Tag Archives: Bruce Ingman

My Worst Book Ever!

My Worst Book Ever!
Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman
Thames & Hudson

Whatever would make a reviewer want to open a book with the title of this one and start reading? Two other words on the cover, Ahlberg and Ingman: their collaborative efforts are always a huge treat even when there’s a squashed fly on the page before the narrative proper even begins.

Essentially this is a look at the whole publishing process from the germ of an idea in the author’s mind – that’s Allan of course – all the way through to finished book: a comparatively straightforward operation surely?

It all begins well in Allan’s writing shed at the bottom of his garden. The author has the essential brain fuelling mug of coffee, a pencil and pad, and his ‘Crocodile Snap’ story, just waiting to be written and off he goes.

Then real life intervenes. First it’s the small drama of the cat: this though is but a minor distraction.
Next comes a family seaside holiday (completely forgotten by the author), which interrupts the schedule for a whole week; but there’s that good old shed ready and waiting on his return.

However, it seems as though there have been some hungry visitors during Allan’s absence. (Now I can verify that this is perfectly possible – the same fate met my courier note taped to the front door and I caught the pesky molluscs in action having a nibble.)

Fortunately, this setback doesn’t appear to interfere with the author’s narrative flow and, displacement activities notwithstanding, by the end of the day the story is finished. ‘The End’: time for a celebratory hunk of cake.

The end for the writing maybe, but it’s only the beginning for stage two: enter illustrator Bruce. The guy appears to be pretty taken with the story, claims crocodiles are his favourite protagonists and …

So why is it that a couple of days later, that croc. has been kicked right out of the water so to speak and there’s another creature hogging the show?

Nevertheless, the changes are only temporary and a few days later the co-creators visit the publisher’s office where the editor throws in her own ideas or rather tries to, as does the designer,

and the agreed version of the book then goes off to the printer. End of story …

Not quite, but if you want to find out what comes off the press and is duly delivered to the bookshops, then you’ll have to get your own copy of the book: after all we don’t want yet another story spoiler …

Another winning collaboration between Ahlberg and Ingman no matter what we’re led to believe herein.

Utterly hilarious from cover to cover, this catastrophic account will have you chortling at every turn of the page. It’s a longish read and one you might not choose to share with a group of budding authors just before a story writing session, although; on second thoughts, mistakes are a vital part of the learning process.

This is the story of Alison Hubble

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This is the story of Alison Hubble
Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman
Puffin Books
Imagine a world overrun with smallish identical girls. Not possible? Well, after reading this brilliantly bizarre book you may have cause to change your mind.
This is the story of Alison Hubble who went to bed single and woke up double.’ So begins this crazy tale of multiplication of the mayhem making kind by the terrific Ahlberg/Ingman team.
Young Alison gets the surprise of her life when she wakes up one morning beside herself – literally. Her parents too are more than a little perplexed at the prospect of a pair.
The girls are duly dispatched to school with an explanatory note for the class teacher, but of course Alison’s pals are faced with a conundrum: “Which one’s really you?” they demand to know.

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Things don’t stop there however. Come games time and the doubling happens again – no question who will be in goal for the footie game …

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Next day Mr H. is sent to do a headcount (maths isn’t Mrs H.’s forte) and lo and behold there’s been another doubling…

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Even the press have got wind of the mathematical mayhem by now: a reporter’s awaiting the girls at the school gate. But by the end of another day at school – one that’s necessitated some requisitioning of extra furniture – Alison goes home to discover a whole TV crew wanting to do a news feature. But the young miss is having none of it and stomps off for some alone time.
I’ll leave you to imagine what happens thereafter (assuredly there’s a whole lot of interest in the phenomenon); and to wonder if this doubling will ever stop.

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In addition to being a hilarious read aloud this is an absolute gift for any teacher about to teach a maths lesson on doubles.

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The Hole Story

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The Hole Story
Paul Bright and Bruce Ingman
Andersen Press
There are even holes through the front cover of this stylish, albeit brilliantly bonkers book.
Holes are not usually well-received: who wants to discover a hole has appeared in the toe of a sock, a bag, a pair of knickers, a bicycle tyre or a boat? But after reading the story of Hamish and Hermione Hole as so wonderfully documented by Bright, you might just start to look more favourably on them. The whole fabulous tale begins with our two holes residing in a chunk of Swiss cheese – royal Swiss cheese no less. But then along comes a family of mice that proceed to eat the two Hs out of house and home, so to speak. Off go Hamish and Hermione is search of a new home wherein they can usefully dwell. Now this is no easy task: the King certainly doesn’t want his hairy leg made visible through a hole in his sock; and a hole in knickers belonging to the Queen, well it’s quite unthinkable.

