BfK Under 5s Pre-School/Nursery/Infant continued Ed’s Choice What We’ll Build HHHHH

Written and Ill. Oliver Jeffers, Harper Collins 48pp, 978-0008382209, £14.99 hbk

In a series of dreamscapes of possibility and ambition, a father and daughter set out to create the world in which they wish to live. Each brings something special to the task: what can be constructed is almost limitless, from cherished memories to a wall excluding enemies (plus a gate to admit them later, when apologies are due….) The father guides his daughter, and she guides him, and together they forge a path that enables both of them to grow. Blazing with colour and optimism,

Jeffers’ striking artwork delivers visual surprises, humour emotional

sincerity and throughout.

From images that are easily read (“We’ll build a house to be our home...”) to those that are open to many interpretations (“We’ll build a watch to keep our time…”) this book gets right to the heart of parental hopes, and signposts a path for imagining and dreaming. A lyrical, rhyming text guides and suggests in a way that feels relaxed. There’s no hint of ‘ought’ in Jeffers’ kind and constructive commentary – imaginative camaraderie prevails, and if his poetry doesn’t always read as comfortably as it could, it’s a minor detraction in a book that’s offering so much. Jeffers wrote and illustrated What

We’ll Build for his daughter, Mari, as a companion volume to Here We Are, the best-selling

that he created for his son. ‘If Here We Are was written to help explain

Szeinmann’s translation of Dreis’s

affectionate and gently poetic text is a pleasure to read, and seems to capture something important about its heart and soul. Little

Treasures will inspire seeking and finding of many kinds, and will be much loved. CFH

Marney’s Mix-Up HHH

Jane Rushmore, ill. Sally Darby, Owlet Press, 32pp, 978 1 913339 07 4, £7-99, pbk

The first of a trio of Silly Squirrel Stories, this book delves into how our prejudices and pre-conceptions can cause misunderstandings and often embarrassment. Marney comes late to his first gathering of stores for winter, and realizes that all the other squirrels have cleaned up their part of the park. Braving new territory on his search for nuts and acorns, he encounters someone or something he has never

before seen. Firey- red, chubby cheeked and waving its Bear’s picturebook

how our world works, then What We’ll Build was written about how we change it,’ Jeffers says. This is a book that ‘contemplates what home is, the importance of family and the strength of the invisible bonds of any loving relationship. It is all about the pure potential of what will come, both good and bad, and how, ultimately, people need each other.’ Our world has always had its challenges, but over the last year, it has become – in Jeffers’ words – ‘a radically different place’; one in which ‘it feels even more important to plan for an uncertain future, realizing there will be dark days ahead, that we don’t get anywhere alone, and where we go, we should go with love.’ Every day, in every corner of the

world, children and their parents are creating ‘together futures’, and this is a book that empowers those partnerships. What We’ll Build is a timely and very special picturebook for families to treasure over many years, and one that will continue to deliver something new each time it’s shared. CHH

arms, the THING makes the strangest noise. ‘Ibble-bobble-wibble-oomph!’ Marney is scared and retreats


home territory, asking what on earth that strange language could mean. No-one seems to know. Is it a fox, pretending

to speak squirrel? He

didn’t want to end up in a squirrel sandwich! Deciding he does need nuts to store for winter, he plucks up his courage and confronts the stranger, repeating “Ibble-bobble- wibble-oomph!”. Ha ha! The stranger, shocked, then understands why he had said such a babble…He explains he had had his mouth full of nuts, there were so many to gather! He is a squirrel, just like Marney, except he is a different colour. A friendship is soon formed, the embarrassment is forgotten. The story line will lead to discussion about and should


racial bias, exploration

and celebration of similarities and differences without misjudging other people. The illustrations add much to the story, showing the characteristics

24 Books for Keeps No.246 January 2021

of all the squirrels, their habitat and need for

thinking ahead… even if

they do forget their hiding places! The pictures will appeal to any child who has watched squirrels scampering through treetops, or whisking through autumn leaves. GB

What’s in the Truck? HHHHH

Philip Ardagh, ill. Jason Chapman, Faber, 32pp, 978 0 571 33117 8, £6.99, pbk

Think of a Russian doll, hold that in mind. he star characters here are two dogs and a frog, with a Princess at the end of the tale. Then apply the captivating text of Philip Ardagh, and these magical ingredients combine to make a brilliantly original caper. The hilarious rhyming text is stunningly complemented

by the humorous

artwork of Jason Chapman. The book will charm and enthrall children and adults alike, for it is as fast moving as the tale itself, each moving vehicle spilling out

of the previous one,

reminiscent of a Russian doll. What an original idea. From the raised back of the super-charged racer…. Out glides a limmo, as sleek as

a plane,

With big gleaming hubcaps as bright as champagne. It purrrrrrrrs down the road like a pedigree cat, Swerves round a veg van….. Look out!

Oh no… SPLAT!

As readers, we can imagine that not only Ardagh was enjoying himself as he wrote the text, but also that Chapman had a wonderful


creating all the whacky pictures, full of colour and speed and daring do

and all impossible devices beloved of small children. The tale begins with Prince Ollie (dog) screeching across the page in a truck with GIANT wheels. When the back door flips open, out squeals the super-charged racer;

from there, an open-topped

sports car… a motor bike, and finally a scooter, driven by a grinning frog, each new vehicle tumbling out of the previous one. Destination reached, who is the recipient of the birthday present? And what is it? An amazing ending! Young readers will have such fun finding all the picture jokes liberally scattered on every spread, and adults who were fans of Richard Scarry books will just love this. Find it, devour it and have lots of fun, with a child on you knee, a group of nursery children, a library book corner or a class full of children already familiar with the concept that picture books can evoke peals of laughter. They will all want to take it home in their book bags… adults, get your children their own copy! Thoughtfully, the book is made from resilient stiffened paper to cope with the many reads this book is bound to demand. GB

5 – 8 Infant/Junior It Isn’t RUDE to be NUDE HHHH

Written and Ill. Rosie Haine, Tate Publishing, 40pp, 978-1-84976 -700-2, £11.99 hbk

The bodies in this life-affirming picturebook come in every shape and size, and all of them are naked. But as Rosie Haines points out, being nude is most decidedly not rude - everyone has a bum, and we should celebrate our bodies in all their wonderful diversity. Exuberant,

It Isn’t Rude to be Nude draws on centuries


inclusive and kind, artistic

tradition and

breathes new life into the ‘body book.’ With the clear and respectful eye of an artist in a life class, Haines depicts skin tones and markings as they really are. Some characters have scars or wrinkles, others have tattoos, and differences of many kinds are visible. It Isn’t Rude to be Nude has the

feel of a rather gorgeous sketchbook. Characters are captured in motion and at rest, as if we had happened upon them as they were busy with

their daily lives, but the text that guides us doesn’t always seem quite sure what voice to take. Willies get away with some silliness, while those with vulvas are instructed to be proud, and the dynamic between straight- talking didacticism and cheerful jollity leads to a slightly inconsistent tone. But discussions about terminology are necessary, and it’s the artwork that takes the starring role – these pictures really do say a thousand words, and this book will initiate conversations that can be developed as children mature and gain insight. With popular culture saturated imagery, the ready

in sexualized

accessibility of pornography and a rise in body dysmorphia and eating disorders, we appear as a society to be confused about our bodies and how we feel about them. Attitudes to nudity within children’s homes will vary, but whatever cultural views prevail, this exuberant, affectionate

deeply inclusive book has something important to contribute. CFH


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