The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat

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One of the great things about good literature is its staying power. Its ability to stick in our heads for potentially our whole lifetime, to evoke fond memories. For you to be able to tell someone about a book, and see their eyes light up in recognition! There are not many people about who do not recognise the first few lines of The Owl and the Pussycat as it is such a classic piece of writing. Whether you love or hate it, you are most likely familiar with some of it.

I really love seeing these classic pieces of writing adapted and interpreted for a new young audience and this is exactly what we have here with The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat, written by Coral Rumble, illustrated by Charlotte Cooke and published by Wacky Bee.

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea, in a box on the living room floor. They sailed away for a year and a day and these are the things that they saw… Join two curious children on a quirky adventure, loosely based on the classic Edward Lear poem, The Owl and the Pussycat.

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This version of the story tells the tale of two young friends, a little boy dressed as an owl and his friend, dressed as a pussycat of course. We see them in a living room, surrounded by glue, paint and sticky tape, to hint at the fun that’s to come. The playful pair set sail on their pea green boat, and we enter into their imaginations, and a whole world of crazy and action packed fun.

While at sea the young pair meet pirates, naughty seagulls, grumpy sharks and a flute playing clownfish. It’s all completely bonkers, ocean filled fun. This book is a brilliant reflection of the imagination of a child. There are no barriers or walls in children’s heads, they can invent the most wild and magical scenes without concern as to how realistic these might be. It’s great fun.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat is simply, yet beautifully written by Coral, just a few words per page, it’s a quick and easy read. It would be a good book to use as a first reader, as it rhymes really nicely, and the words are reflected with clarity within the illustrations. It would also make a lovely bedtime story. It’s full of fun and frolics, but has a nice calming feel to the writing, and the children end up fast asleep after their adventures. It’s an ideal bed book choice.

Charlotte Cooke’s illustrations in this book are just lovely. They have a charmingly gentle feel to them, yet at the same time, when necessary, the action leaps from the page. I adore the pirate scene for instance. Each page is packed withlittle details that children will love to pour over and pick out their favourite parts. Also providing tons of scope for discussion about what’s happening in the story. Why is the seagull naughty? What might the pirate and swordfish be fighting about? For a book that seems, on the surface, quite simple, there’s a huge amount to be drawn from it.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat, is a timeless, gorgeously presented paperback book from Wacky Bee books, with lovely spot embossing detail on the cover, stunning illustrations and sweet endearing writing inside, which will be thoroughly enjoyed by young children and their parents or carers, while also looking rather lovely on the bookshelf.


Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35051621-the-adventures-of-the-owl-and-the-pussycat

Amazon:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventure-Pussycat-Picture-Story-Book/dp/1472319885

About Coral Rumble:

I have worked as a poet and performer for many years and I’m proud to have my work featured in Favourite Poets (Hodder). I have three published poetry collections of my own and have contributed to more than 150 anthologies. I am also one of the writers of the popular Cbeebies programmes ‘Poetry Pie’ and ‘The Rhyme Rocket’. I have given workshops in some fairly unusual venues as well…the grandest of which being Buckingham Palace!

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Website:http://www.coralrumble.co.uk/

About Charlotte Cooke

I was thrilled and proud when my picture book The Adventures of the Owl & the Pussycat was highly commended for the Macmillan Children’s Prize in 2010. Since then I have gone on to illustrate many other picture books and I enjoy making the occasional card too. When I’m not in my studio I’m usually outside running or playing referee to my two kids.

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Website:http://charlottecookeillustration.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charlottecooke


The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat is available from all good bookshops and libraries now.

Thank you for reading this adventurous Book Monster review.

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A Song for Will and the Lost Gardeners of Heligan

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The Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey in Cornwall, were, for many years, very much lost. Once a thriving kitchen and flower garden run by a large team of staff, they became neglected and overgrown to such a degree that they were left hidden. In 1990 the gardens were rediscovered and thankfully brought back to life, and you can now visit and view them as they used to be.

The reason for the gardens becoming lost, forms the basis of this story A Song for Will and the Lost Gardeners of Heligan, written by Hilary Robinson and illustrated by Martin Impey.

