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A great picture book, 6 Oct. 2010

This is a fantastic book that really ought to be in print. It's the saddest, happiest story about that familiar childhood/parenthood experience, losing the transitional object (see also the movie 'Best in Show', for the same thing from a rather different angle). It's also very short and simple. You can't read it without weeping buckets.

enthymeme (review on amazon)



''Flora is the class bully. She bites. Claudio Munoz draws with a warm witty sympathetic line; the action here is beautifully choreographed and inventive typography adds to the impact. The book is funny realistic and reassuring.''

Joanna Carey THE GUARDIAN.

...Shipton presents the issues of bullying and biting in a clearly defined and humorous manner that is easy for youngsters to understand. Munoz's illustrations are a unique blend of bright and muted colours and help to explain the story in further detail. The pictures and bold text can be easily seen on an individual basis or small-group situation.

Kathy Mitchell, Gadsden Co. Public Library, Quincy,

School Library Journal, 01/01/1996


A sensitive yet to the point story
I found this to be an excellent book. Biting is always an issue with young children and I found the story to be sensitive but unafraid of the subject matter and I found the illustrations to be interesting and soothing. My co-teacher and I shared many smiles over the realistic facial expressions of the children and the teacher. This book was a big hit with my class and they requested it over and over. It gave us a wonderful phrase to use with the children, "Don't be a horrible crocodile!" I loved this book.

Helps young children understand biting is not nice
Our day care centre had a problem with the young children biting. The teachers read this book to the kids every day and the problem disappeared. The kids really seemed to love the story line as well as understand the concept.




''Any book which invites children to ask such questions as What if? is surely a powerful antidote to the present instrumentalist view of the curriculum. So, it's refreshing to see this invitation to flights of fancy which first takes its participant audience along with the boy actor beyond the clouds to meet a 'BRILLIANT', spirited girl with her empowering message: 'You can do ANYTHING if you try!' The end is also a beginning and it's here the reader takes over...The illustrations have a plasticity about them: lumpy clouds and angular puppet-like characters are heightened in effect by the depth and solidity of the oil pastels producing an arresting, overall naivety.'' CHILD EDUCATION.


A carrot-haired lad is a latter-day Jack-in-the-Beanstalk in this fanciful tale, and what he finds in the sky is much more fun than an angry giant. ``What if it stopped raining'' begins the story, addressing readers directly, ``and down at the end of the garden you found a sunflower as tall as a skyscraper!'' When the lad in the pictures climbs the sunflower, his head pops through the clouds and he finds an amazing girl named Arabella. She teaches him to leapfrog on clouds, to go where the storms begin, to float over the desert, and finally to get back to the sunflower with his best jump. But what if, when he gets down to the ground, he finds a secret door and behind it there were steps? The typeface gets bigger and smaller, and slithers over the illustrations, whose acid-bright colors are equally eye-popping for the golden sunflower, the sky-blue-pink clouds, the darkling storms, and the deep red doorway. Collage is used for Arabella's flower-etched dress and the hero's remarkable patterned pants. (Picture book. 3-8) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

What if you climbed a giant sunflower in the backyard and met a girl in the clouds who took you on cloud adventures? The whimsical story (which ends with the boy returned to earth, but on the threshold of a secret door leading into the ground . . . ) encourages creative play, but even more enjoyable are the acrylic illustrations, radiantly colourful and employing imaginative perspectives. -- Copyright © 1999 The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved.




A narrator with a pleasing child-like logic imagines what would happen if it stopped raining. Full-bleed images show a child bounding outdoors across a playfully tilted landscape and discovering a sunflower that rivals Jack's beanstalk. The child climbs high above the earth ("Up you went, quick as a monkey, hand over hand, leaf by leaf"), and encounters a curious new friend. "What if there's a girl there? (And you're not sure you like girls...) But this girl is AMAZING! She's called Arabella...." Arabella has the enviable role of teaching the boy hero to float on cottony cumulus clumps. When the dry air shrinks the buttercream-yellow clouds to tiny puffs, "Arabella shows you how to wave your arms to go faster" and sail safely home to the sunflower. In Italian artist Nascimbeni's paintings, which emphasize cool blue and molten orange, Arabella and the boy appear to be kindred spirits. Both have windswept caps of autumn-red hair, broad faces and weightless grace. At the end of this high-flying tale of potential and daring, Welsh author Shipton wisely rejects closure. Instead, when the boy leaves Arabella and descends to the ground, he finds himself standing at the door to an underground tunnel ("And there were steps!"). What happens next is up to the reader, who will probably have a few suggestions, and may well wish for another visit from this charming duo. Ages 3-7. Publishers Weekly.






''Horace isn't a happy hippo. He has plenty of things to do but all he wants is to spend some wallowing time with his big, round dad. Only Mr Hippo is always busy, rushing off to work and having important meetings. So Horace devises a plot to make his dad stop and play and life changes for both of them. how to be a Happy Hippo is a cautionary tale for too busy fathers everywhere.'' NORTHERN ECHO.

