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Whoops! by Suzi Moore; illustrated by Russell Ayto (2015)

[Published by Templar]

whoops-

The out-loud-reading-speed-test is a wee invention of mine, that gives a fairly accurate indication of how fun a picture book is to read aloud. It’s pretty scientific/mathematical, so I won’t bore you with all the formulae, but, in simple terms, if I find myself reading a book really fast by the end, it means it’s a winner.

As I trial-read Whoops! to my husband while he cooked dinner, I accelerated to such speeds, he nearly lost his eyebrows. A definite A+ on that test paper.IMG_1913

“This is the cat
who didn’t know how,
she didn’t know
how to say MEOW.”

It’s not just the cat with vocalisation issues, her friends dog and mouse are also decidedly voiceless. The owl recommends a visit to the old lady at the tumbledown house who will have just the spell for the silent trio.

“She went to look at her big spell book.
She cast a spell but the whole house shook.
Then the wind blew in.
And the rain came down.
And the tumbledown house
turned round and round.”

Her first attempts at spell casting are not hugely successful, so the whole process is repeated… several times. Finally everything is right with the world again, the cat miaows, the dog barks and the mouse squeaks. And the little old lady? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out what happens to her!

A whole bunch of fun in a very stylish package.

Check out Whoops! at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Whoops! from Fishpond.

[Recommended by Pranita – thanks Pranita, excellent taste as always!]

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Stanley’s plan by Ruth Green (2015)

[Published by Tate Publishing]

stanStanley (a little like my husband) is ALWAYS hungry. A delicious but out-of-reach pie tempts him with all its tasty smells. In spite of some great suggestions to his friends as to how they can help retrieve that big ol’ pie, none of them seem very interested.

“So Stanley starts to make a plan.

He asks Brian the cat to help if he can.

Brian tells Stanley, “That pie’s not for you.”

“Ask someone else, I’ve got things to do.”

After an exhausting day of failed plan-hatching, Stanley falls asleep and awakes the next morning to a lovely surprise.IMG_1884

The colours in Stanley’s plan are enough to brighten a cold winter’s day. With its tidy rhyme and bold illustrations, this is a top choice for reading to a big bunch of littlies.

Check out Stanley’s Plan at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Stanley’s Plan from Fishpond.

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It’s only Stanley by Jon Agee (2015)

[Published by Dial Books for Young Readers]

it's

Stanley is quite the remarkable dog. Aside from normal canine activities like howling at the moon, he also turns his hand to fixing the oil tank, making catfish stew, repairing an old TV and clearing the bathtub drain. Unfortunately all this activity takes place during the night, which is most upsetting for his family, the Wimbledons, who are trying to sleep.

The reason for Stanley’s nocturnal activity is finally revealed in an explosive intergalactic journey. As always, I missed the sneaky wee clues along the way, I’m sure you will be far more astute viewers than I was.

This is a hilarious story, that will have you looking at the family dog justIMG_1809 that little bit more carefully. My advice? If your pooch starts clearing your bathtub drain, buckle up and get ready to enjoy the ride!

Check out It’s only Stanley at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy It’s only Stanley from Fishpond.

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The wild girl by Chris Wormell (2005)

[Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers]

wild

It’s a snoozy sunny afternoon and I’ve happily spent the last 20 minutes on a rambling daydream inspired by The Wild Girl.

A little girl lives alone in the wilderness with her small brown dog. Her solitary lifestyle is rather appealing, full of trout-fishing, outdoor sleeping, berry and root gathering (the insect eating I’m less excited about). Their existence is totally isolated, not even the smoke of another fire enters their world.

One winter day, the little girl discovers bear tracks around her cave and she is forced to defend her home. It turns out the IMG_1767company of bears is not such a bad thing after all.

This is a gentle and original story that I loved very much.

Check out The wild girl at Auckland Libraries.

[Apologies team, this is the first book I’ve reviewed that is out-of-print. I’m breaking all my rules by including it, but I figure you’ll forgive me. Fingers crossed your local library has this wee beauty.]

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The great dog bottom swap by Peter Bently; illustrated by Mei Matsuoka (2009)

[Published by Andersen Press]

great dog

 

If you’ve ever been bemused by dogs and their passion for bottom sniffing, then have I got the picture book for you. It turns out there’s a pretty simple explanation.

Many years ago at the Dogs’ Summer Ball, the guests were asked to hang their bottoms up at the entrance.

 

“So as they went in – every dog, pooch and pup –

They took off their bottoms and hung them all up.

Hundreds and hundreds of little pink ‘o’s

All neatly arranged in methodical rows.”

The event is bopping along merrily until… disaster strikes and fire breaks out. In the ensuing mayhem, dog bottoms are grabbed at IMG_1761
random. Which in a nutshell is why today, when dogs meet, they give each a right old sniffing in the hope that one day they will be reunited with their own derriere.

So simple, so hilarious. Between the rocking rhyme, fabulous illustrations and mad-cap story, how can this not be storytime gold?

Check out The great dog bottom swap at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The great dog bottom swap from Fishpond.

[Recommended by Lucy E, thanks Lucy!]

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The bear ate your sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach (2015)

This oh-so clever picture book arrived for me on the very day I watched a hilarious bear-in-a-city clip on youtube. I was lulled into a false sense of security by this video, “sure bears end up in cities all the time” I thought, so I was completely unprepared for the nifty twist.

An unknown narrator neatly explains the mystery of the missing sandwich. “By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich. But you may not know how it happened. So let me tell you. It all started with the bear.”

The bear’s story is gorgeous. From the woods, he accidentally finds himself in the back of a truck full of 2015-01-25 16.35.26berries which takes him to a new “forest”. It’s not like any forest he has seen before, although there are similarities. He finds his way into a park where he spies… “Your beautiful and delicious sandwich. All alone.” The result is inevitable, but the revelation of the narrator is not! When we discover that it is in fact a small dog telling the story to his owner, his credibility comes into question.

The illustrations are magical, from the lush green of the forest to the busy golds and browns of the city. And the bear himself? Hilarious!

There are so many layers to this story, it would be brilliant to read and discuss with a class of canny kids.

Check out The bear ate your sandwich at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The bear ate your sandwich from Fishpond.

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So cosy by Lerryn Korda (2014)

so cosy

You know that feeling when you get a new and beautiful pair of shoes and you can’t wait to wear them for the first time? And then you wear them, and the pain is beyond unpleasant, and you want to cry and throw them away? Today’s story is very vaguely just like this.

Dog has a warm and snuggly basket all ready for him. The problem with the perfect bed is that everyone wants a piece of the action. Goose waddles in, followed closely by Cat, some rabbits, a family of bears, a goat, a snake and finally an elephant. As you can imagine Dog is less than thrilled about his cosy bed being turned into some kind of giant animal pyramid.

The final straw, so to speak, is when mouse arrives, elephant sneezes and the whole precarious heap of IMG_1216characters go flying. One advantage to this disaster is Dog is finally left alone, albeit with a somewhat less-perfect bed.

“So quiet,” thought Dog.

Patter, patter, patter. Mouse came back. And he snuggled up with Dog in their warm, cosy bed.

“Now this really is cosy!” Mouse said.

“Ever so cosy!” said Dog.”

This lovely book has all the essentials of a great read-aloud for an audience of preschoolers. There are super-cute animals, lovely repetition, flying animals and a hilariously expressive main character.

Check out So cosy at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy So cosy from Fishpond.