All posts filed under: Picture Books

Monster in the Hood by Steve Antony

If you have read my previous reviews of  I’ll Wait, Mr Panda and GREEN LIZARDS VS RED RECTANGLES by Steve Antony then you will already be aware that I’m a huge fan. Not only do I believe he’s one of the most refreshing and insightful talents in the world of picture books, but Steve Antony is tenacious in his consistency, he simply does not have a bad book to his name! His latest publication Monster in the Hood is another triumph and of course in true Steve Antony fashion brings with it a lesson which we can all learn from. ‘COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE! YOU MIGHT SCARE A PACK OF RATS, AND A CLOUD OF BATS, BUT YOU WON’T SCARE US!’ Monster in the Hood follows three friends: Sammy Squirrel, Henri Hedgehog and Marvin Mouse, who have heard that there’s a monster lurking in their neighbourhood. The friends set off into the streets, unafraid, hoping to track down this monster and show him that they’re not scared. On their mission to find the monster they pass several …

Steven Seagull Action Hero by Elys Dolan

Elys Dolan is a Cambridge based author and illustrator who is no stranger to success. Over her career so far she has been shortlisted for  the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, The Roald Dahl Funny Prize, nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal and placed second in the Macmillan Prize, all since 2011! She’s an exciting talent and one all lovers of picture books should be talking about. Her latest work to be published is titled Steven Seagull Action Hero… Steven Seagull… Sounds familiar, right?   ”I can’t come back,’ said Steven. ‘Sergeant Starfish fired me for being too much of a renegade.”       I found this book on my lunch hour whilst trying to find something to cheer myself up on a frightfully cold and wet Oxford afternoon. I scanned the displays and something caught my eye… Steven Seagull! There was no other choice, I just had to take this book up to the staff room and have a flick through and I’m so glad I did. Steven Seagull is a retired police officer who …

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma by Diane Fox and Illustrated by Christyan Fox

One hell of a title, huh? Retellings have always been popular in the book world and this popularity is showing no sign of wavering. Perhaps the best current example of how bibliophiles long to hear stories they love retold is the Shakespeare project by Hogarth Press, which kicked off late last year and which sees well known authors retelling Shakespeare plays. I believe there’s only one book from this project that has been released so far, Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time which retells The Winter’s Tale (Check it out).  However, not all brilliant retellings have to stem from works of such magnitude, which Diane and Christyan Fox prove with this ridiculously funny picture book. Diane and Christyan are a husband-and-wife team best known for the PiggyWiggy books, a heavily cartoonized and kid friendly series often set around themes of early child development. The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma isn’t just a whimsical retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, it’s also a depiction of the sometimes frustrating task of storytelling.     ‘So, let’s see …

The Island by Armin Greder (The Most Important Picture Book of These Times)

I’m afraid I’m not familiar with Armin Greder, what I do know I found online five minutes before I started writing this. What I do know is The Island is probably the most important picture book to be released in recent times. Greder migrated to Australia from Switzerland back in 1971. He made a life as a graphic designer which he would later go on to teach along with illustration. His work has brought him great acclaim, being awarded the Bologna Ragazzi Award as well as being nominated for the Hands Christian Andersen Prize, after reading The Island I can see why. ‘One morning, the people of the island found a man on the beach, where fate and ocean currents had washed his raft ashore. When he saw them coming, he stood up.’ My friend Alex passed me this book today and told me to read it, she also told me to emotionally prepare myself. I took the book over to my desk, sat down and did as she instructed. This was about twelve hours ago …

I Love You Already! by Jory John and Illustrated by Benji Davies

You might already be familiar with Jory John and Benji Davies, they’re the picture book powerhouse duo who gifted us Goodnight Already! back in 2014. Well this is their return and they’ve brought the two mismatched friends Bear and Duck with them! “We can spend some quality time together.” “No.” “I’ll tell you my life’s story.” “No.” “You’ll tell me your life’s story?” “No.”     I Love You Already! is a side-splitting tale about the coming together of the two differing personalities of Bear and Duck. In this story Bear is very much looking forward to a relaxing day and spending some time to himself. Duck has other plans. Duck wants to go for a walk and there’s only one person he wants to go with, his dearest friend Bear. There’s not many of us who haven’t experienced some sort of a relationship with someone who runs at a different pace to ourselves. This brilliant book teaches us that difference  isn’t a reason to not like or love someone, Bear and Duck learn this too. Jory John and Benji Davies have …

