Book Review

PoPB: Captain Beastlie’s Pirate Party by Lucy Coats & Chris Mould and Emmy’s Eczema by Jack Hughes.

pairofpicturebooks
Pair of Picture Books Tuesdays on Juniper’s Jungle bring two reviews of picture books.

Captain Beastlie’s Pirate Party by Lucy Coats & Chris Mould (illustrator). Nosy Crow.
CBPPWho’s the grubbiest pirate on the high seas? Why, it’s Captain Beastlie, me hearties! He is a horror and embarrassment to his ship-shape crew. Captain Beastlie is eagerly counting down the days till his birthday – but what he doesn’t know is his crew has got a special secret lined up for the Big Event. His days of being the smelliest, dirtiest pirate ever are numbered, and when Captain Beastlie’s birthday finally comes, he’s in for a big surprise…

This book is gross! Captain Beastlie has no concept of personal hygiene, has the worst habits going and is just generally unpleasant. So of course this book is brilliant!!

The book follow’s Captain Beastlie’s countdown to his birthday – each day brings a new discovery of how disgusting he is. This is so well written, the language used is full of description to really get across how yucky Captain Beastlie is. This brings with it a natural humour, I spent much of the book cringing and laughing at the same bits! I did get a little concerned as the book drew towards its close and I realised that the ship’s crew might be about to pull of some sort of transformation – the conclusion to this was entirely satisfying.

I really liked Chris Mould’s illustrations for this book. Every little bit of detail mentioned in the text is clearly transferred into the illustrations. When I took my second read through the book I spotted lots of little things in the pictures that I knew were going to come into play in the last few pages of the book – sharing this with a young reader would be a lot of fun.

This is a book crying out to be read aloud to a group. It’s fun and appealing in its own special, revolting way.

Emmy’s Eczema by Jack Hughes. Wayland.
EmmysEczemaEmmy has eczema, which makes her skin really itchy. She knows she shouldn’t scratch, but sometimes she just can’t help it.

One day, she scratches so much she makes her skin really sore. Can her friends help her?

I read and reviewed Steggie’s Stammer, another book in this series back in July so I was pleased to spot this in the library. Of the whole series (the other two books are Dachy’s Deaf and Rex’s Specs) this was the one I was most curious about – surely having eczema would be a little tricky to convey through a picture book?

The author does manage to convey having eczema well, it’s clear in the illustrations and Emmy’s desire to scratch her eczema even though she knows it’ll only make it worse feels very genuine (and familiar). So too do Emmy’s friends attempts to stop her scratching – if you’re suffering with itchy eczema no amount of people telling you not to scratch is going to stop you! The plot itself is very simple, but it works for the book.

I talked before about loving the Jack Hughes’ illustration style. This book is no different, the pages where the dinosaurs reach the Jurassic meadow to collect the flowers used in Emmy’s eczema treatment are particularly colourful and attractive.

Reading this book has reinforced my feeling that this set would be an excellent inclusion in any childcare setting’s collection. They deal with issues that may make children feel different in a calm, careful and reassuring manner.

Both books featured in this post were borrowed from my local library.

Book Review

PoP: Katie in Scotland by James Mayhew & Steggie’s Stammer by Jack Hughes.

PoP Tuesdays on Juniper’s Jungle bring two reviews of picture books.

Katie in Scotland by James Mayhew. Orchard Books.
KatieInScotlandKatie, Jack and Grandma are on holiday in Scotland! There’s lots to see and do, so where should they start? Loch Ness, of course! And when Nessie wants to join them on their holiday, fun is bound to follow!

Join Katie on her latest adventure as she discovers the wonderful delights that Scotland has to offer.

This is a fun, light-hearted read about Katie’s visit to Scotland. Within the first couple of pages she meets Nessie (for this is what the Loch Ness Monster asks them to call her) who proceeds to act as travel companion and sometimes tour guide. They take in the sights in both Glasgow and Edinburgh over the course of the book. It’s a good introduction to Scotland and could be a nice book to share before a family trip.

The illustrations in the book are lovely, they use a slightly soft palette which works well with the gentle story. I had a couple of favourite double page illustrations – early in the book there is a beautiful panorama of the Scottish landscape they are travelling through and then a little later there is a lovely night time view as they approach Edinburgh. The pictures have a timeless feel, whilst this book was first published only a couple of years ago it already has a classic feel to it.

This book is the twelfth book in the Katy series by James Mayhew, on the strength of this I’ll be looking out for the others on my future trips to the library.

Steggie’s Stammer by Jack Hughes. Wayland.
SteggieSteggie has a stammer and sometimes it takes her more time to get her words out. Her friends are in a hurry to play a game and they rush off without listening to her.

Before long, the friends get into trouble and it’s up to Steggie to rescue them. But will they listen to her advice?

I was drawn to this book both by its very appealing cover and it’s intriguing title. This book clearly was going to deal with stammering, something that affects lots of young children (about 5% of children go through a stammering phase with 1 in 5 of these being at risk of persistant stammering). I wondered how well it would manage the topic – there’s always a risk that books with such a specific purpose can be a little cheesy or worthy. Seeing that the Education Office for the British Stammering Association had acted as a consultant made me think it would probably avoid these pitfalls, I started to read with great hope.

The story is a simple one, Steggie and her friends are playing and her friends won’t give her the time she needs to speak instead interrupting and going off to do their own thing. This naturally goes wrong, and Steggie comes through to save the day with her friends learning that they need to listen to her and give her time to talk. The message is strong but does avoid feeling preachy, I think the book would definitely be enjoyed by its target age group. The illustrations are attractive, they often give the impression of being at least part done with wax crayons which gives them great child appeal.

Upon finishing the book I discovered that this is one book from a set of 4, Steggie’s 3 dinosaur friends all get their own book – I assume serving a similar purpose. I had noticed that Rex wore glasses and Dachy had a hearing aid, though must admit I didn’t spot Emmy’s eczema. I would imagine that these books would make a good addition to any childcare setting’s picture book collection.

Both books featured in this post were borrowed from my local library.