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ELH Browning "Esther-Lou" (Kingston Bagpuize, Oxon)
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Ctrl-Z
Ctrl-Z
by Andrew Norriss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very funny and imaginative story underpinned with some helpful lessons for life. Fab!, 27 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Ctrl-Z (Paperback)
This is a fun and lively story about a boy who can rewind a little time if things go pear-shaped, the mishaps he prevents and the possible perils of his new-found skill.
Alex is given a laptop which provides him with the means to go back to a point in time before the trouble began, while remembering what happened. He is able therefore to avert disasters, which he does admirably. Although basically a good boy he is also able to do naughty things he'd never normally dare to do without fear of retribution and safe in the knowledge that he can go back in time and undo any harm, that he won't repeat the bad behaviour a second time around, and that noone else will have any memory of the bad behaviour because it was rewound. What a great idea!
"Ctrl-Z" is a fun, light hearted read that will appeal to all children from about 6+, with a great tales of an accident-prone best friend Callum, exploding fireworks, and a foot-stuck-down toilet incident. However this isn't purely a comical book. There's also a bit of a knot in your stomach with suspense as you read in case the Cntrl-z mechanism doesn't work this time (and once or twice it nearly does go wrong).
There are also real nuggets of wisdom within the story. For example, Alex's parents tend to argue and Alex sees how this parental tension can be diverted simply through better communication, and he learns too how bad you feel when you see the genuine hurt and bewilderment caused by a brilliant prank (spraying the class swot with a fire extinguisher) which seemed so funny at the outset. In addition the underlying theme of the book is that making mistakes is not a bad thing to do and nor should you feel ashamed - mistakes are often unavoidable, it's how we all learn, and you shouldn't give up because of a mistake. Great lessons for life. Great book.


What the Ladybird Heard
What the Ladybird Heard
by Julia Donaldson
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total brilliance for 1-5s., 27 Mar. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With Julia Donaldson's trademark rhyming text, and strong pacey rhythm, teamed with bold and cheerful pictures with a touch of glittery magic, this book is everything a top picture book should be.
Set on the farm, that traditional setting for a children's story, this is a story of two naughty burglars who come to steal the farmer's prize cow. It starts simply with the animals on the farm and the noises they make:
"Once upon a farm lived a fat red hen
A duck in a pond and a goose in a pen....
A cat that miaowed and a cat that purred
A fine prize cow and a ladybird",
The quiet ladybird makes no sound but she does spot the van sneaking through the night, and hear the two archetypal robbers (stripey jumper, dark hat, eye mask...) make their plan.
The ladybird comes up with a great way to foil the burglars which involves each animal making another animal's noise to confuse the raiders creeping across the dark farmyard - which is highly amusing for a toddler or pre-schooler.
Lydia Monk's illustrations are smashing - with big-eyed brightly coloured animals and plenty of interesting details. The beginning and end pages have detailed farm pictures which a child can happily dwell on for a long time, spotting the rabbit/scarecrow/cow weather vane etc. There's also a great map, planning the robbers' route, and a wiggly glittery ladybird route both of which my son wants to follow with his finger.
Fantastic! & if you enjoy this try Sharing a Shell by the same talented duo.


Don't Read This Book!
Don't Read This Book!
by Jill Lewis
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely brilliant and creative picture book, bursting with energy and theatre from start to finish., 25 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Don't Read This Book! (Paperback)
This book isn't ready to be read - as the title makes clear. Which of course means any small child will be desperate for you to open it and start reading.... and you'll both be delighted.
Inside we find the King who's calling his story writer who has written a story but the pages have gone astray, and so together they set off to track them down.
The whole book is bursting at the seams with theatrical energy and verve. The illustrations are vibrant and dynamic, cleverly mixing great characters into buoyant pictures that maintain an appropriate "work-in-progress" feel.
The words are a fun and interesting mix of story-line, conversation between the King and the storyteller, inserts from the occasional amusing cameo character, and sentences aimed directly at the reader. One of these is a bold double page where, with a darkening of colour and a change in the feel of the story, the angry King is tells the reader to go away in no uncertain terms. Then, once the lost pages are found and reassembled, the story needs one more thing, and again there's a striking double-page change of colour and pace as a sprightly pea joins the character cast.... But is there now room to tell the old tale of The Princess and the Pea in the last two pages? Yes, just, and Wow! Fantastic through and through.


Harris Finds His Feet
Harris Finds His Feet
by Catherine Rayner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful heart-warming picture book with gorgeous spring-time illustrations., 25 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Harris Finds His Feet (Hardcover)
This is a lovely book, a simple story with a fresh open feel that reminds me of the classic "Guess how much I love you" story by McBratney and Jeram, is every bit as heart-warming and deserves the same acclaim. Harris is a young hare, his energetic exuberance bounding from the page in great strong spring-coloured illustrations. With his Grandad Hare, he finds he can use his big feet for bouncing, hopping to the top of the world, and running fast - so fast he leaves Grandad behind. And he's alone then to explore the world as he likes. Yet wherever he goes and whatever he does he can always come back home. Clean, refreshing, and the perfect gift for Easter. Highly recommended.


Home
Home
by Alex T Smith
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming picture book about what it is that makes a house into a home., 25 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Home (Paperback)
This is a lovely book with fresh, colourful and slightly quirky spring-like pictures.Four friends live in a house but they want to go to different places and so they argue and go their separate ways, to sea, to mountains, to the city etc, each taking with them part of the house. But each found that "a house simply wasn't a home when it was just four walls/ just some windows". The four friends all get back together an rebuild the house and in doing so together, the home. The end of the book is great, with an inventive way forwards so they can all try the new things they'd like, together. Smashing!