When World War 1 broke out in 1914, most of the garden staff were enlisted to fight, and tragically, many of them never returned. Their names were scratched into the toilet wall of the gardens, and the discovery of these names led to much work tracking down old photos, documents and relations of those who used to work in the gardens. One such name, was Will, a kind and gentle soul who is at the very heart of this rather beautiful book.

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I recently posted on Twitter that A Song for Will was the book that broke the blogger. It’s completely true. It is quite rare that I’m ever stuck for words, particularly when it comes to books! Yet, this one, has been a struggle to write about. Bear with me, let me, hopefully, show you why.

Hilary and Martin have been producing war based books since 2015, with Where the Poppies Now Grow, The Christmas Truce and Flo of the Somme. All stunning books which you must take a look at if you haven’t already.

We have shelves of war based books in our library as it’s an incredibly important topic, and Hilary and Martin’s books all stand out as a unique way of addressing it. This is because the combination of Hilary’s beautifully poetic writing, along with Martin’s soft and gentle, yet evocative, illustrations put the heart right back into the story. The tales of this harrowing time suddenly become all the more human, emotional and heartfelt. Facts and figures are of course very important, but for children to really understand the sacrifices made by our ancestors we need to go deeper, and this is where Hilary and Martin get it so very right every single time.

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A Song for Will continues this pattern of expertly produced non-fiction, yet it is slightly different to the duo’s previous books.

Firstly, if you order now you can received the special, first edition of A Song for Will, and to begin with, before we even delve into the story, I have to say that this is a beautifully crafted book. It has a gorgeous vintage feel to it, and oozes quality with its royal blue colour and Martin’s stunning illustration on the cover, elements of which have been embossed to give a really luxurious feel. This book has been created with care and attention to the very last detail.

Whereas Hilary and Martin’s previous books were written in a poem style, A Song for Will is a more substantial read, and has been written in the form of letters between young gardener Alfie and his friend and fellow gardener, Fred, who has been enlisted, along with Will and other gardeners, to fight in the First World War.

This was such a clever way of approaching the storytelling in this book, as it provides the story from two, very different, points of view. We have Alfie and other staff members, who remain at home, struggling with the not insignificant effects of war upon their daily life, while remaining stoically optimistic. Missing their loved ones and colleagues, rationing, maintaining life with very little, and, of course, the fear. It’s a side of the war not always addressed very effectively in children’s books particularly.

From Fred’s point of view we see how things are for him out on the front line and all the difficulties he faces along with Will. Not just fighting on front lines, but dealing with other risks such as illness due to the poor living conditions, missing family and the effects of the war upon him and his dear friend Will, which are sensitively shown through Hilary’s delicate and subtle writing:- I noticed that Will’s hand was shaking – he must have been excited to be back.” (Alfie)

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The writing has been perfectly pitchedfor children to allow openings for discussion about how the soldiers and loved ones felt during this time. The story is so carefully developed through the letter writing to show the stress that the soldiers must have experienced in a subtle way, through the eyes of a naive young gardener. The soldiers would come home and want to be the best for their loved ones, put on a brave face, yet all the while struggling to cope with PTSD and the trauma of what they may have seen and experienced. It is really quite heartbreaking to read between the superbly written lines of this story.

As for Martin Impey’s illustrations. I’m not entirely sure how to do them justice. Gently weaving through the written pages of letters, Martin has brought a world to life. A world that did actually exist at one time and suddenly, by reading through this book, you’re taken into the heart of. Each setting and location has its own distinctive atmosphere, the gardens bright and colourful, full of love and life and yet gradually changing as the war develops. Then the war scenes, startlingly different, stark and muted, the bravery and yet the fear crying out from the pages. Each character in A Song for Will is a little creation of character. I fell in love with every person in this story through Hilary’s words and Martin’s drawings, you quickly feel involved with everyone in the story as it plays out in your imagination.

