Category Archives: Picture book

Stirling goings-on

The Bookbug Week‘s flagship event will this year take place only a mile or so away from Bookwitch Towers. Scottish Book Trust’s annual book week for young readers runs from May 16th for a week, kicking off at Bannockburn with a day of, I think, poetry and stuff.


The rest of the programme happens all over Scotland, and the theme this year is international. Songs and rhymes from around the world.

This tallies with what you find in the programme for Stirling’s own Off the Page where, surprisingly, they offer both a German Bookbug session, as well as a bilingual event or two.

You can also do colouring in and design your own coat of arms, along with attending a teddy bear’s picnic. At the other end of the age scale (or so I imagine) is a vintage reminiscence tea party, which sounds really very nice. Except I hope I am not old enough for that sort of thing yet.

Somewhere there are dragons.

In schools (they have all the luck!) you might find Chae Strathie, Janis Mackay, Kirkland Ciccone, Alex Nye, Ross MacKenzie and Mairi Hedderwick.

But despair not, Mairi Hedderwick is also doing a public event. Maybe even two. This ten-day long festival starts on May 6th, and other public children’s events offer Lari Don and Nick Sharratt.

Helen MacKinven, whom I met at Yay!YA+ last week is also doing an event. As are several of the big names in Scottish crime, such as Lin Anderson, Helen Fitzgerald, Denise Mina and Caro Ramsay.

There are many more events and many more authors. And much upset on my part because I will not be going to any of these… The more attractive the event, the less convenient the date (for me).

All Aboard for the Bobo Road

It took me a little while to realise that this extremely colourful picture book featuring a bus trip somewhere in Africa, is actually a counting book. I am a bit slow, and was so mesmerised by the colours that I missed the counting of items that entered the bus.

Stephen Davies and Christopher Corr, All Aboard For the Bobo Road

As is always the case with Stephen Davies and his picture books we are back in Africa, learning something of what people do in a particular area (I’m not sure exactly where).

Big Ali drives the bus from Banfora bus station to Bobo Road. His children Fatima and Galo are there too, sitting on the roof, helping load everything. The ‘wheels on the minibus go round’ and the children ride on the roof where the air feels fresher.

You see so much from the bus, and if my assumption that this is somewhere real is correct, then we see many interesting looking places. As well as the four cans of cooking oil and the five sacks of rice and…

On arrival everything has to be unloaded and counted again.

I like a place where the bus driver wears a lime green shirt and pink trousers!

(Christopher Corr is responsible for all the colour.)

The Hole Story

My Grandfather used to ask me to send him the holes in the cheese I liked to eat. He thought he was funny. So did I. I believe Mother-of-witch helped me post some cheesy holes every now and then. I obviously couldn’t spare the whole cheese, but you don’t miss a few holes.

Paul Bright and Bruce Ingman, The Hole Story

This book by Paul Bright, with illustrations by Bruce Ingman, has holes in the front cover. (The better to grip it, perhaps?) It also features some holey Swiss cheese, where the holes were at a bit of loss after the cheese got eaten and they no longer had a home, so they go looking for a new one.

But holes are not always welcome (they should have tried my Grandfather), as the King didn’t appreciate a hole in his sock, nor did the Queen want a hole in her knickers. Nowhere seemed to be good for holes.

Except, holes can be quite useful in the right place, and eventually our two holes did find somewhere to live. Somewhere where a hole is A Good Thing.

Katie’s Picture Show

This is the last (of my pile) of James Mayhew’s picture books about Katie, but I understand that it was James’s first one, which was re-issued a couple of years ago to celebrate 25 years of Katie misbehaving in art galleries. ‘Katie had never been to an art gallery before,’ but it might as well have said something about Katie never having climbed into famous works of art before.

James Mayhew, Katie's Picture Show

Here we discover how she began (after all, how do you find out you can climb into art?), and it does explain why she has continued her art visitations ever since. I sympathise with Grandma who needs to sit down as soon as they arrive. It’s what I do, too.

In Katie’s Picture Show Katie meets some of the best known art, art that even I have seen in real life. But none of this spilling tea on elegant French ladies or stealing pieces of cake, shifting her booty from picture to picture. She helps herself to quite a lot of food, but then I’ve never before considered that people – or tigers – in pictures might be hungry. Or bored and lonely, wanting a conversation or a play session.

James Mayhew, Katie's Picture Show

Modern art, on the other hand, can prove dangerously slippery, and Katie ‘didn’t want to be eaten by a piece of modern art.’ That particular escapade shows us that the guards in the art gallery aren’t such complete idiots after all. This one knew exactly what Katie was up to.

(So it might not merely be Katie’s personal talent, but a more general magic. Don’t touch the displays!)

A Great Big Cuddle – Poems for the very young

From words by one children’s laureate to illustrations by another. That’s A Great Big Cuddle, by Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell, and to be perfectly honest I didn’t think it’d be for me. I’m glad to report I was wrong, again. This is truly lovely.

Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell, A Great Big Cuddle

Some of the poems are not much more than words stacked together, but it would appear that when someone like Michael Rosen does the stacking, it works. There are nonsense words, as well as totally meaningful sentences covering ‘everything’ in life. You know, like if you are a bear cub with a splinter?

Burps and sick, a mother’s love, baths with an elephant, corn on the cob, being lost. Being found. Being loved. Cuddles.

Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell, A Great Big Cuddle

And whatever Michael throws at Chris, Chris comes back with the best pictures. For instance, was the hot dog meant to be a dog, rather than a sausage? You can’t be sure. And when Chris draws a cuddle, that’s one satisfying cuddle.

Too Many Carrots

You don’t have to love carrots to like this book, unlike its main character Rabbit who loves carrots. He loves them so much that it becomes a serious problem. (No risk of that happening to me.)

Katy Hudson, Too Many Carrots

Katy Hudson’s Too Many Carrots is lovely. It’s also full of carrots. So is Rabbit’s home, the hole in the ground where he lives. Or tries to live. Because his love of carrots makes him collect them, rather than just eat them, as is common among carrot-lovers.

And one day there is no Rabbit-space left in his carrot-collection. Nowhere to sleep. He tries moving in with various of his friends, with disastrous results, since he takes the carrots with him.

There is only one thing for it…

Very sweet – and orange – little story.

Finding Winnie

From mother and baby bears to an orphaned bear. Lindsay Mattick’s – I believe entirely true – story about the young Canadian vet who went to war in Europe in 1914. Vet Harry lived in Winnipeg, so had a long way to go before he got to the war, where his job was to look after the horses.

When his train stopped in White River he saw a bear cub on the platform. A very special bear cub, or so he felt. He bought it for $20 from the trapper who had most probably killed the cub’s mother.

Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall, Finding Winnie

The bear came with Harry on the train, and all the soldiers helped look after the cub and find food for him. He was a very hungry bear cub. Winnie travelled with Harry and the others all the way to England. But before they went to the war in Europe, Harry brought his dearest friend to London Zoo, where he left him to be looked after.

A young boy called Christopher Robin used to come to the zoo with his father, and he loved playing with Winnie.

And you all know what happened then. (I cried a bit, for one thing. And those books we love got written.)

I think we have to assume Lindsay knows all about this, since it was her great grandfather who liberated our dear bear. The fantastic illustrations are by the very reliable Sophie Blackall.