Tag Archives: Sue Heap

Very Little Rapunzel / Big Little Hippo

Very Little Rapunzel
Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap
Picture Corgi
Meet Very Little Rapunzel, star of the fourth of the Very Little fairy tale series. She is, so her mum insists in need of a haircut but refuses to visit the hairdresser’s. New hairstyles are tried but none can curb the abundance of her unruly tresses and in a paddy, the little miss hurls her Big Box of Hair Things out of the tower right down to where a Very Little Prince happens to be standing.
Rapunzel lowers her hair at his request and up climbs the prince to play with her. Before you can say itch, both Prince and Rapunzel are scratching furiously and are discovered to have nits.
Treatment ensues with lots and lots … of combing …

complaining, washing and sploshing …

until a certain Very Little miss wilful has a change of heart. She grabs the scissors and …

which leaves her playmate rather stranded, but not for too long. Thanks to some imaginative hair styling, an escape route and more is fashioned by the teasy weezy trio culminating in fun and games for all.
With that disarming smile and spirit of independence, Very Little Rapunzel is set to charm her way into the affections of a whole host of very little listeners.

Big Little Hippo
Valeri Gorbachev
Sterling
The smallest of his family and much smaller than big old Crocodile, very tall Giraffe and giant Elephant,

Little Hippo is far from happy with his lack of stature. His mother’s assurances that he’ll eventually be big like his parents offer no comfort as he wanders among huge trees and tall grasses feeling like the smallest creature in the entire world. Until that is he comes upon a tiny beetle struggling to turn itself the right way up. Little Hippo rescues the creature …

and the words of thanks from its family, “Thank you, Big Hippo!” truly make his day and more importantly change the way he sees himself. “I’m big now!” he announces as he rushes, full of new-found confidence, to tell his mother, passing on the way, all those animals whose largeness had previously made him feel so insignificant.
Proud of his deed of kindness, she renames him “Big Little Hippo”, which is just perfect.
Perspective and scale are effectively and playfully used in Gorbachev’s ink and watercolour scenes of Little Hippo and the other jungle animals in this sweet tale of finding where you fit in the world.

I’ve signed the charter  

Fairy Tales Anew

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Very Little Sleeping Beauty
Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap,
Picture Corgi
Sleeping Beauty – albeit of the Very Little kind – she may be, but our diminutive heroine certainly knows all the delaying tactics where bedtime is concerned. On this particular bedtime – the eve of her birthday – she has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger. Even after a proper sing-song, several stories, tickles, dancing and bed bouncing she’s still not ready to settle down.

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Demands for her Bear, blanket and a drink in her “special-est cup” are issued and fulfilled; well not the cup, which seems to have gone missing. And that’s when the trouble starts. Waiting is not one of Very Little Sleeping Beauty’s strong points and after what seems to her an inordinately long wait, she’s off round the castle in search of her parents and her Aunty Fairy.

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It’s her Aunty that she duly discovers behind the door and what’s more, there’s a large and ‘special’ present there too. Needless to say the young miss cannot contain herself and off comes the wrapping paper to reveal …

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Despite Aunty’s warnings our almost birthday girl is determined to use it for her own purposes: “I do driving!” she enthuses, “BRRMM BRRRRMMMMM! Beep beeeep!”. But, guess what – she drives it to destruction and Aunty Fairy is not impressed at all. Shouting ensues – that’s the Aunty; and tears – that’s Very Little Sleeping Beauty – both loud enough to bring Daddy running in.

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Apologies all round come next; and all this weeping and wailing has at last worn out the tiny princess, so much so that she falls fast asleep (it’s now almost sunrise) and the birthday girl’s slumbers last right through until evening time on her special day, whereupon she wakes saying, “I have party!” and, of course, ‘party’ she has …

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This is another enchanting addition to the Heapy/Heap Very Little series and the maps on the inside front and back covers suggest more to come: I hope so. Reading these books aloud is a delight and I can’t wait for my first opportunity to grab some suitably small children and share this one with them.

