Odd Job Frog by Colleen and Zed Jacey

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“‘I’m bored,’ said frog. ‘Bored, bored, BORED.’

‘Well you’d better get used to it,’ his friend, Mouse, replied lazily. ‘Nothing exciting is going to happen in the middle of this field.’

‘You’re right!’ Frog jumped up. ‘But the city is full of exciting things. I’ll go there.'”

Odd Job Frog

As amphibians go, Odd Job Frog is a bit of a dynamo! When life gets a tad boring in the countryside, does he languish on his lily pad? No he does not! He hops off to London in search of excitement. Unfortunately, all the marvellous things he wants to do cost money so he has to try to get a job. But what sort of work is most suited to a go-getting frog? It’ll need to be something pretty special…

Make a Leap!

Odd Job Frog is a really entertaining and original picture book that shows we’re all wonderful in our own way. As well as being a lovely story told alongside beautifully painted illustrations, Odd Job Frog promotes creative thinking and self-confidence. Teachers in Key Stage One and those running nurture groups will find this to be a valuable addition to their resources. I love that Odd Job Frog has the potential to really get children thinking about themselves and how they too are extraordinary.

As another famous frog once said, ” Life’s like a movie, write your own ending”. We can’t promote diversity enough and when it comes as fabulously presented as this, what’s not to like!

 

Thanks to the author for sending me this lovely book.

 

 


I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt

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Pure genius, right here people!

I Can Only Draw Worms

I Can Only Draw Worms, suitable for children aged three years and over, is very cool indeed. It’s a picture book, a counting book and a very funny adventure about ten worms. As the narrator confesses, he can only draw worms- so we are told this is what the book is about. A brilliant idea which translates into a book that will have the grown ups laughing just as much as the kids.

Never Mind the Molluscs…

With an eye mugging colour combination of yellow and pink- more usually associated with a certain well-known punk album- I Can Only Draw Worms demands attention and wholly deserves it. Will Mabbitt manages to give counting to ten an anarchic wit rarely seen and much appreciated here. I’m loving the chaotic colouring of the worms themselves and the somewhat unexpected personalities attributed to them. I’m looking at you Worm Four.

…Invertebrates are Truly Great!

See the worms engage in adventure and risk mild peril along the way. I Can Only Draw Worms is not just a lovely book but also very good value: it provides a great way of getting kids enjoying counting with the Brucie Bonus of also beginning to see the wonder of reading for pleasure. And what could possibly be better than that?

I Can Only Draw Worms: as outre a picture book about worms as I have ever read; a triumph and a joy and you’ll love it.

 


Triangle by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

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“One day Triangle walked out of his door and away from his house.

He was going to play a sneaky trick on Square.”

Triangle

Suitable for children aged three years plus, Triangle is a charming new picture book from award-winning duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. This is sneaky trick-based fun without parallel.

The story is about Triangle, who walks to Square’s house in order to play a trick. He does this and Square retaliates by following him home and depending on your point of view, either returning the favour with a trick of his own or getting into a scrape that inadvertently has the effect of a well placed trick.

It’s a gorgeous book to pick up and handle. It has thick board covers, it’s chunky. It’s a shape! It’s even more 3D than a normal book. (Well, it isn’t, but it feels it.)

The narrative is really well paced and reminded me of the Mr Men, my favourite books when I was little. It’s not brightly coloured and nor does it need to be; there are a range of muted colours and brush marks in the palette that are beautiful to look at. Take it outside into the sunlight and you’ll see what I mean. The backgrounds are more than a bit Rothko and we see Triangle making his way past boulder like structures which impact us in different ways depending on their size and shade. They are important enough for the narrator to draw the reader’s attention to their shapes which change as the journey progresses.

