Thursday, 19 September 2013

Little Boy with a Big Horn by Jack Bechdolt, illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia

Little Boy with a Big Horn is a 1950 little golden book classic that was recently re-released with new illustrations by Dan Yaccarino. A little boy named Ollie is the one with the big horn and though he loves to play, alas he only knows one song.  His playing is deemed a nuisance by the local townsfolk and Ollie heads off to the fields in search of a place where he can practice in peace.  He's quickly moved on by a farmer, and so he decides to use his rowboat to take his music out to sea. Whilst at sea he realises a passenger ship is danger of crashing into the rocks in the thick fog. He decides to play his one song as a warning and manages to save the ship and everyone aboard. Ollie is renamed a hero and instantly revered by the town.  And his reward for this deed? Funds to attend music school outside of town.

E loves to retell the bit where the ship's captain whips out his telescope to see what's making all that racket (Ollie), and we always spend a minute or two talking about the instruments pictured on the final page.

 The original version is a classic that features artwork from Auerlius Battaglia. I've not had a chance to see Dan Yaccarino's version but I'm a huge fan of his work and I imagine it's a real treat!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Time for Bed, Fred! by Yasmeen Ismail

Just what happens when it's 'Time for Bed, Fred!' is the question you'll be itching to answer in Yasmeen Ismail's debut book for children. Filled to the brim with page after page of eye watering water colours, Fred comes to life as a naughty, funny and sometimes filthy little pup who just won't go to bed.

Fred gets into all kinds of trouble in an effort to avoid bed and dog lovers may find themselves nodding in agreement.  Interestingly, I found myself nodding along not because of dogs but because Fred's antics so closely resemble E when he's in a cheeky mood. On such nights E, like Fred, will try all manner of tactics to avoid bed: playing with trains, demanding a ridiculous number of books and finally jumping into my bed and hiding instead of snuggling down in his own room. Admittedly, I find Fred a lot funnier than E!

The illustrations are magnificent and the story is fun yet sparse.  The short narrative may appeal even more to the under 3's.  Yasmeen Ismail is a wonderful artist in her own right and there is lots more to see on her website and in this lovely short video showing her painting Fred.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester Clark

It's back to school (aka nursery) for E this week and I'm very much looking forward to the return of our routine. E, however, is less impressed by the idea. So much so that he woke up shouting in the night this week, 'no school, no back to school.'  I decided that I needed a little help bolstering his enthusiasm and was delighted to see that one of my favorite author/illustrators, Emma Chichester Clark, released a title last year called, Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo!'.

This engaging, colorful book continues the story of the very loveable Blue Kangaroo and his very lively owner, Lily. Lily is about to go to a new school and she's worried about getting lost and making friends.  Blue Kangaroo, however, can't wait.  He accompanies Lily on her first day, and later finds himself alone at school after Lily has so much fun that she forgets him by mistake.  Playful mischeif ensues and Blue Kangaroo is busy overnight painting pictures, solving math problems and building towers with blocks.  The surprised children discover their classroom transformed the next day, but only Lily and Blue Kangaroo know the secret of how it all came to be.

E is a big fan of Lily and Blue Kangaroo, possibly because he can match their knack for moods and antics.  I like the series for their happy illustrations and totally on the mark narratives.  Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! is published by Harper Collins in the UK.   Emma Chichester Clark has a beautifully illustrated website and a fun blog about her dog Plum. Make sure to check them out!