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Cinderella and her Very Bossy Sisters
Mark Sperring and Barbara Bongini
Scholastic Children’s Books
In this upbeat, rather chatty style rendering of the traditional story, Cinderella certainly is at the beck and call of her extremely bossy sisters, Greta and Gerta, who like to issue all their orders in rhyme – to Cinders at least. And in addition to all the housework, Cinders can turn her hand to maintenance of another kind too …

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When the invitation from the palace arrives inviting them all to the ball, Cinders’ sisters are quick to tell her she can’t go. They start issuing their orders forthwith … “Squeeze the pimples on our chins,/ pluck that hair out from our noses,” (no way hosay) “Drench us both in perfume, /till we smell … SWEET AS ROSES!” (that I’d doubt) but orders are orders.
Duty duly done and sisters departed, who should drop in but a certain Fairy Godmother who soon has Cinders bedecked in finery, glass-slipper shod and with suitable vehicle to convey her to the palace. Having been warned about the midnight undoing of the spell, off she goes, has the time of her life at the ball and does the expected midnight dash leaving a slipper and a distraught prince behind.
Said prince does the rounds of the neighbourhood next day, eventually identifies the slipper’s owner and weds her …

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leaving the awful sisters to sulk and serve themselves. Apart from on Sundays that is, when they choose to inflict their company upon the happily married couple, one of whom has a rather rewarding and slightly rude way of dealing with the visitors should their bossiness become unbearable (which it often did).

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Barbara Bongini has made the ugly sisters a pair of outlandishly frilly-frocked madams, Cinders’ fairy godmother a diminutive, rather rotund, bespectacled being …

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and Cinderella herself a multi-talented, trouser-wearing miss, all of which contributes to making this an amusing take on the original; oh and there’s a ginger and white moggy that seems to find its way into pretty much every scene too.

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Very Little Cinderella

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Very Little Cinderella
Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap
Doubleday
Very Little Cinderella, with her “lello boots” and “BIG blue scooter” is truly adorable. So too is this the second ‘Very Little’ story to come from the partnership of Heapy and Heap. The basic story is pretty much left intact with Cinderella doing the cleaning, a fairy godmother (aka the babysitter) and a very patient one she turns out to be, an outing to the ball – that’s for the Ugly Sisters of course, not VLC who is left at home distraught, temporarily at least. But I did say the basic plot remains, so our tiny heroine does get to go to the ball, or party as it’s called here. Small she may be, but Very Little Cinderella has an enormous amount of determination, so it’s only after a whole lot of palaver over her choice of attire

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and mode of transport to said party.

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There’s dancing, – lots of it, a midnight-striking clock and a mad dash home which leaves a soon distraught VLC minus one of her ‘lello boots. There follows the arrival of a prince – a Very Little prince clutching a very little boot (and a small bunny), and a triumphant “It fits me!”

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and another meeting of the Prince and Cinderella. But remember these two are both Very Littles so it has to be a play-date and of course, ‘they both played happily ever after.’
Another certain winner for this author/artist partnership. Whither next I wonder…

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The girls in one of the groups I shared the story with were inspired to design new dresses for VLC to wear to the party.

 

On the subject of wonderful duos, it’s great to see paperback reissues of two stories about one of my very favourite young characters, Emily Brown, and constant companion, Stanley, her much-loved old grey rabbit.
That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown
Emily Brown and the Thing
Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton
Hodder Children’s Books
In the first, young Emily asserts her ownership of Stanley in no uncertain terms when Queen Gloriana attempts to procure him for herself, although she does have a put up with his temporary absence when her majesty’s Special Commandos creep into her bedroom and steal him one night as Emily sleeps.

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The Thing referred to in the title of the second story is a large greenish scriffily-scraffily creature that lands up on Emily Brown’s windowsill one night when out searching for his cuddly. The Thing seeks Emily’s help in his hunt but even when they find the cuddly quite soon, it’s only the beginning of what turns out to be a very disturbed night for young Emily: is there to be no end to the demands that Thing makes on her during the course of an action-packed few hours until she finally discovers the real cause of the Thing’s restlessness.
Wonderful stuff.

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I Want: Bernard, Mine! & The Crocodile Under the Bed

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Bernard
Rob Jones
Beast in Show Books
What would you do if you heard of a large, red-eyed scary-looking dog whose teeth were huge and his paws the size of your head? Run a mile maybe: I’d definitely keep well away. That’s certainly the reaction wild hound Bernard receives from the local villagers who are convinced he has designs on one of them as his next meal. Not so however; all this sadly misunderstood canine is after is strawberry jam and lots of it. So, watch out for any you might have.