Square

What’s really impressive is how much character and personality is transmitted from two shapes with eyes and legs and nothing else. Look here at poor Square, mid-trick and very nervous:

Later in the book we see him fed up, angry, determined and slightly disconcerted and it all works perfectly. These drawings are anything but simple; every emotion gets across its message and works hard with the text to do it in a way that appears effortless. At the same time, kids will see accessible imagery and characters that say “Draw us! Send us on one of your own adventures!”.

Triangle wont be everyone’s cup of tea, but it should be. Does everything a good picture book should do and more.

PS- Upside down, Triangle looks a bit like Norman:

 

 

 

 


Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

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Piranhas, Bananas and Whippet

“Hey there guys. Would you like a banana?

What’s wrong with you Brian? You’re a piranha.”

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas

Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys was one of my favourite children’s books last year because every kid I lent it to ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. At the upper end of Key Stage Two, finding a book that your whole class want to take home and read doesn’t happen every day, so understandably I’m a big fan of Aaron Blabey’s work. Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas has a similar feel and will go down really well with younger children because like The Bad Guys, it does funny very well indeed.

Bananas Are Not the Only Fruit

Yes, Brian the piranha likes bananas, but they’re not the only fruit recommended here. Brian knows that in order to get the other piranhas to eat something other than meat, he’s going to have to offer a few tasty alternatives. But much as he tries to tempt with bananas, plums, apples, melons, all that good stuff, what they really would prefer to be eating is….bums. There’s a strong bum theme going on here and that’s got to be a good thing.

Look- he has eyebrows!

Told in rhyming couplets, it’s a shining example of why kids love Aaron Blabey’s books: it’s not too wordy but still tells a fabulously funny story. Also, as you can see, the accompanying illustrations are fantastic. Backgrounds are left white so those piranhas really are the stars of the show, eyeballing the reader rather menacingly and looking like they’re about to swim off the page towards you.

Piranhas, Bums and Belly Laughs

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas is a top choice and a guaranteed kid pleaser. Best bought alongside The Bad Guys as the piranha theme continues. A wonderful book for younger children (and adults) who like a good giggle!

 

Thanks to Scholastic for sending me this copy.


Superbat by Matt Carr

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“Is it a BIRD?

Is it a PLANE?

Er… I think it’s a BAT in a funny little costume!”

Superbat

Pat the bat is having trouble sleeping. Bored of being a normal bat, he wants to be more like the superheroes in his comics. Pat is the kind of bat who has an idea and acts upon it. He gets things done, has a cup of tea and then he does a bit more.

The other bats question that his super powers aren’t actually all that super, being as all bats have them. Although his ears flop a little with sadness, Pat picks himself up, takes his skills and uses them for good! Check out his antics for yourself, enjoy his story and learn more about bats along the way.

A Book with Style

Hands down the most super bat I have encountered in children’s literature with the most super art work; this is a book with style. Some proper colour genius is going on here: we have teal and red and mustard and together they are magnificent. A book that provides not only excellent design but also offers new colourway combinations for the wardrobe as we sashay into spring. What could possibly be better?

Just this: the best aspect of Superbat for me is the message it sends out to young readers that we can all do extraordinary things. What seems ordinary to a bat is extraordinary to us and what we take as normal can provide us with the means to do achieve wonderful outcomes. We can all be amazing with or without the cape. Preferably with though.

We could learn a lot from Pat the Bat. We too can be heroes.

Superbat is full-on, important, technicolour joy.

 

Thanks Scholastic for sending me this lovely book!

 

 


Let’s Find Fred by Steven Lenton

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“Can anyone help me find Fred? He’s a panda and it’s past his bedtime!”

Let’s Find Fred!

Fred is a panda with big plans. Instead of going to bed, he decides he would rather have an adventure. As Stanley the zookeeper scoots through the town on Fred’s trail, we visit a range of colourful and exciting locations in search of him. And you know what, it’s surprisingly easy to lose a panda in a busy city, so keep your eyes peeled!

