Romeo Alexander Anton Silverio Fortez is a pygmy sloth. But not just any pygmy sloth. The night of his naming ceremony on the tiny island of Escudo where he was born, a fire rainbow erupted across the sky, lightning flashed, there was a shower of shooting stars and the rising moon looked magical. Everyone knew they had just witnessed something incredible. As he grew, Romeo understood he was different to all the other sloths. He wasn’t slow like them. He was fast. Very fast. And he craved adventure and danger. He also developed hypnotic cuteness powers where all he had to do was look into someone’s eyes and they would forget what they had been doing and why they had been cross. He had become a Super Sloth!
The time came when Romeo knew he had to leave the island. He needed to be somewhere bigger, faster and with lots more happening than Escudo. New York City! It would be a bit scary and dangerous at first, but Romeo was up for it! This would be his destiny.
As soon as he arrived in New York, things began to happen. While he was admiring the famous Brooklyn Bridge, its pylons began to tilt, and the bridge began to sway. Everyone else ran the other way but Romeo ran towards the huge half shark, half wolf terrorising commuters. It held a young girl captive in one its enormous, clawed paws. A cheetah had also run towards the commotion. Together they freed the girl and the creature dived into the river below. Suddenly a pig appeared on a Vespa and yelled ‘Hop on!’ The pig, with the girl and Romeo in tow, sped away, with the Cheetah close behind. They quickly came to a cemetery and when the pig pressed a button on the Vespa, a huge panel of grass opened up beneath them revealing a ramp that led to the most amazing underground hideout.
The adventures of Romeo the Super Sloth, Tulip the Cheetah, Ham the Pig and Beth the young Crime Fighter had begun! Now all they had to do was find out where the mutant creature had come from, who had made it and how to stop them from creating more fearsome monsters. Look out evil Professor Weird Warp, your days are numbered!
This is a rollicking, fast paced adventure story filled with incredible inventions, dangerous decisions, brave friends, superheroes, and very evil villains! Readers will be captivated from the opening page, with each chapter providing a thrilling ending to keep us wanting to find out more. Cheri Hughes’ superb black and white illustrations provide just the right amount of detail, leaving the reader with plenty of opportunities to use their own imaginations in the story. An exciting new novel for ages 8 - 12.
Teaching themes could include sloths, cheetahs, pigs, lemurs, superheroes, technology, inventions, villains, friendship, character traits, New York City and Brooklyn Bridge.
Find out more about Aleesah Darlison
Find out more about Cheri Hughes
Published by Big Sky Publishing
Release date: 10 April, 2023
Highly recommended ages 8 - 12.
In this new picture book from Shae Millward we meet Ziggy, a rabbit who was once companion to The Amazing Albertino, a most marvellous and magnificent magician. They travelled the world together, delighting and surprising audiences. Albertino would make things disappear and then reappear, and when he tapped his wand three times and spoke the magic words, Ziggy would jump out of Albertino’s hat to the amazement of the crowd. After each performance, Alby (as Ziggy affectionately called him) would gaze up at the moon, and once told him, ‘The moon is a master of illusion Ziggy. It’s a dusty old rock. . . yet we see it as beautiful. It appears to shine but makes no light of its own. It seems to change shape, yet it is always whole.’ Albertino began spending a lot of time in his room, and Ziggy was certain he was working on a really BIG trick. Then one day when Ziggy woke up, Alby was gone. Alby had made all kinds of objects vanish before, but had never made himself disappear. And so Ziggy waits, and waits, and waits for him to reappear. As he waits, he meets Owl, and tells him how worried he is that something has gone wrong with the trick. Owl reassures him that the trick was a success, his greatest ever, and that he is not gone, but all around them. Albertino has simply changed from one form into another, and is now part of the moon, the stars, the rainbows and flowers. But most importantly, he will always be part of Ziggy's heart.
