Thursday, 30 May 2013

Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero by Anne Cottringer & Alex T. Smith

Eliot Jones may look like any other kid on the block, but do not be fooled by his quiet daytime persona.  Come midnight this kid turns into a full blooded superhero. The city, the queen and indeed the world depend on him to regularly save them from lions, recover the royal jewels and in one final good deed, to save the earth from a gigantic meteor.

This is a fast paced story that reminds me a bit of a book I reviewed previously called Big Plans. It lends itself to a chorus of 'hoorays' and spontaneous applause as Eliot whizzes through each scene  and resolves one crisis after another. E loves the action, the helicopter, the jet plane and the meteor bursting rocket launcher. I love the tidy story lines where we learn that Eliot just happens to be an expert lion tamer, just happens to be an expert swimmer and just happens to have built a meteor busting rocket launcher in advance of the crisis where he saves the world.

The text is slightly longer than some of E's earlier picture books and is nicely balanced against the quick pace and loaded illustrations.  Have a look at Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero and get ready for a little bit of a wild ride!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

6 books for the bank holiday weekend

The second May bank holiday is upon us here in the UK, and much like Memorial Day weekend in the US, it signals the start of summer.  However, instead of celebrating the opening day of an outdoor pool, I suspect we'll be warming our toes by a fire (coldest spring since 1979 apparently!). Regardless of your location, I think books are always a welcome addition and I've picked 6 to take with us to the seaside this weekend. In no particular order:

1. Busiest People Ever by Richard Scarry: You can't go wrong with Richard Scarry. E often reads this book with me 3 times in a row and points out something different each time. This one has a police chase, a train ride to town, a boat fire and a cargo plane full of apples. Join Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm on their adventures and enjoy the exploits of poor Mr Frumble.

2. Odd Dog by Claudia Boldt: Helmut is a dog who loves apples. Throughout most of this book he's in a state of high anxiety over an apple tree that just might, possibly, drop its shiniest apple into his neighbour's yard.  Indeed this is exactly what happens, but the result is not what Helmut expected. E loves the story and I'd like to wallpaper my whole house with the illustrations.

3. Just Imagine by Nick Sharrat/Pippa Goodhart: This is the follow up to You Choose and it's another successful interactive book. It asks you to imagine what would happen if say you were really small, or really big, or not human.  Some of the concepts are a little advanced for E but others are proving to be great fun.  He now likes to pretend he can't climb the stairs because he's too small like one of the characters in the book. And he has very specific opinions about what sort of animal he would be.

4. My Big Train Book by Roger Priddy: This does what it says on the tin as the Brits say.  It's essentially a photographic guide to different trains. It's very exciting when E spots one of 'his' trains on a page and I've already learned the proper names for a number of them too. This is less a book that we read together and more one for the journey.

5. What is a Crocodile's Favourite Thing? by Ben Hawkes:  This is new offering from illustrator Ben Hawkes and the first book that he's also written. It's blessedly simple with cute characters, wry humour and a strong theme.  So just what is a Crocodile's Favourite Thing? E can tell you at full volume ... dinnertime! This is currently a nightly request for supper time reading. We hope to see more of that sneaky elephant in another book one day!

6. Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney: We've been llama llama fans for a long time now and this is another fun tale in the series. The message is very clear and as always, Dewdney sets up completely realistic situations that leave me nodding my head with recognition and E giddy with expectation. And this one really does prompt that conversation about sharing toys.  As to whether or not it actually changes things I'll let you know.

Please leave a comment below if you have any other bank holiday titles to share!


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Book Giveaway - A Squash and a Squeeze!

Leave a comment below to enter the giveaway to win a copy of A Squash and a Squeeze!

A Squash and a Squeeze is the first book published by that talented duo lovingly known as the creators of the Gruffalo: Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson. A Squash and A Squeeze, published 20 years ago, was their first book together and I'm giving away a copy to celebrate!

A Squash and a Squeeze is the story of a little old lady who seeks help from a wise old man because her house is too small. Her gives her some very curious advice indeed and tells her to invite her farm animals inside to share the space. Before long she finds herself competing for elbow room with a cow, a goat, a pig and a hen.  It's a rowdy crowd and she pleads again to the wise old man for help. He calmly instructs her to empty her house of the animals. She shooes them out one by one and is in store for a pleasant surprise when she discovers that her problem has been solved.

In true Donaldson fashion the text is an easy ryhme and the title is integrated cleverly into the story. I've always enjoyed the repetition in Donaldson's stories and find that E quickly learns the phrases and is very proud to say them aloud on cue. Scheffler's ever fun and cheery illustrations complement the story with a quartet of perfectly smug and cheeky looking animals lolling through the pages.

To enter the book giveaway please leave a comment below by midnight Thursday 16 May.  The winner will be selected at random and announced on Friday 17 May.

And don't miss a great opportunity to win an original piece of artwork by Axel Scheffler!
Macmillan Children's Books is running a raffle in aid of Farms for City Children and the prize is a piece based on the characters from A Squash and a Squeeze. To enter, and for terms and conditions, please go to

Please note that both the book giveaway and raffle are open only to residents of the UK or Eire.

Many thanks to Macmillan Children's Books for providing a copy of A Squash and a Squeeze for this book giveaway.