PENGUIN PROBLEMS – Jory John, Lane Smith

penguin problems5/5

Penguin Problems is SO GOOD!

What I love about this book is that it can be both hilarious and meaningful at the same time with a wonderfully grumpy penguin as the main character. His life is just full of problems…or so he thinks, because, whilst he may be having a difficult time, he’s got so much that isn’t a problem.

We start off meeting this fed up penguin and see him have a particularly trying day full of things that irritate him (which I’m sure many people can relate to!), but, after he meets a walrus who shows him how he’s exactly where he needs to be, he starts to see the positivity in everything…for a while anyway!

This is definitely one of my go to books to buy for all my friends and family just because of how relatable and entertaining it is, as well as Lane Smith’s beautiful illustrations which capture Penguin’s personality perfectly!


Thank you to Jo at Walker for sending me a copy of this book!
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LAST STOP ON THE REINDEER EXPRESS – Maudie Powell-Tuck, Karl James Mountford

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No picture can quite do justice to the sheer beauty of this meaningful Christmas picture book. This was a total cover buy – as soon as I recognised it as being illustrated by  Karl James Mountford, I bought it there and then having no clue about what was inside. So, when I sat down to read this book, I was captivated by story and the beautiful illustrations!

Last Stop on the Reindeer Express is a Christmas tale full of warmth and meaning. With more and more families not being the traditional nuclear family, at Christmas children can often feel torn and unsure about who they’ll spend Christmas with. This book tackles this difficult topic in a sensitive way that shows those children that they’re not alone, and that no matter who they spend Christmas with, they are loved.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough; whether or not it’s a book that’s relevant to your own situation, it’s a joy to read and the illustrations are magical! It’s definitely one to add to your bookshelf this Christmas.

kayleigh

THE BANDIT QUEEN – Natalia and Lauren O’Hara

the bandit queen4.5/5

I went into this book a bit blind; I was literally going on the fact that it had a beautiful cover and is published by Puffin, and then I realised that it was from the pair behind Hortense and the Shadow, which explains why it’s so beautiful!

The Bandit Queen is a poetic story with morals intertwined that are subtle and open to interpretation. This makes for a really engaging story since you can get a lot out of it with each reread. I personally loved the message about needing structure and support in order to grow up, and how you can have everything that you think you want, but ultimately it’s family and friends who make the difference. That said, you could just see this as a fun children’s rhyming story, full of chaos and mischief!


Thank you very much to Puffin via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

HIDING HEIDI – Fiona Woodcock

hiding heidi5/5

Last year I discovered a wonderful new talent, Fiona Woodcock, who with her debut has created such a beautiful book that passed the baby sister test with flying colours! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to read this one with her…and I definitely don’t mind because I love it.

Heidi is so good at hide and seek that it’s not as fun as she thinks for the other children and, as she soon realises, herself. However, when they play different games as well as hide and seek, they can all have fun and enjoy it regardless of whether they’re the best.

Aside from simply adoring the illustrations, the story has the lovely message of how you don’t have to win to have fun because everyone has different talents and it’s (forgive the cliché) the taking part that counts.


Thank you very much to Simon & Schuster for my copy of this title!

WILD – Emily Hughes

5/5

This book. The wild child. The illustrations.

I love it.

I suppose I am slightly biased because the little girl in this story reminds me so much of my little sister, and always has done since I was shown this book for that very reason! However, I think that that is all part of the charm of this beautiful book – we will all be able to find something within ourselves that reminds us of the characters in this story. You can take this book at surface level and interpret the need to embrace our wilder sides and not feel trapped by what is considered “normal”, or you can look deeper (still on the same lines though!) and think about how we shouldn’t remove animals from their natural habitats because they often can’t adapt to a strange new environment. As I was writing this, I’ve realised how those aren’t even the limitations – there are more interpretations to be made!

This is a firm favourite of mine because of the simply gorgeous illustrations, the simplistic story that’s full of meaning, and the fun that leaps off the pages. The wild child is such an adorable character, full of warmth and humour, making this book one to be loved by both children and grown-ups!

