Category Archives: Picture book

Babette laid an egg

Babette Cole

I well remember the shocked giggling at the book party. Back then, about twenty years ago, I was part of a group of mothers who hosted and attended many selling parties, and one kind was the Red House book party. That’s where my neighbour discovered Babette Cole’s Mummy Laid an Egg!

Babette Cole, Mummy Laid an Egg

She had probably been a little bit too properly brought up for the openness in Babette’s book. Hence the palpable shock, even if she giggled. Which just goes to prove how essential this very funny picture book was, and still is. Children need to be told where babies come from, if only so they can pass that knowledge on to their parents.

And now Babette has died, and there won’t be any more books to produce such gasps among the older generation.

Night Shift

As well as the blog featuring her depression Debi Gliori has written a book about it. It’s a picture book for adults, and if it wasn’t for the very difficult subject, I would say it’s a beautiful book.

Well, it is a beautiful book, of course. It’s just that it makes for difficult reading, if you stop and think that that might be you. Or if you know that it actually is you.

Debi Gliori, Night Shift

There are few words in this book. Sometimes I think we use too many words and the thing we are wanting to talk about just disappears among all those words that weren’t necessary. Debi is brief and to the point, and as you read the short sentences, you look at the accompanying illustrations. And you feel.

Those clichés people use when they are trying to be helpful are in there. I’m guessing Debi has heard them a lot. ‘Chin up. Get a grip.’ You know. What does it mean?

Throughout the book someone like Debi is being chased by dark dragons. Until that moment when something small, but significant, turns up. Something that could make a difference.

At least for the time being.

Read this if you want to know what it’s like. Read this if you know what it’s like. Share it. More people need to know what it’s like.

Bookbug and the Bookwitch

You know it’s bad when you spy someone like Ross Collins across the room, and instead of scurrying over to say hello, you remain seated, because you’re so knackered that nothing will make you give up sitting, now that you have bagged a chair. (Not literally, I hasten to add. I have every reason to believe the chair is still at the National Library of Scotland.)

The Bookbug Picture Book Prize 2017

It was the very first Bookbug Picture Book Prize last night, and despite my home town throwing heavy-ish snow at me, I made it to Edinburgh, where they had no snow at all.

All three shortlisted authors were there, Alison Murray, Ross Collins and Nick Sharratt. There was mingling – or there was sitting on a chair, in my case – over wine/specially ordered tap water for me – and canapés. The nice men who were offering round the eats almost became my bffs through their sheer insistence that I have another one. And another one.

Bookbug mingling

Spoke to a very nice librarian who had come much farther than I had, and also through snow. We talked about how wonderful it is that all P1 children in Scotland have been given their own copies of all three shortlisted books. She asked which was my favourite (none of this bland ‘have you read any of them?’), and luckily we agreed on which one was best (out of three very good books).

Nick Sharratt, Alison Murray, Ross Collins and Bookbug

Then there were speeches, and after that the prizes were handed out, with Nick Sharratt being the overall winner with Shark in the Park on a Windy Day. Bookbug himself arrived and seemed really pleased to see us. Nick had to make a speech, which he claimed made him nervous. He did well.

Nick Sharratt, Ross Collins, Bookbug and Alison Murray

Vivian French was in the audience, and I made a special point of going over to introduce myself after all these years. She’s not so scary after all.

Balancing a small container of lettuce and prawns with tiny plastic spoon, I made my way over to Ross Collins, who I’ve emailed with but never met. He took my presence well, and he could chat while holding not only his own prawn thing but a glass of wine and his prize and an envelope which he hoped contained money…

As I did my last turn round the room I happened upon Scottish Booktrust’s strawberry milkshake Beth, so we chatted about her next book van passenger, who just happens to be Nick Sharratt, who will be driven to Liverpool. Where, he told me when I caught up with him, he’s never been. ‘My nice librarian’ got to him first, and had her photo taken with Nick, who was wearing an arty combination of three-piece tweed suit with orange tie.

