Bamboozled, by David Legge

I love my grandad.
I visit him every week.
And every week, things are the same.
But last week when I arrived, something seemed odd.

When the young narrator of this story visits her grandad, she does all the things she usually does – drinking tea, helping with the housework and gardening, feeding the cat and so on – but all the while, she can’t help feeling that something is different than usual. As the text describes what seems a very normal day, the illustrations show things which viewers will find anything but normal – from the giraffe in the front yard when she arrives, to the tea being poured from a watering can, and the cat, which is in fact a tiger in a highchair. Readers will love spotting these details and so very many more, but the biggest surprise will be in realising what it is that the narrator has sensed as different – Grandad’s odd socks.

The fabulousness and eccentricity of Grandad and his house will delight, and the realisation that the girl has not overlooked all of this but has, instead regarded it as normal, is satsifying, leading readers to question and discuss what they are seeing, and versions of normality. The bright, detailed watercolour illustrations reveal more on each rereading.

First published in 1994, it is lovely to see a new edition released to mark the 21st anniversary of Bamboozled.

Bamboozled, by David Legge
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743620212

The Velveteen Rabbit by Marjery Williams Bianco ill Helene Magisson

There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

The rabbit in The Velveteen Rabbitis a Christmas gift to a young boy. Although the Boy has many toys, he comes to love the Rabbit and for a long time they are close companions. Another toy in the nursery, the Skin Horse, tells the Rabbit that if a child really loves you, for a long time, then you become Real. The Rabbit longs to become Real, but there are many twists and turns along the path he wants to travel. Illustrations are in gentle blues and greens, lyrical and lovely. Endpapers offer two views of an empty toy room a

The Velveteen Rabbitwas first published in 1922 and has been a favourite of many young and old. This beautiful edition of the story about the magic of love is sure to win a new generation of fans. Readers will enjoy their visit to a different time, and empathise with the longings of a loved companion. Observant readers may also find extra details in the endpapers. Recommended for pre- and early schoolers.

 

The Velveteen Rabbit, Marjery Williams Bianco ill Helene Magisson New Frontier Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9781925059304

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Imagine a City, by Elise Hurst

Imagine a city
and drops of rain
A world without edges
Where the wind takes you high…

Fish that fly through the sky , gargoyles that come alive and drink cups of tea, and cats that play chess are just a few of the wonders that populate the pages of this fantastical, magical yet gentle book. The poetic text is minimal – just a few words per page – and invites readers to use their imagination. The illustrations, in black pen and ink on cream backgrounds use light and shadow, and lots of cross-hatching and detail, to amazing effect. There is a historic feel, with steam trains, historical figures and buildings and of course the lack of colour all enhancing this, but it doesn’t feel dated. Rather, it seems the children pictured are in a time slip adventure, taking the reader with them.

The design of the book is also special. In clothbound hard cover, with embossed text and a panel print illustration, the endpapers also use red ink rather than the black of the rest of the book. The whole feels sumptuous and a real keepsake.

Imagine a City would make a perfect gift for a child or an adult.

 

Imagine a City, by Elise Hurst
Omnibus, 2014
ISBN 9781742990095

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Terrible Suitcase, by Emma Allen & Freya Blackwood

Because I got a terrible suitcase for my going-to-school present instead of the red backpack with yellow rockets and a silver sipper, I was mad.
M A D, mad!

The Terrible Suitcase

When the young narrator gets a suitcase instead of a backpack for school, she is unhappy. And why wouldn’t she be? Her friend Max has the rocket backpack she wanted, and all the other kids have backpacks too, with attachments and pockets and stickers. Starting school should be fun, but how can she be happy with a terrible suitcase? Change comes when she hides away with her suitcase and makes a friend. Soon, their game draws in other children, and the suitcase comes in useful for all kinds of things.

The Terrible Suitcase is a beautiful picture book about the power of imagination, friendship and starting school. The terrible suitcase proves to be a tool for bringing children together in a gentle story brought to life in the tender watercolour, gouache and pencil illustrations by Freya Blackwood.

Perfect for reading with youngsters about to start school, but also lots of gentle fun for younger and older children too.

The Terrible Suitcase, by Emma Allen & Freya Blackwood
Omnibus, 2012
ISBN 9781862919402

Available from good bookstores or online.