Tag Archives: Garry Parsons

Rockabye Pirate / The Tooth Fairy’s Royal Visit

Rockabye Pirate
Timothy Knapman and Ada Grey
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Don’t expect loud shouts of ‘Avast me ‘arties’ and similar in this pirate tale; far from it, for Knapman’s text is a lilting, under the covers-luring, lullaby for mummy pirates or daddies for that matter, to share with their pirate offspring at bedtime.
Yes, it’s full of freebooters, the likes of Black Bearded Brewster, Sea Dog McPhail and Freddy the Fright, but they’re not doing the wicked deeds upon the seas, rather they’re performing their ablutions

albeit with some maternal assistance in preparation for the most important part of their daily ritual …

After all, their day has been packed with mischief and mayhem, so now it’s time for some tucked-up-cosily-under-the-duvet dreams. I wonder what those might feature …

Ada Grey’s piratical characters, far from alarming, are portrayed as an endearing bunch of marauders as befits the inhabitants of a gentle bedtime story. Having said ‘bedtime’, this fun picture book could equally be shared with an early years group especially if they’re engaged in a pirate theme.

The Tooth Fairy’s Royal Visit
Peter Bently and Gerry Parsons
Hodder Children’s Books
The Tooth Fairy returns for another adventure, this time responding to a missive from Her Majesty the Queen informing of the loss of her great grandson’s first tooth. Come nightfall, the little fairy is palace bound but has a few obstacles in her path

before she finds a way in.
Once inside there are still further hazards – corgis, a cloth-wielding maid and some undies …

Finding the little prince’s bedroom is none too easy and the Tooth Fairy finds herself assisting in another ‘toothy’ search before receiving assistance for her troubles.

Will she ever make that all-important coin/tooth exchange and get home for some shut-eye?
Bently’s rhyming text is full of read-aloud fun with some unexpected encounters and, some expected ones: the corgis seem to find their way into every Royals’ picture book as do members of the Queen’s Guard. Garry Parsons’ exuberant illustrations provide gigglesome details at every turn of the page. All in all, a right royal chuckle.

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Festive Fun and Frolics

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Nuddy Ned’s Christmas
Kes Gray and Garry Parsons
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Nuddy Ned likes nothing better than to dash around in the altogether and yes, he’s super excited it being Christmas Eve; but dashing outside into the snowy evening chill is nothing short of crackers. There’s no stopping the little fellow though; he’s on a mission to meet Santa and he’s perfectly prepared to charge down the street and around the town completely starkers, parents in hot pursuit, in order to do so. Only some strategically placed flaps and other judiciously positioned items including a bird, a glove …

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and a bauble preserve his modesty.
Does this madcap streak finally get Ned what he wants – that Santa encounter, you’ll probably be wondering. Yes he does and Santa’s none too impressed at Ned’s lack of clothing but in the end it seems like a question of beat’em or join’em: what will Santa do? That would be telling wouldn’t it!
Kes Gray’s cracking rhyming text combined with equally giggle-inducing illustrations from Garry Parsons makes for some delightfully silly festive fun.

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The Queen’s Present
Steve Antony
Hodder Children’s Books
Imagine being able to call on Father Christmas himself for a spot of last minute emergency present buying, but that is exactly what the Queen does in her desire to find the perfect gift for her great grandchildren. Down he comes and off they go on a whistle stop flight with a whole host of hangers-on in the form of Santa’s little helpers who have much work to do in the way of festooning the various landmarks – the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, Himeji Castle, Sydney Opera House …

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and the Statue of Liberty over which they fly before finally landing in the North Pole. Even there though, Her Majesty is unable to find the perfect present. With Christmas Day almost upon them, there seems to be only one thing to do …

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This whole crazy romp is executed using an appropriately seasonal colour palette. It’s not my favourite Steve Antony but it’s full of things to make you smile; and those elves really do earn their keep as well as having a terrific time adorning all those iconic landmarks.