Nick Sharratt and librarian

After this I Cinderella-ed myself away, since the trains still are doing inconvenient things like not running late enough. Walked past my cathedral which, even if I say so myself, looked splendid in the dark, with the moon hanging over its shoulder.

St Giles' Cathedral

And there was still far too much frozen snow when I got home.

Nick Sharratt and Aoife (3) read Shark in the Park on a Windy day

Be Brave Little Penguin

Easier said than done, this being brave stuff. But with arctic conditions closing in on me, I felt for this poor little frightened penguin. His dad is a bit tactless, but his mum is lovely.

Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees, Be Brave Little Penguin

Giles Andreae has written this story about little Pip-Pip who doesn’t quite dare go in the water. It could be cold. (Probably is, down there.) There might be monsters. (Might. Probably not though.) Icy and fresh illustrations from Guy Parker-Rees didn’t do anything to entice me to consider getting in the water. I’m totally with Pip-Pip on this.

But, you know. Once dad has said his dad type comment on bravery, mum takes over and suggests that another possibility is that it could be absolutely fine, if Pip-Pip would only take the plunge. Literally.

And Pip-Pip does, and …

Sweet little story, showing young readers that fear is OK, and you will overcome that fear. Eventually.

But the water looks awfully cold, I have to say.

Give us a hug!

Awww… Hugless Douglas is so sweet! And so, well, confused. But cute.

Douglas, who is a very young and very brown and pretty big bear, wakes up one morning, needing a hug. Not being all that clued up on who would be likeliest to give him his hug, Douglas wanders off in search of one.

David Melling, Hugless Douglas

He likes them big. And he likes them tall. But rocks and trees aren’t the huggiest of creatures. And sheep might be soft, but unwilling. And so it goes.

Douglas does try hard, but you can’t force the local wildlife to hug you if they are not huggers.

Luckily, Rabbit has the solution. (I believe it was Rabbit who was the sensible one in the other Hugless Douglas book as well.)

Mothers are often a good bet if you are after a hug. Not the only ones, but fairly dependable for a good squeeze. Come here!

(By David Melling. I fell so hard for Douglas that I almost forgot to mention his creator…)

The Glump and the Peeble

Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown, The Glump and the Peeble

We often want to be what we are not. That goes for me too, but I can sense I am more Glump than anything else. I don’t think I’ve got even a little Peeble in me.

But then, it could turn out that other readers of Wendy Meddour’s and Rebecca Ashdown’s new picture book The Glump and the Peeble are my complete opposites, and are Peebles wishing for more Glumpness.

This is a book about being brave enough to try being the other way. Just a little. There’s nothing wrong with what you are, but any hankering after the other way of life could indicate you should have a little go.

So as the Glump sits in his cave, sighing over the imagined fun Peebles have, it seems there is a Peeble who would like to slow down and sit and think somewhere quiet. And once their minds have permitted them to rethink how they live, it turns out they can be a bit like the other one. While still being themselves.

Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown, The Glump and the Peeble

Fun and colourful, with lovely verse from Wendy, which begs to be read out loud, and so much colour in Rebecca’s illustrations. Even I would almost want to be Peeblier if I could be that pink and furry.

Almost.

In the Land of Broken Time

Maria and Max Evan, In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey

This was actually a rather sweet and fun little story. In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey, by Maria and Max Evan and translated from Russian by Helen Hagon, is a picture book. I think. I have read it on the Kindle as that is the only format so far, and generally I find ebooks and picture books don’t work so well.

Hence a certain reluctance on my part to read them. Except in this case I felt there was something there, so I gave it a go, and I’m glad I did, as I really enjoyed the book.

The story is about Christopher who is ten, and who sneaks out to see the circus even though he is unwell. Doing so he comes across another sneaky child, the lovely Sophie, and they end up having an adventure, in the company of a speaking dog. As you do.

There is an air balloon involved and somehow it travels in time, and the children land somewhere different, where there is a time mystery for them to solve.

Maria and Max Evan, In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey

It’s old-fashioned and modern all at once. It’s like a typical fairy tale, but one where the children have mobile phones and access to Skype. And a talking dog.