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Reviews

The Whale Who Wanted More
by Rachel Bright & Jim Field

Humphrey the whale is never quite satisfied. He glides through the ocean with his many possessions strapped to his back, always on the look out for the next new thing to capture his attention. However, no matter how many treasures he amasses, he always wants more.

Driven by his desire to consume, Humphrey lives a lonely and dissatisfied life until one day he spots a reef which is bursting with colour and life. There are so many shiny, fun things – surely this is what he has been looking for? He circles above, constructing a plan.

Unbeknownst to him, the creatures who live below are also unhappy. Instead of seeing the beauty of their magical surroundings they bicker and shout at each other, jostling for space amongst the coral. They’re too busy being grumpy to notice the covetous whale start to swim down towards them…

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What Happened To You?
by James Catchpole & Karen George

On an ordinary day, in an ordinary park, a little boy called Joe is playing pirates. As he leans over the edge of his ship and waves his trusty sword in the faces of imaginary (moustached!) sharks, he is interrupted by a shout from another child. “YOU’VE ONLY GOT ONE LEG!” she yells – and just like that, Joe’s game is ruined.

It’s clear that the girl hasn’t seen anyone with a missing limb before and she has a lot of questions. She wants to know where the leg is and she’s determined to get some answers. Soon other children join in and they each try to guess what has happened to Joe. Did his leg fall off? Was it stolen by a burglar? Was it eaten by a lion?

For the group of children, the fact that Joe has one leg seems extraordinary, but for Joe this is his everyday reality. He’s perfectly aware he only has one leg but he doesn’t want to talk about it all the time and he certainly doesn’t want to talk about it in the middle of a game of pirates. There are sharks to defeat and crocodiles to vanquish!

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Sonny Says Mine!
by Caryl Hart & Zachariah Ohora

When Sonny finds a pink bunny in the sandpit he is beyond excited. A new toy just for him! He gives it a snuggle and names it Bun-Bun. Sonny likes the bunny so much he is completely consumed by it. He feeds it sand, reads it a story and swings it around with joy.

However in his excitement Sonny has forgotten all about the friends he came to the park to see. Mid-game he looks up and sees his pals Honey and Suki walking towards him. Suki is crying because she has lost her favourite pink bunny – the exact same bunny that Sonny has been playing with. Sonny panics that his new toy will be taken away and quickly hides it under a bucket. He even lies when Honey asks him directly is he has seen it.

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The Boys
by Lauren Ace & Jenny Løvlie

“No boy is an island and the bravest way to face problems is to talk and to listen.”

The Girls‘ by Lauren Ace and Jenny Løvlie is one of our all-time favourite children’s books. It celebrates female friendship in such a relatable way and instantly made me want to buy copies for all of my childhood friends. When I shared my review back in 2018 the response was universal – we need this for boys too! It’s been a long time coming but ‘The Boys’ is finally here, and it is everything I hoped it would be.

The story is about four boys who are as close as brothers. Rey, Nattie, Bobby and Tam spend much of their childhood playing on their favourite beach under the watchful eyes of their mothers (who will look very familiar to you if you have read The Girls!). Each boy is very different but together they make a phenomenal team. The foursome build sandcastles, fly kites, learn how to swim and gather to tell stories around the campfire. Their worlds are completely entwined and they revel in each others company.

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Edmund The Elephant Who Forgot
by Kate Dalgleish & Isobel Lundie

“Elephants never forget, but Edmund did forget… a lot.”

Poor Edmund. Everyone knows that elephants have fantastic memories so he’s very self-conscious about the fact he is a little forgetful. Fortunately his mum is on hand to help, teaching him songs and writing him lists to help him remember important things.

However today Edmund is a little stressed as he’s been tasked with collecting some essentials for his brother’s birthday party. As usual, Mum has written him a list but Edmund has accidentally left it behind! Edmund panics but then he hears the voice of his friend Colin the Caterpillar. Colin knows what was on the list so as they approach the Party Shop he shouts out each item to Edmund.

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The Little War Cat
by Hiba Noor Khan & Laura Chamberlain

In the beautiful city of Aleppo in Syria a little stray cat plays happily in the sunshine. She lives a charmed life, chasing butterflies, exploring the marble mosques and being fed by the locals – until one day, humans in big boots arrive and everything goes dark.

Now surrounded by sadness and war, the little cat doesn’t know what to do. She watches the city crumble around her and is startled by the loud noises and angry voices. She doesn’t understand where her friends have gone and why there is suddenly no food. She is hungry and afraid so she hides herself away in the darkness of the city.

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The Greatest Showpenguin
by Lucy Freegard

Poppy’s family run a circus and performing is all she has ever known. She has taken part in shows since she was a tiny little penguin, mastering all the skills needed to wow the crowds and make her parents proud. She can unicycle, juggle and trapeze like a pro. She’s a master at magic and regularly finds herself being shot out of a cannon or leaping through a ring of fire – but Poppy has a secret.

To the outside world it looks like Poppy is living the perfect life, but deep down she really doesn’t like performing. She dislikes the lights, the crowds, the noise and the attention but everyday she pretends she is happy because she is scared of letting her parents down.

One day it all becomes too much and the little penguin realises that something needs to change. She wants to be part of the circus but she doesn’t want to be in the spotlight anymore.

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Outside, Inside
by LeUyen Pham

One Whole Year.

I honestly cannot believe that it’s been one whole year since we entered lockdown for the first time. I had no idea how long it would last but I genuinely didn’t expect to still be under so many restrictions twelve months later. Sometimes it feels like the time has flown, but other times it seems like we have been living this way for decades!

But here we are, and I am marking this strange ‘anniversary’ with this beautiful book from LeUyen Pham which begins with the lines: ‘Something strange happened on an unremarkable day just before the season changed.
Everybody who was outside…went inside.
Everyone. Everywhere. All over the world”

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How Many Beads?
by Nicola Edwards & Thomas Elliott

When Ivy and I are looking for something fun to do then Maths generally isn’t at the top of the list – however this fab board book has managed to change that! It’s part of a montessori-insired series called ‘My World’ which encourages childen to explore the world around them. Aimed at children aged 3-5, the book has a built-in string of colourful beads which you can use for counting and measuring.

Each double page spread shows a different scene for you to explore – including the home, the garden, under the sea, around town, the inside of a drawer and nocturnal animals. Kids are then encouraged to use the beads to count or to measure the things they can see. How many apples are there? How many bees? What’s the tallest household object? Which is the longest fish? Which items are too big to fit in the shed? Which animals are small enough to fit in the tent?

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Love
by Corrinne Averiss & Kirsti Beautyman

Little Tess has grown up surrounded by warmth and affection. She adores her family and, because they are never apart, love follows her like a warm scarf wherever she goes.

When it’s time for Tess to start school she is nervous because her family can’t come with her. She’s never had to do anything by herself before and she is worried that she will be seperated from her family’s love. Her mother explains that love is like a string which connects them even when they are apart. It can stretch really far and it won’t ever, ever break.

Tess isn’t sure about this theory but as she enters the school she starts to see little threads of love everywhere. Each child has a string just like hers and one boy even has a string which reaches right up to the sky, connecting him to the father which he lost when he was small. Reassured by this, Tess settles into her day and we even see a new thread start to grow between the little girl and her teacher.

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