The Only Way is Badger

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Badger is determined to have everything his own way- after all, badgers are best. Or this is what the poster that are appearing all over the forest say. Gradually, Badger banishes all the creatures who don’t conform to his badgery standards, sending them over the wall. However, when he is left all alone, in a world he has painted black and white, it is time to think again. Perhaps the only way isn’t badger after all?

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I’m not a very political being, but there are some people I would love to send a copy of this book to! ‘The Only Way is Badger’ is a wonderful book for opening discussions about diversity, being an individual, dictatorships, the dangers of persuasive orators, building walls… aaaaargh! Fortunately, the other animals do not back Badger’s dictatorial regime, but imagine what might have happened if they did…

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The book is perfect for discussions about acceptance, diversity - and learning to say sorry and admit that you were wrong. Badger’s story could also be used to explore playground conflicts where someone might want everything their own way. It shows the power of friendship and how that is more important than always being right. It lends itself beautifully to role play or puppet work and offers many writing opportunities. What qualities do others have which you admire? How might you ‘be more bear’ for example?

The illustrations are fabulous, full of little details and lots of wonderful expressions. The colourful spreads contrast sharply with Badger’s solitary black and white world.

With lots to discuss, ‘The Only Way is Badger’ is a very satisfying story.

The Only Way is Badger Stella J Jones, illustrated by Carmen Saldana

Little Tiger ISBN: 978-1848699403

Mum's Jumper

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A little girl struggles to understand how life can carry on after the death of her mother. She and her father find mum’ s jumper as they come to sort through her things. It smells of mum and offers comfort. As time passes, its smell changes and it is washed. But it’s still there- just as mum is everywhere.

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This is such a beautiful, powerful book. It tackles the painful subjects of loss and grief with great skill and compassion, offering comfort. The little girl’s voice is full of her raw emotion and takes the reader with her from visiting her mother in hospital, to learning of her death and through her grieving process.

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Seeing and hearing the little girl’s reactions to this devastating event really helps encapsulate the confusion and range of emotions that engulf you when you have lost someone. Dad is constantly supportive, but his grief is evident as well. His words are so powerful and honest as he uses the jumper as a metaphor for grief- it will stay the same size, but eventually the child will grow into it. The pain of losing someone doesn’t diminish over time, but it becomes bearable.

The illustrations fit the text perfectly and add much to the narrative. Sharp eyes will note that although the little girl leaves hospital smiling, her father appears weighed down, not noticing mum’s favourite flowers - bright yellow daffodils- which line the streets. These are the same flowers which appear to be overwhelming the little girl as well wishers send condolences that she neither wants nor understands. She clutches a small bunch- the only splash of colour- as the adults console each other at the funeral. As she wears the jumper, she draws, paints and carries daffodils with her, but at the end of the book, it is sunflowers she and dad have grown- tall and strong and beautiful.

‘Mum’s Jumper’ is quite simply a wonderful story.

Mum’s Jumper Jayde Perkin

Book Island ISBN: 978-1911496137

The LOLLIES 2020 Shortlist announced!

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Michael Rosen, children’s novelist, poet and former Children’s Laureate, today announced the shortlist for the 2020 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies), a set of awards, now in its fourth year, created by Scholastic UK, to celebrate the funniest children’s books.

Having long championed humorous books for children, Rosen said of the shortlist: “Anyone around children looking for books to have them giggling and laughing over and over again, these 12 books will do the job. Funny books are so important because they draw you through, and you have a wonderful, time and feel good. What could be better than that?”

The Lollies, sponsored by Happy Monkey Smoothies, are awarded in three categories: Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book, Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds and Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds. The shortlisted books in each category are as follows:

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book:

Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and illustrated by Stephen Collins (Bloomsbury/ 9781408891193)

Spyder by Matt Carr (Scholastic/9781407172910)

Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Tor Freeman (Andersen Press/ 9781783447510)

You’re Called What?! by Kes Gray and illustrated by Nikki Dyson (Macmillan/9781509821440)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds:

Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn (HarperCollins/9780008268060)

The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre (OUP/9780192766090)

The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler and illustrated by Steven Lenton (Simon & Schuster/ 9781471163838)

World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross (HarperCollins/ 9780008304591)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds:

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and illustrated by Tim Wesson (Bloomsbury/ 9781472955487)

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons and illustrated by Nathan Reed (Bloomsbury/ 9781408877753)

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James and Chris Smith, and illustrated by Erica Salcedo (Bloomsbury/9781408884553)

Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and illustrated by Chris Judge (OUP9780192759047)

The winning book in each category will be decided solely by children’s votes, with schools and parents encouraged to help kids get involved and vote via the Lollies website, www.scholastic.co.uk/lollies, or via the Lollies PopJam channel.

The winning books will be announced in early 2020.

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We love a funny book and there are some real JAB favourites here which have been very popular with children in our schools. You can read our reviews of Spyder, Bad Nana and The Legend of Kevin . We will be encouraging our children to vote!

Good luck to everyone on the list!