reviews 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

fed up with the steamy jungle environment, bids farewell to friends and mum before, rucksack on back, she glides off down the river to the docks. Once there, donning a banana disguise, she boards a banana boat (it had to be!) and embarks on a long voyage, destination London. All this we learn through Roger McGough’s delicious, image rich rhyming text and Greg

Robobaby HHHHH

David Wiesner, Andersen Press, 32pp, 978-1839130205, £12.99,hbk

There is going to be a new addition to the family; Cathy is going to have a baby brother. But this is not quite the family you might expect. This is the Robot family and when Robobaby arrives all neatly boxed up, he has to be assembled. This is, naturally, a task for the adults. Or is it? In fact, it is up to big sister Cathy, or rather Cathode,

with a little help from

Sprocket the dog, to get things right. This book is great fun, but that’s

exactly what you expect from this author-illustrator. Here we have the delicious image of a family, quite recognisable, robot too

even though Cathode, it’s a

family. What brilliant names – Diode,

– everything is consistent appropriate, as is their world nuts,


Sprocket and of

cables and computer

equipment. Their behaviour is far from alien too and their relationships are entirely believable. Young readers in particular will enjoy the subtle dig at the adult world, so often dismissive of the efforts and abilities of children, yet unable to accept that it might not know everything. This is Wiesner’s skill – the masterly interplay between a minimal text, here all dialogue, with its own subtext, and the illustrations. These burst from the pages filling the double page spreads with the characters and clutter of the home. Within the spreads, vignettes create moments

of action (sometimes

explosive!) – and the final spread springs a surprise... Readers might like to wonder what will happen next. Wiesner’s palette – metallic greys

and blues – emphasises the robotic nature of his created world without detracting from the inherent humanity of his story, while the characteristic energy of his lines draw the eye across the visual narrative to explore details and turn the page. This is another brilliantly enjoyable picture book from an author-illustrator who has already delighted us with such creations as Mr Wuffles, The Three Pigs and Tuesday; one not to miss. FH

Crocodile Tears HHHHH

Roger McGough, ill. Greg McLeod, Otter-Barry Books, 32pp, 978 1 9130 7497 5, £12.99 hbk

Hit by wanderlust a young crocodile,

scenes of the crocodile’s travels. Once

McLeod’s equally in the

capital There Are Fish Everywhere HHHHH

Katie Haworth, ill. Britta Teckentrup, Big Picture Books, 32pp, 978-1-78741-775-5, £7.99 pbk

With its colourful palette and eye- catching design, this non-fiction picturebook attention.

really does The embossed grab cover

delectable city


adventurer is struck by the hustle and bustle of urban life. Life she writes of in a series of ‘Dear Mother’ letters (as promised to her fond parent before she left home). Now the colour palette used in illustrations which always work in perfect harmony with the words, changes from brightly coloured to predominantly grey and the dreary hues we associate with winter in London, while

the text becomes

increasingly dizzying with the frenzied features of commuters, dense traffic and noise, noise and more noise. Then comes the snow and with it a precipitation from croc’s eyes: time to head for home … Full of humour – both verbal and visual – this is a hugely enjoyable read aloud both for listeners and presenters of the saga. JB

Who Makes a Forest? HHHH

Sally Nicholls, ill. Carolina Rabet, Andersen Press, 30pp, 978 1 78344 919 4, £12.99, hbk

IThe opening spread of this

information book begins with the title question ‘Who makes a forest?’ The following pages explore the origins of a forest, the time it takes to develop and how fertile ground is created with the help of lichen and small insects. The interconnectedness

of living

things, plants, birds and animal life is suggested, including the role of death in the cycle of life. The text is written in a lyrical style with rhetorical questions


prompt dialogue or reflection. We see the forest through the eyes of two children on a forest walk with their

grandfather, discovering the

wonder of the life they find there. The colourful illustrations emphasise the beauty of a forest environment and wonder of the natural world. We are able to peek under the ground to see what is living there. This book would

be a useful

introduction to a school project about forests and is likely to stimulate further enquiry. The back of book contains factual

information about

different types of forest throughout the world. Their locations, climate and the types of trees and wildlife to be found in them. The book ends with a strong environmental message about the importance of forests to our world and the threat of deforestation as well as a call to action with an indication of the small changes to our daily lives

which can help protect forests. SMc

creates an enticing 3-D effect, and with every brightly-painted fish gazing to our right, it’s hard to resist their cue to browse this book. Once

discover to

inside, and

the there’s enjoy. jawless plenty creatures to

story of fish on our planet from the armoured,

first appeared 500 million years ago,

challenges faced by

their descendants today from ocean plastics and industrial trawling, There Are Fish Everywhere introduces readers to the diversity of habitats and fishy life to be found in every corner of our seas and rivers. Multi-award-winning illustrator Britta Teckentrup

creates are

‘Can You included


artwork using painted, printed and textured papers which she develops and collages via manual and digital techniques. challenges

