Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Tragic Tale of Dwayne the Eating Monster

The Tragic Tale of Dwayne the Eating Monster

By Valentina Mendicino 
Published by Top That! Publishing

Meet Dwayne the monster, he’s not very good at much except eating and boy does he have an appetite! This funny, lift-the-flap book, is Valentina Mendicino first published book, featuring a very greedy monster! Her second book, The Really Abominable Snowman is about another monster, which I reviewed earlier this year.

In The tragic tale of Dwayne the Eating Monster, we meet Dwayne and the only thing Dwayne loves to do is EAT! One day he decides to try eating new things, and to find out what you need to lift the flap over his tummy. You'll discover he'd eaten a cat followed by the next door neighbour’s dog. His neighbour isn't impressed - but it doesn’t stop him from feeling hungry. The more Dwayne eat the BIGGER he got. Dwayne grew so big that he couldn’t sleep in his bed or tie his shoelaces and couldn’t even fit through his front door any more. But Dwayne doesn’t care, he just wants to keep eating and grows bigger and BIGGER. There’s lots of flaps to lift up and discover whats in his tummy which is lots of fun. 

Unfortunately, as Dwayne gets bigger, so does his appetite, Dwayne starts to eat whole towns and cities! Nothing is safe from Dwayne, not even planet Earth and the Moon. Soon there is nothing left to eat and with a rumbling tummy, something happens that Dwayne thought would never happen - I don’t want to ruin this story, but lets just say there is always a bigger fish in the sea!

Valentina Mendicino’s illustrations are big and bright. Your eyes are drawn to the very pink Dwayne and the many items of food and things you wouldn’t consider food like an iron, a lamppost and even a ladder. 

The recommended age is 3 years and over and children will love lifting the flaps to discover what, or even whom, has become Dwayne’s latest meal. And even though Dwayne is a very greedy and naughty monster, you will feel slightly sorry for him at the end! All in all this is a very inventive story for use in a Lift-The-Flap Book, one that children will want to explore again and again. The tragic tale of Dwayne the Eating Monster is available to buy now at all good bookshops or direct from Top That! publishing online.

A huge thank you to Valentina for providing me this review copy. She even signed it for my 8 month old daughter, Aoife!

Friday, 13 February 2015



Written by Suzi Moore and Illustrated by Russell Ayto  
Published by Templar Publishing

WHOOPS! is a truly refreshing picture book. It wasn't at all what I was expecting as the cover doesn't give a lot away, and that's a good thing! 

The story centres around a cat, dog and a mouse who all have a common problem. The cat didn't know how to MEOW. The dog couldn't woof. And the mouse couldn't speak so she couldn't say SQUEAK. So a wise old owl tells them to visit an old lady who lives in the woods in a tumbledown house. Hopefully she should be able to put things right. Of course things aren't as simple as that and reuniting the cat, dog and mouse with their voices has a few hiccups... But the witch is adamant to help these poor creatures out and keeps trying until she gets it right - or does she? You'll just have to read it to see if her spell works!

Suzi Moore writes the story, and it doesn't disappoint. I love the witch who's more of a lovely old granny as opposed to the usual wicked old witch.  Her rhyming is spot on and makes the story flow along joyfully.

The illustrations are wickedly rendered by Roald Dahl Funny Prize winner, Russell Ayto. Russell's illustrations are minimalistic (with the main characters usually sitting in spacious surroundings) with an emphasis on colour, with the spread pages different colours every time the witch casts a new spell (and the colour highlighting the more it’s gone wrong!). 

I really enjoyed this read, as will any fans of rhyming picture books who like a giggle. So 5 huge magical stars from me. I hope I see Suzi and Russell team up again as it would be a huge Whoops! if they didn't. WHOOPS! is out in all good bookshops now and available from Templar Publishing.

Pom Pom Gets the Grumps

POM POM Gets the Grumps

By Sophy Henn 
Published by Puffin


Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Well that’s what happens to Pom Pom, and nothing is right.

Pom Pom is a new character from Sophy Henn, her first book, Where Bear? was reviewed by me last year. You may also recognise Sophy’s unique and fun illustrations on the World Book Day website, check out her lovely illustrations here.

One morning, Pom Pom gets out of the bed on the wrong side and then nothing seems right. He can’t find his blanky, his baby brother is playing with his favourite toy very loudly, and his mummy is singing silly songs all throughout breakfast. Even his cereal was soggy and there were bits in his juice. “Harrumph!’ said Pom Pom which he constantly says throughout the book to everything going wrong. Pom Pom can’t even get his hair right and even on his way to school, the sun is too sunny and the birds are being too noisy. 

When he gets to school, everyone is having fun in the playground except Pom Pom. His friends come to ask him to play ball, “No” he huffs. How about we watch ants? “No” he grumbles. He even shouts “No” when asked to play catch before finally losing his temper and yelling “Go Away!” at the top of his voice! And unsurpisingly they do go away. Pom Pom is left all alone. He didn’t feel like shouting any more. His friends had only tried to be nice. Pom Pom knows he's been silly and goes to apologise to everyone, luckily he has nice friends who accept his apology and suggest a new game.

