Having read these over the weekend, I can guarantee their brilliance for reading aloud and for generating laughter, questions and thoughts.
A Quokka for the Queen by Huw Lewis Jones and Fred Blunt, Published by Happy Yak
The Queen is celebrating her birthday and unusual gifts are piling up, the strangest of all being the Quokka, a gift all the way from Australia! The Queen and quokka decide to gift others with presents and so begins a hilarious alliteration fest of giving animal gifts to hard working folk like teachers, doctors and postmen. As they work their way through animals and jobs, it gets more and more hilarious, with nods to those in power getting well deserved animals. I had to laugh at the Prime Minister being gifted a pigeon or python, and politicians being gifted porcupines! In a similar style to the Oi Frog series, this will get children suggesting, laughing and finding ways to join in! A rollicking read and a challenge to list them all towards the end! Superb illustrations fill the pages and make this an absolute delight to read. Ideal for sharing during Jubilee celebrations this year and for enjoying at any time! How Messy by Clare Helen Welsh and Olivier Tallec, Published by Happy Yak
This delightful duo are back, still learning how to get along and make allowances for each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Dot likes things spic and span while Duck is slightly more artistic in his approach to life. In this tale, Dot is finding Duck’s messiness a frustrating part of her day. Suggesting they play outside, she literally drags Duck to the beach. Once there in the fresh air, things seem better. That Is, until they disagree over sandcastle building. The illustrations are bright and colourful and ideal for our younger readers. Dot and Duck are endlessly popular and this story will resonate with plenty of children as they accept different styles and strength. The Royal Leap-Frog by Peter Bently and Claire Powell, Published by Bloomsbury
I am not sure there is anything better than a rollicking rhyme from the master, Peter Bently! I am not familiar with the original fable by Hans Christian Andersen but this book is brilliantly written. The flea and grasshopper cannot agree wHo jumps the highest so they take the competition to the King to judge. As each one leaps into the air, some calamitous disaster ensues from noses in mustard to wigs flying off! The King is less than impressed with these leaping insects and declares neither one the winner. Alongside the flea and grasshopper was a frog, who then wowed the king and was invited to dinner! The illustrations by Claire Powell are striking and joyous with bold use of colour and style! We Found a Cat by Heidi McKinnon, Published by Scholastic
A sister and brother find themselves a cat in a box. While the sister is exuberant and excited to own a cat, the brother is more sensible and questions the actions of his sister and the cat…though as the reader we can see it is a cat, just not a house cat! The minimal use of text is so clever and it is ideal for children who want to elaborate themselves or use the illustrations as a guide to tell more of the story. Laugh out loud funny and with elements of a darker side (the cat eats the grown-ups), this is such a fun book to read aloud or in a small group. This ends with just the right sentence to engage children to write a story as well or to imagine what might happen next, “Look! We found a lizard.” I won’t spoil it for you but do get this one! Chicken Little and the Big Bad Wolf by Sam Wedelich, Published by Scholastic
Fans of fairy tales, this is something very different and thoroughly enjoyable! As a grown up there are slight references that are for our humour and knowledge only, like Team Fight vs Team Flight, or “These boots aren’t made for running” and while they will not be appreciated in the same humour by younger readers, they are cleverly executed in this tale. The Big Bad Wolf has a bad reputation and the chickens are hatching a plan to “fly the coop”, until Chicken Little steps in and asks the big question to the Wolf! The story takes a surprising turn and will prompt readers to question first impressions and perceptions. The simple use of illustrations and speech bubble text keep this a light hearted tale filled with snippets of brilliance, empathy and belonging! Unicorns Don’t Love Sparkles by Lucy Rowland and Mike Byrne, Published by Scholastic
Unicorns are very much in fashion, especially ones that break the mould and have a dark side! Our favourite grumpy unicorn is back and this time, we can see that he hates birthday parties, the glitter, balloons and cake? Yuck! As his own birthday approaches, will Unicorn join in with the birthday fun or will it be a disaster? These colourful books are so much fun with their rhymes, bright colours and funny unicorn farts! Before his birthday loneliness can set in, unicorn gets a brilliant surprise from his true friends, ones that know him so well! Knowing his dislike for cake, sparkles and balloons, but love for broccoli covered in cheese and a great game of chess- these are pretty wonderful friends. Funny and engaging, these will be a big hit with young readers! Not A Cat in Sight by Frances Stickley and Eamonn O’Neill, Published by Simon & Schuster
Little Mouse is having a most wonderful day. The sun is shining and there is not a cat in sight, for him anyway! The reader is treated to a separate story happening behind the mouse all the way through the book. While Mouse is having fun, adventuring and exploring, the cat is trying to catch him but with absolutely no luck at all. Readers will love watching the cats antics as Mouse enjoys tightrope walking, skydiving and finding treasure, all while being blissfully unaware of the dangers around him. This joyous, funny and colourful book will be such a hit with readers. The illustrations are superb and really capture the merging of the two stories brilliantly. Perfectly rhymed, this just rolls off the tongue. Home is Where the Hive Is by Claire Winslow and Vivian Mineker, Published by Sunbird Books
A beautiful non-fiction book with a story like narrative. We know bees are vital to our own survival and they need to be cared for. In this tale, Beatrice is a scout bee and is on an important mission to hunt for a new hive since their current one is facing some dangers from the environment around it. Beatrice travels for a long time in search of a new home and some tasty flowers to enjoy with her 50,000 sisters. Highlighting the plight of the bee, readers are taken on a journey to see the damage and destruction caused by humans on the bees habitats and favourite flowery snacks. In a large city, it is difficult for Beatrice to see what they need but she eventually spots some greenery on rooftops. A beautifully illustrated celebration of bees, rooftop gardens and wildflowers.