I have not had time to dedicate half as much time to reviewing books as I would have liked this year, but here are a few more that I definitely want to mention before the year is out!
The Paper Dolls
Julia Donaldson (text) & Rebecca Cobb (illustrations)
(Macmillan Children’s Books)
The Paper Dolls is the lyrical tale of a little girl and the beloved paper dolls she has created with her mother. There is something nostalgic and beautifully gentle about this tale, which celebrates childhood, its innocence, its memories as well as the wonders of imaginative play. Rebecca Cobb’s beautiful soft artwork helps create a wonderfully safe atmosphere; the representation of memories is particularly gorgeous. Julia Donaldson’s text is evocative and comforting; it almost feels old-fashioned, in the most positive way, and is an interesting departure from her usual style.
The Paper Dolls is a beautiful book to share, particularly between mother and daughter. It offers adult and child reader a lovely opportunity to talk about childhood memories and of course, to make paper dolls.
This Moose Belongs to Me
(HarperCollins Children’s Books)
After coming across a moose, Wilfred appropriates it and calls it Marcel. As a pet, Marcel is rather aloof and not particularly obedient. When they meet a lady who seems deluded into thinking that Marcel is called Rodrigo and is hers, Wilfred realises that their friendship may not be as it seems.
Oliver Jeffers excels at conveying deep emotions in an often concise way, both in text and art style. This Moose Belong To Me is different in the way that the artwork includes stunning landscape paintings, which is unusual for Jeffers’ usually minimalist style. But Jeffers’ usual witty and observant storytelling is at its best here, allowing the tale to be fun yet to bring a thought-provoking message of ownership (particularly of the wider world), the concessions needed for a successful friendship, and belonging.
What’s the Time Mr Wolf?
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Based on the playground game and traditional nursery rhymes this new offering by Debi Gliori portrays a wolf who is anything but fierce. As we follow him as he goes about his daily business, we come across several familiar faces. All seem to have little time for poor Mr Wolf but young readers slowly get clued up that maybe something is afoot. Debi Gliori’s illustrations are glorious, so detailed, so soft and reassuring. Though I always admire her use of colours, in this book I particularly love her use of dark silhouettes. There is so much to see, so much to discover. Each reading allows new details to be uncovered. It is a great comforting read-aloud and might just help little people will learning about reading the time too.
Catch Us If You Can-Can
Alex T. Smith
(Hodder Children’s Books)
Foxy DuBois is back for another adventure, after the hilarious Egg (see my review here) and she is as nasty as ever, and still after an egg, but this time a golden one. She enrols the help of Alphonso the Alligator and together they hatch a plan to get their hands on it; a plan that involves dressing up to pass as dancing birds.
Outrageous disguises and shamelessly villainous behaviour are all part of the fun of this tale. The vibrant palette of colours enhances the sense of fun and preposterous situations. But it is obvious Alex T Smith loves all things retro and there is also a lovely homage to old musical movies within those pages too.
This is a totally wacky tale, but that is the beauty of it. Expect fits of giggles at storytime.
Malachy Doyle (text) & Ed Vere (illustrations)
Sam’s family, the Bungles, enjoy making a lot of noise but Sam, the quiet one in the family, struggles to cope with all that cacophony. When he has finally had enough, he seeks solace deep into the forest, which soon feels very dark and threatening. What is Sam to do?
The amazing palette of colours used by Ed Vere is what first attracted me to this tale. His bold style is instantly recognisable, energetic and fun. His use of empty speech bubbles to represent the noise within the artwork is particularly clever. The illustrations work in perfect harmony with Malachy Doyle’s heartwarming tale, which works wonderfully as a read-aloud. T At the heart of this tale is a lovely warm message about accepting and cherishing one’s family as they are. But Too Noisy! will also ring true for children from large families who feel they struggle to get heard or simply for children who are a little bit on the quiet side.
Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show
Michael Buckley (text) & Dan Santat (illustrations)
(Abrams Children’s Books)
In this hilarious book, readers witness Kel, “the boy without fear”, take on the challenges preschoolers face every day with plenty of energy, spirit and gusto. He shows great bravery as he tackles challenges which include eating broccoli, getting dressed by himself, and allowing his mum to speak on the phone uninterrupted. With marvellously dynamic comic-style illustrations (the video pages are particularly successful) and an obvious homage to Evel Knievel (possibly more for the benefit of adults than little readers), Kel Gillingan’s Daredevil Stunt Show deals with some very real preschooler issues in a witty and jovial way, and celebrates the power of imagination. It is a great snapshot of childhood at its most wacky, and is a great read for little boys particularly.
Source: review copies from publishers