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The rhyming text and wacky illustrations are really part and parcel of an integrated, mock-scary whole, tasty, treat. Just the thing to share on a chilly wintry day, this is a small book but one that makes a big impression. A debut for author/illustrator, Rob Jones, and for Beast in Show Books, I look forward to what they have to offer in the future.

Buy from www.beastinshow.com/books

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Mine!
Sue Heap
Walker Books
This utterly charming book about possessiveness and sharing centres on a small girl, Amy who likes to keep her treasured possessions – her blankie, her bear, her bunny and her bird very close to her. So, when the twins want to join her play she immediately tries to assert her ownership of her favourite things. To no avail though; Zak and Jack are equally determined. Then along comes Baby Joe clutching the toy bird. Amy takes possession.

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Her cries of “MINE” result in a very sad looking Joe but it takes some wise words from the twins to trigger a minor crisis of conscience on Amy’s behalf and soon peace and harmony reigns – well harmony anyway, Amy fashion.

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I love the way Amy manages to come up with a compromise solution that suits all parties while still giving her the upper hand and the way the emotions of the children are beautifully portrayed and mirrored in the expressions on the faces of bird, bear and bunny.
A must have for all early years setting and families with very young children.
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The Crocodile Under the Bed
Judith Kerr
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Young Matty desperately wants to go to the party but he’s poorly. Very disappointed, he’s left in Grandpa’s care with a party blower and the promise of some birthday cake. Suddenly he hears a voice but it isn’t Grandpa’s. No, it belongs to an enormous crocodile that emerges from under his bed offering to remedy the situation. So, with a toot from Matty’s party blower they take off to a very special destination – the King’s birthday party no less. This King isn’t the human kind though, he’s a handsome lion;

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and with Chimpy on hand to look after him, Matty is ready to try some of the rides on offer. There’s a ‘rip-roaring’ tiger ride, a bouncy chimp ride and an enormous slide

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with a surprise at the end. After all the excitement, there’s crocodile waiting to fly him home just in time before the rest of the family returns.

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We found our own crocodile to fly us to a storyland party too

Their party, he learns had been a washout but they have brought him some cake albeit rather soggy. “… you really didn’t miss anything,” dad tells Matty …
An enchanting story from the wonderful Judith Kerr who originally started this tale as a follow-up to her classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea – a superb stimulus for children’s imaginations: so too is this one.

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Unexpected Arrivals

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George and the Dinosaur
Felix Hayes and Sue Heap
Brubaker, Ford and Friends (Templar)
When George’s passion for excavation results in his unearthing a dinosaur egg, little does he know that its contents – a perfect creature no less – will have such a voracious appetite. Insatiable in fact, for not only does it consume the furniture, TV, fridge and everything inside, down goes a garden tree, the paddling pool, even the tiny mouse in George’s care belonging to Class 2. From then on things go from bad to worse: the dino. swallows both George’s parents, two sweet old ladies, cars and larger vehicles – quite literally everything. Finally only George remains; so what does the dinosaur do? Well, it opens those terrible jaws and SNAP!
Of course we all know what happens when a digestive system gets over-loaded; it makes lots of gas and …

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Moving in and out of rhyme, the text reads aloud beautifully as one would expect – it’s written by Gruffalo actor Felix Hayes and he should know.
But, when he cleans his treasure he finds …
the gems are stones, dirt and dust.
The sword is a spoon all covered in rust.
The leg is a root, cracked and dried.
But the egg’s still an egg
With something inside.
George puts the egg in the cupboard under the stairs.

