Can a prehistoric picture book pack a real punch? You bet it can!
Take one cave boy, add a woolly mammoth, and with David Elliott’s clever story and Lori Nichols’ charming illustrations, you’ve got a recipe for a children’s picture book that already feels like something of a classic. Orq is a boy who lives in a cave and carries a club. His best friend is Woma, a woolly mammoth who grows bigger and bigger, posing something of a problem for Orq and his mother; he smells and he’s not house trained (or maybe that should be cave trained). In by far the longest sentence in the book – ‘Mama say, “Get that woolly mammoth out of this cave!” – Woma is banished from the homestead. So Orq has to come up with all sorts of plans to get his friend back in the cave, none of which works. But as luck would have it, fate steps in and Woma gets a chance to prove his true worth.
As with so many gifted children’s writers (think Dr Seuss, think David Almond) David Elliott know that you can still squeeze a heck of a lot of meaning into a sentence with just a handful of words. But here’s a fine example of pictures and words working together in total harmony to create a story that younger kids will understand immediately, and absolutely love. Oh, and there’s even a great gag at the end to make everyone laugh. So, a book with a mammoth heart. Happy days, indeed. Troika, age: 3+
3 CHILDREN’S BOOKS ABOUT UNUSUAL CRITTERS
(and not a Gruffalo in sight…)
The Zoomers’ Handbook by Ana and Thiago de Moraes
Imagine the fun and games contained in this beautifully designed and illustrated new picture book. The Zoomer’s Handbook (as we are told at the start) is not a handbook for zookeepers, and nor is it a handbook for farmers. So just as a zoomer is a cross between the two (you can probably see where this is heading) the book is filled with all kinds of wacky and wonderful animals for kids to work out – unusual hybrids like the goatrilla (who likes to climb and swing from trees) or the shiger (whose stripy wool makes the nicest jumpers). Lots of fun and kids can take the book to a whole new level by inventing some funny mixed-up animals of their own. Andersen Press, age: 3+
What’s Up Mumu? by David Mackintosh
‘Mumu is not quite Mumu today’. So begins What’s Up Mumu? and the purpose of the book is for Mumu’s friend Lox to try and find something to cheer Mumu up. Mumu is a funny looking little thing with bunny ears, Mick Jagger lips and a fetching blue skirt, but it seems there’s not much that can make Mumu feel like Mumu again. Not even when Lox has dragged Mumu to the top of an 80-storey tall skyscraper with five thousand windows. But oddly, it’s Lox’s own sense of sadness at not being up to perk up Mum that finally saves the day. Quirky, stylish and quite unique. HarperCollins, age: 4+
Beegu by Alexis Deacon
Children love this strange and sad little story because for once, it’s the kids that come out of this tale smelling of roses. Estranged from her family, a lonely little alien sets off in search of friendship but finds it’s not as easy to be accepted by others when you look a little…well, let’s just say unusual. When Beegu finally winds up in a playground, the kids accept her for what she is, but again, thanks to adult intervention, Beegu is taken from her new friends. Of course, the story does has a happy ending – hey! this is a picture book, after all – but there’s a perceived wisdom here that adult readers may find rather enlightening in this very special book. Hutchinson, age: 4+