Book review: A winter wonderland of reading with Walker Books

Walker Books, renowned worldwide for their original and outstanding quality children’s books, have a picture perfect selection for young readers this February.

Monday, 9th February 2015, 9:00 am
Doctor Molly's Medicine Case
Doctor Molly's Medicine Case

Budding doctors will love getting to grips with a magical medicine case, there’s a pig who wants to clean up his act, a belligerent bunny rewrites the concept of storytelling, a parrot has an unusual perch and climb aboard for a special bus ride.

Age 3 plus:

Doctor Molly’s Medicine Case by Miriam Moss and Deborah Allwright

Let your little ones ‘treat’ themselves with this fun-filled, fascinating book which puts them firmly in the driving seat… or rather, the doctor’s chair!

Doctor Molly’s Medicine Case, an inventive, interactive picture story, offers a simple but entertaining and educational way to both read and play. It’s the ingenious work of a top team – Miriam Moss who has written over 70 books for children and Deborah Allwright, acclaimed illustrator of picture book bestseller The Night Pirates.

Here, they turn their talents to a gorgeous fun-flaps book which features pull-out-and-play elements to help bring the warm-hearted, all-action story to life.

Children will love helping Doctor Molly to treat her animal patients and pick the right remedies and cures for their ailments from her fold-out medicine bag. It’s a real box of doctor’s delights, from honey for a pelican with a sore throat and colourful plasters for a crocodile with a sore tail to a cosy hot water bottle for a shivering polar bear.

All the play elements are housed in sturdy pockets to avoid losing them, and taking out the correct medicines will help children to solve problems, make choices and understand the links between ideas and actions.

Gorgeous illustrations add to the charm of the story and a final pull-out picnic scene ensures that it’s all not ‘all work and no play’ for Doctor Molly and her animal pals.

An imaginative and exciting way to play doctors…

(Walker Books, hardback, £12.99)

Age 3 plus:

A Spot of Bother by Jonathan Emmett and Vanessa Cabban

Some pigs just hate being a pig in muck! Take this pristine little piggy… he went out to play and got himself into a rather juicy spot of bother.

Vanessa Cabban – who realised she should be illustrating children’s books when she noticed she was spending hours in the children’s section of bookshops – provides the enchanting pictures for Jonathan Emmett’s wonderfully warm and witty story.

Pig likes nothing better than a breakfast of big juicy cherries but it leaves him in a spot of bother. He’s very proud of his neat appearance so he is horrified to discover a spot of squashed cherry on his side. It’s a monstrous misfortune and Goat does his best to help by trying to lick off the troublesome stain. In fact, all his farmyard friends try to help – with disastrous results – and the spot of bother soon becomes a truly calamitous catastrophe. How on earth will he return to being spotless, speckless and pinker than pink?

Pig’s exploits, aided and abetted by Cow, Goat and Sheep, are a joy. Watch him prance, dance and try to crawl himself out of a dirty dilemma while teaching us lessons about sharing problems with friends, being happy in our skin and discovering comedy in the most unexpected places.

There is fun aplenty in the pages of this charismatic picture book which is guaranteed to have youngsters positively snorting with laughter, and delivers an extra big smile in the ‘tail-end’ of the book!

(Walker Books, hardback, £11.99)

Age 4 plus:

The Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett and Matthew Myers

Watch in wonder, shock (and more than a little awe) as a cutesy little story about a birthday bunny turns into a subversive ‘doomsday’ thriller starring a ruthless warrior rabbit.

And all it takes to turn a ‘soppy’ woodland tale into a wham-bam battleground is a deliciously naughty boy called Alex and his trusty weapon… an HB pencil!

Have fun reading between the lines in this imaginative, wickedly wonderful and hugely inventive picture book which will have your own little rebels surreptitiously reaching for their pencil cases.

Turning tail on all those well-intentioned but old-fashioned children’s books of yesteryear, Jon Scieszka, the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in the USA, picture books author Mac Barnett and talented illustrator Matthew Myers come up with a brilliantly original concept for a picture book that celebrates children as writers of their own stories.

When Alex is given a silly, insipid picture book called Birthday Bunny, he picks up a pencil, uses his own imagination and artwork, and turns it into something he would actually like to read. The result is Battle Bunny… the transformation (with the help of some clever graffiti and textual additions) of an adorable rabbit’s journey through the woods into a secret mission to unleash an evil plan, a plan that only Alex can stop.

Featuring layered, original artwork, this dynamic story comes beautifully produced to look like a genuinely old-style storybook covered in doodles, drawings and outrageous alterations.

Battle Bunny encourages children to use their own imaginative powers to create a self-styled masterpiece, and will have a special appeal to little ones with a well-developed sense of fun and an irresistible desire to do something naughty!

Creative ‘vandalism’ for mischievous children…

(Walker Books, hardback, £6.99)

Age 5 plus:

The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head by Daisy Hirst

What do you do when you lose your precious best friend… how do you cope on your own?

Artist and writer Daisy Hirst’s first picture book – a bold, fresh and original piece of storytelling and illustration – puts children’s emotions firmly in the spotlight.

Both narratively and visually quirky, this offbeat story has an appealing little heroine who is desperately trying to make sense of a big loss in her life.

When Simon moves away with his family, Isabel loses her best friend for ever. She is angry lonely and hates everything, and decides it’s better just to be by herself. After all, she still has the parrot on her head to keep her company. She develops her own ‘system’ to cope, putting away her toys and her fears into boxes. But the parrot worries about her and after a time she faces a new problem, a problem which eventually leads her to make a brilliant new friend...

Hirst’s creative approach to a child’s way of thinking will strike a chord with little ones seeking to find answers to their own fears. Throughout Isabel’s imaginative adventure, told with simplicity, wit and charm, there are plenty of reassuring messages about feelings and friends.

An enchanting picture book that turns the world on its head…

(Walker Books, hardback, £11.99)

Age 2 plus:

The Bus Is for Us! by Michael Rosen and Gillian Tyler

Don’t stop now, the bus is waiting…

Former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, author of the bestselling We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, takes the youngest family members on a transport of delight in a picture book that celebrates travel in every form.

In this lively, rhyming story we take a float in a boat, enjoy the fun of a sleigh ride, head for the moon in a hot air balloon and ride on the back of a polar bear… but best of all is the sheer joy of sharing a bus ride together.

Small children take great delight in things that ‘go’, whether that’s a bicycle, car, boat or plane, and here we see them travelling both high in the sky and under the sea using the strangest of transport. But best of all is sharing the fun of a bus ride… because the bus is for everyone.

Gillian Tyler’s bold and beguiling illustrations add life and colour to a playful story which will captivate little listeners and is perfect for reading aloud and sharing.

A beautiful story for children from all walks of life…

(Walker Books, hardback, £11.99)