Children's books

Picture books reviewed

Songs of super furry animals

In The Night Pirates by Peter Harris, illusrated by Deborah Allwright, (Egmont, £10.99), up go the sails and up goes the flag. Here is a night-time adventure about a mildly heroic little boy, Tom, and a ship of rough, tough little girl pirates. Whether intended as a comment on gender politics, or not, this offers thrills and excitement, and creates the sort of tense anticipation that small children love. Does Tom join the crew? Where are they going? To find something very strange...

Penelope on the Farm by Anne Gutman, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben, (Random House, £6.99) is pricey for a pull-the-tab, lift-the-flap, hide-and-seek-with-baby-animals book. But Penelope the koala bear is so charmingly painted with green wellies, and so full of toddler determination, that it is hard to resist. There is even a little plot. Penelope has been singing so loudly the baby animals have run away. Can you make her stop singing? With its roll-call of fluffy animals hidden in unlikely crannies, stylish art work and sturdy flaps, this is full of the sort of things young children love.

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins, £10.99) is an uplifting story about a boy and a penguin, and their journey to a firm friendship via the South Pole. The scenario is unlikely, but Jeffers invests it with plausible life, telling the story in pictures of such spare beauty, there is space for the emotion to breathe. Suffused with a dream-like quality, this book will calm even the most overheated of bedtimes.

Aesop's Fables by Savior Pirotta, illustrated by Richard Johnson, (Kingfisher, £9.99) opens up Aesop's life lessons to the very young. Here is the Lion and the Mouse, the Tortoise and the Hare, as well as lesser-known stories such as The Frogs Who Wanted a King, all made sweet on the eye and easy on the ear. There is a preface to each of the fables, too, set in Ancient Greece, in which Aesop talks about his inspiration for what follows. None of which, incidentally, adds anything extra. But with eight stories over 80 pages, this is a cuddly confection filled with such expressive creatures that young children will have an absorbing time being schooled in Aesop's ancient moral code.

In The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child, photographed by Polly Borland (Puffin, £12.99), the fairy tale of a prince in search of a real princess is given the miniature treatment, in a picture book full of grand originality. Blooming from a childhood enthusiasm for dolls' houses, Lauren Child sets the action in tiny panelled rooms made from card, peopled by paper cut-outs and furnished with objects typically owned by miniature specialists: tiny Barley Twist chairs, oil paintings, glowing log fires and bowls of minute peas fashioned from resin, all hauntingly lit and photographed by Polly Borland. Not only is there is awesome precision and patience in this work, but children will be amazed and thrown off balance by the beautiful strangeness of it all.

Jan Pienkowski's The Fairy Tales (translated by David Walser; Puffin, £14.99) casts a dark shadow over fairyland. Pienkowksi indulges his appetite for silhouette in this atmospheric collection for all to share. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella are made rich and strange, as princesses and enchanted toads are dipped in darkness, then hauled out on to the light of the page. Cloaked in protective black, Pienkowski ventures further, deeper, than most, being present at the birth of Sleeping Beauty, for example; and revealing the remains of a would-be suitor who "died a wretched death" in the thorn hedge surrounding the sleeping castle. This has the quality of a legend.

Crammed inside the pink, handbag-shaped Handbag Friends by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Sue Heap (David Fickling, £9.99), is a mad story about six friends and how they came to live in a handbag. There's a song (sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star), a big bad baddy, Clasp ( "all pimply and purpley"), playful illustrations and enough pink to sugar an entire street. Ecstasy, in other words, for girlies.

Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific