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All reviews tagged with Lucinda Jacob

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A First Book of the Sea

This sumptuous picturebook from this award-winning duo is a beautiful object, and would make a lovely gift to take on holidays or even to curl up with as the days get shorter and colder. Together with Davies’ A First Book of Nature and A First Book of Animals this title marks a new direction in…

A Trap in Time

Celia Rees writes that she is, ‘interested in the way the past underlies the present’, and in this trilogy she has created a ghostly city in parallel to the present one. This, the second in book in the trilogy, is an adventure in which Davey Williams, and his sister and cousins, move from the present…

Annie Rose is My Little Sister

As implied in the title, Alfie, perhaps the best-loved of all Shirley Hughes’s characters and big brother to Annie Rose, tells us all about his little sister in this book. Though it doesn’t have a plot as such – each double-page spread presents a delightful cameo of the two children, playing hide and seek, absorbed…

Apes to Zebras: An A-Z of Shape Poems

Don’t miss this book of shape or ‘concrete’ animal poems by this accomplished triumvirate of children’s poets. It is a wonderfully inventive A-Z, both restrained and lively, where every letter has at least one animal ‘shape’ poem. Some make exuberant use of type to draw the animal using the words of the poem, either following…

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs

This delightful book is sure to please; pirates and dinosaurs? What could be better than a picturebook featuring both from this well-known duo, here working together for the first time? Giles Andreae’s adventure story is engaging, exuberant and witty, and the same goes for Russell Ayto’s illustrations. As the story unfolds his deft and expressive…

Circle

Many readers will know Jeannie Baker’s work through her outstanding picturebooks such as the wordless Window, where page by page the reader follows the changes from a rural to an urban landscape, and Mirror, where links are made between two seemingly disparate world cultures. Her books are concerned with the issues, global and local, social…

Dan’s Angel

This is the most exciting book for children on art and painting that I have seen in a long time. Lauren Child is a witty choice of illustrator, as we are already used to seeing the quirky mix of photo collage, computer-generated flat colour and delicious characterisation in her previous titles (such as Clarice Bean…

Dinosaur Chase!

Well known for his stories featuring the Little Red Train, Benedict Blathwayt has a real eye (and ear) for stories that will engage little boys. Not that girls won’t enjoy this book, but big machines as in the train books, and dinosaurs, as here, are relished by boys in a genre (picturebook) where prettiness sometimes…

Farewell Floppy

The child protagonist in this sophisticated picturebook from French author-illustrator Benjamin Chaud decides he is too old for his rabbit and in a narrative that echoes Hansel and Gretel he takes it into the woods, attempts lose it, and eventually leaves it tied to a tree. The atmosphere, admirably reflected in the stylish illustrations is dark…

Gaspard Best In Show

In a welcome sequel to the delightful Gaspard the Fox, the eponymous urban fox and his friends are back in this enchanting picturebook by Zeb Soanes and James Mayhew. Mayhew’s illustrations have a whimsical, old-fashioned feel, reminiscent of Kathleen Hale’s lithographs for the Orlando series of the 1960s, yet they are entirely fresh and engaging.…

Green Boy

Susan Cooper is well regarded as the writer of The Dark is Rising fantasy series, and here she again uses Celtic mythology in a story where the present and future meet. Trey and her little brother Lou live on a Bahamian Island, which Cooper lovingly portrays as both beautiful and vulnerable. Long Pond Cay, a…

Green Light for the Little Red Train

Here is a book for machine-obsessed little children. I think it will appeal to quite a wide range in age, from 3 up, but 4–6-year-olds will probably get the most out of it. The little red train is a real picturebook steam engine and, while it doesn’t have a face like Thomas the Tank Engine,…

Hoot and Holler

This is a very appealing picturebook about friendship, anxiety and happiness, featuring two wide-eyed young owls. The illustrations are soft-edged and the curved outlines of the trees, the earth and even the raindrops look almost as cuddly as the creatures. Rolia uses change in depth of colour, viewpoint, changes from double to single page and…

I Kissed the Baby

The most striking thing about this picturebook is the way Mary Murphy manages to embody in her work both the graphic quality that will excite the most sophisticated of picturebook connoisseurs and a really appealing cuteness which will have us all going ‘Ahhh!’ The illustrations are spare; predominantly black and white with just a touch…

I’d Like a Little Word, Leonie! and You Must Be Joking, Jimmy!

