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Here Comes Hercules – Stella Tarakson

This little book is a fun way to introduce your little one to myths and legends.

Tim Baker has to do a lot of things at home that other kids might not. After the loss of his Dad, his Mum needs to work long hours and he has had to figure out hoovering and washing. Tim is bullied as a result and no one notices how unhappy he is. When cleaning he breaks his Mum’s favourite vase, and released the trapped Hercules. The Hercules.

Although Hercules wants to help Tim with his jobs and his bullies , everything he touches turns to disaster (and Hercules is not the brightest bulb). Every situation escalates with Hercules’ assistance, and no one else can see him, so poor Tim gets the blame! Will Tim and Hercules get everything sorted? Read and find out….

Our Rogan’s guest reviewer Bobby (6) says:

The book was epic, and funny, and quite scary, but not too scary. 

I’d send the book to my friends to read, but I’d like to keep it too.

As a parent, it’s a fun way to introduce Hercules and give a summary of his antics, but in a fun contemporary way. It tackles modern issues affecting lots of families, with a light enough touch not to scare young ones – whilst still giving subtle advice. Nick Roberts illustrations are comedic, but the expressions and emotions are deftly drawn.

The sequel is out already, and we’ve got Bobby on the case for his thoughts.

 

 

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The Restless Girls – Jessie Burton

Today’s review is from The Head Rogan of Rogan’s books, in time for the Christmas shopping event on Thursday, this book certainly makes for a beautiful present.

Rachael says:

Oh my heart.

I’ve been saving this up for an afternoon of indulgence. I needed to consume it entirely, in one sitting. And, as I did, I realised that it will be consumed over, and over, and with each visit I will unfurl deeper strands, more dazzling threads.

The term ‘modern classic’ is used frequently and often incorrectly. For this book, the term seems inadequate.

As a child, my favourite book was ‘A Necklace of Raindrops’, written by Joan Aiken and illustrated by Jan Pienkowski. It was a thing of pure magic, less a book, more a portal that I would leap into, transported to another world, a parallel land where colours were bolder and magic could be felt, almost imperceptibly, tickling the surface of the skin.
Through ‘The Restless Girls’ I am returned to that world.

It gives new life to the oldest tales, reminders of the truths we have forgotten, calls to rediscover our selves.

My heart swelled with my first reading and, as I read the final words, I realised I was crying.

@jesskatbee’s words are part prose, part poetry, wholly musical, weaving the sensation of dancing lightly through the pages, skipping towards adventure. The world within those words is given life through #angelabarrett’s illustrations. Colour, and the absence of colour, reflecting tone and mood with precision, yet seemingly effortlessly, light and dark slowly enveloping you as you move through Kalia and beyond.

I cannot wait for my tenth, and hundredth, and thousandth reading of this book. I cannot wait to see what else I will discover.
Also: now I REALLY need some silk pyjamas.

 

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Pugs of the Frozen North – Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

 

What a lovely book. It’s not the most fantastical of the lovely books collaborated on by Reeve and MacIntyre, but it probably has the most heart.

This gorgeous little book follows Shen the Cabin boy from the Lucky Star ship which becomes stuck in ice and has to be abandoned. The selfish Captain Jeggings dumps the cargo, which includes 66 adorable pugs. Once Shen meets Sika they embark upon the greatest race – The Great North Run, because the prize is the winners hearts desire.

The characters they meet along the way are wonderful, from eternally hungry suspiciously human like Yeti, to snow trolls and Helga Hammerfest, whose sled is pulled by two polar bears Snowdrop and Slushpuppy – and is super proud of her beard as ‘most ladies don’t care for beards, but I find mine helps to keep my chin warm’. And indeed at one point it helps keep 66 pugs warm too.

The art work is beautiful, the two colours working so well together, with line drawing conveying so much emotion, action and fun all at once, and the writing is hilarious, the language whimsical and where it needs to be the plotting is carefully done to make the most of what an age 7+ audience can follow.

With a mixture of Wacky Races, a heroic quest and a barrel of belly laughs, there’s thrills (in the ice), Spills (in the ice) and a surprisingly emotional conclusion (location not be be spoiled as to reveal anything).

Don’t forget Reeves and McIntyre’s new creation, The Legend of Kevin can also be bought in the shop – and who doesn’t want to read about Max the boy and Kevin the Roly Poly Flying Pony who crash lands into his life….

 

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Flat Stanley – Jeff Brown

This 1968 classic book for readers gaining confidence in their comprehension is a classic with good reason.

If you haven’t already met Stanley Lambchop, he’s a normal boy whose cork board falls on him during the night and he becomes ‘four feet tall, about a foot wide, and half an inch thick’.

With his bemused parents and slightly jealous brother, he navigates a new life – and wardrobe – learning the benefits of being able to be posted to see his friend in America, much more cheaply than flying.

This lovely book has stood the test of time and nostalgia doesn’t tarnish it, it’s ideal for new readers looking to expand from shorter picture books with simple clear language. It’s aged a lot better than it’s contemporaries have, and the message towards the end about not discriminating on appearance or religion is even more relevant than ever.

The Jon Mitchell illustrated version is lovely and the wildly inventive story will have your little ones eagerly reaching for the next one.

And we forgot to mention, there are thieves to catch as well).