Sue Heap’s mixed media illustrations are full of amusing details and show much more than is said in the words:
Young audiences will particularly enjoy spotting the whereabouts of the items burped out by the dinosaur on the final spread; and Hayes’ final sentence leaves space for children’s own flights of fancy.
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What Makes a Hippopotamus Smile!
Sean Taylor and Laurent Cardon
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
It’s not every day that a hippo comes to visit but when one does – or should that be, if, then take the advice of the small girl narrator of this funny picture book. Open wide the door,

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play a splashy-sploshy game, then give him a warm bath with silly toys thrown in to make him laugh, after which you should share a very large crunchy salad, freshly harvested, naturally. Oh, and make sure when it’s time to bid your new best friend farewell that you do so in style – a little dance might be appropriate. That’s if you want him to come again, of course. Err …

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It’s all in the interplay of Sean Taylor’s playful words (which sometimes rhyme) and the comical scenes created by Laurent Cardon using mixed ink techniques and digital art. Herein, it’s the antics of the bit players, largely froggy,

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as much as the hippo’s (mis)behaviour that make the scenes so amusing. Then, there’s that almost throwaway last line and don’t forget to take a look at the endpapers with those telltale footprints too.
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Gracie is amused at the animals’ antics

There’s a Lion in my Cornflakes
Michelle Robinson and Jim Field
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk.
Just like many children, Eric, the narrator of this story and his brother Dan have been saving cereal box coupons for a free gift; here ‘it’s a ‘Free Lion’ on offer. They’d bought so many boxes of cornflakes it took a year’s pocket money to pay for them and forever to cut out the hundred coupons needed. With said coupons duly sent off, the children wait, anticipating the fun they’ll have with the lion.

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A week later nothing has arrived although numerous others have their lions – real ones. Monday comes again and with it a delivery truck. Out steps – wait for it – a huge grizzly bear, the only trouble being it’s sent next door in error; well not quite the only trouble: Mr Harper’s back yard is trashed too.

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Complaints are made and the animal replaced but, not with a lion (they’d run out of those) but a crocodile. More complaints … another replacement animal  …

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a face to face encounter with the cereal people … compensation of the packet kind … furious children’s faces … some serious thinking …

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Mmm yes, the alternatives do have their advantages and after all, lions are just so common nowadays.
Well what about the next offer then? Err
This totally crazy tale, which brings together for the first time the talents of Michelle Robinson and Jim Field, is a joy to read aloud. The former has caught the conversational style of a young boy narrator beautifully. The latter’s wildly energetic illustrations are crammed full of delicious details to pore and giggle over.
Definitely destined to become a story time favourite.
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Upside Down Babies
Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds
Andersen Press pbk
There is a wonderful, surprise twist at the end of this funny rhyming tale of a world turned upside down when ‘the earth went blue and the sky went brown.’ On this fateful topsy-turvy day, all the baby animals find themselves with the wrong mums. What is Mummy Cow to do when confronted with a Lion Cub demanding meat in the middle of a field?

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And baby Rooster’s dawn greeting of “Cock-a doodle-dee!” definitely does not go down well with a sleepy Mummy Owl trying to get some shut eye in her tree.

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With its bold, bright, wonderfully expressive pictures of the consternation all round and a text that trips off the tongue, ‘Baby Bunny bounced into Squirrel’s drey./He clung to a branch with his claws all day.’ this is one to share with the under sixes and will assuredly prompt many an encore to the huge enjoyment of readers and listeners alike.
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Tinies and Monsters

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Very Little Red Riding Hood
Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap
David Fickling Books
With Red Teddy in hand and blanket, tea-set and a box of cakes safely stowed in her pull along bag, Very Little Red Riding Hood sets out to her Grandmama’s for a sleepover. Before long, what should she meet but a Wolf. “A Foxie!” she cries in delight giving him a big hug. More than a little put out at her lack of fear and her refusal to give him a cake, the Wolf suggests gathering a bouquet for Grandmama. Red – insists our feisty young heroine, inviting ‘Foxie’ to a game of chase all the way to Grandmama’s and a ‘cuppatea’ when they get there. But is this a step too far? Well, there’s a rib-tickling ending but if you want to find out what happens, then get your hands on this sweetly funny variation of the traditional story.
With her toddler talk and winning smile, Very Little Red Riding Hood is an absolute charmer.

