Tag Archives: David Melling

Goblins

Between 2007 and 2009 these chapter books about five types of goblins were published. I think these particular goblins are part of the fairy folk – they are small, live on the edges of human knowledge and are a touch magical. They’re also quite grimy, fairly ugly and very funny.

I saw these books appear on the shelves of the local bookshop in hardback but as my eldest child was a baby I ignored them. As she grew, and little sister arrived and grew, and we all became addicted to David Melling‘s books, I started collecting signed copies whenever I found them on the shelves (calling out “buy me, buy me”!) They then sat on a shelf, waiting for my daughters to be old enough to read them…

When I sneakily started reading them, I wish I’d started earlier. As an adult, these are tiny portions of books but probably just right for newly confident readers. I have no experience with young readers (MG & DG are still ‘pre-readers’) so this is very much my review with no input from smaller people I’m afraid.

All the books follow the same format: there is a map, pictures and descriptions of the characters in the book, some facts about the type of goblins in the book, the story, an afterword connecting the real world to the goblin world and (in all but ghost goblins) some more goblin info or games. All the pictures in the book are black and white sketches (actually my favourites) with colour covers and inside covers.

Because of the format of the books, they encourage story-writing from young readers: who are your characters, what are their names, what do they do, where do they live? There are even worksheets on the Hidden Goblins website encouraging children to create new goblins. The website is a nice complement to the books, with lots of pictures and an extract from the first book to tempt you.

I do think these books will really draw young readers into a fantasy world, along with all the additional facts packed into the world there is always the hint in the of where you might find goblins: a puddle where everything else is dry; that tapping on the window; the birds singing because they’ve been pushed out of the trees…

Stone Goblins – Live in caves or tunnels, love stones. The story concerns a dragon in the goblins’ lake, and how they get rid of it. It has a dragon in, therefore a winner in my book. Also gross food like plucked spider-legs and toe-jam, fantastic for children people of a certain age mentality (as long as they’re not of a sensitive disposition…)

Tree Goblins – Live in trees, the males carry their wives and children in nests on their backs. This is a lovely story about family, and parents doing anything to find their children. It’s also about talking trees, strange creatures, pig droppings and sock sucking…

Puddle Goblins – Live in puddles that they can roll up and take with them in case of emergencies. The story concerns a goblin forgotten down a well for six months (ribbit), his rescue and naughty water goblins.

Shadow Goblins – Live in Black Woods, they can steal shadows and change shape. The story follows two trainee shadow goblins as they learn to steal shadows, their fairly useless teacher, some scared sheep and a skeleton… Very silly and a huge amount of fun. The sequences of goblin to watering can and sheep to goblin transformations on the inside covers are inspired.

Ghost Goblins – Dead. This is my personal favourite of the books, unsurprisingly because I like the darker side of humour. The story follows three newly deceased goblins being introduced to the afterlife via Cold Jack, the Windy Nibblers, Nightwatch Beetles and the Bone Collector. Also a riot of humour, silliness (the Windy Nibblers taking out their very sharp teeth before biting!) and brilliant imagination.

The five books can be read in any order as they’re self-contained so children can choose their favourites and read from there. Characters from Stone Goblins appear in Ghost Goblins but they can still be read in any order. Shadow and Ghost Goblins are particularly suitable for children who like ghosts and monsters in their stories, and are probably a good stepping stone for something like Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

I would very much definitely recommend these books for children who like fantasy, funny stories and making up their own stories. Suitable age range appears to be about 4-9 depending on the child (although 36 is perfectly okay too!) They would also be good to read aloud. You can visit hiddengoblins.co.uk for more details, or just take my word for it and buy the set 😉

All pictures by David Melling, used with permission.

One Lovely Blog Award

I was given this award by Taming the Goblin over a month ago and was very touched as her blog is one I really enjoy reading so I’m honoured to have been chosen. One of the ‘rules’ of this award is to choose 15 blogs to pass it on to. As I’ve previously written with regards to a meme, I can’t see how this works in the long run because by the third generation you’re onto 3,375 blogs but I am still going to take the opportunity to write about 15 blogs I love!

