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reviews 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued


certainly does. Spare figures, lots of white and coloured space, pages of explosions, and muted colours all add up to a quite remarkable production. As Orson makes his sad decision about what to do with his planet, we see that he already has ideas about his next project; he’s an irrepressible lad who ‘loves to make things’.


ES Here Comes Mr Postmouse HHHH


Marianne Dubuc, Book Island, 978 0 9941282 0 1, hbk


In


translated picture book by award- winning French-Canadian illustrator, Marianne Dubuc, readers are invited to join Mr Postmouse as he loads up his cart with letters and parcels and sets out to visit all the animal dwellings in the


Each large size page shows a cross- section drawing of an animal home allowing the reader to peek inside and seek out all the intricately drawn and humorous details of the animal families’ daily lives. Every illustration is full of fascinating depictions offering the potential for hours of pleasure to observant children and for shared explorations by parent and child. There are many dwellings to pore over and far too many clever, funny and imaginative ideas to note, with a couple of examples being Mr Bear’s beehive, pipe and tap contraption to bring honey directly into his home or the ingenious system of funnel, pipes and slide ensuring that the Crocodile family’s home is sufficiently swampy. The short, clear text and subdued, matt blue-green tones of the page backgrounds allow attention to focus on the visual jokes and clues and the mingling of animals and characters from the natural and folk tale worlds. This deceptively simple picture book is very interactive and child-friendly and will give hours of fun and enjoyment to children of 3 years up who love to spot quirky detail. It would also offer plenty of opportunity for discussion about animal homes and for creative designs and ideas. All in all, a welcome addition to the shelves of libraries for Foundation and KS1 children.


SR The Glump and the Peeble HHH


Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown, Frances Lincoln, 978-1-8478-0709-0, £11.99 hbk


Little Dragon Dram must leave the family nest to find his own food and a dragon’s favourite snack is a nibblesome knight. But a crash landing leaves Dram a little worse for wear, and the young lad


cares for him mistakens him for a duck! The truth is revealed at their next encounter, but young James is actually a knight and now he’s expected to fight his new friend. More fairytale fun from the duo that


that neighbourhood. this visually detailed, quirky,


it may well be a book that demands repeat readings. Little details in the illustrations and a handsome map mean there is more to be discovered each time. KC


Be a Friend HHHHH


Salina Yoon, Bloomsbury, 40pp, 978-1-4088-6909-3, £6.99 pbk


Tender and gentle, this lovely picture book about feeling different and lonely could be about a child with autism, or one who never speaks, or it could just be about a child who feels he has no friends. The fact that it can be read in different ways is a real strength of the story, and the illustrations match the concept perfectly.


who doesn’t speak but communicates through mime. In the pictures we see him miming, and exactly what he is miming is shown through dotted red lines. He wears a striped shirt and a top hat, like his hero Marcel Marceau, and paints his face white.


calls him Mime Boy’, but although he is happy to mime, he often feels lonely.


play with each other, but never with him. Perhaps he is invisible, he thinks – until Joy comes into his life.


thinks like Dennis does, and they are soon best friends, sharing the world in ‘the same way’. Friends don’t find it necessary to talk, and when the other children see their friendship developing, they accept them too. Subtle and beautifully crafted, this is an unforgettable story about the need for acceptance whoever you are and whatever your circumstances.


ES “Oh no,” said Elephant HHH


A.H. Benjamin, illus Alireza Goldouzian, Minedition, 32pp, 978- 988-8341-07-8, £11.99 hbk


Elephant is too big, too tall, clumsy, heavy and slow to shine in any of the games Leopard Zebra and Monkey suggest, so his plaintive response of ‘Oh, no. I’m not good at that’ will have every reader cheering him on. It is only when he gets his go, that the tables are turned because his game – ‘Tug o’ War’ requires strength and Elephant has that in abundance. In a simple, repetitive refrain we


about, ending with his gallant win. This is what a good picture book should be – refreshing, simple and in tune with a young child’s view of the world. But it is the illustrations, lush, rich and creamy as melted chocolate, which make this book special. Bursting from each page with vigorous power, they entertain and amuse with their energetic humour. Cleverly creating stillness with the large, ponderous elephant shapes juxtaposed against the


brought us The Giant of Jum. The sing- song rhyme will delight Donaldson fans and Benji Davies’s beautiful artwork is a joy to pore over. Children will love this fun friendship story that takes place in the fairytale realm and


smaller animals, the compositions have a taut dynamism, that require a sophisticated eye to read, while still being approachable for the very young. Sure to tickle the fancy of many a young reader.


