Tag Archives: Nick East

Emma Jane’s Aeroplane / Ellie’s Magic Wellies

Emma Jane’s Aeroplane
Katie Howarth and Daniel Rieley
Templar Publisihng
We meet young aviator Emma Jane as she takes off into the night sky heading so it appears for a distant city with its shining lights. London is her first stop-off and approaching the London Eye in the rain, she spots a fox and takes it aboard.

Before long. ‘Up ahead is something bright – it’s a city’s shining lights …’ Paris is the next stop where having looped around the Eiffel Tower, Emma Jane spies on Notre Dame, a rooster and …’So Emma Jane in her aeroplane, / a fox who doesn’t like the rain, / and a rooster who crows wherever he goes / fly on.’ … towards Venice and thence New York, Beijing and Sydney.

By now the plane looks pretty full and it’s heading straight into a storm; a storm that pitches them right into the churning sea. Are the plane and its passengers, not to mention Emma Jane, destined to be lost at sea or do all those animals possess skills that can be called upon in their hour of need?
Let’s just say that all ends happily, with fond farewells as our pilot drops each of her new friends off in their home city before whizzing off once again …
Katie Howarth’s peppy rhyming tale of travel, significant sights, and friendship without boundaries zips along nicely and is fun to share, all the more so if time is given to linger over Daniel Rieley’s delectably droll illustrations be they spread, single page, double spread or vignette.

Ellie’s Magic Wellies
Amy Sparkes and Nick East
Egmont Publishing
I’ve yet to meet a young child who doesn’t love to splosh around in puddles; it’s certainly so with Ellie Pengelly who has just been given a shiny new pair of wellies by her Auntie Flo who has come to do a spot of child-minding while Ellie’s mum visits the dentist. Having donned her polka-dot winged wonders, off heads Ellie in search of some lovely splash-about in puddles. Having located a particularly large one she leaps in and as she does, gets the surprise of her life. What should appear, courtesy of Ellie’s new ‘magical wellies, but a creature introducing itself as a “Flibberty-Gibberty” – a Flipperty Gibberty out of its puddle just waiting to play.
And play they do; the F.G. seemingly having boundless energy.

(Not sure the creature should be encouraging young Ellie to do headstands though, thinks the yoga teacher in me).
Play over, the two go indoors for a spot of something to eat, or rather, that’s the intention but what happens is something quite different and extremely chaos making.
Can they get the house back to its former tidy state before mum’s return? That is the crucial question…

Perhaps so with a little help from those magical wellies of Ellie’s.
Amy Sparkes’ sparkling rhyming text combines beautifully with Nick East’s equally sparky illustrations to produce a lively read aloud that is likely to induce a whole lot of puddle jumping – ready steady SPLOSH!

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Knock Knock Dinosaur / If I Had a Dinosaur

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Knock Knock Dinosaur
Caryl Heart and Nick East
Hodder Children’s Books
Following a delivery to a small boy’s house, in his mum’s absence, a host of dinosaurs invade every room starting with the T-rex that proceeds to consume the freshly baked apple pie standing on the table, followed immediately by two triceratops, three stegosauruses, four velociraptors …

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five allosauruses, six apatosauruses, seven iguanodons – small ones – one of which takes liberties with an item of mum’s underwear. ‘Bras are to put on your boobies, not your ears,’ remarked Ellena, giggling.

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Then come eight gigantosauruses (sporting knickers on their heads), nine oviraptors and finally ten pterodactyls.
The outcomes of all this rampaging is bathwater sploshing everywhere, a smashed mirror, broken bed springs and a smashed vase. By now our young boy narrator has had enough. “Everybody stop!” he yells which prompts the T.Rex to draw the lad’s attention to two important words at the bottom of the delivery note.

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The penny drops which just goes to show that you should always read the small print carefully before clicking ORDER when buying things on the internet. That however is not quite the end of the story. Can they get rid of the chaos and get everything back as it should be before Mum returns? It’ll certainly take some doing … Let operation clean up commence.
Caryl Hart’s rhyming riotous romp is a fun read aloud, but make sure you give your audience – if it’s a largish one – opportunities to explore Nick East’s rainbow-hued illustrations; they’re full of chuckle-worthy details.

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If I Had a Dinosaur
Alex Barrow and Gabby Dawnay
Thames & Hudson
A small girl, would-be pet owner longs for a pet – not a small cat though, she already has one of those. No, something more house sized, something like a DINOSAUR. She then goes on to entertain all manner of possibilities relating to diplodocus ownership. Walks in the park could be just a little embarrassing …

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Her school pals would be mightily impressed, as would her teachers. Providing sufficient drinking water, not to mention a place to swim, might prove a little tricky and he’d definitely need a vegetarian diet.
Dinosaurs certainly do make smashing pets – in more ways than one; walks would be great fun …

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although there would be the question of POOH avoidance …

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The house might need a few minor adjustments – a dino-flap, for instance but the family sofa is plenty big enough for one more, although Dad might get the odd surprise from time to time.