One Lovely Blog Award Rules:
1. Link back to the one who gave you this award.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other lovely bloggers.
3. Follow the person who sent it to you.

Bloggers below, feel free to ignore the rules! 🙂

Patch of Puddles
I first started reading Merry’s blog shortly before her first son, Freddie was born two years ago. I started reading because I was interested in home education plus she runs a fantastic online toy store. I stayed because her writing is touching and beautiful as well as interesting and varied. Sadly Freddie didn’t get to stay with his family for long, but the impact of his life touched me so much. Some of Merry’s posts leave me in tears, but they’ve been tears of both sadness and joy.
Twitter: @MerrilyMe

Making It Up
I started reading Jax’s blog via Patch of Puddles. I was interested in home education and read a variety of blogs on the subject before deciding to send my girls to the local primary (for now) but this is one of the few I still read regularly because of the variety and interest of the posts. Jax also writes beautifully and I have come to respect her opinions highly and find she speaks much sense, both on blog and twitter.
Twitter: @liveotherwise

Brink of Bedlam
Varied and often very funny, Kay’s blog is a mixture of parenting, reviews, ramblings and more. For me, Kay is reassuring proof that being chaotic is ‘normal’, and she’s a lovely person to chat with to boot!
Twitter: @chaoskay

Musings of a Stressy Mummy
Nikki is another lovely person to chat with, and her blog covers parenting from 2 to 16 years old – so lots of very varied posts! There are reviews, books, pictures, memes and musings.
Twitter: @stressymummy

Playing by the Book
Zoe’s blog is a fantastic mix of children’s book reviews and crafts based on those books. The blog is a treasure trove of ideas and Zoe’s passion for books shines through. Not only is she hugely knowledgeable about books, she’s extraordinarily helpful, giving advice and ideas for all sorts of projects (she’s answered twitter queries I’ve had on more than one occasion). She also promotes book charities around the world and held the first International Edible Book Festival earlier this year.
Twitter: @playbythebook

Little Wooden Horse
Polly’s blog only started this year but is already a huge wealth of children’s book reviews. Passionate and knowledgeable about her subject, I look forward to every new post and am learning new things every day. Just wonderful.
Twitter: @Pollylwh

The Children’s Writer
This is really a recommendation for two blogs at once. I’ve headed it with The Children’s Writer because I really enjoy the posts from the viewpoint of a future picture book author and the trials of getting a book published. But I also enjoy @homedad‘s parenting blog, which generally makes me smile. It’s also the home of Fiction Fridays, which re-ignited my passion for picture books and made this blog far more interesting (I hope!) Not to mention the stay-at-home-dad viewpoint is worth a read for the other side of gender discrimination.
Twitter: @homedad75

Taking Words for a Stroll
Elli’s blog is purely poetry only, you won’t find any other meanderings here. What you will find are hilarious poems and rhymes, but don’t delay they don’t stay there for long. Elli is extremely talented and her poems are perfect for sharing with children (and adults). One of my recent favourites is an ‘anti-rhyme’ where some bears sit on… stools and eat… plums 🙂
Twitter: @Elephantthai

Sunny Side Up!
Clara’s blog is full of lovely craft ideas and behind-the-scenes looks at picture book creation. It’s positive, welcoming and home to The Happy Bunny Club!
Twitter: @ClaraVulliamy

David Melling
David’s blog is full of glimpses into his sketchbooks, behind-the-scenes picture book making and storyboards. It really showcases his amazing talent. There is also a website: http://davidmelling.co.uk/
Twitter: @davidmelling1

Sarah McIntyre
This is a blog I don’t read as often as I should because every time I read it I learn some interesting nuggets from the world of illustration and writing. As well as illustrating some of my girls’ favourite books, Sarah is an awesome talent who stands up for and supports the book community. She has a website full of crafty activities too: http://www.jabberworks.co.uk/
Twitter: @jabberworks

Trapped by Monsters
Trapped by Monsters is a collaborative blog originally based on the idea of “a group of authors who met up to write the ultimate guide to bumping off monsters, but instead were captured, locked in a cave, and forced to blog…” It’s been running over three years now and is full of books, art, events, ramble and monsters.
Twitter: various!

