Sea – one of my all-time favourite books. She died in 2010 and will be sadly missed. (8+)


Clive Barnes, formerly Principal Children’s Librarian, Southampton


Green Glass Beads, A Collection of


Poems for Girls Jacqueline Wilson, Macmillan, 288 pp, 978 0 2307 5815 5, £9.99 hbk


Care, knowledge and enthusiasm are the hallmarks of this outstanding anthology. It has a wonderful range of poems, introducing its readers to poets from Shakespeare to Duffy, and has arranged them to surprise and delight. The personal touch is there in the choice of poems: some written originally for children but many written without any particular audience in mind; some that are familiar but many that I, at least, am meeting for the first time and many that you won’t find in other anthologies. It’s there,


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