Archive for the ‘Picture books’ Category

My Name is Not Refugee

Kate Milner

A young boy discusses the journey he is about to make with his mother. They will leave their town, she explains, and it will be sad but also a little bit exciting. They will have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, and that will be difficult. They will have to walk and walk and walk, and although they will see many new and interesting things, it will be difficult at times too. A powerful and moving exploration that draws the young reader into each stage of the journey, inviting the chance to imagine the decisions he or she would make.

There is something very powerful about picture books. They can sometimes be some of the first books that your child or even you, yourself, will remember reading. I know that I recall strongly my favourite picture book. So it is really wonderful when picture books also start educating children – not about Maths or English or other school subjects – but about different parts of society. If it teaches children that while there are many different walks of life, we’re all human despite our differences in our skin colour, body shape, social background and sexuality, then it’s going to give them a good start to life.

Thus I always love stumbling across picture books that manage this. So when I heard about My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. I needed to read it and see what the book is all about. And it is everything I love about picture books.

It’s entertaining, informative, and full of imagination too. The book follows a child who has to leave home behind and then learn a new language and a new culture and learn not to be terrified of the experience. It asks the reader questions along the way, such as: “What would you pack in your backpack of possessions?” This allows the reader to understand what the other child may be going through. Would they choose their favourite book or their favourite teddy bear if they can’t pack both?

On top of that, Kate hasn’t identified where the child has come from or where they’ve ended up. So it’s a way for refugees of any culture to identify themselves in the book which is absolutely fantastic and is exactly what makes this book so very powerful. It’s inclusive – just as every book should be.

All in all, this is a very powerful, imaginative, and relevant book that is a must read for adults and children alike to understand society further.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: The Bucket List
Publication Date: May 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Under 5s
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
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Author Interview: Olaf Falafel

We are delighted to welcome Olaf Falafel as he talks about the inspiration behind his book Old MacDonald Heard a Parp
“Old Macdonald heard a parp…E-I-E-I-O!”
There are some VERY rude noises coming from Old Macdonald’s farm – who could be responsible?! Sing along to this side-splitting picture book adaptation of everyone’s favourite nursery rhyme.
Old Macdonald’s busy day on the farm keeps getting interrupted by some VERY rude noises … but who could they be coming from?! A hilarious and irreverent take on the classic nursery song from debut author/illustrator, Olaf Falafel, with helpful do-it-yourself instructions so you can parp along to your heart’s content!

What inspired you to write a children’s book?

The idea for Old MacDonald heard a Parp came to me when I was trying to coming up with ideas for child friendly stand up (I quite often gig for Comedy Club 4 Kids). I started singing it to my kids on the way to school and we did all the different noises, before long it had spread round the playground. When the dinner ladies started telling the kids off for singing it I knew it had potential.

You had a pretty whirlwind experience when it came to getting published – how did it all happen and what was the most surreal moment looking back?

Basically, I’m an illustrator during the day and a comedian in the evenings. I had some spare time due to an illustration job falling through at the last minute so I saw it as the ideal opportunity to draw some of Old MacDonald.

I drew a front cover and the first three or four pages of the book and then it got to the point where I started thinking about what I was going to do with the book when it was finished.

This was when I put out the tweet asking if any publishers were interested along with the drawings that I’d already done to give an idea of what the book would look like. Then twitter went a bit crazy for 24 hours, there were loads of great people who retweeted the idea, loads who private messaged me contacts in the publishing world and loads who wrote lovely comments saying they’d buy the book if it ever got made.

I had eight different agents contact me asking to meet up and I ended up getting direct interest from several publishers, including Harper Collins.

Within four days, I had a literary agent (the wonderful Jo Unwin) and a deal with Harper Collins to produce Old MacDonald plus two follow up books. The whole thing felt surreal.

Which books do you remember most fondly from your own childhood?
I read a lot of comics as a child, I really liked The Beano, most of the characters were naughty kids which appealed to me. I later graduated onto Viz comic which isn’t at all child friendly but it must have had an influence on me as Old MacDonald Heard A Fart was describe as ‘Viz for toddlers’ by one of the first standups who saw it.

Who is your favourite literary character and why?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Winnie The Pooh – it sounds completely out of character for me but that tubby bear made a lot of sense.

