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Reviews Written by
ELH Browning "Esther-Lou" (Kingston Bagpuize, Oxon)
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Together
Together
by Jane Simmons
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle story about the value of friendship, 16 Dec 2008
This review is from: Together (Paperback)
This is a gentle story for the youngest child about the value of friendship and how it's ok to prefer to do different things to one another. Friendship is depicted by the sunshine, and loneliness and gloom by the rain: two dogs play together in the sunshine but as they begin to disagree the rain begins. There's a good lesson here for the preschooler but the real strength of this book lies in its warm and rich illustrations.


Bubble Trouble
Bubble Trouble
by Margaret Mahy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.08

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bouncing rhythm and cheerful pictures, 16 Dec 2008
This review is from: Bubble Trouble (Hardcover)
"Little Mabel blew a bubble and it caused a lot of trouble,
Such a lot of bubble trouble in a bibble-bobble way,
For it broke away from Mabel as it bobbed across the table,
Where it bobbed over Baby, and it wafted him away...."
The story follows a baby caught in a bubble as drifts over town and garden with an assortment of friendly town characters, depicted in charming colour, giggling and goggling along behind.
"In a garden folly, Tybal, and his jolly mother, Sybil,
Sat and played a game of Scrabble, shouting shrilly as they scored.
But they both began to babble, and to scrobble with the scrabble
As the baby in the bubble bibble-bobbled by the board..."
Poetic in nature, with a fast rhythm and a Dr Seussish tongue-twisting rhyme throughout, this is a fantastic book to read aloud to the 2-5s.


Numbers
Numbers
by Rachel Ward
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart-wrenching and thought-provoking tale for teens., 14 Dec 2008
This review is from: Numbers (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a gripping fast paced tale of a girl who's life and relationships are blighted because she can foretell that date of death of all those she sees. This is a great idea for a novel, and it's been well-excecuted for a teen-market. Suspected of terrorism because of her extraordinary "gift", Jem runs away with her friend Spider who she knows will die before the week is out although she's entirely unaware how and why. And despite a warm-hearted ending to Jem's journey, there's a twist at the end that'll turn you cold and I cried unashamedly when Spider dies. Brilliant.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 14, 2008 9:18 PM GMT


Twoo Twit
Twoo Twit
by Kes Gray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amusing picture book for 3-5s with a message about the importance of reading., 30 Nov 2008
This review is from: Twoo Twit (Hardcover)
Twoo Twit is a silly little owl who intrigues the other woodland animals with his foolishness. There is however a more serious underlying reason why Twoo Twit is such a dim-wit: he skips school... And then one night where he decides to hang in the church tower oblivious to the bell-ringing contest because he can't read the great big poster, and from then on Twoo twit shows up in the classroom!
The pictures are friendly fun and, as if his name isn't ridiculous enough, there's plenty to make a four-year old giggle e.g. the description of Twoo twit as a mushroom bonce, and the prickled-bottom-on-a-thorn-bush gag.


He Came with the Couch
He Came with the Couch
by David Slonim
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple amusing picture book for 3-5s, 30 Nov 2008
This review is from: He Came with the Couch (Hardcover)
This is a great picture book - a simple silly story with warm friendly illustrations. A family get a new sofa and on it, permanently, is a little blue creature who has a neutral and unchanging expression. They try to get him to move but he doesn't, even when they take him out and about (with the sofa) - hence funny pictures of the blue creature on the sofa at the beach and the grand canyon and so on. And them one day, something happens and he springs into action. And then there's a bit of a surprise at the end. Lovely.
And if you like this, try Penguin by Polly Dunbar.


1: The Carbon Diaries 2015
1: The Carbon Diaries 2015
by Saci Lloyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, thought-provoking and timely look into an all-too-possible future scenario., 29 Nov 2008
The Carbon Diaries are based on a fascinating premise - that a switch from twenty-first century lives (cars, mobiles, laptops, foreign holidays, rampant consumerism etc.) to an austere restriction on each individual's carbon footprint takes place on an arbitrary date (1/1/2015) in a drastic attempt to stop global warming and its building consequences. Already European winters are longer and more bitter, whilst summer temperatures and droughts cause different but equally terrible problems for society.
Aimed at teenagers, the tale of 17 year old school-girl and spare-time band-member Laura, and her increasingly dysfunctional family, is told through diary entries that are both amusing yet haunting. The book is generally light-hearted and many entries are very funny as her parents crack up, as she tries to help the elderly gentleman next door and so on. However, it is disconcerting for the reader to realise how very quickly today's society could slide into something very different indeed if, for example, life-threatening flooding and other freak weather conditions become more commonplace so that water and electricity become unreliable or scare resources.
While the cover is appropriately austere, fitting perfectly with a green message and "back to basics" outlook, combined with its similarly plain title this book looks rather like a governmental treatise or academic study which is a shame. I would never have noticed it on the shelf if my friendly and helpful local bookseller hadn't personally recommended it. I'm just very glad they did - and, on buying, so will you be.


