I mentioned recently that I’m a sucker for a good dog story, so when I first saw Leila Rudge’s new picture book Ted I fell in love. Ted, the little dog who is the subject of the story, graces the front cover in various poses wearing his little green jumper. I knew right away that I would love Ted and you will too.
Ted is a smart dog, with his own jumper. But he has lived at the pet store for as long as he can remember and nobody seems to notice him. Will Ted ever find the perfect place to live? Ted joins the circus, enters a pet pageant, and takes a job as a guard dog, but nobody notices him. When he least expects it, Ted gets noticed.
Ted is a superb picture book by a very talented author and illustrator. Ted is a loveable character that children certainly will notice and want to take home. The story is great to read aloud and will have children laughing and hoping for Ted to find a home. The illustrations are both cute and funny, with lots of quirky details that children will point out. I particularly like where Ted puts his collar when he’s a guard dog. The end papers even add to the story (compare the ones at the front to those at the back).
The ending of the book is absolutely hilarious and I definitely didn’t see it coming. I thought it had all gone horribly wrong for Ted, just when things were looking up. You’ll just have to read it to find out what happens.
Ted is the perfect book to snuggle up with and share before bed on a cold Winter’s night, so grab a copy from your library or bookshop now.
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis is the funniest book you’ll read this year. With its mix of text and hilarious cartoons it’s sure to be a hit with Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans. This book should come with a guarantee – “If you don’t laugh out loud at least once we’ll give you your money back!” It’s due out in March and you can watch these very funny videos below to meet Timmy Failure, his friends and his enemies. There is also a really cool Timmy Failure website you can visit to find out more about the book and the author – www.timmyfailure.com
I love picture books that are interactive. I’m not talking about book apps, but physical books that ask the reader or the audience to do something. Not only are they fun for the audience, they’re also incredibly fun for the reader. Some of my favourite interactive picture books are the cat books by Viviane Schwarz (There Are Cats in This Book, There Are No Cats in This Book), that involve you blowing on the page to dry them off and throw balls of wool at them. I’ve just discovered a new favourite interactive picture book, called Open Very Carefully by Nicola O’Byrne and Nick Bromley.
The book starts off with the story of The Ugly Duckling, but something shows up in the story that shouldn’t be there – a really big, scary CROCODILE! It seems that this crocodile likes to eat letters, words and even whole sentences, but you’ve got to stop him before he eats the whole book. You try rocking the book backwards and forwards to make him go to sleep, and you try shaking the book to make him fall out. Will it work or will he eat the whole book?
Open Very Carefully will have adults and children in hysterics! Part of the humour of the book is in the way that you read it, putting the emphasis in the right place, and part of it is in the hilarious illustrations. At the beginning of the book the crocodile is looking very happy with himself, but that changes quite quickly when he discovers that he is wearing a very unflattering outfit. From the very first page children are engaged in the story and they’ll want to help you get rid of the crocodile. The interactive parts of the book are especially great for sharing one-on-one as these parts make children feel like they are important to the outcome of the story. The design of the book is wonderful too, especially the final pages and the back cover, which offers one final surprise for readers.
I will be reading Open Very Carefully again and again to preschoolers and school groups in my library. I’ll have to try and read it without laughing myself though.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I love creepy stories of all kinds. Ghosts, werewolves, zombies, vampires, and other creatures that live in the dark are often featured in the books I love. I’ve been reading many of the first titles from Hot Key Books (a brilliant new publisher based in the UK) and when I read about Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones I had to get my hands on it. A ghost story set in Victorian London, featuring a boy who could communicate with ghosts, sounded absolutely fantastic! Constable & Toop was even better than it sounded.
Sam Toop lives in a funeral parlour, blessed (or cursed) with an unusual gift. While his father buries the dead, Sam is haunted by their constant demands for attention. Trouble is afoot on the ‘other side’ – there is a horrible disease that is mysteriously imprisoning ghosts into empty houses in the world of the living. And Sam is caught in the middle – will he be able to bring himself to help?
Constable & Toop is a creepy, gruesome story, with plenty of mystery, and a good dose of wit and humour. Gareth can have you cringing one moment and laughing the next, which is why I liked the book so much. He has given us a glimpse inside the ghost world and it’s not what you would expect. It’s the ghost world and the witty banter between his characters that provide the comic relief of the story. There is also plenty of throat slitting and stabbing for those who like their ghost stories gruesome. The story is set in Victorian London and from the first page you are immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the period.
There are several different threads of the story, following different characters, which Gareth weaves together perfectly. Gareth shows us the lives of the living and the dead, and the ‘Talkers’ allow them to communicate with each other. Characters whose lives seem quite separate from each other in the beginning become increasingly intertwined as the story progresses.
The thing I liked the most about Constable and Toop was the way that Gareth portrayed the ghost world. It’s very bureaucratic, with each ghost having a role, like Enforcer or Prowler, and there are lots of rules and regulations that ghosts must follow. If they don’t do as they are told they’re labelled Rogues and are hunted down. There is an incredible amount of paperwork that needs to be filled out to do anything, and you must have a license in order to be a Poltergeist. In order to go to the physical world and find out what your unfinished business is (so that you can step through the Unseen Door and cross over) you have to apply for a research license. Lapsewood is my favourite character because he’s a very likeable guy, who just wants to get away from all the paperwork and get some adventure out in the real world (while impressing the girl of his dreams). He has some of the best lines and has some incredibly strange conversations with his superiors, who can never seem to get his name right.
If you want a ghost story with a difference grab a copy of Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones. I would recommend it for fans of Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series, Joseph Delaney’s Spook’s Apprentice series, or Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends series.
5 out of 5 stars