How important do you think comedy is for children, and can you ever be too young for a good joke?
For me it’s the other way around – children are important for comedy. My two are a constant source of inspiration for funny thoughts that I have turned into stand up comedy. A lot of the stuff they come out with doesn’t make a lot of sense but can be ridiculously funny.

I understand that you do stand-up for children – how do they differ as an audience from adults?
They have no ‘socially acceptable behaviour filter’ so they quite often say whatever they are thinking whenever they feel like saying it. In a lot of ways, performing to kids is a lot like performing to drunk adults (including the likelihood of being vomited on)

What does the future have in store for Old MacDonald and his parping menagerie?

I’m currently working on the second book, Father Christmas Heard A Parp, which is going to be even better than the first book with some great new characters, new ways of making parp noises plus a great new twist at the end. I’ve also got an idea for the third instalment of the ‘parp trilogy’ currently percolating through my brain – fun farty times ahead!

Picture book sensation and stand-up comedian Olaf Falafel burst onto the scene in 2017 when he posted a call-out to publish his his hilarious debut, Old Macdonald Heard a Parp, on Twitter.
Olaf lives and works in London with his wife and two children, who are his biggest fans.

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The Fairy Tale Hairdresser and Aladdin

Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard (illustrator)

The Fairytale Hairdresser is having a long-overdue holiday — but in no time at all she is tangled up in a world of flying carpets, mysterious jewels and magical lamps. Can she rescue Aladdin, free the genie and save the day?

I like this book because Kitty actually travels to a different part of their magical land and I’ve been very interested in what other parts of their land exists. Aladdin has also been my favourite Disney film.

I also love the book because it’s like a re-written story. I really like Aladdin especially because of the Genie; it’s a girl!!!!!

Verdict: I really enjoyed this book and I hope you do too!

Reviewed by Tianna aged 9

Publisher: Picture Corgi
Publication Date: March 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Fairytale retelling
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Tianna 9
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane

Caroline Baxter

Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with ‘lean, mean flying machine’ Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this action-packed rhyming story celebrates ‘Girl Power’ and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!

As someone who works in a library, I am often reading picture books to young children and know that some books work well and some just do not. Fortunately, upon reading Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane, I knew instantly that this was a book that would go down well with children. With colourful pictures to keep their attention, wonderful rhymes to keep them entertained and a brilliantly powerful story full of friendship, girl power and fun.

What first drew me to this book was the bright pink plane on the cover and I know that this will also attract the attention of young girls as well. But what I absolutely loved about this book was that it really shows how powerful and effective teamwork is, as well as showing how much strength and intelligence girls can have. It’s a wonderful book to share with children because of this.

Pilot Jane is a really fun, entertaining and ultimately educational read that I really enjoyed and guarantee that it will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It reads well and slides off the tongue with all of its rhymes too. It’s colourful and full of adventure – and even the queen pops up during the story which was a fab addition. I am certain that this is a book that will touch the hearts of many while it gets read again and again!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Big Sunshine Books
Publication Date: March 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 2-4
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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The Fairytale Hairdresser Beauty and the Beast

Abbie Longstaffand Lauren Beard (Illustrator)

fairytale hair dresserThe Big Bad Beast’s heart is melted by Bella, the most beautiful girl in Fairy Land – but could she ever love someone so beastly?
The Fairytale Hairdresser teaches Beast that beauty is on the inside (although there’s always time to treat yourself to a little makeover!) in this fabulous modern twist on the classic fairytale. There are witty fairytale jokes to spot and beautiful details to discover, read after read. Featuring all the fairytale favourites, this is the spectacular seventh story in the bestselling Fairytale Hairdresser series.

This is an exciting book.
I liked looking at all the different hair styles in this book.
I liked seeing the Beast looking funny.
I always like seeing all the different fairy tale people.

Verdict:I think it was the best book out of all of them.

Reviewed by Sienna aged 6

Publisher: Picture Corgi
Publication Date: March 2016
Format: Picture book
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book, fairytale
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Sienna (6)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Guest Post : Guy Parker Rees

Thank you for asking me along, Big Book Little Book!
For this stop on my blog tour I want to share my five very best moments in making my latest book, Dylan the Doctor.

