reviews 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued

noisy baby! Chaos reigns supreme! Poor, cross Billy can’t stand all the noise and leaves his house on the hill to find another hill where he can be alone. He begins to think about all that has happened and decides to go home again, and when he gets there, chaos continues; but there is an answer for each of the problems, and soon everyone is able to leave. Billy is relieved and still loves to live on his hill all alone: ‘There’s hardly a whisper. There’s barely a sound! Except on a Tuesday when friends come

around.’ I am particularly

taken with the fact that Billy is still basically a happy loner, but has also learned that people and animals can be fun too – in carefully controlled circumstances! The rhymes and the clever and funny illustrations wonderful

are entertainment, and the

whole is an excellent romp. ES Howl


Kat Patrick, illus by Evie Barrow, Scribble, 32pp, 9781912854905, £11.99 hbk

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing is right – even the sun is too bright, your spaghetti too long and the pyjamas are wrong? That is the day Maggie has had. And then her two front teeth fall out – it is too much. Maggie thinks wolfish thoughts – but how can she really release those feelings. It is Mum who shows her – because even Mums need to howl sometimes. As wolves Maggie and Mum are able to let go – until it is time to go back to bed as Maggie. In this picture book, Kat Patrick,

shows young readers - and here it is a little girl - that it is all right to find a place to let go – to send your biggest feelings to the sky. It introduces the realisation that even adults may need to express themselves. It is about the relationship between a mother and her daughter and an affirmation that everyone needs to howl and be wild sometimes. Evie Barrow’s textured illustrations and saturated colours bring the atmosphere and background to life adding detail and depth to the author’s narrative.

Maggie and her

Mum have real character and their emotions, moving from Maggie’s pent- up frustrations to the joyous freedom of a moonlit garden, are perfectly realised in words and images. FH

The Problem with Pierre HHHH

C.K.Smouha, ill. Suzanna Hubbard, Cicada, 32pp, 978 1 908714 85 5, £11.95, hbk

Although Alan and Bertram friends and neighbours

are they are

complete opposites. Bertram is tidy, with everything in its place and Alan is very messy, believing life is best when not quite perfect. Bertram, aware something is missing in his well-ordered life, decides to get a cat

for company and calls him Pierre. An elegant cat, Pierre looks the perfect fit for Bertram’s lifestyle. Making sure Pierre has a special china bowl and a stylish cat bed Bertram looks forward to the companionship of snuggling up on the sofa with his new friend to watch TV. Unfortunately, Pierre has other ideas and decides he feels much more at home next door amongst Alan’s

messy clutter feasting on

leftovers than in Bertram’s carefully designed home. What can be done? Eventually the two friends come to an inventive and radical agreement to solve the problem and ensure they have the company they crave. This is a stylish picturebook with themes

of compromise and

friendship. There is gently humour in the recognition that fickle felines frequently won’t conform to their owner’s expectations. The differing homes and lifestyles

of Everybody Worries HHHH

Jon Burgerman, OUP, 32pp, 978 0 19 276605 2, £6.99 pbk

The author/illustrator of this picture book is a renowned artist in the ‘Doodle art’ style, and this story with its remarkable little characters doing remarkable things is a perfect representation of that art form. Children will love it, and the fact that the children who will enjoy it most are probably the more profound worriers amongst us, means that it will fulfil its purpose admirably. Rhyming couplets explain that even brave and ‘cool’ people worry about things large and small, tough and smart people can be afraid of the dark, and that ‘Worries aren’t always the same for everyone.’ Facing changes such as moving house, can be terribly worrying and ‘make you feel sickly’ but telling someone about it can help, as can drawing pictures, or: ‘Take three breaths, slow and deep. Exercise and eat well, and get enough sleep.’


advice, colourful little comic characters, and simple ideas about what worrying really is and how people suffer from it, will be positive reasons for talking about one’s worries and learning that they won’t go on forever. The pictures, very funny and clever in themselves, help make a serious subject approachable and helpful. ES

Song of the River HHHH

Joy Cowley, ill. Kimberly Andrews, Gecko Press, 32pp, 978 1 7765 7254 0, £11.99 hbk

This is a newly illustrated version of a Joy Cowley poetic narrative published over twenty years ago. Now, Kimberley Andrews has re-imagined an adventure of Cam, the little boy who follows a river from source to sea. Impatient at the lack of action on his Grandfather’s part (he’d promised to take the boy all the way to the coast,

the two

friends are juxtaposed and brought into sharp contrast in some of the detailed double page spreads. SMc