This is such a quietly emotive and beautiful tale of friendship, loss and acceptance. With the moon as a metaphor for being ever changing but at the same time always there, Shae Millward offers a gentle explanation of losing someone in the physical sense, but still having them with us in the memories and everyday reminders all around us. Andy Fackrell’s gorgeous illustrations are perfect support for the story, with his use of bold, bright colours when Ziggy and Alby are together, and subtle nighttime hues as Ziggy waits for his friend to return. Ziggy’s expressions from his sadness and confusion about Alby’s disappearance, to his pure joy at the realisation that he will always be with him, are enchanting and poignant in their simplicity. THE RABBIT’S MAGICIAN is an uplifting tale of love, comfort and remembrance, and would make a wonderful addition to collections and picture books dealing with grief.
Supporting teaching themes could include friendship, loss, grief, love, magic, rabbits, animals, magicians, the moon, phases of the moon.
Find out more about Shae Millward.
Find out more about Andy Fackrell.
Link to author interview with Shae Millward.
Link to lesson activities.
Published by Ford St.
ISBN: 9781922696076 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 3 - 8
Chris McKimmie has a knack of being able to capture the essence of a story with language and images that are simple yet also have an underlying complexity that goes beyond what is on the page. His latest picture book is no exception. In The New Dog we meet Kiddo. Kiddo is very happy with the two snuggly futon beds, the water and food bowls, the king size bed he shares with his humans and the box full of stuff that Teddy has left behind. From this very first page Chris McKimmie reveals another layer to the story and gives us a subtle insight into the reason Kiddo has become part of this family. Kiddo loves to chew, dig, play, bark and eat anything left lying around or within reach on the kitchen bench! He’s also afraid of storms, hates baths and loves lying in the warm patches of sunshine in his yard. All the things you would expect from a loveable canine. Chris’s illustrations are a joy with bright colours and a slightly imperfect perspective that children love and see reflected in their own artwork. There is also a little help from his family for some of the drawings which adds to the feeling of warmth and inclusion in the images. There are clever plays on text direction and font changes which add to the fun and involvement for the reader. This warm and engaging story is a must have for anyone who has ever lost a canine friend and then experienced the delight of welcoming a new, playful, mischievous and instantly loveable family companion.
Chris McKimmie is an award-winning writer, illustrator and artist whose book I NEED A Parrot, won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award in 2020. His stories are always quirky, eye catching and totally relatable for younger readers. The New Dog, aimed at readers aged 4 +, could almost be seen as a sequel to Me, Teddy, the story of the family’s beloved black Labrador, and would make a wonderful addition to any collection of animal stories.
This review can also be found online in BuzzWordsMagazine
Supporting teaching themes could include animals, dogs, loss of a pet, families, grief and stylized artwork.
Find out more about Chris McKimmie
Published by Ford Street Publishing
ISBN 9781922696038 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 4 +
As a teacher librarian I tried to read as many of the books as I can that I purchase for my library. Obviously I don't get through them all, ('too many books, not enough time' is my catch cry!) but I do read all the picture books that come in. I think you'll guess by that confession, they are my favourite format. But there was one that had been ordered before I came to this library which I only just discovered today and it is Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon.
I am also a writer and write (among other things) about inclusion, acceptance and tolerance. THIS is the book that I wish I had written! From the gentle, poignant text, to the simple but evocative illustrations, this book encapsulates the very essence of acceptance. If you don't have this already in your libraries or at home, you really should get a copy.
Two eggs hatch side by side. One is Croc. One is Bird. They do everything together until, one day, when they are grown, the river carries them away from the home they have made together. They find a lake full of crocodiles and birds and, after taking another look at each other, decide they should join the group with the animals that look like them. But some of the habits they've learned when they were together, don't quite fit with the rest of their kind. Eventually, after not being able to sleep in their new homes, they seek each other out and realise it doesn't matter about what they look like or how they behave. What matters most is how much they have missed each other and feel happiest when they are together.
Follow Alexis Deacon on Instagram.
Published in 2012 by Hutchison
Recommended for ages 2 - 6