reviews Yoga Babies

Under 5s Pre - School/Nursery/Infant contd. This sets

off a question HHHH

Fearne Cotton, illus. Sheena Dempsey, Andersen Press, 32pp, 978 1 7834 4564 6, £9.99 hbk

Although the heart may sink when a celebrity name appears on the front cover, Fearne Cotton is a hands-on mother of two small children,


she does understand the pressures of family life, well

and she pitches this for those who do yoga and

might practice at home or attend an inclusive class. In her introduction she explains that the text and illustrations have been approved by a qualified yoga instructor, and warns that this is a book to be shared, so it is not recommended that children perform any of the exercises unsupervised. It’s not just for ‘yummy mummies’-

there is a Dad doing the ‘cat’ with his identically curly haired


and Prakash and his Granny enjoy stretching on the floor. The text is in rhyme: “Maya’s made a clever bridge, see how she’s arched her back. Who’s pushed his car right under her? Cheeky brother Jack!”


may soon get to know the rhymes if they have this read to them regularly. Sophie and her family are having a dreadful day, but getting on the floor to do some yoga makes them all feel better, and the baby goes to sleep: that might be worth a try. Sheena Dempsey’s illustrations

are fun, and show some realistically untidy households, just as they tend to be in the daytime with children around. There are drawings on paper (and on walls), toys and socks on the floor, drinking cups handy, and some interesting detail to spot. Rex has long hair, a guitar and a small piano– his is a musical family. Maya and Jack are mixed race, with their white Mum helping them do yoga in front of a map of Africa on the wall. The children are indeed mixed: Emily and Prakash are Asian, Winnie and her family are possibly Afro-Caribbean, Tom and Sam are twins. The children are all named and illustrated on the front end-papers, with the exercises similarly demonstrated on the back end-papers. This is a fun book with serious

intentions, and could be

useful for parents and in libraries. DB Daddy Long Legs

Nandine Brun-Cosme, ill. Aurélie Guillerey, Two Hoots, 32pp, 978 1 5098 4271 1, £11.99 hbk

With echoes of ‘Hush Little Baby’ this is a tale of paternal devotion put to the test. Matty is at nursery, driven there in

Daddy’s old green car; but after all the splutterng and struggling to get it going, the child is already worrying that his dad won’t make it back in time to collect him at the end of the session. “What if the car doesn’t start again?” he asks.

HHHH and

answer game between child and adult with Matty’s dad coming up with increasingly crazy responses starting with using a neighbour’s big red tractor and escalating to flying on a huge green dragon. Matty however, seems determined to have the final word until dad comes up with a totally reassuring response that satisfies his young son once and for all. The warmly reassuring story is

ideal for sharing with listeners around Matty’s age, especially those with a tendency to worry about whether their special adult will always come for them. All though will enjoy the give and take of the wildly fanciful exchange so vividly brought to life in Aurélie

Guillerey’s bold, retro style

scenes. JB Big Box Little Box


Caryl Hart and Edward Underwood (ills.), Bloomsbury, 32pp, 978 1 4088 7278 9, £6.99 pbk

Cats love to sit in boxes and this particular cat is trying every type of box going in this stylish rhyming book from the always excellent Caryl Hart. Cat is enjoying trying boxes of every colour, size and shape when she discovers one box has a hole in it. The culprit is a little mouse and a chase ensues but after a scurry mouse and cat find out that tickles, purrs and warm fur are a nice combination. The story ends with the new friends sharing a box. This bouncy rhyme is great fun to

read aloud and the cool illustrations from newcomer Edward Underwood feel fresh and contemporary in an attractive retro palette. Children will love the mouse twist and the friendly ending is sudden but very sweet. A book that is sure to be particularly welcome in homes with cats, and demands to be read over and over again. KC

Mr Darcy the Dancing Duck

Alex Field, illus. Peter Carnavas, New Frontier Publishing, 9781912076574, £11.99 hbk

Meet Mr Darcy and the delightful Lizzy. No, we are not in the pages of an Austen novel, though we are in Pemberley Park, where Mr Darcy, a particularly dapper duck (observe his incredible top hat), longs to be able to dance. He would love to join Lizzy and her sisters as they circle the Maypole. Can Maria the mouse, Bingley the horse and Caroline the cow help? Peter Carnavas’ illustrations dance

off the page as Mr Darcy learns to dance himself. The energy of his lines combines with his use of colour to great effect. There is nothing heavy to detract from this light-hearted story with its tongue-in-cheek reference to the Austen classic. No explanation is required – the absurd height of Mr Darcy’s hat is enough to set the