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I will happily admit to stroking my hand across many of the illustrations in A Song for Will, and I’m not sure why. In an attempt to bring the people back, to feel their emotions, to connect with them in some way? I really don’t know. I just know that this book took me by the hand into the intimate lives of some incredibly special people, including kind and gentle Will, who sadly never made it back from the war, and yet left a lasting impression on many people, least of all, thanks to this book, myself.

A Song for Will is perfect for the classroom, there is huge scope for discussion and project work. It’s perfect for libraries, for bookshelves at home, it is for children and adults, teachers, book lovers, illustration and art lovers, historians. A Song for Will is for everyone and anyone.

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When Hilary and Martin get together on a book, magic happens every time, but A Song for Will is different again for the duo. It is incredibly apparent that this is a labour of love. Hilary and Martin are intensely passionate about this subject, they immerse themselves in the stories of the people they write about, and Will’s story, in particular, was no exception. This passion is reflected in every single page, every word written and every line drawn of this precious and emotional book. That is what makes it special. A Song for Will is a book with its very own heartbeat created by this astonishing writing and illustrating team.

A Song for Will and the Lost Gardeners of Heligan is available now from all good book shops and libraries now. Please get it, read it and love it even half as much as I do.

Thank you for reading this Book Monster Review.

 


To find out more about the Gardens of Heligan please visit their website here:
– http://heligan.com

Author Hilary Robinson resides on the internet right here:
– https://www.hilaryrobinson.co.uk

And illustrator Martin Impey can be found here:
– http://www.martinimpey.com

 

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Fum

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Oh I do love a traditional tale! Goldilocks, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Little Red Riding Hood. They are one of our most long standing and most loved forms of stories, and recognisable by most children from a pretty early age. One of my favourite books to read to classes is the Three Little Pigs (or variations of) as children love to join in shouting out the well known sayings in the book as loud as they can! A great way to wake up a sleepy library.

We are now at a stage where modern stories are incorporating the traditional, adding a new twist to them, and giving teachers some brilliant learning materials too. Fum, written by Karl Newson, illustrated by Lucy Fleming and published by Maverick Arts Publishing is one such title.

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Sleep Well Siba & Saba

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Lantana Publishing are an independent publishing company who specialise in producing great quality diverse children’s books. Their wonderful tagline being “Because all children deserve to see themselves in the books they read.” sums up what they do incredibly well.

I am a big fan of their books, and have others to feature soon on Book Monsters, but I needed to post about this little gem as soon as I was able, because it’s really quite beautiful.

This is Sleep Well Siba & Saba written by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and illustrated Sandra Van Doorn.

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Captain Falsebeard in A Wild Goose Chase

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Aah haaarrr!!! Welcome ye buckaneers to a very piratey Book Monster blog. Last year I reviewed the first in the brilliant Captain Falsebeard series of books, which you can read right here: Captain Falsebeard in a Very Fishy Tale

I was then, lucky enough, to be sent the sequel to that book Captain Falsebeard in a Wild Goose Chase written and illustrated by Fred Blunt and published by Puffin.

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I Love You (nearly always)

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I’m going to just dive right in here, I adored, really really adored Anna Llenas’s book The Colour Monster which I reviewed here: http://bookmonsters.info/blog/2016/07/17/the-colour-monster
It is a delightful, collage based book, about feelings and emotions, so I cannot begin to explain my joy at opening my latest book post I Love You (nearly always) written and illustrated by Anna Llenas and published by Templar.

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As Nice as Pie

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I believe that one of the most important traits in humans is kindness. What better method to start to instill this into children is through picture books. They are a powerful form of communication and education and if done in an engaging and fun way, can help children build important skills and knowledge for their future selves.

As Nice as Pie written by Gary Sheppard, illustrated by Tim Budgen and published by Maverick Arts Publishing achieves exactly this.

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Mum…

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There has recently been a resurgence and reinvention of some much loved classic children’s books, specifically for adults as gifts. The Ladybird books and now Famous Five. Brilliant gifts, that adults can identify with and enjoy.

Mum … created by Morty Sey and Scott Chegg is a read for children first and foremost, but, the special thing about this little picture book is what a brilliant gift for adults it would make.

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