MUM AND DAD GLUE – Kes Gray, Lee Wildish

5/5

A little boy tries to find a pot of parent glue to stick his mum and dad back together. His parents have come undone and he wants to mend their marriage, stick their smiles back on and make them better. This rhyming story is brilliantly told with a powerful message that even though his parents may be broken, their love for him is not.

This story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming! The little boy needs to find some Mum and Dad glue to fix his parents who are separating…but, as he learns, there isn’t a glue that can put them back together.

This book is beautifully written and illustrated, and is perfect for anyone who is experiencing or has experienced separation. I love it so much because the story emphasises how, unfortunately, these things do happen but it’s not the child’s fault and their parents still love them as much as they ever did – just because the parents fall out of love, their love for their child will never change. I also think this book is brilliant for grown ups, regardless of whether there are children involved in the break up, to show that it’s okay that relationships don’t always work out and that there doesn’t always have to be someone to blame.

An essential and beautiful book about how you can’t fix everything, but that’s okay, from the wonderful Kes Gray!

WISH FOR A WITCH – Kaye Umansky, Ashley King

4/5

Elsie is back with her whole host of friends as she returns to the world of Magenta Sharp who needs her help once again! But, with a troublesome genie on the loose, can Elsie save the day?

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Keith the Elf

I loved Witch for a Week which, rightly so, was one of Simon and Schuster’s biggest releases of 2017. So, imagine how excited I have been for the sequel to arrive! I was not disappointed and really enjoyed book two, albeit not quite as much as the first. Although this title did feel a little bit rushed and not quite as magical as Witch for a Week, Wish for a Witch kept me hooked right the way through and I couldn’t help but read it in one sitting and am looking forward to the next book which is out next year!

wish for a witch frog

Frogs!

Elsie is a very lovable and switched on main character and coupled with Ashley King’s brilliant, as always, illustrations (this time my favourite was the frogs), Kaye Umansky has crafted a series that young readers will really enjoy; there’s a perfect balance of magic and humour throughout.

 

 

THE STORY ORCHESTRA: FOUR SEASONS IN ONE DAY – Jessica Courtney-Tickle

4/5

The beautiful first title from The Story Orchestra series.

This book is simply gorgeous, with a lovely story to accompany Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. It is a bit more of a wordy book, but it’s fun to be able to press the buttons and hear different parts from the music which correlate to what’s happening on that page – this makes it a really good introduction to music for little ones and for the understanding of how music can tell a story. It’s definitely more of a gifty book and older children will probably appreciate the music leading the story and the facts about the orchestra and score itself a lot more than younger children.

Personally, I really hope that there are even more stories to come from The Story Orchestra (Beethoven please!) as it is something different, I’d have to say it’s probably the best noisy book available (it’s not just sounds…I can deal with my sister pressing all the buttons. It’s good!), and it can help to spark a love of music as well as reading!


I received this book when I was a bookseller from the publisher, Quarto – thank you!

HOW TO BE A LION – Ed Vere

5/5

The roarsome story of Leonard the lion going against the norm.

With a crunch and a chomp, this story of a poetry-loving lion will have you hooked as we learn that you don’t have to be what people expect you to be; it’s okay to just be yourself.

I can’t wait to see this book with the illustrations; I love Ed Vere’s work, especially Grumpy Frog, and I really want to see his story of Leonard come to life! However, just going on the text alone, this is a fantastic book that little ones will love. I can imagine that reading it aloud is great fun with all the rhymes!

I really enjoyed reading How To Be A Lion and am definitely going to be adding it to my collection of favourite picture books!

 

MONTY AND SYLVESTER: A TALE OF EVERYDAY SUPER HEROES – Carly Gledhill

3/5

A fun book all about how you don’t need a vacuum hoover to be a super hero!

I’ve been looking out for exciting new picture books lately; this year has seemed fairly quiet, so I was very happy to see one up on NetGalley that looked like it had illustrations I would love. I was not wrong because the illustrations throughout this book are so cute and engaging. Whilst I felt like there was just something missing from the story, I did enjoy this book and can definitely see youngsters loving it. I need to try it out on my little sister!

I’m looking forward to seeing what Carly comes up with next because I did like all the little bits of small print that brought the pictures to life and the style of illustration!


Thank you to Hachette via NetGalley for the ebook of this title!