1. The best moment was doing the sketch that started it all.
When my youngest son was born we bought a stripy sausage dog toy for one of his older brothers to give him as a present. This sowed the seed of an idea for a stripy dog character and I did this sketch. I thought there was something special about him.

guy 1
That was 8 years ago. These things take time!

2. Another special moment was when we found his name.
Naming a character is tricky, it either comes straight away or it’s a struggle. Dylan was a struggle. It took months of searching, going through lists of names, boring all my friends stupid as I tested them out and rejected their ideas. It was harder than naming my three boys. In fact I ended up with the name I’ve given two of my children. Admittedly it was the second name of my oldest, we had to use it again by the time we got to our third, the one who was given the sausage dog.

3. I had an idea of what I wanted Dylan’s character to be like from the sketch but I had to think of what sort of world he would live in.
Originally I wrote a story for him in which he had a pet boy, here’s a sketch from it.

guy2

But that all changed when I took the story to my wonderful editor, Alison Green of Alison Green Books. She suggested that Dylan could be the star in a series of adventures- not just the one book.

For this he would need a gang!

Again it took a lot of searching and sketching to find his best friends. It was another special moment when I felt I had found them all. Here they are: Purple Puss, Jolly Otter and Titchy Chick. Oh, and there’s Dotty Bug as well who is there on every page to encourage everyone to join in.

guy 3
4. I think one of the best moments in making a picture book is when I’m sent the first copy and I hold it in my hands.
What was once just an idea that became a sketch now becomes a real object with a life of its own. It will sit patiently on a library or bookshop shelf waiting its turn to be shared.

guy 4

5. And sometimes it takes on a life beyond the book.
I had a very talented friend of mine, Mia Underwood make me a felt toy of Dylan. Here is Dylan in three dimensions:

guy 5
It was a very special moment to see him come to life. And even more so to hear soon afterwards that Brown Bag, the animation company who made Octonauts, wanted to make a series of Dylan animations.

My youngest son, Dylan, is nine now. Sometimes it takes a while for an idea to grow and develop. You have to be patient and persevere- just make sure you enjoy the special moments along the way!

Guest post by Guy Parker Rees

Dylan the Doctor was published on the 4th of August by Scholastic Press.

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Dylan The Doctor

Guy Parker-Rees
dylanDylan’s on his way – are you ready to play? DYLAN THE DOCTOR is the first picture book in a series featuring an exuberant stripy dog, who just loves to play. Created by bestselling illustrator Guy Parker-Rees, Dylan is a joyous new character who uses playing and fun to help toddlers explore and understand their world. Today Dylan is playing at being a doctor. He dashes about looking after all of his friends: Purple Puss, Jolly Otter and Titchy Chick. But who will look after poor, tired Doctor Dylan? All his friends, of course! Look out for Dylan’s friend, Dotty Bug, on every page, as she encourages readers to join in with the story.

From an outside perspective writing a picture book sounds like an easy task but when you have to factor in that the book has to capture a child’s attention and has to be interesting enough for the adult to be read time and time again, then you might just change your mind about how easy it is. It also means that a lot of picture books just don’t make the cut. And then sometimes you come across a picture book that is full of life and flair and you’re almost certain that this one might just capture the imagination of many children.

This is what happened when I read Dylan the Doctor. This picture book is incredibly sweet and cute. It is about a dog who pretends to be a doctor to help fix his animal friends. When they come across a very ill animal, Dylan prescribes rest and fuss. Upon seeing the fuss their friend is getting, the other animals all come down with the same illness. Thus forcing Dylan to give them lots of fuss too. It’s a really lovely story that is full of imagination and fun.

On top of that, the book also has a little ladybug on the corner of each page asking the reader (child) questions relating to the action happening, such as “What do YOU like to play?” – I thought this really added to the book and will definitely make this a lovely picture book for a parent to read to a child, a librarian to read at storytime or a teacher to read to her class.

Lasltly, I loved the illustrations in this book. They were really distinct and full of bright and light colours to attact the children’s attention. They also have a very crayon-like and child-friendly feel to them that I am certain will definitely make children able to relate to the pictures on the page. They definitely add that little bit extra to the story.