Living Montessori Now
If you’re thinking of educating using Montessori principles and only read one blog, this is the one to read. There are so many showcases, linkies, reviews… It’s a one stop shop for Montessori-based education ideas plus information on Montessori principles from a very knowledgable, friendly and lovely lady.
Twitter: @debchitwood

Montessori MOMents
Lori’s blog is about bringing up her two young boys (and now a daughter on the way, so baby excitement to come this year) home educating using Montessori principles. I used to read a lot of different Montessori blogs, the three I’ve included in the list are the ones that have stuck with me as I’ve chosen not to home ed but am still interested in Montessori home ed. Interesting and inspiring, and full of cute kids!
Twitter: @LoriMOMents

What Did We Do All Day?
Another Montessori home educator blog, but another one I’ve stuck with for the interesting content and the amount of work she puts in to cataloguing all existing Montessori blogs, collating homemade Montessori materials instructions and comparing a wide variety of Montessori albums and resources. Well worth bookmarking!
Twitter: @My_Boys_Teacher

And yes, there are many more deserving, and chosing these fifteen was both easy and very, very hard. I think they are all well worth following and if you’re not already following, go take a look.

Thanks again to Ray from Taming the Goblin, you should be up there too but I didn’t know if I was allowed to include the person who gave me the award!

Fiction Fridays #22: The Tale of Jack Frost

FF#22
The Tale of Jack Frost: David Melling (2003)

There was once a group of trees who were fed up of living in a deep, dark and crowded valley. So they decided to move to the brow of a nearby hill.

Read more about Fiction Fridays here.
Like to take part? Read the rules and guidelines and get the badge here.

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Extra Info:
At Christmas 2009 (and probably since, but we recorded it then), the animated version of The Tale of Jack Frost (originally made 2004) was shown on television. MG was nearly three at the time and loved it so we watched it again, and again, and again…

I dutifully went to my local independent bookstore and asked if they could get a signed copy of the book for MG’s birthday (because they’re good like that) but the book was out of print! And wouldn’t be republished until the end of the year! Did I mention how fantastic my local independent bookstore and David Melling are? The shop asked, and got, one of his own copies of the book signed for MG in time for her February birthday. She even got a fantastic goblin sketch in the book just for her.

I had a problem with reading this book originally because I’d seen the animated version (several times) before reading so had that ingrained into my brain which meant the book didn’t seem ‘right’ at first (I know, terrible!) I still can’t read it without hearing Hugh Laurrie in my head…

Fortunately no such problem existed with MG (or DG, but she was only 9 months old when we bought it so didn’t really take much notice of the TV version) who took to the book instantly. Especially with the dedication. It is still one of her ‘special’ books and she takes very good care of it.

There are some great videos at davidmelling.co.uk, including the creation of this book and the Bing-Bong Bandylegs. Well worth watching for a behind the scenes look at the creation of a picture book and to see the amount of work that went into the pictures. There are lots of large paintings that have gone into this book, and the detail is wonderful.

The story is about a boy called Jack who is found in the enchanted forest, and about the goblins who think he knows the forest’s secrets so try to steal the magic from him. The goblins are smelly and not particularly bright and a bit scary but they get their comeuppance and Jack… Well, you might still see some of Jack’s work at winter, protecting you from the smell of boiled cabbage.

This is a lovely original work of fantasy, with imaginative creatures who deserve more books to themselves: beezles, bing-bong bangylegs, snow-beetles, Woodwind, Waffle and Cowslip… Lovely for curling up with on cold winter evenings, but also a great read all year round.

Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep by David Melling

Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep is published on April 5th but due to a (since corrected) early release at Red House I got my copy yesterday. Woohoo! The best place to buy this book would be your local independent bookstore of course but I’m afraid “early release” and “half price” got me (the next copy I get will be from my local bookstore, and there will be a next copy, I have a habit of giving David Melling books as presents to every child we know…)

This is the third in the Hugless Douglas series, the first two I partially reviewed here: Vote Douglas! (Or not…) I think it might just be my favourite of the three.