''...adorable children's book for ages 3-7.'' BORGER NEWS HERALD.

''...perfect beach reading for workaholic fathers getting to know their under fives.''


''...this warmly illustrated tale of Horace the hippo has a compelling comic storyline and a hugely attractive central character.''


An excellent lesson for all of us busy parents
I recently purchased this book for my daughter. She enjoys the illustrations and I particularly enjoyed the story line. The story is about a young hippo who longs for the attention of his very busy father. It reminds us that a child needs more than toys, food and an abundance of activities -- or in the hippos case, "mountains of food, lots of things to play with and plenty of mud". They need the attention of their parents, and in this story, especially the attention of dad. This adorably illustrated story goes through the creative ways a growing hippo tries to "capture" his busy fathers attention and the wonderful time they had when he finally succeeded. This is a nice addition to our large library of story books, one both myself and my daughter enjoy.
Customer review: Papier





Book of the month June 2003

Poor Emily, it’s her birthday and she wants a pet – any pet. The only problem is that every animal she suggests is quickly struck off her ‘My pets’ list by her parents. Ponies need a stable and a field, and they kick; dogs dig enormous holes in the grass and come into the house with muddy paws, and cute kittens just turn into mangy old cats with fleas.
But Emily will not be deterred; she tries rats, goldfish… just about everything, but for each one her parents find a reason to say no.
“I always want to produce a book that is not boring for parents to read, so they have little jokes as well as the child having a nice story to listen to,” says author Jonathan Shipton.
This is where Shipton’s words and Parsons’ illustrations really gel: cute, pretty, amiable pets through Emily’s eyes and nasty, unfriendly, lazy animals through her parents’, all depicted brilliantly by Parsons. And Shipton has managed to fulfil his criteria – the opposites are dramatic enough for children to squeal with delight as they turn the page to see just how nasty cute kittens can become, and the subtle arguments used by Emily’s parents should make most adults chuckle.
In fact, it’s a story that will almost certainly ring true with adult readers, either reminiscing about their own childhood, or more likely as a parent attempting to dissuade their own pet-mad child. So which inspired Jonathan?
“Oh, this is definitely my daughter,” he explains. “She wanted a pet as soon as she could say the words!” So, did she have such difficulty finding the perfect pet? “Well, guinea pigs are my favourite animals, so yes, like Emily, she did end up with a guinea pig. For me, they’re the ultimate perfect pet.”
So it’s not so much Emily’s perfect pet as dad’s then? “My daughter does love him, but she’s a teenager now so I suppose she is slightly beyond guinea pigs and more into boys!” says Jonathan.

© 2002 Beach Magazines & Publishing Ltd






"Whimsical (with) a delightful twist" --Kirkus Reviews, US

"Positive new-sibling book that will go right to the heart of children's fears" --School Library Journal

"A quite remarkable book" --The School Librarian

"A great look at what to expect with a new baby on the way but with a strong core story, a warm heart and a jolly sense of humour, which any child, regardless of circumstances, will love to hear. Chessa's illustrations suit the feel of the book perfectly and make it a real joy to read through." --The Bookbag


No matter how many new baby books you have on your shelves, you'll want to make room for this bright and bubbling treasure. Emily likes lists, so when her parents inform her that they are expecting a new baby, she makes a list of the pros and cons. The good things include "Its head is soft and snuffly," and "You can tickle it to bits!" The bad things are that a baby "doesn't do anything except…suck, dribble, spit up, and…cry." But the worst thing, according to Emily, is that it will turn everything "upside down and inside out." The child's parents allay her fears by telling her a story about another baby who turned their lives upside down and only made them better. And they assure her that they will always love her, "no matter what the babies do," because, guess what? Mom is having twins. A spread of happy baby pictures at the end of the book attests to Emily's love for her siblings. Chessa's colorfully messy, childlike illustrations perfectly match the breezy tone of the story, and Emily, with her lovable quirks, serious air, and vertical red braids, is the type of character who could carry a whole series. This is a relentlessly positive new-sibling book that will go right to the heart of children's fears.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


This is the perfect book to prepare a young child to welcome a new sibling. They often feel overlooked and need a lot of reassurance that they are still loved. Even before a new baby arrives some children feel quite stressed and tend to act out. This book was very appealing and combined with the art work it felt comforting. If a new baby is on the way, this book and a few cuddles and kisses will be exactly what you need!

By D. Fowler - Published on





''...affectionate story of a mother 'chained to the kitchen sink' and a sensitive little boy who cuts her free.'' LETTERBOX BOOK CLUB

'' utterly charming picture book.'' THE GUARDIAN.

''...a touching book, beautifully illustrated.'' THE SUNDAY TIMES

''...a simple idea both brilliantly and poignantly pursued.'' YORKSHIRE POST.

''...this tender story could be read aloud or shared one to one with four to seven year olds.'' THE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN.






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