Monday, 27 April 2015

Hooray! It’s a New Royal Baby!

Hooray! It’s a New Royal Baby!

Written by Martha Mumford & Illustrated by Ada Grey  
Published by Bloomsbury

It’s the latest book in the Royal series and the Royal Palace is in chaos again - there’s a New Royal Baby on the way! This is the third book, after Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby! and Happy Birthday, Royal Baby! which I reviewed back in early March which you can read here.

The Royal Palace is bustling with excitement, because the Duke and Duchess are bringing home the new Royal Baby. The nursery is being prepared; the royal rocking horse is being polished and teddy bears being placed in neat rows. At the palace gates, Royal Baby George is helping his auntie and uncle hang bunting. His auntie believes it will be lots of fun to have a new Royal Baby to make friends with but Royal Baby George isn’t sure. What if the New Royal Baby wants to play with all his toys or snatch his jam sandwiches, or worse still, if the New Royal Baby dribbles over his favourite toy dinosaur! This makes Royal Baby George not want a New Royal Baby at all!

When the New Royal Baby arrives, Royal Baby George is feeling glum. He thought the New Royal Baby’s face was scrunched up and wrinkly. And when the New Royal Baby starts to cry, it makes Royal Baby George start to cry. Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the new arrival but Royal Baby George isn’t impressed, he thinks the New Royal Baby looks like a fish which gives the Duke an idea of giving Baby George a pet goldfish as a present from the New Royal Baby. Perhaps the New Royal Baby isn’t that bad. But a goldfish can only do so much and it isn’t long before Baby George is bored but the New Royal Baby is soon smiling, gurgling and rolling over - a lot more interesting. Everyday is different with the New Royal Baby. Sometimes, things become trickier, like when the New Royal Baby got some teeth and liked to bite or when the New Royal Baby took a fancy to Royal Baby George’s toys. On the whole, Royal Baby George decided that having a New Royal Baby was much more fun than having a new goldfish.

This is a lovely addition to the series and cleverly done so that there’s no mention on whether it’s a little brother or sister for Royal Baby George, as it has been published before knowing what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be having. Though I’m sure it won’t be too long now!

It’s a great book for little ones when there’s a new baby on the way. A lovely and fun read for older siblings on what to expect from new babies; smiling, gurgling, rolling, playing games and also some not so fun things. Parents and little ones will enjoy following Royal Baby George on how he comes round to liking the New Royal Baby and like the other two previous books, there’s plenty of Corgis within this book and they're all still just as adorable - with some gorgeous Corgi covered end papers to boot!

Hooray! It’s a New Royal Baby! is available in all good book shops and online at Bloomsbury

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Little Snappers: Cheep Cheep Pop-Up Fun

Little Snappers: 
Cheep Cheep Pop-Up Fun

Text by Jonathan Litton, Illustrations by Kasia Nowowiejska  
Published by Little Tiger Press

Another fun novelty book for spring time, Cheep Cheep has large flaps for little hands to lift, but watch out, large farmyard animals will be jumping out at you.

There’s lots of animals in this cute little book; Which animal likes to play peek-a-moo? It’s laughing Cow, who appears when you lift the large flap. Or which roly-poly animal plays games with ginger cat? It’s Piglet who likes to dive into mud. There’s also Horse and Sheep who appear behind the very large flaps. This little book ends with Hen wanting to know who is making chirpy sound inside her nest. As you lift the flap, three little chicks appear, all hatched from their eggs, and what do chicks do best? “Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!”

The illustrations are large and bright with cute animal characters, and with a screen printed effect, the book has a lovely look and feel. The flaps feel quite sturdy and being so large, there’s some nice movement with the pop out animals, for example, the pig does a rolling movement while the sheep jumps over the fence. I was impressed with the large sized flaps and the rhyming text works well making this a great fun book.

Little Snappers is a range of bright and colourful novelty books from 1 years of age and upwards. You can find the whole range here

Little ones will definitely enjoy the colourful and quirky farmyard animals popping out of this adorable and fun pop-up book. Available in all good book shops or direct from Little Tiger Press.

Interview with Emma Yarlett

To celebrate the release of Poppy Pickle, I had the chance to explore the HUGE imagination of author & illustrator, Emma Yarlett. 

BWB: Were you a child with a vivid imagination?

EY: I was indeed, and this imaginative streak was always most evident in my creativity. I’ve always been a bit of a ‘maker’, whether it be making up a game to play with friends on the spot, making things with my hands or sketching out made-up worlds… I was always imagining. I also always had a bit of a vivid imagination at less useful times though, namely when imagining scarecrows lurking at the bottom of the stairs at nighttime… Not quite such a fun experience. And these days I still can’t look at a scarecrow without shivering!

