then in black and white- “spooky”, and “boring”. Then, on Monday, Yellow brightens the day: there is a duck, a banana, a corn cob, bees, sunflowers, cheese, and of course, the sun. Yellow appears on part of their clothes as we turn to Tuesday, when Blue cools things down with the sea and fish, the sky and birds. The double-page spreads become riotous

illustrations of red, pink

(Emmy is NOT impressed, but her face becomes pink), green, purple and orange, all the way to Sunday. When, in the next week, all the colours come to play, Emmy and Jeff say “Too much!” and show them the door, but the children remain colourful as they get some rest under the black and white check cover. Words are minimal, but the sheer energy in the illustration is fun, and this will be useful for teaching colours and the days of the week. Ross Collins has illustrated over

100 books, and written quite a few of them – his previous book There’s A Bear On My Chair was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal and won the inaugural Amnesty International Honour in 2016, and the UK Literacy Association prize. On the back of the book, it says that Red Squirrel wants his books to be for all children, because he knows that sharing stories is one of the best things to do, and this is dyslexia-friendly. It’s very enjoyable, too. DB

What’s at the Top? HHHH

Marc Martin, Templar Books, 48pp, 978-1-78741-235-4, £11.99 hbk

The front cover and the first page show a ladder going up and off the page – what could be at the top? Is it a hat, or (next page) a black and white cat? A dog, or a frog on a log? …. An invisible man, or a door to Japan? (It has a little flag on the lock plate)….It could be the moon, or a yellow balloon. Is it safe to assume that it’s not a baboon? The ideas get more fantastical as we progress through the book- this is good fun. “What about a hotel that looks like a shell, that’s run by a snail by the name of Miguel?”- and that’s not even the most words and ideas on a double-page spread! We are none the wiser by the end, and are asked what we think might be at the top, so there is plenty of scope for imaginative conversation here. The illustrations, in watercolour

and pencil with digital assistance, are simple but effective, and often witty. The baboon, which isn’t at the top, is full of character. This will be really enjoyable to share with one child or a group. DB

Under 5s Pre-School/Nursery/Infant continued Is it a Mermaid?


Candy Gourlay, ill. Francesca Chessa, Otter-Barry, 28pp, 978 1 91095 912 1, £11.99, hbk

Benji and Bel are playing on the beach when they spot an unusual sea creature. Benji immediately identifies the sea creature as a dugong. The creature replies that she is in fact a beautiful mermaid. Bel is enraputed but Benji is cross - he knows he is right. While the sea creature tries to prove to a sceptical Benji that she is a mermaid he points out all the features which indicate she is a dugong. When he finally refers to her as a sea cow the dugong can stand it no longer, breaks down and cries. Bel is distraught and Benji realises he has gone too far. He apologises for hurting her feelings. The story ends with both Benji and Bel spending the rest of the day playing happily with the dugong until it is time to go home. This is a sensitive story about considering the feelings of others. As well as exploring the power of imaginative play it also touches lightly on the right of the individual to assert their own identity. The illustrations are just gorgeous and add detail to the story, is that a mermaid disappearing as the sun sets? For children intrigued to find out about mermaids in nautical mythology, dugongs to their

and Baby Bird HHHH

Andrew Gibbs, ill. Zosienka, Lincoln Books, 32pp, 978 1 7860 3012 2, £11.99 hbk

This is one of the first titles in First Editions a new sub-imprint


devoted to debuts. Born with one misshapen wing that

doesn’t develop fully, Baby Bird is from the outset, different. When the time comes for the hatchlings to leave the safety of their nest, Baby watches the rest of the brood take to the air. ‘Birds are born to fly’ thinks the little creature but Baby’s attempts to get airborne, follow them and join in the fun all end disastrously. Baby Bird isn’t one to give up easily

however and suddenly a huge face appears from the shadows and there, is not the monster Baby anticipated, but a large black bird calling itself Cooter. Initially Cooter upsets the fledgling

but then offers to become a supportive buddy and together they spend the afternoon trying to get Baby flying: fun though it might be for Cooter, for his friend, it most certainly is not. Is Baby Bird ever to achieve his

heart’s desire? Seemingly not for after due consideration and repeated failures Cooter concludes, ‘I don’t think you’ll ever be able to fly with that little wing.’ His comment precipitates a fall, considerable flapping, a rescue and a