Jon Burgerman, illus. Jon Burgerman, OUP 28pp. 9 780192 749505 £6.99 pbk

“Once upon a time, a thief committed a crime. Everything he stole was replaced by a rhyme…” and we have to guess what will be the rhyming replacement

over the page. It’s

generally not difficult: Hammy’s new hat was replaced by - a cat, and there are sometimes clues, but sometimes there are surprises, too. Marlow’s happy smile became a crocodile, and sleepy Boomer’s brain was replaced by a train. Of course the thief has trouble when he tries to steal Tumble’s orange, and he invents lots of mad possible rhymes. Smorange? Zorange? His indecision seems to lead to his capture by the police, but his rhyming skills ensure that he doesn’t stay in jail for long. Huge

cartoon people end up

tone, as are the spectacles perched on his beak. The text by Alex Field is straightforward and simple, providing just enough of the story to complement the illustrations, giving them space. This is a picture book where author and illustrator


do work together to create what is a thoroughly enjoyable story that will engage not just the young audience at whom it is aimed, but the adults who will be presenting it whether at storytime or before bed. This is a book that is fun. FH

I Want to Go First nature HHHH

Richard Byrne, Oxford University Press, 978-0-1927-4973-4, £11.99 hbk

Logically, the story begins at the Front-of-the-Book


and will end at the Back-of-the-Book watering hole. A group of elephants, brightly dressed for a day of splashing and swimming, are lining up ready to make the journey from one to the other. As the smallest elephant, Elphie has to go last, but he really, really wants to go first and comes up with some sneaky ways of making that happen. Addressing his readers direct, Elphie asks us to shout out the name of the elephant just in front of him. On the count of three, we do, and Eleanor stays behind to see who wants her; Elphie moves up the line. Next he asks us to make a hissing noise, that frightens Elizabeth up a tree and again, Elphie is one place nearer the front. As the pages turn, on Elphie’s instructions readers wobble the book and finally squeak and roar in an attempt to send the biggest elephant to the back of the line. Elgar, however, is wise to what’s going on though a surprise final twist leaves Elphie on top again, and leading the troupe on the journey home. The finale will have everyone laughing, but there’s lots to entertain along the way, and Richard Byrne’s bright illustrations

are wonderfully

energetic. A fun piece of metafiction for the very young. LS

Rhyme Crime HHH in all sorts of funny situations in

very bright colours, and the holes on the cover that, with the picture underneath, make wide-open eyes will be attractive to the browsing child. This should be good to read out loud to younger children who might just laugh, while children whose language skills are developing may like to guess the rhymes and think up alternatives. Jon Burgerman is an established artist who has now turned his hand to

picture books, and apparently

the bright and playful style is his trademark. An author who illustrates his own books is sure to produce successfully exactly what he has in mind, and this will be fun to share. DB

That Is Actually My Blanket, Baby!


Angie Morgan, ill. Kate Alizadeh, Little Tiger, 32pp, 978 1 84869 689 1, £10.99

Bella has had her special blanket ever since she was born, and she loves it dearly. It has always gone everywhere with her, and is now ‘sparkly, muddy, painty, and smelly’. When a new baby brother arrives on the scene, complete with new blanket, Bella is delighted, but she only wishes the baby would stop crying. She tries everything to stop him, but nothing works until he discovers her special blanket. He loves chewing on it, and poor Bella doesn’t quite know what to do. It is her blanket after all.

She comes

up with the perfect answer. She will show baby how to do everything she likes doing – painting, sticking things together, and ‘singing and dancing in muddy puddles’- and soon his new blanket will be just like hers and he will love it just like she loves him! It’s a lovely ending to a lovely story of two siblings getting to know each other. The pictures, full of the vitality and joy that a new baby can bring, show understanding and love. There is no sense here of resentment of the new baby, just pleasure at his presence in her life, and an understanding that he will need his own special blanket and that this is something she can give him. ES

Fairy Tale Pets HHHH

Tracey Corderoy, ill. Jorge Martin, Little Tiger Press, 32pp, 978 184869 441 5, £10.99hbk

Bob lives happily with Rex his dog in their neat home but there’s one thing wrong, they’re hard up. Time to get a job, thinks animal-lover Bob and pet-sitting is the perfect one. Bob advertises all over town. Next day his first customer arrives bright and early: a golden-haired girl clutching a baby bear. Not quite what Bob had anticipated but business is business.

Almost immediately, the

“little poppet” is making his presence well and truly felt, ranting on about eaten porridge, a chair and a bed. Pretty soon business is booming. Bob has taken in Jack’s goose (Jack paid with beans) and three “nice,

Books for Keeps No.226 September 2017 21

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