Our Dog Benji by Pete Carter ill James Henderson

I love our dog Benji.
Sometimes I think I’d like to be more like him.
He eats almost anything
and everything.
I’m not that adventurous.

A small, unnamed boy shares the adventures of his loved dog, Benji. Benji eats everything, makes friends with everyone, explores. Through his dog’s antics, the boy explores his own world and his place in it. Illustrations depict both real and imagined Benji-ness. Our Dog Benji is a smaller format hardback picture book with full colour pages and end papers detailing some of Benji’s favourite things.

Children learn a lot from observing what happens around them, and for the small child, that can often be a pet. Their adoption of what they see may not always be discriminating, but it can help them navigate their lives. Benji is a lovable, loving and loved dog. He is friend, companion, teacher and challenger to the viewpoint character. There is plenty here – particularly for a quiet observer-child – to support learning and living well. Recommended for early school years.

Our Dog Benji, Pete Carter ill James Henderson
EK Books 2017 ISBN: 9781925335330

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

The Great Sock Secret, by Susan Whelan & Gwynneth Jones

Oh no! Sarah thought. She knew where all the odd socks were, but she didn’t want her mother to find them.

Sarah’s mother – like almost every mother – is puzzled by the number of odd socks in the washing basket. She decides it’s time to go searching for all the missing socks. But Sarah is worried. She knows that the socks are being used by fairies – as sleeping bags, parachutes, tow ropes, toys and more. She doesn’t want her mother to find the socks – or the fairies.

The Great Sock Secret is a gently humorous take on one of life’s great mysteries – where all the odd socks go. Young fairy fans will love spotting the fairies that Sarah knows about but her mother is oblivious to, behind the furniture, under beds, in cupboards and, sometimes, in plain sight. Illustrations are bright and semi-realisitic, with each fairy unique.

Lots of fun.

The Great Sock Secret , by Susan Whelan & Gwynneth Jones
EK Books, 2016
ISBN 9781925335248

Dance With Me, by Penny Harrison & Gwynneth Jones

Each day a girl appeared before her and the ballerina twirled and whirled and swayed and swirled and sang to the little girl, ‘Come, dance with me.’
And the little girl would laugh and clap her hands and dance with the ballerina.

A music box ballerina likes nothing more than to dance to the music with the little girl who owns the music box. But the girls grows up, and develops other interests, and one day she stops dancing. The ballerina tries to find someone – or something – else to dance with her, but without luck. For years she is silent, shut in her box with nobody to dance with. Then, a little girl very similar to the one from years before, discovers her, and the ballerina dances one more.

Dance with Me is a delightful, slightly sad, story of growing up, and the toys that are left behind. Happily, in this story, the dancer survives until the next generation of owner falls in love with her. The illustrations, by Gwynneth Jones, use watercolour and outlines with soft pastel colours for the ballerina and her world, and bolder colours when she ventures out into the world looking for a dance partner.
Likely to appeal to young dancers, especially those with a fondness for music boxes.

Dance with Me, by Penny Harrison & Gwynneth Jones
EK Books, 2016
ISBN 9781925335231

Smile/Cry by Tania McCartney ill Jess Racklyeft

Sometimes – A lot of sometimes – I want to smile.

It could be …

Sometimes – A lot of sometimes – I want to smile.

It could be …

Smile/Cry is a ‘flip’ book. ‘Smile’ is read from the front, and offers different kinds of smiles that appear on the faces of three childlike characters: a rabbit, a cat and a pig. Flip the book and ‘Cry’ details the trio experiencing sadness of different sorts as they traverse their day/week/friendship. ‘Smile’ and ‘Cry’ meet in the middle with a double page spread that envelops the reader in a big hug full of smiles and tears simultaneously. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour and help the reader to recognise emotions. The ‘Smile’ cover is bright sunshine-y yellow and the ‘Cry’ cover is in more muted tones.

Smile/Cry has a sticker on the front advertising that it is a ‘A Beginner’s Book of Feelings’. (It also suggests which side to start reading). It’s also a story about friendship and play. It offers the opportunity to talk about how each individual feels and about how their feelings can affect how they relate to others. It’s easy to imagine young readers emulating both the activities and the response depicted. Recommended for preschoolers and early schoolers.

Smile/Cry, Tania McCartney ill Jess Racklyeft
EK Books 2016 ISBN: 9781921966989

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com