Author Archives: Bevan

Alice and Anatole by Sam Childs

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Alice and Anatole

Alice and Anatole

An anteater is a pretty unusual friend to have let me tell you. I mean, pretty much every kid has imaginary friends right? I did. And my daughter does too. Well, imaginary in that she thinks Skimbleshanks is her best friend. Peso and Barnacles are a close second, but Skimbleshanks……he’s the best friend a little girl could ask for. Anyway, Anatole is an anteater who befriends Alice. We first meet Alice as a lonely little girl who has a room full of lovely books and toys and beautiful new red shoes. But Alice is a little shy. She has no idea how to make friends you see.

However, armed with an anteater, she suddenly becomes the most popular girl in the book. I guess an anteater is as good a conversation starter as any…..though I expect Alice hasn’t tried to take Anatole on the tube yet. Or into an elevator mind you. You know how the tube is – there is a sort of mass ignoration going on. Most people would probably pretend they hadn’t seen an anteater. Unless it was the last tube of the night and they were slightly drunk. But Alice wouldn’t be on the tube then, she would be asleep so…..and elevators, well everyone knows you don’t talk in an elevator.

Luckily, elevators and the London Underground hold little interest for a little girl with new shoes and a new friend. Instead playgrounds and parks make for a better place to find new friends who are eager to talk to Alice and Anatole.

But of course, nothing lasts forever, and poor Anatole is pretty soon shunned in favour of new best friends for life that Alice has acquired. He takes it well, I guess, though instead of striking out on his own and setting up a rival bunch of friends as would probably happen on most any playground in the world, he hangs around in the shadows, just waiting to prove his friendship to Alice. And he doesn’t wait long. Pretty soon, Alice drops a new red shoe down the loo. “Oh no!” I hear you cry. How will she navigate the “S” bend to retrieve the sparkly item of foot covering splendour? Or more accurately, in my opinion, how much will mummy and daddy have to fork over to the plumber that they will have to call out to save the day? As it turns out, nothing, because ant eaters have very long snouts you see, and a little rootling in the loo later (“ewwww who would put their nose in a toilet daddy?”) and the day is saved. Anatole is restored to prize of place on the best friends forever list.

Note: the above account is not an accurate representation of the book. In fact, it is a charming story, and I loved the illustrations – sort of grey-scale with big splashes of red – very vibrant! A nice included moral to treat your old friends well even when new friends seem more fun or better looking, because you never know when that snout of epic proportions is going to come in handy. Not sure how that stacks up later on in life, like when you no longer drop your new shoes down the toilet by mistake. Maybe Anatole will become a wine connoisseur or something. No wait, that’s not the moral at all…keeping people sweet because of favours they can do for you. The moral is… hmmm maybe there wasn’t a moral in there after all. Anyway, it’s a fun book and I think you should buy it.

Alice and Anatole

Milo Armadillo by Jan Fearnley

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Milo Armadillo

Milo Armadillo by Jean Fearnley

Here is a charming book about a little girl who just wants a fluffy pink bunny for a birthday present. Alas, as you might expect from the title, she doesn’t actually end up getting a fluffy pink bunny. Instead she gets an armadillo. It seems that fluffy pink bunnies are pretty hard to find, and though she searched high and low, not a single bunny was to be found. So her gran decided to knit her one. Well gran knitted and knitted, but somewhere along the way, she lost concentration a bit and the bunny turned into an armadillo.

When the big birthday arrives, young Tallulah opens up a box from dear old gran….and the initial excitement at seeing a bit of pink tail poking out the wrapping turns to disappointment as she sees the cute fluffy little armadillo. She’s a well brought up little thing though, and she doesn’t want to hurt gran’s feelings (good job there mum and dad!), so she keeps a stiff upper lip and starts to play with Milo the armadillo.

