PICTURE BOOK CAROUSEL: Nosy Crow
Recently I became part of the Nosy Crow Crew and thought this was a perfect opportunity to showcase some of their lovely picture books.
Timothy Limpet is a troll that does not much like troll things and behaviour. Tabitha Limpit is a little girl who definitely does not behave like one. They both wished they were somewhere else and when they, literally, collide, they decide to swap lives. Everything seems perfect at first: Timothy can be as tidy and proper as he wishes while Tabitha can be burpy and loud to her heart’s content. But is the grass really greener on the other side?
A new book by Leigh Hodgkinson is always a treat. Her quirky illustrations, amazing colour palettes, her incomparable use of patterns and collage and ingenious use of typography make her exuberant style one of the most original and recognisable in British children’s illustration today, and Troll Swap does not disappoint. It is a great tale of feeling different but also, paradoxically maybe, belonging. Both Tabitha and Timothy might feel different from those around them, but those differences do not hinder others’ love or friendship towards them. There is a subtle message that being with kindred spirits is not always a satisfying substitute for being with loved ones, and that it is ok to be different and unique. Rather, it is up to others to accept you and love you as you are. Vibrant, a tiny bit crazy, and with a bit of slightly-naughty behaviour thrown in, Troll Swap is a fantastically fun read full of heart.
Have you ever wondered what weasels do all day? Err … eat? Sleep? Actually, they are planning world domination, and it is happening right now! Oh, hang on, something has gone wrong with the central computer! Will it be fixed in time to stick to their world domination schedule?
Weasels, by newcomer Elys Dolan, is absolutely hilarious and utterly original. Who would have thought caffeine-fuelled weasels could be so funny? Or that in fact, weasels were addicted to coffee! It is unique both visually and in its storyline and perfectly executed, with humour in all the right places.
Young audiences will relish in the detailed artwork of the machinery and endless little details to spot on each spread (think Alan Snow’s “How .. really work” series) while adults will love the cultural references (Dr Jekyll, Bond baddies etc) and many digs at our caffeine fuelled, Starbucks obsessed, technology-driven society. There are so many things to relish in in this book, Dolan’s style is fresh and fun, and incredibly elaborate. Each double-spread is brimful of things to spot. There is a really interesting use of fonts also, which allows readers to decipher narration from dialogue for example. However the text is quite sophisticated so it might be better suited for slightly older readers, though younger children will have a great time just looking at the artwork. The whole book is so cleverly done, every detail tells a story, even the endpapers … do not miss the very last illustration on there, hinting for a Weasels 2, maybe?
Weasels is a truly brilliantly executed fabulous idea of a picture book. You’ll never look at a weasel the same way ever again.
Dog has a big blue suitcase full of his favourite things which he takes everywhere with him. He even sleeps on it. So when he finds a little mouse sleeping alongside him one morning, he is not too pleased to begin with. But Mouse wants to know all about Dog’s favourite things and sharing turns out to be quite fun. When Mouse eventually leaves, Dog suddenly a void in his previously perfect daily routine. Will he find his friend again?
Just Right for Two is a lovely tale which offers a really easy to understand view on the meaning of friendship which will be accessible to even the youngest of readers. The theme that Dog is very satisfied with his life until he encounters friendship and acquires a new perspective on the things that are important to cherish in life is conveyed brilliantly for the intended audience and is lovely put. In a similar fashion from the first book in the series, Just Right for Christmas (written by Birdie Black and originally entitled Just Right, you can read my review of it here), the emphasis in on kindness and relationships over material belongings. In this case, “treasures” can become meaningless if one has no one to share them with. Rosalind Beardshaw’s illustrations are gorgeous; she is particularly successful at creating texture within her artwork. Her characters are cuddly and safe-looking, and teamed with Tracey Corderoy’s text, they make a safe and comforting story perfect for bedtime reading
Shifty and Sam are burglars, though they are not particularly good at it. So they decide to make it easier on themselves and “work” closer to home, ie, steal from their neighbours. To lure them out of their homes they decide to throw a party. While preparing for it they find themselves not only enjoying baking but realising they are actually quite good at it. But even with the most delicious-looking cakes, can they really fool their neighbours?
Young children love to see characters shown the error of their way (but by getting up to a little bit of mischief along the way), and that’s certainly the case here. Sam and Shifty learn not only that crime does not pay but that they should cherish the friendship of others. But from their foiled plan they do realise that they are good at one thing: baking, which allows them to turn their life round. This rather drastic change of career allows for some fabulous double spreads as the two robbers learn to bake. Steven Lenton’s background in animation really shows in the artwork, which is particularly effective at conveying movement, the spread in the zoo as well the one showing the dogs creeping behind the two robbers being particular good examples of that. His array of dog characters will delight little readers; there is real cheekiness in his artwork and this helps lighten the moral of the story: though it is important to remember that stealing is wrong, Shifty and Sam are, from the onset, quite loveable rogues. The illustrations work in unison with yet another great bouncy rhythmic text from Tracey Corderoy which calls for an energetic read-aloud. Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam ticks all the right boxes to become a bedtime favourite.
Source: review copies from publisher