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The Time Traveller's Journal

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Ruth Redford
Winter 2008

The guidebook for any budding time traveller, this book takes you on a journey through time. Each page is bursting with pop-ups, pull outs, activities, rich drawings and weird and wonderful facts. Much like 'Dragonology' and 'Pirateology' this book is somewhat of a novelty, yet artfully compiled. Filled with intricate details 'The Time Traveller's Journal' fits into the 'ology' book genre that is so popular with younger readers currently. Written by Ruth Redford, and presented as 'Prospero Hermes' Journal, the book mixes diary entries with factual information from the dinosaurs to life in space. While the first glance might dismiss this book as a gimmick, there is no doubt that Rachel Clark's design is enthralling. Indeed, there was many an argument when this book arrived in my book corner; everyone wanted to use the mirror to decode the secret message or read the pull-out newspaper documenting the Titanic sinking. A firm favourite, making history compelling.

reviewed for ACHUKA by Danielle Alder.

Nut Cracker

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Jan Pienkowski/David Walser
Autumn 2008

David Walser and Jan Pienkowski have combined again to great effect in retelling The Nutcracker. Like two craftsmen plucked from the story itself, they have created a spectacular piece of art. The cover is glittered, with gold foil edging and embossed accents. At the cover's centre, a heart-shaped cutout reveals the lovers. Inside, illustrating the story, there are five full-page illustrations with white paper silhouettes on sparkling, textured backgrounds. The finale is a stunning 3D picture, complete with fairytale castle, trees, icicles and the lovers in a horse-drawn sleigh.

The original story is not the most straight-forward tale but Walser does an admirable job bringing to life the spells and magic of Uncle Drosselmeier and the furious battles with the Mouse King and his army.

It is a book that will delight children of all ages from the moment they first spy it in a bookshop or unwrap it for themselves. It is perfect for reading aloud to KS1 but is equally sought after by children as old as 10 and 11. I read this with a small group of girls who are normally reluctant to read aloud. They were completely captivated from start to finish.

reviewed for ACHUKA by Michael Lucchesi

76 Pumpkin Lane

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Chris Mould
Sep 2007
One of the joys of reading is the paradox of its at once being so personalised and private and yet holding a base for shared experience and understanding. Few books exemplify this in such a multi-dimensional form as Chris Mould�s astounding new work, �76 Pumpkin Lane� which combines some of the most innovative paper engineering together with Mould�s signature brooding style of building and beings.

A short introductory text places the structure of �76 Pumpkin Lane� into context and provides a tantalising glimpse of the gory and grotesque inhabitants found therein. Character exposition is limited to a scant few details, but this is purposeful, allowing readers to act-out their own stories and scenarios using the figurines included within the setting that Mould has created. Each of ten rooms sport different accessories and accoutrements allowing for imaginative interaction and play. A victory for the delight of visceral fears made visual!

Chewy, Gooey, Rumble, Plop!

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Steve Alton, ill. Nick Sharratt
Bodley Head
Oct 2007
Following the processes of digestion and excretion literally from beginning to end, �The Gooey Chewy, Rumble, Plop Book� is a cavalcade of consumption! Taking as its premise the ingestion of ice-cream � and sporting a highly tactile tongue that can be made to waggle in a most disconcerting manner � the book takes us on a voyage around our extraordinary bodies, highlighting key learning areas such as taste, superb stomach statistics, an amazing account of absorption, and a double-page plop-out that will have readers doubled up with laughter! The joy of this book is the meticulous detail that has been afforded to its production. Innovative paper-engineering together with carefully penned descriptions of the processes encountered as parts of digestion and excretion make this an active � and thereby memorable � learning experience. A victory for the voyage of discovery!

The Story of Everything

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Neal Layton
Hodder Children's Books
Oct 2006
Neal Layton�s �The Story of Everything� is just that. This vibrant and dynamic pop-up book charts the history of the universe from the big bang through to the earth�s conception and the gestation of first life � underpinned by a brief explanation of Darwinism told through the inclusion of a miniature edition �Fish Fins and Fings�.

The dominance of dinosaurs and their eventual extinction is relayed as too is the evolution of mammals and more latterly, a double-page spread about apes including those with bigger brains!

