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reviews 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued


turns out to be surprisingly simple. It’s the scissors again, and this time the choice of a bobbed look. At an opportune moment, a good short back and sides gets rid of all that hair and witch as well. Meantime, resourceful Rapunzel has braided her own vine rope ladder and stashed it under the bed. Down she comes again, mounts her steed, and masked and caped (the horse is masked as well), off she goes to find other witches to slay. While there is nothing too surprising now in a feminist twist to fairy tales, it is Woollvin’s illustrations that make the


story distinctive. These have


dramatic composition, expert use of the page, sly humour, and an elegant simplicity of line and colour, mainly in monochrome but with blocks of yellow,


acknowledging the central


part that Rapunzel’s hair plays in the story. It’s such a beautifully realised narrative that the brief text is almost superfluous. CB


Big Brown Bear’s Cave HHHHH


Yuval Zommer, Templar Publishing, 978 1 78370 647 1 , £11-99 hbk.


How much stuff does one bear need? When Big Brown Bear finds an empty cave, he knows immediately it is just the right size for a bear like him. But that night, no matter which way he bear-stretches, he cannot get comfortable, for it just doesn’t feel like home. Pondering this problem on a gentle stroll, he comes across a village, the houses each with an attached cave. Dark and dusty man- caves, just full of STUFF.


Big Brown


Bear decides he too needs stuff. So he starts gathering, favourites being stuff with wheels, stuff with handles and stuff that comes in boxes. He tells himself he won’t stop collecting till he has filled every corner of his cave. What happens when his three bear friends come to visit, hoping to come in? No room for visitors, only stuff! When they call again, wanting Big Brown Bear to join them on a fishing trip, poor BBB is truly stuck, trapped under piles and piles of stuff. Oh what trouble the friends have to free him. POP! At last he is freed. What to do, other than return all that stuff to the humans? We see the empty man caves, all four bears heading towards them,


loaded down with clocks,


chairs, hoses, lamps, rocking horses, guitars, vacuum cleaners… and boxes galore. Finally, the cave is empty of all that stuff. At last there’s room for BBB to stretch and scratch, and yes, room for his three friends too. For the very first time, the cave feels like home! A fun story, BBB discovering that what he needs most of all is friends, not stuff. The illustrations keep close contact with the story line, and the stylised trees in the endpapers are a delight, more than a dozen trees with differing bark on the and


carefully shaped leaves,


trunks so


that identification is possible; oaks,


maples, yews and conifers. Whilst the first endpaper depicts spring, with birds perched in the treetops, the final one is distinctly autumnal, leaves flying in the wind and littering the ground, amidst which we track large bear footprints.


Altogether a


very satisfying book, with more to discover on subsequent reads. GB


Piggy Handsome: Guinea pig destined for stardom


HHH


Pip Jones, ill. Adam Stower, Faber & Faber, 186pp, 978-0-571-32754-6, £6.99, pbk


Piggy Handsome is a guinea pig leading a comfortable


life; with a


roomy cage (or maisonette as he likes to refer to it), a friend in Jeffry the budgie and very little threat from the rather over fed cat Cranky Scrapper. However Handsome is not content. He comes from a line of famous ‘Handsomes’ and feels he is failing in his duty to the family name if he does not achieve greatness and recognition himself. Despite the opportunity to escape his cage regularly he has not achieved his dream so far until one day Jeffry spots an advert for a chip eating contest at the beach, a perfect opportunity for Piggy to achieve fame. But how will they get there? A crazy journey to the beach follows with Piggy and Jeffry travelling at break neck speed by roller boot. On the way they encounter some dastardly robbers whose escape plan our hero inadvertently thwarts. Will Piggy achieve his dream as a world record chip eater or more importantly recognition as a robber thwarter? This is a rollicking and amusing


adventure which newly independent readers with a taste for the ridiculous will enjoy. The illustrations within the text add to the humour. The inept and rather


revolting Dahlesque villains


Dan and Dolly Dixon’s attempt to hold up the jewellers is very amusing. Piggy is a rather pompous yet appealing character well supported by a much more sensible sidekick in Jeffry. I suspect this duo is likely to return with more adventures as Piggy’s quest for stardom continues. SMcG


Nothing Rhymes with Orange HHHHH


Adam Rex, Chronicle Books, 48pp, 978-1-4521-5443-5, £11.99, hbk


If nothing rhymes with orange, then Adam Rex finds rhymes to go with just about every other fruit you can think of, as more and more of them, all with sketched on faces and spindly arms and legs, gather for an increasingly riotous party. As the page gets more and more crowded and the rhymes get crazier and crazier (and what is Friedrich Nietzsche doing here?) billy-no-mates


Orange loiters in


the corner wondering if he is ever going to be invited to join the fun, especially when even kumquats and currants are allowed in. Cue a blank


double page spread with Orange looking glum and rejected on the right. But the other fruit “are feeling rotten,


‘cause there’s really, he’s Smorange, which someone


they’ve forgotten.” And, hooray, here comes apple on the right, followed by everyone else to reassure Orange that,


means totally awesome in every way. So, at last, all the fruit can celebrate their fruitiness together. The brilliantly bonkers rhymes get steadily madder. A rousing fruity chorus – “FRUIT, they’re healthy, happy, colourful, and cute”, occasionally bursts out. And there’s an expertly characterised cast, including the frustrated Orange, at turns exasperated by the rhymes or, despite himself, in awe of their inventiveness.


