Tag Archives: Nicola Slater

Monty Monkey & Elsie Elephant / Happy Birthday to You!

Monty Monkey
Elsie Elephant

Nikki Dyson
Nosy Crow

Two additions to the sound button series of stories both told in rhyme by Nikki Dyson.
Monty is a monkey that tires of his diet of bananas and searches the jungle for alternative ‘fruity treats’. He takes a pineapple belonging to some parrots, snatches a juicy mango from the mouth of Snake and helps himself to a couple of Aardvark’s coconuts. Just as he’s about to tuck in, along comes a large gorilla and …

Elsie lives on the plains and one night she decides to stay up and play. The trouble is she wants other animals to play with her, animals that would far rather be fast asleep under the starry skies.
Will she ever snuggle down for some shut-eye and if so, when?

Despite the brevity of these stories, their main characters, have, in Nikki Dyson’s illustrations real personalities that very young children can relate to. Those same children will delight in pressing the sound buttons that make authentic monkey and elephant sounds.

Happy Birthday to You!
Nicola Slater
Nosy Crow

Bear, Badger and Cat set out, each with a musical instrument: Bear plays her flute, Badger his guitar, Cat her violin and they all seem to be heading for the same destination. What could it be?
Then along comes little Otter. He too turns up at the same place as the other animals. Could there be a special celebration within?
Find out in this jolly interactive board book; it includes music and a special final light-up surprise.

Just right for sharing on a toddler’s special day.

Board Book Collection

Tales from Nature: Rabbit
illustrated by Magali Attiogbé
Tales from Nature: Bird
illustrated by Olivia Cosneau
QED
These two books are the first in a series of wildlife board book nature stories for the very young.
In each, the animal in question acts as narrator.
Rabbit tells how he finds food in the garden; runs fast into his burrow when he catches sight of a potential predator and finally, when winter’s over, meets a doe and together they produce a litter.
Bird talks of being greedy as she feasts on a little caterpillar that’s nibbling through some leaves. Love is in the air come spring when Bird sings, finds a mate, builds a nest, lays three eggs and hatches her babies.
Both tales are simply told through a spare text, and each has die cut holes and flaps to encourage exploration of the nicely textured pastel illustrations.
Engaging introductions to nonfiction texts for toddlers.

More bird encounters in the first of these:

Listen to the Birds from around the world
Listen to the Music from around the world
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow

What toddler can resist the invitation to hear the sound of,  in turn, the mynah bird, the kingfisher, a whistling lorikeet, a toucan, a penguin on the ice and some wading flamingos, when all they have to do is press the button strategically placed on each of Marion Billet’s alluring spreads?
No doubt your home or nursery will become a temporary menagerie when you share this enticing little board book.
In the same series is Listen to the Music from around the world wherein a guitar-strumming turtle, a panda violinist, a bagpipe playing sheep, a harmonica blowing donkey, a bongo banging Croc. and a bull with flamenco guitar perform. Noisy fun, but you can always turn off the sound button at the back of the book.

Hello Farm
Hello Zoo

Nicola Slater
Nosy Crow

In these jolly little books we meet stripy cat, Ludo, who likes to discover new places to play.
At the farm he visits first the barn, home of cow family where Bianca is ready to join his fun. So off they go to call on the chickens in their henhouse and invite the baby chicks to join them. Little lambs, Eric, Clem and Finn are also eager for some fun but then Ludo hears snoring; one of his friends is still fast asleep but a bit of tummy tickling will help get him moving and then finally all the pals head for the paddling pool for a dip.
The pattern is similar for Hello Zoo except that Ludo cycles off to collect his wild animal pals in their various zoo abodes, on this occasion discovering Minty the panda in need of some toe tickling to rouse her from her slumbers before they all go off to find the bouncy castle.
Nicola Slater’s bright, jolly scenes with die-cut holes, flaps and squidgy tactile areas to explore are part and parcel of these simple toddler stories whose questioning narratives involve young listeners from the start.

Hooray for Independent Thinkers: Little Monkey & Larry Lemming

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Little Monkey
Marta Altés
Macmillan Children’s Books
Size, or rather lack of it, is a big issue for one particular little Monkey, so much so that one day, she comes to a decision – a BIG decision. She won’t be left out any longer; “I will climb to the top of the tallest tree,” she announces and off she goes through the jungle to prove herself.

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What she’s blissfully unaware of as she navigates the deep dangerous river and the tricky path is that although she notices lots of little things doing lots of amazing things …

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she’s not the only one undertaking this journey …
Eventually Monkey reaches her destination: that tallest tree in the jungle and up she goes, higher and higher, until finally she can see the world stretching out below her. By now you’ll have your audience wriggling on their bums crying out to the gallant little creature and even more so, as she stands atop that palm viewing all that’s before her.

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Without being a total story-spoiler I won’t reveal what happens thereafter, but suffice it to say a certain small Monkey feels very proud of herself, after all, ‘ … the smaller you are, the larger your adventures can be.’
It’s definitely a case of showing, not telling being the essence of this deliciously funny tale. Altés comic choreography means that every turn of the page brings something new to giggle over; and the synergy between words and illustrations is terrific.

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Leaping Lemmings!
John Briggs and Nicola Slater
Sterling Children’s Books
Can you tell these lemmings apart?’ Readers are drawn in from the start by Briggs’ opening question to this story. He continues, ‘No? That’s because all lemmings look alike, sound alike, and act alike.’ Not one hundred per cent accurate: meet the wonderfully divergent Larry. Larry is a thinker: he knows he doesn’t fit in with the lemmings crowd …

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and he certainly has no intention of following his fellow lemmings off the edge of a cliff.
Can he avert disaster though, when after abortive attempts to live with the seals, the puffins and the polar bears, he returns home to find the lemmings about to make that fateful leap? Fortunately yes, and as for becoming independent thinkers … job done!

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Wonderfully whimsical and with important themes of thinking for yourself and daring to be different, this book deserves to be shared widely; it certainly offers teachers a great opportunity for discussion, as well as food for thought, not only among the children.
Nicola Slater’s deliciously witty, minimalist artwork is a terrific complement to Briggs’ gently humorous text. As a divergent thinker myself, I whole-heartedly applaud the independently-minded Larry, and of course, his creators.

Old Friends and New

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Max
Marc Martin
Templar Publishing
Most of us will be familiar with the empty feeling that comes when circumstances separate close friends. In this affecting story by an award winning Australian artist, the avian protagonist certainly does.
Max is a seagull – a very fine looking one and slightly mischievous, so a gull after my own heart. He has a particular penchant for fish and chips

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and a special friend, Bob who keeps him supplied with the latter. And the former? The friends spend their evenings together catching those: life is pretty peachy for Max.
Then one day when Max arrives at Bob’s shop, he finds it empty; but where oh where is Bob?
Max waits a long time but then decides it’s time to take flight and off he goes searching …

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until as he flies above a city, a familiar smell pervades his nares.
Down he swoops and eventually finds …

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Wonder of wonders – there is his old pal and a joyful reunion is the order of the day, along with a few chips of course.
Oh, and their after hours fishing trips are resumed too …
Beautifully rendered through mixed media illustrations and a spare text that allows observant readers and listeners plenty of room to fill the gaps, this is a tender-hearted celebration of friendship triumphing against the odds. For instance we are never told about the fairground and its possible impact on the shops it dominates but it’s shown several times in the early scenes.

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Delicious!

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Best Friends
Mara Bergman and Nicola Slater
Hodder Children’s Books
Crazy capers ensue when three balls are thrown: these are immediately pursued by Dexter, Daisy and Lily, three altogether different dogs. Dexter McFadden McSimmons McClean (imagine yelling ‘Come here DMMM’ in full when he charges off) is a dashing greyhound, Daisy is a somewhat dreamy-looking dachshund and Lily, a prettified poodle.
Hot on their trails go respective owners, William – at a mad dash, Jack at a more leisurely stroll and a somewhat embarrassed Maddie, sporting a new haircut. But Dexter crash-lands right into a rather genteel picnic;

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Daisy somehow scares a reader and Lily becomes entangled in a kite. That however, is nowhere near the end of the canine-caused chaos …

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There’s a soaking in store too and it’s not just for those demented dogs

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But, with new friendships forged, all ends happily in Mara Bergman’s hilarious rhyming romp. It’s told in a jaunty fashion entirely in keeping with which are Nicola Slater’s superbly energetic, retro-style illustrations that have all the verve and vigour of Lynley Dodd’s well-known and much loved, Hairy Maclary.
Definitely a book that will stand up to the many re-readings I’m sure young listeners will demand, mine certainly have. I found myself falling for all three of those canine charmers despite being dog-phobic.

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Friends
Eric Carle
Puffin Books
A boy and a girl are close friends playing together and sharing each other’s secrets until one day the girl is gone; she’s moved somewhere far away. The boy counts to ten then sets off to find her. Having swum across a cold river, slept under a starry sky climbed up a steep mountain and down into a grassy meadow. He journeys through the rain till sleep overtakes him. Next day off he goes once more through a shadowy forest and a garden where he gathers flowers and eventually finds his friend again. “I have found you!” he shouted. “I knew you would come,” she said.
Much of the journey features only the landscape, which is conveyed through abstract brush-strokes and collage forms, with the children appearing just at the beginning and end. This serves to allow the reader to step into the shoes of the boy and in so doing get a feeling of the enormous distance he travels. Certainly the lad was a determined over-comer of obstacles.
The final pages show a photograph of Carle and a girl friend from his early childhood in 1932 from whom he was separated when his family moved. Seemingly this friendship was part of the inspiration for the book, although the real-life friends have never been reunited.

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