Fans of Layton�s �Oscar and Arabella� series will be pleased to note that his penchant for the prehistoric include a self-referential mammoth during the ice-age. The development of homes and habitations is depicted and this section is concluded through realisation of the importance of recorded information and discovery in books. The book ends pondering the next phase of the story asserting that readers will have to �wait and see� conversationally adding through a pull-tab that it might take a million years or so�

Mandy Archer and Jenny Arthur
Hodder Children's Books
Sep 2006
A welcome pop-up edition of one of Hodder's �(Not so) Scary Monsters� series, �The Marvellous Monster Muddle� opens as Malcolm, who loves to give presents, sadly has none left to give. So it is that lolloping, puffing and peering he sets off on a quest to find new presents. Finding a treasure chest of potential gifts, Malcolm delights in giving these out to his friends along with sloppy kisses. Each of the presents, however, serves to cause a number of frights as, using the gifts as fancy dress, the monsters are no longer able to recognise one another. Laughing at the realisation of who each monster is, Malcolm is delighted that his gifts have brought so much mirth and merriment.

Focusing on the experiences, the possessions, the disguises and masks that are erected before us throughout life, �The Marvellous Monster Muddle� outlines the shared commonality of life that forms all of our foundations�

The Perfect Pop-Up Punctuation Book

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Kate Petty, ill. Jenny Maizels
Bodley Head
Sep 2006
Punctuation is sign posted as building blocks in this, clever and compelling guide to its basic usage. This motif forms the foundations of the book with subtle illustrative reference to the three little pigs and the house of straw at the beginning of the book to the bricks and mortar of the four-tiered, three-dimensional finale at the close.

Lift the flaps and pull-tabs help to actively engage readers in the process of proper, standard, punctuation. This begins with the basics of starting each sentence with a capital letter and ending it with a full stop.

A practical guide to the use of commas is then presented, this is consolidated through showing some of the humorous outcomes that their neglect can cause. Question marks, exclamation marks, semicolons and colons, speech marks, and much more are covered along with the hugely abused apostrophe � a quiz is presented to help clarify the rules of real apostrophe usage.

Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels have managed to make a subject that can often be tediously repetitive and monotonous truly engaging. With the pop-ups and paper engineering, this is a book that both readers and writers will delight in and will doubtless wish to return to.

How to be a Knight: A Squire's Companion

Dugald Steer
Jun 2006
Assuming the guise of Hector de Lance, readers become caught in a quest to rescue their assumed father, Sir Geoffrey from the clutches of the French Knight Sir Denis d�Oc who although allowing Sir Geoffrey to abode in Castle d�Oc itself rather than in the dungeon won�t abide releasing him until a ransom of �40 is paid. Sir Geoffrey, however, has a cunning plan to teach his son to become a knight, how well will you fare?

Following the high production values in terms of print, illustration, paper-engineering, design and lay-out, that Templar�s �Ology� books have become renowned for, �How to be a Knight: A Squire�s Companion� lays-out the mediaeval world of knighthood and chivalric values. Details on chivalry, on armoury, heraldry, training, questing and battles are provided. Adding colour and detail to these are lift-the-flap sections, a complete game, Squirefight, with all the pieces needed to play, a rule book on jousting a pop-up showing the strongholds of the castle gate means and devices for making an attack on enemy castles, a mini bestiary of creatures that might be encountered when questing and a short retelling of the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

A book that enables such active participation successfully transports readers through time to live and breathe, learn and battle in the age of knights and chivalric honour. The over-arching story provides a satisfying cohesion to the work.


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Sylvia Van Ommen
Winged Chariot Press
Sep 2005
Made available in the English language through Winged Chariot Press, a unique publishing venture supported by the Arts Council England and aimed at brining European picture books to the English market, �Sweets� is Dutch author, Sylvia van Ommen�s debut picture-book. It�s two-tone appearance is misleadingly unadorned and simplistic, for though instantly accessible, there is nothing simple about this narrative!

Joris and Oscar are friends who arrange to meet together in the park to share sweets and drinks and to ponder and share their thoughts and beliefs. Close examination of the home environs and world-views unique to both friends show us that Joris is drawn towards function whereas Oscar is drawn towards aesthetics.

These differences are indicative of the class antagonisms and struggles that Marx and Engels outlined within their �Communist Manifesto� but union is enabled between the two because of technological advancement � both friends are able to communicate with one another through use of mobile telephony.

Like many a philosopher before him, once in the park Oscar poses a conundrum that opens the gates to metaphysical enquiry:

�Do you think there is something?�

So begins the friends� eschatological enquiries about heaven, acceptance into an after-life, familiarity and of the unknown. If this sounds pretentious or outside the realms of the plausible for a picture book, at heart this is a deeply perceptive and sensitive story about the relationship between two friends, that relationship's endurance and its respective partners' ability to share.

It should be obligatory to read "Sweets"� it makes an excellent talking point which spring-boards to some fascinating debate. Here, in truth, is a book worthy of a cult following!