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Archive for June, 2011

I’d been eyeing this picture book up at work for a while so when author Nadia Shireen contacted me to ask if I would like a copy, I was delighted.

In a twist on the age old tale of the wolf, ‘Good Little Wolf’ is a charming picture book written and illustrated by debut author Nadia Shireen. She is a welcome new talent in a genre often dominated by the same authors and I think Nadia is one to watch.

The picture book tells the story of a very good little wolf called Rolf. He lives with Mrs Boggins. He bakes, he eats his vegetables and is nice to his friends. He knows all about those big bad wolves who hide deep in the big bad forest and desperately hopes he never bumps into one until, one day… he does! The big bad wolf is very big and very bad with very menacing teeth. Soon he is teaching Rolf how to be bad but Rolf just can’t get the hang of it. He does try…he tries to blow a house down, not without asking the owner’s permission first, of course and he tries to howl at the moon but it comes out as a pathetic whistle. Nope, Rolf was destined to be a good little wolf and soon starts to try and teach big bad wolf to be good. He agrees to try, but he needs one final meal to gobble up before being good and insists he will start tomorrow…

I love the way the story ends, very Gingerbread Man-esque. I think the adults reading the book understand what has happened but the children will just think the wolf has a big belly from eating the cake at the table.

I love the illustrations so much. They are sparse, similar to Oliver Jeffers in terms of using the landscape to demonstrate how small or big something is. I love the use of light and dark to represent the characters and cute Grandma Boggins just reminds me of a South Park character!

When I received the book to review, I also got ‘Wolf Weekly’ – an imaginary weekly magazine for wolves everywhere. It’s hilarious and features articles such as ‘Lupine Pining: Real Life Tails of Unrequited Love’ and ‘White Fang: How to Keep Those Canines Clean’. Fantastic stuff. I can’t wait until the author’s next work.

GOOD LITTLE WOLF by NADIA SHIREEN

PB £5.99 9781780080017

Published by Jonathan Cape, Random House

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Yes, THAT James Patterson. The world famous crime writer who also writes children’s books. There’s a Patterson for every reader!

‘Middle School – The Worst Years of my Life’ is a hilarious tell-all account from Rafe Khatchadorian a pupil at a very oppresive school (at least in Rafe’s opinion). Rafe has enough problems to deal with and doesn’t need school rules to worry about on top of all that and so sets about to break every single rule in the Code of Conduct.

Now, we know how these things go down and sometimes we need a little help (or hindrance) from our friends and in Rafe’s case, help comes in the form of the hilarious Leonardo the Silent! With Rafe breaking every rule from running in the hallway to setting off a fire alarm, it all starts to catch up with him and soon Rafe has more than measly detention to worry about…

I loved this book. It’s light-hearted yet deals with young angst and issues appropriately without diverting from the humour throughout the book. Fans of Jeff Kinney’s ‘Wimpy Kid’ series will love this. The illustrations, by Chris Tebetts are spot on  for characterisation and are in the whole book, on almost every page.

There’s a big emphasis on Patterson’s desire to get kids reading as he too has a kid who was once reluctant to read. I think he recognises that children unconsciously like something to relate to in a book. Even if the book has the most obscure characters or monsters in, we all still need something to grasp on to, to allow us to say “Yep, I understand!” And I think James Patterson has achieved that sense of talking to the audience because really, we’ve all been there. Whether we were the class clown, the quiet hard-worker or the naughiest kid in school…we were all there all going through issues (often horrifically embarassing) every day at school!

Thinking about it, if there’s one way to describe this book, it’s Jacqueline Wilson for boys. Fantastic stuff.

MIDDLE SCHOOL – THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE by JAMES PATTERSON

HB £9.99 9780099543985

JULY 2011 . Published by Arrow (Young), Random House.

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