Overall this book is an entertaining read that is enjoyable, cute and lovely.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight

Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty (illustrator)
The Knight Who Wouldn't FightLeo the mouse isn’t like the other knights. While they like fighting, he’d rather read a book. Leo’s parents are keen to turn him into a proper knight, so they pack him off on a mission to tame a dragon. But Leo knows that books are mightier than swords, and he tames not just the dragon, but a troll and a griffin, too.

As a library assistant, one of my favourite things is getting my hands on the picture books before the children. I love having a quick read through before putting it out on the shelves and I adore seeing which books go out lots and become thoroughly loved by lots of different children. Thus, having a look through lots of different picture books, I have a good feeling about the ones that will go down well – but I’m also still only human and I mostly just think the ones I love will go down best, naturally.

That being said, The Knight That Wouldn’t Fight, is one of those books that I think children will really enjoy. One that they are probably going to ask their parents to read again and again because it’s a wonderful story. Full of rhyming words and a courageous mouse, it’s a story that I hope will capture the soul of many children throughout it’s lifetime.

And, of course, the best part – in my opinion – is that the Knight doesn’t fight but instead encourages the beasts he encounters to read. And I think that is absolutely wonderful. Because in this age where technology is running fast, it’s good to remind children that a good book is also good entertainment. Plus, it’s funny because the children are reading about reading!

It would be awful to finish this review without even mentioning the illustrations because they are central to this lovely picture book. They’re full of pastel colours that give off a friendly light, they’re full of minute details and tell they’re own story too – which is one of my favourite things about picture books in the first place. This is the kind of book that you could read simply by looking at the glorious illustrations.

All in all this is a beautiful book with a magnificent and educational story trapped inside. Well worth a read and one I think adults and children will definitely enjoy together and apart.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher:Scholastic
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Dragon, picture book
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Mayfly Day

Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross ( illustrator)
mayfly dayMayfly might have only one day to live, but she enjoys every moment, observing all the life around her, and rejoicing in her own. As she soars over the sky at dawn she bathes in the golden light, and she dances to the music of the universe.

This is my favourite book. It is a story of a life of a Mayfly.

I love this book because it describes a perfect day which is actually her whole life.

The story is simple but when I read it I feel excited, sad and relaxed at different times.

The pictures are very delicate and colourful; some of them look like photos.

The story is written like a poem and even without the pictures I imagine a beautiful world.

Verdict: I have read this book loads of times and will always love it!

Reviewed by Teagan age 5 and ¾

Publisher: Anderson Press
Publication Date: June 2006
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book, Animals
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Teagan
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Butterfly and the Birthday Surprise

birthdsy surpriseOver the hills in a land of sweetness, little fairies bake and play. Would you like to peep at their secret, scrumptious world? Make a wish, then step into the magic of Fairycake Kingdom.
Butterfly has everything organized for her party and she doesn’t want any surprises. But when the big day arrives, things start to go wrong. Will her friends be able to save the day with a wonderful birthday surprise?

My four year old daughter was delighted with this cute story. From opening the first page she was entranced by the map of the fairies kingdom, wanting to know the names of all the places and who lives where, and which way they would go to visit each other. She also loved the page that introduces the fairies who will be in the story. It was nice to know the names and recognise them before we started the story, especially as we haven’t read any Fairies of Blossom Bakery books before.

The story is a sweet tale about fairy Butterfly who is organising her birthday party, and she is very organised! Butterfly plans everything to the last detail and her friends help her to get everything ready, they put up with Butterfly’s bossiness very well! It doesn’t occur to Butterfly that her friends may want to do something for her, or even surprise her and she steams ahead with her plans. But on the day things don’t go smoothly as her dress goes missing and eventually the weather doesn’t co-operate with her plans. However Butterfly’s fairy friends save the day and Butterfly realises how lucky she is to have them and that things can turn out really well even without a big plan.

At the end of the book there is a recipe to make one of the cakes in the story, which I thought was a nice touch.

The pictures are pretty and colourful. There is plenty to keep the attention of a little girl.

Verdict: This is a sugary story with a gentle moral and a little bit of fairy sparkle.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Picture Corgi
Publication Date: February 2014
Format: Picture book
Pages: 32
Genre: Fairy, baking
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge:
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