BWB: Any imaginary friends?
 EY: Disappointingly I never did! I remember deciding multiple times that I would have an imaginary friend, but found I got far too involved in the creative process of imagining them into being, drawing them, thinking of their likes and dislikes etcetera etcetera! So much so that when it came to actually doing whatever you do with imaginary friends, I was already bored of them and ready for the next thing!

BWB: Did you run into any problems whilst creating the book?
 EY: A big fat resounding YES! Pinning down the storyline was a bit of a headache as the story is both imaginative and based on imagination, so there were absolutely NO parameters. And that meant that there were so many possibilities to where young Poppy Pickle could go on her adventures. With much patience from my publisher and numerous drafts, we finally made it after having to put in some necessary boundaries for the storyline so as to keep it under some mild illusion of constraint!

BWB: What was the main fuel behind the idea?

EY: Chocolate. And lot’s of it. Aside from that, the fuel was a need to tell Poppy Pickle’s story. Once Poppy and her dilemma/special power (of having such a huge imagination that it begins to overflow) had arrived in my brain that was it. I felt it was a story that was jumping up and down shouting “tell me!” in my head, so much so that I couldn’t resist getting it down on paper.

BWB: This is your third title with Templar, can we expect more great titles in the future?
 EY: Indeed! Ideas are already scurrying in my sketchbook and nesting into little pockets of stories.

BWB: If you could imagine yourself anywhere in the world where would that be?

EY: Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Aside from the high risk of falling into chocolate rivers/swelling into a blue berry, I couldn’t think of anywhere more brilliant! But if you’re after a real place (although who says imaginary places aren’t real?) probably New York. I’ve only been once, but it captured my heart and soul.

BWB: Will we see Poppy again?
 EY: When she’s calmed down from her over excitement of having a story about her published… I think there is definite potential for her to go on another adventure….

BWB: You mentioned in a recent interview that you tested out an early draft of Poppy Pickle on a class of school children. Would you use this method again?
 EY: I did indeed! And how frightening it was. But never before have I seen a group of kids laughing so hard at me, without having done something rather silly. After having such a good experience of doing this the first time around, I think I would definitely try it out again. However, some books really lend themselves to being a bit of a crowd pleaser, Poppy Pickle being one of them. Others of my books go down better when they are read on their own, or one-to-one… so I would have to bear that in mind when deciding whether to take the plunge!

BWB: Poppy Pickle is a very colourful book. Did you use any techniques to capture the vividness of Poppy’s imagination or was it just experimenting to see what worked?

EY: There was lots of thinking and lots of experimenting. However the ‘look’ of her imagination, with all it’s stars and swirls came together far quicker in comparison to the ‘look’ of her imagined friends. Many conversations were had between my art director and I. I think we slightly lost the plot somewhere along the way, but we finally decided on having her imagined creatures having a two dimensional look made from collaging brightly coloured textured papers. This means that they sort of sit brightly and flatly within Poppy Pickle’s three dimensional room- almost as if cartoons have flung themselves of the television screen into real life; slightly akin to when in Disney’s Mary Poppins, Mary and Burt find themselves surrounded by cartoon penguins.

Q10. If you could imagine anything real right now what would it be?

EY: You’ve caught me when I’m feeling rather hungry- hence many of my references to chocolate in this interview! So I would have to say that I would imagine a wonderful steak and sweet potato chips into existence. Perhaps it could sit on a magical Harry Potter-esque refilling plate? Yum.

Thanks to Emma and Stephanie at Templar for this superb interview. Poppy Pickle is available to buy next month.

Poppy Pickle

Poppy Pickle

By Emma Yarlett  
Published by Templar Publishing

Poppy Pickle is the latest picture book from author & illustrator, Emma Yarlett. It's Emma's third self authored title with Templar Publishing and what a corker it is.

You might have guessed from the title that the story focusses around a little girl called Poppy. Like most children her age, Poppy has a BIG imagination. Her parents aren't too impressed with Poppy's vivid imagination, with cat's being thrown on her dad's head in an attempt to make them fly. 

When her parents can tolerate her no more, Poppy gets sent to her room and its not long until Poppy lets her imagination run away with her. But this time there's a slight difference to what her mind conjures up, Poppy learns that whatever she thinks up can become ALIVE! What an incredible, amazing, magical ability. She first imagines a flying pig, then she starts imagining all kinds of things; big things, small things, far and inbetween and back to front and upside down things. Before long, Poppy's room in jam packed with everything she's imagined. Problem is that she should really be tidying her room, and as Poppy gets more and more carried away, things start to go very, very wrong. 

