Tag Archives: Patrice Aggs

JJ and Sammy

I think Malorie Blackman would like these two picture books by Odette Elliott. They feature small family dramas, of the everyday kind. What makes them ‘different’ is that they are about black families. That shouldn’t make them stand out, but as there are still not enough such books, they do.

They are published by Tamarind, the imprint that publishes black and other ‘foreign’ minority books. It’s good that they do, but I don’t know why you need a special publisher for non-white books. It’s like clothes in larger sizes. They have to be bought from separate shops. Enough with this discrimination!

Rant over.

Odette Elliott and Patrice Aggs, My Big Brother JJ

My Big Brother JJ is about Jasmine and her big brother, as JJ finds out what it’s like to be a mother. Their mum still has her job to go to when it’s half term, so JJ is in charge. And that is hard work. A few hours is fine, but the whole week?

Anyway, JJ rises to the challenge, and arranges all sorts of activities for Jasmine. And to finish the week with a big statement for their mother, they… Well, let’s say they have a few mishaps on the road to family happiness, and ‘horrid, horrid’ words are uttered.

Odette Elliott and Georgina McIntyre, Sammy Goes Flying

In Sammy Goes Flying, little Sammy’s older siblings get to go on an exciting school trip. He wants to go too, so to stop the tears, his parents arrange for a special Sammy day out. This involves his Grandma and a balloon.

Sammy really does get to fly, and after a while neither he nor Teddy are scared. And they have something to tell the three older children when they get home.

Christmas beans

The trainee witch once (almost twice) worked in a bookshop in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This was in the days of Christmas Eve getting the Saturday treatment, shop hour wise. So we closed at twelve, and I recall I had a Saturday bus to catch soon after, where I was the only passenger, on the last bus for a couple of days.

Where was I? Oh yes, in the bookshop, before the last bus. It was quite nice working on Christmas Eve (well, one had a Mother-of-witch doing the kitchen stuff at home…), and something I noticed was that the world is full of people who don’t shop until there are mere hours between the buying of and the opening of presents. It takes a cool and steady mind to be that late.

They come in and spend anything, just to get the deed done. And obviously they require wrapping and all that.

According to Son it seems the wellknown online bookshop can offer the same these days, as long as you live somewhere civilised. Order on Christmas Eve morning and have it delivered that afternoon. It will cost you, but as I said, the Christmas Eve shopper can afford it.

What I’m trying to say here, in a roundabout and waffley way is that you could still manage to buy Magic Beans. I’m truly sorry for being so late mentioning this perfect Christmas book, but I’ve been feeding the cake brandy. And various other minor things.

In Magic Beans you have absolutely the cream of children’s authors doing their thing with classic fairy tales. Adèle Geras retells the The Six Swan Brothers. It’s wonderful with such sibling love. But I wonder what happened to the old King and his witchy wife? It’s funny how Princes and Kings wander around finding themselves wives all over the place.

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Henrietta Branford before. Here she retells Hansel and Gretel, without too much gruesomeness. And why do witches and stepmothers get bad press all the time? Berlie Doherty’s The Snow Queen is icy and season appropriate. And below you can listen to Jacqueline Wilson talking about Rapunzel.

Other particpating authors are Anne Fine, Philip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo, Kit Wright, Alan Garner, Gillian Cross, Susan Gates, Malorie Blackman, Linda Newbery and Tony Mitton. And since it’s not only writers you get, every single fairy tale has been illustrated by some pretty creamy artists like Debi Gliori, Ian Beck, Lesley Harker, Nick Sharratt, Patrice Aggs, Peter Bailey, Nick Maland, James Mayhew, Siận Bailey, Ted Dewan, Michael Foreman, Sue Heap and Bee Willey.

By good fortune I have also just found out that some of these stories can be bought as ebooks, so if you’re really desperate…

Don’t say I haven’t provided a useful suggestion. And if you were to go for the old-fashioned dead tree version you get a nice, fat volume with pictures. I’ll even wrap it for you. If you come here, that is.