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Winnie and Wilbur Meet Santa
Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul
Oxford University Press
The excitement is palpable in Winnie and Wilbur’s house as they bake, write cards and festoon the place with decorations. Then it’s time for writing those all important letters to Santa …

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Christmas Eve comes at last and just as the pair drop off to sleep, they hear a cry for help: something has gone drastically wrong with Santa’s chimney descent. It’s fortunate that Winnie just happens to have her wand right there on the bedside table and with a quick wave and a magical utterance, she soon has their visitor back on his feet and they’re off on an amazing adventure.

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Full of seasonal magic and excitement, this is sure to delight, especially that final pop-out surprise …

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For the very youngest:

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We Wish You a Merry Christmas
illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang
Nosy Crow
This song on which this chunky board book is based is probably one of the most frequently sung in primary schools and nurseries in the run up to Christmas.
Here we join a host of warmly clad, cute animal friends celebrating the seasonal joys together as they sleigh, skate, ski and deliver presents before gathering together in a warm cosy room to share some gifts.

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In addition to the moving parts, you can further add to toddlers’ enjoyment by scanning the QR code inside the front cover and getting an audio version to sing along with.

Hallowe’en Frights, Spooky Skeletons and Boos

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Fright Club
Ethan Long
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
It’s the night before Halloween; a final meeting has been called for Fright Club members and it’s in full swing when …

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The little bunny on the other side of the door is quickly sent hopping and it’s back to business, Vladimir’s being to train his fellow members in ‘The 3 Traits of HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL MONSTERS’, not very successfully it seems but then there’s another knock.

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That bunny has returned bringing her lawyer along to back her anti-discrimination cause but again the would-be entrants are sent packing.
A third knock is opened to …

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And it seems these determined ‘cute little critters’ are not for turning: and they’re jolly well going to prove their point to boot …

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So come Halloween and Operation Kiddy Scare it seems the more the frights, the better the night.
With Long’s aptly gloomy, largely grey toned palette, he has created just the right mock-scary atmosphere in which to place those would-be scary monsters and would-be club member animals.
A Halloween laugh out loud, not scream out loud, treat packed with visual humour and with a multitude of opportunities for joining in with growls, groans, cackles, claps, boos, whooshes and more, this silly tale is great for an atmospheric story time session around the end of October especially.
What ghoulish faces, scary moves and chilling sounds can your listeners come up with; I’m sure they can outdo those Fright Club members.

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Ten Spooky Skeletons
Garry Parsons
Caterpillar Books
We start this cumulative rhyming ‘peek-through’ picture book with a single lonely skelly setting out in search of some friends and finish at the day’s end with ten merry skeletons together in a rattling song and dance extravaganza before it’s lights out and …

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In between, the second skelly’s a pirate, three become a circus act, four are fortune telling, five do magic tricks, six are time travellers, seven go ice-skating …

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eight enjoy a feast and nine are bedding down for some pre-party shut-eye.
With it’s glow-in-the-dark finale, this one is sure to hit the mark around Halloween time and is likely to inspire some skeleton creativity from enthusiastic young listeners.

Finally a couple of playful board books for the very youngest:

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Peek-a Boo!
Nina Laden
Chronicle Books
A handful of Hallowe’en sights and sounds are up for guesses as toddlers are offered a series of peeps through the die-cut holes and can then try to guess what follows that rhymes with BOO on each of the subsequent pages. (Supplying the correct word is quite tricky even when the full picture is revealed.) And there’s a special final surprise provided by the mirror on the inside back cover.

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Boo!
Jonathan Litton and Fhiona Galloway
Little Tiger Kids
Were you the one who shouted BOO?’ That is the question in this bright, holey board book. With its patterned, repeating text that takes the form of a question and answer chain

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with the answerer becoming the questioner on the following page until the small wizard changes the question demanding ‘Who’s hiding out there in the night…?’ and all is revealed on the final spread.
Yes, this might be aimed at the very youngest children but the simple repeat pattern text herein makes this an ideal book for beginning readers too.

