Lily & Little Reviews – Recent Highly Illustrated Books

Littlefae is a huge fan of early chapter books especially those with lots of pictures and I thought I would take the time to celebrate some of those recently published that we have thoroughly enjoyed! 

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Zombies – Katie and Kevin Tsang & Nathan Reed (Egmont)

Sam Wu is not afraid of Zombies by Kate and Kevin Tsang & Nathan Reed

Littlefae is a HUGE fan of Sam Wu. She has been enjoying the books and giggling away at his wobbly adventures of misunderstandings and childlike imagination. 

Illustration from Sam Wu is not afraid of Zombies by Nathan Reed
Illustration from Sam Wu is not afraid of Zombies by Nathan Reed

This time Ralph ASKS SAM for HELP!? Ok Regina maaaay have had something to do with that as they havent slept in weeks as they suspect a zombie werewolf is trapped in their basement. Sam is terrified but summons up the courage with his friends to investigate the truth… although unfortunately it all goes TERRIBLY and hysterically wrong.

Nathan Reed’s playful illustrations capture both the imagination and awkwardness of being the age of Sam and his friends and Katie & Kevin touch on social worries such as being embarrassed by your family’s differences in a beautifully empathetic yet uplifting way. We also have a soft spot for these books because like us Sam Wu lives in a multigenerational setting, although my children have their grandmother and grandfather plus uncle living with them not just one!

These books are really funny and the illustrations are amazing! Sam was really scaredy cat this time, I really like Regina because she is a nice girl and not mean to Sam. I’m glad they’re not real zombies!! 

Beowulf: Monster Slayer by Brian Patten & Chris Riddell (Barrington Stoke)

Beowulf Monster Slayer- Brian Patten & Chris Riddell

Brian Patten’s adaptation of Beowulf for children was given a new twist through the dyslexia friendly publisher Barrington Stoke with some amazing illustrations by Chris Riddell, a fantastic addition to the Little Gems range. This new edition does not have the colour of the Little Gems but shows that the book certainly has value for older children and as an introduction to Norse Mythology.

Illustration from Beowulf Monster Slayer by Chris Riddell
Illustration from Beowulf Monster Slayer by Chris Riddell

The original Beowulf is in three parts, but this only focuses on the first two parts of the original poem the battles with the Grendel and his mother and leaves out Beowulf’s death against the dragon. I particularly love how Patten took care to retain hints of Kennings- a technique of evocative poetic descriptions of ordinary things originally to fulfil the metre but of course here it’s in prose, but allows the ‘feel’ of an epic poem.  

Chris Riddell’s illustrations are gloriously dark and gothic, hideously beautiful in the grotesque depiction of the Grendel and his mother and shining bright with Beowulf . Littlefae was utterly enthralled by this poem and recited it aloud to us fascinated by the difference in language to the books she normally reads yet was still accessible to her as a bookish 6 year old.

I’m not scared, it happened a LONG time ago 😯 I like the way the words sound!

Unipiggle The Unicorn Pig: Unicorn Muddle by Hannah Shaw (Usborne)

Unicorn Muddle: Unipiggle by Hannah Shaw

This FULL COLOUR highly illustrated young reader book is a great and fun addition for young readers moving on from the reading tree but aren’t quite ready for early chapter nor to give up the fun visuals and colour of picture books.

Princess Pea is fed up of all the rules her mum and dad have placed upon the kingdom such as no bad smells, and no magic or being messy or messing up the best or second best garden. 

Unipiggle illustrations by Hannah Shaw
Unipiggle illustrations by Hannah Shaw

This perfectly perfect kingdom to Princess Pea (and indeed Littlefae) seems pretty but a little sad and disappointing considering the potential for fun. When Princess Pea is expected to choose a Royal Unicorn she is not impressed with anything on offer, until she discovers Unipiggle who brings joyful muddy chaos into her life and is just a little bit magical!

It ALSO has a map!! Littlefae adored and studied this in great detail before reading the book and giggling away reading out bits and pieces aloud from the story!! 

This book encourages children to embrace who they are, even if they don’t live up to high expectations and that you can still be a Princess and covered in mud.

This book is REALLY FUNNY!!!!! 

I think its a good idea to not have bad smells because I don’t like bad smells but its not fair that you can’t do magic! King Barry is rather silly. I like Beansprouts and seaweed but not by themselves in a salad!!!

Is my Teacher a Robot? Dave Cousins & Catalina Echeverri (Stripes Books)

Is my Teacher a Robot? Dave Cousins & Catalina Echeverri

The girls and I thoroughly enjoyed My Babysitter is a Robot last year and this bonkers follow up is just as fun and silly!

Illustration from my Teacher a Robot? By Catalina Echeverri
Illustration from my Teacher a Robot? By Catalina Echeverri

Robin the Robot accidentally clangs into a fence and wakes up believing he is the new supply teacher. At first it’s a nightmare for Jake and Jess, then he turns out to be a dream teacher especially when tasked to win a National Science contest but attracts the attention of the nasty Mr Burton and his grandchildren Olivia and Brett who are determined to wreck not only Robin’s teaching career but possibly his existence. 

A lot of fun and silliness for both Tinyfae and Littlefae who enjoyed the return of Robins and Catalina’s  Brilliant illustrations add a extra level of enjoyment and physical comedy to the story!! 

I especially appreciated the quietly positive message of Jake, Jess and friends having to work together, be brave and work on their relationships (especially sibling disagreements) to help save the day. 

Robin is funny! And he is really kind as he wants to help everyone and he isn’t mean like Mr Burton is. I like the way he made everyone feel special when he was the teacher. I DO NOT like Mr Burton!!! 

Fabio the Worlds Greatest Flamingo Detective: Peril at Lizard Lake– Laura James & Emily Fox (Bloomsbury)

Fabio 3: Peril at Lizard Lake by Laura James & Emily Fox

Fabio is a huge favourite in our home, when this arrived both girls were squealing with delight and I had to confiscate the book as Littlefae immediately tried to peek at the solution!!!

Illustration from Fabio 3: Peril at Lizard Lake by Emily Fox
Illustration from Fabio 3: Peril at Lizard Lake by Emily Fox

On a slow day of detecting Gilbert invites Fabio to take his new plane for a spin but forgets to fill up with petrol leading the duo to emergency land and need repairs near the town of Lizard Lake where they uncover a terrible plot involving the water supply to the region, but someone is on to them!!! 

Reading aloud together we stopped regularly to discuss our thinking and predictions before moving on and Littlefae indeed cracked it (apart from a super twisty twist neither of us saw coming!) but that was through careful consideration and discussion not ‘completely obvious’ as there are some red herrings and even double red herrings! 

Super clever, super fun and accompanied by the incredible illustrations of Emily Fox this time enhanced with a neon pink and yellow palette 

Fabio is AH-MAY-ZING! The mystery is really good I guessed mostly right but even Fabio didn’t see the twist coming!! 

Littlefae has really enjoyed these books, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them and may be inspired to try them, or recommend to a young reader!

Thanks to Barrington Stoke and Stripes for our review copies 💜 I also received Unipiggle through a review scheme 💜

2 thoughts on “Lily & Little Reviews – Recent Highly Illustrated Books

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