You will adore this brand new Scholastic picture book by Steven Lenton, from the front cover (complete with moving Fred eyes) to the very last lovely page. Let’s Find Fred is ideal for new readers as well as those who are just learning. The narrative nature of the pictures means children will be able to read most of the story without actually reading it, so it’s an excellent way of encouraging book talk.

Whistler’s Panda

Children will have fun spotting Fred on his adventures, including at:

  • The beautiful brightly coloured market- look out for a fine array of dogs.
  • The park. Shh, don’t wake up the old feller asleep on the deckchair…
  • The rather marvellous pand-a-maze with pandas a go-go!

And my Let’s Find Fred favourite, the art gallery with cleverly ‘pandafied’ works of art. Watch out for The Panda with the Pearl Earring and Whistler’s Panda. In fact, you’ll find nice little cultural references throughout the book as you read.

Well Worth Tracking Down

The story itself is wonderfully creative with text interspersed amongst the illustrations. It’s a book that children can be interactive with and because of the huge amount of detail included, they will find new aspects to Let’s Find Fred with every open.

For a really fun and supportive read that children will rediscover again and again, Let’s Find Fred is well worth tracking down!

 

Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this lovely book and inviting me to be art of the blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Princess Primrose by Alex T Smith

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“‘Something must be done about Primrose,’ sighed the Queen one day. ‘She simply can’t carry on like this. She is a princess after all and she must learn to behave like one.'”

Fellow ex-Bablake alum and kids’ lit genius Alex T Smith has cheered up my day no end. The reason: a new edition of picture book Princess Primrose for 2017. Hurrah from me on behalf of all young readers everywhere!

Princess Primrose

Poor Princess Primrose finds life in the royal household rather boring. That’s no surprise: she’s always being told how a princess should behave and funnily enough its always the opposite of how she is behaving…

Being a princess means

  • No climbing trees
  • No dressing up as a monkey
  • No digging up muddy vegetables

amongst other things.

I can sense your outrage. It’s not right is it?

The adults of the royal household and young Princess Primrose reach a sort of impasse. This is a shame as I can see from their marvellous pink castle that they weren’t always strangers to fun.

There’s only one thing for it: HRH Grandmamma is called. She’s one heck of a woman, with the wisdom of her years and an understanding of the important things in life. You will love her. If you are a grandparent, I strongly suggest immediately gifting this book to the little tearaways in your life; you are well represented here.

The illustrations sing from the page and will bring a big smile to your face. On first glance, it’s the colour and the changing composition that draws the readers’ attention, but it’s the detail within that makes Princess Primrose all the more special. Each member of the cast of characters has their own perceivable personality. I particularly like the butler who has a striped tail coat and a withering look.

A fantastic book that’s full of fun, life and occasional interesting background topiary. More than brilliant.

 

Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this edition.

 

 

 

 


Dear Dinosaur by Chae Strathie & Nicola O’Byrne

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dear-dinosaur-done

Dear Dinosaur

Dear Dinosaur, written by Chae Strathie and illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne, is an adorable new picture book for 2017 from Scholastic.

When Max visits a big museum a long way from home, he is really taken by the dinosaurs- especially the Tyrannosaurus Rex. He has so many question but the museum’s about to shut so Dinosaur Dora who works there suggests he writes to the T.Rex instead. So begins a sweet and funny story, full of fun facts and accompanied with attached real letters, cards and postcards for children to open along the way! It’s a beautiful book with artwork and story complimenting each other really well. Dear Dinosaur is a genuine all round crowd pleaser, therefore I’d strongly recommend it as a shared text in schools for younger children as well as a great addition to your child’s home library.

What’s Not to Like?

The interactive element of opening the various attachments is a brilliant way of engaging young children in books: it’s varied, it’s lots of fun and exactly the sort of introduction to the world of reading you’d want for the kids in your life. For extra classroom value, follow this link to a very useful teaching resource. Scholastic Story Stars have created pages and pages of brilliant resources to go with the book. I’m a teacher and know how much this will be appreciated by colleagues everywhere. A fab new book with classroom ready activities spanning the whole curriculum- what’s not to like?

