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The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson and Catherine Rayner

What a lovely book, this little treat is a real traditional picture book. It’s the story of a grumpy bird who doesn’t want any company or noise and always tell people to go away.

There is some great repetition so that children can easily understand the story and can join in at the right points for the times when the bird refuses friendship. Then when a bigger threat shows the strength and support of a group the message of the story is subtley revealed.

Catherine Rayners stunning paintings provide both beauty and character and Julia Donaldsons prose seems both fresher and more traditional all at once than her recent works.

A lovely tale about needing time to oneself, but also the value of friendship and teamwork. Lovely.

The Go-Away Bird is released in a gorgeous hardback edition on 7 March 2019.

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A Home Full of Friends – Peter Bently and Charles Fuge

This picture book, on the face of it, wouldn’t appeal to the mini reviewer in our house. It’s very traditional in its illustration and doesn’t feature neon, pirates or dinosaurs. And yet.

We love this book. It’s a gentle tale of friendship and acceptance and is the perfect bedtime read. Bramble Badger is a kindly soul with a small sett and a happy life, but when a storm hits his little community he takes a walk to see the damage.

He comes across three of his friends one after the other, who have had their homes damaged, and they ask to stay with him. He has little room and little food, but says yes to each one.

Then, when they arrive that evening, they have brought their family – 12 mouths to feed! He doesn’t turn them away, choosing to share what he does have, and when he does he realises they saved things from their homes and they have plenty of food and supplies if they share. They have a lovely time and discover a home is better with others.

This could be twee, and it probably is, but the verse is charming and the super detailed pictures are just lovely. It’s impossible not to smile when reading this book out loud to a little one.

Apparently, the tree falling is scary (when Daddy makes the bang), the squirrels are cute, it’s funny when a hedgehog makes himself into a bowling ball and the best bit is all of Brambles friends sleeping in drawers and cupboards!

A hug of a book, which (along with it’s equally charming sequel) is now often requested in our house.

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Lots of Frogs by Howard Calvert and Claudia Boldt

Today’s review is from a family of Rogan’s readers. The book is a charming little picture book that came out in November last year. It’s cheeky and sweet, with a direct short style of prose that is easy for kids to understand, but is expressive and fun. It’s a tale of a box of frogs getting into real mischief.

Rosey (3) Loves this book because ‘it’s so funny’, her favourite page is when the frogs go in the headteacher’s hair.

Chloe (7) Loves this book ‘because it’s funny, my favourite page is when it goes – rows of frogs drinking tea’

And their Mum and Dad were ‘not so sure about the very short style of sentences in this book to start with but it definitely grew on us. A good, fun book – not too short to be over in a flash, but also not to long to lose interest. Nice and bright and colourful.

So there you have it!

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Lottie Potter Wants An Otter by Jeanne Willis and Leonie Lord

An oldie but a goodie, this one. It’s from 2016, and is frequently requested for tongue twisting giggles.

Lottie Potter wants an otter, and it’s a very good thing that Mr Trotter, from Trotters Otter Shop in her town. He has a wide selection of otters for her to choose from, and this reviewers child’s favourite is of course the grotty snotty otter. However, trading standards may need to get involved, as the otter she purchases may not be quite as he seems.

By way of Phuket, this super rhyming tangle of rhymes takes Lottie on a journey to her perfect pet – although a side trip to Mrs Cleavers market stall is particularly full of diva…… pets.

This story flows beautifully and the illustrations of the otters are characterful and endearing. The only problem is our mini reviewer gets so excited it’s not the ideal bedtime book.

Take a deep breath before you start this lovely story out loud!

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Think Big by Kes Gray and Nathan Reed

This lovely little tale is released on February 7th, and is available for pre-order.

This colourful bright story is the tale of Humpty Dumpty planning his future career. All of his fairy tale folk friends want him to do amazing things, but he just thinks that he should become a boiled egg. What careers can they all think of, what will Humpty decide? The writing is sweetly encouraging, gorgeously illustrated in a clear expression filled style. The wicked twist at the end will cause peals of laughter in your little one!

I can’t wait to see what happens to Humpty next!

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The Bear, The Piano, The Dog and The Fiddle – David Litchfield

Well, there is a new favourite in this reviewers house. My little five year old book tester was enthralled by this lovely tale of a loyal dog Hugo and his elderly owner Hector. As Hector stops playing his fiddle, Hugo takes up the job and becomes a sensation. There’s an emotional argument between the two, which nearly had my little dude in tears, and a possible reunion later in the book – at Bear’s concert tour – where he was upset that the dog may not want to see Hector again.

This, while another Bear and Piano book is definitely the story of the new characters, and is better for it. The temptation in childrens picture books is to repeat the formula ad nauseum, in the vein of Shark in the Park or Oi Frog, but this is a new tale that stands on it’s own.

As always David Litchfield’s artwork is breathtaking, detailed and emotional. The expressions of the characters are so vivid, and when combined with the gorgeous cityscapes and beautiful colour palette it’s a book that we already know will become a firm family favourite. It’s superceded our previous Litchfield illustrated favourite, the Spectacular City!



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Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

Rogan’s Reviews is all about getting our customers to review books and make this resource part of the community and Primrose (3) – with some help from Jo (35) were more than willing to oblige!

Baby’s First Bank Heist had an event during the launch tour at Rogan’s Books for this book, with the illustrator Stephen Collins. The children loved trying to draw baby Frank and he did a special doodle for everyone in their book!

