Tag Archives: HarperCollins

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

15 Mar


‘Pax was only a kit when his family was killed and he was rescued by ‘his boy’, Peter. Now the country is at war and when his father enlists, Peter has no choice but to move in with his grandfather. Far worse than leaving home is the fact that he has to leave Pax behind. But before Peter spends even one night under his grandfather’s roof he sneaks out into the night, determined to find his beloved friend. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their journeys back to each other as war rampages throughout the country.’

As is the case with all the best children’s books, Pax is about so much more than a boy and his beloved pet. Pax is about love, trust, the price of war, and the importance of self discovery. Peter’s fear is of becoming like his father; of inheriting his anger and closing himself away. Through his journey he learns to trust in the people he meets and to trust in his self and his ability to become the boy he wants to be. It is a powerful message of tolerance and hope in the face of adversity, beautifully echoed by Pax’s own discovery of his inherent wildness.

Peter’s time in the woods with an isolated and self-destructive ex-soldier highlights the human cost of war. She is a brilliantly created character who resonates long after the last page is turned. Their relationship is beautifully developed and sings of the power of standing against social expectations and following what is in your heart.

Told from both Peter and Pax’s point of view, Pax is deeply layered and filled with echoes and balances. The sections from Pax’s point of view made me look at everything through fresh eyes and were an intelligent, well-researched, sensory adventure. Beautifully illustrated by Jon Klasson – just look at that cover! – Pax truly is a wonderful, wonderful book.

Source – my lovely local library.

Tv tie-in books

17 Feb

This is the book that has been the immediate hit in the Rainbow Library.

Fireman Sam Hide and Slide by Egmont

I made a point of including some tv tie-in books to encourage the children’s use of the book box and boy was that a smart move. The library has only been running for two days but already three children have read this book and it has been taken home by two of them. It barely touched the box when it was returned by the first borrower before it was whipped out with glee and a little jumpy dance by borrower number two.

For me this book is a success because it works on two levels. A child can happily look at it on their own and slide the pictures open to reveal the characters. It’s bright and interactive and works perfectly without the text but it is also a book that can be enjoyed with an adult, reading the text and talking about the situation on each page.

Before I set up the library I had read Loll’s tv tie-in post over on her Storyseekers blog. I have to agree with her frustrations. A lot of the tv tie-in books I have come across have terrible stories and sometimes rather clumsy screen shots from the show. I can’t help thinking that the publishers are cashing in at minimum effort.

The most successful tv tie-in books aren’t tie-ins at all but are the books that inspired the tv show, such as Polly Dunbar’s Tilly and Friends books and The Octonauts books by Meomi. These are the books that I have been looking to include in the library. Familiar enough to encourage the children to choose them but quality books in their own right. That is why it was refreshing to learn that the Abney and Teal books reviewed on Storyseekers, although created from the show, were created as stand alone quality books and not ‘episode dumps’.

This morning I went back to the storyseekers blog to add the Abney and Teal books to the Rainbow Library wish list and I came across her previous tv tie-in post where she says:

‘Watching a television programme that captures your imagination can be wonderful and if you are then allowed to immerse yourself further in this world through books, then the magic continues. If your siblings and/or friends are also keen on the same series, then it becomes a shared experience and something that can form a sentimental part of childhood…I’d still like to find some beautifully executed TV tie-ins, but in the meantime, I’ll indulge the boys’ Pontypandy passion as a more meaningful part of our reading.’

I’ve seen the way the children respond to the Fireman Sam book and Loll is right, it is a real emotional connection. So whilst I will remain cautious of the quality of the books, I will keep adding tv tie-ins to the library. The whole idea of the Rainbow Library is to support a child’s love of books and if Fireman Sam gets them interacting (with their friends) with books and words then who am I to complain?

Books added to the Rainbow Library wish list:

The Adventures of Abney and Teal Brilliant Boots and Bop’s Hiccups

Doodle Bites by Polly Dunbar

Books added to the library:

The Octonauts and the Sea of Shade. This book is perfect for the library. The children know the characters. The illustrations are beautiful and full of detail to spark their imagination. They could easily look through this book independently and imagine their own story lines. The story itself is complex enough to encourage questions and discussions and to introduce new vocabulary. It’s a winner.

Do you have suggestions of any more I could add? Please do let me know.

Martha and the Bunny Brothers – I Heart School

23 Jan

Today is a very special day – it’s Martha’s first day at school and she is SO excited! But first there are clothes to choose and a brand new bag to pack. But…what about Martha’s bunny brothers? How will she stop them from missing her while she’s gone? Could a Happy Bunny Club be just the answer?


I heart Martha! And I heart Clara Vulliamy for creating such a positive book for little people. The book’s blurb describes it as ‘beautifully sunny and positive’ and it is exactly that. And more!

It is so refreshing to find a book about starting school that is packed with positive experiences. There are no nerves, no tears, no imagined scenarios of school trauma here. Not on Clara’s watch! In this book Martha can’t wait to go to school and is full of the excitement of the morning’s preparations.

And what fun she has! There are so many favourite things to choose from and so much to do to get ready. Each page is like a little party, bursting with colour and collage and pattern, celebrating the things that young children hold dear. Their favourite toys, their favourite clothes, the adventure of breakfast and the dreams of the future.


I love the way Martha talks. She waves out and chats directly to you about her crazy day. The speech beautifully emulates children’s speech, without going over the top or becoming patronising, so you get the energy and excitement and character bouncing out at you from page one.

I think the key to the success of this book is Clara Vulliamy’s ability to absolutely get children. Martha and the Bunny Brothers is testament to her ability to put herself right into their shoes (or spotty wellies) and portray their thoughts, characters and imaginings through her text and illustrations. When Martha finally makes it to school she can’t imagine the bunny brothers going about their day without her. Instead she freeze frames them waiting for her return. How true to life! Children really do live in the moment. And what a perfect way to show Martha’s character.


So a big rhino hurrah from me for a book bursting with colour, energy and fun that portrays children positively and perfectly.

In honour of Clara’s genius book and Martha’s sunshine approach to life, I have made a mini Martha to remind me to always look on the sunny side.


Clara’s website is just as sunshiny as her books. Check it out here.

Source: Our bookshelves.