Book review: Bewitching pigs, rhyming robots and a riotous rhino with Maverick

Fun, adventure, magic and space travel… inventive independent publishers Maverick Arts Publishing have thrills galore for young readers in a sparkling winter round-up.

By Pam Norfolk
Tuesday, 3rd February 2015, 8:50 am
Bewitching pigs, rhyming robots and a riotous rhino with Maverick
Bewitching pigs, rhyming robots and a riotous rhino with Maverick

Maverick is making a name for itself as a champion of new talent in the picture book market and with an expanding stable of imaginative authors and gifted illustrators, this small outfit is galloping into the big time.

So take a trip to America with the Dog Detectives, zoom off to Mars with a loud-mouthed schoolboy, meet multi-talented Robopop, help save three little pigs and enjoy a romp with a preposterous rhinoceros.

The Four Little Pigs by Kimara Nye and Marcin Bruchnalski

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Three little pigs are on shaky ground when the wonderful witch Granny Mag transports her unsuspecting grandson Tom into the heart of a traditional fairy tale.

Author Kimara Nye and leading Polish illustrator Marcin Bruchnalski cast a magical spell in this enchanting spin on the much-loved tale of three pigs trying to avoid being eaten by a big bad wolf.

Tom’s granny doesn’t bake cakes or hold tea parties… she’s a witch with a pointy hat, a cat and a flying broomstick. And whenever Tom goes to stay with her, he is sure to have exciting adventures. So when he tells her one night that the Three Little Pigs story is boring, Granny Mag uses a spell to send him into the book. Armed with his own pig’s nose, Tom must be very clever if he and the three little pigs are going to avoid being eaten by the wolf!

This charming, addictive picture adventure is full of quirky characters, bold dialogue, lively illustrations and a marvellous ‘sneezy’ sound effect that will help little ones to join in the fun.

Kimara Nye also conveys subtle messages about standing up to bullies, having faith in your own abilities and learning that a problem shared is a problem halved.

A colourful, entertaining story that is destined to become a bedtime favourite…

(Maverick, paperback, £6.99)

Robopop by Alice Hemming and James Lent

Dads – like children – come in all shapes and sizes… and you can’t pick and choose the one you think is best!

That’s the message in this warm-hearted, funny and delightfully quirky picture book from Alice Hemming, a children’s author noted for her touching stories which celebrate acceptance and diversity.

Her first two books, The Black and White Club and Bibble and the Bubbles, have touched the hearts of both parents and children, and this inspirational story uses the same winning combination of entertainment and education.

Dylan and Daisy’s dad is different to other children’s dads. He invents weird gadgets which nobody understands and knows nothing about football so when the children complain, dad sends them an interesting package. It’s their new babysitter, and he’s a robot. ‘I’m Robopop, your robot pa. I’m the greatest dad by far. I play golf and I wear ties. I catch spiders – any size!’ At first it seems like fun but, after a day with pushy Robopop, Dylan and Daisy start to realise that their dad might not be like a normal dad but he’s still the best!

James Lent’s distinctive, bold and characterful illustrations help bring to life the irrepressible Robopop and his frantic antics with Daisy and Dylan.

A brilliant story that helps little children to put their parents – and their view of them – into a more revealing perspective.

(Maverick, paperback, £6.99)

Preposterous Rhinoceros by Tracy Gunaratnam and Marta Costa

Getting stuck into a book isn’t as easy as it sounds for a little rhino who creates a sticky stir when he opens up a pot of honey…

There is plenty of slapstick fun and animal-size laughter in this enchanting picture book from a top author-illustrator duo who know just how to tickle a child’s funny bone.

What a disaster for the baby animals when Drama Llama reveals that King Lion has lost his voice and won’t be able to read their bedtime story until he finds it again. Fortunately, Rhinoceros reckons he can step into the breach… the only problem is that he knows nothing about books and can’t read. But that won’t stop him from having a jolly good go at it, however preposterous that may seem!

Tracy Gunaratnam’s cute and comical story about the joys of friendship and the value of learning to read becomes a visual feast of frantic antics through Marta Costa’s characterful and colourful illustrations.

The magic of words brought to life…

(Maverick, paperback, £6.99)

Daniel O’Dowd Was Ever So Loud by Julie Fulton and Elina Ellis

They’re ever so good! Rhyming magician Julie Fulton has a way with words and her entertaining Ever So picture book series is a firm favourite with young readers.

We have enjoyed the exploits and adventures of Mrs MacCready who was ever so greedy, Miss Dorothy-Jane who was ever so vain, Tabitha Posy who was ever so nosy and now we make a welcome return to the extraordinary town of Hamilton Shady to meet Daniel O’Dowd who is ever so loud.

Daniel has a very loud voice and annoys everyone with it, including his mum who has to wear ear-muffs. His teacher tells him that if he stopped shouting, he might hear something useful instead, but Daniel is simply too loud to listen. All that changes on a school trip to see eccentric Professor McWhizzit who builds airports for bees and a telescope made out of bees. When Daniel spies a comet heading towards Earth from Mars, the professor has an ingenious idea how Daniel’s supersonic voice – and his teacher’s advice – might just save the day!

This is a delightful little cautionary tale about the value of unusual talents, and listening to what other people have to say. Fulton’s inventive, flowing and addictive verse is transformed into action through Elina Ellis’s enchanting and larger-than-life illustrations.

A brilliant book that speaks loudly about important issues…

(Maverick, paperback, £6.99)

The Dog Dectectives in an American Adventure by Zoa Gypsy and Monika Suska

Well I’ll be doggone! Those daring Dog Detectives are dashing off on another cracking canine adventure… and this time they are on an epic cycling trip across America.

This is the fourth book in Zoa Gypsy’s high-octane, fun-filled series starring the inimitable Detective Jack and Deputy Poco Loco whose sleuthing often takes some wrong turns but always get there in the end.

The ace detectives are called into action when a UFO (an Unidentified Flying Opossum better known as Imogen) needs a helping paw to get back home to New York. A fur-raising balloon journey has swept her into San Francisco and she is hopelessly lost. Thankfully the Dog Detectives are willing to help to Imogen and are soon on their bikes with Imogen safely perched on the back. Despite the thrill of seeing some famous sights, Detective Jack’s ‘shortcuts’ don’t seem to get them anywhere fast! Will they ever find their way back to New York with Detective Jack at the helm?

Author Zoa, who has travelled across American herself with two rescue dogs, lets her imagination take flight in this enchanting and entertaining story which packs in plenty of adventures and knockabout fun.

With Monika Suska’s charismatic illustrations bringing the words and action to life and a gallery of fascinating American facts to enjoy at the back of the book, this is an irresistible story for little thrill-seekers.

(Maverick, paperback, £6.99)