Bookshelf Picture Books

The Bad Bunnies' Magic Show

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I was talking to a colleague today and was really surprised to find that she had never heard of ‘The Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show’ by the incomparable Mini Grey, prompting me to look at it for today’s review!

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The Great Hypno’s magic show might have been cancelled, but a new, exciting act has taken its place. Two naughty white rabbits- Abra and Cadabra- have kidnapped the magician and are performing his tricks with interesting results. As things get increasingly out of hand, Abra and Cadabra turn their paws to a spot of hypnotism and robbery. Fortunately, the Great Hypno escapes in time to save the day. Although blasted from the Cannon of Doom and left to clean the stage as a punishment, it seems the bunnies might not have learned their lesson after all…

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Fabulous illustrations combine with paper play to tell this wonderful story as there are flaps to lift to reveal the result of magic tricks and partial pages and shaped edges to enhance the action. Magic, mystery and mayhem abound! The bunnies hog centre stage with their antics, but there is plenty of action in the wings as the Great Hypno is assisted in his escape act.

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The simple text offers plenty of opportunity to explore and discuss word play and the book makes a great read aloud as there are many places which lend themselves to audience participation. The story is also perfect for discussing the consequences of our actions! This story is pure magic!

The Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show Mini Grey

Simon and Schuster ISBN: 978-1471157592

The Suitcase

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When a stranger arrives one day, bearing only a big suitcase, the other creatures are full of questions. Intrigued by his answers, when he falls asleep they take matters into their own hands and decide to break into his suitcase. Inside, they discover something very special and when the stranger wakes, he finds a wonderful surprise waiting for him.

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This is such a beautiful, moving story, perfect for sharing with any age group. The text is extremely simple, but the story sings loud and clear about the way in which we should treat those in need. Initially suspicious, the animals offer the stranger kindness and support. If only the world were such a place…

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The illustrations are perfect for the story. Most are set again stark white backgrounds, focusing attention firmly on the suitcase and the animals with coloured text showing who is speaking. The spread showing his little wooden cabin on the hillside is in sepia tones, echoing the photograph, allowing the reader to set it in any time or place. Although we don’t know exactly why he left his home, we know the stranger has run away, hidden and undertaken a long difficult journey and this is highlighted by the image of him swimming through a menacing, dark sea, clutching his suitcase.

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There is so much that could be done with this book in school from assemblies to class work to story time reading- it is a real must-have for school and home alike. Perfect for encouraging empathy, ‘The Suitcase’ is moving, heartwarming story, full of hope and kindness.

The Suitcase Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978- 1788004480

You can read our review of ‘I’m Going to Eat this Ant’ here and ‘I Love You, Stick Insect’ here.

Matisse's Magical Trail

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The world can be a frightening place when you’re a snail, but at night, Matisse is free to do what he loves most- drawing! One night, he finds the perfect place to indulge in his hobby and sets to work. In the morning, one of his pictures is discovered by a small boy called Leo who adds a smile to the sun Matisse has drawn. Although Matisse hides away from all the boy’s friends, they gather together lots of things for him to draw on and by morning, Matisse has created a very artistic trail around the school playground. Inspired, their teacher encourages them to fill the wall with colour, making the school a sight for all to enjoy. Before moving on to fill other places with his artwork, Matisse creates one final picture for Leo and the other children.

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This is such a joyful book! With creativity and self expression at its heart, it offers the perfect starting point for exploring art work and discovering Matisse. Sam Boughton’s illustrations are equally inspirational and could lead to everything from stone painting to murals on walls, Creating snails in Sam's style would also be great fun and could lead to writing in a variety of forms. There is so much potential for using this book in school- or at home!

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There is also a powerful message about the importance of noticing the little things- of taking the time to appreciate what is around us. Most people (grown ups!) fail to notice Matisse’s artwork because they are rushing around. The world is full of beauty and truly amazing things, yet we miss so much because we simply don’t take the time to open our eyes and enjoy them. Leo does and it leads to amazing things.

Inspiring and beautiful, Matisse’s Magical Trail is a story to share and enjoy.

Matisse’s Magical Trail Tim Hopgood, illustrated by Sam Boughton

OUP ISBN: 978-0192767264