Blogmas 2018 · christmas · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: The Snow Rabbit by Georgiana Deutsch and Alison Edgson

Review: The Snow Rabbit by Georgiana Deutsch and Alison Edgson

img_7519Bear is always angry. So angry that the other animals keep away until one rabbit decides to find out what will make bear smile. Could it be a snow rabbit or will it take something more? Something like a friend?

A story about friendship and empathy set during a snowfall. I loved the message of patience and understanding – Bear is growly and his temper which makes the other animals afraid. The animals stay away from him and whisper behind his back … which makes him even more unhappy. Something has to break the cycle. I liked how responsibility and blame were not landed on one party. It takes one of the animals to attempt friendship, and a very broken snow rabbit for Bear to figure out what needs to change.

The illustrations and design are as cute as a John Lewis advert. Bear may be grumpy but there is something sweet about his scowl. This is a book of cosy cottages, stripy jumpers and glittery snow-animals. It is a comforting landscape filled with woodland animals. I love how the jumpers and bobble hats provide splashes of warm colours in the frozen landscape.

The text uses both sentences and speech bubbles, which will give young readers a chance to voice their favourite parts and act out the text. The speech bubbles add an extra layer to the text – for all Bear is in the wrong, there are times when the other animals are melodramatic. This is countered by the little rabbit’s attempts to engage bear in friendship.

A familiar narrative made fun with glitter and sparkle. Cuddle up with a mug of hot chocolate and read this one together.

 

Thanks to Little Tiger Press for my copy of The Snow Rabbit. Opinions my own.

 

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Blogmas 2018 · christmas · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: The Twelve Days Of Christmas by Brian Wildsmith

Review: The Twelve Days Of Christmas by Brian Wildsmith

img_7584Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves … and a Partridge in a pear tree. Join in with the song with this beautiful gift edition, illustrated by artist Brian Wildsmith.

The Twelve Days Of Christmas is one of the most popular carols and one often taught to children. The repetition and the counting-rhyme make it an obvious choice to sing with the very young. This edition would make a lovely gift for children or adults. You almost don’t need the words because the illustrations speak so beautifully for themselves.

Originally published in the 1970s, the illustration style is in keeping with picture books from the second golden age of Children’s literature – the works of John Burningham and Eric Carle spring to mind. Some of the pictures are impressionistic and there is a heavy focus on pattern and colour. I love the colour-palette – the reds, purples and yellows have the quality stained-glass or paper decorations.

This new edition is a lovely size – it would fit into most stockings and would certainly make a lovely Secret Santa present or a table gift. A traditional rhyme with retro illustrations. Buy this for the arty friend in your life or for children who appreciate gifts which they will love equally in 40 years’ time.  

 

Thanks to Oxford University Press for my copy of The Twelve Days Of Christmas. Opinions my own.

 

Check out day one and day three of Blogmas 2018. 

Blogmas 2018 · christmas · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Sammy Claws The Christmas Cat by Lucy Rowland And Paula Bowles

Review: Sammy Claws The Christmas Cat by Lucy Rowland And Paula Bowles

img_7588Furry, purry Sammy Claws dreams of the day that Santa will take him up in the sleigh, but every time Sammy tries to help with the Christmas preparations he ends up causing trouble. When Sammy Claws falls asleep in a box, he finds himself wrapped up and packaged away in the back of the sleigh. Can Sammy save Santa when he gets into a spot of bother?

A cute and funny story about Santa’s pet cat.

Ginormous purrs for this lovely story about Santa’s pet cat. Cat lovers will recognise Sammy – he’s the sort of cat who licks the bowl clean, asks for more then falls asleep in a corner. He’s also warm-hearted. As someone who has always lived with cats, I know how they come to help with different tasks. Help, unfortunately, often means delay and disruption.

Even so, we love our furry friends. As Santa finds out, they are there for us in ways we may not even expect. Sammy’s run-in with two burglars is classic comedy. Think people in black-and-white stripes sneaking up on the sleigh while good old Santa is busy down the chimney. Get in practice for the panto season with cries of they’re behind you, and calls for Sammy to wake up and help. This story would make a lovely read-aloud because of the opportunities for acting and audience-involvement. 

The illustration is bold and twinkly. I love the blue backgrounds. Lots of starry skies and icy North-Pole dwellings. It feels just a little bit magical and provides the natural backdrop for Santa’s red sleigh. I love the detailed buildings and the bright textile patterns which bring out Christmassy details like wrapping paper and warm scarves.

At long last there is a story about Santa’s cat. Sammy Claws is as memorable and sweet as any literary cat and you will cheer him on as he saves Christmas Day.

 

Thanks to Nosy Crow Books for my copy of Sammy Claws The Christmas Cat. Opinions my own.

 

Check out day two of Blogmas 2018. 

 

 

Middle Grade Reviews · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: The Legend Of Sally Jones by Jakob Wegelius

 

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Review: The Legend Of Sally Jones by Jakob Wegelius

About a hundred years ago, a gorilla was born. On that night, gorilla elders prophesied that she would meet with many misfortunes … So begins the story of Sally Jones, heroine of last year’s big hit The Murderer’s Ape. Sally’s journeys take her from Istanbul to Borneo to New York. Her run-in with an infamous jewel thief begins a series of unfortunate events which continue until Sally finds her home on The Hudson Queen.

sallyjones2Sally Jones was possibly my first choice for an origin story. She’s a feminist icon – a skilled engineer, proficient writer and not someone who submits to capture. It was lovely to see her life-story and to learn why she became so fiercely loyal to Koskela, and to find out how she came by her name.