L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz
by Graham Rawle
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The old classic is reinvigorated with wonderful quirky illustrations, 28 Nov 2008
This chunky hardback in an unusual squarish landscape format is a fascinating new take on this 100 year old classic. On pages that are wonderfully spacious, with quaint typographical touches throughout, L. Frank Baum's original text has inspired a collection of intricate, fascinating and colourful illustrations.
Rawle is a collage artist and here he has had the vision and dedication to create dozens and dozens of interesting imaginative pictures that are reminiscent of a by-gone era.
Rawle has not been distracted by the 1939 Judy Garland film (which included red shoes when Baum described silver) and has chosen rather to go right back to basics: it is great to see the exquisite attention to the original. For example when Baum describes the munchkins, he says they wore round hats that rose to a point a foot above their heads with little bells around the brims - and in this book, Rawle has made them just so.
Every picture is perfectly fashioned from real objects with a touch of genius helped, I am sure, with some 21st century image manipulation, and they are amazing.
The key characters appear to have been chosen carefully from a 1950s toy box, and I love the tin man, the cowardly lion and the flying monkeys.
Some of the collages are undoubtedly a little unsettling and the wicked witch with her telescope eye is rather scary, like the puppets in an old fashioned Punch and Judy. However, the pictures are certainly no more disturbing than those damaged toys in the nasty boy's room in Toy Story and most small children take those in their stride, and Rawle's characters are entirely appropriate to Baum's accimpanying narrative.
This is a striking, brave and rather kooky illustrative approach and it's a style that won't appeal to everyone. However the more you look, the more you notice the detail in the pictures and the exquisite care that has gone into creating this masterpiece. I particularly like the bead plants and a magnificent field of poppies with their centres fashioned from black fruit pastilles and headed pins.
It's a theatrical work and there's actually a two minute youtube clip (youtube com/watch?v=-rMmPlFWpNQ) about the extravagant effort that has gone into its construction that's well worth a view before you buy.
One to treasure and pass down the generations.
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Little Red: A Fizzingly Good Yarn
Little Red: A Fizzingly Good Yarn
by Lynn Roberts
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspired take on Red Riding Hood - edgy eighteenth century yet perfectly pitched for modern children., 24 Nov 2008
This is an outstanding picture book - a brilliant and original take on the old classic story of Red Riding Hood. In a most stylish and forward thinking way, the Roberts duo place the tale in an 18th century setting where you can imagine highway men pouncing upon unsuspecting horse-drawn carriages. Little Red is a young lad who wears an old-fashioned red coat, lives in an tavern frequented by travellers and takes a basket of ginger beer, cake and apples to his grandma. Wolf spies him, reaches Grandma's cottage first and gobbles her up, but in a twist designed for contemporary children Little Red cleverly persuades him to have some ginger beer. Wolf overdoes it with the fizz, and Grandma flies out of his mouth in an enormous (and hilarious if you are 3-7) burp.
The illustrations are wonderful, clean-lined yet detailed, and perfectly pitched to be dark and eerie for the young child yet cleverly remaining on the right side of terrifying. How could anyone be too scared of a wolf dressed in a wig, flowery dress and mob cap?
The best retelling of Red Riding Hood I have come across, this truly deserves to last the test of time.
& enjoy this? Try Lauren Child's Beware of The Storybook Wolves next.


Slam!
Slam!
by Adam Stower
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant. The whole family LOVED it., 24 Nov 2008
This review is from: Slam! (Paperback)
This cracking story is told almost entirely in pictures, except for the opening instruction not to slam the door.
A lad leaves the house slamming the door, and the reverberations release a small ball from the roof which sets in train a catastrophic train of consequences:
the ball hits the cat, the cats trips a shopper, the shopping knocks a jogger, the fish van brakes too fast.....the octopus (!? yes it's ever sillier and increasingly fantastical) falls into the open manhole cover, the underground dragon awakes and so on and so forth.
The pictures are detailed and hilarious, reminiscent in style of Chris Riddell's illustrations, growing ever more colourful and interesting as an icecream van collides with a circus van, and all the while the lad who caused the whole mess remains oblivious, even at the great finish.
If you've enjoyed John Prater's Once upon a Time or Once upon a Picnic, then this is for you. And if you love Slam, try Full Moon Soup by Alastair Graham for a book packed with similar consequences with a Halloween-y flavour.


Tom and the Tinful of Trouble
Tom and the Tinful of Trouble
by Nick Sharratt
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright bold fun: think Dennis the Menace crossed with Gray & Sharrat's "Daisy" character., 24 Nov 2008
Despite the simplicity of the cover, don't be fooled into thinking this is a run-of-the mill picture book with strong and simple pictures for the littlest child. Nick Sharratt is the illustrator of the tremendously popular Daisy series (written by Kes Gray), and this new character Tom has the same mischievous appeal. He finds a tin of red paint and redecorates the living room while his Mum is outside: my boys love seeing what Tom's Mum is doing out of the window (mowing for the first hour, chatting for the second/sunbathing for the third.) It takes a fair amount of time and work to get the room back to a habitable state. There are three pages of detailed purchases and DIY and scattered mini pictures which I wasn't immediately taken with. However my 4-year old loved the whole book instantly and has insisted on having it at bedtime for weeks and so it has quickly grown on me, especially as I've noticed extra touches like the still-red cat on the new sofa, and the new little tree for the garden growing while Tom is good.
And Tom is good... for three weeks..... for three months... even for three years (watch the tree grow) but then "Tom found the blue paint".
I have a feeling we're going to see more of Tom and my boys (4&6) can't wait.


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