Book reviews: Fossils, friendships and feelings with Templar Publishing

Discover a magical underworld, take flight with a homesick parrot and enjoy the perfect picnic with one of the UK's leading children's publishers.

Thursday, 23rd June 2016, 10:00 am
Fossils, friendships and feelings with Templar Publishing
Fossils, friendships and feelings with Templar Publishing

Founded in 1978, Templar Publishing has become one of the world’s most respected publishers of illustrated children’s fiction, novelty and picture books and its summer selection packs some special sunshine surprises.

Age 5 plus:

Under Earth, Under Water by Aleksandra Mizielinski and Daniel Mizielinski

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If you thought our planet was full of surprises, take a look at what goes on underneath it!

From fossilised dinosaur bones, super-deep boreholes and ancient relics to giants of the deep, spectacular sinkholes and coral reefs, the big, wide world under the earth and sea is brimming with colour, human creations and strange creatures.

From talented graphic artists Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski, the creative married couple behind the bestselling Maps, comes this giant-sized book of fascinating facts and mind-blowing revelations sure to capture the imagination of any child who ever wondered what lies beneath their feet.

Using a two-sided, horizontal layout, Under Earth, Under Water offers hundreds of fascinating facts just waiting to be unearthed as youngsters dive below the surface of our lands and seas. Marvel at early submarines and incredible sea life, meet cavers, miners and passengers on the metro, peek into the domains of burrowing animals and get down and deep to see amazing man-made tunnels.

Alternating between the two sides of the book, young readers can explore underground labyrinths and dive into the deep sea with the help of an engaging, in-depth and visually attractive mine of information.

The colourful contents page resembles a board game which unveils the two-pronged journey under the sea and under the earth. Young readers cross the borders of different levels of subsurface lands as they travel to the middle of the book which represents the Earth’s core.

On the way, they find bugs and burrow-dwellers, lurk inside the pantry of a fox’s den and an ants’ nest, learn the names and properties of various spices and move on into spaces used by humans with their trails of cables and pipes, metros, mines and even the wreck of the Titanic.

Fantastic designs, quirky illustrations and a treasure trove of discoveries make this a book that children will return to time and time again, and ensures that they will never look at the hidden world in the same way again!

(Templar Publishing, hardback, £20)

Age 3-6:

Petunia Paris’s Parrot by Katie Haworth and Jo Williamson

Petunia Paris is used to getting everything she wants… but a parrot who refuses to talk leaves her lost for words (well almost!).

Exciting new author Katie Haworth and up-and-coming illustrator Jo Williamson have teamed up to create a gorgeous picture book about a little girl who learns that having everything can sometimes mean nothing.

Petunia Paris has everything she could possibly want, from a swimming pool and a thousand dresses to a mountain of toys and a bicycle with its very own chauffeur. When her doting parents ask Petunia what she wants for her fifth birthday, she can’t think of a single thing so requests the first thing that pops into her head… a talking parrot. And a parrot is what she gets – a beautiful scarlet macaw all the way from Peru. But Petunia’s parrot doesn’t do what Petunia wants it to. Instead of talking it only says ‘Squarrk!’ You see, the parrot wants only one thing… to go back home to Peru.

Haworth, a former picture book editor at Penguin Books in New Zealand, plays with our expectations in a clever, witty and wonderful story that offers laughs as well as life lessons. Her creative tale with a moral at its heart is brought to vivid life by Williamson’s expressive and colour graded illustrations. Petunia’s pink and grey life is transformed into a triple-page riot of colour as her eyes are opened to a world beyond her small and privileged existence.

A little bird tells us that this could well become a picture book classic…

(Templar Publishing, hardback, £11.99)

Age 5 plus:

Kings of the Castle by Victoria Turnbull

Words are also in short supply in an enchanting picture book from York-born author and illustrator Victoria Turnbull.

George, the little monster, doesn’t want to waste the night moonbathing. He wants to build a sandcastle that would turn any monster green eyed with envy. But suddenly out of the sea comes the strangest creature George has ever seen and the night takes an unexpected turn. At first it seems that the two of them will never be able to understand each other’s language, but they soon discover that a few lines in the sand can help them speak without words. And then they realise that there are some things you don’t need language for… fun and friendship!

Turnbull’s cute and quirky story, with its eye-catching illustrations and surprise fold-out pages, speaks volumes to youngsters about the power of friendship to overcome what seem to be insurmountable obstacles like language and culture. Warm, reassuring and entertaining, this is destined to be a bedtime favourite.

(Templar Publishing, paperback, £6.99)

Age 3-6:

The Perfect Picnic by Ciara Flood

A summer picnic in the woods provides food for thought in a warm and whimsical picture book from a rising star in the world of picture books.

Ciara Flood, whose debut book Those Pesky Rabbits won the hearts of children everywhere, returns with a beautifully nostalgic and cuddly story about two woodland animals seeking out the perfect place for their picnic.

Squirrel and Mole do everything together… they bake cakes, go on bike rides and paint pictures. But it’s summer, the sun is shining and today they are going out to share a picnic. Bossy Squirrel is determined that it will be the most perfect picnic ever and together they pack up a feast of delicious food. But the meadow is too sunny, the hill is too windy, the beach is too sandy and the river is definitely far too wet to sit down for a picnic. And to make matters worse, there is a big hole in their well-laid plans…

Flood’s captivating illustrations – brimming with life, colour and happiness – add special magic to a story that pays homage to the healing power of friendship and the pitfalls of perfectionism.

A simple but beguiling story that is just perfect for your little ones…

(Templar Publishing, paperback, £6.99)

Age 3-6:

The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas

Angry, happy, sad, scared, calm… just some of the many human emotions we all experience. But how do you explain to a young child that those feelings are normal?

Graphic designer Anna Llenas helps to clear a path through the fog of youthful confusion in a stunning, offbeat and imaginative picture book packed with colour, quirky collages and sound common sense.

One day, Colour Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place… he feels angry, happy, calm, sad and scared all at once! To help him unravel the mix-up, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through colour and puts each colour in a labelled jar so he can recognise and understand his emotions. It’s a problem-solving adventure that leaves him tickled pink…

Llenas’ distinctive and visually exciting collage-effect illustrations, all delicately colour coded, provide a simple, fun but highly effective and accessible exploration of feelings which will appeal to both children and adults.

A monstrously clever picture book…

(Templar Publishing, paperback, £6.99)