One spring morning, Cam listens to the watery voice of what begins as a tiny trickle of a rivulet among the pines, “Come with me, I will take you to the sea. “ Cam takes up the offer, following the trickle to see where it leads as it runs down the mountainside and joins a stream. A stream with leaping, beckoning trout, that grows into a river flowing through farms and a town, past wharves and then onto sand dunes and there,

‘wild and beautiful’ and

going on forever is the sea welcoming him with the most exciting sound ever. Joy’s writing is irresistible as that

watery, ever changing voice carries the reader along but so too are Kimberley Andrews’ visual compositions. Her changing landscapes mirror the voice of the river making reading this book a true sensory experience that involves not only sounds and sights, but you can almost feel the pull of the sea too. Whether or not Cam’s experiences

are real or imagined, it matters not for this circular tale is a wonderful homage to the natural world and to the power of storytelling. JB

Can Bears Ski? HHHH

Raymond Antrobus, ill. Polly Dunbar, Walker Books, 32pp, 978 1 4063 8262 4, £12.99 hbk

Hearing difficulty is often not visible to others, let alone obvious; but the impact it can have on a person’s life can be large, especially while undiscovered. Can Bears Ski? is of personal significance for both author and illustrator. Author, Raymond Antrobus had his deafness discovered as a child of six and he draws on his own experiences for this, his debut picture book. Illustrator

Polly Dunbar is

partially deaf and like the bear in the story, wears hearing aids. At the start the little bear narrator is puzzled about why everybody keeps asking the title question: his Dad often says it, his teacher too, and his friends at school. Then one afternoon after school, Dad takes him to an ‘au- di-ol-o-gist’. Surprisingly for the little cub, she too asks that same question as she carries out a number of tests. What the audiogram shows is that the little bear has hearing loss. A while later, after further tests, audiologist

the prescribes hearing

therapy and lip-reading classes. She also gives the cub ‘a pair of plastic ears called hearing aids.’ At last, he understands what the titular question really is. He also feels the huge impact of the sounds of everyday living which makes him feel tired at times, so out come his hearing aids. This compassionate reassuring is

collaboration a splendid

demonstration of the frustration and sense of isolation a young child may well feel in a hearing world; and a splendid portrayal of the love, consideration and empathy of the father character. This is a book to share widely: as

well as enjoying the story, hearing children will learn how best to talk to somebody with hearing loss; those with hearing issues will appreciate seeing themselves sensitively represented. JB

We’ve Got Talent HHHH

Hannah Whitty, ill. Paul Bowles, Simon and Schuster, 32pp, 9781471175152, £6.99 pbk

This is a brightly coloured cartoon illustrated book about a school play. It’s

rainbow coloured illustrations

support the message about being ourselves and that it matters not what gender you are-you can still follow your own hopes and dreams, indeed should be able to. The setting will be recognisable

to children as it is a school but the characters

are many and varied

animals. Olivia is a white bunny and Sam is a rhino. They both go to Big City Primary and are very excited because they are going to audition for their school play about a princess and a knight. Olivia and Sam are both going for

the main parts and so they practise lots and when the big day comes one of them dances for the part of the princess and the other acts for the part of the knight. When the roles are announced Olivia and Sam find they have got the main parts but not the main parts that they wanted. They start to rehearse and they are

very frustrated. Olivia has to dance and doesn’t have anything to say at all and Sam has to speak and hates it. They come to a solution which I’m not going to spoil for you but suffice to say is it a good one and illustrates the vital point for everybody that we all have different skills and talents and they shouldn’t be blocked because they go against a stereotype. The text is bold and well spaced

out with enough to challenge but support new readers. Paula Bowles’ illustrations are joyous and colourful. The characters have great expressions and and they are great fun. This is a lovely one for the return to school as it would definitely contribute to well being and self confidence in these strange times. SG

Chicken Come Home HHHH

Polly Faber, ill. Briony May Smith, Pavilion Books, 32pp, 9781843654872, £6.99 pbk

This is particular favourite of mine because I own 2 chickens and the chicken in this story is just like both of them! Dolly is a very brave and feisty little bird who likes to roam free range in her owner’s garden. Her owner is a little boy ‘who she likes best’ and Dolly likes to challenge him every day by laying her eggs in different places. One day Dolly goes for another

explore but inadvertently gets swept up in the basket of a hot air balloon where she tried to lay her egg. She gets carried far over her normal roaming patch. WHen she is set down she has to attempt to return to her own garden and passes by other animals on her journey. Eventually, don’t worry, she does return and even manages to catch a ride on the school bus whilst doing so. The language is great for reading out loud in the book as there are

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