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Pirates Ahoy!

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Are You the Pirate Captain?
Gareth P. Jones and Garry Parsons
Andersen Press
The ship’s a-ready, the deck swabbed, even the crew’s had a wash but there’s still something stopping those pirates setting sail: what ever can it be? Even the best pirate ship is no good without a pirate captain – a giant squid consumed the previous one – so, the search is well and truly on. First Mate Hugh, with his trusty telescope, is on the lookout for a worthy successor:
               A buccaneer
           Who will strike fear
         In every sailor’s heart.
Several misidentifications later – a coat-hanger for a hook,

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a brolly for a parrot …

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a shopping list for a treasure map, but surely the chap sporting pirate gear must be the one.

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Not quite but he does help the crew find a solution to their leadership dilemma and then it’s a case of brains to the fore …
    ‘He diddle-he and a hey diddle-hey,
     Weigh the anchor, we sail today!
     Hey diddle hey and a he diddle-ho,
       Hoist the flag … and off we go!’
With its jaunty rhyming telling and gigglesome visuals, this swashbuckling tale, complete with sea shanty is likely to appeal to would-be young sea dogs especially those who enjoy a book where things are not quite as they seem.

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Dolci absorbed in the piratical doings

Pirates in Pyjamas
Caroline Crowe and Tom Knight
Little Tiger Press
There seems to be a plethora of pirate picture books at present and now here’s first time author Caroline Crowe answering the question ‘Do pirates wear pyjamas when it’s time to say goodnight?/ Do they have a skull and crossbones, are they stripy, black and white? that two small children are pondering.
The answer is seemingly, where pirates and pyjamas are concerned, pretty much anything goes

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as we see when we join Captain Grotbeard and his crew aboard the Leaky Parrot as they perform their ablutions, then step into their night attire. Before retiring for the night however there’ll probably be the obligatory pyjama party, not to mention the odd spot of pillow fighting.
All this action calls for a nightcap though …

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And finally, it’s time to bed down for some shut-eye wherever you are.

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Tom Knight illustrates the nocturnal frolics illuminating the rhyming text with verve and humour, adding chucklesome details here and there.

Finally, a reissue of a classic piratical tale from over fifty years ago is:

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Captain Pugwash
John Ryan
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
This is the very first of what became a popular series of picture books featuring Pugwash the pirate captain, his arch enemy Cut-throat Jake and Tom, the cabin boy: the latter being the only person able to do the important jobs aboard The Black Pig – sailing the ship, working the compass and making tea.
In this adventure we discover what happens when Pugwash attempts to seize the treasure stashed aboard the ship belonging to Cut-throat Jake and is taken prisoner and made to walk the plank by Jake and his crew.
As becomes the norm in subsequent stories, it’s really down to trusty young Tom to save the day and the Captain. …

 

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Great stuff.

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Spotty Friends, Mischievous Meerkats

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Spotty Lottie and Me
Richard Byrne
Andersen Press
Joey is a small boy with a big imagination; he also has chicken pox and that combination is the cause of his problem. His mum tells him he is still infectious but can play with a friend so long as s/he’s a spotty one; so after a bit of thinking, off goes Joey to find a poxy pal. However, his playful overtures are spurned by spotty being

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after spotty being …

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and it’s a very tearful Joey who returns home. He’s not sad for long though… knock knock: someone’s at his door. It’s Lottie and joy of joys – she too has chicken pox. And what dotty, spotty fun the two have for the next few days

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until they’re declared spotless and able to mix freely.
So why are all those, now friendly animals still wary of Joey’s face?
The author/artist clearly has a playful sense of humour that manifests itself particularly strongly through his visuals. I love the way for instance that the games Joey and Lottie play are all strategically placed in the very first spread, and the finale is a real hoot.

