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Reviews Written by
ELH Browning "Esther-Lou" (Kingston Bagpuize, Oxon)
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The Grey Boy (Contemporary Picture Books from Europe)
The Grey Boy (Contemporary Picture Books from Europe)
by Lluis Farre
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story about how a boy born miserable learns to love life., 3 Oct 2010
This is the story of a boy who is grey, inside and out, from birth, and who's devoid of the joy of living. Even at the beach or in a boisterous classroom with a giant frog, Joshua's arms are folded and the corners of his mouth turn down.
The illustrations in this book are great, a mixture of paint and thick pen, a casual mixture of drawing and moments of collage, often quite grey with a surprise of colour, and I loved the moment when the reader turns a page (while Johua's yawning) and finds an a sudden explosion of colour with an incongruous volcano in Van Gogh orange and blue.
It takes a near loss for Joshua to lose his greyness, and I love the concept that his greyness leaves his body as breath between newly-found laughter. And Joshua finally fills up with colour - perhaps just a tiny bit too much: I think Joshua is finally going to have some fun now!
A brilliant book about finding the joy of childhood and allowing the richness of lifeto provide colour to the world.


The Red Apple
The Red Apple
by Feridun Oral
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.86

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle wintery tale with beautiful illustrtions., 3 Oct 2010
This review is from: The Red Apple (Paperback)
This a is a simple wintery tale, accompanied by beautiful soft illustrations, of the snow falling on a rabbit who cannot reach an enticing red apple high above him in a tree. He fetches mouse but mouse, standing on his shoulders, still can't reach. Fox joins the animal pyramid but still no luck and then Bear too comes to help. And the four animals share the juicy red treat.
It's an appealing book but what intrigues me is that it is one of the first children's ppicture books available as an app on the iphone (and in several languages) which allows for an additional dynamism - whilst the pages are turned in the normal way of a book (albeit by touch), snow actually falls on screen whilst the words are read aloud and I love the way technology can pull today's children into a straightforward traditional story combining the benefits of an audio story with the beauty of a picture book in one easy package.
So while I like the book, if you are a technophile and have a child between 2 and 5, I think the electronic version would be brilliant entertainment in your pocket this winter.


My House (Contemporary Picture Books from Europe)
My House (Contemporary Picture Books from Europe)
by Delphine Durand
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defintely different. Indescribable and indescribably appealing., 3 Oct 2010
A picture book called `My house' could easily be full of classic imagery and boring traditional furniture, and feel like a place where children should behave sensibly in shiny shoes. Fortunately this is NOT a book like that. In fact it's anything but! Imagine opening the front door of an everyday house and being blasted by a magical world of surrealism and fun, with zany characters and unusual moments squeezed into every corner. This `My House' isn't fancy on the outside but inside it's a world of interesting bits and bobs and thingumijobs, a place where children can see anything, imagine anything. The pictures are entirely wacky in an autumnal colour palette which is strikingly different from `standard quirky' books and comics, and entices the reader in to a hidden world behind a closed door. It's hard to describe this mix-up of thoughts and happenings that seem all at once both everyday and yet complete eccentric. Each double page spread has a myriad of activities that might take place in a wacky house, from an odd little creature in a boat, to a colourful monster chatting to a superhero, a selection of weird animals, some talking beans and a frankfurter with hat, inventions and comic strip mixed up with the commonplace, and the occasional nugget of pure physics.
Both boys and girls (and their grown-ups) are captivated by this book and return to it over and over, each time smiling at something new they've only just spotted.
It's A House Less Ordinary. And my children and I would like to move there. Brilliant!


Pink Piglet (Picture Books from Around the World)
Pink Piglet (Picture Books from Around the World)
by Marcin Brykczynski
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful quirky set of illustrations wrapped around a gentle tale about acceptance., 3 Oct 2010
This book is deliciously designed like something out of a Paperchase shop. It's a Polish book originally that has been skilfully translated into English and the result is something very special. The illustrations are unusual and truly delightful, soft in both colour with a feel that's something between EH Shepard's original Winnie-the-Pooh line pencil sketches and a slightly unfinished 60s pattern, and the text is interestingly designed to fit alongside. The story is a quirky simple tale about Pig who's rather fed up with being pink and, meeting frog, stork, lamb, raven, and finally chameleon thinks through his whole colour scenario in a childish yet philosophical way that's deeper than you'd notice at first. There's a scattering of wry humour in the way that Piglet sees the world - as an adult reader I love Pig's father who grunts occasionally 'so that no one could accuse him of not being interested', and I smile at Pig's insight 'If I'd have been green, noone would have noticed me in this grass... noone except Stork.' he added thoughtfully! A book to look at again and again.


The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future
The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future
by Dav Pilkey
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foolish comic strip fun that 5-9s will love., 24 Sep 2010
This is a brilliant new book from George and Harold, the creators of the enormously popular Captain underpants series, and every bit as appealing for its target age-group, late infants and junior aged children.
The story is told in simple black-and-white comic strip, with amusing pictures and minimal words, and it's a subversive take on time-travel. Ook and Gluk are time-travelling kung-fu cavemen from the future who roam in the land of the dinosaurs, amongst adventure and bad spelling (forchenately and fearsest, for example), and if you think this is anarchic, just wait til you reach the robotic dinosaurs and technological weaponry. This book is about as historically accurate and educational as a a Neolithic ipod - it's unashamedly foolish and fun so no wonder my children (6,8,and 9) love it! The book also contains patented flip-o-rama pages where, by flicking a single page back and forth, you can create a punch-up from two illustrated frames. fresh and entertaining, and a masterpiece if you want to tempt reluctant readers between the pages of a book. Buy!


Iggy Peck, Architect
Iggy Peck, Architect
by Andrea Beaty
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.17

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A creative introduction to the world's finest structures for 3-5s., 24 Sep 2010
This review is from: Iggy Peck, Architect (Paperback)
This is a picture book that tells the story of little Iggy Peck, a boy obsessed with building, with rhythm and rhyme and neat fun stylized illustrations. It's a great introduction to the world's finest and most interesting buildings, showing that at their core there's always an inspirational concept. And "Good gracious, Ignatius" constructs amazing castles or carefully-engineered structures with whatever comes to hand, whether it's fruit, chalk or coconut pie! His sandcastle is like something from Ancient Egypt, and he can whip up a Japanese palace from mere pencils and clay. His teacher at school is unimpressed, however, intil Iggy saves the day with some careful cantilevered thinking. This is a fun book, if rather American with its vocabulary (just grin an bear the diapers at the beginning), that will inspire your children to start gluing your recycling pile together into wonderous post-modern designs!


Animals Around the World Lift the Flap
Animals Around the World Lift the Flap
by Anthony Lewis
Edition: Board book

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sturdy journey of discovery of animal biodiversity for children from 2-5., 7 Feb 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A lovely user-friendly information book that introduces young children to a variety of animals beyond the farm and obvious jungle species. In thick board (a format like the popular Usborne Look-Inside series) with around 8 strong flaps per double page, this is a sturdy choice for preschoolers. An ecclectic good variety of animals, such as the snow leopard, lemmings, iguana and roadrunner are well illustrated in a straightforward way, and there's a snippet of interesting information alongside a second animal picture behind each flap. The opening page features a world map and the hbitats covered include the rocky desert, rainforest, woodland, Himalayas, savannah, Arctic and a coral reef. Smashing!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2010 9:54 AM GMT


Frightfully Friendly Ghosties
Frightfully Friendly Ghosties
by Daren King
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A comic story looking at life in a hunted house from the ghosts point of view, 30 Jan 2010
A haunting (what's the collective noun for ghosts?) of the most polite and modest ghosts you could ever hope to meet. Theare a varied eclectic bunch who keep trying to make friends with the "stay-alives" they share their house with but despite their best intentions everything they do makes the people start screaming. For example one of the "stay-alives" seems to be trapped in a curtain (the reader knows she's hiding from the ghosts but they don't realise it) and so they make a ghostly draught to blow her free. And when the bearded "stay-alive" rushes under the bed crying `Help Help!' they follow him under to help out. With lots of black and white illustrations that are ghostly without being scary, this is a fun Halloween read that will appeal to children from about age 6.


Blue Chameleon
Blue Chameleon
by Emily Gravett
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple charming story with inventive illustrations that'll teach colour and patterns to a toddler., 30 Jan 2010
This review is from: Blue Chameleon (Hardcover)
This is fun, a book that'll make you smile as you reads it to the smallest child. Chameleon is lonely and feeling blue. So he's blue. Throughout the book he befriends a variety of objects copying their shape and colour. The beautiful pictures in soft colour tell the simple story of chameleon and they are beautifully done with a light-hearted touch. The words are minimal - just describing the object that chameleon is copying, from the straightforward banana and a pink parrot, to a spotty football and a cowboy boot. He goes green to befriend a grasshopper but it hops away. There's a white page where chameleon fades into the background and the outline is a glossy white line on white, but then finally he does find a real friend and takes on a celebratory décor! This is a joy to read and lovely to share with a child from about 18 months.
I also love the way the copyright credits etc at the very beginning are chameleon shape. A great touch.


VS: Warriors
VS: Warriors
by Hannah Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.55

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A winning information book for warriors aged 6-11., 27 Dec 2009
This review is from: VS: Warriors (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Billed as a game on the back cover, this book could be an instant disappointment on opening - because it absolutely isn't a game. It's more of a comparison, like top trumps but with interesting textual information and great pictures rather than statistics. There are notes on the armour, weapons and moves each combatant might use, as well as dietry comment, first aid tips, other advice and a glossary of warrior words. Ten types of warriors (including one woman) from global history are lined up, two pairs in each of 5 arenas, to see who will be the victor across the ages. From the 5 chosen victors of the initial battles, an ultimate warrior is then chosen. Finally the reader is invited to decide who might win some alternative pairings.The information content is perfect for a junior-age child and it's an enticing glossy package for any coffee table - the hardback has a central opening cover and lots of fold-out pages with some double page pictures. This is an inspired gift choice for any child interested in war and history, and my seven year old son absolutely loves it. His description was "brilliant, fantastic".


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