JNH frantic movements of the to hide, catch and leap She The other children seem to ‘Everyone Dennis is a child


The Truth According to Arthur HHHH


Tim Hopgood, ill. David Tazzyman, Bloomsbury, 32pp, 978-1-4088-6499-9, £6.99 pbk


‘Arthur


the best of friends right now…’ So begins the very funny book in which The Truth is actually a character. In Tazzyman’s brilliant illustrations, The Truth is depicted as a tall, grey blobby character, and Arthur as a scruffy little boy. The problem is that Arthur has done something wrong. He has taken his older brother’s bike and smashed it into his mum’s car, breaking the bike as well as scratching the side of the car. What to do? Should he tell the truth, or bend it, stretch it, or cover the whole thing up? As each of these possibilities come to mind, we see Arthur bending, stretching and covering up poor Truth while he imagines more and more unlikely scenarios. His friends tell him his mum isn’t likely to accept any of his excuses, and in the end, he ‘fesses as we know he should, and mum forgives even though she isn’t happy at the result. Using The Truth as a character is an excellent device and gives a good foil to the humour in the book. Imbedded text with lots of different letter sizes for emphasis, as well as comic-style characters, make for a fun approach that will make the lesson easier to understand and profit by.


ES Dog on a Digger HHH


Katy Prendergast, Old Barn Books, 24pp, 978-1910646144, £10.99 hbk


When a digger obsessed


befriends a scrappy little pup, life on a busy quayside, gets even more exciting. For the pup gets stranded in the steep, concrete canal and it is only his plaintive yapping (depicted by wiggly yellow lines) that saves him. Summoning his master, the older dog employs his favourite digger to rescue his friend. He sits in the bucket while his owner makes the digger’s arm reach over the railings down into the canal. The clever dog is then able to grasp the pup and they ride back in the bucket to safety. A heartwarming story of friendship, loyalty


courage. How refreshing to see a book with


see Elephant’s sporting yet fruitless attempts


and


limited colours, especially when it’s a wordless picture book. Lack of colour helps to focus on what’s important and creates an intimacy because of the deep connection the viewer feels. It not only gives impact, but allows a complex scene to unfold without becoming bogged down with multi- coloured distractions. Textures, soft and graphite, give the resonance and grounding a story like this, replete with pathos and emotion, requires. The use of small amounts of yellow in the pencil textures draws attention to the salient point and adds drama. Words are unnecessary, for while the story unfolds gently there is great noise, power and strength in the heavy digger and the determination of the little dog to rescue his friend. A book sure to become a favourite with animal (and digger) lovers. JNH


dog and The Truth are NOT Tiger in a Tutu HHHH


Fabi Santiago, Orchard Books, 32pp, 978-1-40833-689-2, £6-99 pbk


Any aspiring ballerina …or dreamer…. will love this story of a tiger with what seems an impossible dream. Dreams take so many forms. And this tiger spends days outside the ballet school in gai Paris, learning about pirouettes, grand jetes, plies and pas de chat. With the music in his heart, he then pirouettes through the streets of Paris and across the Seine, to the horror of all passers by. Poor Max, he knows he needs an audience, to applaud and admire his grace and skill. Yet his antics make people run for cover. All but a small ballerina called Celeste, who befriends him, recognising his passion. Backstage, Celeste kits out Max in a perfect pair of ballet shoes….. and a tiger-sized tutu. Excitedly, Max leaps onto the stage. Here is the moment to shine! STAMPEDE! The terrified audience bolt for the exits. Unabashed, Celeste encourages Max to dance, just with her. This they do, centre stage, finishing with a beautiful curtesy. Loud applause and hurrahs greet the astonished pair, for the stampede has stopped and turned, and here is Tiger’s appreciating audience, with cries of ‘Encore! J’adore le tigre!’ This uplifting tale of following a dream and pursuing a talent is skilfully told, and the illustrations have a glorious French feel to them. Look out for the fleeing orchestra, the moustachioed musician carrying his grand piano high above his head amongst the scrambling orchestra! Perfect telling of a tale through words and pictures. GB


Pugly Bakes a Cake HHHH


Pamela Butchart, illus by Gemma Correll, Nosy Crow, 128pp, 978-0-8576-3599-0, £5.99 pbk


Pugly, a dog with big ideas, has hit on his best idea ever. While owner Maddy is at school, he’s going to bake a cake and enter it in a bake-off competition. He’s sure to win, he’s convinced, and Maddy will be so proud of him that she’ll love and cuddle him forever. But he hasn’t counted on the cunning of super-smart Clem the cat, who is also vying for Maddy’s attention. So when Clem suggests that he add a whole load of extraneous – and revolting – ingredients to make the most original cake ever, he naively agrees. Clive the goldfish knows from experience just how malicious Clem can be and tries to warn him, but Pugly refuses to understand what’s going on. This


story, perfectly pitched at its young audience, with a lovable character and come-uppance at its heart. Pugly’s spontaneous enthusiasm and gullibility trigger the action, propelling the story into


The reader and Pugly interpret the story’s events, their cause and effect, differently. While the reader grasps that the dog’s naiveté is the source of mayhem, he, Pugly, remains oblivious. As hilarious as the text are the large expressive illustrations that perfectly capture the zest of the story, alluding as they do to the popular TV bake-off series familiar to most children.


AF Books for Keeps No.220 September 2016 23 increasingly comic situations. is a wonderfully funny


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