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A joy to share with young listeners whether or not they are spotty: those who happen to be suffering like Joey will be especially appreciative. So too will learner readers who, amused at the antics herein, are tempted to tackle this story for themselves. The shortish, witty text is such that those near the beginning of their reading journey will be able to read the words after an initial sharing with an adult.

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That Naughty Meerkat!
Ian Whybrow and Gary Parsons
Harper Collins
Meet a family of meerkats living in the Kalahari Desert. There’s Mimi, Skeema and Little Dream (they’re the young kits) and their Uncle Fearless. Then there’s Radiant (in the nursery) with her new babies, Bundle, Zora, Quickpaws and Trouble (watch that one). You can imagine how happy an exhausted mother Radiant feels when Uncle Fearless offers to take care of her babies for the day and that’s despite warnings of how mischievous those little ones are.
So off goes Radiant for a dig and off march Uncle Fearless – “proud chief … stern and wise!”, closely followed (in response to his ‘follow me’ order) by the four babes. And that’s the first and last order they all comply with. From then on not only Trouble

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but all the others start showing their true natures.

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It’s fortunate for Uncle Fearless that those three young kits show up offering some help just then and even more so that they stick around despite Uncle Fearless’s assurances that he can manage just fine on his own. And they certainly demonstrate their understanding of what babies like to do very effectively – play …

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leaving Uncle Fearless keeping guard. But that’s not quite the end of the story – I won’t spoil that but let’s just say that teamwork is the order of the day, or should that be, evening?
Anticipating the antics of those mischievous baby meers is part and parcel of the enjoyment of this entertaining tale. Gary Parson’s light-hearted portrayals of the high-spirited infant meerkats and that sudden dramatic change of mood (enough said) is the ideal complement to Ian Whybrow’s chucklesome, tongue-in-cheek text.

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Fairy Magic at Christmas

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The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas
Peter Bently and Garry Parsons
Hodder Children’s Books
Santa comes to the aid of the Tooth Fairy when she gets lost on Christmas Eve having answered the call of Tim Tucker’s letter.

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He gives her a lift to Tim’s house but they discover that the chimney is blocked so then it’s the Tooth Fairy’s turn to take the initiative. With a wave of her wand and a magical shrinking utterance, the two of them sail through a crack in the window and having regained their normal size, set about their respective tasks. Things don’t go as smoothly as they’d hoped but eventually they’re back safely in the sleigh heading to the fairy’s home where, once she’s safely tucked up in bed, she too receives a visit from Santa.
A jaunty rhyming text complemented by bold, bright images and at times, very funny scenes …

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complete the package of this festive escapade.
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The Fairy Tale Hairdresser and Father Christmas
Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard
Picture Corgi pbk
Fans of the series in particular will welcome this seasonal offering from Kittie Lacey. It begins on Christmas Eve when the fairyland hairdresser leaves Kittie’s Cuts to make a special home visit to the abode of Father Christmas. While she is busy giving Santa and his team a special Christmas makeover she notices Crystal, one of the elves, is missing.
Having tracked her down she and Father Christmas learn that the Snow Queen (who had imprisoned Crystal) has stolen all the presents.

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But can the two of them, with the help of the reindeer, melt her icy heart and get them back in time for that vital evening delivery for the big day?
This Christmas morning scene says it all …

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Readers will love spotting the characters and their respective gifts on this spread but that’s not quite the end of the story. As ever, the Fairy Tale Hairdresser brings plenty to entertain, not forgetting those characteristic touches of sparkle.
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Two Parties, Two Birthdays

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The Dinosaurs are Having a Party!
Gareth P. Jones and Garry Parsons
Andersen Press
It’s party time at the dinosaurs’ residence and someone has a special guest invitation.

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On his arrival our young narrator finds the party in full swing with games galore and a scrumptious spread on the table. Outside is a barbeque, but where is the meat?

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And the large bouncy castle is lots of fun – at least till stegosaurus comes along.
Oh, who is taking SO long in the loo?