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Not convinced? Then you could try acting on the young narrator’s suggestion, ‘ … just get one and you’ll see!
Dinosaurs are an unfailing source of delight where young children are concerned: Gabby Dawnay’s rhyming contemplation will doubtless provide both fun and opportunities for listeners’ own imaginative musings. They might well, inspired by Alex Barrow’s charmingly witty illustrations, try to create their own If I Had a Dinosaur visuals.

Bear Washing and Bed Bouncing

DSCN7467Do Not Wash This Bear
Sam Hay and Nick East
Egmont Publishing
The particular Dad in this story – so the child narrator tells us – is a disaster area when it comes to doing the washing; titchy T-shirts, pink vests and disappearing socks being examples of the consequences. So, there is a kind of inevitability of mishap when he decides his son’s somewhat stinky ted is in need of a wash. “DO NOT WASH THIS BEAR’ states the label but Dad pays no heed and soon …

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What happens when the cycle finishes and Bear emerges is NOT good. Seemingly the creature has undergone something of a personality change. First there’s this:

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raspberry blowing Bear

And before long there are bubbles all over the bathroom and the bedroom’s full of snow.
Then, when Dad coming upstairs meets Bear bounding down, this is the result …

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Back comes Mum and, having stated the obvious, hangs the errant Bear on the line, which does the trick where mischief making is concerned.
Bear may be back to normal (albeit much cleaner), but …

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The crazy capers herein are sure to be appreciated by the young but equally this one will make the many adults who have had washing disasters, smile too. Nick East’s spirited illustrations capture the shenanigans beautifully and his characters – Bear and human – are charmers.

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There’s a Bison Bouncing on the Bed!
Paul Bright and Chris Chatterton
Little Tiger Press
There’s a big brown bison bouncing on the bed and its great fun, so much so that Aardvark, Chipmunk and Beetle join him. OOPS! All that bumping and thumping …

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will surely lead to one thing – and it does…

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Recriminations follow but oh my goodness! Seems there was someone else in that bed all along – that, or it’s moving on it’s own. Out comes Grizzly Bear and he certainly hasn’t got a smile on his face as he orders immediate repairs.

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But repairs are not the only things about which he issues instructions: there’s something else he wants the bouncers to do – once they’ve fixed the bed of course …
The combination of jaunty rhyming text and giggle-inducing scenes are certain to delight young bed bouncers especially (and that’s pretty much all young children.) My listeners were quick to join in with the rhyme and demanded an immediate re-read. Adult readers aloud – perhaps bedtime isn’t the best time to share this very lively story.

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Magical Journeys of the Night

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Before I Wake Up …
Britta Teckentrup
Prestel Publishing
As she sails away on a flying bed, a little girl narrator takes readers on her dream journey into the glowing moonlit world and, pausing first to take on board her lion friend, into her imaginary ‘world without end’. Cares and worries are left far behind as – child enfolded in Lion’s strong arms – they weather storms …

 

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then rock gently on calmer waters. Leaving Lion aboard the boat, the little girl swims with whales and other marine animals …

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and then the two are transported into a wood dark and deep – a wood full of wild creatures that wander free …

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creatures that present no danger to the narrator. For with her protective lion always close at hand, she feels fearless and longs to remain in the murky world on the shadowy forest. But as morning light begins to show, it’s time to flee from dark and move into the bright of day’s dawn; time to bid a fond farewell to her furry nocturnal friend, safe in the knowledge that after another day, his arms will always be there waiting to welcome her once more.

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I’ve long been a fan of Britta Teckentrup’s work but this one might just be my favourite. Imagined worlds are conjured into being in her wondrous dreamy scenes rendered in a glowing collage style that is densely layered and alternates between rich earthy hues …

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and more subdued ones.
Share this one at bedtime, morning time, any time, but share it you must, it’s a real beauty.

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Goodnight Spaceman
Michelle Robinson and Nick East
Puffin Books
It’s bedtime and we join two small child narrators as they bid goodnight to the various items in their small world space set,

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putting them carefully into the toy box at the end of the day. Then having also bid goodnight to their father’s rocket ship deep in space, the children embark on an imaginary flight far out into the darkest world of outer space. There, they rendezvous with the space station –

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meet the crew …

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and with their dad, enjoy a space walk addressing the extra terrestrial sights as they go. ‘Goodnight Neptune. Goodnight Venus. Goodnight light years in between us. Rocket ships and shooting stars. Saturn, Mercury and Mars.’
All too soon though, it’s time to return to earth and snuggle down in their cosy beds with thoughts of their spaceman dad ever in their minds.
Inspired by the mission of British astronaut Tim Peake, who himself has two young sons, this lyrical space odyssey will delight young listeners around the age of the two protagonists who will revel in the adventure at bedtime or anytime. In all my years of teaching young children I’ve not come across many who do not take delight in space stories and play with small world space theme toys. Let’s hope that this book will, as Tim Peake suggests in his introductory letter to readers, ‘inspire a new generation of boys and girls to look up at the stars and not just ask questions but to go there and seek answers of their own.’ Nick East’s dramatic illustrations should certainly go some way to fuelling that inspiration and their imaginations.