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In fact, try as they might, the two holes just can’t find anywhere good for holes to be. They compare notes, or rather hole opportunities …


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and then decide to seek a dark spot to sleep.
Next morning the royal carpenter comes upon our holey pair on the very piece of wood whereon they’d slept and that’s when everything starts to look a (w)hole lot better …

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With its palace setting and royal cast of characters, there is something of a neo-fairy tale feel about this super story. I’ve shared it with several groups of children all of whom have been enormously enthusiastic and one reading led to a long list of possible places wherein the two holes might find a welcome.
Ingman’s blobby finger-paint Hamish and Hermione look set to win lots of friends: I particularly loved the sight of them regaling their home-finding efforts to one another on the slatted wooden seat … DSCN7358 (800x600)


And the endpapers – well they’re a another story – or several …

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Bedtime Bookshelf


Zoom Zoom Zoom
Katherina Manolessou
Macmillan Children’s Books
Unable to sleep in their jungly environment, Bird and Monkey fly off, Zoom Zoom Zoom on a night-time lunar excursion. Their landing brings them face to face with a friendly alien who invites them aboard his spaceship. On the way they count five glowing orange meteors, four pink alien arms, join in a race of three green moon buggies,


climb two yellow ladders and press one red button on the spaceship to blast them off back home to earth and finally, to sleep.
Taking a popular children’s song as her starting point Katerina Manolessou has created a glowing debut picture book. With its combination of superb design, arresting screen printed illustrations in vibrant colours, endearing characters, counting opportunities and a well-loved song, this is sure to become a firm favourite with early years audiences as well as parents and youngsters at bedtime.
I look forward to seeing more from this promising artist.
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Bing Bed Time
Ted Dewan
Harper Collins Children’s Books pbk
Toddler bedtime Bing style is going fairly smoothly despite some inevitable procrastinations. With potty time postponed,


teeth brushed and bath time over, it’s time to get into some pyjamas. choose a story and snuggle up with Flop. But where is Flop? Under the covers? Playing hide and seek? Outside in the dark even? Nope. Bing is distraught but what’s that protruding from under the bed?
With the pair safely tucked in, it’s time to turn out the big light. But now, where is Bing? – back on his potty to do the necessary – all by himself. Finally both Bing and Flop are safely snuggled up and sound asleep.
First published over a decade ago, this reissue is sure to delight a new generation of tinies who will be entertained by the endearing Bing and his every day activities. Dewan’s bold, bright, uncluttered illustrations are immediately engaging and have sufficient detail to hold the attention of the very young.
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Go to Sleep or I Let Loose the Leopard
Steve Cole and Bruce Ingman
Jonathan Cape pbk
The New Babysitter is having a very hard time with Joe and Ellie who simply refuse to stay in bed for more than a few minutes.She threatens all manner of things such as the sleep ray zapping robot and the toy-munching monster but the children merely laugh. Refusing to be beaten however, the babysitter has one final weapon in her armoury. Could she, would she, should she let that leopard loose? Maybe not, but GROWL… Oh! What’s that cuddly, snuggly sleep-inducing sweetie doing in the bedroom… Snore… silence.
No doubt every parent and babysitter would welcome a leopard like the one in Cole and Ingman’s amusing tale with its satisfying, somewhat surprising ending. Ingman’s illustrations have a slightly retro feel to them. His seemingly flattened images, especially of the characters, bring to mind the cut out paper people that children love to create and play with in their own stories.


It is this child-like innocence that make his work such a delight.
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Princess Stay Awake
Giles Paley-Phillips and Adriana J. Puglisi
Maverick Arts Publishing pbk
No matter what her parents do, feisty young Princess Layla just refuses to go to sleep. They call in all manner of people to help but none can send her off to the land of nod and neither can the new, specially made, extra snug bed. Indeed it has the opposite effect making a splendid launch pad for all manner of leaping and bouncing activities.


Thoroughly exhausted, the Queen and King decide to call upon Grandma for assistance. Her tactics are somewhat different; she requests that Layla stays awake. Confusing for Princess Stay Awake perhaps, but what is that we see? Droopy eyelids and floppy limbs, aaahhh… Grandmas do know best.
Perhaps bedtime isn’t the best time to share Paley-Phillips jaunty rhyming story with youngsters; they may well decide to try some of Princess Layla’s delaying mischief.
Puglisi’s bright, jolly pictures are sure to bring a smile to young stay awakes (and there are plenty of those); how angelic that princess looks as she proceeds to exhaust all those called in to tire her out.
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So Cosy
Lerryn Korda
Walker Books
A snuggle cumulative style begins when Dog curls up in his comfy basket. Before long he has been joined by Goose, Cat, several rabbits, a Mummy Bear and her baby, Goat, Snake and even Elephant all wanting to cosy up. Contentment reigns supreme but then patter, patter, patter, along Mouse comes with his tickly feet onto the tip of Elephant’s trunk. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAA … ”


The enormous sneeze sends the animals tumbling leaving the basket to its rightful owner and just one very small visitor really cosy.
Perfectly pitched for the very young. An absolute delight: simply irresistible.
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Ten Monsters in the Bed
Katie Cotton and Aaron Bleecha
Templar Publishing
Were tucked up face-to-face.
We’re really very squashed,” they said.
“We need a bit more space.” ‘
So begins a wonderfully anarchic version of the monster countdown rhyme wherein we encounter a snoring Sleepy, a burping Belchy, a screaming Scaredy, a snot dripping Sneezy, a scratchy flea-ridden Itchy, a snack munching Greedy, a Hiccupy, a dribbling Slurpy, a room-shaking Farty and a boinging, bouncing Giggly as each is jettisoned from the top bunk.


But, by the time they are all piled up on top of one another on the floor, the squash is  worse than ever. All this action creates havoc for the long-suffering solo occupant of the lower bunk who is forced to give up his bedtime reading and take shelter under the bedclothes.
I’d strongly advise you not to read this at bedtime as an initial sharing is certain to result in repeated demands of ‘read it again’. You could well be there for some time especially as the noises generated by the invitation to press each evicted monster’s white button results in an appropriate sound and further hilarity. A sure fire winner!


Dylan is disgusted by the yucky monsters

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