Find …’ to spark

close looking, and varied layouts keep things fresh – the diagram featuring the lifecycle of the Atlantic salmon is visually and factually interesting, for example, and cross-sections of the ocean allows readers to compare life at different depths. This is not a photo-realistic handbook, but fish and habitats

are distinctively and

accurately presented, and will help children identify species. And it isn’t just the artwork that

stands out. Care has been paid to the musicality of the text, as well as its clarity. Reading this book feels like listening to a knowledgeable friend, and it will be enjoyed by children who aren’t usually drawn to non-fiction, as well as those who are already keen. There are Fish Everywhere is well-

pitched for a primary-school audience but

has (and the enough

visual sophistication out-of-the-way


to appeal to older readers, too. With care, it’s also accessible to interested nursery children, who will relish some of the oddities described. This lovely book merits a place in every library and classroom, and will spark much interest and discussion. CFH

The Spots and the Dots HHHHH

Helen Baugh, ill. Marion Deuchars, Andersen Press, 36pp, 978 1 78344 924 8, £12.99 hbk

A wonderfully spot-on story about two different races who have been fearful of each other for generations and learn through their children to accept and like each other just as they are. The Spots (red) and the Dots (blue) live on different sides of a tall mountain and from time immemorial they have told

their children that something

terrible will happen to them if they go over the mountain. The children do nothing but play games where

Telling the that

their side wins great battles over the other side, and they are truly fearful of their foes. But one day the smallest baby Dot and the smallest baby Spot are found on the top of the mountain together, and when they discover that there is nothing to fear from each other, the news is soon spread to both communities

that reason. the Soon

of fearing and loathing have been without

generations they are

intermingling and enjoying each other as has never been possible before. The full joy of this book, though, is that it can be read from either end – one end having the Spots’ side of the story, and the other, that of the Dots. And, of course, they then meet in the middle. The illustrations are a joy too: lots of Dots and Spots bouncing around and seeing the other side in their minds as spiky, dangerous creatures. The rhymes in the text add to the fun, and children will enjoy the humour as well as the moral of the story. A real tour de force and great for school discussions. ES

Nina’s Amazing Gift HHHH

Maja Lunde, ill. Hans Jorgen Sandnes, Wacky Bee, 40pp., 978-1-913292-06-5, £6.99 pbk

Nina has a lot of fun with her best friend, Choco, and is sad when he moves to the other side of the world (from her finger on the globe, it’s one of the countries south of Mexico). He’s not much good at writing letters, so she is pleased to receive an envelope from him, but it only contains 5 brown beans. She carries them around with her and thinks about how much she misses him. (There is an evil looking cat with her, scavenging and trying to catch a bird). Then she is distracted by

the arrival of chefs Raymond

and Nigella (looking nothing like the people that adult readers might be thinking of) for a cooking competition, and we follow their progress as they aim to make something new. Asked to make something big and round, they come up with what turns out to be a ‘pancake’ and a ‘pizza’. For something long and thin, they make ‘chips’, and ‘spaghetti’, but the judges are finding it very difficult to decide on the best food. Up in a tree watching all this, Nina crumbles her beans into powder and tastes the result - delicious! She rushes home and concocts something to present to the judges. Although Nigella says it looks like poo, they taste it, and feel like children again - Nina is the winner. But what does she call it? A judge suggests Ninalate, but Nina says it should be named after her friend who sent her the beans- Chocolate! Hans Jorgen Sandnes originally

painted the illustrations with diluted chocolate, and the Notes at the end tell us that these are very carefully stored in a secret location. They go on to explain the real story of chocolate, give some fascinating facts and then a recipe for Chocolate Brownies. The illustrations naturally are mostly in shades of brown, with some red and green, and they work very well in this

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