Evermore Dragon by Barbara Joosse and Illustrated by Randy Cecil

Barbara Joosse returns with a wonderful follow up to Lovabye Dragon which was published back in 2012. For those who aren’t familiar with this previous story, all you need to know is that Girl and Dragon are the best of friends! Evermore Dragon follows these two great friends as they play a game of hide-and-seek, but things go awry when Girl gets lost in her efforts to not be found.         ‘Evermore, evermore, I am here.’         This lyrical tale is perfect for children who love to read-along. I won’t tell you exactly how this tale ends, but I promise it’s an ending which will leave you smiling from ear to ear. Dragon and Girl show us all how true friendship can illuminate the darkest of skies. Evermore Dragon reminds us that when we are in need, our friends will always be there for us, and that with such friends we can never truly be alone. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t felt the creeping cold of fear or …

Egg Drop by Mini Grey

Mini Grey is a big name in the word of pictures books. She’s produced many brilliant stories and illustrations over her career thus far and is probably best known for winning the Kate Greenaway Medal for The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon back in 2006. Mini is an incredible talent and I hope to review many more of her books in the future, but right now, I’m starting with Egg Drop.       ‘Here is the story of the egg that wanted to fly.’       Egg Drop  was published in 2003 and was Mini’s first picture book which she wrote as well as illustrated. It is absolutely mad and I love it! Mini tells the story of a young egg, one which wishes nothing more than to fly and be in the sky like all the wonderful things it sees soaring above. So it hatches a plan. The Egg decides to take its dreams into its own hands?! The Egg climbs up very, very high and jumps. Can you guess what happens? This is a book …

I’ll Wait, Mr Panda by Steve Antony

I’m a big fan of Steve Antony! I believe he is one of the most refreshing and original creators within the picture book world at the moment. His latest work, I’ll Wait, Mr Panda, is a follow on from Please, Mr. Panda which was released back in 2014 to great acclaim. Yet again we see the brilliant Mr Panda upholding the values of polite social behaviour.     ‘What are you making, Mr Panda? Wait and see. It’s a surprise.’       Mr Panda is baking something, but what’s he mixing up in his bowl? Many animals try and find out, but Mr Panda is keeping it a surprise, but one they will have to wait for. However, none of the animals will wait, apart from one, a ridiculously cute, patient little penguin. This is a really well produced picture book, the illustrations just make you smile and the story is a valuable one in teaching children the importance of patience. I can see Mr Panda becoming a household favourite! BB Rating: 3.9/5 Follow me on Twitter: @ByfordsBooks   …

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor and Illustrated by Jean Jullien

Hoot Owl. Master of Disguise is the latest work from the brilliant Sean Taylor. This book is full of character and actually had me laughing-out-loud. Accompanying this hilarious story are some bright and bold illustrations from Jean Jullien which visually transcends the comedy of this tale for all those young readers still getting to grips with their words.   ‘And here I come! The night has a thousand eyes, and two of them are mine. I swoop through the bleak blackness, like a wolf in the air.’     The protagonist of this story is the ‘dangerous creature-of-the-dark’ Hoot Owl. He’s a wily character, at least he would like to think he is such. Hoot Owl believes he’s a master of disguise and with his powers he’s on the hunt for a tasty meal. However after several failed attempts at finding a night time snack, we begin to question the capabilities of Hoot Owl’s talent for disguise. I really enjoyed this book! Not only is it full of laughs, but it actually allows a young reader to gain …

The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have by Edward van de Vendel and Illustrated by Anton Van Hertbruggen

This exciting new picture book is the work of Dutch author Edward van de Vendel and from what I can tell his first to be published in English. Accompanying Vendel’s story is art from Antwerp based artist/illustrator Anton Van Hertbruggen who has produced some truly captivating images to bring this tale to life. THE DOG THAT HE DIDN’T HAVE HEARD WHATEVER NINO HEARD. ON THE PHONE. WITH DAD. WHO WAS CALLING FROM A COUNTRY FAR, FAR AWAY. When I first saw this book I wasn’t sure if I liked it. The art was so different and it contrasted heavily compared to any other picture book around. However, after I picked it up and read through to the end, I now think Vendel and Hertbruggen have gifted the world of picture books something revolutionary! The story of Nino and his imaginary dog, the dog ‘that he didn’t have’, isn’t only another testament to the power of imagination. The story touches upon many other themes that I believe picture book creators often stay clear from. Nino is lonely, he …