22 Books for Keeps No.230 May 2018 threats survival, some interesting

information is included at the back of the book. SMc

revelation on Cooter’s part that changes the atmosphere completely and with it Baby Bird’s outlook on life and flight. This beautifully

illustrated story

really is something of a tear-jerker but essentially it’s one of hope and its uplifting ending will surely make your spirits soar. Self-acceptance and the power of friendship win through. Artist

Zosienka’s watercolours

really do show the changing emotions of Baby Bird and his supportive friend. Sadly its author, Andrew Gibbs didn’t

live to see this wonderfully

inclusive book published but his main character truly embodies the spirit of determination no matter how tough the odds. JB

The Lost Penguin HHHH

Clare Freedman and Kate Hindley, Simon and Schuster, 32pp, 978-1471117343, £6.99 pbk

This is a sweet little story featuring, for the second time, the endearing characters of Oliver and Patch. Oliver is a little boy who has friend called Ruby, and she has a dog called Patch. In this story they visit a zoo. The zoo contains all sorts of different animals but the one enclosure that really catches their eye is the penguin area where they spy a little penguin who isn’t mixing with any of the other penguins. The zoo keeper explains that the small penguin is called Peep and is from a rescue centre so hasn’t really settled in yet. Oliver, Ruby and Patch then leave the zoo to come back the next day but on their return they discover that the little penguin is missing.

Held in Love HHH

Dawn Casey, ill. Oamul Lu, Lincoln Children’s Books, 24pp, 9781786030672, £11.99, hbk

Held in Love would make a wonderful gift

for new parents. It’s a beautiful

blessing for any child – no matter how far you travel away you are ‘held in love’. The book starts in the widest form

by looking at the universe then the world, then a village, then a home with a mother reading to her baby. The pages then continue with wishes for her child with balance for example ‘May your ears listen, and hear the singing...and the

silence’ or ‘and

when tears flow may peace follow’. The words are simply put but say

much – each page is aided by the calming, peaceful illustrations. Those

illustrations have been

created by Oamul Lu for his first picture book and complement its message with muted tones, lots of space and simple shapes. SG

Looking After William HHHHH

Eve Coy, Andersen Press, 32pp, 978 1 78344 541 7, £11.99 hbk

They then go on a mission to find

the penguin. They are successful but their success creates problems for the little trio, who then become a 4 and fall out over who should take whom home, putting their friendship to the test. There is a solution in the end and everybody is happy. This story would be a really good discussion

feeling left out and it’s a really good way of showing the of

starter if anybody was effects

loneliness, in a gentle way, using animals and people too. The illustrations

are very appealing

indeed. Obviously the zoo gives scope for some very entertaining animals – meerkats

included and I loved

the way the penguins have a good old wash under their flippers! A very enjoyable adventure for Oliver and Patch and I hope they will have many more to come. SG

Wonderfully warm and wacky, this picture book is a role reversal story. It is the little girl who claims to be the mummy and to be looking after her daddy, and he is (she says) the child. Actually, dad seems to be the main carer for the little girl, though there is a mum in evidence too – and a wonderful cat on every page, who also features on the front endpapers. ‘William likes to get up early,’ the little girl says, but the pictures tell a different story. Dad and mum are sound asleep when their daughter jumps on the parental bed, and things get little better for poor, beleaguered daddy as the day goes on. He needs lots of exercise, the little girl tells us, so it is daddy on the bicycle puffing up the hill pulling a cart with her in it. And at the supermarket where ‘he needs so much attention’, daddy is doing all the work while the little girl falls asleep sitting in the cart. Life is very busy for the little girl when she looks after her dad, but she also understands that he needs love, and we certainly see a very loving father who is willing to jump through all sorts of hoops for his darling daughter. She knows he could be all sorts of things when he grows up, but most of all, he wants to be ‘my dad’. The tender and realistic illustrations are huge fun, and I look forward to seeing what the talented Ms Coy does next. ES

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