BfK 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

and there is the clear issue of the relative sizes of the things that the aliens want to capture. Kate Hindley has illustrated his work before in Don’t call me Choochie Poo! and her style suits the whackiness of the story, with little touches like the elephant blushing when he makes his bottom sound adding to the fun for younger children and KS1. DB

Troll Stroll HHHH

Elli Woollard, ill. David Barrow, Nosy Crow, 978-0-8576-3972-1, £6-99, pbk

This should become a favourite read aloud story, one to which young

children will quickly return and want to read for themselves. Familiarity with the traditional tale The Three Billy Goats Gruff will ensure the book becomes a real winner. Joining in the chant will provide opportunities for class or family participation, as well as for prediction of what will come next. Troll, bored of his diet of goats (despite his recipe book, 100 Ways to Cook Goats, seen in a picture,) decides to venture down from his lofty cave on the hillside (Hovel Sweet Hovel!) to the town below. Refer to the first end paper, where the beautiful water colour painting shows us the route he takes, and where his adventures

The Wizards of Once HHHHH

Cressida Cowell, Hachette, 394pp, 9781444936704, £12, 99 hbk

Having triumphantly signed off on her excellent How-to Train your Dragon stories Cressida Cowell now brings all her trademark wild energy to the start of what promises to be an equally successful new series. Magic still

always adding to the fun. Different fonts are pressed into service throughout with the whole project a marvel of imaginative energy and comic gusto. There is no-one else quite like this author for generating unreserved pleasure for her readers on every page; catch her while you can. NT

The Lifeboat that Saved the World


Irving Finkel, illus Dylan Giles, Thames & Hudson, 978-0-5006- 5122-3, 104pp, £9.99 hbk

It is going to rain – and it will not be just a gentle summer shower; there is going to be a flood. Very-quick hears his father conversing with….a Voice? What is going on? He soon finds out. Atra-hasis has been told to build a boat, an ark into which he must load his family and a pair of all the animals in the world. How can this work? It is up to Very-quick to help. Yes, the story will be familiar, but

the names are very different. This is not the story that is recounted in the Old Testament about Noah. This is a retelling of the much older version from Mesopotamia in the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is a lively narrative. Irving Finkel tells


abounds, but this time the setting is the Sussex Downs at a mythical time when Warriors and Wizards maintain an uneasy peace following years of mutual attritional violence. Enter therefore Xar, a quite extraordinarily stupid wizard child expert at putting himself and his long-suffering followers into one dangerous situation after another. On the other side, the young warrior girl Wish is equally daring and disobedient, and when they inevitably meet there are

adventurous narrative is enhanced by the author’s numerous cartoon-gothic black and white pictures, sometimes taking up a two page spread and

story with

great verve, not just introducing his readers to a human cast with real character, but also to a pantheon of Mesopotamian gods who are as noisy and quarrelsome as any family. Supporting Finkel’s text, Dylan Giles’ black and white illustrations add a visual element which is contemporary in style but cleverly references the past.

And is it all a fiction? Well Finkel sparks galore. As before, an

introduces his young readers to the amazing fact that this story can be read in cuneiform script, written on clay tablets which can be seen in the British Museum. Here is a very old story brought to life for a new audience – excellent. FH

24 Books for Keeps No.226 September 2017

begin. The rhyming text gallops along as victim number one hoves into sight, and is challenged by the big blue troll, standing astride the bridge. “A guzzle! A gollop! Who wants to eat goats? I’ll chomp little children and chew up their coats.” We see a tiny boy on his bike, viewed between the huge legs of the troll, being persuaded to wait for the car following behind, with two little children to chomp. Keen readers of the illustrations will spot the cunning number plate on the car! Here the illustration of the town is delightful, soft pastels fading to the lightest of brush strokes, trees and foliage added with wet paper technique

to great effect. Troll,

licking his lips, anticipates children with chips… but no, he is eventually

8 – 10 Junior/Middle My Mum’s Growing Down


Laura Dockrill, ill. David Tazzyman, Faber & Faber, 145pp, 978-0-571-33506-0, £6.99,pbk

This is a collection of poems by

writer and performer Laura Dockrill with amusing line drawings by David Tazzyman. It is written in two parts, the first as if by a boy writing about his mum and the second reporting what his mum says. The main premise, addressed directly

in the opening

poem and title of the collection, is that instead of being a ‘sensible’ grown up, his mum is getting, or at any rate behaving, like a young child, because in her view ‘Life’s too short for boring- ness , it’s time we had some FUN!’ In My Mum is a Gamer we discover her prowess with computer games and in a later poem are surprised with her football skills. This is a non- conformist mum, who can’t cook and is not so good at cleaning, she is an individual with highly distinctive dress sense which her son applauds in My Mum does not dress like a mum and that’s good and rather unusual hair styles which he seems less keen on. There are closely observed situations here such as the way adults frame requests to children eg to ‘pop’ to the shops, or even ‘pass that exam, win that prize’ in My Mum makes everything sound easy when actually it’s not. Many older children will relate to a number of poems about how embarrassing mums can be in public, in this case at a restaurant, the cinema, a museum or even worse on parents’ day at school. These poems celebrate the unconventional, they are full of warmth, humour and loving advice, ‘you get on with being you and I’ll get on with loving you.’ SMcG

stopped once more by the children, for next comes a …? What could be bigger and more overflowing with children than the school bus? Troll shouts, “Oh what slobbersome luck! Such scrumptious young morsels all covered in ….” He almost ends up as Troll Soup, but manages to escape back to his mountain hovel, thinking how tasty goat will be after all. The end paper glows with the softness of twilight, as the tale comes to an end. With rhyme and rhythm throbbing, it will surely be a story to read and share again and again. GB

You Can’t Make Me Go to Witch School


Em Lynas illus Jamie Littler, Nosy Crow, 232pp, 978-1788000130, £6.99 pbk

Daisy Wart wants everyone to see her Bottom. She’s set her heart on being an actress you see and can’t wait to appear in her primary school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Acting would certainly seem to be in her blood, given her tendency for dramatic outbursts, but Granny Wart is convinced that Daisy is a witch and on her eleventh birthday delivers her to the prestigious Toadpit Towers, school for witches. Daisy is aghast and determined to get out and back in time for curtain up. The school has other ideas, and it’s not just the teachers you have to watch out for here. There’s a garden full of pupil-eating plants, and even the doors have minds of their own. School rules are enforced by the ghost of the original headmistress, who patrols the corridors to make sure that there is absolutely no running. Daisy’s new friends are ready to help though, as is mean Dominique, teacher’s pet, who has her own reasons for wanting to see the back of Daisy. Letting the naughtiest girl in the

school cause maximum mischief while enjoying midnight feasts with her friends is a tried and trusted formula and there are lots of fictional witch schools too, though none quite like this, and Em Lynas has successfully conjured up her very own mix of school and magic. It’s great fun and Daisy is a hugely appealing central character, with a distinctive and memorable voice. Indeed, young readers may well decide that she is ac-chew-ally (to

borrow Daisy’s impersonation

of deputy head Ms Thorn), their favourite apprentice witch. Daisy, to Dominique’s horror, turns out to be the Best and Brightest witch in the school, though she’s still a rebel, and there will

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