DRAGON LOVES PENGUIN
BLOOMSBURY 2014 (PBK) 32pp £6.99
Gliori's new book is a celebration of difference and a heart-warming story about adoption. Much of the visual narrative is played out on a white background- a personal favourite as it allows the reader space to project their own thoughts but also focuses the eye on the characters.
The illustrations are hand executed in what looks to be charcoal and pastel pencils so the results are slightly smudgy and extremely charming. The written narrative is the back story of Bib & Bib's unusual family, beautifully told by Gliori. The 'book blurb' describes her as a master storyteller and this is no over inflated statement on the part of the publishing house- it takes certain skill to deliver a tender story which is not saccharine. This book already feels like a classic and is sure to be a good investment for any young family as it's bound to be read and re-read many times. Our own children adored it. This book has award-winning potential and is everything a picture book should be. Go and buy it! 0-4 5-7
THE NEW KID
HODDER 2014 (HBK) 32pp £11.99 ISBN 978-1-444-90818-3
Multi-award winning Fitzpatrick's new book has a theme all children can relate to - peer group pressure or the fear of being excluded if you don't conform. When Ellie arrives on the street, all the other children are curious to meet her but they immediately see her difference as a thing to ridicule. Ellie however, stands her ground and uses her imagination to instil humour into an otherwise awkward predicament. This is a big risk on her behalf as it could exclude her further but luckily things work out to her advantage and the other children see the fun in it and want to join in the game. The story is told in the first person by a boy who stands apart from the jeering but in turn, gets envious when his own position in the group is threatened. However, there's a happy ending and Ellie becomes one of the gang.
The atmospheric hand painted narrative begins on the beautiful end pages where we see the street kids hanging on a wall. The scene is reminiscent of a Cork townscape. We then move onto the title page where we see a close up of the children's houses and their faces peering out of the windows as a removal truck unloads its contents into an empty house. The open door of this house and a close up of the gang gathered outside is the first double page spread in the book. This is a wonderful introduction to a lovely, thought provoking book.5-7
ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM
MACMILLAN 2014 (PBK) £11.99 ISBN 978-0-230-76378-4
Based on a well known children's song, this wonderful debut is sure to appeal to toddlers everywhere. Flat blocks of colour, reminiscent of Mattisse, 'zoom' across the pages and the result is both enchanting and vibrant. Manolessou screen prints much of her work and certainly, this book has a beautiful, rich quality rarely seen in digital imagery- the colour is saturated and it sings.
The story begins on the title page, all the animals are asleep in the jungle except Monkey and Bird who decide to zoom to the moon. There they meet a four-armed pink alien who shows them a good time and as the title indicates, everything's on the move. We get a real sense of motion from the arching, spinning objects. This is a brilliantly conceived book, words and pictures marry perfectly and there's a feeling of having been on a journey and that the journey is a tiring one (a gentle indicator if this is being read as a bedtime story.) The closing pages gradually show Monkey and Bird falling asleep and finally shows all the animal families huddled together in the jungle again. This book is bound to stimulate and provoke discussion from lively young children and is well wort buying or borrowing. Really looking forward to seeing more work from this lovely new talent. 0-4
BRIAN AND THE VIKINGS
O'BRIEN 2014 (PBK) 32pp
When a band of fearsome Vikings invade an ancient village, panic breaks out. Everything's thrown into turmoil until Brian, the smallest and cleverest member of the tribe, has a brilliant plan to defeat the marauders. A hybrid between a traditional picture book and a comic, this is an excellent book for new readers. There's a distinct visual narrative which works without the words yet the story is a humorous page turner too.
This wonderful collaboration between two image makers is an interesting departure for author/illustrator Judge who wrote the text and only added a few distinctive flourishes to the final product. The illustrations are Wickham's, a subtle blend of digital and hand execution resulting in a lively and comical style which is very appealing. The compositions are wonderful and the palette evokes an autumnal view of an Irish past.
It is essential that the reader notes the blurb on the back as otherwise it's not clear that the story is about Brian Boru, the little boy who would grow up to become the High King of Ireland. A child reader would definitely be inspired to know that no matter how small and insignificant they might seem to be, they too have the potential to do anything. This is a beautifully produced book. 5-7