Fiercely Fantastic

Why do I like it so much? When I was very young, my favourite picture books were just like Dear Dinosaur: full of surprising extra details that made me happy and want to re-read them again and again. When you’re a child, books like this feel like they were written especially for you. It was lovely to have this feeling again and I really didn’t want the story to end.

Dear Dinosaur is a fantastic introduction to the joy of reading for kids and a big dollop of gorgeousness for the adults that share it. Bound to be a roaring success!


Stone Underpants by Rebecca Lisle

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Illustrations by Richard Watson

stone-undies-done

“It was cold in the Stone Age

When the icy wind blew it was freezing.

‘Brrrr! My bottom!’

‘I really do need something to keep my bottom warm,’ Pod told his Dad.

‘You could make something,’ Dad said.

‘Stone is very handy.'”

Stone Underpants

Spare a thought for poor Pod at this time of year. As the weather gets colder, we can avoid a chilly bottom by cranking up the heating, pulling on an extra layer, or hunkering down with a hot chocolate for company. Pod has no such luxuries. He lives in the Stone Age. Instead, he has to experiment with different materials in order to find a suitably bottom-warming pair of pants. We join him as he tries different pairs, all with comical consequences.

Cheeky!

This cheeky book (pun fully intended) will be enjoyed by children aged three years plus who will adore both Pod and the many references to his bottom. Young readers are transported to a different world and given a good giggle whilst they’re there.

I found Stone Underpants funny and charming. This is a story that’s obviously written and drawn with love and children will get that. Richard Watson’s illustrations are superb. As with all good picture books, the art adds opportunities for discussion and gives readers the power to add their own thoughts to the story.

Rocking it for New Readers

Picture books are so important: they are our first and most crucial opportunity to encourage reading for pleasure. They need to be fun, surprising and ideally a bit bonkers too. Stone Underpants has all of these covered.

You’ll love the way it lends itself to reading aloud and how Rebecca Lisle has used a structure that will encourage children to remember elements of the story and even join in. Needless to say, this is perfect for reading time and time again. There’s a lot of fun to be had here in the sharing of Stone Underpants for grown-ups and children, whether it be at home or at school.

Stone Underpants, to put it in simple terms, rocks.

 

Thanks so much to Maverick for sending me this lovely book!


Potion Commotion by Peter Bently & Sernur Isik

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potion-commotion

” The brew had gone barmy!

What hullaballoo!

Soon the whole cottage 

was filled up with goo.”

Halloween Hullaballoo

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any book containing the word ‘hullaballoo’ must be held in great esteem, so I am delighted to be sharing one with you today. Potion Commotion, written by Peter Bently and illustrated by Sernur Isik, is an explosion of joy and delight for younger readers delivered in time for Halloween.

Free Spirit

Betty’s mum is off to the shops. Before she goes she warns Betty to stay indoors as there’s a dragon about and also tells her that once she returns she’ll cook a nice stew for dinner. However, as an independently minded young thing (with lots of marvellous free-spirited curly hair), Betty decides cooking looks easy and has a go at making the stew herself. As Betty and her mum are witches, anything could happen…

Potion Commotion!

Children will adore Betty and her adventuring as she creates the stew (pleasingly free-form), then loses control of it as it grows and grows and gushes through the town, and finally as she comes face to face with the dragon her mum warned her about. The story is told as a poem so it’s a pleasure to read either alone or out loud, as you wish. Reading aloud does allow opportunity for doing a dragon impression though- something I’d strongly recommend you don’t pass up on.

The artwork packs a punch and every page brings another burst of colour- just the thing to light up these dark nights. The pictures add to the narrative, as all the best picture books do, and you’ll be spotting new details with every read.

Potion Commotion: more fun than fireworks and definitely a favourite for Halloween!

 

Big thanks to Scholastic for sending me this lovely book.