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O-OH! Time to grab a party bag and leave the fun behind it seems …

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But the host doesn’t want to lose sight of that special fea.. – oops I mean guest, just yet; indeed he’s hot on the (w)heels of that escapee vehicle most of the way … home. Phew! Lucky escape. Just what is in your party bag then, little boy?
A madcap rhyming story where young audiences will delight in spotting the visual warning signs from the time the narrator leaves home until his hasty departure from the party. They will also relish the twist – or rather snap – at the end of the tale.

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There’s more partying in:

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We’re Going to a Party!
Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross
Andersen Press pbk
We’re going to a party,
disguised in fancy dress.
But which of us is What or Who?
It’s up to you to guess!

Each of the animals has donned a disguise and asks readers to decide who is really the banana, pirate, princess, tiger
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and so on. Who is that in a ‘rubbish’ monster costume they wonder. Somebody none to happy about to give them a surprise …
Rhyming fun, flaps, a pop-out finale and delicious Ross illustrations: what’s not to like?

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I Feel Five!
Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Walker Books
How does it feel to be five?’ or six or whatever is a question often asked of children. It always seems a bit daft to me – why would anyone suddenly feel different overnight just because of a birthday. This is certainly something young Fritz ponders as he wakes up on his fifth birthday leaping joyfully out of bed

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and rushing to the mirror only to be confronted by a reflection that looks exactly like the day before’s; and he still can’t tie the laces on his new shoes. Maybe school will help him to feel five he decides. But, when his teacher asks him that inevitable question and his friends sing his birthday song, Fritz still feels just the same.
It’s a rather disillusioned Fritz –still unable to whistle, snap his fingers or do the monkey bars two at a time and still needing just one hand to count his years – who suddenly hears a voice as he sits sadly under an apple tree on his way home from school.

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The voice belongs to a little girl and she’s asking him if he can reach the apples.
One flying leap later… two rosy apples, two bite into same and could it just be one very slight wiggle from one of Fritz’s teeth; now there’s a feeling that is just a little different.

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And, he has made a new friend; things are definitely looking up.
Full of charm and gentle humour, this is a good story to have to hand in an infant classroom when children turn four, five or six.
Soft watercolours portray so clearly the ups and down of Fritz’s birthday; I love his light-surrounded leap out of bed and the contrasting, all pervading grey gloom as he sits under that apple tree, oh and those two pairs of shoe-clad feet on opposite sides of a spread –

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so beautifully expressive.

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The Dinosaur That Pooped the Past!
Tom Flethcher & Dougie Poynter illustrated by Garry Parsons
Red Fox pbk
The pooping dinosaur is back once again. Danny’s Gran is celebrating her one thousand and eighth birthday and she’s served up masses of disgusting green, wind-creating stuff. Guess who gobbles Dan’s share before Gran notices so that the pair can go out and play. Once outside they head for a creaky old swing, one that turns out to be super powered. Dizzily they loop back through time

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before finally crash landing in the Jurassic era. There they meet a trio of baby dinos, Dino Dudes A, B and C. who like nothing better than clambering on top of each other. As Danny’s dinosaur sits back to watch their games, he feels a rumble in his tum, a rumble that makes the ground crumble , a crumble that signifies VOLCANO SEASON! No time to lose; the swing must be repaired; but that alone is not strong enough to carry extra passengers out of danger. There is only one thing to do …

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Three cheers for the power of broccoli and another three for the trio of new dino pals. They all arrive just in time a hefty chunk of Gran’s broccoli birthday cake.

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Scatological, or rather poopological, humour courtesy of that huge-bellied dinosaur delivered in rip-roaring rhyme and suitably exuberant illustrations; just the thing to send young children into fits of giggles, not to mention many of the adults who share it with them.

