Book reviews: Maverick give young readers a fun and flying start

Maverick give young readers a fun and flying start
Maverick give young readers a fun and flying start
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From picture books to specialised early reading books, independent publishers Maverick are ready to spring into action.

The small outfit, based in Horsham, West Sussex, has been gaining momentum over the last few years and two of their most popular children’s series, the Ever So rhyming picture books and Early Readers for the age five to seven Key Stage 1 group, are going from strength to strength.

Rhyming magician Julie Fulton has a way with words and so successful is her ever-so-good Ever So picture book series that they have been given a fresh, new look.

Trained musician Fulton always hits just the right note and to help celebrate the arrival of the fifth Ever So book, Bossy Jonathan Fossy, Maverick have given the rest of the series a marvellous makeover, including new titles and covers.

A combination of colourful, quirky characters, bold illustrations and addictive, sing-along rhyming verse make these appealing stories, set in the funny, fictional town of Hamilton Shady, a favourite with younger children.

All suitable for aged two and over, and priced at £6.99 each, the books include:

Bossy Jonathan Fossy by Julie Fulton and Elina Ellis

Jonathan Fossy likes telling everyone what to do… but the local policeman has hatched a dastardly plan to bring the young bossy boots to heel.

The latest laugh-out-loud character from the over-the-top town of Hamilton Shady has his work cut out to keep the pirates’ quarters shipshape in this gorgeous new rhyming extravaganza in the addictive Ever So series.

Jonathan Fossy was ever so bossy. He told everyone what to do. ‘Bring me some chocolates and gum,’ he commanded his mum, ‘and then paint my whole bedroom bright blue.’ But when he stands in the square and bosses everyone there, PC Moran decides to give Jonathan a taste of his own medicine. But will he swallow the bait?

Julie Fulton and Elina Ellis’ magical mix of bright, bold pictures, entertaining rhymes and hilarious antics will have kids laughing from first page to last as Jonathan learns that lending a hand is far better than handing out orders!

Loud Daniel O’Dowd by Julie Fulton and Elina Ellis

Daniel O’Dowd 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. Julie 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…

Greedy Mrs MacCready by Julie Fulton and Jona Jung

Youngsters will be dining out on the exploits of the extraordinarily greedy Mrs MacCready as they get stuck into her eating extravaganza.

Mrs MacCready likes to eat and she will eat anything from chutney and rice to pink wobbly jelly and sweet sugar mice. But soon she outgrows all of her clothing – even her fancy string vest – and although everyone is generous, Mrs MacCready’s overeating ends up having explosive consequences!

Jona Jung’s outsize, cartoon-like illustrations are a feast for the eyes and the perfect match for Julie Fulton’s tasty, tantalising rhymes. A deliciously funny story with a larger-than-life message…

Nosy Tabitha Posy by Julie Fulton and Jona Jung

If there is one thing guaranteed to get the good folk of Hamilton Shady on the run, it’s Nosy Tabitha Posy.

The girl who can’t keep her nose out of other people’s business is certainly given food for thought when she goes on a school trip to the town’s zoo and makes a pest of herself with the animals. But when Tabitha tries to find out what the tiger has had for his dinner, it’s the ferocious beast which ends up biting off more than he can chew!

Julie Fulton’s entertaining sing-song rhyme and Jona Jung’s colourful and expressive illustrations bring to life a hilariously quirky heroine and funny, captivating story.

Vain Dorothy-Jane by Julie Fulton and Jona Jung

Hold on to your bonnets, the vainest lady in town hopes to leave her Hamilton Shady rivals in the shade when it comes to being the best dressed.

But pride is destined to come before a fall when a funny thing happens on the way to the town…

Dorothy-Jane thinks her good looks and stylish clothes make her popular. However when she is on her way to the Best Lady Competition, she sees a little black dog in danger of drowning in a pond and decides she must put aside her vanity to save the day. Dorothy-Jane is sure she will never ever be clean again, with weeds on her toes and slime on her nose, but that doesn’t matter any more because she’s now everybody’s favourite person!