To recap: In Hugless Douglas (Hodder 2010), Douglas wakes from a long sleep and tries to find a hug that suits him, looking for big tall and comfy hugs in all the wrong places until Rabbit takes him to the best hug of all. In Don’t Worry [Hugless] Douglas (Hodder 2011) Douglas gets a new hat from his dad but in his excitement the hat gets ruined. He looks for advice about what to tell his dad, before finding out that telling the truth is the best option.

In Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep, Douglas is heading for a sleepover with Rabbit: “There’s plenty of room at Rabbit’s.” But not before choosing what to take with him, getting lost, picking up some friends along the way and ending sleeping not quite where originally planned…

The three Hugless Douglas books are wonderful. They’re not my favourite David Melling creations (shhh, don’t tell anyone) but that’s not saying much because frankly they’re all my favourites. For some inexplicable reason my daughters pronounce Hugless Douglas as “hug-a-lus dug-a-lus”, which of course I find utterly adorable!

It’s the attention to detail that make me love these books so much. This may be why I like Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep so much, because it brings themes from the original Hugless Douglas book: the honeybee pyjamas, the bush with eyes, the owl saying “Twooooo Twit!”. I also love how the sky subtly darkens throughout the book with a sunset sky before night falls – something that you can even see in the storyboard:

Kind permission given by David Melling to use storyboard sketch

This double spread also has that Winnie-the-Pooh trapped in Rabbit’s house feel, except in this case Rabbit is very happy for Douglas to visit and the problem is getting into her house, not out of it.

Mighty-Girl and Destructo-Girl both love Hugless Douglas, and the Douglas books are suitable for a wide age range. MG (just 5) gets a lot more of the humour (pointing out the sheep stuck on Douglas’ back for instance). DG (almost 3) loves the stories. I drool over the details! As I write this, MG has stolen Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep from me and is copying the words from the book while attempting to read as many as she can. Earlier she was using the pictures to read the story to her little sister.

The attention to detail really is just fantastic: there are always ten sheep (even when they’re just eyes in a bush), Douglas’ storybook front and back cover is an exact match to the first Hugless Douglas book, one of the sheep is pulling the pyjamas out of the bag before Douglas is shown wearing them (though how he gets them on must be a book in itself!)

The final double page spread of “things to take on a sleepover” is packed with humour (especially the cuddly toy), but I think my favourite has to be: a friend. Hugless Douglas can be every child’s friend so off you go now, grab yourself a copy and enjoy. And don’t forget to read it to your children once you’ve enjoyed it…

Don't forget to pack a friend...

You can read more about Hugless Douglas (and other things) on David Melling’s blog plus there’s a fantastic interview about the Hugless Douglas iPhone app (and other things) over at The App Puppy (wish I had an iPhone but shall just have to campaign for an Android version…)

Oxford Literary Festival: Clara Vulliamy and Emma Chichester Clark

Despite living in or near Oxford my entire life, and the festival running for 16 years, I’ve never been to an Oxford Literary Festival event before. I have truly been missing out. It was hard choosing just one event, but also a no-brainer: how could I turn down the opportunity to meet Clara Vulliamy? The day of the event dawned grey and dreary, after a week of lovely weather. It also came with a small child who whinged constantly about everything from the moment she woke at 7am until eventually cheering up slightly on the bus into Oxford at about 10.30am. Given that the event was at 12pm, we made a pit stop for snacks and drinks to minimise extra whinging. We arrived about 15 minutes early but there was already another family waiting and it wasn’t too long before we were all invited in.

I’d actually been so nervous at meeting Clara, and wondering how to introduce myself: “Hi, I’m Child-Led Chaos”?! But then I remembered she does know my name, so I ended up saying “Hello, I’m Anne-Marie.” and was greeted like an old friend before she had to rush off to find some pens!

Firstly, I must say that although Clara Vulliamy is lovely, friendly, amazing and welcoming on Twitter; she is even more lovely in real life, talking to everyone as if they were the only person there and yet taking the time to talk to everyone. I’d never actually heard of Emma Chichester Clark before (ooops) but I also managed to have a chat with her and she was also very lovely, talking to everyone. All the people involved in the event were friendly and approachable and I’d recommend anyone who gets a chance to go to an author event in Christ Church JCR to go, it’s a lovely intimate venue (I guess you can pack more in but because this event included crafts, half the room was taken with tables).

