Category Archives: Picture book

Dads and Ducks

David Melling, Just Like My Daddy

I might be in love with David Melling.

Just in time for Father’s Day we have the re-issued Just Like My Daddy. We meet a young lion cub who rather admires his fierce and clever lion daddy. The adult reader can tell daddy is not perfect, and maybe the little lion can too. I don’t know.

But he definitely loves his dad. And so does all his friends.

This picture book shows you a new side to the powerful lion image. But a dad’s a dad, anyway.

David Melling, Colour with Splosh!

And if you want more, I give you ducks. They are also by David Melling, and Colour with Splosh! is a lovely and fun take on colours and rhymes, with the most adorable ducks.

And one rabbit.

There is just something about David’s style…

Good for children

We have a new Children’s Laureate. It’s the very popular Lauren Child – another illustrator – whose name I am childishly happy to realise is sort of similar to her new title; child and laure.

Chris Riddell and Lauren Child

When I spoke to Chris last year I wasn’t surprised to find that he was looking forward to the end of his two years, when he’d be able to maybe rest a little, and to concentrate on his own work. Though I am sure he will also miss the whole thing a bit.

Chris is a hard act to follow, so I’ll be interested to see what Lauren will do. (Rather her than me!) I never totally grasped Lauren’s greatness, with Offspring just too old for her oh so popular books. But listening to those who know better, she is big.

And hopefully full of energy. She’ll need it.

Another accolade to the illustrating world was Scottish Book Trust’s Outstanding Achievement Award given to Mairi Hedderwick last week. As with the laureate-ship I couldn’t quite come up with my own theoretical shortlist, but on finding out that Mairi was the inaugural winner, I felt it all made sense. Who else but Katie Morag’s mum?

Mairi Hedderwick

Isn’t it interesting that all three people in this post are illustrators? Authors as well, but rather better at drawing pictures than most of us.

Hugs

What a lot of hugs!

OK, so Hugless Douglas spends most of this book, We Love You, Hugless Douglas just hugging a bit, but mostly wanting a best friend. He is being a best friend, but doesn’t quite grasp what that means.

David Melling, We Love You, Hugless Douglas

But it’s a walk in the woods with Flossie the sheep, and they encounter a lot of animals in their search for Flossie’s friend.

And it’s a walk in the woods for Little Bear and Daddy Bear in Hug Me, Please by Przemysław Wechterowicz and Emilia Dziubak too. Eating some honey gets Little Bear in the mood for hugging people. Well, animals.

Przemysław Wechterowicz and Emilia Dziubak, Hug Me, Please

So they walk along, finding their intended huggees, and hugging them. Usually willingly, but some recipients are less keen on being bearhandled by what is a very large bear, even if it’s Little Bear. But they mean well. There is no eating of anyone, especially since they make the wolf miss the girl in red.

Even the hunter gets a hug, since ‘it would be rude not to’ according to Daddy Bear.

Lovely. And both books so very huggy.

Finding home

It certainly takes the glamour out of being a refugee. Kate Milner’s picture book My name is not Refugee, tells the story of a mother who prepares her young child for leaving.

Kate Milner, My Name is not Refugee

She takes him through the various steps of what will have to happen; leaving your things, and your cat, behind. Living without running water, surrounded by rubbish. Being alone, or being with too many people close up. Eating strange food and sleeping in strange places.

And maybe finding somewhere in the end where you can be safe. Some place where you will eventually learn to understand the language, and maybe make new friends. Another cat.

In The Road Home by Katie Cotton, and illustrated by Sarah Jacoby, we meet a young hare and his parent. They are also trying to get home, and the way home takes them through beautiful and strange landscapes, past many other animals, friendly and not so friendly.

It’s different from the human trek, but maybe not so different after all. We want the same thing in the end.

‘For safety is a precious place, a place to call our own. This road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home.’

Two beautiful books.

Katie Cotton and Sarah Jacoby, The Road Home

Puppies

What a cute, touchy-feely boardbook-cum-pop-up book!

I often say how hard it is to review picture books. This tactile boardbook is no easier. But it is cute. It’s got puppies.

Illustrated by Hilli Kushnir, Here Come the Puppies from Pat-a-Cake, has four puppies, one for each spread. Each of them has something that the reader can touch; rough paw, soft ear, and so on.

Hilli Kushnir, Here Come the Puppies

And then the pièce de résistance, which is a sort of fold-out fruitbowl of puppies. They do nothing except look cute. But that’s enough.

I need a small child!

Findus Rules the Roost

It might have been better if Gustavsson had made a stew out of his old rooster, considering the noise he makes. But Pettson is a real softie, so had to rescue the rooster and bring him home to his hens. And to poor Findus. Who has been best friends with the hens until this moment.

Sven Nordqvist, Findus Rules the Roost

But from now on those ladies are very taken with their new rooster, even if he is rather loud. Findus is more direct, asking ‘what’s the good of that?’ when he realises the rooster is there to stay.

Or is he?

The hens fawn over him, and Pettson finds the crowing quite attractive. To begin with.

It’s pretty much like when your mother brings home a new baby and expects you to love it, and everyone else does love it and they seem to forget you. And there is noise, all the time, everywhere. Findus hides in the attic. Pettson talks to the rooster and sets limits. Everyone begins to feel upset. You can see Gustavsson’s point.

Findus is naughty and…

Well, the rooster knew how to – ahem – say goodbye nicely.

I love these books. I am in no danger of tiring anytime soon, even if Findus is a handful. But I do sometimes wonder what Pettson actually lives off. Sawing logs, fishing and picking redcurrants will only go so far. As will savouring the peace and quiet at the end of the day with Findus in the garden.

Tibs the Post Office Cat

From a clever dog to a clever cat, whose ‘nearly true story’ Joyce Dunbar tells, with admirably Post Office catty illustrations by Claire Fletcher. Being an old Post Office hand myself, I feel strongly about this.

Joyce Dunbar and Claire Fletcher, Tibs the Post Office Cat

Whatever the truth might have been regarding what happens in this book, Tibs himself was real, born in a Post Office in 1950, and it was his job to keep the mice away. In this story the mice are blamed for eating the letters and licking the glue off the stamps.

Which is why Tibs had to leave his mother and go to the London sorting office to sort (sorry!) the mice out before the Coronation. He even got paid.

The thing about [fictional Tibs] is that his way with mice was rather un-conventional, even allowing for his good manners. So what you expect to happen might not actually have happened, even fictionally, but the mice were certainly not a nuisance for long after Tibs moved in.

And that’s what counts.

This is a very nice little story, and I do love the Post Office connection!