Whilst the snow falls here in Leatherhead I am trying to keep warm and what better way of doing that than curling up in front of a lovely warm fire and dreaming of hot places - well perhaps less of the dreaming and more of the reading about in my case. I have just had the pleasure of reading three fabulous picture books, two of which are due for publication in the new year and which I am quite certain will find legions of adoring fans very quickly!
The first book I delved into and which really did take me away from the snow was 'Desert Rose' by Alison Jackson with illustrations by Keith Graves, a wonderfully bright, new and funny picture book. This is the story of a pig farmer and her very lazy hog. Rose, for that is the farmer's name believes that she has found, with the help of a little bit of gold, a prize winning hog to take to the state fair but the hog is stubborn and lazy, refusing to cross a creek. Rose tries in vain to enlist the help of a host of animals all of whom have their own excuses. When she rather nicely approaches her final animal and asks politely for some help a hilarious chain of events begins. This book not only introduces children to a dialect, in rhyme, a new country and some new animals but also to the importance of politeness and manners. Children will love listening to this story read out loud in a Texan drawl if you can manage it and the bright pictures are certain to keep them entertained too.
From this I turned to 'Captain Finn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass' by Giles Andrae and illustrated by Russell Ayto. As usual Captain Finn and his pirates find themselves in a brilliant adventure featuring their favourite enemies the Dinosaur Pirates. In this title they find themselves teaching the Dinosaurs an important lesson about not bullying and playing fairly. Any young readers already fans of this series will love this latest adventure, and adore the chaotic, fabulous illustrations that deserve having plenty of time spent pouring over them for they are detailed and completely crazy as well as being great fun!
Finally after so much adventure and excitement I turned to Kate Lum and Sue Hellard's 'Princesses are Not Perfect' - a surprising title because of course we all believe that they are! In this story there are three princesses each of whom excels in their own area - gardening, woodwork and baking. When they declare themselves to be bored of this excellence and determined to switch roles the results are quite hilarious, yet also touching and the end result is well...surprising. With beautifully intricate and detailed illustration this is a book for the girls. It is a fun story to read and share whilst at the same time imparting to children an important message about using your talents and skills wisely. Are Princesses Perfect? Read on to find out for yourself.