Here are Primrose and Jo’s thoughts…

Oh, Baby Frank, how you make us chuckle. I asked Prim today what we should buy for two of her friends’ birthdays. Her immediate answer was ‘Baby’s First Bank Heist’!

Baby Frank desperately wants a pet but Mum and Dad are having none of it. What’s a baby to do? Rob a bank of course! There are no lengths Frank won’t go to in order to get his pet, but will he be able to stop at one?

Jim Whalley’s seriously funny tale will amuse children and adults alike. His rhyming prose is bouncy and infectious – the story is not sacrificed for the sake of making words rhyme and it reads so well aloud. Primrose has found it easy to memorise (particularly the line where his first pet arrives, which she likes to recite emphatically!)
Stephen Collins’ illustrations are genius – colourful, bold and as vibrant as Whalley’s text. Frank goes from innocent, wide-eyed baby to master criminal with the quick addition of a bandit mask, and the animals he gathers are sneakily hidden throughout double page spreads; finding them provides much additional entertainment. My highlight is the sight of Frank on the bus, his romper suit stuffed full of coins and banknotes!
We were lucky to attend an illustrator event with Stephen at Rogan’s Books during Independent Bookshop Week 2018. During a brief chat with him, he mentioned that Jim had written this hilarious story for Collins’ eldest son’s first birthday. Collins decided to illustrate it and Bloomsbury published it. How lucky is the real life Baby Frank?! If you’re after a picture book with plenty of comedy moments and a superb writer/illustrator partnership, look no further.
(For anyone worrying about the moral message behind this tale, fear not – Baby Frank does have to face up to his crimes!)

You will hear from Frank again …. as never fear, the sequel Baby’s First Jailbreak is out in July 2019!!!!
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Ocean Meets Sky – The Fan Brothers

This is a children’s picture book that is also a meditation on grief and loss. It tells the story of a little boy, Finn, whose grandfather has recently died, and it’s about going on one last mission to the place of his Grandad’s stories, in the dreamy space where ‘Ocean meets the Sky.’

It’s a beautifully illustrated whimsical look into shared experience of memory, fishing and the sea between a boy and his Grandfather.


By the end of the poignant story you get the feeling Finn is coping and will be alright.


Plus, just look at the artwork. Look at the dust jacket. LOOK AT THE FOILED COVER underneath the jacket.



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The Girls – Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovlie

Rogan’s Reviews is all about getting our customers to review books and make this resource part of the community and Primrose (3) – with some help from Jo (35) were more than willing to oblige!
This weeks review comes from them and they have read the lovely ‘The Girls’. This is a Rogan favourite after the shop window art we had based on this book, and so we were delighted our customers loved it!
Once there was a tree that grew little girls as well as apples…’
Writer Lauren Ace introduces four little girls who choose an apple tree as their meeting place, following them throughout their childhood years. Each girl has her own unique character but the bond they form is strong. As they develop into teenagers, then young women, the girls champion one another’s highs but also share the burden of their respective lows.
As adults, the girls enhance the world in their own ways – professionally, spiritually and through their own children. Yet they remain true to one another, meeting up under the tree each time they return home. Another reason why ‘The Girls’ is a favourite of mine is that it portrays the girls doing things that have traditionally been the domain of boys and men: seeing them climbing trees, playing sport, studying science, going to uni, getting muddy, mountaineering, being doctors and professionals… It subtly but surely subverts these gender stereotypes. More books like this are needed.
Jenny Lovlie could not have been a more perfect illustrator this story. I can’t imagine the girls and the world they live in looking any different – her ability to depict the their emotions through simple facial expressions; the colour palette; the nods to her Scandinavian roots; the seasonal changes to the tree… they all combine to create the most beautiful accompaniment to Lauren’s words.
It took a while to read this book without welling up. Seeing P delighting in the story whilst thinking about her beginning her own life journey, and simultaneously thinking of the enduring friendships of mine that began in childhood and more recently, was a bit of a rollercoaster. We have already purchased a copy for a little friend of hers but I feel like buying a copy for MY best friends – it really is a powerful testament to the roots and branches of lifelong friendships, with all their twists and turns.
Jo and Primrose are correct, it makes a lovely gift – especially the beautiful hardback edition – which is why we have plenty of copies in for Christmas!
If you want to hear more about Primrose’s introductions to the world of stories, you can follow along on instagram – @thelittleliterarysociety
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Pearl Power and the Girl with Two Dads – Mel Elliott

This picture book does a brilliant thing effortlessly. As an LGBT+ couple with a son we’re always on the look out for a well produced, good quality book which features a child with two mums or two dads.

By their nature – not having the biggest potential customer base – they can be cheaply made or not to the same standard as wider releases which is so dispiriting.

Pearl however, is not cheap. Pearl Power is a little girl with a lot of spirit. She is forthright and speaks her mind, and believes in equality. She’s excited to welcome the new girl, Matilda to her school, but quickly discovers she’s a little different, Matilda has two dads!

Pearl deals with this information brilliantly and matter of fact-ly and assumes because her mum makes her be responsible and eat vegetables that a house with two dads would be totally different and fun.

Little does poor Pearl realise that her house is more like Matilda’s than she would like…

This book isn’t just great for showing kids that their same sex parents are just like everyone else, but it should be required reading for ‘regular’ families too. It makes it clear that the issue is only as complicated as adults want to make it.

PERFECT FOR: anyone who has a little boy or girl in their class who happens to have two mummies or two daddies. It will totally help them realise all humans have more in common than they have different.