Two fun picture books today, one featuring a polar bear and the other a penguin. Both are the work of author/illustrators.

Engrossed in the big, red, flippy-flappy thing

When Paco, a penguin living on a remote iceberg, discovers a book (although he doesn’t know that’s what it is) his life is changed for ever. Suddenly whole new worlds are opened up to him as he learns to read. He wallows in the joy of new stories and then goes on an actual journey to find more of these wonderful things.

Magda Brol’s premise that books enrich lives is not new but it is one that certainly bears repeating. And it is well and clearly told using few words and many pictures. The illustrations are bold and dynamic and wonderfully colourful. Magda uses them cleverly to show the power of imagination back on the remote, but no longer bleak, iceberg.

It’s that bear again

We’ve met Ross Collins’ polar bear before (he was the bear on my chair) and he’s just as expressive as ever in this rhyming story. A mouse has moved in to his house and, no matter how hard he tries, the bear cannot get rid of him. Poor bear! That mouse upsets everything, hanging up terrible pictures, playing loud music and letting the bath overflow. But maybe he’s not all bad…

I love the flow of the rhyming text as it tells the simple story. It’s funny and very engaging and I can imagine children joining in with it as it’s read aloud. But for me, it’s the illustrations that steal the show. Both the bear and the mouse come to life with superb facial expressions and body language. And there are lots of little details to pick out (the mouse’s Nordic jumper, his picture of cheese and the book being read by the two protagonists at the end).

These are very definitely two books not to be missed. Is it too soon to be thinking about Christmas presents?

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