One of the delights of The Murderer’s Ape was the line-drawings. The Legend Of Sally Jones is something between a graphic-novel and a picture book. It plays to Wegelius’s style, and the effect is like looking at cigarette cards. The key moments and turning points of Sally’s life are captured and when you’ve read through once it is as great a pleasure to flick through and pick out individual illustrations.

This book is all about atmosphere – if you love the steam-boats and expeditions and shady characters of 1900s adventure-books, this one is for you. A delightful companion which could be read before or after reading its sister-story.

 

Thanks to Pushkin Press for my copy of The Legend Of Sally Jones. Opinions my own.

Read more about Sally Jones in  The Murderer’s Ape

Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: You’re Snug With Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry

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Review: You’re Snug With Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry

Mother polar bear leads her cubs out into the world for the first time. As she teaches them about the landscape and their responsibilities to the natural world, she reassures them over and over – you’re snug with me.

img_7109The rhythmic text and kaleidoscopic patterns together produce a mesmerising effect. The reader is caught up in the words so that a story which is very simple becomes something powerful. It would be possible to spend hours lost in the illustrations – the eye follows the shapes until it seems almost as if they are moving. It brings the landscape and animals to life in a way which is very real.

Mother Bear addresses the big questions in life in a very reassuring way. The world has never fallen apart yet and she will remain with her cubs until they are ready to leave. These are the big worries of childhood and the story offers children a safe space to ask those questions of their own loved ones. In the meantime, the refrain comes back as a constant reassurance of an adult’s presence.

I loved the environmental narrative – instead of being hard-hitting, it is simply a mother explaining to her child as a fact that when we are born, we have a responsibility not to take more from the planet than we need. This is a simple fact which often turns into a complex debate. Hopefully, the book will encourage young readers to accept their responsibility to the environment.

As beautiful and special as it’s companion, You’re Snug With Me is a bedtime must-have and it would make a lovely gift for young readers. 

 

Thanks to Lantana Publishing for my copy of You’re Snug With Me. Opinions my own.

Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Picture book review: Not Yet A Yeti by Lou Treleaven and Tony Neal

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Review: Not Yet A Yeti by Lou Treleaven and Tony Neal

Everyone in George’s family is a yeti. Everyone except George. George explores what it means to be a yeti, and what he will need to do to become one … and that’s when he realises he isn’t a yeti at all. George is a unicorn. A gentle story about self-discovery. 

I loved this book. George *knows* he is a unicorn, knows with conviction, and his family love and support him. It is a book about discovering who we are and learning that people will love and support us no matter how we identify. It is clearly a book which would be useful in early discussions about gender and sexuality. Without being about those things, it helps children to understand that knowing deep down who we are is OK, even if it comes as a surprise to our family. 

I liked the idea of being a yeti as a choice – while some act ‘yeti’ without considering it, George knows that just isn’t him. This would be a lovely introduction to discussions about gender. How much of being a boy or a girl is fixed, and how much is about choice? About what we have picked up and learned along the way? 

There isn’t a negative moment in the story. It is an accepting, inclusive book which encourages young children to accept people for who they are. 

I also adore the illustrations – think snow, think rainbows and think yetis teasing the people who venture up the mountains. 

If you are looking for a narrative of acceptance and self-discovery, this one is perfect. 

 

Thanks to Maverick Arts Press for my copy of Not Yet A Yeti. Opinions my own. 

Feminist/Gender Equality · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Ladybird Tales Of Adventurous Girls

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Review: Ladybird Tales Of Adventurous Girls

Stories retold by – Julia Bruce 

Illustrators – Olga Baumert, Molley May, Kerry Hyndman, Hannah Tolson, Hannah Peck and Holly Hatam, 

 

Once upon a time there was a girl … 

Join six girls from around the world, in six separate stories, as they set off on an adventure and use their courage, strength, and intelligence to return safely home. 

This collection of bedtime stories features familiar tales, such as the Snow Queen, but the stories are told with a difference. Every story has a girl at the centre. Hansel and Gretel? Try Gretel and Hansel. It was Gretel who pushed the witch in the oven and saved her brother. Without spelling it out, the stories show readers that girls can be intelligent, brave and resourceful. 

It also features girls from around the world. It is so important for young readers to see that people from different cultures can encounter the same feelings and demonstrate the same skills. 

The book is a beautiful collection of fairy tales. It would make a lovely present for a younger child or a less-confident reader – the stories are short enough that nobody will lose patience and there is a full-colour illustration on every other page. 

A different illustrator was chosen to work on each story. This adds to the experience because without reading a single word each story has a unique feel. Every story has a decorative title spread and beautiful full-page illustrations. 

Not only is this a wonderful collection of fairy tales, it puts girls at the centre and shows how much they can do. This would be a wonderful book to keep on a bedside table or to share with a class in KS1/Lower KS2. 

 

Thanks to Ladybird Books for my copy of Ladybird Tales Of Adventurous Girls. Opinions my own.