Two children and their imaginations set sail from their living room on a voyage around the world! Read along as they spy an extraordinary array of characters doing even more extraordinary things…? With bright, fresh illustrations and a playful style, this rhyming book, based on the classic Edward Lear poem The Owl and the Pussycat, is a wonderfully quirky adventure.?
There can be something so magical about a picture book. It has the ability to really capture a child’s imagination and keep them entertained as they hear the words, see the pictures and put two and two together. But it’s not that easy to create a book that does this. Writing good picture books is a lot more difficult than it sounds but sometimes an author just manages to do exactly what we all want from a picture book. This is what has happened with The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat. Inspired by the original poem, this book follows a boy and a girl as they sit in a cupboard box and imagine what they would come across if they were the owl and the pussycat in a ship. It is imaginative and inspirational.
While I sadly did not get a chance to test this book out on my niece, I am certain that she would have absolutely loved it. At the moment she is completely obsessed with Finding Nemo and so I am positive that this sea-faring adventure book would have been well-received. But I also believe that she would have loved it because it contains an exciting plot. It is about another girl and boy having imaginative play – something that she absolutely loves doing herself. It is a book that simply celebrates being a child.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, this book is also covered in absolutely stunning illustrations. Charlotte Cooke has done a fantastic job of bringing this story to life with vibrant and colourful images that every child will love looking at. In each one there is an owl and a pussycat watching either from afar or from up close and I can imagine that it will be a lot of fun for the child reader to work out where they are and what exactly they are up to! This extra addition to this picture book is really what brings it into it’s own and makes it such a wonderfully magic book to read.
This book gets my thumbs up and I am very much looking forward to sharing it with my niece in the coming days!
Reviewed by Faye
We are delighted to welcome
“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.
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
The 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Dylan’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
Leo 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
The tale of a hog in the fog.
This is the story of Candy Stripe Lil
and Harry the Hog who lived over the hill.
…and a foggy March day, roundabout three,
when Lil had invited Harry for tea.
Lil is expecting Harry the Hog for tea, but there’s a swirling fog outside and Harry is nowhere to be seen.
Lil sets off to find her friend. Luckily she meets Deer, Sheep and Crow along the way, who all join in the hunt to find the hog in the fog.
My four year old and I absolutely love this rhyming tale of friendship and identity.
Instead of reading about why we love Hog in the Fog, you can try the story out for yourself.
The team at Faber and Faber have teamed up with, Strictly star, Russell Grant to create this fantastic unabridged video.
Posted by Caroline
Katie Morag is desperate for it to be her birthday, but as she soon discovers, there are plenty of other birthdays to be celebrated on Struay both before and after hers. Join Katie Morag and friends for a year on Struay. Celebrate Neilly Beag’s birthday with a celidah and a jig, Liam’s with an April Fool’s joke and the Big Boy Cousins’ with a huge BBQ at the Old Castle. And find out what excitements are in store for Katie Morag and her Two Grandmothers on their special day . . .
This book is about the irrepressible Katie Morag who lives on the Scottish Island of Struay with her family and their birthdays. It interweaves a story through the months of the year as Katie Morag celebrates all the family birthdays and continually asks that on-going question, “When is it my birthday?”. Looking at all these people celebrating in different ways and sharing fun together was a sweet story, and one that every child can relate to.
I enjoyed reading this story to my girls, it is written in months, each page has the month as a heading and the date of the person’s birthday in different colours down the side. Katie Morag’s own birthday has a couple of extra pages too. I also liked the way the book had a calendar at the end that you could put your family birthdays in (or an older child could). It was also a great touch that it had ‘how to make’ pages showing things that Katie Morag had made for her family and how you could do them yourself, my daughter immediately wanted to make the birthday card.
Both of my girls really enjoyed this, they are 4 and 6 years old and it is perfectly pitched for them. This is a fairly long picture book with quite a bit of text and is probably better suited to a child of this age rather than a two year old. Having said that the pictures are fabulous with lots of detail to engage children and bring the story to life, and the birthday theme is obviously one that even younger children will be able to have an understanding of!
Verdict: This was a lovely book, and the little extra’s in it make it something special.
Reviewed by Helen
A young boy spends his day playing games with his imaginary friend, Elephant. Real or not, when Grandma and Grandpa are busy, Elephant proves to be the perfect playmate! Illustrated with Petr Horacek’s distinctive and beautiful collage style.
We enjoyed this book, in particular trying to guess whether or not the elephant was real or imagined, the children vacillated back and forth over this for a while!
The story is about a boy who has no one to play with so he plays with his elephant. Unfortunately they get into a few scrapes, and the boy always tells everyone it wasn’t his fault, it was his elephant that did it. The adult involved never seems to believe the boy that it was the elephant’s fault. The boy is sad and spends some time alone, but when his elephant comes to see him there is an unexpected and lovely moment when the boy says sorry to the elephant for telling tales about him. The boy and the elephant go into the boy’s bedroom and have wonderful adventures until the boy wakes up the next morning and wonders how he got to bed. His Grandpa comes in and tells him, his elephant put him there.
It’s so clever and so simple. The imaginary and the real are often blurred for children and they related to this really well. The whole concept is carried off with finesse by Petr. The pictures of the elephant accidently making a mess compliment it all beautifully.
A stunning book for children.
Reviewed by Helen