I really like Sophy Henn’s bright, contemporary illustrations and like Where Bear? her characters are very cute, you’ll even spot a reference to Where Bear? early on in this book. I recently visited a book shop and spotted this book straight away with its bright and simplistic cover, it definitely stands out on displays from ebrything else that's out.

The recommended age for this book is 3-5 years and this funny take on toddler tantrums will definitely strike a chord with parents. I happened to read this book aloud to my (nearly) 9 month old daughter and when making loud exaggerated “Harrumph!” sounds, she would laugh and give me a big smile.

This isn’t the last we seen of Pom Pom, he will be back in Pom Pom the Champion, due out this September. Pom Pom Gets the Grumps is available in all good bookshops and online from Puffin.

Monday, 2 February 2015



By Dahlov Ipcar
Published by Flying Eye Books


BLACK and WHITE is the re-published work by Dahlov Ipcar, first published in 1963 by Alfred A. Knopf, featuring fun and frolics of a two dogs (one black and one white). Dahlov Ipcar is an American author and artist, illustrating over 30 children’s books, and timeless stories capturing the hearts of children and adults alike. And at 97, you will find her still painting two hours a day!

The two dogs are good friends that play and stay together all day long. After a day of exploring, they return home and after saying good night they climb into their beds and both dream. The little black dog dreamed a dream of a jungle scene where big elephants ford a stream, black panthers sniff the breeze and zebras and antelopes graze. Butterflies fill the air and birds fly above the tree tops.

The little white dog dreamed a dream of an arctic storm where seals swim to and fro, arctic foxes chase arctic hares, while polar bears stand ashore. Sea birds nest on the rocky shores and big black walrus roars. The two little dogs awake to a bright new day and run outside to race and play before telling the other of their dreams and all of the animals who were white as snow and black as night.

After first reading this book, it brought back memories of my primary school books filled with bright stylised colour illustrations. BLACK and WHITE is filled with stylised illustrations that only use four spot colours (Ipcar was a master of a technique that has now disappeared: four-colour separation, by which each colour is printed separately, and the layers build up’). Dahlov Ipcar truly captures the essence of the jungle and arctic and I love the variety of the animals included. You may feel it has a dated feel but the way Flying Eye Books has presented it gives it a retro feel. Ipcar's illustrations are paired with original verse celebrating the beauty of the living world around us.

There is a lot more to this book than I first realised and in researching Dahlov Ipcar, I came across this interesting article by the Telegraph. This was originally published during the height of the US civil rights movement and BLACK and WHITE was intended to promote equality within the turbulent political landscape of its time. The article is very insightful and explains the painstaking process that Flying Eye Books has gone to meticulously and faithfully restore this book to bring back the quality of the originals. Flying Eye Books will also be reintroducing Ipcar’s wider catalogue; I Like Animals and The Wonderful Egg, are two other titles that are already available.  

BLACK and WHITE is out now to buy in all good bookshops or direct from Flying Eye Books.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog

By Megan McDonald and Illustrated by Katherine Tillotson
Published by Simon & Schuster

Shoe Dog liked to chew. And chew and chew. Not a boring old bone. Not a squeaky old toy. Not a smelly old sock. Shoe Dog liked to chew... Well, guess!

This energetic picture book from Megan McDonald and Katherine Tillotson tells the tale of a puppy who has a fondness for eating shoes! Shoe Dog dreams of a new home that's warm as soup and cosy as pie which may just come true when a woman enters the Animal Shelter and spots him, instantly falling in love with him. 

He may well be cute, but is he a good boy? Shoe Dog is a puppy and puppies like to run and generally cause havoc. This is true of children too, it's a way of discovering the world and seeing what the boundaries are - what's right and what's wrong. Unfortunately for Shoe Dog, he has an appetite for shoes of all types - on his first encounter he manages to chew through; five high heels,  four flip-flops, three sneakers, two boots and one wing tip. 

His new owner doesn't have the same enthusiasm as Shoe Dog for ripping shoes apart and so Shoe Dog is punished by not getting petted or having the privilege of getting to sleep on the 'Big Bed'. Unfortunately Shoe Dog doesn't learn his lesson - when his owner returns with boxes that look like they may well contain 'new shoes' he can't help but investigate. He also can't help but chew on the new shoes and again he is punished for his actions. 

So Shoe Dog tries his best to behave - especially if he doesn't want to be sent back to the Dog Shelter. And all is going well until one day, when his owner returns with those shoe shaped boxes, he rushes up to go and sniff them out. But this time he finds the shoe he would never chew and learns to finally control those shoe chewing impulses (and gets to sleep on the 'Big Bed' for being a good boy).

Katherine's illustrations of Shoe Dog capture the liveness of a young puppy with her 'wound up coil spring' scribble for his body and pastel style motion lines show us how this puppy runs amok as he desperately searches for shoes to chew and destroy! I enjoyed this book, especially knowing first hand how dogs will chew almost anything (my family home have always had dogs for pets and I only lost one pair of shoes and learnt my lesson to keep them well hidden). A fab book for dog lovers and teaching children about resisting (and to keep their favourite shoes away from the family dog!).

Shoe Dog is available to buy now from all good bookshops and online from Simon & Schuster.