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An Unaware Jackdaw and A Nautical Mouse

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What the Jackdaw Saw
Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt
Macmillan Children’s Books
Jackdaw flies over the ocean, the farm, the town, and a forest towards a looming black cloud, issuing his invitation “Come to my party!” to all and sundry, ignoring the warning signs from octopus, horse, cat, and squirrel until he whizzes headlong into the thundercloud and thence …

 

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Why didn’t they warn me?” he asks the owl. “Why didn’t you see them?” comes the reply, … Every one of them touching its head, Danger! Danger! That’s what they said.”

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Time for a lesson in signing for that heedless jackdaw, courtesy of owl of course and then hurray, jackdaw flies forth using his wings to sign “Come to my party!” to all his animal pals. Then off they all got to he seaside where a fantastic time is had by all those animals and just a few other guests too …

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Nick Sharratt’s powerful, expressive spreads capture the scenes of impending disaster, and the joyful exuberance of the jaunty tale with great aplomb.
After you’ve enjoyed the story, don’t miss the opportunity to practise signing some of the key words from the book; eight of them are found on the final spread.
Two years in the making, this book is the result of the author’s workshop (organized by Life and Deaf) for deaf children -20 are named – and of course, her collaboration with artist, Nick. What an ingenious and brilliantly inclusive book it is; and what a wonderful testament to the power of sign language and all who use it including finally, that jackdaw.

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The Mouse Who Sailed the Seas
Amy Sparkes and Nick East
Egmont Publishing pbk
The sight of those chunky bumblebees perching tenuously atop their beehive immediately appealed to my sense of the ridiculous when I turned from the introductory ‘A mouse he went to sail the seas. He sailed the seas/to look for cheese,/But all he found were …

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The jaunty story continues with an invasion of purple peas of the alien variety,

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a drop in from a pair of hairy-kneed goats and some magic-sneezing elves. Surely disaster must be close at hand with such a load methinks and … CREAK! SQUEAK! LEAK! Oh dear me.

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But, could that concatenation triggered by a timely sneeze from the elves work its magic and save the day? Well, you will just have to get hold of this wonderfully madcap tale to find out that and to discover whether our intrepid sailor mouse finally does find the object of his cheesy search. Assuredly, it’s pretty nail- biting stuff.
Nick East’s exuberant and garish illustrations are brimming over with delicious touches of completely crazy detail – just the thing to complement Amy Sparkes’ super and stupendously silly saga.

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It’s Time for Bed

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Max and the Won’t Go To Bed Show
Mark Sperring and Sarah Warburton
Harper Collins pbk
Take your seats for a star-spangled performance by young Max who is giving a presentation of his world famous, death-defying PUTTING OFF BEDTIME FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE SHOW. Drum roll. Said show comprises a handful of amazing feats, trick one being a disappearing act. No not Max but a cup of milk and a cookie v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y,

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followed by the second trick – the taming of a savage beast (aka Brian the family dog).
Oops! Whose is that hand pulling our young magician up the stairs? Quick! Another trick is called for – THE GREAT DISAPPEARING BOY TRICK. But where has our star gone?

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Applause called for here…
Hastily followed by trick number four: the FLOATING PYJAMA TRICK (possibly thirty minutes worth of entertainment here). Not tonight maybe. Don’t leave yet though: Max still has more magic up his sleeve, or rather … under the bed, within the wardrobe… inside the toy box.
Before attempting his grand finale – daring to demand not one but ten bedtime stories (huge round of applause for this one I suggest) – he gets two and then … yawn… curtains, lights dimmed… good night everyone.
This book requires not so much a reading more a performance (with numerous curtain calls and encores I suspect). It’s cleverly constructed, beautifully controlled (with additional manipulation of the text through the use of various fonts and integration of words and pictures)

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and bursting with energy and humour. The illustrations too abound with energy and humour: despite his diminutive stature Max is certainly a larger than life character portrayed as a cute cuddlesome infant, albeit a supercharged one. In contrast, all we see of his parents are the occasional limbs helping their offspring on his way to the inevitable.

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It’s clear that Sarah Warburton greatly enjoyed herself, playing to the gallery by appropriately patterning various items of clothing, furniture and bedding, not to mention the wallpaper and more.

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A double act winner delivered with panache and pizzazz.
For bedtime reading? Well, that all depends …

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Harry and the Monster
Sue Mongredien and Nick East
Little Tiger Press pbk
A scary monster invades Harry’s dream one night. The following night he’s reluctant to go to bed in case it makes a return visit. “Try imagining him with a pair of pink pants on his head,” suggests Mum. The monster returns, Harry imagines;

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the monster is furious frightening Harry once again. The jelly plan – Dad’s this time – for Wednesday has a similar effect, so does Mum’s monster tickling plan on Thursday; in fact that only inflames the monster’s temper more. So what about Dad’s plan for Friday night? Perhaps even scary monsters are scared of furious mums …
With a not-too-scary monster, repetition and suspense, together with funny illustrations,

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take for instance a jelly-spattered monster, or one with prickles in his bottom and sporting Christmas tree decorations, this is one to make small children giggle at bedtime or any time.

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