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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien

We've had this one for quite a while now. It's one of my favourites to read and I probably enjoy it as much, if not more than, Linus.

It's a fun and funny book. Sean Taylor's story is of a predatory owl who's cunning disguises don't go to plan. The illustrations by Jean Jullien are superb and suitably different for this picture book, they just work so well with the unique humour of the story. 

The hungry owl flies around the night sky in search of creatures to eat. He seems to have a ready supply of foolproof disguises that just manage to fall. Fortunately Hoot Owl has a happy ending and his final disguise helps leave him satiated.

There's a repetitive element to the story a good rhythm.
I'd rate this as one of our top ten books of, at least, the last year. I'd say it was in my top three, with Whoops by Suzi Moore and Chris Haughton's Shhh We Have a Plan.
It finishes with "until Hoot Owl returns". I do hope he comes back quickly.
Sean Taylor reads the book below

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Grandad's Island by Benji Davies

Of all the men in the world I'll admit to being one of the easier ones to get to cry. TV shows, films, plays, US presidential elections, they'll all manage to make me at some point.

Picture books, however, mostly don't. Until I read one particular book it had never even occurred to me that a book for 5 year olds would carry such emotion. That book (which i haven't yet written about here) was The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies. When I first read that, the impact of a boy separated and then reunited with his dad had me blubbing somewhat. It's a lovely read, beautifully illustrated and I'm sure I'll get round to a proper post about it soon.

Grandad's Island was released before Storm Whale in Winter but we hadn't gotten round to reading it. I knew little about it, even though I'd seen it in bookshops for some time. I'd always thought the cover made it look a little twee (yes, I know, never judge a book by its cover). I like to read them all with an open mind and usually make sure the first full read is just me and Linus, so any surprises are shared.
The story is about a boy, Syd, who visits his grandad. Simple enough premise, but grandad isn't there. Finally grandad calls to Syd and reveals the, seemingly, magic utopian world he's living in. I'd rather not give a spoiler, however the back of the book sums it up quite nicely;

"A beautiful and comforting book that shows how those who are dear to us remain near to us - however far away they may seem."

The illustrations are lovely and vibrant, remarkably uplifting and conveying the right tone for the story. 

I know from personal experience the difficulties faced by parents and children when confronting loss of any kind. I also know that picture books work well in relating many areas of a young person's life. Grandad's Island is an excellent source to either deal with a current issue or have in your library to refer back to. A highly recommended book.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Tickle Tree by Chae Strathie and Poly Bernatene.

Our recommendation this week, our first of 2017, is a book from 2008. 

Chae Strathie seems to have a relatively unique path in picture books. Linus really liked Gorilla Loves Vanilla last year, a funny tale of an array of animals shopping for ice cream. 

Compared to his earlier work such as Loon on the Moon and Jumblebum, Gorilla Loves Vanilla is positively mainstream, although very much on the good side of wacky.

The title of this blog relates to a line from Spike Milligan's Ning Nang Nong. So The Tickle Tree is  on our wavelength. There's a host of made up words in a fun rhyming story. It's about the endless places your imagination will take you and a great bedtime read. My near five year old wanted it read three times from the first read. 

The illustrations, by Poly Bernatene, as with all great picture books, really fit the words. There's a dreamy element to them with an amazing amount of detail.

It looks as though it's out of print but some copies on Amazon and EBay and I'm sure some libraries will have it too.
So if you're getting a little tired of picking up yet another Julia Donaldson, look out for The Tickle Tree or, the more readily available, Loon on the Moon for a nice bit of warm silliness.
It's worth checking out the Amazon page, if only for the rather angry three star review complaining about the made up words! Who wants imagination? (me, me, me!).