These are two titles in a series of six featuring Daisy Morelli and her school friends. Each title brings a different friend into the foreground, and while they can stand alone, together the stories build a convincing, if a little madcap, picture of the children’s world. Typically the children get into a scrape, which they…

Kidogo

Kidogo, as we are told in a note, means ‘little’ in Kiswahili and this is the name of the smallest Elephant in the herd. Like so many small children, especially younger siblings, Kidogo is frustrated by having to be helped to do things that others can do for themselves. This concept underlies the story in…

Lion Boy

The blurb states that ‘Zizou Corder’ is the pen name of a mother-and-child partnership, and so I had half an eye out for changes in gear, stylistic leaps that would indicate changeovers; but no, the narrative appears seamless. They must have had great fun writing it. This is an adventure which begins in a future…

Lionheart

This lavishly illustrated picturebook about facing your fears featuring a monster in the dark has all the elements of an epic with a hero battling something which at first seems too much for him to handle, but which is overcome by the end of the book. The narrative is spare, and satisfyingly the pictures carry…

Look! Zoom in on Art

Gillian Wolfe is Head of Education at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, and this is the latest of a number of titles that she has written introducing children to great works of art. In this book she focuses on eighteen paintings, using words that can be linked to the exhortation to ‘Look!’ as framework and hook.…

Maya & Cat

This picturebook by Caroline Magerl is a beautiful object and both an aural and visual treat. Having the illustrations carry much of the story has allowed Magerl to pare back the text, which has a wonderfully spare, poetic flow to it, enhanced by the generous design and placing of the words on the page. The…

Mum Goes to Work

This picturebook is sure to be a favourite with small children, whether read to them at their daycare or at home, focussing as it does on mums and the lives that they lead when they are apart from their children.  The fact that some among the young audience may not have articulated this question to…

My Mum

  This is a ‘concept’ picturebook, as opposed to a picturebook with a story, although in a sense each page is a mini-story as the narrator describes the many talents and attributes his or her Mum (the child narrator gets a hug in the last illustration but is shown from the back, so we can’t…

No Longer Alone

This sensitive picturebook by poet Joseph Coelho and illustrator Robyn Wilson-Owen will be helpful for anyone supporting a child through loss of a parent through separation or bereavement. Using the voice of the child at the centre of the narrative, the text is elliptical and imaginative, and leaves enough ‘space’ for the listening or reading…

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a girl who lives in a grey-brown wasteland full of junk, a fantasy estuary (that reminds me of the east coast of England), with her eccentric Uncle nicodemus and Cousin nesbit. The characters and setting seem timeless victoriana with the story centring on the boring food. In fact we are into it from…

Oskar loves…

A picturebook from Britta Teckentrup is something to be looked forward to and treasured and Oskar loves… is no exception. Oskar himself is an endearing black bird who despite being depicted in flat planes of colour somehow appears warm and almost cuddly. Through the pages we are shown the things he loves: the sea, grass,…

Platypus

Chris Riddell is a very successful and experienced writer and illustrator of children’s books (and amongst other things he is the political cartoonist for The Economist, The Independent (UK), The Independent on Sunday and The Observer). The eponymous Platypus is an immediately endearing character, cute but not cutesy, somewhat in the vein of Mick Inkpen’s…

Polly and the Puffin: The Stormy Day

This attractive and engaging story book is the second in Jenny Colgan’s Polly and the Puffin series. The puffin, Neil, who was rescued after a storm with a broken wing in the first book, first appeared in Colgan’s adult fiction in the very successful Little Beach Street Bakery. He apparently proved so popular, generating his…

Sandy on Holiday

This book tells the story of Katie, who takes her pet hamster, Sandy, on holiday to her grandparents’ house by the sea. She brings along her friend Carol, who owns a hamster called Elvis. Needless to say, her younger brother, Declan, is highly put out at having to share the back seat, not just with…

Sleep Tight, Little Bear

From the award-winning author Martin Waddell, this is a book to treasure. Here, once again are the delightful bears that we first met in Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? Again, as in that first story, Waddell shows his wonderfully assured ear for story that is rooted in the special relationship that develops when a caring…

Swami on Rye: Max in India

Originally published in 1995, this picturebook, an exuberant, tongue-in-cheek search for the meaning of life, is one of four ‘Max the Dog’ books by New York artistic and literary phenomenon Maira Kalman. Kalman is well known in the USA for her New York Times columns, her magazine covers and contributions to The New Yorker, and…

Swan Lake: A Retelling of the Classic Ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

This picturebook retelling of Swan Lake is a good introduction to the iconic ballet story and reading it would be a great way to prepare for an outing to the ballet itself, as the three pages with text on them function rather like programme notes. We open this lavish book with ‘Act I’ and a…

Tall

This is picturebook making at its best. Tall is a sequel to the much- loved and deservedly successful Hug and again Jez Alborough has managed to convey a story that is funny, exciting, scary, subtle and witty in pictures and using only five words. Bobo the little chimp is on his own in the forest…

The Child of Dreams

This beautifully produced picturebook is instantly attractive thanks to the high production values, design, and particularly the illustrations by Richard Jones. These are both painterly and graphic, with patches of colour layered one on another. To me, both images and use of colour are reminiscent of Brian Wildsmith’s wonderful picturebooks of the1960’s, yet remain bold…

The Cow on the Roof

This retelling of an old tale is from the same author and illustrator who collaborated on, amongst other things, The King with the Horse’s Ears reviewed in Inis Spring 2003 and Paul Hess will be known to Irish readers for his illustrations in Malachy Doyle’s Hungry! Hungry! Hungry! and The Great Castle of Marshmangle. Once…