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Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Shopping

Billy the Goat’s Big Breakfast
Jez Alborough
Doubleday
As Nat the Cat prepares a tasty breakfast to share with her friends Billy Goat and Hugo Hare, she is interrupted by the early arrival of a ravenous Billy. Nat leaves Billy waiting and continues her preparations but her pal is unable to resist the temptation to start sampling the food and before long, not only has he slurped all the juice but also taken an enormous bite of the bread – a very gooey mouthful. That’s when the real trouble begins; instead of a rumbling tum, Billy Goat now has a gurgling, swelling one not to mention a very sticky grin. It’s that grin which causes Nat to take her bag and head off to the shops leaving Hugo Hare to listen to Billy Goat’s confession. On her return she discovers Billy wrapped in a coat supposedly cold and tells him to sit by the fire. Well, we know and she knows what will happen then… Time for Billy to own up to his hostess but she knows he has learned his lesson so its time for a belated breakfast and a singsong. (words are provided).
Alborough’s gentle cautionary tale bounces along and his large illustrations are immediately engaging. The expressions on the faces of the three friends, particularly Billy Goat’s, are hilarious. Billy’s Breakfast Song can be downloaded from http://www.jezalborough.com.billythegoat
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Just out in paperback is Jez Alborough’s first story about the three friends, Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile previously reviewed in the March Selection.

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The Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet!
Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter illustrated by Garry Parsons
Red Fox pbk.
The McFly’s Christmas pooping dinosaur is back in another rhyming romp. This time, armed with a packed lunch, he accompanies Danny to the Science Museum to see the rockets. They discover one with a door large enough for a boy plus pet dinosaur to go inside. It’s an open invitation and needless to say, the temptation to touch the controls is too great: Intergalactic Mission is under way. Before long the dinosaur’s tummy rumbles in readiness for lunch but where are those packed lunches? Certainly not on board! So begins a disastrous dinosaur feast and not only the controls but great chunks of the rocket itself are consumed, even the moon, Martians and more are munched. Finally, with nothing at all left of their rocket and Danny crying space-suits full of tears, the dinosaur realizes there is only one way to get them safely back to earth. Time for another pooping plan to be put into action right away…
Poo, planets and pandemonium – definitely a recipe for resounding success with small children who will laugh uproariously at the galactic gallivanting of the boy and his pet, hilariously portrayed and documented in tongue teasing verse that will have many adults in fits too.
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Ding Dong Gorilla!
Michelle Robinson and Leonie Lord
Orchard Books pbk.
In this ‘off the wall’ story, we hear first hand from a small boy what happens when he opens the door, not to the pizza delivery boy who is expected but to an enormous gorilla. Said gorilla barges into the house and proceeds in pursuit of fun, to take enormous liberties creating havoc all over the house and in the garden too. Such activities as crayoning, dressing up and picking flowers not to mention smashing a vase, a window and a chair have given him large appetite, so he sets to work creating even more mess with the blender and ingredients for a chocolate cake. Finally the delivery boy does turn up with the order but guess what – there is a big black hairy shape exiting through the front door clutching a huge cheesy pizza just as a pair of high heeled feet can be seen on the stair.
It’s truly amazing just how much chaos one gorilla or one small boy can create in the time between ordering a pizza and his mother going upstairs to get ready for dinner. Leonie Lord runs riot with wonderful scenes of devastation at every turn of the page; I know a good many mums with young children who will recognize such scenes. Wonderful stuff.
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Spells-A-Popping Granny’s Shopping
Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger
Nosy Crow pbk.
Supermarket shopping can be rather a bore but that is definitely not the case in this story. The little girl narrator recounts what happens when she accompanies her Granny to stock up on provisions, a granny who just happens to be a witch. Needless to say it’s not long before biscuits are dancing, popcorn is popping and the fish fingers are swimming towards the door. And that’s before the two of them spot a couple of robbers stashing sweets and cakes into a large sack. Time for another wave of granny’s wand and a bit of help from a chocolate bear and then, robbers safely under arrest it’s back home and a tasty meal for two cooked up by one very special granny.
Zany characters, action-packed scenes full of amusing details and a lively rhyming text – just the right ingredients for a hugely enjoyable storytime read.
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