An angry mammoth alerts her parents by putting its foot through the floor, and to make things worst a croc is trying to have her for its lunch! Her parents make their way up to her room and Poppy has to act fast to get rid of everything. She tries un-imagining all her creatures but it makes things worst. She then has the bright idea of erasing them with a huge rubber, but with her parents banging on her door to let them in she needs a much faster way to make them disappear. And then it hits her, a DOOR! And quick as a flash she pushes them all through. Just in time for her parents to see the state of her now DESTROYED bedroom!

As always, Emma delivers with her brilliantly zany and colourful illustrations. The story is fun and you instantly love Poppy's over active imagination. With a lovely surprise ending, children and adults will adore this third picture book exclusively with Templar.     

Poppy Pickle will be available to buy next month from all good bookshops and from Templar Publishing. Read my interview with Emma here to find out more about the world of Poppy Pickle!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

You Are My Baby: Meadow

You Are My Baby: Meadow

By Lorena Siminovich
Published by Chronicle Books

You Are My Baby: Meadow is the latest title in this board book series. Previous titles include Safari, Farm, Garden, Ocean, Pets and Woodland. These two-in-one books, with a small book nestled within a bigger book, allows little ones to match the baby animals with their parents; a lovely early learning concept.

Meadow includes a bluebird, rabbit, sheep, mouse and hen, which are within the large book while their babies are within the little book. The little book also includes the repeated phrase of ‘You are my baby, little……’, while the larger book includes sentences such as ‘You discover new things’, ‘You grow so fast’ and ending on ‘You dream sweet dreams’ paired with a sleeping lamb.

I like the concept of this book and the series looks lovely. Aoife, my 10 month old daughter, loves turning the pages on the little book, but I don’t think I would leave her on her own with this book just yet, as I would be worried of it tearing.

The illustrations are super cute, with the pictures made up of a collage of patterns. As mentioned on the back of this book, Lorena Siminovich is the creator of Petit Collage, which is a line of modern wall decor and accessories. This comes across as the book series has an aesthetically appealing look.

A lovely little book to read with toddlers, exploring animals and their young in a fun and playful way. The You Are My Baby range can be found in all good book shops but also online here.

Hungry Roscoe

Hungry Roscoe

By David J. Plant  
Published by Flying Eye Books

Flying Eye Books never disappoint with their titles. Hungry Roscoe had me sold just on the cover alone! The title made up from various pieces of fruit, meats and donuts, made me as hungry as Roscoe (my tummy is rumbling as I write this!).

This new title is the debut picture book of David J. Plant, an illustrator from Hong Kong that grew up in Cyprus and that now lives in Bristol (a great way to globe-trot!). David currently works for CBBC doing illustration for CBeebies. I recommend taking a look at his blog as his work is fantastic. 

Roscoe isn't your typical picture book hero. He's a naughty, mischievous raccoon who doesn't give up easily - everyone loves a chancer! The story begins with Roscoe becoming fed up with eating out of trash cans. Why eat junk food when there's mouthwatering fruit or a nice fresh fish to be had? And where on earth is there lots of yummy fresh food? The Zoo, as he friend Benjy points out. So Roscoe, being the daring raccoon he is, visits the zoo. And unsurprisingly he isn't welcomed with open arms, with the zookeeper literally booting him out and telling him not to return. 

But Roscoe doesn't give up that easily! Of course he has a foolproof plan that will bag him all that lovely nosh. And using some items he's found in the trash, he transforms himself into a tortoise. He sneaks back into the zoo and waits to be fed with the other tortoises, but the zookeeper isn't that easily fooled, with Roscoe being shown the door once again. 

After a second failed attempt as a Penguin, Roscoe is befriended by some cheeky monkeys with the promise of their dinner in return for the zookeeper's keys. This turns out to rage havoc across the zoo as the naughty monkeys free all the zoo animals who chase the visitors here, there and everywhere. But at least Roscoe filled his tummy! 

With David's loose illustrative style and retro colour palette, and the story being reminiscent of cartoon shows such as Yogi Bear, I really enjoyed Hungry Roscoe - another lovely presented picture book from Flying Eye Books. Hungry Roscoe is available to buy in all good bookshops and online on Flying Eye Books website.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Lemur Dreamer

Lemur Dreamer

By Courtney Dicmas  
Published by Templar Publishing

Louis the lemur is a sleepwalker. And although sleepwalking may seem to be uneventful, Louis leads his friends on quite an adventure! 

Louis is a resident of 32 Pebbly Lane, he lives there with an array of other animal residents. Louis lives on the top floor, and every night he has the habit of sleepwalking through all the other apartments - much to the annoyance of the other residents. But being the good friends that they are, they put up with his sleepwalking antics. 