The Dance of the Dinosaurs

Two children wake up frightened by a noisy storm and are led out of the house by their cat on an adventure where they discover that storms are caused by dinosaurs dancing. The story is told in rhyming couplets and rattles along in a pleasantly jaunty manner, as we would expect from this author/illustrator duo.…

The Day War Came

Simple yet highly charged, this is one of the big stories of our time told in a form accessible to young children. More than ever in a post-truth world, art, here in the hands of masterful picturebook makers Nicola Davies and Rebecca Cobb, gets closer to the truth about the world we live in than…

The Eleventh Trade

Vibrant characters and a lively narrative draw the reader straight into this heart-warming story about life as a refugee featuring Sami and his grandfather Baba who live in Boston having fled the Taliban and their home in Afghanistan via Asia and Europe. A renowned musician in his homeland, Baba now busks on the streets to…

The Feather

This picturebook from Tamarind (publishers of the ‘Black Profile’ series which includes titles on Benjamin Zephania and Malorie Blackman amongst others) explores the concept of colour, and colour is its multicultural subtext. It is a book with a strong message, with plenty of additional content to catch the attention of primary-school children in the younger…

The Girls in the Velvet Frame

First published in 1978, published in a ‘new edition’ in 1988 and again in 2001, this title deserves its ‘Modern Classics on Tape’ soubriquet, and not merely for longevity. When the package with books for review arrived, my 13-year-old daughter took it away and her verdict was that ‘It makes you feel as if you…

The Jackal Who Thought He Was a Peacock

Based on a fable by Rumi and retold by Fereshteh Sarlak, star billing for this picturebook goes to the illustrator, internationally renowned Iranian artist Firoozeh Golmohammadi. Her luminous images lifted Jane Goodall’s book, Prayer for World Peace, out of the ordinary, and here we have another beautiful object in this picturebook. In tone Rumi’s fable…

The King with Horse’s Ears

This story has its equivalents in many countries, including Ireland, and it has links with the legend of King Midas, who was cursed with ass’s ears by Apollo for choosing the music of Pan’s flute over Apollo’s harp. Tales such as this one, with their innate strength and flexibility, have been renewed in every generation…

The Lonely Giraffe

This picturebook is about making friends, communicating and fitting in with the group. The Lonely Giraffe is too tall for easy conversation with the smaller animals and this difference leads him to spend his days on his own, browsing the treetops, unaware that the sudden appearance of his head scares the animals up there, while…

The Moon in Swampland

This is a picturebook with a traditional 19th- or early-20th-century feel, which is entirely appropriate for a story which first appeared in print in 1891. In the preface, MP Robertson tells us that the story originates in the folktales of the Lincolnshire fens in which it is set, and is one of many tales found…

The Tide

This eye-catching picturebook, if read slowly and quietly, reads like the voice-over for one of those segments about real life that are a feature of pre-school TV programmes. The text is subtle, but with repeated onomatopoeic words such as ‘Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.’ on each page it will be great for joining in at storytime where…

The Time Twister

This is the second book in the ‘Children of the Red King’ series and follows Midnight for Charlie Bone. In that first book, the eponymous Charlie Bone discovers that he is a descendant of a mysterious Red King. Many of the Red King’s descendants are ‘endowed’ with a magical talent, and some are good, others…

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling

In this engaging picturebook we are straight into the action on the opening page as Captain Alfred is sailing home to his wife with new animals for his farm including an unhatched duck egg. A storm brews up, they are shipwrecked, everyone is dispersed and in the ensuing fog the duckling (the eponymous Alfred Fiddleduckling)…

This and That

This is a picturebook for little children with a gently humorous text and cheery paper collage illustrations. Cat makes her way around the farm asking each animal in turn for something. On giving the use of their stable, or some of their warm wool, or a few feathers, they in turn ask what she wants…

This Book Belongs to Aye-Aye

This Book Belongs to Aye-Aye, set in a preschool or reception/infant class, is not only very attractive, both visually and as a well-shaped narrative, but proves invaluable in these classes (and at home) where young children are negotiating their way in this new social setting. Aye-Aye is at Miss Deer’s Academy for Aspiring Picture-Book Animals,…

Yours and Mine

The blurb accompanying this lavishly produced picturebook tells the reader that this story is a ‘fantastical flight of fancy’ where two children compare their secret friends, but I am sorry to say that, despite the glowing CVs of writer, illustrator and translator, it just does not work. No one that I have shown it to,…

Zig Zag Series

‘Zig Zag’ is Evans’s new series for ‘beginning and emergent readers’ and is especially appealing for younger ‘reluctant readers’. The stories never have more than 150 words and, while they have been written in consultation with literacy specialists, it is claimed that they have a ‘proper’ beginning, middle and end. I found Tall Tilly immediately…

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