Musical maestro Julie Fulton is on top form in a story that delivers a moral message as well as laugh-out-loud moments with its eye-catching pictures, madcap antics and effervescent rhymes.

Another success story for Maverick is their Early Reader series which has proved so popular with teachers, librarians and – most important of all – young readers that another five exciting titles have been added to the list.

This pitch perfect series transforms Maverick’s creative and colourful children’s picture books into irresistible little books to inspire and entertain new readers.

They have been adapted from the original picture books so that young children, who may recognise and already love the stories, can make the important transition from listener to reader.

The books, suitable for children in the age five to seven Key Stage 1 group, have been carefully edited by the authors who worked closely with educational specialist Catherine Baker so that the text fits into the standard book bands.

Young children just starting to get the hang of sentences and sounds will love reading these funny, engaging stories.

Beautifully produced and entertainingly educational, the books are priced at £5.99 each and the free, fun learning resource packs – ideal for both teachers and parents – can be downloaded on the Maverick website at www.maverickbooks.co.uk/activities/learning-resources. Each includes suggested learning objectives, lesson plans, language and linguistic features and also fun and enjoyable activities.

The new books in the series are:

A Gold Star for George by Alice Hemming and Kimberley Scott

George the Giraffe might not be an official wildlife winner… but when it comes to friendship, he triumphs by a neck!

The Heavenly Hippos Wildlife Park is awarding gold stars to the animals and George has the perfect spot on his fence for one. He is delighted when the penguins win the ‘Most Popular Animal’ star and more than happy to see the lemurs win (with a little help from George) the ‘Tidiest Animal’ star. But at the end of the day, his fence is still bare… until dawn brings a sparkling surprise!

Alice Hemming, who is passionate about picture books, provides the ‘aah’ factor in this appealing and heart-warming story while illustrator Kimberley Scott turns the menagerie of animals into quirky, lovable little characters.

Pirates Don't Drive Diggers by Alex English and Duncan Beedie

Ahoy there! Alex English is on top form in this rip-roaring, rhyming pirate tale which pitches a digger-mad boy against a band of ruthless pirates.

It doesn’t matter what his dad says, Brad knows he is not cut out for a pirate’s life. While his dad wants him to shout, fight and yell yo ho ho, Brad dreams of life on a building site. So when he sets sail with the pirates on Salty Dog, can Brad prove to Captain Blood that pirates do drive diggers after all?

Alex English serves up a real treasure trove of treats in this fun-packed story which follows Brad on his voyage of discovery through the high seas, and Duncan Beedie’s lively, detailed illustrations, including the motley crew of dastardly pirates, are a delight.

The Four Little Pigs by Kimara Nye and Marcin Bruchnalski

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 adventure, full of quirky characters and lively illustrations, conveys subtle messages about standing up to bullies, having faith in your own abilities and learning that a problem shared is a problem halved.

I Wish I’d Been Born a Unicorn by Rachel Lyon and Andrea Ringli

St Helens author and mum Rachel Lyon comes up smelling of roses in an enchanting story about a rather whiffy horse who longs to make friends.

Mucky is a very smelly but very playful horse who doesn’t bathe or brush his teeth and never combs his mane. The only problem is that no one wants to share his field or play with him. Mucky decides it would be much, much better if he was a unicorn so a clever little owl tries to help. But when the owl’s scheme goes awry, Mucky discovers that his true friends like him just the way he is.

Andrea Ringli provides the colourful, characterful illustrations for a story that resonates with warmth, wisdom and camaraderie.

Grumpy King Colin by Phil Allcock and Steve Stone

This funny, cautionary tale from author Phil Allcock will be a favourite with every mischievous child, and the unique illustrative style of Steve Stone, who excels in bold pictures full of expression and humour, has a special appeal for young children.

King Colin is naughty, lazy, silly and grumpy but he is king so he does just what he likes. Soon he discovers that even a king can’t get away with everything… there’s just one very powerful person who can stop him. Who is it? His mum of course, and she’s making sure it won’t be King Colin who gets the last laugh!

A wonderfully anarchic story that makes learning fun…