I wish I’d written…

A F Harrold, author of The Imaginary and the new Greta Zargo series, wishes he could draw like Bill Watterson.

If I’d been able to draw, as well as write, then I’d like to have made Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes wonderful, funny,


awe-inspiring, and once again funny comic strip. Although that’s not really

A F Harrold’s book, Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space (978-1-4088-6947-5) is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, £6.99 pbk.

true… The pleasure I get from Calvin and Hobbes is as a reader. I don’t want to know the hours of dedication and wrist- ache that went into thinking and drawing it. I want to simply eat it up with my eyes and sit there feeling joyous. Calvin’s a boy with a pet tiger, a tiger who is smart and wise and caring… all the things Calvin isn’t. They’re opposites, but best friends, and they live in a world

moving, thoughtful,

of adventure constrained only by the limits of Calvin’s imagination, or that of the babysitter, or his dad’s camping trip spirit. I

love the room Watterson

found in the comic strip format to explore comedy and philosophy and ideas and imagination in general, as well as his drawing (I brook no argument here) of the best tiger. I like to think that spirit of philosophical playfulness in Calvin and Hobbes feeds into my work, both the imaginary friend adventure of The Imaginary, but also into the freewheeling no-nonsense girl on a mission-ness of Greta Zargo, and even more so out into the world she inhabits.

The Calvin and Hobbes books are published by Sphere

BfK New Talent Hannah and Sugar HHHHH

Kate Berube, Abrams and Chronicle, 978-1-4197-1890-8, £10.99 hbk

Everyday Hannah’s dad is waiting for her at the bus stop; a lovely moment to look forward to. But Sugar is always at the bus stop too. Sugar is a dog. Hannah is frightened of dogs. Then Sugar goes missing. She is still missing when night falls. It must be scary and lonely, thinks Hannah. Where can poor Sugar be? Shortlisted for the 2017 Klaus

Flugge Prize, this is a debut picture book of real promise. With great economy, Hannah

Berube has

created an absorbing, engaging story out of an everyday situation that many in her audience will recognise. Her text is simply presented, the language straightforward, concise, making effective use of repetition. Complimenting the words are the

but with a subtle sophistication that

illustrations; combines

bold lines fresh,

childlike and

an understated palette. There is nothing limp or boring in the result. The visual experience does not mechanically repeat the story, it extends and enriches it – we can see Hannah’s reluctance to pat Sugar, we feel her anxiety for the lost dog, closing our eyes with her. Berube’s use of space is perfect providing variety and drama, making use of the whole page and mirroring the story in a way that engages the reader at every level. Here is a picture book creator to watch. This book is a treat. FH

20 Books for Keeps No.226 September 2017

reviews Under 5s Pre – School/Nursery/Infant

Lois looks for Bob the Park 978 0 85763 892 2

Lois looks for Bob at Home 978 0 85763 891 5


Gerry Turley, Nosy Crow, 14pp, £6.99 board book

These two new board books from the fabulous Nosy Crow books feature their ‘big flap’ format, perfect for little hands that want to participate. Lois is a little black and white cat, Bob is her beautiful yellow feathered friend. In the park, Lois looks for Bob behind gates and benches, up trees and under flowerpots but Bob is waiting for her at the picnic on the final spread. At home Bob isn’t hiding in the cupboards, behind the coats or the curtains but she’s delighted to find her friend at last settled on the armchair. Each thick flap is a die-cut shape that reveals another eccentrically named animal friend. It’s a lovely, simple format reminiscent of classic Spot the Dog but the bright and bold illustrations bring it right up to date. An excellent present for little tots who love to explore. KC

Tiny Tantrum HHHH

Caroline Crowe, ill. Ella Okstad, Little Tiger, 32pp, 978 1 84869 677 8, £10.99 hbk

A brilliant wheeze for little tantrum- inclined people! Tiny Tantrum has a big problem.

She’s happy when

she’s getting herown way, but ‘you try telling Tiny that she has to wash her hair, or tidy up, or go to bed, and she’ll scream, ‘That’s not fair!’ A series of big, friendly monsters - purple, green, yellow and stripy – use psychology on our Tiny, and she learns the secret: that tantrums are a waste of time, and she’s much better off having fun. The rhymes are jolly and there is even a song at the end that one can make up a special tune to. The text abounds with the sort of words that kids adore, such as ‘bum’ and ‘bottom’, ‘snot’ and ‘stinky’ and the illustrations show us smiley monsters who turn the tables on Tiny and want to bounce all night when she is tired and wants to sleep. Now she must use psychology on them! It’s all good fun, and the text and pictures are a combination that shapes the point nicely. Parents may want to take note and become happy, smiley, monsters with a good line in psychology! ES

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