Anderson Press

The Last Zoo

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That night in Pia’s dreams they cut the moon like a cake and serve her an ice-white slice. The sponge is all silvery, dotted on top with candied meteorites. it tastes of cheesecake, of course.

When Pia wakes from her dream, she finds the two angels who live with her, her ghost parents, the genies and a devil on the celestial ark have disappeared. Desperate to conceal this fact for as long as possible, Pia tries everything she can think of to solve this mystery, using the mysterious halos the angels left behind and trying to ignore the tempting whispers of Bagrin, the devil. But will she run out of time?

Oh my! Sam Gayton’s vivid imagination has created the most amazing world, filled with fantastic creations. Written in the present tense and focusing mainly on Pia- Cornucopia to give her her full name- ‘The Last Zoo’ is a wonderful story, set in a future after the i-era has collapsed. Each aspect of this world is carefully constructed, making the most bizarre ideas work perfectly.

The devastating effects of war and technology and the damage humans inflict on the world are highlighted through both the story and the comments of some of the characters.

‘A plague of humans.’

‘A plague?’

He nods. ‘Or what about an infestation? Hmm. An invasion? That’s good, but invasions have a point. They aren’t thoughtless, endless stupid, the way humans are.’

Yet the story ultimately offers a message of hope with an uplifting and moving conclusion which stays with the reader long after they have finished the book.

Peppered with Sam’s mischievous humour, ‘The Last Zoo’ is a challenging, complex read which completely absorbs the reader.

The Last Zoo Sam Gayton

Anderson Press ISBN: 978-1783447701

You can read our review of ‘Hercufleas’ here which won our 2015 Read Aloud Category.

The Weaver

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Stanley is a spider who loves to collect things which he keeps them safe in his beautiful web. He is very proud of his collection, but when the wind and rain come, he loses all of his precious things. Or has he?

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Sweet and charming, 'The Weaver' is a delight to read, with simple text and gorgeous illustrations combining to offer a lovely story. Stanley is an example to us all. Industrious and skilful, once his web has been destroyed by nature, Stanley does not give up, but sets to and finds another way to record his treasures before travelling off on the wind. The story reminds us of the transience of possessions and the importance of holding on to and developing memories. It explores the impact the forces of nature can have and is sure to encourage conversations about the beauty and wonder of tiny creatures like Stanley and his friends!

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The illustrations are simply delightful! Stanley is little more than a blob with legs, yet the reader is in no doubt about his joy, his anxiety or his sorrow as the story develops. Each spread is full of details to enjoy and a mixture of full page illustrations and comic strip style pictures keep the story moving. The colour choices give a fresh, clean feel to the whole text, with soft blues purples, pinks and oranges of the sky framing Stanley's adventure. Just lovely!

The Weaver    Qian Shi

Anderson Press    ISBN: 089-1783445363

Luna Loves Library Day

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On Wednesday 14th February, I went to Oxford to visit the Story Museum to see Joseph Coelho talk about 'Luna Loves Library Day'. The session started with some lively poems which Joseph had everyone joining in with. The atmosphere was really good with lots of laughter!

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Joseph then shared 'Luna Loves Library Day', a lovely book which celebrates the joys of the library. As Luna and her dad explore various books, they seem to come to life and fill the library with their magic. Each book goes into her library bag- creating a bag ' full of memories about adventure, magic...and Dad.' Luna's parents are no longer together and library day is a special time she shares with her Dad. In the middle of the book, there is a copy of the fairy tale they share , 'The Troll King and the Mermaid Queen' which is the story of a 'wave surfing Princess' whose parents do not get on and so the Troll King leaves. However, 'one thing always remained the same: "My love for my princess daughter swells my heart with the force of the tides..." - the message of this story reassuring to Luna- and any children in a similar situation.

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The illustrations are a joy, showing children loving the library and exploring books of all shapes and sizes. The end papers at the beginning of the book (above) show children waiting for the library to open whilst those at the end show them relaxing and reading. They also show the love Luna and her father share. 

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Joseph read the story, 'finding' copies of the books around the room as he did so and the audience was delighted by the surprises this produced!

Finishing with some great performance poems, the session was a brilliant success, greatly enjoyed by everyone- including Fed Ted who joined me for the day!

Luna Loves Library Day by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers

Anderson Press     ISBN: 978-1783445486