My daughters were in a clingy mood, so although there were cushions set out for the children at the front and chairs for the grown-ups, I had to sit with them on the floor. I wasn’t the only parent on the floor, but the others at least managed to get more than two inches away from their children! Sitting down, surrounded by bags (spare clothes, wipes, snacks and drinks) and coats I felt like I was taking up half the floor but wasn’t really, and there was plenty of room for everyone. The event started with the housekeeping notices, which started with “no photography”. So I dutifully put my camera away, only having the one picture of the front of stage. I wish I could have taken more.

The first person to talk was Emma Chichester Clark who went through slides of all the characters from Wagtail Town, which was really nice to see them all separately. There were a lot more characters than included in the first book, Lulu and the Best Cake Ever, but there is another book ready for publication next year and possibly a third in the works (I asked while she was signing our book). After going through the characters, she read the book (which I will review later in this post).

After Emma had finished reading, Clara came on with a large cardboard cut-out Martha which she hid behind the sign for the children to guess what it was. She then read her book (which I will review later in this post) and showed a felt rabbit that all the children could make.

During the readings, MG and DG were very well behaved. They did ask for drinks and snacks and I tried not to rustle too much as I got things out of my bag, but considering how whingy the rest of the day was, they were on their very best behaviour for the whole event.

MG's artwork on the left, DG's on the right.

The craft session was centred around making the felt rabbits, although there were also Wagtail Town badges for the children to colour in. The four tables were covered in felt shapes, buttons, ribbon and pens. I was in heaven 😆 I had to help DG quite a lot with her rabbit, but she did all the decoration herself. MG managed to follow the instructions more, but still needed some help. I was somewhat trapped behind a table with them, so saw David Melling getting books signed and leaving without managing to introduce myself (although it wasn’t his event, so a bit of an invasion of privacy therefore I didn’t try too hard!)

The rest is somewhat of a blur. I got to talk to Clara for a while, the girls ran around getting in everyone’s way, I got both books signed to both girls and I gave Clara a very silly little gift as a thank-you for how kind she is which she was very nice about! We were probably the last non-event people to leave the room, although I could have talked to Clara for hours!

The girls were fidgety so instead of going out for lunch as planned, we got the next bus home and DG fell asleep on my lap almost as soon as we were back and slept for three hours (she stopped naps seven months ago, so this is very unusual but explained the grotty morning). Sadly this meant we missed a live drawing event with Clara and Emma that afternoon, although apparently it wasn’t well advertised and I didn’t know about it until after it had finished.

The picture above was taken by David Melling who kindly gave me permission to include it in my post. He also tweeted finished pictures by Emma Chichester Clark and Clara Vulliamy, Chris Riddell, Korky Paul, Emily Gravett and Joe Berger. I am utterly gutted to have missed all of this, but MG and DG weren’t in the mood for being out that long on that day so it wouldn’t have been a good time even if we had managed to see.

Wagtail Town: Lulu and the Best Cake Ever by Emma Chichester Clark

The story is about Lulu, a little dog with big ideas who gets carried away with wanting to make the best cake and disappointed when the cake she makes isn’t a winner. But that doesn’t mean Lulu isn’t a winner in other ways and all ends on a happy note. Emma certainly seems to know her dog breeds and all the characters in Wagtail Town have accents befitting the country the breed comes from, for example Lulu is French and lives in a house that looks like the Eiffel Tower. There appears to be a huge amount of background to this book – each character has a name and personality, there is a map of the town at the front and a final page that feels like the end of an episode. I get a feeling that this could easily be adapted into a TV series and I wonder if there are any plans for this. I think it would be very popular. The book also educates because of all the different breeds and any child with an interest in dogs will love looking up more about them (I will have to get a copy to send to one of my nieces who adores dogs!)