Darkness Slipped In
Darkness Slipped In
by Ella Burfoot
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real find for any little girl who's afraid of the dark., 25 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Darkness Slipped In (Paperback)
This is a great picture book with simple rhyming text and a fantastic effect using glossy back printing to produce a smooth textured shadowy character who slips into Daisy's room through the window at the end of the day and the whole room then becomes increasingly full of the glossy black dark. The shadowy man is comical looking (reminding me of Bart Simpson) and not in the least bit frightening, and he's a striking contrast to Daisy's pretty pink. Daisy switches on the light and he recedes from a room-filling sheen into a shadow-sized man and they dance together. There is a whole series of brilliant light hearted pictures of the duo's fun as they whirl and swirl around the room until they are best friends, and it is time for Daisy to go to sleep. This is a fantastic book, a real find for any little girl who's afraid of the dark.


Don Quixote
Don Quixote
by Miguel de Cervantes
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings to life this classic sixteenth century Spanish adventure with modern language and full colour humour., 22 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Don Quixote (Hardcover)
This is a beautiful new version of a literary landmark - a four-hundred year old Spanish story of rather comical adventures and romantic chivalry. Don Quixote is an elderly eccentric and a knight-wannabe who is hapless rather than heroic. He sets off gallantly across sixteenth century Spain with his short fat squire Sancho Panza to right wrongs. Their journey is described here for modern children in a surprisingly simple way that holds true to the original flavour and keeps the subtle ironies of Cervante's work in the main. Alongside the text, Chris Riddell has done an extraordinarily good job of carrying the reader right into the narrative visually. The book is fully illustrated in colour and it really is cram-packed with wryly humorous pictures. Almost every page is bursting with one expressive character or another from wide-eyed damsels, charming noblemen, grotesque villains and a range of fantastical monsters that are encountered by Don Quixote.
This is a successful modernization with a very approachable feel. Even so, at over 300 pages in a big format, this is still a heavy story for children and I recommend it for older juniors plus. And if you like this, the same duo have produced an equally contemporary retelling of Gulliver's Travels which I also recommend.


Bear Hunt (Picture Puffin)
Bear Hunt (Picture Puffin)
by Anthony Browne
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant short picture book that my boys loved from ages 3 to 5., 21 Mar. 2009
I feel compelled to write a review of this book - having searched to check whether this great book is still in print, I feel it is worth a five star rating unlike the other reviewers and so must redress the balance because both my sons absolutely loved this book between the ages of 3 and 5. In a nutshell a bear strolls through the jungle clutching a pencil which he then uses to cleverly evade capture by two hunters by drawing obstacles in their way etc, and then to draw a means of escape. The integral use of the pencil to move the story forward is a very clever idea which both amuses young children and stimulates their imaginations. The pictures are bright and colourful, with apparent 70s retro style, which is actually a factor of this book's original publication date rather than by design. The only caveat is the hunters themselves dressed in stereotypical jungle safari outfits, as hunting is such an untrendy topic in the twenty-first century, and their aim to catch poor bear might not be to everyone's taste. Little boys however mostly have no such scruples and love the setting of the story, and as the words are minimal and simple e.g. "Look Out! Look Out, Bear. Quickly Bear began to draw", this is also a great early reader.
If you enjoy this idea of the characters drawing their own stories, then try also Ahlberg & Ingman: The Pencil which is a longer picture book published in 2008 with the same basic premise.


The Cat Who Liked Rain
The Cat Who Liked Rain
by Henning Mankell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling tale with a timeless charm., 21 Mar. 2009
This review is from: The Cat Who Liked Rain (Paperback)
There's something lovely and relaxing about this book's easy-pace and slightly old-fashioned depiction of the simplicity of childhood, where the reader really feel as if s/he is in the mind of a funny and lovable seven-year old. Lukas is delighted to get a cat for his seventh birthday but the cat goes missing and the story covers the loss of his much-loved pet, and the way this charming little lad copes with it and moves on. Obviously, therefore, there is an inherent sadness throughout but it is covered with sensitivity and good humour so the feel of the story is consistently light-hearted and gently amusing. Although this book would be particularly apt for children who have lost a cat or other pet, it will touch a chord with everyone, and is suitable for the most sensitive child, from age 5 or 6.
And if you enjoy this, as I am sure you will, then try David Henry Wilson: Triple Trouble with Jeremy James for the same childhood humour or Philippa Pearce: A Dog So Small for more wishful thinking and vivid imaginary animal scenarios.


Highway Robbery
Highway Robbery
by Kate Thompson
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW, an absolute treasure., 20 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Highway Robbery (Hardcover)
I was completely enraptured with this book from the moment I picked it up. The hardback is beautifully produced with a black velvet cover: it felt like a highway man's pouch of gold before I even opened it, and from the absolute first I was hooked.
The time that elapses during the whole book is only about twenty-four hours whilst a small street urchin holds Black Bess for Dick Turpin. The strength of the tale is in the characters, particularly that of the narrator, the young lad, who tells his tale in a polite conversational way - though not the twentieth century chatty style because this is of course set in the eighteenth century when you address men taller and grander than you as `Sir'. It's a great story and I was surprised and delighted by an unexpected twist at the very end. A short read, this is perfect to read aloud - but make sure your listeners are sitting close because on almost every double page there are fantastic black ink illustrations by Jonny Duddle who captures the beauty of the big black horse remarkably well. His slightly quirky big-eyed children, crooks and highway men are equally appealing and put me in mind of a cross between those of Chris Mould and Chris Riddell.
This book is an absolute masterpiece and I can't recommend it hightly enough for any child from about age 6.


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