It’s hilarious, it


promotes healthy eating (although feeding a cantaloupe to an antelope is probably not a good idea) and it will have young readers joining in with the party mood, feeling sad for Orange on the side-lines, and finally rejoicing at his inclusion. CB


Dread Cat HHHHH


Michael Rosen, illus Nicola O’Byrne, Little Gems, Barrington Stoke, 978 1 78112 588 5, £6.99 pbk


Continuing the series of wide-ranging stories for newly independent readers is this clever cat-and-mouse tale of treachery and defiance, unity and come-uppance. Dread Cat is ferociously fierce,


a killer of a cat. The mere sight of him is enough to make the mice scamper down their hidey-holes. Of course, this does nothing for Dread Cat’s reputation for he doesn’t get to pounce on a single mouse. So he comes up with a plan and offers the mice a truce. He invites them to walk past him at night in single file and promises to greet each with a tasty morsel of cheese. The lure of cheese is just too tempting, so they agree. Dread Cat seems to be keeping his word – but soon their number dwindles. It’s time for the mice to investigate. The story has a wide appeal. A charming, deeply satisfying tale in itself,


its moral – solidarity in the


face of danger – will trigger much discussion and appeal to readers with a higher interest level. The story is suspenseful and tautly crafted. Filled with rhythm, wit and vigour, it reads well aloud, using repetition and alliteration to great effect. The expressive illustrations sit elegantly on the page and work harmoniously with the text. AF


Ash Boy HHH


Lucy Coats, ill. Mark Beech, Barrington Stoke, 56pp, 9781781127186, £5.99 pbk


Ash Boy is a lovely little antidote for reluctant KS2 readers right up to Yr 6 really who might be struggling to make sense of text or be over phased by too compact a text. It’s got all the elements to ensure a relaxing non fraught read. It is based on a famous fairy tale which


I’m sure most, if not all children will recognise and it has a good easy to read font with those appealing spaces so as not to overwhelm. Cinder Ashok is the hero of the


book. I probably don’t need to say too much about the story but it’s a clever twist on Cinderella. His best friend ‘Buttons’ hangs out with him in his favourite place-mine too-the


library.


Together they share a love of comic book heroes. His step mother and brothers are predictably wicked and nasty – drawn with great fun by Mark Beech. There’s a definite Roald Dahl/ Quentin Blake feel


to the pictures


which all add to the humour in the book and I think this will definitely add to the sheer enjoyment of reading this little corker. There are many quirky twists to


the original Cinderella story the most important of which is the replacement of the ball with a Royal Quintain Contest where the successful participant would win a favour of their choice granted by the princess. Practising when you are banished to the attic rooms is a bit tricky but Cinder manages very well and then dials ‘999 Fairy’ for a bit of extra magical help from......Guess who? SG


They came from Planet Zabalooloo!


HHH


Sean Taylor, illus. Kate Hindley, Walker Books, 32pp, 9781 4063 7434 6, £6.99 pbk


Three aliens from Zabalooloo have different characteristics: Zoron tells the story, and he says he is very clever;


Bazoo is so strong,


and Zob gets over-excited and does crazy wiggle-woggle dancing. Their space ship has space biscuits and a party area with balloons, and they are on an epic adventure to bring something special back from Earth with their supersonic sucker with shrinker-nozzle. First they search for something big: “wow wee – an elephant!” They creep up on it with the supersonic sucker, but Bazoo wants a selfie first. The elephant wakes up and makes a big-size bottom-trumpet sound, and the smell is so awful that they change their minds. Similar mishaps occur when they try to capture a medium size thing, a lion, and this time it’s Zob’s wiggle-woggle dancing that wakes the lion and they run away before it can try to catch them. A small-size duck looks more promising, but is so cute that this time it’s Zob who both wants a funny photo and does crazy dancing- will that frighten the duck? No , it eats their space biscuits from their hands, poses for a photo, and charms them so much that they can’t bear to take it away, and they go back into space, rejoicing in their successful mission: they have taken a selfie with a duck… Sean Taylor has written more than 40 books for young readers, including When a Monster is Born, which is also fun, and he knows what will appeal. The words are very funny,


Books for Keeps No.226 September 2017 23


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