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Rosa and Nina sharing Little Red’s exploits

The end papers show the route she took to her Grandmama’s house but also a number of other homes occupied by ‘Very Little’ fairy tale characters. Is this then the start of a series? I do hope so. Certainly this first time collaboration between Heapy and Heap is a whole heap of fun.
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The Tiny King
Taro Miura
Walker Books
In a castle far away lived a king. But the castle was very, very big and the king was a very, very Tiny King. The Tiny King had a big army and a big, big table for his meals but delicious food isn’t much fun if you’re all alone. It’s a good thing then, that the Tiny King fell head over heels in love with a princess, albeit a Big Princess and she agreed to be his wife. Before long, the Tiny King and the Big Queen had lots of children and what seemed like a very big castle for one Tiny King now felt just right with ten children playing and laughing the whole day.
Of course, big families mean lots of sharing: sharing meals, sharing the space on the big white horse’s back and sharing a riotous bath time; and what comes of sharing? Happiness; certainly that’s so in the case of the Tiny King.
Japanese artist and author, Taro Muira uses precision, patterned cut-outs in bold, bright colours and white, to construct simple shaped collage scenes, which stand out dramatically against flat black backgrounds. These scenes remind me of scenes from young children’s small world and construction play.

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Told in a straightforward manner, this simple neo fairy tale is a delight to share with under fives.
(Quite apart from the story, there is a wealth of learning opportunities here: talking about sharing, counting, identifying shapes, mathematical language and concepts relating to size, pattern making, block play, collage and small world castle play.)
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Upside Down Babies
Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds
Andersen Press
There is a lovely twist at the end of this funny rhyming tale of a world turned upside down when ‘the earth went blue and the sky went brown.’ On this fateful topsy-turvy day, all the baby animals find themselves with the wrong mothers. What is Mummy Camel to do when confronted with a baby Polar Bear in the middle of the desert and baby Rooster’s dawn greeting of “Cock-a doodle-dee” definitely does not go down well with a sleepy Mummy Owl trying to get some shut eye in her tree.
With its bold, bright, wonderfully expressive pictures of the consternation all round, and a text that trips off the tongue, this is one to share  with the under sixes and will prompt many an encore to the huge enjoyment of readers and listeners alike.
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Enormouse
Angie Morgan
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Enormouse was big; much, much bigger than all the other mice in Mouse House. But being big had its advantages. Enormouse could lift REALLY heavy cheese, reach high up things and give lifts to tired-legged little mice. One day while out exploring he and his best friend Tinymouse find a large book with pictures of furry animals. That’s when Tinymouse concludes that his pal is actually A RAT. How the other mice laugh at poor Enormouse. Off he goes to find a new home with the rats but, what a shock he gets on arriving at ‘Rats’ House’; there’s mess everywhere. His offer to clean up is laughed at and once again Enormouse feels at odds with his housemates. In the meantime, his mouse friends have seen the error of their ways and set off in the hope of bringing their absent friend back home. But it’s now dark and they don’t know where to go…
From the mouse photo portrait endpapers, every turn of the page brings much to talk about and explore in the mixed media illustrations. The squalor of the rats’ house is truly disgusting with the grubby rodents lolling amongst half eaten fruit, discarded chips, over-turned cans, fish bones, filth and flies. You can almost smell the pong.

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Rosa couldn’t resist coming to see what we were so disgusted at.

The story too offers plenty of food for thought with its themes of not judging by appearances, self-belief, friendship and finding ones place in the world.
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Here Be Monsters
Jonathan Emmett and Poly Bernatene
Macmillan Children’s Books
With the fiercest pirate crew and the fastest pirate ship, fearless Captain Cut-Throat is the meanest pirate to sail the seas. So, when he hears of an island strewn with giant gemstones he is determined to set sail straight away. His crew members though are far from happy; monsters are hiding in the mist, so the legend tells. At first all goes well but then they reach the MIST from which emanates all manner of alarming sounds. “Sail on!” commands the Captain and they do – into the swirling white. ‘ “Here be monsters!” cried the lookout…
‘ “Nonsense!” growled the Captain. “Monsters simply don’t exist.” ‘

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And so he maintains, heading on, unaware of the diminishing crew numbers, until an island comes into view. Once ashore, the penny finally drops but undaunted, the greedy Captain has his mind only on those giant jewels littering the shore. Oh foolish one!
Emmett’s riotous rollicking rhyme rattles along apace and when read aloud, it will have delighted audiences joining in with the repeated refrain of the fearless captain, as they see what he does not – his crew disappearing one by one.
Poly Bernatene draws his inspiration for the dastardly crew from the less attractive members of the animal kingdom with crow, rat, crocodile and blue-bottomed baboon all featuring. The almost filmic quality of his arresting illustrations adds to the dramatic impact of the story.
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