Now Milo is a pretty talented fluffy animal – he can do the high jump…..he can play the saxaphone….he makes a good pirate and great companion at the tea parties. But Tallulah can’t help letting slip that a rabbit would be a better jumper and musician. One day Tallulah meets all her little friends….and let me tell you something….it’s no wonder she couldn’t find a pink rabbit for her birthday….all her friends clearly bought them up. (Demand for fluffy pink bunnies is clearly pretty high. Expect price rises soon in accordance with basic supply and demand). Well, they all think Milo is the bees knees, but Tallulah is still feeling hardly done by….

“He’s cute” said her friends.
“But he’s no pink fluffy rabbit,” sighed Tallulah.

Well of course Milo decides to run away to get himself unravelled and re-knitted as a bunny, and Tallulah, having lost him, suddenly realises how much she loved him after all. But, it’s too late. Nah, just kidding, of course there’s a happy ending and they are re-united, and presumably nary another disparaging comparison to a fluffy pink rabbit was uttered again.

I liked this book – it’s charmingly illustrated. My daughter like it too and grabbed a couple of stuffed toys to accompany the tale. If you like your books with a moral, then this one has it – a good reminder to the little ones that they should both be thankful for gifts and also not hurt other people or armadillo’s feelings. And of course that age old “you don’t know what you’ve got till you’ve lost it” type thing. A good reminder too for the adults, that children are brutally honest.

The book has an added bonus of linking you to a pattern for Milo Armadillo, should you be handy with the knitting needles yourself and wish to patch one together for your progeny. Luckily, you can also get the pattern right here

Milo Armadillo in the UK
Milo Armadillo in the US

Why I Love My Daddy – Illustrated by Daniel Howarth

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Why I Love My Daddy

Why I Love My Daddy

A rather belated happy father’s day to all the dads with a book that is the perfect gift for the aforementioned hallmark occasion. Why I Love My Daddy has no story line per se. Rather it is a collection of illustrations put to words that have been uttered by kids around the world…..each two page spread has a cuddly looking pair of animals – dad and offspring in various moments of affection with a little sentiment of “I love my daddy because…..” (fill in the blank – you know “he is so strong”, “he is so handsome”; that sort of thing).

The illustrations are nice – I like the elephant in particular, playfully squirting water on his tot, which reminds me of bathtime. Though, it has to be said, usually it is the little one who is watering me, not the other way around. I mean, at bathtime you are bound to lose if you start a splashing war….what with the kids being in the water and already wet, and dad being next to the bath, still clothed. It’s a recipe for having to change just after you’ve got the little ‘un dry and dressed.

Cuddly Polar Bears

Anyway, Why I Love My Daddy is a perfect little bit of sentimentality, and really, you would have to have a heart of stone to page through the book and not feel a little twinge of emotion. “So it is more for the dads than the kids?” you ask. Well, not really. I think it is a good book to read with children because they like to be told that their parents love them and that they love their parents. My book was made all the more special the inclusion of a lot of lovely stickers on the inside covers and a beautiful card/bookmark that my daughter presented (very proudly) to me yesterday.

This is a perfect book for a cuddly read after an exciting day!

Buy It!
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Noisy Middle Ages by Rob Lloyd Jones and David Hancock

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I know you’ve come across these before. Books with little buttons on the side that produce noises…..This one is actually pretty good. At least the sounds are reasonable. My main gripe with these books is that the volume is usually set too high and causes some slight distortion through the very tiny little speakers. This one is no exception. A bit too loud, but otherwise quite nice. There are 16 different sounds, my daughter’s favourite is the chanting gregorian monk.

Now this book is not only a push the button to make a sound type of book, but it also has those lovely flaps that are bound to get yanked and pulled and torn. But in their current pristine condition, the book is actually lovely. Richly illustrated, it is somewhat reminiscent of Richard Scarry books.

As you would expect, there’s lots of info in this book, from descriptions and illustrations of Village Life to Building a Cathedral and Market Day. The book is obviously not so much a story book as a show and tell book. I would say this isn’t the ideal book for a three year old, simply because it can be a little too descriptive and detailed, which can cause the little ones to reach their saturation point, but still we’ve spent a fair few nights reading this one so far and I’m pretty sure we will see a fair few more.

Purchase from Amazon UK

Purchase from Amazon US