One night Louis ends up taking a wrong turn and ends up walking out on a washing line, right out on to Pebbly Lane causing quite a stir. The residents of Pebbly Lane decide that his sleepwalking is getting out of hand and decide that they should follow him to see where his sleepwalking legs take him. They bravely follow Louis outside of Pebbly Lane, across power cables and nearly off a cliff! Luckily they grab him in time and he finally wakes up exclaiming of the amazing dreams he'd had and totally unaware of his sleepwalking. Of course he feels terrible when he realises the trouble he's caused his good friends, but they explain they love him anyway! And to stop Louis causing himself any further harm they buy him a little present that lets him sleepwalk at ease. 

The first thing that caught my eye was the bold cover on Lemur Dreamer, the paperback has a stunning shiny foil moon, with foil stars, perfect for magical night-time reading. Courtney Dicmas' illustrations are bold and colourful (a style that runs throughout all her books), mostly created with watercolour washes and coloured pencil. I found Lemur Dreamer very entertaining, with lots of laughs and quirky illustrations. The book also has a strong message too; good friends look out for you, no matter what. Check out the great trailer below.

Lemur Dreamer is available to buy now from all good bookshops and online from Templar Publishing.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

EGG, My Little World

EGG, My Little World

Text by Jonathan Litton, Illustrations by Fiona Galloway
Published by Little Tiger Press

There’s an egg hunt on the way in this little novelty board book for babies and toddlers. A great find for this easter weekend!

We join Bunny and her friends in an exciting Easter egg hunt where there’s lots of lovely patterned and spotty eggs to be found by Lamb, Puppy, Kitten, Pony, and Bluebird. When all the eggs have been found, they’re all put into a pile when one by one, some cracks appear. CHEEP! Little chicks hatch from the eggs, a lovely end to this sweet book.

Each egg has a cut out center to allow little fingers to turn pages and explore the book by themselves. The illustrations are bright and colourful with a cute baby animal on each new page spread. There’s a cheerful rhyming story which works well with the sweet illustrations.

My daughter, who is now 10 months old, enjoyed opening this book up using the egg shaped holes and feeling the area where the other cut out eggs were. Aoife is now at the stage of wanting to open and close books herself and often feels pages, looking for the area that may have different surfaces or patting the animal characters. This held her attention for quite a few minutes by herself.

My Little World is a lovely range from Little Tiger Press, with lots of great little novelty and board books with cut out holes for little fingers. The whole range can be found here and EGG being available to buy here.

The King Cat

The King Cat

By Marta Altes
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books

If you have ever owned a cat then you will love this book. This book is hilarious and though it focuses on a cat having to share his home with a new dog, there is a gentle morale message about learning to share for young readers.

This cat is the king of his house, as most cats are. Cat explains how he does so much for his people; keeping them entertained, sleeping in the day to protect them at night and just being super cute! But something happens one morning, has Cat done something to upset his people because why, oh why would they get a dog?! Cat can’t understand why this has happened because this dog is annoying, disgusting and can be quite stupid. As Cat is a good king, he tries to give Dog a proper welcome but he doesn’t seem to understand the rules of Cat’s house. Even his people have seemed to have forgotten him. Cat has had enough and tells Dog he doesn’t want him there but Dog wanders off with Cat believing he’s finally taken the hint and gone on his way. But readers will know that he has just simply gone out for a walk.

Finally everything is back to normal for Cat to enjoy all his sleeping places, however it isn’t long before Cat begins to think it’s a little bit too quiet and Cat begins to feel sad. But when Dog returns, Cat knows its okay to make new rules and to make them together with Dog - but of course he’s still the king of the house!

Marta Altes’ illustrations are very sweet with the limited colour palette of muted colours. A lot of the pages focus on the actions of just Cat and Dog, and readers will immediately identify with Cat as his comfortable existence is turned upside down by an annoying Dog. Children may also pick up on the altered end papers; at the front, it shows the living area with pictures of just Cat, but at the end of the book, pictures of Dog have been added, with Cat and Dog curled up together on the couch.

The words are written from Cat’s point of view and creates humour when he explains what he does for his people and when he expresses his disdain for Dog. This book could be used for teaching young children about the arrival of a new sibling and learning to share or for any new arrival to a home, i.e a pet.

If you are new to Marta Altes, I highly recommend My Grandpa, her debut book with Macmillan, which is about the special relationship between an elderly grandfather and grandson. A unique look at old age through the eyes of a young bear - I found it throughly moving.

The King Cat is recommended for ages 4 and over and has been out since late February and if you haven’t read it, it would make a great addition to any bookcase or for any cat lover! The King Cat is to available now in all good bookshops and available online here.