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Love School by Clara Vulliamy

I was so excited about getting to read this book (see I [Heart] Martha Bunny) that there was a chance it could have been a disappointment. I needn’t have worried, this is a lovely book and already a favourite with both my girls (especially DG who is already the biggest fan of Muffin and the Bear with Sticky Paws). Martha is a very sunny bunny who loves everything and is very excited about her first day at school. But she has to leave her two little bunny brothers behind which makes them all feel sad (bunnies put their ears down when sad, and Clara has captured this perfectly). The book is full of lists and side notes, and text that bounces around the pages. Each page has so much to explore, and cute little moments like Paws the puppy appearing in the corner of (almost) every double page. One of my favourite parts is the realistic breakfast with small children: all three have a different breakfast, one bunny brother will only eat his wearing a cardboard box on his head and the baby (toddler) is squeezing egg through his fingers delightedly saying “Mud!”. It’s a beautifully observed moment in a book full of such great observations of small children’s habits. It’s a book that children will understand because it speaks to them, and one filled with moments that parents will relate to. I still [Heart] Martha Bunny, her brothers and her creator.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of both Wagtail Town: Lulu and the Best Cake Ever and Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Love School by Harper Collins for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post and bought the tickets for the festival event myself.

Fiction Fridays #19: Just Like My Mum

FF#19
Just Like My Mum: David Melling (2004)

This is my mum.

Read more about Fiction Fridays here.
Like to take part? Read the rules and guidelines and get the badge here.

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Extra Info:
I had another book lined up for this week but then remembered it was Mother’s Day on Sunday so thought this was a better choice this week. The first book by David Melling we ever got was “Just Like My Dad” which I bought for DH’s first Father’s Day when MG was 4 months old. We all loved it so much, DH bought me “Just Like My Mum” for Christmas that year.

It’s hard to talk about “Just Like My Mum” without mentioning “Just Like My Dad” really because they are complimentary books. In each, the little lion cub talks about how he/she (gender neutral so perfect for any child) wants to be just like his/her parents but the pictures are telling a slightly different story to the words where the poor parents are getting into all sorts of trouble on behalf of the lion cub.

This book starts “In the morning I always wake early… …just like my mum.” I’m sure every mother (and father) can relate to the irony in that, and the picture of the bleary eyed mum lion tells it perfectly. This is a lovely book to share and is suitable from very small (it comes in board book format) onward. I love it.

Opening Lines

I used to want to be an author. I used to read avidly, literally hundreds of books a year. And I wrote, and wrote. But this was way back in my teens and early 20’s, now I’m 36 it’s been 15 years since I wrote regularly and over 10 years since I wrote anything at all. But inspired by the Children’s Writer blog and behind-the-scenes writing comments from (too many to mention) picture book authors and illustrators on Twitter, I thought I might revisit a story that’s been in my head all that time and write it for my girls…

My aspirations to be an author have faded over time, and I don’t have the patience to really write at this stage in my life but I thought I could manage a short story just for my girls. I hoped to be able to pull the threads of my ideas together, put the words in some sort of order and sort out the ending so it worked. Ideas are easy, writing is the hard part!

With that in mind, I started to think of the opening sentence(s). Perhaps just writing the story down first would be the best idea, but it’s been in my head for so long I thought I’d start at the beginning. Fiction Fridays have taught me that the first sentence can really sell a book to the reader. The story is a non-traditional fairy tale, so I looked for inspiration:

“Once upon a time there lived a King and a Queen who weren’t very good at it.” The Tough Princess (Waddell & Benson)

“Once there was a Dragon who was convinced he was TOTALLY TERRIFYING.” The Totally Terrifying Three (Oram & Melling)

“Once upon a Tuesday the king was in a hurry as usual.” The Kiss That Missed (Melling)

“Once upon a time, there was a deep, dark forest, where monstrous trees groaned, terrible beasties moaned and wiggly woos waited to tickle your toes.” Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure (Stephenson)

“The trouble with Dragons is… Dragons make Dragons and they make some more till there are wall-to-wall Dragons making Dragons galore.” The Trouble With Dragons (Gliori)

“Long, and long ago, when Oberon was king of the fairies, there reigned over the fair country of Phantasmorania a monarch who had six beautiful daughters.” The Ordinary Princess (Kaye)

The Ordinary Princess isn’t a picture book. It is however a perfect fairy tale. I think it’s the book I want to write. Except it was already written over 30 years ago! It definitely deserves its own post.

