Korgi by Christian Slade

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What do you do if your bookworm child can’t read yet, but desperately wants to try (and succeed) without adult help? You give them Korgi by Christian Slade.

Whilst the introduction to the characters of these comics contain a handful of words, the story itself is told entirely through glorious artwork. The plot follows Ivy and her faithful companion, Sprout, as they adventure in the fairy realm.

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The books are full of humour and adventure, are beautifully illustrated and can be enjoyed by everyone – young and old. I’ve spoken before about how a great story doesn’t have an age limit and this definitely falls into that category – there are so many details in the pictures that you can simply scan for the story, or spend longer, looking for clues to the overriding plot.

Since we received these books and I took pictures, Slade has released the fourth episode of the series and I’m currently eagerly awaiting its arrival.

I’d love to learn more about similar books – stories without words, or great fantasy comics for kids – if you know of any?

Farn ❤

The Wooden Dragon by Joan Aiken & Bee Willey

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I first took The Wooden Dragon by Joan Aiken and Bee Willey out of the library in 2013 when we lived near Bury St Edmunds and it, or its Aberdeenshire counterpart, has been coming home with us regularly ever since.

The story is a lovely one, about discovering how to use your strengths to overcome your fears, and how, no matter what your abilities are, there’s scope to help others.

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Set in the autumn, the illustrations are full of really rich textures, and earthy colours which match the tone of the prose perfectly. I really love how no surface is just one flat shade, but instead, is composed of layers of different colours. No one could ever say that the illustrations are ‘realistic’ – they’re heavily stylised – but they’re so lively and full of character that they feel very real.

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This is a wonderful book in which the power of stories helps the protagonist overcome the difficulties in their narrative. I’m a sucker for this plot, which I guess makes sense, given how many times reading books has rescued me. 😉

Farn ❤

 

 

Freddie and the Fairy by Julia Donaldson and Karen George

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I sat on the fence for a long time before deciding to write about Freddie and the Fairy by Julia Donaldson and Karen George. I mean, what more is there to say about the almighty Julia? She was the first author that Son would read in lieu of the Reverend Awdry’s The Railway Series and for that alone I will be forever grateful.

What I love about Freddie and the Fairy though, is that it’s the only book that I’ve found – so far – which includes a pink fluffy fairy and a little boy.

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The premise of this lovely rhyming story is simple – Freddie meets Bessie-Belle, the fairy, who offers to grant him a wish. Freddie mumbles his requests and as Bessie-Belle ‘can’t hear very well’, she misinterprets him.

Freddie’s wishes are met with lots of different rhyming alternatives, until Bessie-Belle – who has been valiantly trying to get it right all along – finally succumbs to tears of frustration. Freddie is encouraged by a more experienced fairy to speak slowly and clearly, instead of mumbling and everyone tries again. This time, Bessie-Belle gets it spot on and everyone is happy.

As I mentioned above, this is the only book I’m aware of which places a boy amongst a cast of fairies. That alone makes it awesome as far as I’m concerned… But I also really like the fact that it showed perseverance, frustration and resolution. It’s a great way of illustrating resilience, and growth mindset.

Plus, who doesn’t like super cute fairies?

Am I wrong – do you know of other books which feature little boys as the  protagonists of fairy stories? I’d love to know if there are!

Farn ❤

Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure, by Helen and Thomas Docherty

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Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure by Helen and Thomas Docherty is one of the most imaginative, fun and gloriously silly books I’ve ever read. The story begins when the single, remaining swing in Ruby’s poorly-maintained local park breaks. The other children head for home, but Ruby stays and meets a mysterious ice-cream van. The proprietor gifts Ruby her last ice lolly and on finishing it, Ruby notices that the stick says, ‘plant me’.

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The choice of words here are so perfect – mimicking the ‘eat me/drink me’ instructions of Alice in Wonderland. Ruby dutifully pushes the stick into the earth and is rewarded by a large tendril of rainbow-coloured vegetation which begins to sprout play-equipment. Responding to Ruby’s imagination, the play-park spreads out across the city, bringing everything to a standstill. Instead of being cross, all the grown-ups begin to join in, leading to a glorious, chaotic mess of adults, zoo animals and shopping-trolley roller-coasters!

Eventually, the mayor – who bears a rather striking resemblance to the ice-cream van proprietor – intervenes and Ruby sends the play park home. Soon, the neglected play-equipment the book began with is repaired by the council and Ruby and her friends can play there safely.

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I love pretty much everything about this book: that Ruby genuinely feels like a child – forgetting, but meaning to, say thank you at multiple points; the completely whimsical story; the colourful, rainbow illustrations and this ‘Wonderland’-ish sense that Something Is Happening.

One of the Story Sacks I made focused on this book.

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With this book, I included another called How Things Grow by Usborne. There was also a set of reusable lolly moulds, some beans and a game of snakes and ladders (known colloquially in my region as ‘chutes and ladders’, chute being the dialect word for a slide).

To go with this, I prepared a sheet of ideas for discussion and games – you can download it here: Ruby Nettleship PDF Download

If you haven’t already got a copy of snakes and ladders, you can print one here for free. It’s in black and white so won’t eat up lots of ink, and you can colour it in afterwards! Alternatively, you could always make your own, either by drawing a grid and adding your snakes and ladders over the top, or by sticking squares of paper onto a larger sheet. After that, you only need dice and a few counters (anything will do – buttons, small figurines, tiddlywinks etc). Lolly moulds can be purchased cheaply, or you can improvise and make your own from plastic beakers (where the rim is wider than the foot) with a plastic spoon, or you can push a plastic spoon through the lid of a small yogurt pot, removing both lid and pot when you want to eat it.

In place of the beans, you can use dried peas from any dried soup mix. Legumes are particularly good for the growing experiment outlined on the above PDF but any other large seeds you have to hand should work too, whilst information about how plants grow can be found on Wikipedia, or BBC Bitesize.

I’d love to see some pictures of any Snakes and Ladders games you manage to make – why not share them on The Inquisitive Newt facebook page?

Farn ❤