After looking at the inspiration, I thought about the opening lines for “my” story. Hmmm, maybe I’ll think about writing again in another ten years… 🙂

Vote Douglas! (Or not…)

It’s the final week of voting for the Red House Children’s Book Awards and one of my favourite author/illustrators, David Melling, is up for the younger children’s award. What sort of a rabid fan would I be without trying to influence your (child’s) vote? 😆

Don’t Worry Douglas (Hodder, 2011) is a gentle tale of the very huggable bear who makes a mistake and is scared to tell his dad. Of course it all ends well when he does tell the truth. A lovely story to read to young children to show that parents understand accidents and will love them just the same. This is a sequel to Hugless Douglas (2010); there’s a third in the series out this year (Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep); and Mr Melling is working on a fourth one – hurray! 🙂

I have a soft spot for Douglas for several reasons:

1) My father-in-law and my youngest nephew both have Douglas as one of their first names!

2) There is a double page spread at the end of each of these books of ‘hugs’ and ‘hats’ which is like seeing into an artist’s ideas book.

3) I took Mighty Girl to a ‘How to Draw a Hug’ event at Mostly Books bookshop in 2010 and I was so proud of how my only-just-three year old concentrated so hard and really enjoyed the drawing tutorial (and I was star-struck and didn’t say much but all (two of, outside Twitter) the children’s writers and illustrators I’ve met have been lovely and very approachable, they’re a fantastic bunch!)

4) Who couldn’t love this bear:
(Picture credit: Mostly Books)

I haven’t read any of the other books in the Younger Children shortlist but Mick Inkpen is always worth a look; we’ve enjoyed One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell and like his art; and I really love the front cover of Peely Wally and definitely want to read it to my girls at some point. You can vote for your favourite at the Red House Children’s Book Award website. Last day to vote is Friday 20th January.
There are also Younger Readers and Older Readers categories but they’re not applicable to my daughters yet and we’ve not read any of the entries so I’ll not be writing about them but if you have the right aged children, they might like to vote on their favourite.

Fiction Fridays #5: Two by Two and a half

FF#5
Two by Two and a half: David Melling (2007)

Read more about Fiction Fridays here.
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Extra info:
The very observant of readers may have gathered by now that I am a HUGE David Melling fan. I forgot it was friday so didn’t have a book in mind, so just went through the nearest pile of books to choose one. I nearly chose Meg and Mog, but it’s on my Six Books post. I almost chose The Train Ride (June Crebbin and Stephen Lambert, 1996); Handa’s Surprise (Eileen Browne, 1994); Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure (Kristina Stephenson, 2007) but it was Two by Two and a half that called to me today. The others will probably get a post another time 🙂

This is the story of children going for a walk and being scared by shadows and sounds until… Well, that would be telling. Repetition in the text makes the story flow well for even the very young. But what I really, really love is how the page preceeding the scary monster of the teacher’s imagination shows an ordinary object that is just the shape of the monster – tree branches become a lion’s face; a stump becomes a dragon etc. The story is also about how someone viewed as the smallest and most insignificant is important too. “Follow the leader, follow the path, two by two and a half…”

Fiction Fridays #2: The Ghost Library

The Ghost Library - David MellingFF#2
The Ghost Library: David Melling (2004)

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Extra info:
I am a huge fan of David Melling and think we probably have most of his books! It was difficult to chose one to start with but The Ghost Library called to me this time. Yes, we have two copies of it. Actually, three copies. But two are for presents when the next birthday party invite comes along, I collect hardback picture books when I find them on offer to give for presents – books I we all like of course! 😉

The Ghost Library is a book about enjoying books and stories, and of making up your own stories. It involves effort on the part of the reader as there are two sections where the story is told in pictures so you have to make it up while you read it. There is one gigantic flap to show the tall tower where the library is (I would love to have that many book shelves!) and it’s like getting three stories in one with the stories within the story – these are drawn in different styles too so the book maintains interest on all sorts of levels – it has ghosts and witches and a little girl and books so is completely non gender-stereotyped too, in my opinion.

My girls love the books I’m choosing too, of course. Here we all are enjoying The Kiss That Missed trilogy when the girls were a bit younger: